Matthew 1 – Families are a part of who we are

NIVNLTMessage

Intro

Who we are is influenced heavily by our families – not just our immediate family but the long line of people who proceeded us.  In America this is less important than in other countries – as we don’t value family as much.  While I am a firm believer in that we are not victims – that we can make difficult choices to make our lives what they should be – we are all influenced by our families.

Jesus’ family history is interesting – while he wouldn’t be influenced in the same way as us I think his family history is intentional and we can learn from it.  This is typically one of the easiest parts of the New Testament to skip over – as frankly it seems like a boring list of names.  However, if you carefully think about WHO is in the list you get a sample of humanity’s best and worst.  And all of these were chosen by God to be part of Jesus’ family line (again it’s not about me – it’s about what God does through me).

Intro Questions

  • Do you know much about your ancestry? – like who your parents, parents, parents, were?
  • Have thought much about what it was like for your mom and dad growing up – how being raised by your grandparents influenced who they were?
  • How much of your parents do you see in yourself?  Do you feel good or bad about it – is it something you want to change or preserve?
  • How much of who your family was affects you?  Do you think it should affect you that much?

Watch the Video – Matthew 1

Video Debrief

  • Anything jump out at you from the video?
  • Is it interesting seeing it on the screen – as opposed to just reading it?

Digging into the Text

The following is the first part of Matthew 1 (NLT) with comments from me giving more information about who is mentioned.  Feel free to read these, to have others search for/read the source text, etc.  I’m not there so I’m not going to be upset if you don’t follow exactly:

Abraham was the father of Isaac.

Abraham – the dude who God chose to promise to create a nation from – his story starts in Genesis 12 – Abraham is also mentioned in the new testament in RomansHebrews.  One of the most interesting things I remember about Abraham was reading “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” (Romans 4:2-4).  What he believed in was God would give him a child – even at his and Sarah’s old age – it wasn’t just that he would be something great – something apart from himself – but the very personal item of having a child – which I ‘m sure he felt was impossible.  God began this lineage with a promise – a personal promise – but a promise that affected us all.

Isaac was the father of Jacob.

Isaac – the son of Abraham – the promise of God to Abraham – to give him a son.   The next major event in his life is a frightening one for any parent – God told Abraham to sacrifice him.  Fortunately it didn’t happen (or this would be a short story) but it’s still strange and unnerving.  Isaac’s personal story starts in Genesis 25 – but there’s not much to it in terms of himself.  Most of his story is about this father and his sons – Jacob and Esau.

Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers.

Jacob was quite a character – not exactly always a man of virtue – but God choose to use him.  There are quite a few stories of his “misbehavior” – scheming his way into his brother’s birthright (he was the second born – but he schemed it out of Esau).  Of course then he met his match in his father-in-law – Laban – in getting married but eventually outwitted him.  Then there is a strange passage – where Jacob wrestles with God (I know many people have wrestled in prayer -but this was physically wrestling with God).  Jacob makes peace with his brother Esau (who he rightly feared was a little ticked off).   Many of his son’s inherited his father’s character – except for this son Joseph – which is another story.

3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar).

Judah is another character of great virtue – he’s the brother who said (Genesis 37:26) let’s not kill our brother Joseph – but sell him into slavery!

Perez was the father of Hezron.

I’m not sure there’s much about Perez, but the story of his birth is kinda wild.  Little background first – the expectation at the time was that if your brother died without leaving an heir it was your responsibility to marry his widow to ensure their is an heir.  So here’s how this went down – Judah’s son Er was so wicked that God killed him before he could produce an heir for his wife – Tamar (which scripture specifically mentions).  So his brother Onan is supposed to step up – but doesn’t (Genesis 38:9-10) and he dies.  So Judah tells Tamar – go wait until my youngest son is old enough (but this was a lie as he was afraid he would also die).  Tamar then “tricks” Judah (her Father-in-law) into sleeping with her (by acting as a prostitute so he was involved in this debacle).  She then gets pregnant by him and Perez is born (Genesis 38)

Hezron was the father of Ram.[b]
4 Ram was the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
5 Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab).
Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).

The story picks up again with Boaz – in the book of Ruth.  Ruth is the daughter-in-law of Naomi – from the tribe of Judah.  Naomi was a person of character – Ruth is heading back to Israel from a foreign after her husband and son have died.  Naomi shows her character – in that she accompanies Ruth back to her land away from her own.  Boaz is a relative of Naomi – and he sees her character and shows some of his own – in that he “redeems” his relative from her distress.

Obed was the father of Jesse
6 Jesse was the father of King David.

Jesse is simply known as the father of David – who was chosen from God from his many sons (1 Samuel 16)

David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).

David is one of the most well known people in the bible – so I’m not going to say a lot.  He was described by God as a man after his heart – despite being someone who stole another’s wife and had him killed. (2 Samuel 11)

7 Solomon was the father of Rehoboam.

Solomon is another character who’s quite well known.  He had a lot to say and Israel was doing pretty good under his reign.

Rehoboam was the father of Abijah.

Unfortunately things started going downhill with this guy. Despite being the son of a very wise man he wasn’t so smart himself.  He chose not to listen to wisdom (1 Kings 12) but to rash youth – which began the split of the kingdom.

