Hey, I’m going to tell you what I’m about to do you, we’re going to look at a theme today rather than just focus on a passage in this series together. We’re going through the big picture in understanding of scripture, and what we’re grabbing together is really the big story that God is telling us throughout the Bible. Sometimes when you study the Bible, if you grew up in church, you start to learn the stories of the Bible but you fail sometimes to see, or the church does not do a great job in explaining how all these individual Bible stories connect into one big theme.
And really, to our dismay, what we need as a church is to understand God’s broader story. I think really before we begin to understand the specific stories because it brings the Bible to life. And what we’re going to look at this morning is a concept that is communicated from beginning to end of scripture as it relates to Jesus in him being a king and his kingdom in pursuit of your soul, to redeem it and provide it eternity in his presence forever.
When you think about this idea of kings, the scripture is rich in theology as it connects this to Jesus. It starts all the way back from the Garden of Eden. When we began this series together on the kingdom come, we looked at God’s creation in the Garden of Eden, how he created for seven days, actually created six days and on the seventh day he rested and ruled and he reigned. And that was to be a picture of Adam of Eve and all of mankind in God’s presence forever. Right? After six days, God sits on his throne, his creative work is finished, his ruling and reigning work begins.
And as he sits on his throne, Adam and Eve rebel. And God at that moment could have judged us, but instead he brings us grace, he offers us redemption, he promises that a Messiah would come. And he pursues us through the Messiah who would give his life for our sins. And so we see the beauty of this king communicated to us.
And when you pick up the Bible, one of the things that we looked at last week is how it lays out. And we talked about the first 17 books of the Old Testament is historical. They are historical books writing this narrative of God’s story, told to us through the Old Testament. I think it’s important for us to know that when you pick up the Old Testament, the Old Testament is not written chronologically. It’s categorized according literary genre. First 17 books are historical books laid out. The next five books are poetic books. And then the last 17 books are prophetic books.
But what you see as you look at this line of scripture as it’s laid out for us according to when passages of the Bible were written. And in the very beginning God shares his story, but as you get to the end of the Old Testament it’s more and more people communicating this to us. God is just screaming at us this truth that he wants us to know as he pursues us for redemption through Christ on the cross.
And so, what I’m going to focus on this morning is really these last nine books down in the blueish purple, I don’t know what … do you see gold or do you see purple? What kind of dress is this here? So, you see 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, this is where we’re going to highlight this concept of kingdom for us. But then there’s this postexilic part, these last three books, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. They call it postexilic because Israel goes into captivity. In between these last three books, there’s this 70 years of captivity, and when they come back out of captivity the narrative story continues again.
And so, you see this laid out for you in this picture. And we’re going to focus on this back end, what God is really strongly communicating to us before he goes silent for 400 years. And so, if I just highlighted this, I’m going to tell you I’m going to move fast this morning. So if you want to take notes on this or if you’re really good at flipping through your Bible and just marking these, I’m going to show you pinnacle points of scripture. So that way, when you carry this thought into the Bible, this thought that we’re going to talk about this morning should pepper everything that you read in scripture, no matter where you are, this concept is the theme that drives every other thing that’s communicated in the Bible to us. This is how significant this is.
And so, what we find in the Bible, we talked about God creating in the beginning, he establishes for us his kingdom. Man rebels. And then comes through this individual named Abraham. So the story, as it unfolds, God gets very specific in how he’s going to redeem us through this idea of kingship, this Messiah who is pursuing us. And he identifies it for us specifically through this individual named Abraham. This promise that he gives to Abraham as being the lineage through which the Messiah would come is so important that it’s communicated multiple times in the life of Abraham. It starts in Genesis 12, Genesis 15, Genesis 17. Here towards the end of Abraham’s life, Genesis 22. God says to Abraham, “In your seed, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed my voice.”
The Apostle Paul points this out in Galatians, which is much later in the New Testament, but he says this, he identifies that God doesn’t say through your seeds, but rather through your seed, meaning one. “Through your seed, Abraham, there will come one that will bless all nations. This will be the Messiah, the ruler of the king, who would give his life for us.”
