God's Greater Story
December 9, 2007
Johann and , Paul and Ann, Henry and Odelia, Lonnie and Sandy, Kevin and Lynlee. That is as far back as I can trace my genealogy.
There are some stories are represented in those names. My uncle did some research about the Ueckert genealogy. He discovered that our family originated in Germany and came to America because of Johann Frederick Ueckert. He was in the army.
Here is an amazing story. My great granddad Ueckert got in an argument was shot and killed in a gun fight in 19…
Have you been to a family reunion lately? We went to one this last year. It was the Cox reunion. My great grandparents were Coxes and their daughter, Odelia, married Henry Ueckert. Family reunions are full of stories and story telling.
After my great-great grandfather died, there was a man who began to come around and help my great-great grandmother. One day he stole every thing he could carry from the house along with my great-great-grandmother’s daughter, Letha, who was a little girl around eight years old. He took her and as many valuable as he could steal and left town making his way to a train station to leave the area. This was in the early 1900’s. As the discovery of what happened was made, my great-grandfather and another relative left to hunt this man and rescue Letha. They intercepted them on the train and a fight ensued. My uncle was shot and injured but my great-grandfather was able to rescue his niece from the kidnapper.
Every family has lots of amazing stories. Stories of families, stories of people, our stories are all stories that fit into a much bigger story, the story of God. Matthew 1:2-17 are names that represent all kinds of stories.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. 12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
Each one of those names is a story, a story of choices, choices that relate to a greater story, some choices great and some choices not so great. Each one of those names represents part of God’s story, where the choices that people made, particularly the poor ones, did not undo the sovereign story of God but actually were folded into the providential plan of God to unveil the greatest of all stories, the story of Jesus Christ.
1. Our list begins with Abraham. What an amazing story. Abraham was invited by God to become a great nation. There was a problem though. Sarah, his wife was barren, unable to have children. You know their story. God told them he would give them a son. They were old, far beyond childbearing age and Sarah had been barren all their lives. They try to take matters in their own hands and create a great deal of confusion and heart ache. In spite of what Abraham and Sarah did, God’s plan remains in tact. He delivers on His promise and Isaac is miraculously born to Sarah. A great story that is a part of a much greater story.
B. What about the story of Judah’s family?
1. Now this is a messed up story. It seems like there is at least one messed up story in every family. Recently I was at a family gathering for another family and Lynlee and I unsuspecting sat down at a table with a man and his newly married wife. They had a hard look about them that comes from some hard living but they greeted us with smiles. Lynlee begins to engage in some conversation and I am sitting next to this man. It only took a little engaging to get him going. He began talking about his life and what he had done and been through. Everything sounded fairly normal but we could tell that something just wasn’t right. It became all too clear when he started talking about being lost in the desert. He was lost in the desert and either died from the lack of food and water or passed into a coma, he is not sure which. And while he was either dead or in a coma some angelic hosts (later I found out that he has also told the story with aliens) came to him and saved him and reworked the molecular structure of his brain so that now even though he doesn’t have any more than a 6th grade education, he is able to have great wisdom and understanding. Let’s just say, that was a very interesting story. Every family has at least one of those kinds of stories.
2. Judah’s family is no exception. Judah’s first born son Er was wicked and the Lord judged him and put him to death and this left his wife, Tamar, a widow. Judah’s second born married this widowed daughter-in-law, Tamar, and then God put him to death as well. Judah, reluctantly, told Tamar that he would give his third son to her in marriage when he was old enough but he didn’t want to because he was afraid he would die too, if he marred her, the husband killer. So Tamar tricks Judah. They could be on Jerry Springer show. Without going into details that would be hard to explain this morning, Perez, Judah and Tamar’s son, is in the lineage of Jesus. Now that is an amazing story.
C. Do you remember the story of Israel’s conquest over Jericho, marching around the city and blowing the trumpets, the walls falling down? Salmon, in our genealogical list, was a man in Israel who was a part of the incredible conquest of Jericho, a hero of sorts. Do you remember Rahab? She was a prostitute in Jericho. Not exactly what every dad wished for his son to marry. But Rahab became a follower of the Lord Most High, the one true God. She trusted and followed the Lord and became a part of Israel. God changed her life and Salmon made her his wife. Salmon married Rahab. Amazing.
D. Solomon – The wisest king to ever reign in Israel was Solomon. What a story. He was the second born in his family. His older brother died in judgment because his father, David, had an affair with his mother, Bathsheba, which resulted in his brother’s conception and his mom’s first husband’s murder. Talk about an amazing story.
1. Josiah was six years old when his grandfather, Manasseh, died. Manasseh was the wickedest king Israel had ever seen. His son Amon, Josiah’s dad became king when Josiah was 6.
2. The next two years were certainly years of horror and confusion for Josiah. His dad, Amon, was evil and led the people into evil. After two years of leading God’s people further into sin, Amon’s servants conspired against him and murdered him in his house. When Josiah was eight years old his father was murdered in their house. Josiah’s dad’s murder now meant that Josiah was the king. What in the world was going on in Josiah’s heart and mind? Can you imagine? He had seen his father run after false gods and murdered in their house. And now at eight years old, the weight of the kingdom and the tragic loss of his father rested upon his shoulders. Josiah’s life is an amazing story to say the least.
3. I haven’t the time to tell all the stories today and that is not Matthew’s point. This list is full of real life stories, some wonderful stories of trusting the Lord and others stories of great ungodliness. All of these little stories are weaved together into the tapestry of God’s greater story.
