It is this spiritual succession, from Abraham onwards, that we have been concerning ourselves with. When we talk about heirs in a Biblical sense, we are speaking of a spiritual bloodline, rather than a physical one. These people are blood related, but the pattern is not a worldly one; it is not about a position of worldly privilege, of riches and power. It’s a very different bloodline. It’s a bloodline with an ultimate purpose, the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. This bloodline is listed in Luke 3:23-38. Here’s some of it:
Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melki, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melki, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. (Luke 3:23-34)
Now the “divine right of kings” produced a succession of self-proclaimed “God’s ambassadors”, who clearly weren’t anything of the sort and used their position to get up to all sorts of naughtiness. It is clear that the Bible teaches otherwise. God gives us a meandering Messianic bloodline and it’s not just full of first-borns. Many, such as Esau, Reuben, Simeon and Levi are overlooked on purpose, as are every king of Judah and Israel except King David. God operates by very different rules, which basically means that … so should we.
God tends to overlook the big shots.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
He used the stammering, reluctant Moses (“O Lord please send someone else to do it” Exodus 4:13), rather than his more naturally eloquent elder brother, Aaron. Rahab was a common prostitute living in Jericho, yet God used her to save Joshua and the spies and gives her an honourable mention in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11:31. Gideon was the lowest member of the lowest clan of Israel and a whinger who needed a series of clear signs before he could be coaxed into action. But then he allowed the Lord to reduce his men by over 99% before delivering a great victory against the Midianites. David was just a shepherd and part time harpist, but this complex, flawed man was moulded by God into a renowned soldier-King and an eternal divine favourite.
Jesus’ disciples would all fail auditions as leading men, in any Hollywood drama, except perhaps Judas, who fit the role of deluded baddie quite well. The rest of them, if you remember, scattered like ripples in a puddle at the first whiff of personal danger, when Jesus was arrested (Matthew 26:56). Could you see Bruce, Arnie, Sly or Van Damme doing the same? Of course they would, they’re only actors, after all!
All of these Bible characters go on a personal journey of discovery. God already knows them better than they know themselves and He moulds them each into someone He could use. They don’t start that way, some are reluctant (Moses), hesitant (Gideon), wilful (Simon Peter) or just seemingly not of the right stuff, but God knows otherwise.
And so it continued in history too. It has to be that way because we must remind ourselves what the goal of every Christian ought to be:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
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What does God think about the big shots … even those in the Church?