Friday, March 7, 2014

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 9, 2014

Over 57,000 readers worldwide

(GOD’s unbroken chain of promise)
(Psalm 89:19-37, Isaiah 9:6-7, & Matthew 1:18-21)

Hebrew genealogies typically skip generations and are often arranged in groups so that they can be memorized more easily. In the Apostle Matthew’s account of JESUS’ genealogy, he uses groups of 14. This may be symbolic of the numeric value of the name “David”. In Hebrew numerology the letters in the name “David” adds up to “14”. It is believed by some scholars that this is why Matthew chose to use only 14 generations in each of the three periods listed. To, list JESUS in the last series of 14, would probably be something that is significant to the Jewish readers, whom, Matthew sought to convince of JESUS’ fulfillment of the promises of the “Davidic Covenant”.
In Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew gives us his account of the birth of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. In the Greek, the word used for “espouse” or “engagement” is “mnesteuo” (mnace-tyoo-o) and it is an engagement that is far more serious than what we have today. In fact it is “a formal stage of a marriage contract” that, if broken, by engaging in sexual intercourse with anyone, including the contracted parties, even at this stage, would be considered adultery and grounds for divorce, or annulment.
During this espousal period, usually one year, the contracted parties could not live or sleep together. They would remain separate in their parent’s homes as a demonstration of the faithfulness to their pledge of purity to one another. Mary and Joseph were in this one-year waiting period when Mary became impregnated by the HOLY SPIRIT.
Joseph was upset at first, because, he himself, had not yet received a word from GOD, concerning his important role in the annals of human history. However, he would soon find out, through a dream, that he would play a major role in the “distinctive act of GOD” that would serve to save all mankind. He would be charged with raising “the CHILD” that would “free mankind” from under the dominion of his own “sin nature”. It is considered by believers to be the greatest miracle ever performed in the history of mankind. And ironically, it is a miracle that went virtually unnoticed by all but a few chosen servants, who were careful enough to keep their minds and hearts focused on GOD.
If JESUS had been conceived and born just like any other child, then, HE wouldn’t be GOD. It was necessary that HE be born of woman and have an earthly mother, but not appropriate that HE be born of an earthly father. HIS earthly mother is what makes HIM human, and HIS FATHER in Heaven is what makes HIM GOD. HE is both 100% man, and 100% GOD, and is thus, the “Hypostatic Union”.
Few Christians today look at Bethlehem as a burial place, but rather, they look at it as the “birthplace of life”, the true life, that is found only in JESUS CHRIST. Because of JESUS’ humble birth into humanity over 2000 years ago, and because HE died for us and then rose again, we now can look forward to a bright future in the glorious presence of the ALMIGHTY FATHER in Heaven, if we choose to. There, we can live forever in a place where death doesn’t exist, and, where tears never fall.
In the book of Isaiah in chapter 9, verses 6-7, the prophet describes, more or less, the universal reign of the MESSIAH. There Isaiah tells us that all the governments of the earth will rest on the shoulders of JESUS, and HE will be called “WONDERFUL COUNSELOR”, “MIGHTY GOD”, “EVERLASTING FATHER”, and “PRINCE OF PEACE”. HIS ever-expanding peaceful regime will never end. HE will rule forever with fairness and justice from David’s throne, and the passionate, faithful commitment of the Almighty GOD will guarantee this.
The contrast that presents itself in the latter part of Isaiah Chapter 9 (Vs. 8-21) shows the ruination and destruction we face when we continue to disobey and rebel against GOD. Israel’s tragic history is marred by such rebellion against the LORD, from the beginning. However, the remnant of the obedient has always been afforded the protection, grace, and mercy from GOD that was necessary to overcome those periods of HIS judgment on those who refused to submit to HIS authority.
In Psalm 89:19-37, which is a psalm by Ethan the Ezrahite, we see even further confirmation of GOD’s promise to David that originated in 2 Samuel 7. There the promises are celebrated and given a fresh, new poetic expression. There the psalmist tells us that;
·         David will be strengthened and sustained by GOD, and his kingdom will be firmly established (Vs.19-25).
·         GOD will maintain a father/son relationship with David, and appoint him heir to the throne as the mightiest king on earth (Vs.26-27).
·         GOD would establish the “Davidic Line of Kings” forever, and maintain his covenant forever (Vs.28-29).
·         GOD promised that even when the kings of the “Davidic Line” fall away from HIM, they will be disciplined, but HIS covenant promise will never be withdrawn from David (Vs.30-37).
GOD has always intervened upon the lives of men, even though it has most often been wittingly, or unwittingly ignored. GOD reveals HIS glory to us, from the inside out, as HE works from the hearts of men, through the lives of men. A man of GOD proves that he is such, with his own life, and not just, with words. A person of the world has eyes, but cannot see the things of GOD. He also has ears, but he cannot hear GOD’s message. He has a heart, but it is a heart for the world. And until a man can come to the end of himself, he cannot possibly perceive, nor understand the things of GOD. He has no hope, and thereby, must continue to dwell in the darkness that he has become accustomed to living in. In order to receive and experience the full and eternal benefits of GOD’s plan for us, we must remain attached to the LIVING VINE, that is, CHRIST JESUS, while living in the world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

No comments: