Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
These wise men were known as the magi from the Parthian Empire, which was one of the few political entities that could cause Rome to tremble for their fierce martial disciplines that routed Roman forces, not once or twice but repeatedly until internal corruption brought about their decline with a Roman victory sealing their fate.
They were known as a religious and priestly order of seemingly magical knowledge (thus the term magi, from which we also derive the term magistrate) that was involved in the selection process of their Kings. They were among other things, “King Makers”.
From an article by Koinonia House we have the following:Who Were The MAGI? The KING MAKERS
“The ancient Magi were a hereditary priesthood of the Medes credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge. After some Magi, who had been attached to the Median court, proved to be expert in the interpretation of dreams, Darius the Great established them over the state religion of Persia. (Contrary to popular belief, the Magi were not originally followers of Zoroaster. That all came later.)
It was in this dual capacity whereby civil and political counsel was invested with religious authority, that the Magi became the supreme priestly caste of the Persian Empire, and continued to be prominent during the subsequent Seleucid, Parthian, and Sasanian periods.”
Here is more on the Parthian Empire.
Being nobility in often hostile lands, it’s doubtful that these Magi made this long journey alone, but rather they were accompanied by an entourage of military guard sufficient to the task in protecting them from any and all dangers and enemies. Escorted by Parthian soldiers, these Magi made their way into the Roman Empire, into the province of Israel and made their way to Jerusalem where they came before Herod.
Herod was not Jewish ethnically but Idumean (Edomite) yet according to this source his father was a convert to Judaism, even though his son, Herod preferred the Greco-Roman culture and religious persuasions. His alliance was not with Israel, its Sanhedrin or the people, but rather staunchly with Rome that appointed him to power.
And on the fateful day of the Magi’s arrival, this Roman appointee is asked by these King Makers:
“Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” Between these nobles of a rival empire showing up in Palestine and then asking for one who was recently born, whose lineage (via the tribe of Judah, of the House of David) would grant him legitimate right as heir to the throne, its quite understandable why Herod “and all Jerusalem with him” were “troubled”! That is “to be agitated, troubled” because of these nobles that would pose a threat to Herod’s rule and perhaps commit to a border dispute with the Roman Empire over Palestine.
They claimed that they came from Parthia to worship this King of the Jews, who unbeknownst to Herod – or any one else for that matter – was located at that very moment in Bethlehem, the place of The Nativity of the Son of David!
King Herod went to the religious authorities to ascertain the exact location that Scripture indicated where the Messiah (Christ) would be born:
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Israel.
Interesting that the name of the city that the prophet Micah indicated was Bethlehem or “house of bread”; a fitting place for the One Who referred to Himself as “the Bread of Life” (John 6:35, 48)!
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Apparently there were two different cities named Bethlehem in ancient Israel, and so Micah had to specify which one would be the native place of the Messiah; we then understand that Bethlehem Ephratah located south, southwest of Jerusalem (in “Judah”) is the correct location (rather than the other city located far to the north (Galilee), near Nazareth.
Bethlehem was the scene of the story of Ruth, and hence the place where in later years David was born. It was at Bethlehem where David was anointed king by Samuel (1 Samuel 16:4-13). It was because of Jesus' ancestry to King David that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem when He was born, at the time of the census ("enrollment").
According to the prophet Micah, this one born in Bethlehem, in the city of David, would be One whose “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” or in other words, One who was eternal in nature, and also one who would be a Governor that would become ruler in Israel.
Yet the biblical account in the Gospels attributes the governorship of Jerusalem to Pilate, not to Jesus who after three years of ministry was nailed to a cross outside of Jerusalem and died among thieves.
Of course we realize that this declaration of prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, AND IT WILL when once the LORD Jesus Christ returns from our Father’s throne to establish His own in Jerusalem!
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
There is a lot of conjecture about what this ‘star’ really was; it apparently was bright enough that it could be seen during the daylight hours. Some suggest that it was two or three different stars or planets that came into alignment along the trajectory to planet Earth and would be seen by those in the Middle East as one giant star. Astronomers think it could have been a star gone nova (an exploding star) or perhaps even a comet. Others believe that this was simply the shekinah glory of God manifested to guide the magi to the location of the Messiah.
