Posts tagged ‘Genealogy’

More Than A List Of Names

Last week on this blog, I took a look at one of the most beloved parts of the Christmas story – the journey of the wise men. This week, I’d like to take a look at one of the most often overlooked sections of the story. The Gospel writer Matthew opens his version of the Christmas story not with an angel, or with a star, or with some startled shepherds, but with a genealogy:

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Elihud, Elihud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. (Matthew 1:1-17)

You can be honest: did you read the genealogy above just now, or did you skip to the bottom to see what in the world could be said about a list like this? I know the temptation. When I’m reading through the Bible, I’m tempted to skip sections like this, too.

In the ancient world, genealogies were considered critical. They reminded the Jewish people of their history and God’s faithfulness. Genealogies were ways of keeping track of how God had guided and grown His people through the ages. This is especially true in Matthew’s genealogy. Matthew includes a section in his genealogy he titles, “After the exile to Babylon” (Matthew 1:12). When the Babylonians ransacked the city of Jerusalem and carried its residents into captivity, the Israelites wondered if God had turned against them. In the book of Lamentations, they cry:

The Lord is like an enemy; He has swallowed up Israel. (Lamentations 2:5)

Oftentimes, when the Old Testament writers speak of God, they call Him “LORD.” The capitalization of all the letters is meant to cue the reader that the Hebrew behind this translation is “Yahweh,” the personal name for God. The Israelites called God by name because they believed He knew their names – and cared about their lives. But in this line from Lamentations, they do not cry out to God personally, using His personal name Yahweh. Instead, they talk about Him formally – not as “LORD,” but as “Lord,” the Hebrew word here being “Adonai,” which is not a personal name, but a title meaning, “Master.” The God the Israelites once spoke to personally now feels like a harsh Master who is abusing them savagely, as they languish in exile in Babylon.

Matthew’s genealogy reminds us that, even during their darkest moments, God had not given up on His people. The names of those who were driven from Israel were still and recorded in the annals of God’s people and are now remembered as ones who pointed to the One in whom this whole genealogy finds its apogee: “Jesus who is called the Messiah” (Matthew 1:16).

In a year that has been full of so much pain for so many people, this genealogy can remind us that we are also in the annals of God’s family, even when we feel exiled – from friends, from family members, and from normal routines as a pandemic that just won’t quit drags on. My encouragement to you is to take a moment to reflect on the names in Matthew’s genealogy. After all, because of Christ, this genealogy is not just a list of names, it’s your family history in faith – and we should all take some time to learn about our family.

December 14, 2020 at 5:15 am 1 comment

ABC Extra: Children Who Rebel

Rebellion has become a sort of rite of passage as children move into adulthood.  The teenage son breaks his curfew to sneak out with his friends and party late into the night.  The teenage daughter secretly dates that cute boy she’s head over heals for in spite of her parents’ strong objections.  The Fourth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12), seems of little consequence to many teenagers.

It is a common misconception that it didn’t used to be this way.  Children did not used to so headily and so arrogantly rebel against their parents.  The truth of the matter, however, is that children have been rebelling against their parents for centuries.  Jesus puts it like this:  “Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death” (Mark 13:12).  Indeed, the rebellion of children against their parents goes back even farther.  It stretches all the way back to the Fall into sin.

In Luke 3, the evangelist presents us with a genealogy of Jesus Christ.  And what a genealogy it is!  It traces the Lord’s lineage all the way to the first man, Adam.  It’s especially interesting the way Adam is talked about.  In the midst of a bunch of genealogical standard fare – “so and so was the son of so and so, and so and so was the son of so and so” – we come to this:  “Methuselah was the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan,  the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:37-38).  Luke says that Adam, like everyone else throughout the course of history, was a son.  He was a son of God.  And just like every son that has come after him, he rebels against his parents, or, more precisely, his Father.  God commands His son Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and Adam sneaks off and eats from the tree anyway.  The first sin was one of rebellion.  And children have been rebelling against their parents ever since.

This weekend in worship and ABC, we studied 1 Samuel 2 and the story of the rebellion of Hophni and Phineas against their father and against God.  The author of 1 Samuel is pointed in his analysis of the sons’ character:  “Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD” (verse 12).  Their rebellion was two-pronged.  On the one hand, they took animal sacrifices that were properly to be burned in honor of the LORD and instead kept these animals for private meals (cf. verses 13-15).  On the other hand, they engaged in sexual immorality with the women who served at the temple where they were priests (cf. verse 22).  Eli, Hophi and Phineas’ father, although he condemns the latter sin, does not condemn the former.  We find out why he does not condemn the former sin just verses later when a prophet of God arrives at Eli’s doorstep and rebukes Eli for too partaking of animal sacrifices which properly belong to God!  The prophet asks in the stead of the LORD:  “Why do you scorn My sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for My dwelling?  Why do you honor your sons more than Me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by My people Israel” (verse 29)?

The Hebrew word for the “choice parts” of the Israelite offerings on which Eli and his sons are fattening themselves is re’shi’ith. Interestingly, this word is most often associated with the practice of tithing:  “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God” (Exodus 23:19).  The Hebrew word for “best” is again re’shi’ith. Be it Hophni or Phineas or their father Eli, this is a family that is not interested in bringing their first and best before God.  And so they receive judgment from God.

Does your family bring its first and best before God?  Does your family give the first of its week to God in worship?  Does your family give the first of its money to God in finances?  Does your family give the first of its day to God in prayer and study of God’s Word?  Although the practice of giving the first to God in your family’s life may not prevent those hoary teenage years of rebellion altogether, it is good training in righteousness – for your children…and for you.  And righteousness has a mysterious way of repressing rebellion.

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May 3, 2010 at 4:45 am 1 comment

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