pecaspers: a Blog in transition

January 27, 2012

Knowing Where You Came From

Filed under: My Life in General — pecaspers @ 1:21 PM

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)

I absolutely believe that, and I’ve been of a mind to believe it for most of my Christian life. But then you get to a portion of the Bible that is a genealogy or an accounting of a census. Your brain wearies at trying to mentally pronounce ancient Hebrew names represented as best they can be in English. Your eyes start to cross. You flip ahead to see how much longer this God-breathed list of names — most of which you don’t recognize — goes on. I know you know the feeling. (Unless you’ve never read the whole Bible, and if that’s the case, put down this paper because you have more important things to read. God wrote a book, and it is required reading for this class called life.)

Right now, my daily Bible reading has me in 1 Chronicles. I’m three chapters in and there are six more to go that are all and only genealogy. What’s up with that? How is this helpful? Why is it here? This probably isn’t the only reason, but something occurred to me as I considered the possibilities for the “why” of this particularly long textual family tree.

The Chronicles (originally one book, I don’t know why we split them) were written either while God’s people were being called back out of exile in Babylon or sometime after their return from exile. The book was written to give hope to a crushed people by reminding them of God’s covenant faithfulness. I think the reason Chronicles begins with a genealogy stretching from Adam to the people who return from Exile is that the chronicler wanted all those coming back into the land to know where they had come from, how they connected to those who had come before. It’s important to know where you came from.

We’ve lost a lot of this in our culture. I know who my grandparents are, and I know a little bit about my great grandparents. I know that I’ve got roots in Germany through my father’s father and roots in France through my father’s mother. I know that my mother’s paternal family name goes back to a boat full of Brits and her maternal family name can only be traced back to a horse around the time of the Civil War. But if you go to talk to a Maasai boy who may one day hunt lions with only a spear in Kenya, that kid will be able to sing you his genealogy going back over 500 years. He may not be on Twitter, but he knows where he came from. Is there an app for that?

Back to Chronicles, those post-exile Jews knew their personal genealogies as well. And if any of them had forgotten or not been taught more than a couple of generations, then they would still be able to find their point of connection to God’s people in Chronicles. And in knowing how they connected to God’s people, they would know how they connected to God’s promise that they would be His special people, that He would be their God, and that He would be present with them if they would only remain faithful to love Him alone.

But Chronicles doesn’t just focus on the Jews. It also gives the early genealogies of ALL people. There is a hint there to God’s promise to Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his promised son. And there is a hint to the greater promise of God to Adam that there would be a son born of woman who would crush the head of the serpent, one who would overthrow the curse of sin and death. So you see, even fifteen pages of ancient genealogy can point to Christ, and keeping our focus on Jesus Christ is a very profitable thing indeed.


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