By the time you get to the end of Genesis, what’s identified for us in Genesis 49:10, Jacob is blessing his 12 sons. We went through this story together, that Joseph, if you remember, went down to Egypt. And there was a famine, and through that ends up bringing all of his brothers and his father down, and all of their lives are preserved through the famine. And at the end of Jacob’s life he blesses his sons. And one particular son he focuses on, Judah. It says in Genesis 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah.” And so what he’s beginning to specifically identify for us is not only through Abraham would all the people of the world be blessed, but from Abraham’s seed came 12 sons. And those 12 sons, there’s one particular son named Judah, and in the line of Judah, this is where the Messiah will come.
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff between his feet until Shiloh comes.” Now Shiloh is an interesting word because Shiloh means the place of peace. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, what we lost is peace in our relationship with God. And because sin was introduced, we lost peace everywhere. And so he’s talking about now this idea of Shiloh, the presence of peace.
But here’s what’s interesting about this, he says, “Until Shiloh comes and to him shall be the obedience of the people.” It doesn’t just talk about this idea of this place of peace being about a particular place, right? It’s not just this place of peace, but rather it’s referring to this person of peace. Notice what it says, “Until Shiloh comes and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
So peace is not just about a place, but peace is about the presence of a person. And so he’s identifying for us that through the line of Judah there would come one who would introduce this peace that all of us long for. And in his presence there will be this peace forevermore. And it will be for all peoples.
And so you see this theme of Abraham continue to be communicated. And as you follow the story from Genesis into the Exodus, where Joseph led his family into Egypt. They end up becoming slaves. Then we have Moses who comes forth. And God says to Moses, “Look, the Hebrew people, the Israelites in Egypt, they have become slaves. I want to set them free. Go before Pharaoh now and proclaim that God wants to set them free.” And Moses is used by God to set the Israelites free. And God leads Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land that God had foretold to Abraham hundreds of years before.
So they leave Egypt, and they’re on their journey back to this Promised Land where Israel is today, or at least the nation of Israel is now. And he leaves this area, this Promised Land, through Moses. Right when they get to the precipice of this moment, Israel rebels and God sends them through the wilderness of wandering for 40 years. Until an individual named Joshua rises up. And we talked about Joshua last week.
And Joshua takes Israel into this Promised Land. They cross over the Jordan into this Promised Land. They go through these battles. And then Joshua divides up the land and he says, “Okay, now that we’ve conquered some of the regions of Israel, now each individual tribe go into your area that God has promised you and finish out the conquering work.” The problem is, Israel doesn’t. That’s when you get to the book of Judges.
You read the book of Judges, you see the demise of Israel. If you’re going through our reading plan as a church, yesterday we just started the book of Judges. If you’re interested in going through our reading plan and joining us in Judges, download the Alpine Bible Church app, click on notes as soon as you open the page, and the very first note that pops up will give you a link to our reading plan. But we just entered into the book of Judges.
And what you find in the book of Judges is it starts with all the tribes of Israel being separated into their different sections, and none of them continue the conquest. And they begin to fight with the other people groups that are in the area. And they lose these battles, and so God raises up these judges to help them in the battles. But what you find is Israel continues to be unfaithful. Over and over the cycle continues. God raises up a judge. He delivers Israel from the oppression of the people around them. And then Israel goes back into their sinful ways and the same cycle continues over and over. To the point that it gets so bad that rather than attack or fight and battle with the other people groups around them, Israel starts to internalize and they attack each other.
And honestly, Judges is an awful book. By the time you get to the end of the Judges, there is this horrible sexual abuse that takes place, and it brings this civil war in Israel. And the book just ends in utter despair. It is gross, it is immoral, but it’s God’s people not pursuing after the Lord. In fact, the book of Ruth is even written during this time period.
And that’s where you get to the book of 1 Samuel. 1 Samuel for us becomes this bridge between Israel and the time period of the judges, and Israel when they’re going to be ruled by a king. And it introduces to us really the last judge. The last judge that God raises up for Israel to help them in this oppression, and it’s a judge by the name of Samuel.
