God’s Design in Man’s Despair
December 24, 2018

God’s Design in Man’s Despair
Matthew 1:1-25

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).
• The number 70, or 10 groups of 7, was the number of Jacobs’s family that went to Egypt (Genesis 46:17; Exodus 1:5).
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.

What this says is that Jesus’ birth was orderly and perfectly planned with meticulous and mathematical care, and is therefore a demonstration of God’s order and planned movement towards humanity’s salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

So what does that mean for us. We might say, “Great, but God hasn’t done that in my life. My life is all messed up, and not always by my own actions. Yes, God would perfectly order the events leading up to the Jesus’s birth, but there’s nothing perfect or orderly about my life.”

But to understand this list is to understand that God worked out his perfect design out of the chaos created by humanity. This is not a list of hallowed saints, rather it is a list of flawed and sinful men and women who today would more likely make up the list at the police station than hang on the wall of the local church.

This brings me to the second truth.

2. God Works Through Sinful Man

The list begins with Abraham, who distrusted God’s promises and left the land promised by God twice, and then lied about his wife being his sister both times, placing Sarah in a precarious situation both times.

Then there’s Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, who cheated his brother Esau and deceived his father, Isaac. In fact, Jacob’s name means deceiver.

Next we see Judah who was a hypocrite failing to give his last remaining son to Tamar as promised. He then topped it off with adultery and incest as Tamar seduced Judah and from this union comes Perez, the next person on this hallowed list.

Matthew also lists two women in this list. Rahab, a pagan prostitute from Jericho, and Ruth, another foreigner and not from any Jewish lineage.

Now let’s jump to David who not only committed adultery with Bathsheba, but had her husband, Uriah, killed. And from this union came Solomon, who is next in the lineup.

And Solomon was no saint. Now, while he may have been the smartest guy to ever live, he sure was dumb when it came to his lustful desires. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines, but who’s counting. And they ended up leading him into the worship of false gods, a legacy that unfortunately was passed down to his children, and those who make up this list up to the Babylonian captivity.

Yet, through all this evil and sin that was committed, God was still in control working out His purpose, working out His design, no matter what evil man came up with to thwart it.

You see, God knew we would blow it; it’s the sin nature that resides within us, and the choices and the free will that God gives to us as well. But God doesn’t worry that we will somehow change His plans and designs. The Bible clearly states that God will work out to the good all the wrong that we have done, or that others have done to us (Romans 8:28).

What this means is that in the end God will get His way.

So in this genealogy God is saying, “I did it all just as I said I would, despite what man or Satan did to try to stop or prevent it.

God promised Christmas, and neither Harod with his threats and murders, nor Caesar with his new taxation system, nor Satan with all of his scheming, could stop for prevent God’s plan, purpose, and design.

Now take that all in and add it to His promise to all of us.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)

God cannot be defeated by evil, and even in the worst-case scenario God moves in an orderly, precise, and perfect way.

Our problem is that we don’t have God’s foresight, and seeing only parts of the twists and turns that lie ahead of us, we boldly move to take control, to be the engineer of our own trains.

Truthfully it’s hard to see God working out something good in the mess that we are in, especially when more junk and problems keep being heaped up upon it. So we feel like we have to step in to work it all out so we don’t plummet over the edge.

This leads us to a third truth found in this genealogy.

3. Man’s Resignation From Godhood

The last truth we see is that we need to resign from being the master of our lives. Notice the last name on this list, Joseph. (We looked at Joseph a little bit last week)

The train that Joseph was on was out of control, headed downward towards a gorge, and the bridge at the bottom was out.

He was engaged to be married to Mary, and looking forward to being her husband and raising a family of his own. But then everything came crashing down. Mary was pregnant. She was going to be a mother and he wasn’t the father.

To Joseph it seemed as if he were carrying the weight of the world upon his shoulders. He had options, but he didn’t want to hurt or bring harm to Mary. He loved her. But then in the night an angel appeared to him in a dream telling Him of God’s plan, and basically God was in control.

Many of us are bearing such weight upon our shoulders as our lives are in disarray, and it feels like everything is out of control. We’re feeling and bearing life’s burdens and the stress and strain are about ready to tear us apart. Decisions have to be made, and we haven’t got a clue as to what we’re to do.

The simple truth is that the weight of the world isn’t ours to bear, rather it’s God’s.

Dr. George McCauslin was considered one of the greatest YMCA directors ever. But there was a time that it all came crashing down around his head. The “Y” was losing membership and was in financial difficulties, not to mention some real staff problems.

He found himself working 85 hours a week, getting little if any sleep, and took very little time off, and when he was off, we was worrying about the problems.

His doctor said that he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and that he ha to learn to let go and let God into the problems. So George took the afternoon off and with pen and paper went into the words deciding to let go of all the burdens he was carrying.

Under a tree he wrote: “Dear God, today I hereby resign as general manager of the universe. Love George”

And guess what, God accepted his resignation.

Are you trying to fix every problem, fix every person, fix your family, and get your life and everyone else’s shipshape? Do you feel as if you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? Then resign as the owner and general manager of your life.

We need to give the controls of our lives back over to the engineer, and that’s because he’s gone this way before. He knows what lies ahead and how to handle the deadly curves that are coming. He knows the equipment and the engine, and we don’t.

To help resign as engineer of our lives is to know that the Engineer, that is, God, is in control and has never abandoned us.

This is what Christmas is all about: Letting go and letting God. He has come to take the government of our lives from off our shoulders and place it upon Jesus Christ where it belongs.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV)

Have you ever looked at the baby lying in the manger in the nativity scenes? His arms are open and spread outward. It’s as if Jesus wants us to come to Him, to take the burdens from us, but to do so we have to resign from being the boss of our lives.

During World War II when Germany was bombing England, a father with his young son ran from a building that had just been bombed. He soon found a large shell crater and jumped in. He then turned around and held out his arms telling his son to jump.

The young boy was terrified. He could hear his father’s voice, but couldn’t see his father’s arms, so he cried out, “I can’t see you. I don’t know where to jump.”

But his father said, “Jump, I can see you.” And the boy jumped, because he trusted his father to catch him even though he couldn’t see him.

We may not be able to see God in every situation, and so we panic trying to find a way on our own, but our heavenly Father sees us and so we need to have hope and trust in Him that He will not abandon us.

God has it all under control, even though it looks totally out of control. God sees the whole picture while we only see fragments.

God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, even through we may not see it at this time. So let’s stop living in despair and being discouraged. God knows where He is taking us. And while we may not see Him, His eyes are ever upon us. So let’s give over the controls of our lives to Jesus Christ and resign from godhood, and then we’ll see the salvation of the Lord.

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