Skeptics and atheists have long held out that the Star of Bethlehem was nothing more than Christian mythology, but was it nothing more than this? Scientific evidence strongly supports that on the night of Christ’s birth and throughout the long journey of the Magi until they found the young Christ child, a heavenly body did in fact exist and shine brilliantly in the heavens.
For more on this please visit The Star of Bethlehem Project.
Herod asked the Magi when the star first appeared to them, and while Scripture doesn’t record their answer, we may safely assume that it was two years or less because when Herod finally learned that the Magi left Bethlehem on their journey homeward they neglected to bring Herod word about the exact location. So Herod was denied the opportunity to worship the new born King . . . perhaps with a sword!
This was why he ordered the death of all the children in Bethlehem and all of its borders from two years old and under!
No doubt, Herod was quite insecure about this new born King of the Jews usurping his place as ruler in Israel, but I believe he was satanically inspired by the god of this world who stood to lose far, far more than Herod, should this Babe in Bethlehem ever succeed in His mission!
We see here in microcosm how just as King Herod set himself against this ‘upstart’ so the world will one day oppose Christ in a very blatant sense (as recorded in Psalm 2:1-5) and while the LORD came meekly as a Lamb (with one or two exceptions) at His First Advent, its at His Second He will arrive as the LION of the TRIBE of JUDAH and then the kings of the earth will tremble with numbing fear and desire suicide rather than to face the wrath of the LAMB (Rev. 6:15-17)!
The Christmas nativity scene often brings a depth of warmth and love when we see this babe wrapped in swaddling clothes as the very and Supreme Gift of God that He is; yet this was more than simply the offering of a gift to humanity; it was a Holy Invasion, a military incursion of the Almighty come into enemy territory to wage the decisive war in all of history, the planet Earth being the central stage for the audience of the universe to behold the behemoth battle of all time! To read more on this subject, have a look at The CRUSADE That Was CHRISTMAS.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
Again the Star appears to the Magi who rejoice to behold this wonder once again; in a stellar feat of Almighty engineering the LORD directs this heavenly body over the very place where His Son was dwelling! Another thing about this star is that many see, and with some justification, a prophecy in the book of Numbers that involves this sight:
17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
As is typical with prophecy, the Almighty One Who “inhabits eternity” (Isaiah 57:15) sees the past, present and future all at once, and so when we read the prophetic Scripture we cannot assume that events are contiguous. Such is the case here – for the Star appeared at the birth of Christ but the Sceptre, that is the Messiah Who will come to reign that will “. . . smite the corners of Moab. . .” is something related to His Second, not His First Advent.
Imagine the shock of Mary when she answered the door to find these austere and lavishly dressed Magi, kingly in their appearance, bearing such precious treasures as gifts – but NONE SO PRECIOUS AS THE GIFT THAT MARY HERSELF BORE IN HER OWN ARMS: THE CHRIST CHILD!!
She welcomes them in and that is when they see – not the babe that is so often the picture we see in films about the Nativity of Christ, but a small child, perhaps two years of age. They present their gifts, each of the three (it’s typically assumed that there were three magi because there are three gifts, but the Bible never states how many there were; there could have been three, or thirty for that matter) representing different aspects of the ministry of the Messiah – gold, frankincense and myrrh which symbolize the kingship, priesthood and sacrifice of the LORD. Note: There is no gift representing the office of prophet because unlike kings and priests, prophets came from various tribes of Israel, not just from Judah and Levi (as kings and priests did respectively).
Of these three gifts, only gold and frankincense will be given to the KING when He returns; not myrrh because His atoning sacrifice will have been behind Him at that point; Isaiah 60:1-6.
The following articles have to do with this glorious event of such importance that it has cleft history in twain between B.C. and A.D.
