written by Ray Fung
When you see the word genealogy, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For some, the only time we ever read it is in Matthew and Luke when we read the genealogy of Christ. For others, genealogies are just the times in our devotions where we zone out. There are even some who simply ignore genealogies completely.
Lately, I have been trying to build up a habit of reading through large portions of Scripture within a month (Torah, History, Poetry, Prophecy, Major/Minor Prophets, New Testament). For the past month, I have been going through the history portions of Scripture (Joshua-Esther) and I just finished 1 Chronicles. I noticed that the first 9 or so chapters are almost completely devoted to genealogy. I wasn’t reading through this hoping to find out how to be a better evangelist (although it did test my sanctification in terms of not being lazy). I am sure that my readers are all exceptionally godly and don’t feel this way, but I do find myself dreading these portions of Scripture and wanting to get to the good stuff.
But then I remembered something; 2 Timothy 3:16 reads, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” This word ‘all’ in the Greek, means all. It means every little part of Scripture can be helpful to our walk with Christ. In fact, Christ Himself said that not one iota of Scripture will pass away (Matthew 5:18). If we are a church that believes that Scripture is the authoritative, inspired word of the living God, that means that even genealogies are good for us. Here are two things we can learn through genealogies:
1) We Serve a God that Has a Plan
God would not have all of these names written down without a plan in mind. In some cases, like 1 Chronicles 6, we see a priestly line. The reasons for this are to let the people of Israel know that there is a particular group of people that is set apart from the rest of the tribes of Israel to do the work of God. God is a God of design, and even worshipping Him and making sacrifices to Him is intentional. This was all part of God’s plan and how God uses people for His purpose (Numbers 18). It should make us glad that God is not a God that is randomly using people to some random end. Rather, God uses specific people to achieve His divine goal of redemption. God has a purpose in the way He uses people for His glory.
2) We Serve a God that Keeps His Plan
Genealogies were designed not only to help people know where they are from; but also to let them know where history is going. In fact, for the Jewish audience, they took pride in which tribe they are from because it allows them to know what type of blessing they would receive from God in the future (Joshua 18-19; Revelation 7). For the New Testament people, the only genealogy we need to worry about is the line of Christ, because Christ fulfills what God has spoken to David (2 Samuel 7). God uses genealogy to keep a record of how He will redeem man. More than that, He preserves a particular line so that Christ can be authenticated through genealogies.
Reading genealogies should remind us that we worship a God that is sovereign. We know that God is not like man (Numbers 23:19). To us, genealogy is just a waste of time, but genealogy should matter to us because it matters to God. These are real people that have existed and were recorded by real writers of Scripture who were told by a real God to document everyone. While almost all of these guys we will never meet or remember, we can always look at this list and remember that God is the One who knows them all and is working through even us today to fulfill His goals.