Friday, December 15, 2023

The Sacred Lineage, and Gabriel

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Sacred Lineage, and Gabriel"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Seven days from today, we will celebrate Christmas Eve, in recognition of the final day of the Earth’s existence without her Savior onboard. “Seven” is the Biblical number for completion. The preparation for receiving her Messiah is complete, and the number “Eight” (the next day) is the Biblical number for new beginnings, but December 25th is not likely the actual birthdate of Jesus! It is a long story, but it is most doubtful that the shepherds of Bethlehem would be out tending their flocks by night in the winter, for it does snow in the Hills of Judea in the wintertime! (Luke 2:8-10)

The heathen feast of Saturnalia had just passed, closing out the movement of the star field in the northern hemisphere, and initiating the sun’s fresh trek across the sky as daylight hours began to lengthen again a day at a time. In the Lunar Calendar, this was therefore also a new beginning. December was a fitting date to honor our newborn King. Why it was chosen, and by whom is a question better left to the world’s calendar experts and historians.

But Jesus’ birth was not to be ignored in spite of the actual date being left likely to arbitrary assignment. In Matthew 2:10, 11, we find a bit of evidence of a likely time that the Magi arrived in Bethlehem to worship this King, as prophesied in sacred texts. But when they arrived, Jesus was no longer a Babe in a Manger, but a toddler in a house! Computerized retrogrades* of the star field indicate the likely phenomenon of three heavenly bodies aligning in a way to appear to be a single, very bright star from Earth. Was this THE Star? (See Genesis 49:10) This phenomenal alignment would have taken place from 4 BC to 2 BC, which allows for some error as the Lunar Calendar was replaced with our modern Gregorian Calendar, as well as other margins or error. Some Christian research astronomers believe the convergence of two stars in the Constellation Virgo could well provide the explanation, but secular scholars are skeptical.

Since the 13th Century, astronomers have offered multiple explanations for this notable star. But WHAT caused it is not as important as the fact that mankind recorded it as an actual starry event. What we DO know is this: As time progresses, Science is regularly affirming the Bible these days.

"Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." - Psalm 119:160

*The Star Of Bethlehem” on YouTube 1:07 with Rick Larson

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning Audio Message:
Matthew 1 and Luke 1 - "The Sacred Lineage, and Gabriel"

Summary/Bible Notes:  

This week we are taking a break from our ongoing study in the book of Revelation to focus on The Christ of Christmas.

The momentous intervention of God into human affairs (especially after such a long period of prophetic silence) should cause awe, amazement, and rejoicing. The events surrounding the coming of the Messiah (who will bring Redemption and Salvation and Everlasting Life) are anything but ordinary and typical. But what we easily forget is that God’s intervention in our own lives to draw us to Himself in saving faith is no less an awe-inspiring wonder of His mercy and grace. His visitation rescues us out of the domain of darkness into His glorious light, and we serve Him in that glorious light of holiness, righteousness and truth. When the Lord “visits” his people, that means he comes down and gets personally involved in their welfare. And when he “redeems” his people, that means he takes action to set them free. That the Lord has visited and redeemed his people is certainly something to praise God for.

As we look at Matthew 1 this morning, the genealogy, or what we call a descending record leading through Joseph to Jesus. It comes right on down from Abraham and David, descending down through Joseph to Jesus.

In the New Testament, Jesus’ genealogy is also recorded in the third chapter of Luke. We won't be going through this, but just alluding to it. The genealogy in Luke is actually the reverse. It is an ascending genealogy. It starts with Jesus and goes back through Mary. So here you have a genealogy coming down through Joseph and there you have a genealogy going back through Mary. One begins with Jesus, the other ends with Jesus. Pretty neat! No matter how you slice it, there is no doubt that Jesus is the One, the Only One, the rightful heir to the throne.  Jesus the promised Messiah. 

There are other distinctions between the genealogy in Matthew and the Luke genealogy.  For instance, Matthew is showing the legal descent of Jesus as the King of Israel, while Luke shows the lineal descent. In other words, Matthew shows us the royal line, whereas Luke shows us the blood line. If you're wondering what the difference is, the royal line always passes through the father.  Now this is important, Jesus had no human father.  Joseph was not His biological father, but His legal father. 
He was Joseph’s child legally because if you were adopted into a family, you were the legal child with all the rights and privileges. He was Joseph’s child legally.  Through Joseph he has the right to reign that belonged to David, even though Joseph was not his father in terms of actuality he was his legal father.

Just as Jesus had the legal right to reign, He also had the bloodline to reign.  He was a descendant of David through His mother as well. Mary is also the line of David.  Through Mary, he has the blood of David.