And before Samuel’s born, what’s interesting about his story is that Samuel is born to a lady named Hannah. And in 1 Samuel 2, what you find in the first couple of chapters is Hannah is not able to have children. She goes to the temple and prays. And God allows her to conceive. And she sings this beautiful song. 1 Samuel 2. And in the middle of this song, I don’t have time to go through all these verses, but what she begins to acknowledge is even in the darkness of Israel during the time of judges, God’s hand is still at work.
And at the very end of this song, verse 10, she acknowledges the idea of this Messiah king who would deliver his people. And so her hope is still in the Lord. Hannah sings this beautiful, wonderful song. And if you were to read at the very end of Judges, it really draws together her song with where Israel was. The last verse of Judges, Judges 21:25, it says this, “During this day there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” And what it’s acknowledging for Israel is they’re not bowing to anyone’s authority. They’re living for their own authority. God wants to be king over them, they’re rejecting all of that. And they are living as if they’re their own king. They’re waking up every day and they’re saying, “Okay, what makes me most happy? In order to do that, I’m going to rip and tear from everyone else to get what I want.” So it devalues humanity in order to elevate themselves as king.
And so, the last verse of Judges says, “In that day there was no king in the land and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” And Hannah comes in with a song and she sings the song looking for the ultimate king that would deliver them.
When you get to 1 Samuel 8, one of the things that Israel does is they start to long for a king, but it’s not the king that God desires. It’s not this Messianic king. Rather, they want a king to be like all the other nations. And Samuel was helping Israel at this time as a judge over the land and is pointing them back to the Lord. And when Samuel finds out that Israel wants a king to lead them, but not the Messianic king, rather their own king that they choose, Samuel’s distraught over this because he knows the promises that God has declared to his people.
And the Lord comes into Samuel’s life here and says this, he says, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you. For they have not rejected you, Samuel, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” And Samuel goes on, he appoints a king by the name of Saul. And Saul, on the outside looks like a wonderful king. Head and shoulders above everyone else. The best looking, tallest, strongest guy in all of the land. But what we find about Saul is that his heart really is cowardly. He turns from God. In 1 Samuel 15 he becomes impatient, he does things that God doesn’t want him to. God rips the kingdom from him and God gives the kingdom to someone else.
And in 1 Samuel 16:7, it says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at the appearance, at the height or the stature of this individual that God wants to choose.'” He’s saying, “I’m going to give my kingdom now, rather than Saul, I’m going to give it to someone else because I have rejected him.” Talking about Saul. “For God sees not as a man sees. For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Excuse me, let me say this again, he’s not looking at Saul here, he’s looking at David’s brothers.
He calls Samuel to go to what would become the next king, who is David. And he says, “I want you to go to this household, I want you to look through these brothers, and I have anointed one of them to become king.” And they go to the firstborn brother and what they find out is God hasn’t chosen him. And God says to Samuel, “Look, it’s not the outward appearance that I care about. I’m looking at the inward heart.”
And he goes through all of David’s brothers until you get to the last one, which is David. What’s interesting about this choosing of David is that when they were going through David’s brothers to see which one might be king as God had directed them there, no one thought about David. In fact, David, it tells us, is out taking care of the sheep. Which, in David’s day, and even in the time of Jesus, taking care of sheep was the mundane job that you gave to someone that … it was the job that no one else wanted to do. So you gave the least significant job to the most unimportant person to get things done. All right? It’s like, “Uh, I don’t know, what can David do? Let’s just send him out to take care of the sheep. Someone’s got to take care of the sheep, I guess.” And that’s why he’s just forgotten.
And finally they call for David, the last son. He comes forward and David is anointed by the Lord to be king. And David really becomes a picture of what the true Messiah would ultimately be. David goes and he battles Goliath. And I know a lot of times we like to see ourselves as in David’s shoes and God defeats our giants. But truthfully, it’s more of a picture of Jesus than us. And David is this anointed one that God has called to represent him as what would ultimately become the Messianic king.
In fact, David writes the majority of Psalms. And if you read David’s Psalms, a lot of what David writes has to do with kingship, but ultimately it’s not reflected to him as being king, it’s reflected of Jesus. That when you turn in the New Testament, a lot of verses that are quoted in the New Testament come from the Psalms, and more particularly kingship Psalms, as David’s Psalms were reflected of Jesus.
