Why did God include lengthy genealogies in the Bible? Was it to make us bored? Was it to laugh at us as we struggle to pronounce Hazarmaveth or Ge-harashim?
While we can’t peek into the mind of God to know the exact reasons, there are several reasons that coming across a bible genealogy in your daily reading should encourage you greatly.
Since all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), that also includes genealogies!
Here are five reasons to love genealogies in the Bible:
1. Bible Genealogies show that God cares about history.
Recording lineages of important people in Scripture shows that the story of the Bible takes place in actual human history.
There are some that claim the Bible doesn’t need to be historically true, but claim that we can live with hope in the message anyway, whether or not it is true. This way of thinking is dangerous and reduces the Bible to be a take-it-or-leave-it motivational book with fanciful myths or “nice thoughts.”
The Apostle Paul firmly believed in historical importance to our faith. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:14 that if Christ had not physically rose from the grave, our faith would be in vain.
Genealogies document actual history and illustrate that the Bible is historically rooted and our faith is not in vain.
2. Bible Genealogies show that God interacts with real people.
This means that each person you see mentioned in Scripture was a living, breathing human being just like us. Biblical characters like Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus all lived on the earth and breathed the same air that we breathe today.
Each of the people mentioned in genealogies represent a real life with real quirks, real problems, and a real need for a Savior.
We know more about some people mentioned than others, but archaeology supports many people from the Bible, both well-known and the more obscure Bible characters. Elishama was a scribe only mentioned in a few Bible verses, but has archaeological support that shows he is a historical figure who performed the work the Bible said he did (read more about Elishama in the link above).
Although Elishama is not included in a genealogy, he is just an example in addition to genealogies that shows God interacted with real people from history.
3. Bible Genealogies show that God can use imperfect people for His purposes.
Men and women, Jews and Gentiles, people of faith and people of questionable character are all used by God to carry out His salvation plan in His son Jesus Christ.
The Genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 records several people with well-known sins:
- Jacob, stealing brother’s birthright (who is mentioned in Matthew 1:2)
- Rahab, who was a prostitute (mentioned in Matthew 1:5)
- David, committed adultery and murder (mentioned in Matthew 1:6)
- Solomon, disobeyed God by taking foreign wives and storing up earthly riches (mentioned in Matthew 1:6-7)
Everyone else mentioned was a sinner as well, because every man or woman (with the exception of Christ) is a sinner. The fact that God is able to bring the Messiah through a line of sinful people should be of great encouragement.
God used people like Rahab, David, Jacob, and Solomon to accomplish His purposes–we can be assured that He will fulfill His purposes with us even though we are imperfect.
4. Bible Genealogies show that God cares about families.
The Bible’s paying special attention to listing descendants of people also shows that God values families.
God chose Abraham to be the father of a great family that would be a blessing to every nation. This blessing came in Abraham’s greatest descendent, Jesus Christ, who came to redeem sinful humanity and allow them access into God’s family, a spiritual family (Galatians 4:4-5).
And that is one of the marvelous truths of the Gospel–God welcomes us into His family. John 1:12 communicates this beautifully, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
God not only cares about families, but He wants you in His family.
5. The genealogy of Jesus means that God understands our situation.
Matthew and Luke include the genealogy of Christ in the gospels they wrote (see Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-28). Those genealogies show that Christ was 100% human in addition to being 100% God.
That means that Christ had an earthly family like the rest of us, and experienced the joys and pains of having a family. He also experienced the trials and temptations that come from being human.
Hebrews 4:15 explains that Christ is able to sympathize with our weakness because He was tempted in every way, and still remained sinless. Because of this, we are to “…draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).”
Because Jesus understands what it is like to be a human, He is able to help us in our weakness.
This is profoundly important because it means God is near to us and truly understands everything we go through. Knowing that should shape the way you pray and worship.
Other Interesting facts about biblical genealogies:
- There may be people missing from genealogies because the word “fathered” can also mean “fathered an ancestor of”.
- Some prominent genealogies in the Bible are in Genesis 5:1-32, Genesis 10, Ruth 4:18-22, 1 Chronicles 1-10, Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-28.
- The New Testament lists the genealogy of Jesus Christ in two places: Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38. They are not exact replicas of each other because they start at different places (Luke at Adam and Matthew at Abraham) and each follow a different son of David, presumably one for the line of Mary and the other for Joseph.