Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďGRACE IN CHRISTíS GENEALOGYĒ

Matthew 1.1-17

 

This morning I want to preach a sermon about Godís grace. First, let me tell you what Godís grace is. It is His favor, communicated in varying degrees to each person, all the while being profoundly and completely undeserved. God is unfathomably and unsurpassingly glorious, terrible in majesty, and incomprehensibly wonderful. He is perfect in every way, and whatever favor He deigns to bestow upon pitifully wicked and sinful creatures, such as we are, is certainly undeserved. That is what grace is.

The grace of God is a vast subject in Godís Word. God is the God of all grace, according to First Peter 5.10. He is the Giver of grace, according to Psalm 84.11 and James 1.17. His throne is the throne of grace, according to Hebrews 4.16. Zechariah 12.10 and Hebrews 10.29 tell us the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of grace. Grace was upon the Lord Jesus Christ, according to Luke 2.40 and John 3.24. As well, the Lord Jesus spoke with grace, Psalm 45.2 and Luke 4.22, was full of grace, John 1.14, and grace came by Him, John 1.17 and Romans 5.15.

Beloved, I could go on and on about Godís grace. Grace was foretold by the prophets, First Peter 1.10, and was given by Christ, First Corinthians 1.4. Grace is described in the Bible as great, sovereign, rich, exceeding, manifold, all sufficient, all abundant, and glorious. The source of Godís grace is variously attributed to election, Romans 11.5, the call of God, Galatians 1.15, justification, Romans 3.24 and Titus 3.7, faith, Acts 18.27, the forgiveness of sins, Ephesians 1.7, salvation, Ephesians 2.5 and 8, and hope, Second Thessalonians 2.16.

Does it need to be pointed out that grace is necessary for service to God, Hebrews 12.28? Further, believers are heirs of grace, First Peter 3.7, are under grace, Romans 6.14, receive grace from Christ, John 1.16, are what we are by Godís grace, First Corinthians 15.10 and Second Corinthians 1.12, should be established in grace, Hebrews 13.9, should be strong in grace, Second Timothy 2.1, should grow in grace, Second Peter 3.18, and should speak with grace, Ephesians 4.29 and Colossians 4.6.

Grace is especially given to gospel ministers, First Corinthians 3.10, to those who are humble, James 4.6, to those who walk uprightly, Psalm 84.11, while grace is withheld from those who are proud.

Grace is not to be abused, Romans 6.1, is not to be received in vain, Second Corinthians 6.1, is to be prayed for for yourself, Hebrews 4.16, and is to be prayed for for others, Ephesians 6.24.

You begin to see, then, the importance of Godís grace, since Godís dealings with you and me are always governed by this principle of grace, unmerited (which is to say completely undeserved) favor.

Have no fear that I will get overly complicated about this subject of grace this morning. This brief introduction has been for the purpose of overwhelming you with the importance of Godís grace, not overwhelming you with the intricacies of Godís grace.

My sermon will be all simplicity. Turn to Matthew chapter one, where we find Matthewís record of the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ. As you read, keep your eyes pealed for evidence of Godís glorious grace in the Saviorís family tree:

 

1      The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2      Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

3      And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;

4      And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

5      And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

6      And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;

7      And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;

8      And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

9      And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;

10     And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;

11     And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

12     And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;

13     And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;

14     And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;

15     And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;

16     And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

17     So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

 

This is the family tree of the One Who left heavenís glory, the Second Person of the triune godhead, the promised Messiah of Israel, the Giver and the Fulfillment of the Law, Who was born of the Virgin Mary.

God is Creator, Governor, Sustainer, holy, righteous, long-suffering, love, and a great many other things. But it is very important that you also understand that God is gracious.

Lewis Sperry Chafer, who founded the Dallas Theology Seminary and who also wrote an eight-volume systematic theology, once theorized that the willingness of God to create man, to then permit manís fall into sin, and to then save men from their sins by His Son Jesus Christ, was the only way God could display that aspect of His nature known as grace. Power, wisdom, holiness, righteousness, majesty, love, and all the other attributes of God could be, and were, displayed apart from saving sinners. But it is only by saving the completely undeserving, by making sinners the objects of His grace in this way, that God can display the attribute known as grace.

Was Chafer correct? I do not know if he is correct in his assessment or not. I do know that grace, bestowing His favor on creatures who do not deserve it, even to the extent of saving some from their sins, is what separates the Christian faith from all other religions embraced by men.

