If you are like me, there are areas in your heart and life that need deeper cleansing, healing, and renewal. The same is true of my family and yours, and the churches that we are members of. There is a great deal of fixing and, if you and I would get real and be honest about it all, a lot of “rotten bones coming to life” kind of change that still needs to happen in many areas, specially the heart.
But there is hope. The gospel of Christmas says that you and I… All of us! We can rejoice. Despite of, in spite of. Because the promised Curse-Breaker for all bound-up and bleeding people, like you and I, has come!
Dr. Luke tells “most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3-4), who was most probably a high-ranking government official, and us that God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (verses 26-27).
Theophilus would have been familiar with the history of the royal lineage of David, and the specified reference to Joseph as one who was “of the house of David” (“of the house and lineage of David” in 2:4) would have reminded him of God’s great covenant promise to Old Testament Israel’s greatest king — that the Lord “will raise up [his] offspring after [him], who shall come from [his] body” and that He “will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… ” (2 Samuel 7:12-13). Indeed, God assured in Jeremiah 33:17 that “David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.” His “house and [his] kingdom shall be made sure forever before [the Lord],” and his offspring’s “throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).
In Psalm 45, we read about the immediate fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to David. Ultimately, it speaks of Christ, who is “God,” whose “throne… is forever and ever” (verse 6). But aside from that verse, the Psalm also describes the blessedness, glory, and military might of a king in David’s line in the Old Testament.
In Psalm 89, God’s promise to David is recalled (verses 3-4 and 19-37). But beginning in verse 38, the writer laments, “But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed. You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust.” In just judgment of their sin and wickedness, the Lord destroyed Israel’s defenses (40-41), increased her enemies’ power and strength (42), “cast [David’s] throne to the ground” (44), and “covered him with shame” (45).
In 2 Kings 23:31-25:30, we read that, because they “did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord” (23:32, 37; 24:9, 19), God sent the armies of pagan nations to destroy Judah and its kings in David’s throne and lineage (23:34; 24:2, 12; also 17:13-20). Worst of all was His judgment on Zedekiah. The Babylonians “slaughtered [his] sons… before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon” (25:7). In holy retribution, of which they have been adequately and abundantly warned (17:13), the Lord sent David’s royal family into exile, back to Babylon where Abraham came from. But not as free men! Fearsomely, the “God of gods and Lord of lords” (Deuteronomy 10:17) sent them there as captives of pagan kings.
In the gospel of Luke, we read that the curse and spiritual exile of David’s royal family has not yet ended. Instead of living in “the city of David, which is called Bethlehem” (2:4), “Joseph, of the house of David,” and Mary, whom the angel alludes to as also being in the line of David (1:32), were both from Nazareth in Galilee (1:26; 2:4), of which it was commonly and sarcastically asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” In fact, the word of God itself, in both the Old and the New Testament, calls their region “Galilee of the gentiles,” of “the people dwelling in darkness,” and of “those dwelling in the region and shadow of death” (Matthew 4:15-16; Isaiah 9: 1-2).
Now darkness and death are symbols of God’s judgment (Job 10:21-22; Psalm 107:10-14; Jeremiah 13:16). Therefore, the residence of Joseph, Mary, and other descendants of David in Galilee, and especially in Nazareth, speaks to us of the fact that the curse of sin and exile on the royal family has not yet been broken.
Secondly, “Joseph, of the house of David,” was not a businessman or a man of even just a considerable socio-economic status in Nazareth. Instead, he was a carpenter who was looked down upon and deemed insignificant (Matthew 13:55).
Thirdly, their forced, arduous, 70-mile travel for the Roman census despite Mary’s delicate and precarious condition speaks of the Davidic line’s total loss of the favor and influence that we read about in Psalm 45. The same is true of Joseph’s helplessness in securing a suitable place for the Lord Jesus to be born at (Luke 2:7).
Finally, Christ’s birth in a muddy, filthy, and smelly animal shelter is a far cry from “the oil of gladness,” “robes [that] are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia,” and “ivory palaces” that the Davidic king of Old Testament Israel was blessed with (Psalm 45:7-15).
What does this all mean?
An infinitely glorious, deeply comforting, and most soul-enriching truth for all people! Christ identified and united himself with the fallen line of David in order to fulfill the Father’s promise of redemption, restoration, and glory for them. He was not just born in poverty and humility. Indeed, our Lord and Savior was born in exile, under Yahweh’s terrible judgment and wrath. And even as a fetus, he bore the sins of and God’s curse upon David’s wicked and evil descendants.
And not just for David’s children! We are all evil and wicked transgressors in exile, under God’s judgment and wrath (Romans 1:18-3:20), enslaved to sin, satan, and the world (Ephesians 2:1-3). But from the womb to the cross, Christ bore our sins and broke the curse (Isaiah 53; Hebrew 2:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; Galatians 3:13-14; Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 37). And through faith in Him, we are set free (Romans 8:1-2) and made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This is the heart, core, and depth of what Christmas is all about. And if you do not know Jesus, this is the time for you to call on Him and ask for forgiveness for your sins, salvation from the curse, and renewal of life by His Spirit and word. And he will do it. Christ promises to you that He will do it (Matthew 7:7-11), if you call on Him by faith (Romans 10:13).
Now if you are a believer in Christ, this is a time for a deeper and greater assurance. At the same time, this is also a season for sincere, honest self-examination. As I stated above… If you are like me, there are areas in your heart and life that need deeper cleansing, healing, and renewal. The same is true of my family and yours, and the churches that we are members of. We must ask the Lord for forgiveness and cry out to him for the deliverance and “rotten bones coming to life” kind of change that we all need still. And He will answer us, because He is the Promised One whom God sent to pay for our sins and save us from the curse.
Hallelujah! Let us rejoice. The Curse-Breaker has come.