Grace From The ‘Begats’

Like many of you, I’ve been on the #365 Bible Reading Plan. And as usual, when I came to Matthew 1, I was stumped by a whole list of genealogies. To be honest, this is where I’d usually flip the pages and skip the boring parts altogether (I’m sure I’m not the only one!).

As modern readers, our eyes would glaze over, and we’d ask, “When are we going to get to some action?” We don’t understand the significance of genealogies today, but people back then did. It was common practice to publicise one’s genealogy because they were proud of their ancestry and where they came from.

And it was your genealogy, not résumé, that determined if you had a place in the world. Today, we live in a highly individualistic society in which all that matters is what you accomplish. Which is why Matthew 1 is fascinating. The genealogy of Jesus is put out for the world to see, and at first glance, it doesn’t look good.

In the ‘begat’ chapter, you see not only gender outsiders (women), but racial (Moabitess and Canaanite), and moral outsiders (immoral people). Verse 6 says, “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife …”

She had a name! Bathsheba was the mother of King Solomon, but Matthew deliberately called her ‘Uriah’s wife’. How rude – almost like an insult to Bathsheba. But this wasn’t meant as an insult to her, but an implication at David.

David was the one guy anyone would want in their family tree. He was the ultimate insider. He wasn’t an idol worshipper, but was religiously orthodox. In fact, he was the greatest king in the history of Israel!

Look at what Matthew did. By using the term ‘Uriah’s wife’, he was forcing you to remember the whole story. Bathsheba was Uriah’s wife, David fell in love with her, and he had one of his closest friends murdered. In one stroke, Matthew highlighted the entire narrative and how this ‘great’ king fitted in.

In short, David had no more of a right to be part of Jesus’ family than a prostitute. There’s Rahab, Ruth – and there’s David. Matthew was bluntly saying, “Regardless of your title, you don’t deserve God’s blessing and grace any more than the sinner beside you!”

The prostitute and the king were right next to each other in the great line. All are equal before the holiness and grace of God. We’re not saved because of how good we are, but because of the work of grace. No matter what your pedigree is, or how bad you’ve failed, God’s grace is available to you – if you would receive it.

No matter who you are or what you’ve done, Jesus wants you in His family. “He’s unashamed to call (us) brethren (family) …” Hebrews 2.

The ‘begats’ can be a rich place to marvel at the beauty and wonder of grace. So don’t skip the ‘begats’ when you do your #365 reading. The ‘begats’ should change the way you look at yourself, and the way you see others. If you feel a sense of low self-worth, just look at the begats and be encouraged.

I believe God the Father intentionally slotted this chapter in the Bible to allow us a glimpse of His redeeming love for the broken.

Asst. Pastor Elijah Chan

Love God, Love Your Neighbour, Love Your Enemies

One of the most-talked-about subjects of the Bible is love. In fact, Jesus said that we identify ourselves as His disciples through the way we love people. We don’t prove who we are by the greatness of our faith or the number of miracles we perform, but by the way we love others.

It’s easy to love those who are nice, humble, lovely, and kind. We spend much time loving these people because of the ease of it. As a result, we sometimes come to think that we’ve lived out the command to love our neighbours pretty well.

But recently, the realisation hit me that I was unconsciously avoiding the ones that I don’t understand, those who are different from me, and the ones who weirded me out. I definitely wasn’t rude to them, but I haven’t engaged them the read more…

Huh? Work On My Weakness?

At the start of the year, like all prophetic believers, we asked what the word of the Lord was for 2021. I started the year with our three days of churchwide prayer and fasting, followed by 18 days of prayer – all pumped up and excited to hear what the Lord had to say.

Every new year, I’d resolve to do something different – like learning a new skill, a sport or try something new and outside my comfort zone. In 2018, I tried open water diving, under the persuasion of a pastor friend. I was almost scared to death, if not for a good and experienced dive master. I went mountain climbing in 2019, injured my knee and took a year to recover with the help of a physical trainer.

Last year, during the lockdown, I picked up cooking, learning read more…

A Man of the Spirit

As we turn the corner to a new decade, it’s a great time to affirm our commitment to things that really matter. At Cornerstone, we don’t want to be a people who merely ‘talk the talk’, we want to be people who are born of, filled with, and walk in the Spirit.
 
Some four million Jews spread throughout the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus’ birth. Sects and schools arosing within Judaism memorised huge portions of Scripture. Until that time, no generation had a greater expectation that the Messiah’s visitation was at hand. Prophecies were diligently studied, theories and timelines were drawn up, groups formed isolated communities to wait for the Christ. 

And yet the first person to recognise Jesus did not study under any famous rabbi nor join any elite school. Simeon was an old read more…

Rehearsing Our Beginnings

One of my life-long emphasis is PURPOSE. What’s the purpose of my life? What am I supposed to do? What’s my destiny? Perhaps more understandable – what’s the destination that God has for me?

More than 34 years ago, I began earnestly asking if there’s a point to my life. I was perhaps 11 years old, but even then, I needed to know that there was more to life than just sustenance and existence.

