In our study of Matthew’s genealogy, so far, we have discovered that Matthew had a very particular purpose and wrote in an order, including specific information to accomplish that purpose. His gospel is not necessarily chronological, nor is it intended to include every detail of Christ’s life and ministry. In the previous session, we discovered that it is likely Jesus was adopted, not being an actual biological descendant of David. This week, we will observe the kingly portion of Matthew’s genealogy and expand on this notion in particular, looking to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the Messiah. We will continue to see that all things (past, present, and future) are completed in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
Then David fathered Solomon by Uriah’s wife,
Solomon fathered Rehoboam,
Rehoboam fathered Abijah,
Abijah fathered Asa,
Asa fathered Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat fathered Joram,
Joram fathered Uzziah,
Uzziah fathered Jotham,
Jotham fathered Ahaz,
Ahaz fathered Hezekiah,
Hezekiah fathered Manasseh,
Manasseh fathered Amon,
Amon fathered Josiah,
and Josiah fathered Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the exile to Babylon.
A summary of the kings
Since David’s throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16), then the Messiah would sit on the throne that was established by David’s descendants. Matthew takes the opportunity to list the kings in the kingly line, through whom David’s throne was established. The Messiah would need to come through the established kingly line in order to fulfill the word of God through Nathan to King David. So, Matthew sets out to show that Jesus Christ is indeed a legal heir to David’s throne according to God’s word.
The promise of God would be explicitly established in Solomon (1 Kings 11:11-12) and in the kingly line through Solomon. Matthew lists the descending line of kings, both those who followed after God and those who did not, ending with Jechoniah, who was taken into exile by the king of Babylon. Matthew did not need to list all of the kings and he had his reason for skipping over a few. His point is to establish that the Messiah would actually come through the established kingly line according to God’s word, and so prove that Jesus is the promised Messiah and deliverer of God’s people.
Matthew finishes this second section of his genealogy (the section of the kings) by listing Jechoniah’s name in conjunction with the exile of Israel into Babylon.
Jechoniah is another name used to refer to Jehoiachin (cr. ref. 2 Kings 25:15, 1 Chronicles 3:17), along with Coniah (ref. Jeremiah 22:24). We remember reading 2 Kings 25 in session 1, when the biological Davidic reign ended in Judah. We read of the kingdom slowly being removed from David’s biological house even though it was promised that David’s house and throne would be everlasting. In the last session, we discussed that Jesus was adopted into David’s kingly line- not being a biological son, but a legal heir.
Jeremiah was a prophet during Jechoniah’s reign and following. In Jeremiah 22:24-30, we read about God revealing what was to come to Jechoniah through the prophet:
“As I live,” says the Lord, “though you, Coniah son of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, were a signet ring on My right hand, I would tear you from it. In fact, I will hand you over to those you dread, who want to take your life, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Chaldeans. I will hurl you and the mother who gave birth to you into another land, where neither of you were born, and there you will both die. They will never return to the land they long to return to.
Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered pot,
a jar no one wants?”
Why are he and his descendants hurled out
and cast into a land they have not known?
Earth, earth, earth,
hear the word of the Lord!
This is what the Lord says:
“Record this man as childless,
a man who will not be successful in his lifetime.
None of his descendants will succeed
in sitting on the throne of David
or ruling again in Judah.”
So, the one who would sit on David’s throne must be of David’s house through this kingly line. In tearing the kingdom from David’s biological descendants and by His own word, no biological descendant of Jechoniah could sit on the throne. A Messiah was promised by the word of the Lord. By the word of the Lord a Messiah could not be produced by means of human biology. No biological descendant of Jechoniah could sit on the throne of David. Israel was in exile not only physically, but spiritually. The coming of a Messiah was rendered impossible by any naturalistic means or by the work of people. There is a reason Matthew mentions the exile as a defining point of his genealogy.
Jesus perfectly fulfills the word of God to both David and through Jeremiah to Jechoniah. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, not having a biological human father (Matthew 1:18, 20, 23, 25). He was adopted through the marriage of Mary to Joseph (Matthew 1:16, 24-25).
We often see the argument made that Jesus must have been born of a virgin in order that he not inherit original sin. This, however, is not the case biblically. The Bible never actually makes that claim. It is presumed and read into the text. It was necessary, however, that Jesus be a fulfillment of God’s spoken and written word. This thing had to be worked out on purpose. It is astronomically unlikely to have come about by any degree of chance. The Old Testament is a testimony to Christ, in both His work and His position on David’s throne.
Jesus is the King of kings. A similar title is used one time in the Old Testament text. It refers specifically to God:
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you except to fear the Lord your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul? Keep the Lord’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good. The heavens, indeed the highest heavens, belong to the Lord your God, as does the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord was devoted to your fathers and loved them. He chose their descendants after them — He chose you out of all the peoples, as it is today. Therefore, circumcise your hearts and don’t be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. You also must love the foreigner, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. You are to fear Yahweh your God and worship Him. Remain faithful to Him and take oaths in His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome works your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt, 70 people in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky” Deuteronomy 10:12-22 (emphasis on v. 17).
The title, “God of gods and Lord of lords,” is a title that explicitly belongs to God alone. New Testament writers used the title as they referred to Jesus of Nazareth (1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, Revelation 19:16). The eternal king, the King of kings (here, explicitly the fulfillment of David’s throne), was God. This is the high position of the Messiah. All things belong to Him and Matthew will conclude that all authority is given to Him (Matthew 28:18).
This has some severe application to the way that Christ followers approach human politics. The Bible is extremely political. Jesus is king.
Political division is a result of human sinfulness (the pursuing of our own desires, James 4). How are we, as Christians, to engage the political divisiveness of our nation and the world within its current wretched context? If Jesus is king, then our involvement in politics should reflect Christ’s kingdom. As we engage human politics, we have the opportunity to speak the life that is found in Christ in the midst of human-centered bickering. It is so tempting for us to complain about the way that we think things should be or about the people we believe to be incompetent. The truth of the matter is this: we are to be concerned with the Kingdom of God in Christ. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul implored his student not to be distracted by the many things of the world, especially concerning things that were present but did not reflect the grace of King Jesus:
“You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter. Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer ought to be the first to get a share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead and descended from David. This is according to my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:1-8).
Paul’s instruction, based on the truth that Jesus sits on David’s throne, was that Timothy needed to stay on the King’s task, not getting too involved in the affairs of other kingdoms, and to teach faithful men who would also be on task in teaching about the grace in Christ Jesus. We are, then, politically affiliated with Jesus. Whether Republicans or Democrats are in office, and whether the country is moving to the right or the left, we remain on task. We are not distracted from our calling in Christ and we resolve to speak life into a system that is divided morally, economically, and philosophically. God is the one making us into complete people, fit for His pleasure as we abide in His glory and righteousness alone. Jesus is king, and the way that we approach politics says much about what we believe on this earth and how mature we have been made in Christ.
- How does our engagement with human politics work for the good of God’s people, for their sanctification?
- How should Christ-followers engage people with whom they disagree politically?