The Purpose of Genealogies Earthly, Biblical, and Messianic
Matthew's gospel begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. An earthly king's genealogy can demonstrate his right to the throne. Often we think genealogically when we say "She has her mother's eyes," or when you say "That habit didn't come from my side of the family!" "He's just a chip off the old block. Like father, like son." Our genealogies explain some of how we got to be the way we are. And many Biblical genealogies work that way—in Genesis the genealogies describe the origins of all nations, highlight faithful line of God's covenant people, and provide the foundational structure of the 12 tribes of Israel. For those captives returning from exile the genealogies in 1 Chronicles established their right to an inheritance in the land, and to membership in the covenant community.
The Purpose Jesus Christ's Genealogy
God's Gracious Provision. The genealogy of Jesus Christ bears some of these marks, but it is less concerned with what Jesus received from his ancestors and more with what He will give them. "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:45) Though God visited the iniquity of Jesus' fathers upon Him, how much more does God also show His gracious lovingkindness to a thousand generations of those who love Him through Christ their Savior!
Fourteens: The genealogy is intentionally structured in 3 sets of 14 to focus on Abraham, David, and Christ, who were faithful covenant representatives, after explicit givings of the covenant.
Representatives: As such it is a covenant history of Israel, in terms of good covenant representatives leading up to Christ, the last faithful covenant representative. More than merely demonstrating Christ's right to membership among God's people, this genealogy declares Him to be the great coming Savior in whom all before had hoped. Abraham rejoiced to see His day (John 8:56), and though David's son, David called Him "Lord." (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34)
Promises: Christ's lineage demonstrates He is the fulfillment of God's promises to bless His people and all nations through Abraham, and to provide a perfect king through the line of David.
Outline. We will consider the passage under four headings. Jesus is the:
Thanksgiving is a time of year when we remember all of the great bounty of provisions God has given us in His creation and providence. Because God provided for the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts in the harvest of 1621, our nation set aside Thanksgiving Day stating explicitly that its purpose is to give thanks to God for His providential blessings to us. But as WikiPedia will tell you, as year by year our Presidents have continued to proclaim a national Day of Thanksgiving, the Presidents who explicitly mention God's providence as the reason for the day have become fewer and farther between. And we as Americans have filled the Thanksgiving holiday with many good things which God created to be received with thanksgiving—turkey, family and friends, vacations & travel, parades, football, Thanksgiving TV specials, and the beginning of Christmas shopping—but I tell you, our culture and our commercialism are bent on filling Thanksgiving with everything but true thanksgiving that gives glory to God. It is so easy to exchange the truth of God for a lie, and worship the creature, rather than the Creator, who is forever blessed.
God calls you in Psalm 104 to worship not the creature, but the Creator. In fact, Psalm 104 imitates parts of the pagan Egyptian Akhenaten's great Hymn to the Sun—it is partly a parody of a pagan hymn of thanksgiving! —for this specific purpose: to demonstrate "the incalculable difference between worshiping the sun and worshiping its Maker."1 In v. 2 the light comes from God, not the sun; in v. 19 the sun is given second place to the moon, and the sun follows orders given to it by God.
But the Psalm is more than just a rip-off of a pagan Egyptian song; no, this Psalm's construction and contents proclaim the glory of the true God and the true nature of His creation. The whole Psalm follows the pattern of the six days of creation in Gen. 1, moving from the light in the heavens to the division of heaven and earth, land and sea, and the many creatures that dwell in each of those realms, all of which God declared "very good" and designed to return their praise to Him on the seventh day through man, their chief caretaker and the one creature who alone was made in the image of their Creator. The Psalm declares without question that the glory in all of God's marvelous creatures is not first their own, but it is the glory of God.
This Psalm tells you two key truths:
God's Glory Is in All for which We Give Thanks! vv. 1-30
Therefore, You Are Called to: Give Thanks to the Glory of God! vv. 31-35