“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” – Matthew 1:17
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” – I John 5:4
In case you haven’t noticed, I am somewhat obsessed with God’s sovereignty. It is my “peace that passes understanding”. When I don’t have answers or a plan, sovereignty is the sturdy, solid, unshakable bed that helps me sleep at night. And the older I get, the more sensitive I am to sovereignty, as if time has somehow sharpened the focus on my life lens.
Christmas always turns my thoughts to Bethlehem, but sovereignty has me focused much more on the journey than the destination. Limit yourself to Luke 2, and you’ll think that the starting point of the road to Bethlehem was Nazareth, when Joseph and Mary set out in response to the census decreed by Rome (Luke 2:1-4), but zoom the lens out to include Matthew 1 (and throw in a few Old Testament prophecies), and you’ll quickly realize that the journey started all the way back in Genesis.
As Matthew 1 lays out the genealogy of Christ, familiar names jump off the page, many with their own Bible backstory. And one thing is clear – the road to Bethlehem was not an easy one. This road was filled with detours and off-road excursions that didn’t end well. Let me give you just a few of the highlights:
- Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar (Verse 3). Jacob prophesied in Genesis 49:10 that the Messiah would come through Judah, but Judah wasn’t exactly Father of the Year. His eldest son was so evil that God killed him before he could reproduce, leaving Tamar both widowed and childless. Despite the cultural requirements of the day, Son Number 2 was less than cooperative, and when Number 3 did not marry Tamar as promised, she took matters into her own hands, tricking Judah into fathering her twin sons (Genesis 38). It’s the kind of drama that miniseries are made of, but it’s also an example of prophecy and providence triumphing over a whole lot of evil.
- David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah (Verse 6). There was nothing honorable about the union of David and Bathsheba in II Samuel 11. She was a beautiful, married woman with questionable modesty, and he was a king who murdered one of his most devoted soldiers to hide his sin. Still, God would honor His promise to preserve the line of David, and Bathsheba’s son, Solomon, would be chosen and favored by God (II Samuel 7:13, I Chronicles 28:6, Luke 1:68-71).
- Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah (Verse 10). Manasseh was one of the most evil kings in the history of Judah. II Chronicles tells us that, during his 55-year reign, he led the people to sin even more than their heathen counterparts. And although Manasseh’s rebellion would seal the Lord’s promise to send His people into exile in Babylon, that detour would not deter the fulfillment of His promises regarding the Messiah (II Kings 20:21-21:18, II Chronicles 33:1-24, Jeremiah 15:4)
Although Christ was God Incarnate (Philippians 2:6), the sinless Lamb of God (John 1:29, II Corinthians 5:21), and Emmanuel, God With Us (Matthew 1:23), the line of Christ and the road to Bethlehem is full of real people like you and me. It’s full of black sheep and bad seeds and everything from poor decisions to outright rebellion. It’s full of pain and loss and tears and terror. And yet, God is greater – greater than all of Satan’s roadblocks, greater than man’s refusal to ask for directions, greater than the potholes and pitfalls of sin.
There is absolutely nothing in your life that the grace of God cannot overcome. Bad upbringings, bad memories, bad decisions, bad mistakes – He came to give us victory over all of those things (Psalm 20:7-8, Romans 8:31-39, Acts 2:34-36, I Corinthians 15:57, II Corinthians 2:14). This Christmas, live in that victory. Live in the security of His sovereignty. Seek out the Baby, surrender to the Savior, and let Him overcome every obstacle in your journey.
Are there any areas of your life where you doubt God’s ability to overcome? He is sovereign, and He has conquered sin and death on your behalf. No matter what you’re up against, give it to God and trust Him for victory.