And in 2 Samuel 7, God gives David here a promise. As David is anointed king, he doesn’t immediately assume position, but rather Saul becomes angry with him and tries to kill him. And eventually Saul dies, David takes over. And when start 2 Samuel, David actually begins with this lament over Saul and his best friend, Jonathan, that were killed. It’s very interesting the character of David. He spends the majority of his early years being hunted as the anointed king, though he is in that position, he’s being hunted by Saul whose kingdom is being ripped away from him by the Lord. And even though he’s hunted by Saul, when 2 Samuel starts, rather than just say, “Yeah, I’m glad God got that guy, David laments over the death of Saul. What kind of character does that?
David goes on to establish the kingdom in Jerusalem. And as he looks at bringing this kingdom united, you think to this point, Israel and the land of the judges, they’re divided, civil war, fighting each other. They anoint Saul as king, he ends up being a corrupt king. Now David comes on the scene and he really unites all of Israel. And he establishes the capital in Jerusalem. David’s brought all of this together as a Messianic figure, right?
In 2 Samuel 7, he says, “Okay, God, seeing all of this come together, there’s one thing I recognize, is the place we go to worship you is still in a tent. I want to build you a temple where people can gather.” But God says to him, “Nah, I don’t want that right now, not with you. That’s going to come really next generation under Solomon.” But here’s what he says, “Rather than you build me a place, here’s what I want you know, David, your house, your kingdom shall endure before me forever. Your throne shall be established forever.”
And this verse becomes another pinnacle place in scripture. And you remember, God says to Abraham, “Through you all nations will be blessed.” And then from Abraham’s seed he identifies Judah. From the tribe of Judah, “From you the Messiah will come.” And now in the tribe of Judah, under the household of David, he says, “From you there will come one, and he will also be king.”
And so, God for us is just highlighting throughout Israel’s history exactly where he would bring this Messianic promise that would provide for us Shiloh, peace. What we long for, the reason we are created.
But unfortunately what we see is God made this promise to David just a few chapters later, 2 Kings 11, David sins, commits adultery and murder. Nathan confronts him in chapter 12. David’s family falls apart in chapter 13. And by the time you get to 2 Samuel 19 and 20, David has fallen apart, he is a broken man. And then the last four chapters of the book, chapters 21 to 24, is this epilogue recounting David’s life and Saul’s life.
While David was this Messianic character, what we recognize in David’s life, that he wasn’t the true Messiah that everyone had been longing for. And so, after you get to the end of 2 Samuel and you jump in 1 Kings, then comes the next king, which is David’s son, Solomon.
And Solomon leads wisely, he prays for wisdom and God grants it to him in the first four chapters. In chapters five to eight, he builds the temple for the Lord. And by chapter nine, Solomon in 1 Kings starts to make poor choices. And after his life, in 1 Kings 11, after his poor choices, Solomon dies. And by the time you get to 1 Kings 12, Israel goes through a civil war and the kingdom is split. Chapter 12 to 16, the kingdom is split.
King Rehoboam takes two tribes in the south with Judah being the lead tribe. And Jeroboam takes the 10 tribes to the north, Ephraim being the lead tribe. And when you read the Bible from this point on, the two tribes of the south, referred to as the tribes of Judah, the 10 tribes to the north are referred to as tribes of Israel. And the civil war, when they split, they never come back together again. The northern tribes have 20 kings, none of them godly. They’re taken into captivity in 2 Kings 17 by the Assyrians. And the two southern tribes, out of 20 kings only have eight godly kings. And they’re taken into captivity in 2 Kings 24 to 25.
And here is maybe, I don’t know if this defeating or sad or how you would describe this, but when you get to 2 Kings 24 and 25, when Israel is taken into captivity, they’re drug to Babylon. If you think about the story of Israel, God calls Abraham out of Babylon, and it’s this one big giant circle where he calls them out of this area, the Ur of the Chaldean’s, and he promises all of this through the Messiah who would come. And through him all nations would be blessed. And all Israel does is walk away from God, and God drags them back where the journey started.
And then there’s silence. As you follow the story of Israel, God brings this remnant after this exile in Babylon 70 years later back to the land. But God is silent. 400 years, God silent.
