I have to confess, growing up, reading the Bible, there was always certain sections that I avoided reading. and my guess is, that you, like me, might have done the same thing. The genealogies.
Scattered throughout Scripture we find various lists of names, family trees, if you will, that provide the genealogies of different people from the Bible. As a kid, I never cared much for these lists, and honestly, thought they were a waste of time. So and so begat this guy. That guy begat so and so. On and on they went. They worse part is, many of the names are hard to pronounce. I can remember the sweat beading up on my forehead on a Sunday morning as I had to get up and read through a long list of names that I could barely pronounce in front of the entire congregation. Not a fun place to be.
But the reality is, these list provide valuable information to us, now thousands of years removed from the biblical times. Despite the complication in pronunciation, these lists offer to us an opportunity for better understanding of the great story that we are now a part of, God’s story.
I think we need to keep a few things in mind as we read through these lists.
- These are REAL PEOPLE…
The list we read in the Bible are the names of men, and some women, that really did live. Unlike the listing of families and names in novels, these names came with flesh and blood. they lived, breathed, and walked the earth many, many years ago. Husbands, fathers, brothers. Wives, mothers, sisters. Each one, like you and me, lived and died. To think of these as more than just names in a list helps to bring live to the Scriptures.
They Provide a Link to History…
Often when we read these names, we are able to place a time and a date from when these men (and women) live and the role that they played during their time. For instance, when we read Genesis chapter five, we are given information about life spans. This information helps us to build timelines on the story and in history. Later we read the family tree of Jesus in Matthew 1, and Luke 3. These lists provide the evidence and information that link Jesus back to king David, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Noah, Seth, and Adam. It’s a thread that connects not just the Old Testament to the New Testament, but the promise of God to the man and the woman, that one would come to make all things new. Names connect us to the past and remind us of our future.
They Show Us How God Has Weaved His Purpose and Will Through the Lives of the Men and the Women He has Chosen…
As we read through these lists of names, what we find is that more than people who lived, more than a link to history, God chose to use these people to carry out His plan to show us His love. From Adam to Jesus, Old Testament to New Testament, a nation of God to the Church of God, God’s grace, love, and mercy are found in the lives and call of these men and women. Thus, further proving, the God is the great author of life. And it is all for His glory.
So, as we read through the following lists of names, first in Genesis 4, and then Genesis 5, what I hope you are able to do is, to see more than a name, but flesh. More than a word, a connection to history. More than letters on a page, but God’s will working through men and women that were not that different from you and me.