Covenant (Matthew 1:1)

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When reading through the Bible, one cannot help but notice that God creates a  covenant with Adam (Gen 1:28-30), a covenant with Noah (Gen 6:8, 9:8-9,11-17), a covenant with Abraham (Gen 15:18), a covenant with Moses (Ex 6:5, 24:1-8, 34:10-28), and a covenant with David (2Sam 7, 23:5, Ps 89:3; 132:12; 2 Chr 13:5). They are all written by God and directed to His people. That tells us that God Most High designs that His people should be in a covenant relationship with Him.

In fact, if you look closely at all of those covenants, you will see that although they each build on each other in terms of complexity and understanding, they each say something to ordinary human beings to the effect of, “God is our God and we are His People”. In that sense they are all really the same covenant – each is a solemn commitment we enter into by His unilateral command. Each lays out what we are to do to honor Him as King. Each explains how God will bless us as His people. And in each there is some signal of death that God’s people will know that there is a grievous penalty for abandoning the Covenant. 

Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord promised another Covenant. This New Covenant (from which we get the words, “New Testament”) is not like the Old Covenant in that it offers forgiveness for disobeying the terms of the Old Covenant. On that basis alone it is a greater covenant. But it is far greater yet, because by the New Covenant, God offers us full reconciliation with Him – so much so that all who are part of it can enter His presence day by day, just as a single man (the high priest) was able to do only once a year under the Old Covenant. In that sense it is a tremendous fulfillment of the Old Covenant. It allows that we are all to be made like the greatest high priest. It is made with the same God (through His Son), and the penalty for disobeying is still eternal separation from Him and all the creation He rules over. To that end we can rightly say that the earlier expressions of His Covenant pointed to the New Covenant. 

Two of those expressions were most pertinent to the Jews; The covenant with Abraham – which established the Hebrew race, and the covenant with David – which established the temple, the dwelling of God among the Hebrew people. All Jews knew all the Old Testament covenants, but it is these two that they could look at to see both the demarcation of their nation as unique out of all the nations of the earth, and the pinnacle of their nation at its very best. 

So when Matthew begins his Gospel with, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham,” he is making a pointed declaration that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Jewish people group could aspire to become. That he also starts off by naming Jesus as Christ – meaning, “anointed one”, and “son of David” (a messianic title), means we can also understand that he writes from that viewpoint. 

So then, the Gospel of Matthew should not be read as a treatise arguing toward understanding Jesus as Messiah. Rather, it should be understood from the start as a revelation of what God’s people are called to become. For it is a record that starts with who Jesus is, but ends with the common calling of all Christ’s followers to be like Him in reaching and restoring God’s people. 

After all, that is exactly what Jesus our Messiah and High Priest ultimately offers – that we, mere fallen human beings – might become perfect children of God through Him, engaging in His work with Him. As Paul would later put it, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” Glory to God!

“The same Jesus Who turned water into wine can transform your home, your life, your family, and your future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation.”

Adrian Rogers

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

Think about the fact that God had a holy purpose in mind in creating your family line. From the beginning He meant for you and all your relatives to be part of His work. Praise Him for that high calling, and pray that it would be fully realized in your generation. 

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