We’ve all been there. Days have passed without opening our Bibles. We haven’t read a single verse in the last 24 hours. And here we go to read it again because we know we need it and what do we open to? A genealogy.
I was in that spot not too long ago. When I finally pulled out my Bible after a couple days without it, I looked down at my reading plan and, to my dismay, the passage for that day was 1 Chronicles 1-5. I thought, “A genealogy? Really? And five whole chapters of it?!”
But as I began reading, I realized that genealogies in the Bible have a lot to tell us about God. They are important parts of Scripture that are neglected, overlooked, and, if we’re honest, avoided, in most of our Bible study.
After reading through those chapters I was reminded of three distinct reasons to read the Genealogies in the Bible. And I am sharing them with you today in this post!
First though, let’s define a genealogy.
What is a genealogy?
Google defines a genealogy as “a line of descent traced continuously from an ancestor.” There are several passages in the Bible that contain lists of names… and more lists of names. The passage that I was assigned for that day is a list of names that covers all of Adam’s descendants (you can read it here, if you like).
Now that we know what a genealogy is, here’s three reasons why we should read them.
Three Reasons to Read the Genealogies in the Bible
1. Genealogies Are Part of God’s Word.
I know that you know this, but the genealogies are a part of God’s Word. They are in the Bible. That alone is reason enough to read them. The Bible is God’s letter, the Holy Scriptures. It is the Bible that our Father uses to shape and mold us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). In Hebrews 4:12 it says, “The Word of God…” it doesn’t say, “Only some of the Word of God,” or “Just the New Testament.” So we know that ALL of God’s Word is important for our study and our life in Christ. It follows then that whatever is in the Bible is worth reading, worth studying, even the genealogies.
More so, we also know that God makes no mistakes. He would not put something in the Bible that is not worth reading. He is our holy, perfect Father, so we can trust that what He’s put in the Bible is important.
When you begin to separate or only read parts of the Bible you enter dangerous territory. First, that implies that you believe only some of the Bible is important and not all of it. Secondly, it can lower your view of God’s power. He is able to use ANY and EVERY part of His Word to guide us. So if we are only reading bits and pieces, what we like, than we are limiting the opportunities for God to teach us through all of His Word.
Because genealogies are part of the Bible, they are worth reading and profitable for our understanding of God. The following points reinforce this.
2. Genealogies Show God’s Faithfulness Throughout History
Genealogies are part of God’s Word and should be read as such. But genealogies in particular show us Jesus’s lineage and how God’s plan worked throughout history.
It’s these lists that show how God has worked throughout history to bring His plan to fruition. He has never given up or turned back on His covenant that He gave to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. God has been weaving His plan to fulfill His covenant throughout all of history. Brining Jesus to the world and bringing salvation to the whole world through Jesus’ sacrifice was the culmination of that covenant promise made to Abraham many years ago.
That alone makes these lists of names encouraging to us now! They show that God has ultimately kept His promise made so long ago, which means that He will keep His promises now. He will continue to take care of His children now and He will continue to fulfill His covenants and bring His plan for the universe to completion.
The long list of names in the Bible show God’s faithfulness to us in the ages past. We can trust Him because He is faithful. But the genealogies also show us who is not faithful.
3. Genealogies Remind You that People in the Bible Are Sinners.
While genealogies show us how faithful God is, they also show how unfaithful people are. There are many that show us people’s sin.
Which really means that the genealogies show us that the people in the Bible are sinners just like us. It’s very easy to put the characters that we read about in the Bible on pedestals. We look through the story of their life, see their heroics, and think they are on another level than us. And it’s true that many people in the Bible have good qualities from which we can learn. But the reality is that each character in the Bible was a sinner.
They were regular people with messy lives who God used to further His purpose and His kingdom.
For example, in 1 Chronicles 1-5, the list that I read included David and his line (read it here: 1 Chronicles 3:1-9). And in those verses, in just the first three verses actually, whatever high and lofty picture I might have had of David was crushed. The genealogy showed me that the first six children that David had were each with a different woman. That’s a messy life, filled with different women, concubines, half-brothers, half-sisters, relational strife… sin.
You may think, “But this is David!” The man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14)! Yes, David. His life was messy. His life was full of sin. Yet, he was the man after God’s heart. God took all the messiness that was David’s sin and the consequences that followed and used him for His glory. Despite all of David’s mistakes, God still used his life in great ways.
(For more examples, see the genealogy in Matthew 1:1-17, it’s full of imperfect people that God perfectly used to bring His Son to the world.)
And this is the hope for us as well. God will use us, imperfect people, to complete and fulfill His perfect plan. Even though we’ve made mistakes, even though we sin, even though our lives are just as messy as, if not messier than, David’s, God still uses us as His children for His glory.
Because Jesus came to wash away our sin on the cross. He came to die in our place so that God could use us for His glory. When we put our faith in Christ and His resurrection, we are washed clean from our sins and able to serve Him each and every day. And even though we will still sin as believers, God is continually molding us to be like Christ and using our mortal, sinful lives to honor and glorify Him and to live out His plan for us.
I hope you can see that the genealogies are very important to our understanding of God and ourselves. They simply can’t be left out of your Bible reading.
So, the next time your Bible reading plan has you in 1 Chronicles or Matthew 1, remember that the genealogies are part of God’s Word and profitable for growth, that they show us God’s faithfulness throughout the ages, and that they show us the humanity of biblical characters. Let’s get reading!