Godís grace is profoundly important, since it is by grace that sinners are saved from their sins. Therefore, I want to illustrate Godís grace to you this morning.

Three points in my sermon today:

 

First, THE EVIDENCE OF GODíS GRACE

 

Keeping our focus on what we have just read, and keeping in mind that Godís grace has to do with the blessings He bestows upon those who do not deserve anything from Him, or rather from those who deserve only wrath for their sins from Him, consider the evidences of grace in this text. To be sure, Godís grace is evident in the life of each person listed in this family tree, since no one actually deserves to be a human ancestor of the eternal Son of the living God after He had clothed Himself in flesh. But I would like to narrow the field to a consideration of the first four women mentioned in this genealogy.

Is it not amazing to find women in the genealogy of the King of the Jews? In what other ancient genealogy of any importance would you find one woman, much less five? I think it is a testament to Godís grace to find anyone in Christís genealogy. I think it is a further testimony to Godís grace to find these four women in Christís genealogy.

In Matthew 1.3, we find the name ďThamar,Ē which corresponds to the Canaanite woman named Tamar, the daughter in law of Jacobís son, Judah, in Genesis chapter 38.

In Matthew 1.5, we find the names of two women, ďRachabĒ which corresponds to the Canaanite woman named Rahab who lived in the city of Jericho when Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, and ďRuthĒ the Moabitess who is the subject of the small Old Testament book by the same name.

Finally, in Matthew 1.6, reference is made to the woman who had been the wife of ďUrias,Ē that being Uriah the Hittite, one of Davidís mighty men. She, of course, was the Hittite woman named Bathsheba.

Think of these four women in the Lord Jesus Christís family tree. Four Gentile women who are listed as His ancestors. The first woman, Tamar, was a Canaanite who played the harlot. The second woman, Rahab, was a Canaanite who actually was a harlot. The third woman, Ruth, was a Moabite. And the fourth woman was a Hittite, who was complicit in King Davidís adultery and a conspiracy to murder her husband, Uriah.

Each woman was born into a circumstance quite outside the sphere of Godís blessings. They were each born into idolatry, sexual promiscuity, and wickedness, and were strangers from the covenants of promise made to Godís chosen people, the Israelites.

That each of them ended up in the family tree of the Lord Jesus Christ trumpets the grace of God in their lives. Though none of the four deserved any blessing from God, each of them did enjoy a wonderful measure of Godís undeserved favor.

 

Second, THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF GODíS GRACE

 

Consider each woman individually:

 

First, there is Tamar. Tamar is mentioned in Genesis 38.6 as a woman arranged to be the wife of Judahís son Er. However, Genesis 38.7 informs us that Er was so wicked that the LORD slew him, leaving Tamar a childless widow. Genesis 38.8-10 shows us that when arrangement was made to marry Erís brother, Oman, God, too, slew him, for wickedness. Therefore, Tamar was twice widowed and still childless. Though Judah promised his widowed daughter in law, Tamar, a much younger son to marry her when he came of age, it became obvious that Judah would not fulfill his pledge. Tamar then took matters into her own hands, dressed up as a prostitute, and tricked Judah. The result was that she gave birth to twins by Judah, two sons who replaced the two wicked sons God had killed. If all you see from Tamar in this chapter of her life is sin, you see clearly. If all you see from Judah in this same episode is sin, you see clearly. Focusing on Tamar, she deserved nothing from God except punishment for her sins. However, what did she receive from God? She received two sons and a place in the family tree of the Lord Jesus Christ. Was she ever saved? I find no evidence of her salvation anywhere in the Bible. That would suggest that though she did benefit from Godís grace, it was not grace that extended to her salvation from sin.

   Next, there is Rahab. Like Tamar, Rahab was a Canaanite, though she was born more than four centuries after Tamar. It is likely that by the time Rahab was born the Israelites had already been led out of Egypt by Moses, had already refused to enter into the Promised Land as they were told, and were consigned to wandering in the wilderness for forty years so the whole generation of disobedient Israelites could die off before Joshua would lead them into the Promised Land. It is when Joshua sends spies to investigate the ancient city of Jericho, in Joshua chapter two, that we learn of Rahab. She was a harlot, and the spies lodged in her house in Jericho. When the ruler of Jericho sent word to Rahab to give up the spies, she hid them and lied about their whereabouts. Amazingly, Hebrews 11.31 indicates that her actions with respect to the Israelite spies displayed faith, and James 2.25 mentions Rahab, just a couple of verses after mentioning Abraham, as an example of living faith. As I said, like Tamar, Rahab was a Canaanite. However, whereas Tamar seems to have committed sexual sin only once, Rahab was a prostitute. Yet, in the depths of her sins, she was the object of Godís grace, even to the extent of having faith that is mentioned twice in the New Testament.

