Let me be honest. I’m not thrilled when my Bible reading leads me to a long genealogy. The longest successive genealogy takes up the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles. That’s right, nine chapters of “Abraham fathered Isaac. The sons of Isaac: Esau and Israel. The sons of Esau . . .” and so on. How can nine chapters of names (most of which I do not know, and will not remember) be enriching for my soul?
Well, God’s word includes no accidents. Every word is there for a reason, and even the genealogies serve a great purpose. That’s why even genealogies serve a purpose! In fact, here are three ways that I’ve found genealogies incredible beneficial for my heart:
First, genealogies remind me of God’s unstoppable faithfulness. These long lists of names don’t go nowhere – they lead to the promised messiah, the savior who God would send from the line Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Judah, and David. In these genealogies we actually see how God worked through thousands of years of human families to bring about his incredible gracious plan to save us all: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Second, genealogies comfort me when I feel like a nobody. Let’s face it, must of us will not do anything memorable beyond our own generation. It’s easy to feel like our lives are pointless, and that we’re useless to God. But Genealogies are mostly made up of nobodies! In other words, God brought about his great redemption not just through Kings like David, but through unremarkable sons and daughter like you and I.
Third, genealogies comfort me when I feel guilty. It’s easy to feel like our sins disqualify us as Christians. It’s easy to think that God can’t use us because we’re too dirty. But when we look at the lives of the people on the list, we realize that God always uses sinners like us! Noah drank too much; David committed adultery. Genealogies are made up of idolaters, prostitutes, and every other kind of sinner. Nonetheless, God showed all of these people grace and transformed their lives.
You see, genealogies remind us, above all else, that God is gracious. He does not save us because we’re good people. He doesn’t save us because we have something to offer him. No, the people in these genealogies had nothing to offer God – just like us. Nonetheless, God was faithful to save undeserving sinners. He was faithful for hundreds of generations, and he is still faithful to undeserving sinners today. It’s in genealogies that we find great proof of God’s great graciousness.