December 13, 2014

A Genealogy of Blockheads

Jesus' ancestry was definitely a lineage of blockheads. When we talk about the birth of Christ at Christmas it is usually good to start with the Genealogies of Matthew or Luke. When we see how great a treasure comes from the lineage of broken and sinful people we should sit back in reverential awe. The lineage of Jesus stretches the limits of imagination and shows once again that God works through the low things of life over long periods of time to make those in lofty places appear foolish.

Abraham was the father of Isaac: The father of the multitude. The first Hebrew patriarch and the primary example of the Jewish faith. Originally known as Abram (father is exalted) but changes to Abraham in Genesis 17:5. His unbelief and unfaithfulness sires Ishmael, his faithfulness and belief sires Isaac.

Isaac the father of Jacob: His name means laughter (Sarah's). The only son of Abraham and Sarah. He is a child of promise born when Abraham is 100 and Sarah 90. Isaac marries Rebekah who bore twins, Esau and Jacob. Isaac is deceived into giving birthright to Jacob over Esau.

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers: Jacob is the original ancestor of the nation of Israel. His sons are the 12 ancestors of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob's earlier conniving and manipulation revisits him in the form of mostly petulant sons, minus Benjamin and Joseph.

Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar: The fourth son of Jacob and progenitor of the tribe of Judah. His mother was Leah. Although his narrative often takes a backseat in Genesis 28 we see the seduction of Judah by his daughter-in-law Tamar. Their union results in the birth of Perez and Zerah. Perez born of an illicit affair is the father of Hezron who is the father of Ram. Ram is the father of Amminadab who is the father of Nahshon the father of Salmon who is the father of Boaz the kinsman-redeemer who marries Ruth a woman that is actually a Moabite which is the line of descendants that came from the incestuous affair between Lot and his daughters.

Boaz the father of Obed the father of Jesse who was the father of the the famous and infamous King David the anointed king of God after Saul failed to live in accordance with the Lord, goes mad and eventually fall on his swords after loosing his sons in battle. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife. Uriah who was killed by David to cover his sin with Bathsheba. Solomon on the other hand is basically given immense wealth and wisdom but it all comes to not because of the 700 wives that eventually lead him astray into idolatry and he lives the remainder of his days in self-made apostasy regretting many of his poor choices.

Solomon is the father of Rehoboam who decides foolishly to reign with and iron fist and oppress his people mercilessly. These actions inevitably divides the kingdom in two between himself and Jeroboam (in the Northern Kingdom (Israel). Rehobaom fathers Abijah who follows in the sins of his father. Abijah the father of Asa who unlike his father is actually a pious man and is one of the few good kings in the Southern Kingdom. He removes foreign Gods and is succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat who in most cases was a faithful follower of Yahweh but is foolish and makes one disastrous decision: An alliance with the evil king Ahab of Israel (Northern Kingdom). His son Jehoram marries the daughter of Ahab, the Evil Queen Athaliah and her influence in Judah is horrific. Jehoram's son Uzziah comes to the throne when he is 16 rather than have King Joash installed as a puppet king who is the infant son of Ahaziah who survived the bloodbath perpetrated by Queen Athaliah.

Uzziah the father of Jotham reigns for 16 years until he contracts leprosy and could not fulfill the needs of his office as royalty. Although he was an effective ruler his rule is taken over by Ahaz who was an extremely evil king and participated in some of the most idolatrous and monstrous practices of Judah/Southern Kingdom. Because of these abominable acts he never gets buried in the royal tombs due to atrocious behavior. Ahaz in turn produces one of the most devout and obedient kings Hezekiah.

Hezekiah the father of Manasseh brought religious reform to Judah, and refused to court favor with Assyrian Kings. He destroyed the bronze serpent of Moses so the people would not worship it. Due to Hezekiah's faithfulness, Sennacherib of Assyria did not prevail against Judah when it was nearly a foregone conclusion that he would.

Manasseh was the longest reigning king of Judah, unfortunately a long and unfaithful reign. The blame for Judah's ultimate destruction and exile is placed on his shoulders (2 Kings 21). Manasseh fathered Amon who followed in his father's footsteps of idolatry and was killed in a palace revolt. Good King Josiah succeeded to his throne at age 8 and at 18 the "Book of the Law" is discovered while doing repairs to the Temple. Josiah's goodness assured God's destruction of Judah would not come during his reign but after Josiah, the Southern Kingdom of Judah does a long slow burn to utter annihilation.

Josiah fathered Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel the grandson of King Jehoiachin taken to Babylon in the first exile. Daruis the Persian emperor granted the right for the Jews to start rebuilding the temple during this time and then disappears from the Bible but not before fathering Abihud. We then have a long succession of generations without much information: Abihud fathers Eliakim who fathers Azor who fathers Zadok father of Akim who is the father of Elihud father of Eleazar. Eleazar the father of Matthan and Matthan the father of Jacob who is none other than the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Mary is a woman who, by the worldly standards of her time, had conceived under shadowy and mysterious circumstances. From God's and a believer's point of view she conceived in shining and miraculous circumstances. Mary...the mother of Jesus Christ who is called the Messiah. Savior of the World.

Not a very vainglorious family tree to say the least but a perfect example of how God can use the foolish things of the world to shame those that are too high on their horse. All this leads to a child in a stable that probably stank and was filled with flies in the town of Bethlehem two millennium ago. From humble and nearly invisible beginnings we see the birth of the Son of God who would save mankind from their sin and change the course of history forever. Amazing.

"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” ~Luke 2:4-14

It just goes to show that no matter what the condition of humanity, God can overcome the sin and the negatives of humanityThis family tree literally looks like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It is only love and the crowning at the top of the tree in Jesus that salvages this thing, otherwise the entire tree is a lost cause. 

Come to think of is only Jesus Christ that salvages us all. Right before we think we are any better than those in Christ's genealogy we need to remember that we too are relatives or coheir in Christ and were purchased for a price so that we could become part of the family and therefore part of the kingdom. It wasn't anything we did to earn it. It was his righteousness that overcame our sins. In terms of sin, we are exactly the same as Jesus' ancestors...we're all sinful blockheads. There is nothing we can do to get ourselves extricated from our sin except to turn to Christ. As Linus would say: 

"That is what Christmas was really all about Charlie Brown."

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