Help but reflect that sometimes I think our lives we go through similar experiences, right? We walk with God, we sin, we feel distant from God. And maybe on the other end there’s silence. Or maybe we’re not even in sin, sometimes we just feel like from God there’s silence.
If you think about the illustration that I put up on the screen of how the books of the Bible lay out for us, a lot of history is covered in Genesis, right? And as you go along further in the timeline, more people are speaking as mouthpieces of God over a more condensed period of time, and God just continuing to scream, to, “Look, look for this Messiah. There’s one that’s coming to deliver you.” And all of a sudden, silence. It’s as if the loss of God’s communication to his people really helps amplify in our hearts, and appreciate in our hearts what was lost and don’t quite appreciate it at the time, but it’s when it’s gone, it’s in its absence that you recognize how important it is.
It’s kind of like in our spiritual lives, right? Where you just feel this emptiness inside and you know that it exists and there needs to be something that fills it, but it’s in the absence that you really appreciate the fact that something needs to be there. I think that’s what God is doing here for Israel. The apple of his eye, continued to extend grace on grace, and now in the silence, God, really in these in moments, help them appreciate what they had with him.
When you turn to the very end of your Old Testament, what you see, the very last chapter before God goes silent, is he gives them one promise to recognize before his arrival of this Messiah, he says, “Behold, I’m going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.” He’s saying before God brings all of this to an end, and the day of the Lord, and there’s judgment, and all that happens, God will send a messenger. One mouthpiece that should awaken their soul again.
You can imagine 400 years of silence, previous to this all these prophets speaking, you have these Old Testament passages being written. God goes silent and he’s saying, “Okay, I want you to recognize when my Spirit comes to speak through people again, I’m going to send this messenger and you’re going to see him as a bright light in the midst of your darkness.”
One thing I think is important to know when you study the Bible, our English Bible is actually put together different than the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible, we would refer to what we’re reading as the Old Testament, don’t refer to it as the Old Testament to Jews. They would consider that offensive, because to them it’s not old. To us it’s old because we have the New Testament, but to them it’s not old. They refer to it at the Tanakh. But when you study the Hebrew Old Testament, or the Tanakh, their last book of the Bible is actually 2 Chronicles.
And in 2 Chronicles 36:23, this is right after the exile and there is a statement given here by King Cyrus. Now let me just say this, when you read the book of 2 Chronicles, what you’ll find is a lot of the content of 2 Chronicles is very similar to 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. It talks all about the kings and how the kings came by.
But here’s the point, while they’re the same there’s a significant … let me just say it like this, there’s a relevance to why 1 and 2 Chronicles exists that’s different than the Kings, although the stories are similar. And when you see the significance for why this book is written, it just brings it to life for us.
1 and 2 Chronicles focuses really on just the southern tribes of Israel, because the southern tribes of Israel followed the line of David. And this is where the Messianic king would come from. And it shares these stories, not of the downfall of these kings that were sinful, but rather it focuses on their attitude towards God in a positive light. And they’re carried into captivity, but when you get to the very last chapters, Cyrus is ruling over Israel, having captured them.
It says, “Cyrus, king of Persia,” and he says, “Whoever there is among you of all his people,” talking about the Jewish people, “may the Lord his God be with you, and let him go up.” In the Hebrew, this phrase actually is an open ended statement, meaning a period really doesn’t fit here. When you read this, this statement is really like a cliff hanger. What it would say to us if we were Jewish people, we get to the last book of our Bible, we’re reading the very last verses of the last book of our Bible, and we read what King Cyrus says to our people in captivity. He says, “Okay, let you go up,” and what? And what? What is the rest of the story? It just ends there, it’s like God’s saying something and all of a sudden someone hangs up the phone. And what? Right?
And let us go up in what? What’s supposed to happen? And it’s if to say to us, God’s not done writing his story. And then there’s silence. Until you get to the New Testament.
Matthew 1, and here comes your Christmas message. If you’re wondering why I didn’t share anything for Christmas on Christmas related to Christmas other than the Christmas Eve, I have shared dozens and dozens of messages particular to the first three chapters of the Gospels over the years of this church. But here comes your Christmas message now, okay? For all you Christmas people, we’re going to keep celebrating Christmas after Christmas.