Does a prostitute deserve Godís grace? Of course, not. Does a Canaanite deserve Godís grace? Not at all. But this woman, Rahab, was not only blessed by God to be found in our Saviorís family tree, but by Godís abundant grace she had faith that resulted in her being listed in Hebrews chapter 11, the faith hall of fame. Though Tamar was a recipient of Godís grace, I find no evidence that she was a believer, no evidence that she received grace that led to her salvation. Rahab, on the other hand, is a woman that I am confident I will see when I get to heaven, a wonderful trophy of Godís grace.

Third, there is Ruth. Ruth, you will remember, is the subject of the small book of Ruth that was probably written by the prophet Samuel. The book begins in Moab, with Ruth and another Moabite woman married to two Jewish brothers. When the Jewish men and their father dies, Ruth and the other Moabite woman, along with the Jewish mother in law, are widowed. When the mother in law, Naomi, decides to return to her home country and the town of her birth, Bethlehem, Ruth chose to accompany her, while the other Moabite widow chose to remain in Moab. The moment of decision for Ruth was quite touching, as she expressed herself most powerfully: ďwhither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.Ē[1] Upon her arrival in Bethlehem at harvest season, she comes to the attention of an older man named Boaz, who is impressed by her conduct and gives orders to his workers to help her out as she gathers food for herself and her mother in law. Discovering himself to be her near kinsman, arrangements are worked out and Boaz marries Ruth despite the fact that she is a Moabitess.

This is a wonderful story of Godís grace. However, it is an even richer story if you take note of Matthew 1.5, where we are told that ďSalmon begat Booz of Rachab.Ē In other words, what may have caused Boaz to be sensitive to the plight of the foreigner named Ruth was his own understanding of her experiences as an outsider, being the son Rahab. Boaz, the son of Rahab, married Ruth, who bore a son named Obed. Obed, in turn, was the father of a man named Jesse, whose youngest son was a fellow named David. Thus, Boaz and Ruth were the great grandparents of King David, with Rahab being the great great grandmother of King David.

Was Ruth a beneficiary of Godís grace? Yes, she was. She married a wealthy Jewish man after being a widowed and impoverished Moabite. She bore him a son, which led to her being the great grandmother of Israelís King David. In addition, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ will someday sit upon the throne of His human ancestor David, in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.

However, what about Godís grace and the salvation of her soul? Was the woman saved from her sins? She certainly had been sinful as an idolatrous Moabite. Listen, again, to what she said to Naomi, her mother in law: ďwhither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.Ē Notice, also, that she addressed Naomiís God, the God she embraced as her own, as ďthe LORD.Ē That is Godís covenant name. What does all this mean for sure? What it means for sure I do not pretend to know for sure. However, God once again showed Himself to be a God of grace to yet another foreign woman, who had no reason to expect blessings from God, much less deserve blessings from God. In addition, she embraced Naomiís God with no expectation of any return for her actions, though God did wonderfully bless her.

Finally, there is ďher that had been the wife of Urias.Ē The sin of David was a particularly wicked one when you remember that the man whose wife he took, and the man he then murdered to cover up his first sin, was one of those men who would have died for David rather do him any harm at all. What a traitor David was to the man who was so loyal to him. But what of the woman? Was she a willing participant in Davidís sin? We do not know for sure. What we do know is that she did not resist him, and she did not later expose his sin. God did that, as He always does. Since David was the king, had she resisted he might have ordered her death. Even afterwards, any move to expose him might have resulted in her death. Though Jewish women were well versed in their duty and obligation to cry out for help and resist when attacked by a man in a city, Bathsheba was not a Jewish woman. We do not know what she knew to do. In addition, we do not know what role she played in Davidís adultery and the murder of her husband. What we do know is this: Matthew does not mention her name. She is only referred to as the wife of Uriah. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that even after the passing of a thousand years; she was still associated with that terrible black mark on Davidís life.

