The Gift

God's plan for the world unfolds in the first few pages of the New Testament.
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We all like the idea of giving the perfect gift. But to find that gift, we need to take time in choosing it, and it needs to be timely. In Christ, we see both.

Many people pass over the first chapter of Matthew but, among other things, we can see the time God took developing his unique Gift to us. Nothing could derail his plan.

Not Abraham going through famine
Not the sexual escapades of David
Not the time of Israel's exile
Not the curse on Jeconiah (We'll get into that in a minute.)

Not only did this Gift take time, but it was unique. In Matthew 1:6, we are reminded that David was the king and that Israel used to have a king. If someone wanted to know who should be the rightful king of Israel, they could trace David through the royal line. And that's what Matthew 1:16 does: "Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ." Did you ever wonder why that wording is so meticulous? If we look at Jeremiah 22:28, we read about a person called "Jehoiachin" or in the King James version, "Coniah." Jeremiah 22:30 says, "this is what the Lord says: 'record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah."

If we go back to Matthew 1:11, we read about Jeconiah, and a quick look at the footnotes will remind us that this is the "Jehhoiachin" or "Jeconiah" of Jeremiah 22. What this means is that no child descended from the line of Jeconiah could sit on the throne of David. So the rightful king of Israel cannot be directly descended from David through the line of Solomon.

If we go to Luke 3, we see another genealogy. This one also begins with rather strange wording. In Luke 3:23 we read "now Jesus himself was about 30 years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought of Joseph, the son of Heli." The words "so it was thought" remind us again that something is different here. In all the records there is nothing suggesting a son named Joseph born to Heli. There is however a daughter named Mary. If we read Luke 3:31, we see that this line traces all the way back to Adam but moves through the line of David through Nathan.

So you have two parallel lines coming down and intersecting in David the king, returning to two parallel lines, one royal line through Solomon and a natural line through Nathan, but intersecting and stopping in a man named Jesus who had no children. This Jesus is not the biological descendent of Joseph so the curse of Jeconiah is avoided. The child is the biological descendent of Adam, Nathan, and Heli. The biological line and the kingly line stop in one person, Jesus, who had no earthly descendents. Matthew calls him the "Christ."

A Timely Gift

Gifts should be timely. When I was seven, I got a really nice pair of slippers. I started wearing them as an adult when they finally fit. Age seven wasn't the right time for a pair of size 12 slippers. God's gift, on the other hand, came at the right time. Galatians 4:4-5 tells us, "when the fullness of the time came God sent his son." The politics were right. There was peace throughout the land, the Romans had built a good road system, and the gospel could be easily transported. The culture was prepared. Many people had been educated and several knew Latin and in some cases Greek. These were the two languages in which the Bible message would be passed along. And there was a renewed interest in the Scriptures.

What did this gift bring the world then and now?

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