Who doesn’t love a lengthy list of difficult to pronounce names? I’m sure the genealogies sprinkled throughout the Old Testament are some of the most precious parts of the Bible to you. And I bet you’ve never passed over them in your Bible reading or in a sermon series.
Who am I kidding? If we are honest, the genealogies often cause our eyes to glaze over. So many names. So many consonants oddly arranged in those names. So few vowels. So hard to say. “I’ll just flip the page.”
Don’t do it. I was tempted to do the exact same silly thing in a sermon on Exodus 6:2–7:13.
Smack dab in the middle of Moses telling Israel about God’s plan to redeem them, and Moses and Aaron getting into a snake fight with Pharaoh, there is a head-scratching genealogy. It felt out of place. And it would take a while to read in my sermon. And I’d hack these names. “I’ll just skip it.”
I’m glad I didn’t. I would have set a horrible example for our church. Pastor skipped them. I can too. And I would have robbed them of two important truths.
Genealogies Re-Center the Bible
Long lists of names remind us the Bible isn’t about us. We want to skip the genealogies because they aren’t about us. They don’t “resonate” with us. But that’s exactly what we need to hear.
The Bible is about God. His glory, grace, and mercy to sinners. If you believe every verse is profitable for your discipleship with Christ, then don’t zip past genealogies. Think on them. Why is this here? Why these people? What is God showing about himself? What is God showing about humanity? Genealogies do resonate with us; they help undo our self-centered approach to the Bible and re-center us on God and the gospel.
Genealogies are Gospel Reminders
They remind us of God’s promise that someone would be born of Adam, Abraham, etc., who would crush the serpent and set God’s people free. The genealogies in the Old Testament remind us of God’s promise and actions in history. He hasn’t lost track of what he’s doing. Genealogies remind us of God’s faithfulness to redeem.
Lastly, they remind us about a list of names where you are listed. Right now, in Heaven, the Lamb’s Book of Life is filled with the names of those who would be redeemed by the blood of Jesus. And if you believe in the risen Lord, your name is on a page—and it’s written in ink older than the earth (Rev. 17:8). You aren’t listed in Exodus 6 or Matthew 1, but you are listed in Heaven, in a genealogy of Christ’s brothers and sisters.
Don’t skip the genealogies. You’ll find the kind of joy you were looking for all along.