Matthew 1, it says, “The record of the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah.” God finally speaks. And the first thing he says, the hearts of Israel, the record, the genealogy of Jesus, the Messiah. This word genealogy in Greek is actually the same word the Hebrews would use for Genesis, in the beginning. The very first book of the Old Testament. That’s as if to say God is starting over here, in the beginning.
And the genealogy of the Messiah and when Matthew is recorded, notice the names that are peppered here at the beginning. The son of David, the son of Abraham, Abraham the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah. Judah the father of Perez, and Zerah by Tamar. Let me just stop there and just say, do you see the significance of what the author is trying to communicate? That through the line of Abraham, Genesis 22, that through the line of Judah, Genesis 49:10, that from the line of King David, 2 Samuel 7:16, Israel this is what you’ve been waiting for. World, this is what you’ve longed for.
And look at the very end here, verse 21, that Joseph was a little worried in this moment, if you know the story, remember this? Mary shows up and says, “Guess what, Joseph, I am pregnant.” And she says, “It’s virgin.” And Joseph says, “That’s not normal. How does this happen?” And he’s freaking out about this at the moment. And then God shows up to him and says to him verse 21, “Joseph, she is pregnant and I want you to call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Rescue, Messiah. Beautiful story, from beginning to end.
If you just stop and behold this for a moment, just let your heart resonate with this. In fact, if you were to look at the book of Matthew, the author says this over and over. He continues to repeat this in the Christmas story, behold, behold, behold. You’ll see this every so often in the sections of Matthew. He’s just saying, “Okay, let this just sink in your soul for a moment what God has done.” You think, your Old Testament, 1500 years of writing communicated to you, this theme. And God brings it all together in this moment. How incredible is that? That this one would come to save his people from their sins.
And I wish we had time to go through all of this, but if you were to take this, and you think about this in Matthew and the encounter with Joseph and identify the specifics of Jesus, and you were to take time and look at the book of Luke and how Luke opens up. When Mary finds out that she’s pregnant and she’s with Elizabeth. You know what Mary does to highlight this Messiah? Luke 1:46, get this, Mary sings the song of Hannah.
Luke 1:46, 55, you remember the story of Hannah? She can’t have kids, the Lord gives her a kid, and she acknowledges in the midst of what’s going on in the period of judges, how Israel is just at ends and tearing each other apart, that in her heart she longs for the day that there would be a king. And Hannah becomes this bridge who would birth Samuel to tie the period of judges to the period of the kingship, when King David would come, who was a Messianic figure. And so, when Mary sings the song of being pregnant with Jesus, she sings the song of Hannah. God tying all of this together.
To the point when you get to the book of Matthew 2 and Jesus is finally born, what it starts to articulate for us is the significance of this king. And God I think really wants us to behold how incredible this Jesus is, because there’s this King Herod that really is positioned against Jesus. And when you read about Herod, here is where Herod is, he’s the authority figure ruling in the capital in Jerusalem as king over all the land. Right? And who’s Jesus? This nothing, nobody born in Podunk Bethlehem with no wealth, of parents of no reputation other than they claim to be the descendants of David.
And here is this king who demands everyone to bow down to him, right? Even the wise men. And they refuse to bow. But to whom do the wise men bow? To a baby in a manger. In Matthew 2 points us out, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, the magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?'” Can you imagine that if you’re Herod? Like you’re thinking, “Okay, the king has been born. The deliverer we’ve been waiting on. Let’s journey there and worship and greet him.” And they’re like, “Okay, where can we go?” Well, the capital of Jerusalem, of course.
And they get to the capital and they’re like, “Where’s the king?” And Herod’s like, “I’m here.” And they’re like, “No, that’s not you.” Herod’s like, “What are you talking about?” Right? He’s freaking out at this moment. And it says, “When Herod,” in verse three, “the king heard this, he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him, gathering together all the chief priests and the scribes and the people and he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. And they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what was written about the prophet. And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, and by no means least among the leaders of Judah. For out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people.'” Just as a David was a shepherd, so here comes the true shepherd.