Matthew follows the royal line through David and Solomon, David’s son. Matthew follows it all the way down, he gets to David and then the royal line went through Solomon. But David had another son. He had several. But this other one was Nathan. And Mary’s line came through Nathan. So what you have is one line coming down through David, and then it goes this way through Solomon and this way through Nathan. Through Nathan you come to Mary and through Solomon you come to Joseph. Both of them of the seed of David. Both of them passing on royal blood.

Jesus is the legal heir to the throne through Joseph, and the legal heir of David by the blood line of Mary.  His mother was the one who granted the royal blood to Jesus. 

Now, as we go through the lineage in Matthew's account, this would be the lineage of Joseph, we find some in the royal bloodline whose wickedness not only disqualified them from the being seated on the throne of David, but God commanded that they should not enter into the congregation of God's people for 10 generations.  This curse included their offspring for 10 generations.  So, from Phares on down to Boaz (10 generations), and Jechonias down to Jacob (10 generations). 

God in His sovereignty devised a plan, which was fulfilled perfectly.  Not only that, but He is able to 
use our sordid history and sinful past as part of his seamless planWith all the sinful failures in Joseph's family tree, these 10-generation punishments did not interfere with God's timeline.  In fact, the virgin birth carried the royal right to reign through the bloodline of Mary.  God has every aspect covered.

As we turn to Luke 1, we will read the divine announcement by the angel Gabriel given to Mary about the incarnation of Jesus Christ. 
All the holidays and all the celebrations and all the commemorations of people and events across the globe take note of human events, human beings. Christmas commemorates a divine person and a divine event.

It's not about what man has done, but what God has done.  Christmas is not a celebration of human history, it is the recognition of a marvelous, miraculous, divine accomplishment. Christmas celebrates the most monumental event and the most monumental person in the history of the world. Christmas is all about the eternal, sovereign creator God of the universe coming into the earth of His creation as a human being to live among His creation as one of them.  Jesus is fully God, and fully man. 

From Luke 1: 26-38 - 

"And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her."

There, with those simple straightforward, unmistakably clear words is the beginning of the glorious, beautiful, true account of God becoming flesh, the incarnation. The simple, lovely narrative clearly designed to feature the divine character of the event. There's nothing man-made about this. There's nothing human about this. There is no more wonderful, no more marvelous, no more compelling, no more miraculous story in all of history than this one as God begins to tell the drama of salvation in the birth of the God-Man.

And though this is how the story begins in the New Testament account, it's not the first mention of the coming Savior, the child that would be born. Not at all, in fact you can go all the way back to the third chapter of Genesis. Genesis chapter 3, you know, is where the Fall of man is recorded. Living in the garden in the paradise of God, Adam and Eve, enjoying the full blessing of God in holy innocence, fell into sin and immediately upon that sin they were cursed as was the whole human race.

Genesis chapter 3 verse 15: Comes a promise that there will come a seed of the woman. A woman has no seed, man has a seed. But there will be a woman who will have a seed. She will bear a child who will bruise the serpent's head. There's the first prophecy that the Messiah would come, that the seed of the woman would destroy the one who had destroyed the human race, bruise his head. A human offspring of Eve would be born of a seed in a woman and someday deliver the fatal blow to Satan.

Important Note

In Luke 1:28 - Known as the first part of "Mary Magnificant."  It is important to understand the context as well as the content of these scriptures.  The text of the "Hail Mary" prayer by the Roman Catholic Church, incorporates two Bible passages: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee" (Luke 1:28) and “Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" (Luke 1:42). The first passage is the angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary when he came to inform her that she had been chosen to bear the Messiah. The second is her cousin Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary when Mary came to visit her cousin, who was also pregnant at the time with John the Baptist. The third part of the Hail Mary prayer is not from the Bible and is, in fact, in direct contradiction to Scriptural truth: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

This last part of the Hail Mary prayer has three unbiblical parts to it:

1. Mary is not and never was “holy.” Mary was a human being who was born, as all humans are, with a sin nature and who recognized that she needed a Savior. In fact, the very passage used in the Hail Mary, known as Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), contains the declaration “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” a clear indication that she understood her need for a Savior from sin. The Bible never says that Mary was anyone but an ordinary human whom God chose to use in an extraordinary way, the Bible is filled with them.  It is true that Mary was a righteous woman and favored (graced) by God (Luke 1:27-28). At the same time, Mary was a sinful human being who needed Jesus Christ as her Savior, just like everyone else (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 John 1:8).

