One of my favorite prophetic passages in the Bible is found in Isaiah 46:9-10. It’s a statement by YHWH, the living God of the Bible, that He is God and there is none like Him. In this wonderful passage, YHWH is talking to Israel contrasting Himself with the Babylonian gods, Bel and Nebo, which had been unable to save ancient Babylon and its inhabitants from captivity.
To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?…
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Isaiah 46:5, 9-10
Did you catch that? The first evidence YHWH uses to prove to Israel that Bel and Nebo are not His equals is the fact that He tells the end from the beginning. In other words He knows the future. This foreknowledge of the future is one way YHWH sets Himself apart from other gods and elevates the Bible above other religious texts.
Declaring the End from the Beginning
Everywhere we look in the world around us shows the glory of YHWH. No matter how high you look into the heavens or how deep you look into the microscopic world of atoms you see the hand of a master designer of infinite genius. Every corner of this amazing world shows purpose and order.
Here’s a question. If the natural world around us reflects the creative genius of YHWH then might not we expect to see a similar purpose and order reflected in His word? Consider Isaiah 46:10 once again. This passage tells us that YHWH declares the end from the beginning and the ancient things which are not yet done. This means we can rest confident in YHWH’s purpose for His creation. Remember the words of Paul to the Romans? He reminds them that YHWH’s character and purpose is reflected in the created world around us so that even the wicked are without excuse before Him.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Romans 1:20
Or how about the words of Kind David:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
First Century Jewish Context
But our search today takes us not into the infinite number of natural mysteries YHWH has given us to explore. Instead I want to look at an example of purpose and design that is often overlooked in the Biblical record.
Our exploration begins in the first chapter and book of the New Testament. Here in Matthew chapter 1 we have a fascinating arrangement of the Messiah Yeshua’s lineage. I say fascinating because the list is arranged by the Apostle Matthew in a peculiar way unique to the Biblical record.
For context’s sake keep in mind that the gospel of Matthew was written to the first century Jewish believers. Many scholars acknowledge the distinctly Jewish symbolism and metaphor woven into this gospel account. It is believed by some that the gospel of Matthew was actually written in Hebrew and then later translated into Greek. In any case this first gospel of the New Testament was written in such a way as to emphasis to the early Jewish readers that Yeshua was Messiah which was prophesied of in the Hebrew Scriptures.
We need go no further than the first seventeen verses of this fascinating gospel account. Here Matthew sets out Yeshua’s lineage into three sets of 14 generations, thus emphasizing the names relative to three generational groupings.
But then we find that Matthew purposely leaves out 4 Old Testament kings from Yeshua’s lineage giving us only 41 generations instead of the 45. All it takes is one look at this list as arranged by Matthew for us to realize its special nature. Here take a look at the chart on the left:
Today I won’t go into all fascinating details of why I believe Matthew left out four kings or why the list was arranged into three groups of 14 generations because today I want to take a step back in time and look at the bigger picture. I want to look at an aspect of this list which helps us bridge the Biblical generations and see how YHWH declares the “end from the beginning.”
When all the controversial dust settles on Matthew’s intriguing account of Yeshua’s lineage it is at its most basic level simply a list of 41 generations from Abraham to Yeshua. So what’s the big deal, you might be wondering? Well, those 41 names take on amazing significance when you consider them in terms of the Bible’s overreaching chronological record. You see according to the Old Testament chronology, Abraham was born in the 2008th year from Adam. This places Abraham’s birth in the 41st Jubilee cycle from Adam. Coincidence? Hardly, here’s why:
You see if you divide the number of years between Adam and Abraham you’ll find that Abraham was born at the very end of the 41st Jubilee cycle. If you then count the years from Abraham to Yeshua you’ll discover that Yeshua was born during the 41st Jubilee cycle from Abraham. In other words the 41 generations between Abraham and Yeshua, as given in Matthew 1, are equal to 41 Jubilee cycles in actual Biblical chronology. How neat is that? Matthew purposely arranged Yeshua’s lineage to emphasis the fact that He (the Messiah) came 41 jubilee cycles after Abraham. The very same Abraham who himself came 41 jubilee cycles after Adam.
How is that for purpose and order!
As an aside, for those of you who appreciate the order and design of numbers, note that the number 41 is the 13th prime number. Considering Matthew presented Yeshua as the 13th generation in the third grouping of names this appears to be more than a coincidence. In any case, Yeshua, according to Matthew’s intentional arrangement is represented as both the 13th and 41st generation.
Now we understand at least in part why Matthew arranged Yeshua’s lineage to show 41 generations. By leaving out four names from Yeshua’s lineage Matthew purposely drew his reader’s attention to an ancient Biblical chronological fact that Yeshua’s first coming was equal to the length of time from Adam to Abraham, thus confirming the significance of the Messiah’s first coming in terms of YHWH’s past Biblical history.
41 Jubilee Cycles from the Messiah
It might surprise some of you to learn that today you and I are living in the 41st Jubilee cycle from the Messiah Yeshua. Once again an ancient and important Biblical cycle is drawing to a close and in light of its significance in past Biblical history it bears watching. Only YHWH knows what, if any, significance this 41st Jubilee cycle will have in the years ahead, but it behooves all of us to remember the words of Yeshua to the church of Sardis:
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Revelation 3:2-3
I sincerely believe that now is the time to be vigilant for the return of Yeshua. But as we watch, keep in mind that the prophecies and patterns of the Bible are not there for us to use to predict the future but so we may have confidence that the future is in YHWH’s hands because he does indeed declare the “end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done.”
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