The CHRISTMAS GIFT OF PEACE DECLINED
The HUMBLE KING and The LITTLE DRUMMER BOY
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they [the Magi] should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
17Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,
18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Dreams are sometimes employed of the LORD to communicate to His own, and these must be of a particular quality so as to not be confused with dreams of the usual sort. These were akin to prophetic visions that the LORD would give to His seers and prophets. The book of Joel states as much:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
Of course the church today is led of the Spirit of the LORD (Rom. 8:14) in compliance to the full revelation of canon and every assumed leading must be measured by the standard of Holy Writ to verify its veracity.
There is the fact though that the immediacy of the situation required obedience by those who received such dreams, and particularly for those who belong to the LORD, whether in vision, or dream or word, His sheep know His voice (John 10:27).
Verse 15 of Matthews 2nd chapter speaks of a prophetic fulfillment of Hosea 11:1, and yet if one reads this verse superficially, it would seem that the context of this passage refers to the nation of Israel who did in fact depart from Egypt in the great exodus led by Moses. It’s rightfully stressed that any verse must be understood in the context of the over all passage and to provide the proper exegesis, this rule must constantly be employed.
Yet we sometimes find in Scripture a deeper meaning than what is initially apparent.
It’s not until the Holy Spirit led Levi Matthias to pen this verse that we are taught by the LORD that this verse not only refers to the servant nation of Israel, but also on a deeper level* (remez) the Servant Son of David, the Son of God Who would likewise depart from Egypt on the day appointed.
[*On a side note and peripheral to this study - Hebrew scholars of antiquity who were involved in the writing of the Talmud (interpretive works on the Torah, commentaries on various Old Testament books) speak of the PaRDeS which is a kind of acronym referring to the various levels of interpretation, that is: Pshat – simple understanding; Remez – hinted meaning; Drush – allegorical explanation; Sod – esoteric understanding. There are elements of PaRDeS that involve Kabalistic interpretations (Jewish mysticism) on the Sod (esoteric) level and for this reason the Christian must be cautious when accessing such hermeneutics from the PaRDeS view point. For more on this, particularly where the “remez” is concerned, see the following site Mashiach in Remez].
Again we see the wrath of Satan working in the human agency of Herod, who himself was “exceeding wroth” because he was “mocked of the wise men” and committed a heinous act – the slaying of all the children in and about Bethlehem, two years old and younger.
The heart cry of mothers in that region ascended upwards to the very throne of God Who hears and sees all. We can sometimes wonder why atrocities are perpetrated in this world of perdition unimpeded and question, “Where was God?”
We cannot answer all the whys and wherefores of the Almighty, or why He allows certain things to transpire; all we know is that this world is under the curse of sin and because of this, terrible things are bound to happen; crimes, injustices, offenses and all sorts of lawless and evil deeds occur on a daily basis (I think of the innumerable partial birth abortions that are performed on a nearly assembly line basis under the authorization of our current administration). When I would read about such things my blood would boil at the outrage of it all, but a long time ago, the LORD whispered in my heart, “There is no such thing as eternal injustice!”
No evil deed will go unpunished even though such punishment seems grievously delayed (from our point of view – such delay of justice is justice denied) but in the eyes of God Who exists outside of time in the Holy Halls of Eternal Justice such souls are seen as already judged and sentenced and consigned to everlasting punishment and what He sees from His vantage point, we shall one day likewise behold and declare:
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Let us examine the last few verses of our chapter . . .
MATTHEW 2: 19-23
19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene*.
Herod learned his lesson too late, and the hardest way one can – that no one can oppose God and come out as a winner, just as it says:
2 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?
3 If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
4 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?
Pharaoh of Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Haman of Persia and countless others have fought against the LORD and have lost deplorably – even the very Leader of this new world order: Satan himself will be forced down upon his knees and confess that JESUS is LORD (Rom. 14:11) and face the truth that he has, after several millennia, finally lost the war in every way conceivable!
On the other hand, those that will embrace the LORD and His Truth by faith, receive Christ as LORD and Savior for the forgiveness of sins and the Spirit of God that indwells all believers – these are “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37), and the eternal champions of the LORD Who won our victory over sin and death Himself at the Cross!
