So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
(Matthew 1:17 ESV)
Matthew records forty-two generations in his genealogy of Jesus. But we know this is not a complete lineage. Some names are missing. For example, Matthew 1:8 says Joram begot Uzziah. This was Uzziah, King of Judah, who was struck with leprosy for daring to enter the temple as a priest to offer incense [2 Chronicles 26:16-21]. Uzziah was not the immediate son of Joram. There were three kings between them (Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah).
This really isn’t a problem because Jewish genealogies frequently skip generations for practical purposes. Often the names that are included are the more ‘well-known’ names so that the genealogy can be memorized.
Notice that Matthew’s genealogy can be cleanly divided into three sections of fourteen names each. In the first section – Abraham to David – Israel was born and grew into a great nation. In the second section – Solomon to Josiah – Israel declined and eventually collapsed. During this time Israel had a civil war and split into two very sinful nations, Israel and Judah, that were conquered and taken into captivity by Assyria and Babylon respectively. In the third section – Jechoniah to Joseph – God delivered His people from captivity by allowing Persia to conquer Babylon. People returned to their homeland and the nation had new hope.
I think this is pretty cool. Despite all that Israel went through – the good times and the bad times – God was working on His plan. He had promised to bring a savior to the world through the Jewish people, specifically through King David [2 Samuel 7:12-17; Acts 13:22-23]. Nothing that the Jews did could disrupt that plan.
When the Jews walked with God, His plan was unfolding. When the turned their back on Him, His plan continued to unfold. When they were humiliated by foreign armies, His plan was not disrupted.
This is something we should remember when it comes to our own lives. No matter what we are going through… no matter how closely we are walking with God (or how far we are from him)… if one is a child of God through faith in Jesus [John 1:12-13, 3:3] then God is active in that person’s life doing everything to fulfill His promise.
That promise is to free us from the presence of sin by taking us to heaven and conforming us to the image of His son, Jesus [Romans 8:29]. At times it may seem like God has abandoned us. We may screw up badly. Or we may be the victim of someone else’s evil deeds. Our lives may be going great. Or we may have hit rock bottom. None of that can derail God.
God has a plan. And just He did with Israel, God will always be at work in the lives of His adopted children to bring that plan to fruition.
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