I spent countless hours wandering in the recesses of my mind asking questions. I often wondered where my consciousness would go when I die. Does it just get snuffed out or does it drift onwards in the emptiness of space and time?

Even there, I intuitively sensed that my consciousness was somehow eternal. I wondered also if I was a read more…

What A Year 2020 Has Been!

I’ve been in full-time ministry for 30 years, and in all those 30 years, three clearly stood out as being earth-shaking.
 
The first was 2001. What happened? 9/11. When those planes struck the World Trade Center in New York City, the world we knew changed forever. And I remember the exact moment I heard the news. Time stopped for me as I watched the horror of those twin towers collapsing. Life was never going to be the same again.

A war followed shortly. Stock markets around the world crashed. Fear was all around. The Middle East was in turmoil. Security ramped up around the world. The new normal was long queues at airports, tight airport security, restrictions. But we learned to make adjustments, and live with inconveniences because life had to go on.
 
The read more…

Intimacy With Christ Defines Us

Is 2020 the beginning of a new decade or the end of the last? Whatever your social or mathematical persuasion may be, 2020 has been the ‘new’ for many things.

On the global scene, the year was marked as the new decade with prospects of booming economies, only to be shuttered because of the novel coronavirus, an unprecedented viral spread which continues with increasing deaths.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made world news at the start of the year when they stepped back from the royal family. We saw the worst bushfires in Australia yet, the controversial American Presidential election, the ongoing international war threats and trade disputes, and end this year with the United Kingdom’s much-anticipated final exit from the European Union on 31 December.

On the local scene, it would be the 2020 General read more…

The Plight of Lostness

For thousands of years, the fundamental problem with mankind has been the heart. There’s something twisted inside and we often find ourselves in bondage to our sinful desires. Sin is not just an outward act but the inner disposition of our heart.

The Bible describes sin as falling short of God’s glory, violating what’s right and exchanging the truth for the lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.

John Stott famously said, “Many of the happenings of civilised society, the problems with morals and civility would not exist if it were not for human sin. A promise is not enough; we need a contract. Doors are not enough; we have to lock and bolt them. The payment of fares is not enough; we have to be issued with tickets which are punched, inspected and collected. read more…

Leah’s Victory

When we mention Jacob and Rachel in the Bible, it’s usually about how he worked 14 years for her. She’s the woman of promise – the one we should wait for.

But I’ve a fascination with the story of Leah, Jacob’s first wife. Her story moves me – I pitied and felt bad for her, yet somehow, when I began to read about her life again this year, I saw the goodness and sovereignty of God.

Because of the greed of Leah’s father and his manipulation and deceit, Leah was thrown into a living hell.

She was put into a situation where she married a man who not only did not love her, but found that her very own sister was her husband’s one true love.

The final verses of this passage are the most plaintive I know of, hardly read more…

The Shame Pandemic

“You shall not testify falsely against your neighbour.” Deuteronomy 5:20

I learned the 10 Commandments when I was very young. The image of Moses angrily demolishing the tablets when he discovered Israel had grievously sinned against the Lord – worshipping the golden calf while Moses lingered on the mountain – left a deep, restraining impression on me.

The commandments written by the very finger of God were daunting: Thou shalt not murder, steal, nor commit adultery. At the time, I didn’t understand how the command not to bear false witness against my neighbour could be put into the same category with these ‘weighty’ sins. Time and many life experiences have taught me just how shortsighted I was!

Several years ago, I was shocked by a revelation of just how chilling breaking the 9th Commandment can be. False rumours were being read more…

Managing Prophetic Expectations

Across cultures, continents, and chronology; in fiction and in history, ancient rulers and despots always appointed people with access to supernatural insight. Divination was the basic tool for direction in matters of State and for success in spiritual warfare.

After all, foreknowledge is power, so any and all divine help was sought after and welcomed. King Arthur had Merlin, Liu Bei had Zhuge Liang, Aragon had Gandalf, Pharaoh had Joseph, King Saul had Samuel, and King David had Nathan as their personal and court prophets.

But, for every celebrated and successful prophet, numerous others died brutal deaths if their prophetic words failed to please the king. If they were allowed to live, they spent their remaining years in ignominy and obscurity.

Nebuchadnezzar threatened to kill all the magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers, and burn their dwellings if they could not reveal read more…

The Strange Case of Obed-Edom

Obed-Edom is one of those people we don’t pay much attention to in the Bible. Maybe many of you reading this may wonder who he is. Obed-Edom appears for the first time in 2 Samuel 6:10, when David sought to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. The first attempt wasn’t done properly, and resulted in the death of Uzza. David was terrified and left the Ark in the house of a man called Obed-Edom. This is the protagonist I want to examine.
 
We’re told Obed-Edom was a Gittite. A Gittite is not Jewish, he’s a Philistine. Don’t forget that, not too long ago, the Ark was in the hands of the Philistines and God brought such a judgment of plagues on them that they quickly returned the Ark to Israel. They were terrified of read more…

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