“When your days are complete and you [King David] lie down with your fathers, I [God] will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom…and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).
Many people today love to explore their family history. The current fashion is to have one’s DNA tested to determine long forgotten ethnic origins. The ancient Jewish people had a similar obsession with their ancestry, and were anxious to establish the purity of their Jewish and/or priestly credentials.
The use of genealogical records is well attested in this period of Jewish history. The Apostle Paul knew he was from the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). In his histories Josephus, a contemporary historian, tells us his own genealogy. He tells us he found them, “in the public records” (The Life 1:6). Josephus also tells us that King Herod destroyed some genealogical records to conceal his own ignominious background (Josephus, Antiquities 14.9). Herod was only partly Jewish.
Multiple Old Testament scriptures promised the Jewish people that the Messiah would come from the line of King David and would rule with justice forever. Therefore, the New Testament begins with, ‘A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David…’ (Matthew 1:1), establishing Jesus’ hereditary credentials to be the promised Messiah. Of further interest, the word, ‘genealogy’ could easily be translated ‘genesis.’ Thus, in its very first verse, the New Testament heralds a “new genesis” – a new beginning.
Interestingly, although attacked about his teachings, his miracles and the company he kept, at no point, despite it being an obvious target, did Jesus’ enemies question the authenticity of His Davidic descent.
King David had been God’s chosen king. He was, for all his human flaws, “a man after God’s heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). He was a saviour of Israel in that He killed Goliath, the giant enemy of God’s people and ended the Philistine oppression of them. In this sense King David is a “type” or foreshadowing of the true and perfect saviour who was to come – the Messiah.
King David was born in the town of Bethlehem, in the tribal region of Judah. The Messiah, it was promised, would also come from Bethlehem. Almost 800 years before Jesus was born the Prophet Micah predicted:
“‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2).
And so, in the fullness of time it came to pass that:
“…a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7).
For Prayer and Reflection: Ask the Lord to make you a person after His own heart.
For Further Reading: Jeremiah 23:5-6