Christmas and Genealogies
By Hal Lindsey
The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of wise men from the east following the Christmas star to Jerusalem, and then to Bethlehem. The Gospel of Luke tells about the night of Christ’s birth — of angel choirs and lowly shepherds rejoicing together at the plan of God unfolding before their eyes in the Person of Jesus.
But those two Gospels give us another, even more astounding aspect of Christmas.
When most people get around to reading the New Testament, they’re surprised that such a thrilling story seems to begin with a yawn. Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, begins with a genealogy. Is the fact that “Azor begat Sadoc” an important part of Christ’s story? It is crucial.
Starting with Abraham, Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph — the adoptive father of Jesus. That genealogy shows that Jesus is a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It shows that Jesus can rightfully be called by the messianic title, “Son of David.” Through the generations, God had been preparing for the birth of Jesus.
Luke gives us Mary’s genealogy. Mary was the Lord’s physical mother. She, too, was a descendant of David and of the patriarchs. Between the two genealogies, we learn that Jesus was physically and legally qualified to be Israel’s Messiah.
Today, most of Christendom believes that God’s promises to the physical descendants of Israel have become null and void. They believe God ditched Abraham’s physical descendants in favor of the Church. They see the Church as “spiritual” Israel.
In his ministry’s magazine, the late, great R. C. Sproul articulated the idea that the Church replaced Israel in the program of God. “We’re not dispensationalists here…” he wrote. “We believe that the church is essentially Israel. We believe that the answer to, ‘What about the Jews?’ is, ‘Here we are.’”
But if being a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can be canceled out and the Jews can be replaced by “spiritual” descendants, why was it important for the New Testament to show the precise lineage of Jesus? Why not just have a “spiritual” descendant of Abraham and David as Messiah?
The answer is that God’s word is paramount. Through the prophets, God clearly said certain literal things about the Messiah. If Jesus had not been a literal, physical descendant of David, He could not be the Messiah. No one would have even considered it a possibility.
God made sure that His word contains these two crucial genealogies. They prove that He takes His word seriously. He is not capricious. His word can be trusted. And when He says, “Israel,” He literally means “Israel.” The New Testament uses the word “Israel” 75 times. And in each instance, it means the literal, physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Christmas shows yet again that God means every word He speaks. And that means you can trust Him completely.