The LORD informed Joseph that Herod the Great was now Herod the Goner! He and his family were free to return into the land of Israel, but He doesn’t specify where, so naturally one would assume that they would return to their own home. However, Joseph learned that the son of Herod, Archelaus reigned in his father’s place! So the husband of Mary detoured and decided to live in Nazareth, far to the north. Little did Joseph know that this was also a fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 11:1)!* The word “Branch” in this passage is “netzer” which is associated with Nazareth, the little town in Galilee.
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
In the passage above Isaiah speaks of the Messiah at His First Advent, His seven fold ministry as the Spirit of the LORD rested upon Him, a glimpse of the Battle of Armageddon (2 Thess. 2:3,8) and subsequent judgments upon unruly nations during the Millennium (Zech. 14:16-18) and also a portrayal of the Second Advent and the establishment of the Kingdom of heaven on Earth.
*Schofield’s notes on the related Scripture to Isaiah 11:1 found in Isaiah 4:2:
”He shall be called a Nazarene (netzer or ‘branch’)”
A name of Christ, used in fourfold way:
(1) "The Branch of Jehovah" (Isa 4.\:2), that is, the "Immanuel" character of Christ Isaiah 7:14 to be fully manifested to restored and converted Israel after His return in divine glory Mt 25:31.
(2) the "Branch of David" Isaiah 11:1 Jeremiah 23:5 33:15 that is, the Messiah, "of the seed of David according to the flesh" Rom 1:3 revealed in His earthly glory as King of kings, and Lord of lords;
(3) Jehovah's "Servant, the Branch" Zech 3:8 Messiah's humiliation and obedience unto death according to Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:1-12; Phil 2:5-8.
(4) the "man whose name is the Branch" Zech 6:12,13 that is His character as Son of man, the "last Adam," the "second Man" 1 Cor 15:45-47 reigning, as Priest-King, over the earth in the dominion given to and lost by the first Adam.
Matthew is the Gospel of the "Branch of David"; Mark of "Jehovah's Servant, the Branch"; Luke of "the man whose name is the Branch"; John of "the Branch of Jehovah."
For other great commentaries on this passage, visit this page from the website www.biblecommentator.com
Here we see the sovereignty of God in His foreknowledge and predestination working that which was foreordained in eternity, hand in hand with the free will of man – in this case, Joseph’s decision to travel north to Nazareth and live there. Prophecy is a testimony of the piercing eyes of the LORD Who alone declares the end from the beginning – and everything else in between for that matter!
9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
So ends this chapter as we prepare to venture into the next section where the public revelation of the Messiah occurs. At this point, the obscurity of the LORD Jesus is evident, so that when He is known publicly, the religious authorities discount His qualification of a prophet, much less the Messiah of Israel because of their mistaken assumption of the place of His nativity (somewhere in Galilee and not in truth, in Bethlehem, the prophesied location of the Messiah’s place of birth).
Monday, June 17, 2013
Friday, June 7, 2013
The WORD Incarnate was made flesh and sent to this fallen world; He came to His own (Israel) for a very specific purpose, for the time was fulfilled that He should appear to His kinsmen. And what was this purpose? What was His mission?
The MISSION Of the MESSIAH –
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
When sought after by a Gentile woman, a Canaanite, to heal her daughter, the LORD replied to her:
24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
The prophet Isaiah has been long known as the Messianic prophet and for good reason; a vast quantity of his writing, particularly from chapter 40 and on, deals with the Messiah. The Gospel of Matthew employs the Scriptures from this particular prophet most readily, as observed here, regarding the Mission of the Messiah:
14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
“The Kingdom of heaven” is a very denotative phrase and there is legitimate reason to believe that it is in some ways, different and derivative of the broader term “the Kingdom of God” and we shall get into all of this later. For now, let us appreciate the fact that this is, at this point during these early chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, the primary mission that the LORD Jesus, Messiah of Israel is dedicated to.
