“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)
2 Timothy 3:16-17 is an important verse for anyone claiming to be a Christian. It tells us that every verse in our Bible is from God, literally “God-breathed”. Which means it is of the utmost importance to read every single word God has breathed to us, right? Well, easier said than done. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to skip certain passages of the Bible? Not because you don’t agree with what they say, but because it’s hard to see the purpose of them? Well, if you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about the genealogies. As we diligently strive to read through the Bible, we will inevitably reach portions of the text that simply list name after name after name. When we reach these points, it is important to remember that God doesn’t waste his words. Everything written in the Bible has a purpose and deserves to be read. Here are five reasons why we shouldn’t be skipping through the genealogies:
Genealogies were important to the Israelites. This may seem odd to us today. Most people don’t know the name of their great-great grandfather. Israelites, however, knew specific details about their ancestors. The genealogies in the Holy Scriptures were very important to the Israelites because it proved their lineage. However unimportant it may seem today, family trees are an integral part of the Bible and we can learn a lot about history from these genealogies.
Genealogies provide us with a timeline. The first genealogy recorded in the Bible occurs as early as Genesis 4-5 with another being found in chapters 9-10. Throughout the Bible, the genealogies serve as checkpoints, a time to take a step back and orient ourselves again in history. If it weren’t for the detailed genealogies in Genesis, we wouldn’t know that Abraham was born while Shem was still alive!
Genealogies prove to us that God keeps His promises. Contained in the beginning chapters of Matthew and Luke, the Holy Spirit gives us the exact lineage of Jesus. God planned salvation before time even began (Titus 2) and He takes us through that plan, step by step, from Abraham to Jesus. God provides us with proof that everything He promised Abraham in Genesis came to pass. God doesn’t leave us guessing—He will always keep His promises!
Genealogies show us legacies. Genealogies can be split into two categories—the divine line (the line of Jesus) and those lines who didn’t produce the Savior. Yet no line, not even the genealogy of Jesus, is full of perfect people. Every single ancestor of Jesus was flawed, yet God still used them and their descendants for His divine purpose. Some legacies are less noticeable. Consider the genealogy of Noah in Genesis 10. Buried among the names filling the chapter lies the name of Asshur (vs.11); his legacy was the wicked city of Nineveh.
Every name contained in the genealogies represents a soul. Every single one. Those individuals were mortal, just like we are mortal and are facing eternity just like we will face eternity. Furthermore, each person God included, whether good or bad, is there for a reason. God does not and will never waste His words. He wants us to see and know those names.
With all this in mind, here’s something that might make studying the genealogies a bit easier:
Think about how you would feel if your name was in the Bible, but no one knew who you were. Because you are just another name on a purposeless genealogy that is lightly skimmed and skipped by Christian readers. Thankfully, God never designed His Word to be skimmed or skipped over. It is the duty of every faithful Christian to study and discover the importance of every word breathed out by God, including those names and people in the genealogies.
Studying through the genealogies can seem overwhelming, but taking careful consideration to them can create a study unlike any other.
By Marissa Teske