Have you ever seen two people (probably pre-teen girls, but we won't go there) make a promise to one another, then seal it by linking their pinkies together to make a "pinky swear" or "pinky promise?" That's one thing I don't believe that I've ever experienced, but I do understand the concept.
Did you know that this little gesture originated in Japan with the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia? Supposedly it was the highest seal of all oaths, with the understanding, "If I don't keep my promise, you can cut off my pinky."
That really makes me glad I've never "pinky swore" before.
I mean, that seems a little extreme.
Until I read (Genesis 15:7-21) about God's willingness to "walk" between butchered birds and animals and basically say to Abraham, "This is what'll happen to Me if I don't keep My promise to you."
But He did.
And He has.
And He will.
Every single time.
In fact, the Hebrews writer tells us that "God can't break His word! (Hebrews 6:18, The Message, emphasis added)
And while that may not be the first thing that we think about when we read Matthew's genealogy, that's exactly what he's saying. Not only does God use all kinds of people, but He also keeps all of His promises!
God promised Abraham, "I'm going to bless the world through your family." (Genesis 12:2-3)
God promised David, "I'm going to put your descendant on the throne forever." (2 Samuel 7:9-11)
And with the New Testament's very first verse, Matthew lets us know, “God keeps His promises. He said the Messiah would come, and He has!”
"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." (Matthew 1:1)
Now, from our vantage point in history, we might catch ourselves thinking, "Okay, great. Jesus is the Messiah. God kept His promise. Gotcha."
But would we really be that flippant if we were living during the "waiting?" I mean, it's always easy to look back, but living "through it" is something completely different.
Yes, there were prophets, men who spoke on God's behalf. He would send them to His people from time to time to remind them, "I know that things look bad right now, but just remember: The Messiah is coming. I promised!"
But then, four hundred years before Jesus was born, nothing. No prophets. No revelation. Nothing but... silence.
What would that have been like? How would we have felt about God and His promises then?
"Has He forgotten? I mean, it's been four hundred years... did He change His mind? Where is He?"
And David’s lineage? If you look at Matthew's genealogy in verses 6-10, it starts out strong:
King David... King Solomon... we might even recognize King Uzziah and King Hezekiah... maybe even King Josiah.
But then, in verses 12-16, seriously? How many of us have ever heard anything about Jeconiah, Shelatiel, Azor, and Mathan?
Famous kings... unknown kings... and then, no kings at all... just people.
Sure, we all know Mary and Joseph's name now, but who were they back then?
Joseph wasn't a king. Mary wasn't a queen. They weren't rich or powerful or influential. In the eyes of the world, they were just two nobodies, engaged to be married, living in a little hick town called Nazareth... just a small town, filled with poor people, all who were simply trying to make it.
"Just a small town girl..."
If we're honest, that is what Matthew's genealogy looks like. It looks like God forgot.
When it's been two thousand years since He first made the promise...
When there have been four hundred years of absolute silence...
When the kingly line has dwindled away through barrenness, civil war, slavery...
When hope seems lost...
When it feels like God has forgotten...
"and Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." (Matthew 1:16)
And it all happened at just the right time. (Galatians 4:4)
I'll be the first to admit it: Sometimes God seems slow. Sometimes it even looks like He has completely forgotten.
But He hasn't. He never has before, and He's not going to start now.
Here's something to think about: It's been another two thousand years since God made another promise, this one that Jesus is coming to this Earth a second time. He's coming back!
Today, I think we probably find ourselves in the same place that the people of Matthew's day were.
Now, I don't believe that our problem is that we've become hopeless and weary and tired of waiting. Instead, I would guess that our problem is more likely that we've all-together forgotten about the promise itself.
Personally, I didn't wake up this morning wondering if Jesus might come back today.
But He might.
Do you know why? Because God keeps all of His promises.
He always has.
He always will.
Every single one. Every single time.