Herod in the capital, Jesus in Bethlehem. Herod kills children in trying to destroy this Jesus, while Jesus brings life. Herod rich, Jesus poor. Born in a stable, wrapped in rags. In fact, one of the reasons we know Jesus was poor is because when his parents went to the temple to offer a sacrifice for the birth of this child, they offer two doves, which was the cheapest sacrifice anyone could make. In this poverty, he had no academic credentials, no social status, he was a carpenter, for Pete’s sake. That’s far from the royal center of power as he could be, yet he transforms life.
To the point when you get to Matthew 3, what you see about this king is John the Baptist is now preaching at the very beginning of Matthew 3. And he says, “Make straight the paths for this king, this royalty who is coming.” And Jesus comes to the Jordan to be baptized. As if to say to Israel, “Let’s start over. Let’s make all things new.” As Israel had previously come to that Jordan River and walked in disobedience to God and find themselves in captivity, Jesus goes back to this Jordan. And he’s baptized to make all things new.
And when Jesus is raised out of the water, it tells us the Spirit descends upon Christ and the Father speaks from heaven, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And the Father unites two powerful statements in reflection to the coming of Jesus, both from Psalms 2 and Isaiah 42. Both of these quotes, this is my beloved Son, Psalms 2, and whom I am well pleased, Isaiah 42. Both of them recognizing the Messianic promises of Jesus. Psalms 2 is a kingship psalm that King David wrote for the anointing of a king, the ultimate king. In whom I am well pleased, Isaiah 42, this is recognizing the suffering servant of this king who would give his life on our behalf. It’s the pronouncement of the goodness of who Jesus is.
Why does all this matter? Because really I only want to make one point in all of this as it relates to our lives, and that is this, God is consistently faithful. Even in the silence, he never changes. Think about Israel that went through that for 400 years. Where your soul might be, none of that changes the goodness of who this God is.
In fact, let me tie his story into our story, if I just went back for one moment to Matthew 1, and this will be the last thing we look at together here, but when you consider the genealogy of Jesus, Matthew does something rather odd, not customary but important. When you go through the genealogy of Jesus, as he’s tying it to Abraham and Judah and David for us to see this promise coming through him.
One of the things he also does is he ties it to the story of some women. In our culture today we may not think that’s a big deal, but in Jesus’ culture it was because when you talk about your lineage, this is all about your reputation. When he gets to these first six verses, he brings up these four ladies. And during Jesus’ day, it didn’t help your reputation to bring out the identity of women in order to build your case. Women could not testify in the court of law.
But Jesus doesn’t care. Second, something that’s also interesting in this story is Jesus is a Jew, and Matthew has written to the Jewish people specifically, that’s why it’s got so many Old Testament quotes. But what you can identify as you look at these names of these women, is these women, they’re not Jews. They’re Gentiles. Tamar, her lineage can be traced back to the days of Noah. Rahab, we all know her. She’s got a wonderful last name, right? Rahab, the harlot? That’s great for your reputation, Jesus. Or what about Ruth? Ruth was a Moabite. And at one point in her story, she heads to the threshing floor, which was a pretty promiscuous place for a lady to be, if you read the book of Ruth. We did a series on that together.
Or what about Bathsheba? You probably are more familiar with that one than anybody, right? It’s like, and I’m not saying, you know, Bathsheba was the guilty party there. If I had to blame anybody in that circumstance, I would definitely say it was David who was that authority figure as it relates to Bathsheba and everything that took place. But certainly all of these names are clouded in scandal.
When you think about Bathsheba, not only is she clouded in scandal, but if you think about her husband, David murdered Uriah. And here’s what we know about Uriah, if you can fill in this blank for a minute, Uriah the, what? Hittite. Meaning Bathsheba was most likely a Hittite. They’re Gentiles. And so what is God identifying here in this story? That through Abraham all people would be blessed. Written into God’s story, both Jew and Gentile.
When you consider Jewish lineage, Jewish lineage was important. There were promises, they were blessing that came through your lineage. And so Jews kept very meticulous records of their lineage. Land was passed according to family name. You couldn’t let go of it to anyone other than someone that was in your family. Lineage was important to them. You couldn’t be a priest without the lineage. Lineage was important to them. And now, all of a sudden, when Jesus is giving us his lineage, he writes in his resume for us to acknowledge the significance of who he is. Things that were at best scandalous, and worst unclean.