The Gospel of Matthew is directed towards Jews and points to Jesus Christ (Y’shua* ha Mesciach Nagid – “Jesus the Messiah King”). This Gospel account stands apart from the others in that it has the highest incidence of prophetic inferences and fulfillment of the Jesus Christ, His ministry and events occurring during His life here on Earth.
* “Y’shua” is a contraction of Yehovah Shua which means, “Our God is salvation” (See Psalm 35:3).
The word “fulfilled” regarding prophecy occurs 17 times in Matthew’s Gospel.
“Kingdom” occurs 50 times and “kingdom of heaven” 30 times.
“King” referring to Jesus occurs 7 times (Matt. 2:2; 21:5; 22:11; 25:34; 27:11, 37, 42). The Hebrew word for “king” is Melek and it can refer to a king or a kingdom, depending on the context in which it’s used.
You can’t have a kingdom without a King, nor a King without a kingdom, but there are those that believe the kingdom of heaven will be in heaven, not on Earth, and this is an error.
Such people will often quote John 18:36 to show that the LORD’s kingdom will not be on the Earth (but in heaven instead):
36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
The Hebrew word “kav” can mean either “of” or “from” depending on the context, and in this case, it means “from” or “kingdom from heaven” which is a matter of direction – it’s from heaven and going somewhere else, that is, the Earth. Yet even without any knowledge of Hebrew, look carefully at the LORD’s last words in this verse: “my kingdom is not from hence”.
It’s the same word usage employed in this passage:
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Obviously Jesus was IN the world, but He was not OF the world; his apostles were likewise in the world, born into it and died, departing from it. Yet in both cases, when the LORD prayed concerning both Himself and them, He clearly stated that they were “not OF this world”.
By the same token, the Kingdom of heaven is not of this world, but it most certainly will come to this world at its inauguration with the arrival of the King, He who is the Rock, and a Stone of Offense. Consider the prophetic dream of Nebuchadnezzar that Daniel interpreted in which a “stone cut without hands” struck the statue (symbolic of world empires up to and including the last days period) and then became a great mountain (symbol for a kingdom) that filled all the Earth (See Dan. 2:44-45).
Knowing that the Davidic Covenant deals with God’s promises to David of a perpetual kingdom that will be forever, and further, that the Son of David – a Messianic title – would ultimately reign on the Earth in Israel, the association is clear: that the kingdom of/from heaven is the very same kingdom of Israel as promised to David and to all believing Jews who had faith in the Scriptures that foretold of the coming Messiah.
2 SAMUEL 7:11-16
11 And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the LORDtelleth thee that he will make thee an house.
12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:
15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
16 And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever (see also Psalm 72:1-16; 89:3-4,14-21, 33-37; Isaiah 55:3 and Luke 1:32).
For more on this, you may read the TTUF article ISRAELOLOGY – WHY ISRAEL IS IMPORTANT TO THE BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN - PART ONE.
The GENEOLOGY OF JESUS –
Geneologies in Judaism served two purposes:
To identify individuals and families as to which tribe they belonged to – especially important for those of the tribes of Levi and Judah because these two tribes were ordained of God to produce the lineages of priests (Numbers 1:49-51; Ex. 28:1-2) and kings (Gen. 49:10), respectively. There was never any that were ordained of God to be both king and priest, nor were each to obtain the office of the other (any king that attempted to conduct priestly duties were intensely chastened by the LORD; see 2 Chron. 26:19-21; 1 Sam. 13:8-14).
There were only three exceptions in the Bible of those that held both the office of King and priest:
1) Melchizedek (an OT type of Christ; Gen. 14:17-19; Psalm 110:3-5; Heb.5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1, 10-11, 15, 17, 21).
2) Christ Jesus Himself (Heb. 6:20; Heb.3:1; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:16).
3) The church of Jesus Christ, those born again of God’s Holy Spirit (1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 5:9-11).
Matthew begins his genealogy of the Messiah with Abraham and continues on to King David. Abraham was referred to in order to show that Jesus is indeed a Jew, and David in order to show that He is of the royal line and a member of the tribe of Judah, thus eligible for the throne of Israel.
