Summary: Today's Sermon is about how Christmas is God's Design in Man's Despair. It is taken from Jesus's genealogy found in Matthew's Gospel. It looks at how God perfectly ordered history, how God works through sinful man, and that we have to resign from being our own gods.
God’s Design in Man’s Despair
Looking at this title, “God’s Design in Man’s Despair,” it doesn’t look or sound like a positive and uplifting Christmas message, but stay tuned, because I believe you’ll be blessed knowing that God’s has a design for our lives.
This actually came from two sources, first was Jesus’s genealogy, and then what happened to Joseph.
As you all know, Christmas is just a couple days away, but unfortunately there are some, if not most of us in here that are discouraged and despairing at what the future may hold. It’s almost like the grey clouds of a storm is starting to overshadow daylight.
There was a time when everything was fine as family and friends gathered together this time of year, but the tragedy of the dreaded “D’s” invaded. These include drugs, divorce, debt, disasters, and death. And what they produced within us is discouragement and despair. And with these dreaded “D’s” we’ve seem to have lost hope that we’ll ever reach the potential and goals we have set for our lives.
And then we add to this the state of the world. The world today is a very dark place as we see war and terror slashing its way across the globe. We also see interpersonal relationships deteriorate where words of anger and hate predominate our speech.
And we view our lives and this world like a train that is out of control heading towards dangerous and treacherous curves. And we wonder if anyone is at the controls. And so in our heroic self-determination we rush forward to set right and to make sense out of this whole mess, and to guide ourselves through the dangerous passages of life.
Now, with all of this before us, you may be wondering what a list of names, what the genealogy in Matthew’s gospel has to do with any of this, and what we’re experiencing in our lives and in this world.
In fact you may be saying, “Why doesn’t Dennis give us some nice story about Mary and Joseph and the birth of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.” But know that with Joseph and Mary it was no different. They were living in a country that was ruled by a vicious nation, Rome, where death and crucifixions were daily occurrences, and then they were told to uproot from their home in Nazareth and take a perilous trip to Bethlehem when Mary was close to giving birth, and when they arrived they couldn’t find anyplace for them to stay except a smelly old stable.
So you might say that things weren’t so cheerful and sanitary as we make them out to be in our Christmas celebration.
And so it is my hope and prayer that we will be able to see God’s design, and that He has a design for our lives already mapped out through the difficulties and trials that come with life. There are truths here for us to learn and appropriate.
1. God Perfectly Ordered History
“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.” (Matthew 1:17 NKJV)
What this summary states is that Jesus’s birth is the climax of three groups of fourteen.
Numbers are significant within the Scriptures and shouldn’t be overlooked, because often times they take on spiritual meaning and significance. Humanity is wrapped up in time and hence numbers. We’re told to number our days (Psalm 90:12), and that God numbers our steps (Job 14:16). God numbers the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30), and sets limits to our lives and to man’s kingdom (Genesis 6:3; Daniel 5:26).
Therefore, this grouping, 3 sets of 14, in Jesus’s genealogy has profound significance.
The number 7 and its multiples symbolize perfection and completeness.
• God took 7 days in His creation, and the 7th day is the Sabbath, when God rested from His labor (Genesis 2:2-3).
o Seventy was also the number of Jesus’s disciples, besides the 12, that He sent out to prepare the way (Luke 10).
o And in Daniel it was 70 groups of 7 years, or 490 years, that in God’s prophetic timetable sin and inequity would be finished, and that God would seal up the vision and bring in everlasting righteousness.
The number 3 signifies fullness. It is the number of the Godhead and thus of divine completeness, and also the number of a perfect testimony.
So both the number 7 and the number 3 are divine numbers of perfection and completeness. Therefore, Matthew by using 3 sets of 14, or the multiple of seven twice, is pointing out that God is in control of all history leading up to, and by implication afterwards, the birth of Jesus.