2. The second unbiblical part of the Hail Mary is addressing Mary as the “Mother of God.” Mary was the human mother of the human Jesus Christ, who was indeed God incarnate. But she was not the mother of God, neither is she the "queen of heaven,” another title given to her by the Catholic Church which has no basis in Scripture. God doesn’t have a mother, nor does He have a queen. He is an eternal, infinite Being, uncreated and unborn, self-sufficient and self-sustaining.

3. The third unbiblical statement in the Hail Mary is the plea for her to “pray for us sinners.” Here we see the unbiblical practice of praying to Mary to intercede with God for us. First, we do not need another intercessor with God. Christ is the only intercessor we need. Through Jesus and Him alone, we have direct access to the Father. Christ alone mediates and intercedes between God and man. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Prayer to anyone other than God alone is anti-biblical. Praying to Mary or petitioning her to pray for us is against the Scriptures.

Prayer is an act of worship. When we pray to God, we are admitting that we need His help. Directing our prayers to anyone other than God is robbing God of the glory that is His alone, something God hates and will not tolerate (Isaiah 42:8).

While Mary was certainly a godly young woman greatly blessed in that she was chosen to bear the Savior of the world, she was not in any way divine, nor was she sinless, nor is she to be worshiped, revered, venerated, or prayed to.

Gabriel (1:26) - An angel of the Lord. An angel is a divine messenger. A high-ranking angel as he stands in the presence of God (Luke 1:19). That's where Gabriel stands, to be dispatched by God Himself to this duty. Gabriel makes the most important birth announcement ever known to mankind, the birth of Jesus.

Virgin (1:27) - Mary is called "a virgin" by both Luke and Matthew.  The Greek word being "parthenos," can mean nothing else but chaste, abstinate, a virgin. 

Highly Favored (1:28) - Mary was "highly favored" and "blessed among women," because she had been given the privilege of fulfilling the ancient promise made by God in Genesis 3:15.  This is the promise of choosing a woman who would bear the promised Seed and who will eventually crush the serpents head.  This blessing in no way warrants us to worship her as the "Mother of God," which in reality is on equal footing with God Himself - that's blasphemy.  

Favor (1:30) - The Greek word for "favor" is the word normally translated "grace," and this is actually the first mention of grace in the New Testament.  Grace is not a reward that is earned from God, but a gift from God that is found through faith.  In the Old Testament (Genesis 6:8) it is said, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."  Grace is a gift of God given to those who find it.  Both Mary and Noah believed, and therefore obeyed the Word of the Lord.  

Conceive In Thy Womb (1:31) - The miraculous conception was unusual in that it took place directly in the womb rather than in the tubes.  It was uniquely miraculous in that no man was involved.  "That holy thing" was placed directly in Mary's womb by God "the Holy Ghost" (1:35), and thus was uniquely "the seed" of the woman (Genesis 3:15). Just as the body of the first Adam was directly formed by God (Genesis 2:7), so the body of "the last Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:45) was directly formed by God (Hebrews 10:5).  

Throne of His Father David (1:32) - Jesus was the legal son of His father David (as adopted by Joseph when he took Mary as his wife) but He was, of course, not his biological son.  As legal son, He did have the legal right (as well as spiritual and prophetic right) to the Davidic kingdom. 

Overshadow Thee (1:35)
- This marvelous work of God can be nothing less than direct creation.  

Magnify the Lord (1:46) - A beautiful hymn of thanksgiving very similar to Hannah's prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. 

My Savior (1:47)Mary acknowledged her need of a Savior, as we all must. In the Bible, the word Savior simply means “someone who saves someone else.” She realized that God would accomplish this and that her babe would be essential in this plan.

To understand Jesus’ role as Savior, we must understand our own desperate situation. Humans have sinned against God, rebelling, and voluntarily separating themselves from the God of life (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Sin produces death, and so everything in our world is now dying (Romans 6:23; James 1:15). Because God is holy, He will punish sin, leading to eternal separation from Him (Matthew 10:28). Without Jesus, humans are helplessly enslaved by sin and cannot ever achieve holiness on their own (Romans 3:9–20). We were born on a one-way track to hell, rightly condemned for our sin (Ephesians 2:1–3).

That is where Jesus steps in. Being God, Jesus is perfect and never sinned. He lived a perfectly righteous life, and therefore did not deserve to die (2 Corinthians 5:21). However, He chose to die a horrific death on the cross for us, paying the price for our sin (Romans 6:23; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2). Then He rose again three days later, establishing His victory, and He is coming back soon to remove evil from the world completely. Because of His death and resurrection, anyone who trusts in Him can have eternal life. To the person who trusts in Him, Jesus Christ becomes the Savior.

WhitestoneCF Media - Web TV

WhitestoneCF Media - Web TV