Why Genealogies Matter
Anyone who has read the Bible or attempted to read the Bible has run into those long list of names. You know the ones. The ‘begats.’
‘So and so’ begat ‘so and so.’ Then ‘so and so’ begat ‘so and so.;
Most of the time I just skip those sections. I mean, come on. I’ve got things to do and place to be. Who has time for those long list that run on and on.
Who cares who is ‘so and so’s’ father. Why are they even in the Bible. What’s God trying to do? Bore us to death?
Not so fast. I think God actually has something in mind with EVERYTHING He includes in scripture. Even the ‘begats.’
So what’s the lesson? What’s the point of all those names?
I have a few ideas I want to submit.
1) People Matter.
Sounds simple huh? But I think it’s true. One of the reason all those names are in the Bible is because people matter in the plan of God.
Think about it.
God COULD HAVE set up earth in a number of different ways. Robots. Slaves. He could have even established a ‘people free’ planet.
He chose to create people. People that could and would respond to Him in relationship. People He could share His life with. People who could partner with Him to establish all the cool things God wanted to do.
He chose people. People matter.
2) God Uses People to Establish and Accomplish His Purposes.
This is a close cousin to the first point. But it expands it a bit.
Not only are people important to God. He also designed it so that people are crucial for the expediting of His plans and purposes.
John Wesley said, “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer!” Why? Because His purposes are connected to His love for people.
Look through the scriptures. While there are times that God acted independent of man (people), to carry out His ultimate plan, He ALWAYS included people.
Sure, there were times He rained down fire from heaven. Had angels fight for His people. Jesus walked on water. Turned water into wine and fed thousands with a few fish and a little bread.
He created the universe without the help of man. Or need for advice.
In many (most) of these instances He did it FOR man. Or He did it in response to man’s faith (expect of course for creation. That was all God!)
My point: Even when God acts independent of mankind, He does it in response to man or for the good of man. Man is somehow a part of the process.
Outside of a handful of events that required nothing of man, most of what God does is in direct response to AND in cooperation WITH mankind.
Even a general reading of the Bible shows us how much man depends on man (poor choice of words so please read this in context. Nowhere am I suggesting that God NEEDS man to survive, rather He has chosen to attach His purposes to man cooperating with Him).
Bottom line: God has chosen to work with mankind to bring about His glorious purpose for planet earth.
What an incredible opportunity and invitation for us. We GET TO help God establish ‘the garden’ on earth.
I’m tempted to say, ‘Selah’ here. It’s a Hebrew expression that means, ‘Wow. Think about that for a minute!’
But there’s more…
3) Hidden Stories
Every name is these lists is a story.
We may not have all the details (in fact in most of the list we know every little about the person), but they are important in the mind of God. So they are mentioned.
Jewish history fills in the blanks on many of the names mentioned.
For example, Rahab.
All we know about her from the Bible is that she hid some spies in the Book of Joshua. I’ll talk about her story in detail in the next segment, but there is one thing that history mentions that is interesting.
According to tradition, she married Salmon, who was one of the spies sent to Jericho to survey the city.
The implication is that she not only saved their lives, but as the story unfolded and she was saved, she married one of those men.
It’s not in the Bible, but tradition gives us little clues like this about their lives.
One of things I love about the Bible is that God communicates mostly through story.
The Bible is not just a list of moral values we should adopt.
It’s not a philosophy text book about how to approach life.
It’s a history book of stories that show how God revealed himself to people and called them to share in His glory.
It’s a story book.
The cool part is that WE get to be a part of His story (history).
Our lives matter. Point #1.
God uses allows us to participate in His incredible ‘earth project.’ Point #2.
And we all have our story to tell. Point #3.
This leads me to my next insight. Perhaps one of the most important. In fact, I’ve saved these next two for last on purpose.
4) No One Is Beyond The Scope Of God’s Reach and Love
I hinted at this in the previous segment.
Let me give you a couple of quick stories.
What About Rahab?
First, there is Rahab. In the Bible she is continually called ‘Rahab, the harlot.”
She was the woman in the Book of Joshua (read it in Josua 2 and 6) who hid the spies that went into the land of Canaan to discover their weaknesses and report back to Joshua.
