Texts: Josh 2, Ps 76, Rom 15, Matt 1.1-17
How do you get to know a person? By hearing their story. The OT is the backstory of Jesus Christ. Without it, you might know him as an acquaintance, but you won’t ever know him well. Just for starters, his name: “Jesus” = Joshua. Moses has to die on Mount Nebo before Joshua leads the people into the promised land. For the law came through Moses, but grace and truth come through Jesus Christ alone (John 1.17). Plus, Joshua = YHWH saves. “Christ” = the anointed King, the Messiah.
1. The Unfolding of the Promise. Rom 15.8-9: Christ became a servant all the way to the cross, in order (1) to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, & (2) to bring a mercy to the nations so rich it makes ‘em sing for joy. Starting in Gen 3.15, the promise builds like a crescendo. It also develops, like a theme in a symphony. Here are a few of the promises given to the patriarchs:
(a) To Adam. Gen 3.15: the first promise of the Messiah, the Serpent-Crusher
(b) To Abraham. Gen 12.1-3: the curse of Adam will be undone, when the nations are blessed through Abraham’s Seed. No accident that:
(1) in Gen 15, righteousness comes through faith in God’s promise.
(2) In Gen 22, the sacrifice of the only Son, the provision of a Substitute, the promise of God’s Lamb.
(c) To Judah. Gen 49.10: “The Scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the Ruler’s Staff from between his feet, till tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
(d) To David. 2 Sam 7.12-16: “12. I will raise up your Seed after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14. I will be to him a father, and he will be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15. but my steadfast love shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you. 16. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before Me.”
Notice: (1) v. 12, David’s royal Son will come from his very body.
(2) vv. 13 & 16, his kingdom is eternal.
(3) v. 13, he will build a “house” for God’s name, i.e., the Church.
(4) v. 14a, he will be the true Son not only of David, but of God.
(5) v. 14b, he will be a sinner, and he will suffer punishment from God’s own hand. For though he was innocent, the LORD laid upon him the iniquity of us all: and by his stripes, we are healed, Isa 53.5-6, 1 Pet 2.24, 2 Cor 5.21, Gal 3.13.
(6) But v. 15, unlike Saul & Solomon, God’s steadfast love will never depart from Jesus Christ. He will emerge the Victor over the awful Goliath of Sin & Death, because he had no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
(e) To Isaiah. The book is so chock-full of prophecies of Christ, it’s long been called “the Fifth Gospel.” In Rom 15.12, Paul quotes Isa 11.10. The whole chapter is about Christ. vv. 1-2: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him.” Then vv. 6-9, cosmic restoration and peace: the wolf dwells with the lamb, the nursing child plays with a cobra, the whole earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Why? v. 10: “In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal to the peoples: of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.”
Notice: (1) vv. 1 & 10, The Messiah is David’s son, born of the root of Jesse like a sapling growing out of an old dead stump.
(2) When Christ is lifted up on the cross as a signal for the nations, he will draw all people to himself, John 12.32.
(3) His resting place is glorious, at the right hand of the Father.
2. The Ancestors of the Redeemer (Matt 1.1-17)
(a) Of genealogies. Not phonebook lists of names, but stories. The whole OT is summed up here in 17 verses. Jesus Christ is Abraham’s boy, David’s boy (v. 1).
(b) Did you notice the women? v. 3, Tamar; v. 5, Rahab & Ruth; v. 6, the wife of Uriah. Their stories.
(c) Why didn’t the Holy Spirit leave these nasty bits out? Matt 1.21: “Mary will bear a Son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” When the time came for the Word to become flesh, he sunk himself deep into the flesh of sinners like Tamar and Jacob, Rahab and Uriah and David. Because the Son of Man, the Last Adam, came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19.10).
3. Two applications
(a) Roots. In a rootless culture searching for a story and a place to belong, we have both. Our roots are ancient, they go deep into the mists of time. The Bible is our story. The Church is the place we belong, our family, our home.
(b) Grace. If the Son of God took Tamar’s flesh as his own, do you think he is ashamed of you because of your sin? Yield to the scandal of the gospel of this God – the untamed God of the Bible, who chose a motley crew of prostitutes, adulterers, and all-around screw-ups as his ancestors according to the flesh – and his grace will set you free.