But you know what’s interesting as you study the story of Jesus throughout the scriptures? In Jewish law, if they touched something that was unclean, what happened to them? They became what? Unclean. But when Jesus shows up and he touches something that’s unclean, what happens? It’s cleaned. It’s made new. Jesus doesn’t care about the resume. He has all the authority and power.
Tim Keller says this, God initially brings his message not through the Egyptians, the Romans, the Assyrians, or the Babylonians, but through the Jews. A small nation, a little race that is seldom in power. He dispatches Goliath, not with a bigger giant, but with a shepherd boy. One at whom the giant laughed. That’s the way God works.
How does he talk to Elijah? Through earthquake, wind, fire? No. Through a still, small voice. In ancient times, when the oldest son always got all the wealth, and the second or younger son had no social status, how does God work? Through Abel, not Cain. Through Isaac, not Ishmael. Through Jacob, not Esau. Through Ephraim, not Manasseh. Through David, not his older brothers. At a time when women were valued for their physical beauty and fertility, God chooses old Sarah, not young Hagar. He chooses Leah, not Rachel. Unattractive Leah whom Jacob does not love. He chooses Rebekah, who could not have children. Hannah, who could not have children. Sampson’s mother, who could not have children. Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, who could not have children.
Why? Over and over again God says, “I will choose Nazareth, not Jerusalem. I will choose the girl nobody wants. I will choose the boy everybody has forgotten.” Why? Is it just that God likes underdogs? No. He’s telling us something about salvation itself. Every other religion and moral philosophy tells you to summon up all your strength and live as you ought. Therefore, they appeal to the strong, to the people who can pull it together. The people who can summon up the blood. Only Jesus says, “I have come for the weak. I have come for those who admit they are weak. I will save them, not by what they do, but through what I do.”
Throughout Jesus’ life, the apostles and disciples kept saying to him, “Jesus, when are you going to take power and save the world?” Jesus keeps saying, “You don’t understand. I’m going to lose all the power and die to save the world.” At the climax of his life, he ascended not a throne but a cross. He came as a substitute to bear evil, suffering, and death, and the consequences of our turning from our God. It’s why Jesus said as a question to the Pharisees in Mark 2, “I didn’t come to save those who don’t need a doctor. But rather, I came for the sick.”
It is incredible when you look at scripture, how it ties all together with Jesus. I mean, you just think, even from the beginning, Adam and Eve ate from the tree and died. Jesus comes and goes on to the tree to die so that you can live. Adam and Eve and the curse of the Garden, the Bible says thorns will spring up. Jesus comes and places upon his head the crown of thorns to give his life for you. What an incredible king.
Even in the silence, even in the silence it’s true. That’s why when you get to the very end of Revelation, this is the end, you get to the very end of the Revelation, if I could just tell you one theme communicated above and beyond all others, it’s the throne of the king and his kingdom. You see that image told over and over, the throne of his king and his kingdom. And why is that the theme of Revelation? Well if you think about what’s happening in the story of Revelation, the church is being persecuted. They’re going through hardship, they’re facing adversity. There’s temptation that comes along with that. You just want to give up, you just want to quit, you want to cry out, you want to find out where in the world is God in all of this? And how can my soul take any solace in these moments?
And Revelation, the reminder to all of God’s people, there is a king sitting on his throne right now ruling and reigning. In the midst of the adversity you face in life, he is there. He is there. And the call of Revelation is for your heart to continue to trust in them. Because from beginning to end, in all of the story, the glory of this king has made himself known. And the glory of this king desires to make himself known in your life. The Bible encourages and tells us, right? One day every tongue, Romans 14, Philippians 2:10 and 11, every tongue will bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Bow now, bow later, you will bow. But in this opportunity, you can bow in the goodness of this king who is offering you grace rather than under his wrath.
And Revelation 5 says it like this, “And every creature and every created thing which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying to him who sits on the throne, and to the lamb, ‘Be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever, amen.'” That’s my hope and prayer for us as a church, all that we do in this world. The focus of our hearts be for one king and his glory. And his name is Jesus.