Abijah was the father of Asa.[c]

“He committed the same sins as his father before him” (1 Kings 15) is pretty much the description of this guy.

8 Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat.

Asa turned things around –  he “did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight”.

Jehoshaphat was the father of Jehoram.[d]

Jehosaphat’s story takes up in 1 Kings 22 – when he meets up with King of Israel (only a few generations after David and Solomon the kingdom had been split in two).   The King of Israel asks Jehosaphat (King of Judah – the other half of the kingdom) to go to war against another king.  So the Jehosaphat asked for the Lord’s advice – and they ignore it.  So guess what – it didn’t work and the king of Israel died. Overall the biblical account is good for Jehosaphat -in that he did what was “pleasing” in the Lord’s sight – but he didn’t get rid of all of the idols.

Jehoram was the father[e] of Uzziah.

Pong back – Jehoram “followed the example of the kings of Israel and was as wicked..” – so the good attitude of his dad didn’t rub off on him.  It didn’t help his reign much – as when he was putting down a revolt his army deserted him.

9 Uzziah was the father of Jotham.

He did a little better – but apparently his incomplete effort backfired – as he was struck with leprosy – and had to live the end of his reign in isolation (2 Kings 15).

Jotham was the father of Ahaz.

As seems to be the pattern – the description of his reign is coached in the same terms “Jotham did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. He did everything his father, Uzziah, had done. 35 But he did not destroy the pagan shrines, and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense there. He rebuilt the upper gate of the Temple of the Lord” (2 Kings 15)

Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah.

Ahaz was quite the guy – he “did evil in the sight of the Lord” – even sacrificing his own son in a fire (2 Kings 16).  He did quite a few other things – but I think you get the picture.

10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh.

Hezekiah was a change of pace – he was one of the good ones – faithful to the Lord.  In 2 Kings 19 we again get one of those God stories – Hezekiah is in trouble – Assyria is on the verge of attack and he is distraught – asking the Lord for help.  Isaiah (prophet) sends word to Hezekiah that Assyria won’t win.  Then God himself takes action – killing 185,000 soldiers overnight – needless to say the remaining soldiers didn’t want to stick around. In 2 Kings 20 his story continues with him being gravely ill but praying to the Lord for deliverance – which is granted.

Manasseh was the father of Amon.[f]

Well that didn’t last – his son Manasseh was a pretty wicked guy – not like his father. In 2 Kings 21 God pretty much said he’s done with this family – as his behavior was about as wicked as you get (put altars in the temple, killing person after person, etc.)

Amon was the father of Josiah.

Short story – he did evil and was assassinated by his own officials.

11 Josiah was the father of Jehoiachin[g] and his brothers (born at the time of the exile to Babylon).

Josiah was a fresh breath – someone who did the right thing.  While they were working on restoring the temple they “found” the law (which apparently they had lost).  Josiah was genuinely convicted – tearing his clothes (2 Kings 22).  That at least left the kingdom in his hands during his life.  Josiah took action – cleaning out the idols, restoring passover, etc. – out of his reaction to reading the law.

12 After the Babylonian exile:
Jehoiachin was the father of Shealtiel.

This guy lasted 3 months before Babylon invaded and took him prisoner.

Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel.
13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud.

Zerabbubel gets to participate in something great – the rebuilding of the temple.

Abiud was the father of Eliakim.
Eliakim was the father of Azor.
14 Azor was the father of Zadok.
Zadok was the father of Akim.
Akim was the father of Eliud.
15 Eliud was the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar was the father of Matthan.
Matthan was the father of Jacob.
16 Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

Questions:

  1. Anybody on the list surprise you? If so, why?  What did you see for the first time?
  2. Was everybody on the list a person of great character – of virtue?  Was anyone?  What’s the ratio of good to bad?
  3. How long did it take after King David for the kingdom to split in two?
  4. From the excerpts of the Old Testament did you see a pattern in what God used to evaluate the kings? What was important to him?
  5. Who are some of your favorite characters (at least most memorable) from the list?
  6. What does this list of characters say about who Jesus is?  Did he come out of nowhere or was he embedded in history?
  7. Do you have any questions for the group that have been bugging you about what you read (maybe something over the years you haven’t been able to understand or resolve in your own heart and mind?)

Application

  1. How many of the people in the list did God use in the birthline of Jesus?
  2. Why weren’t any of them disqualified?
  3. Did God use them because of what they did or because he choose to?
  4. Did they have choices to make?  Could they have influenced their own story – if not the whole story?
  5. Is it about you or about what God chooses to do?
  6. Thinking about this list – does it encourage you, embarrass you?
  7. So can God use anybody?  What does this say about his character?

Deeper Exploration/Thoughts:

  1. Matthew 1 also mentions the birth of Jesus – what does that tell you about him?  Was it a normal birth?  A normal conception?
  2. What you think about the pattern of the nation of Israel – how quickly they fall away?   How does this mirror our lives?
  3. Which person on the list do you most relate to?  Why?
  4. How many times was the temple rebuilt?  Was it ever the same?
  5. How do you want your family history to be written?
  6. Think about who you think God is – where did that come from?  Describe it to the group – write it down.  Do you trust? Do you pray?

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