These genealogies were faithfully recorded and stored in libraries in the Temple and referred to as records to prove one’s lineage. Yet since the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. no one afterwards could legitimately prove their lineage in order to establish the legal right to the throne.
The fact that both Matthew and Luke have recorded genealogies, showing that Jesus was of the tribe of Judah and a direct descendent of David and these were never disputed by the Jews is evidence enough to verify the legal right of Jesus to His father David’s throne.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING MATTHEW – The MESSIAH And HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE
Now let us proceed and get into the Gospel of Matthew that starts out with this very genealogy . . .
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;
3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;
4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;
5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;
Christ is the Greek term for what we know as Messiah, but more specifically, the Anointed One. There were many that were anointed in the Old Testament, among the Kings, and Prophets and priests, however THE Anointed One is denotatively the Messiah Y’shua or better known among us Gentile Christians as Jesus Christ who is the Son of David, and the son of Abraham: father of the faithful. This is a list of His generation or genealogy, or Hebrew lineage.
The lineage proceeds from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob, then from Jacob to Judah; the prophecy of Jacob regarding Judah (Gen. 49:10), that the scepter shall not depart until Shiloh (a reference to the Messiah) come was fulfilled by the time the Messiah arrived.
Israel had lost the right of self rule (symbolized by the royal scepter) during the time of Jesus – Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire and the Sanhedrin (the governing body) was severely limited in what it could do; not to mention the fact that Israel had no national King with a proven lineage of the tribe of Judah.
Rome had appointed Herod, an Idumean (Edom) by birth as ruler in Galilee.
During the campaign of Israel against the city of Jericho, Rahab the harlot was spared because she showed favor to the Hebrew spies, and she obviously became a proselyte of the Hebrew religion. From her came Boaz – who married Ruth and they had a son named Obed who later became the grandfather of King David (whose father was of course Jesse). It’s also interesting to note that Rahab and Ruth are included in this genealogy, women of Gentile descent. Women were never included in Hebrew genealogies but they are included here in the lineage of the Messiah; Gentile women at that!
PART TWO – CONCLUDING CHAPTER ONE:
6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;
7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;
8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;
9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;
14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;
15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;
Notice which son of David is listed here in Matthew’s genealogy; David had many children, so why would Solomon be mentioned? This is important, so let’s get into this and the subsequent generations.
In verse 11 it lists Josias as the father of Jechonias (or Jechoniah, or Coniah). This particular leader of Israel was despised of the LORD, to the point where he so angered God, that the Almighty pronounced a blood curse on his lineage. This occurred in the time of the Babylonian captivity which took place in three waves as ordered by the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar and Jeremiah was a contemporary of those times. In the book of Jeremiah we see this blood curse of the LORD recorded:
24 As I live, saith the LORD, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence;
25 And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them whose face thou fearest, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans.
26 And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die.
27 But to the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return.
28 Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not?
29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.
30 Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.
Obviously Jechoniah had sons, because these are recorded in this very genealogy (the son mentioned is Salathiel) so what does this mean, “Write this man childless”? Basically, that no son of Jechoniah would sit as King on the throne of Israel. Why? Because of this blood curse that the LORD had laid upon his family lineage due to the sacrilege of this man.
How Satan must have viewed the entire proceeding with utter glee, because with a blood curse on the royal line, God would seem to have ‘shot Himself in the foot’ – how would the Messianic prophecies be fulfilled now, with no eligible heir to the throne of David. Certainly any son of Jechoniah would have a legal claim, but how could they ever assume the throne because of this blood curse?
The LORD God had His utterly ingenious plan that circumnavigated this apparent conundrum of Coniah’s curse! Remember that the son of David listed was Solomon here in the lineage as recorded in Matthew. Let’s take a detour to Luke’s Gospel and see how the lineage compares at this particular juncture . . .
30 Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim,
31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,
32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson,
Notice here that the son of David mentioned is not Solomon, but Nathan. Why is this significant? Because the lineage of Matthew’s Gospel leads to Joseph, the husband of Mary – who was NOT the father of Jesus, but a step-father (son-in-law of Heli, the father of Mary; Luke 3:23). Jesus’ real Father is God, and so the blood curse in regards to heir of the throne was on Joseph (the descendent of Jechoniah) but didn’t apply to Jesus.