II. All of the stories of these individuals and families are part of the bigger story of the Israelites. The Israelites were God’s chosen people. A people chosen because of God’s purposes and grace rather than because the Israelites were somehow deserving. God had a plan and He chose the Israelites to be a part of that plan of grace and glory.
A. If you could describe the Israelites in one phrase it could be best done with the phrase, “They did not listen.” No nation exchanged its gods for another nation’s god but Israel exchanged the living and true God for idols and false gods from all the nations surrounding them. Even though God sent them instructions, sent the messengers of truth, displayed His love for them, performed miraculous signs, and they would not listen. They rejected God. But God’s plan remained in tact. No matter how the stories of lives within Israel were being determined; no matter how people made their choices to reject God, God was carrying His story forward. He is sovereign and His story was unfolding towards His predetermined plan.
B. Fourteen generations of stories. From Abraham to David, wandering to the land of Canaan, enslavement in Egypt, deliverance, the chaos of the time of the judges, the time of conquest and establishing a king over Israel. Fourteen more generations of stories. From the time of David to the deportation to Babylon. Israel divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah rejecting God time and time again, the prophets, the exile, the incredible tragedy of the destruction of God’s people, the temple. A time of overwhelming rejection of God. Fourteen more generations of stories. From the deportation to Babylon to the time of Jesus Christ. A time of prophets and brief renewals, then a time of deafening silence, waiting on God and His plan.
III. All of those stories are part of the biggest story of all, the story of Jesus.
A. For generations, stories of people’s choices filled history but nothing could stop what God had planned. No matter what anyone did or did not do, God was sending His Son into the world. God’s plan would happen and did happen because God is sovereignly in control of everything. Nothing surprises God and nothing thwarts God’s plans. His story is the bigger story in which each one of us lives. We are living in the story of God, the story that began with the promise of Jesus’ first coming, was revealed in the person of Jesus, and will end with the promised second coming of Jesus.
B. There is coming a promised day when the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And all those who trust in Jesus will be taken to be with the Lord forever. Jesus is coming again. Like a thief in the night Jesus will appear to steal away his people and to end this story and start the story of eternity. The heavens will pass away with a roar and the earth will be burned up, destroyed. Then He will create a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Jesus is coming again. Remember that “for every prophecy on the first coming of Christ, there are 8 on Christ’s second coming.” Jesus is coming again.
C. The Lord is not slow in fulfilling the promise of His coming. He is patient toward us. He does not want any to perish but that all should come to repentance. He longs that our stories would be weaved into His greater story for His glory and for our good. That is what God wants to do. That is one thing that this genealogy represents. That reminds me of a story… Manasseh…
IV. What kind of story will be weaved into God’s bigger story about your life?
A. Manasseh, the most evil King in Judah’s history, reigned for 55 years and filled Jerusalem with sin and with the blood of the innocent. He was horrible almost his entire life. What is so sad is that his dad was a godly man. But Manasseh went another way. He led Judah into more evil than all the nations that God drove out of the land had done before them. As a result of Manasseh’s evil leadership and Judah’s sin, the wrath of God was brimming over and God declared judgment on Judah. He says that He will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish. God brought incredible pain into Manasseh’s life, pain of mercy. God caused Manasseh to be captured and bound by the king of Assyria. They bound him with hooks and chains and took him to Babylon. It was there that he cried out to God. He humbled himself and turned to the Lord. The Lord heard him and brought him back to his kingdom and Scripture says that because of this Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. Here is what is so amazing – God was unfolding His greater story – the Messiah would come from the line of David no matter what Manasseh did. But God was also seeking to weave Manasseh into the greater story for God’s glory and for Manasseh’s good.
B. As God unfolds His story to its last chapter and the beginning of a new story, the story of eternity, He is continually working to weave people into His story for His glory and their good, through the gospel of Jesus Christ. His plan will unfold and nothing we do can stop it. Nothing could stop Jesus being born in a manger. Nothing will stop Jesus’ second coming. God’s plan is sovereign over all other stories. We can’t change God’s story by what we do but we can change how we experience God’s greater story. Nothing you do will stop God’s story from unfolding. Jesus Christ is coming again. Everything you do will impact your experience of His story.
C. So many stories in the family of Jesus, Boaz, Uzziah, Jehoshaphat, the greatest of which were born from a surrender to author of the greater story. Listen, we all can write our own stories but each of our stories will end with what we did with Jesus Christ. If you are not a Christian, if you have never trusted Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and decided to follow Him, then the story of your life, no matter how you live it, will end with what you did with Jesus. If you reject Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, that is not an end of a story that you will want to experience. You should trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior so that your story is weaved into God’s greater story for His glory and for your good, your salvation. If you are a Christian, then you have been weaved into God’s greater story for His glory and for your good. Now you should walk daily with the Lord, following Him, obeying Him, serving Him so that you might experience the life that Jesus Christ died to give you. God is the sovereign author of life, the author of eternal life, and that life is only found in the story of Jesus Christ. The greatest way to experience the greatest life possible is to surrender to the greater story, the story of Jesus Christ.
D. If your grandchildren are sitting at a family reunion some day as adults talking about the old days, what kind of story will you be? There are two different kinds of stories that can follow the words, “Do you want to hear an amazing story?” The only kind of story you want your kid’s kids telling is the kind that comes by trusting Jesus Christ. God’s story has been told, is being told and will be completed with the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is a story that you don’t want to miss. Trust in the Lord, the sovereign author of the greatest story of all. Will you trust him with your story?
10,000 sermon illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Dallas: Biblical Studies Press.