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God signs His Christmas Cards (Advent IV)

December 19th, 2009 by Vic

Advent IV

Matthew 1

Do you ever feel like our nation has no statesmen?  Are there no real leaders?  It seems like our government elected officials are in it for themselves and not for others.  Did I mention last week that over 90% of China’s legislators are engineers and over 90% of the US legislators are lawyers?  Lawyers are trained to preserve the past while engineers are trained to dream about new solutions.

For 400 years the Jews had been dreaming about the ideal leader.  God had promised them a good king.  In fact over 1,000 prophecies were unfulfilled until Jesus came.  Their religious leaders were selfish.  Foreign soldiers were imposing the laws of the Roman Empire.  The Jewish people lacked leadership.

Matthew becomes a bridge between the OT and the NT.  He writes to the Jews, the people of the OT.  He quotes the OT over 125 times.  He presents Jesus as the King of the Jews, the Messiah.

Matthew was a Jew working for the Romans to collect taxes.  His salary came out of the taxes he received.  He was probably not any more popular than the IRS man is today.  God inspired him to write an account of Jesus’ birth to prove to the Jews that Jesus was their Messiah.  How could he ever prove that God had spoken to him and given him these words to write?

The answer is in the genealogy.  We’ll look at that and then identify 7 good characteristics of Joseph that we should model.

1:1-17

Matthew starts with Jesus lineage to show His right to be King of the Jews.  Being a descendent of Abraham speaks of Jesus racially.  He is a true Jew.  And being a descendent of David speaks of Jesus regally.  He is part of the kingly line.

4 women are included in the genealogy.  That would be shocking to the Jew.  Genesis 38 tells the story of Tamar.  She was the righteous daughter-in-law of Judah.  Her twins, Perez and Zerah are mentioned 200 years later in Ruth’s lineage and also here.

I do not read Hebrew but I understand that Genesis 38 contains the signature of God kind of like Matthew 1.  I am told if you list every 49th letter of the Hebrew text in Genesis 38, it will spell out Boaz, Ruth, Obed, Jesse, and David.  Moses wrote this 200 years before Boaz was born.  Moses wrote but God signed the letter.

Today we notarize documents with witnesses.  God authenticated His word in ways that defy coincidence or possibility of forgery.  The Bible is the word of God.  He signed it with a unique signature.  We have another signature here in Matthew 1.

In verses 1-16

The number of words used is divisible by 7.

The number of letters used is divisible by 7.

The number of vowels used is divisible by 7.

The number of words that begin with a vowel is divisible by 7.

The number of consonants used is divisible by 7.

The number of words that begin with a consonant is divisible by 7.

The words that occur more than once are divisible by 7.

The words that occur in more than one form are divisible by 7.

The number of nouns used is divisible by 7.

Only seven words are not nouns.

The number of names is divisible by 7.

The number of male names is divisible by 7.

The number of generations is divisible by 7.

This is God’s signature.  He is notarizing this Gospel.  God has signed His Christmas card.  The Bible is a divine book with a divine design.

In this genealogy, the names of 3 men are omitted because of God’s curse on their idolatry in the OT as promised in Deuteronomy 29.  There was no blood connection to Joseph.  Jeremiah 22:30 says no offspring of Jehoiachin will sit on the throne of David.  Luke traces the blood connection through Mary.  Gen 3:15 says it is the seed of the woman that will crush Satan.

Ivan Panin (1865-1942) indentified thousands of numerical structures in Scripture.  Numerology, theomatics, and Bible codes point to the hand of God.  There is a YouTube video about the heptadic (7’s) structure of the Bible by Chuck Missler who quotes Panin.

1:18  Joseph was a self-controlled man.  He was step father of Jesus.  Mary was pledged to Joseph.  It required a certificate of divorce to get unpledged.  So this was more than an engagement.

Our culture suggests that it is OK for kids to sleep together before they are married.  If there is no commitment or discipline before marriage what changes?  A wedding ceremony does not make you more disciplined.  Rather than challenge our kids to abstinence we encourage them to get condoms.  Safe sex is an oxymoron.

A recent study again indentified the people that enjoy sex the most in the US are Christian, monogamous, and married.

Learn from Joseph.  He was self-controled.

1:19  Joseph was a godly gentleman.  The normal thing for the male was to preserve his dignity and reputation and have the woman stoned.  She had no rights.  Joseph does not know that what Mary is saying is even true, but he was a gentleman.  Love covers a multitude of sin.  The love of Jesus covered our sin and remembers them no more.  All things become new.  When God forgives you, you become a virgin.

You can be self-controlled from this day on.  You can be godly from this day on.

1:20  Joseph was a thoughtful man.  He carefully considered the facts.  He was not reactionary.

Remember when Jesus came into Jerusalem on the donkey, he visited the temple.  When He returned the next day, he cleansed it.  Joseph and Jesus model for us prayerful consideration.  Be a thoughtful person.  Don’t be reactionary.

1:20-23  Joseph was sensitive to spiritual reality.  He was spiritually inclined.  He was tuned into his dreams and takes the word of his dream at face value.  The Lord was speaking and he was not arguing.

The angel confirmed his word with the word of God spoken in the prophets.  Be careful what you believe.  Be thoughtful and spiritually sensitive.

1:24 Joseph was obedient.  He did what he knew he should do.  He got up and did it.  He did what he was called by God to do.  He took Mary home as his wife.

1:25  Joseph was selfless.  He did not have sex with Mary until after Jesus was born.  He was not seeking or demanding his own pleasure.  True love is selfless.  It does not seek its own.  Joseph put Mary and the Lord above his own desires, plans, and wishes.

Did you know that Jewish men were not supposed to help with the birth of their child?  That was left to the women, the midwives, the relatives.  But when Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem there are no relatives and midwives in the barn.

Now think about the characteristics of Joseph.  Jesus was like his step dad.

Jesus was self-controlled.  On the cross He prayed, “Father forgive them.”

Jesus was a godly gentleman.  Remember the woman at the well?

Jesus was thoughtful.  He was not reactionary.  He did not break everything in the Temple.

Jesus was spiritually sensitive.

Jesus was faithful to do what he said he would do.

Jesus was selfless.  Phil 2 says he took on the form of a servant.

Read chapter 2 and notice the contrasting attitudes of Herod.

God has sent you a Christmas letter.  The Word is Jesus.  The gift is Jesus.  What are we going to do about it?

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