Jesus was born of Mary, and so shared by blood her lineage back to her ancestor, the other son of David, Nathan. Both the legal line (Joseph) and blood line (Mary) eligibility for being heir to the throne was granted to Jesus, both being of the tribe of Judah (the royal line of Israel) and of the house of David.
So we can look at this lineage of both Joseph and Mary in this way:
The Tribe of JUDAH > OBED > JESSE > DAVID > SOLOMON > JECONIAH > JOSEPH
. . . . . . . . . . JUDAH > OBED > JESSE > DAVID > NATHAN > MARY
16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
Thus we understand that both Joseph and Mary are of the tribe of Judah, and of the house of David; from Joseph, Jesus bore the legal line as heir to the throne, but the blood line He received from Mary (whose blood line didn’t suffer the curse from Jechoniah). We smile at the cleverness of God in bringing about His will in such a fashion, maintaining the truth of His Holy character while at the same time, maneuvering His plan around Satan’s interference who would like nothing better than to bring that plan to ruin.
The BIRTH OF THE KING OF ISRAEL –
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
Being an upright and proper Jew, Joseph could have had his betrothed stoned for such an offense because she must have been with another man who impregnated her out of wedlock. Yet his heart of love is shone and compassion for Mary because he intended on breaking off the engagement and leaving her quietly in a private fashion.
Nevertheless the LORD had other plans! That holy child was His own and he told Joseph such via the angel of the LORD . . .
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
What Jewish mother wouldn’t want to give birth to the Messiah? I’ve been told that the name JESUS was somewhat common in those days, baby boys given the name in hopes by their parents that they would be the Messiah of Israel – only in Mary’s case, this is ‘the real deal’!
As mentioned previously the name of Jesus in Hebrew is Y’shua which is a contraction of what is translated as “The LORD is Salvation” – His name actually means this! Just as the angel proclaimed to Joseph, this babe would be the Messiah of Israel and save His people from their sins.
Matthew picks up on this and understands that this (among countless other events in the life and ministry of Jesus) is a fulfillment of prophecy. Verse 23 refers to the prophecy given to Isaiah . . .
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
There are those that dispute that the Hebrew word for “virgin” actually means virgin, but rather simply means “maiden” but in my mind, there are two points one must observe.
The first is any maiden of that day would typically be chaste; ‘loose women’ were not as common as in latter times. Besides which the same Hebrew word is employed here in Isaiah as used in Gen. 24:16 in referring to Rebekah who herself professed that she “knew not a man”.
The second point, and one that carries far more weight is that, this Scripture speaks of the LORD giving “a sign” not just to King Ahaz (an apostate King given to paganism) but to all the house of Israel. A few verses prior in verse 11 the LORD invites Ahaz to ask a sign “either in the depth or in the height above” or in other words God was saying, “I’m going to give you a sign Ahaz, but ask for what kind yourself, and the sky’s the limit!” Ahaz feigns humility and refuses to ask to the point of exasperating the Almighty (not a good thing to do by the way!) and so the LORD Himself states that He will give the house of Israel a sign.
One can almost envision God rolling up His sleeves as He prepares to go to work and bring Israel a miraculous and impressive sign that would ‘wow’ everybody.
If those that discount, even disparage a virgin birth had it their way, then this powerful, breathtaking sign would have read: “a young girl is going to have a baby . . .”
It falls a bit flat, doesn’t it? There is no such miraculous sign in such a thing; young girls have babies all the time!
However, if a virgin were to have a child – how many times has that ever happened?? Would that be a miracle? Would that be a proper sign capable of being given by no one other than God? Would that bring assurance to the house of Israel that what the LORD proclaimed (He wanted to assure His people that their enemies at that time wouldn’t destroy them) would come true? YES!
