For years, I would just skip over the first section of Matthew 1, seeing it as superfluous. It sounded so strange to my modern ears. Who today would begin a movie or a book with a long and complicated list of ancestors? I mean, how boring can you get?

But then one day, it struck me. By starting his Gospel with this list of ancestors, Matthew was proclaiming God’s faithfulness, power, and foresight. He was letting the whole world know that the central promise of the Jewish Scriptures had been fulfilled. He was telling us that all of Israel’s history had been leading up to this moment — the birth of the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of God.

Every person in this genealogy would have heard of the promises God had made to Abraham and to David. They would have transmitted them from generation to generation until that telling spanned centuries and even continents. And yet, none of the people mentioned in this genealogy ever saw that promise come to pass.

But then, one day, Joseph and Mary welcomed a son into this world, and all was changed. In a very quiet and unassuming way, the long-awaited Promised One had finally come.

Sometimes, we might feel that God is slow in fulfilling His promises to us. But this text teaches us to hold fast to His promises and to transmit them faithfully to our children and our children’s children because sooner or later, they will all be fulfilled.

Father, before the foundation of the world, you had already planned out all of human history (Ephesians 1:4-6). Thank you for giving us promises and fulfilling them in your time. Sometimes, we sigh deeply as we await the fulfillment of your greatest promise: the establishment of your eternal, perfect Kingdom in a renewed heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1-6). Thank you that Matthew's record of all the generations that awaited your first coming encourages us to transmit the promise of your triumphant return to coming generations until the day it comes to pass. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Go Deeper — What promises of God do you want to transmit to your children and your children’s children? Why not make a list of those promises and share them with your family during this Advent season?

Tags: Nativity Matthew 1
Photo Credit: Agnes Liinnea