In our study of Matthew chapter one, we see the family tree of Jesus and the fact that He was legally Jewish. This gospel account is written for the Jewish population and it lays the important foundation to show the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
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This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
This gospel account begins like a legal document. We see that its purpose is to show the direct relationship between Jesus, David, and Abraham. God promised David that his throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7) and so it was important that Jesus was his descendent. This is known as the Davidic Covenant. God promised Abraham that he would be a great nation and that all people on the earth would be blessed through him (see Genesis 12). This is known as the Abrahamic Covenant and Abraham is known as the father of the faith.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
We notice that it is from the line of Jacob that Jesus came and not Isaac's firstborn son Esau (Jacob's twin brother). We are reminded that it was God that selected Jacob and that He told Rebekah that the older would serve the younger (Genesis 25). God promised Jacob (whose name He changed to Israel) the land and that kings would be among his descendants (Genesis 35). This passage shows that Jesus was from the tribe of Judah which was important to fulfill the prophecy of Jacob (Genesis 49). There he said that the tribe of Judah would produce the leaders until the final kingdom is established on the earth. We are also introduced to the first of four Gentile (non-Jewish) women in Jesus' family tree. Tamar, a Canaanite woman, was actually the wife of Judah's son Er until the Lord put him to death. After that, she tricked Judah into sleeping with her so that she could become his wife (Genesis 38). It is interesting to note that Judah said of her that she was "more righteous" than he was in this event.
Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.
We now come to the second Gentile woman listed in the family tree of Jesus. In Joshua 2, we were introduced to Rahab the prostitute/inn keeper. She was spared from destruction when Joshua led Israel against the inhabitants of Jericho. She was spared because she believed God was going to deliver the land to His people. Afterwards, she married Salmon and must have accepted the Jewish faith. We, too, can be brought into the family of God by simply believing God and His Word. When confronted with the facts, Rahab chose to believe and we have that same choice. Like Rahab, you have the opportunity to choose to believe and be saved.
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
We now meet the third Gentile woman in the family which is Ruth who was from Moab. You can get the whole story of how she was redeemed and brought into the family in the book of Ruth. She would have been the great-grandmother of King David and it reminds us that we, too, can be redeemed and have a close relationship with the King.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
We now come to the fourth Gentile woman and, even though she is not named, we can easily tell that it is refering to Bathsheba. This is a reminder of the sin of king David and the fact that any earthly king is inferior to the King of Kings. He had committed adultery as well as murder and yet repented and remained the king of Israel. This is a reminder to us, as well, that whatever your sins are they can be removed and God can still use you in a mighty way. We remember that David was just a little shepherd boy that God raised up. When he stumbled, God raised him up again and used him to establish the land boundaries of the nation of Israel.
Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
In the first section of the family tree, we saw the establishment and rise of the nation of Israel. Solomon was the height of the kingdom and, now, this list begins the decline. We notice that Matthew skips some of the ancestors such as from Jehoram to Uzziah. As we shall see, there was a reason for this.
Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
We see the decline of the nation to the point that God hands them over to the Babylonians. We see that even though there were some good rulers, such as Hezekiah, the people would not worship God alone. We see that, once again, Matthew has skipped some of the relatives from Josiah to Jeconiah.
After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
As we see, Matthew does not say that Joseph was the father of Jesus. But, he demonstrates that legally Jesus was his son and therefore a direct descendant of King David. In this section of the family tree, we see the restoration of Israel. Although the way for the restoration has been paved, it has not fully taken place yet as the full measure of God's people have not accepted Him as the Messiah. This will happen in the last days and, in fact, is the focus of the Book of Revelation.
Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.
Now, we see why Matthew used the practice of telescoping to list the family tree. He deliberately skipped some so that the resulting number would be equal to fourteen. Why fourteen? He was establishing the fact that Jesus was in the royal line of David and the numerical equivalent for David's name is fourteen. We also see that there are three divisions in the line and are reminded that the number three is associated with the earthly display of God's will. In this, we see that all along it was God's plan to bring Jesus from the line of David to restore His people.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Now, that Matthew has established the fact that Jesus was of the line of David, he begins to establish that He was also God. The term "pledged to be married" is the equivalent of what we call being engaged but it is also much more. For the Jewish people, this was a time of legal commitment without physical relations.
Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
According to the Law, Joseph could have accused her of adultery and she would have been found guilty and stoned to death. He truly loved her and so had decided to just sign the necessary legal papers for the divorce without taking her to the religious authorities.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.'
An angel was dispatched by God to explain the situation to Joseph. The angel reminded him of his family heritage and the fact that he was in the line of David. This would have also reminded him of the fact that King Solomon would have been considered a child of adultery as he was conceived even without the engagement of David and Bathsheba. The angel went on to explain that Jesus was sent directly from God.
'She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'
The angel completes his mission to Joseph by explaining that the child will be named Jesus because He will be the Savior of His people. In Hebrew, the name is Yesua and it was a common alternative of the name Yehoshuah (Joshua) which means Jehovah is salvation. Even as Israel is threatened more and more in these last days, they can be strong and hold onto this promise. Those who accept Him will be victorious. We know that Joseph was a "good Jew" and so would have known about the promised Messiah. We can only guess at what was going through his head as the angel announced that the Messiah would legally be considered his son.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us').
Matthew reminds the Jewish people of the prophecy of Isaiah. When Judah was being threatened by both Syria and the northern kingdom, God promised them a sign that they would be saved from the enemy. This was to be a sign that God would never allow His people to be completely defeated. Jesus came first for the Jews and that fulfills the words of Isaiah. Even as Israel is threatened more and more in these last days, they can be strong and hold onto this promise. Those who accept Him will be victorious while those who oppose Him will be judged.
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Many people try to dispute and even mock the idea of the virgin birth. We must simply accept it as fact based on the events of Jesus' time here on the earth. It was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt with the resurrection.