We understand that this would be a double prophecy, one in which there would be an immediate fulfillment (in the days of Isaiah and King Ahaz) and a distant fulfillment. There was a babe born of a young maiden (assumed to be the son and wife of Isaiah the prophet himself) and commentary about this child can be found in chapter seven of Isaiah. The primary fulfillment however wouldn’t occur until some hundreds of years later, in a lonely barn in Bethlehem.
Why is it vital to believe in the virgin birth? Why is this considered a fundamental of Christian doctrine and necessary for the faith?
Simply because if Jesus was not conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, then Jesus would have been the son of a man, a sinful man, and would have inherited a sinful nature from that man.
In turn, that would mean His atoning sacrifice would have been null and void! In Israel, any lamb offered up in the Temple had to be “without blemish” that is, with no imperfections. The LORD Jesus being the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)” would likewise have to be without the blemish of sin nature – and because His Father was the LORD GOD, the Holy One, the Son would likewise be holy. Scripture is abundant on this point:
1 PETER 1:18-19
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
2 CORINTHIANS 5:20-21
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (see also Isaiah 53:9, 11; John 8:46; Heb. 4:15; Heb. 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22).
His name shall be called Emmanuel, that is “God with us”. This was not the presence of God in some abstract sense, but the very God of creation, visiting His people. The name in this instance is more of a characteristic (names in those days were employed as such) than an actual name given – which is why we never read of the LORD being addressed by this name. The Word of God expounds on this marvelous, wondrous event – that GOD would visit His people, and declare a message for all the world to hear and believe.
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
1 TIMOTHY 3:16
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
And the last couple of verses in this first chapter of Matthew states:
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
It was an act of faith on Joseph’s part to obey the word of the LORD, knowing full well the repercussions of such obedience and how his own reputation would be sullied and whispered rumors of this young couple’s bastard son; how they would be ostracized and looked down upon by family, friends, neighbors, etc. Mary herself demonstrated an incredible faith in the LORD as well! Despite the fact that Mary was already pregnant (but not showing), they were married.
Note carefully what it says in the final verse – that single word “till” is very telling. It means that Joseph had no children by Mary UNTIL she brought forth her first born son – JESUS – and once born, Mary had other children besides. Roman Catholics who would like to keep Mary a ‘perpetual virgin’ will discount such passages (Matt. 13:54-56) that speak of Jesus’ brethren (and sisters) as mere cousins. But then there is still this bothersome “till” to contend with that simply means that Jesus had half-brothers and sisters.
Both James and Jude that have penned the epistles found in our New Testament are in fact the LORD Jesus’ half brothers (Gal. 1:18-20; Acts 1:13).
Thus ends the first chapter of this glorious account of the Messiah King of Israel, as penned under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by Levi Matthias or as we know him, Matthew! The name Matthew in Hebrew is Matthan and it means “the gift of YHWH” and most certainly he is a gift, and the Gospel account he has penned for us is a gift beyond value!
I look forward to exploring this Gospel with you and quite excited to commence the journey as we delve into the following chapters, exploring the glory and majesty, the humility and servant’s heart of our Holy King, the LORD Jesus Christ! Read more!
Posted by James J. Fire at 5:49 PM
Monday, June 3, 2013
We have presented before us at the very beginning of the New Testament, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and this is entirely appropriate and right and good, because before anything else may be apprehended in the Christian faith, the Gospel must be understood, received and realized in the life of a repentant sinner who has fallen under the conviction of such by the Holy Spirit and as a result surrendered to Jesus as both LORD and Savior.
One cannot live in the kingdom of God, nor labor or experience any of its benefits until one is born into the kingdom of God; this spiritual rebirth is something that is initialized once God takes up His Holy Habitation in the heart of the humble believer, saved by grace and not of works, by the operation of faith placed in the LORD and His Gospel.
Why then are there four Gospel accounts, rather than just one? Does God have a stuttering problem? Or for that matter, why are there not five Gospel accounts or twelve (one from each of His twelve followers)?
A very good question with any number of legitimate answers!
I offer the following (for the full article, click on the web link below) as a very comprehensive yet concise answer from the site Spirit and Truth:
Posted by James J. Fire at 11:45 AM