Trekking Through the Genealogies
January 8, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Like some of you, I have begun my annual trek through the genealogies of 1 Chronicles in my Bible reading plan. I admit that reading lists of names can be burdensome at times. They are difficult to pronounce, which leads to quick skimming, which feels fruitless at the end of the chapter. The apostle Paul, however, says that “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable…” How are the genealogies profitable? It would help us to keep in mind a few things:
1. 1 & 2 Chronicles, in particular, were written after the exile, during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Yes, they repeat many stories we read in 2 Samuel (about David) and 1 & 2 Kings (about the kings of Judah, David’s lineage). The aim of these late OT historical books was to remind the Israelites returning from exile of the story of God’s promises and faithfulness to Judah.
2. A major part of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites is preserving the lineage of Abraham and David. The Jews loved God’s promises to Abraham and David. God promises to Abraham, “I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you” (Gen. 17:7). And God promises to David, “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam. 7:12-13). The exile seemed to threaten both of these promises. Would Abraham’s offspring be cut off from God? Would there still be a descendent of David on the throne for Israel?
3. The genealogies draw attention to and emphasize God’s faithfulness to keep his promises to Abraham and David. These genealogies which we read (or skim) at the beginning of 1 Chronicles remind the Israelites that Abraham’s lineage still continues and there are still descendants of David in their midst. They affirm for us (New Testament believers) that God always keeps his promises. Genealogies exalt the trustworthiness of God.
4. The genealogies remind us that God is the God of the ordinary and mundane. We find lists of hundreds of people, whole generations, that are mentioned by name only, who lived ordinary, unremarkable lives. And yet, they are not insignificant. They are part of God’s story. In our world of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, there is a growing lust for significance. We want to be someone and we want everyone to pay attention to us. A genealogy reminds us that our significance is rooted in Christ alone and God delights in our faithfulness in the ordinary events of our days to live in a way that pleases him.
May God bless you in your Bible reading this year, as you seek to trust in his promises!