She was a prostitute. Yet she recognized (she had heard the reports) what Jehovah was doing for the Israelite’s. She wanted to be on the right side of the war, so she hid the spies when their lives were in jeopardy.
Because of her faithfulness to the spies and the plan of God, her life was spared. And she went down in history as the woman who helped Israel when they conquered the land of Canaan.
It’s really a fascinating story. But it doesn’t end there.
If you continue the journey through the Old Testament you discover that Rahab became the Great, Great Grandmother of David. One of the greatest kings of Israel.
Get this. According to Matthew, she is the Great, Great, Great (add a bunch more ‘greats’) grandmother of Jesus Christ.
I won’t bore you with the entire lineage, but go to Matthew chapter one and read the list. Through her descendants we get Jesus Christ our Lord.
Wow! How cool is that?
Five Other Women
Here’s another interesting story. Well, it’s not really a story. More of a ‘fun fact!’
There are five women listed in this list.
Tamar (her story is in Genesis 38)
Rahab (who we just talked about).
Ruth (read about her in the Book of Ruth)
Bathsheba (remember her? David committed adultery with her in 2 Samuel 11)
Mary (the mother of Jesus)
Three of these (Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba) are women with questionable moral behavior.
Yet…they hold a critical part in the establishment of God’s plan.
Their stories show us God can use anyone. He often chooses people that society overlooks.
What God Sees
The apostle Paul put it this way:
1Corinthians 1:25-29 (NET Bible Translation)
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26 Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position. 27 But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, 29 so that no one can boast in his presence.
Not many wise.
Not many powerful.
Not many born to privilege.
Rather, God chose what the world thinks is foolish, weak, low and despised.
Contradicts almost everything we hear in the world today.
But that’s the way God does things.
He contradicts the world to prove His own glory and greatness.
He Has Chosen You…So Live It
Don’t miss this lesson. It’s a truth that can impact your life eternally.
God has chosen you.
He longs for you to be a part of His plan and purpose. He desires you. Loves you. Chose you.
Isn’t it time to let your past be the past. Let it be part of the story, but not the end of the story.
Don’t ever let one chapter of your life define the scope of your life.
It’s only ONE chapter. Remember that. Just one of them.
And who knows, it may prove to be one of the most interesting chapters when all is said and done.
There’s one more insight…
5) Our Life is a Legacy.
My pastor, Dean Hawk, recently taught a series of messages called, ‘Leaving A Legacy.’
In one of the messages he title, ‘Generations,’ he made this statement:
God’s heart is that we would see our life generationally!
That’s a powerful statement. And an even more powerful concept.
What’s the Implication?
Here’s what it implies.
We often view our life only in terms of the immediate. The things we want now. We are so focused on what needs to be done ‘in the moment’ that we fail to consider our lives generationally.
Thinking generationally means we make decisions that affect, not only our lives, but the lives of generations to come.
Let’s face it. We are pretty selfish.
I mean…our culture. The society we currently occupy. We are selfish. We tend to think only of ourselves. What we want. What we need.
The caricature of our culture (whether right or wrong) is that Millennials are weak, selfish, ‘snowflakes’ with very little substance.
Social Media Reinforces This Idea
Facebook in particular has cast this shadow of that generation. Why? Because most (not all, so don’t send me nasty emails) of what we hear and see from that generation (those born roughly between 1980 and 2000) is spoiled verbiage of entitlement.
Contrast this thinking with those of the World War II era. Anyone truly paying attention will note the difference. That generation (WWII) were selfless, hard-working, tough men and women who didn’t have the amenities that this generation is afforded.
Yet they blazed a trail and made life happen. They didn’t expect anyone else to do it for them. They thought differently. Their actions and attitude reveal that they had a different mindset.
They thought generationally. Not selfishly.
Don’t Misunderstand My Intention
My intention is not to point out the failures of modern society. Not to cast one generation in a negative light while highlighting the virtues of another.
It’s to point out a reality.
And issue a challenge.
It takes intention to live life beyond your immediate needs.
It takes courage to think beyond yourself.
It takes wisdom to know your actions today affect people in the future.
It takes compassion to make decisions accordingly.
To think generationally.
And to realize that those often overlooked passages and chapters in the Bible, actually have a lot to say to us. Right here. Right now.
What about you?
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.
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