However, what about the grace of God in her life? Does Godís grace reach to the deepest and darkest parts of a sinnerís life? It is safe to say that much of Davidís life and testimony was ruined by his sin with Bathsheba. Nathan pronounced a curse upon his household as a result of his behavior. However, her role is difficult to understand, since we cannot be sure of her exposure to Godís Word, because she was a Hittite woman. However, with the passing of time we see two developments in her life: First, we see that she acted very responsibly as the wife of the king in making sure Davidís wishes were carried out when he was old and very feeble.[2] Second, we see that she spoke words of great wisdom to her son, Solomon, as he grew from childhood to adulthood to prepare him for his reign as king.[3]

Was she a woman who experienced Godís saving grace? I do not know, and would not venture a guess. Each person is given a different measure of Godís grace, with some receiving more and some receiving less. That she was a recipient of Godís grace, however, is without dispute. Imagine a Hittite woman eventually becoming the wife of Israelís greatest king, and then an ancestor of the Messiah of Israel.

 

Finally, THE GOAL OF GODíS GRACE

 

Each of those individuals found in the Lord Jesus Christís family tree is evidence of Godís glorious grace, but none more than the four women found listed there. None was an Israelite. None was without obvious sins that might seem to disqualify them from consideration for Godís blessings. Some exhibited wisdom with others exhibiting wickedness, they were each from the kind of background that would make a place in the family tree of the King of the Jews impossible, but for Godís grace.

The question that needs to be asked, of course, is, ďWhy?Ē Why were these women included in the Messiahís genealogy? Why were they listed when other women, Jewish women, seemingly qualified women, were unnamed? These women are displays not only of Godís sovereignty, but also Godís grace. To be sure, the Virgin Mary was also an object of Godís grace, but being a virgin and being Jewish, she occupies another category altogether than these four women.

They were each blessed, though to varying degrees, with blessings they most certainly did not deserve. It seems that Rahab, being mentioned as she is in Hebrews and James, was a recipient of Godís grace in the salvation of her soul. Concerning the other women, we cannot be so certain, though each of them were obvious recipients of Godís grace.

However, to what end did God display His grace in these womenís lives? Understand that everything God does is for the purpose of a solitary goal, to be glorified. Let me read a portion of First Chronicles 16 before some concluding remarks:

 

23     Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.

24     Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.

25     For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods.

26     For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.

27     Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.

28     Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.

29     Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

 

There are many other passages, which convey the same essential truth that it is right, proper, and good to give God glory, the glory that is due His name. When this happens, the result will be that offerings are brought to Him, men will come before Him, and He will be worshiped in the beauty of His holiness.

 

These women are not a complete story in themselves. Each of them is best seen against the backdrop of the big picture, the grand plan, the giant tapestry of Godís overarching purpose. It was by Godís wonderful grace that they found themselves, though unknown to them at the time, in the family tree of the Messiah of Israel. They were in the nation, in the tribe, and finally in the family from which would spring forth the virgin born Son of God.

He, of course, would grow up living a sinless life in obedience to the dictates of Godís Law. Being born into the human family, with Mary as His mother and God the Father being His only father, He is the perfect and only remedy for manís sins, being both man and God. He would, at the proper time, bear the sins of many, suffer, bleed, and die an atonement for sins, and be buried and rise up from the dead after three days. He ascended to His Fatherís right hand on high, where He is presently enthroned until His enemies are made His footstool. From that lofty position on high ďhe is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,Ē Hebrews 7.25.

Therefore, when seen in its proper perspective, the real story is the story of that One Who would come after them, Who would bear the sins of many, through whom the grace of God they enjoyed was actually provided. However, they each had a part to play. They each enjoyed a role in Godís great plan. Each of them was a recipient of Godís grace, that unmerited favor that He so freely bestows upon undeserving sinners.

The end of Godís grace is of course, His glory. But what is the greatest and most effective means by which Godís grace gives Him glory? It is in the salvation of a lost sinner. In John 15.8, Jesus told His disciples how they could most effectively glorify God. He said, ďHerein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.Ē So you see, fruit bearing glorifies the Father, which is when sinners come to Christ and are saved from their sins.

Are you someone who has experienced the grace of God? To some degree, you certainly have. You have a measure of health and material prosperity, and you have a Bible and the gospel at your disposal. However, have you experienced the saving grace of God, by which God is most greatly glorified? That only comes through faith in Christ. For all that God is, righteous, just, holy, powerful, and loving, keep in mind that He is also gracious. He bestows blessings upon the undeserving, and He will graciously bless you if you will come to His Son, Jesus Christ.



[1] Ruth 1.16-17

[2] 1 Kings 1

[3] Proverbs 31.1-9

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