Biblical Genealogies: A Grandfather’s Reflections

Post by Don Haddix

ALL SCRIPTURE IS GOD-BREATHED

The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

When I hear this Scripture, I want to shout, “Amen.” What a remarkable, awe-stirring thought! “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable!”

Then with Bible in hand, I come to passages that slow me down – repeated and seemingly endless details for building the tabernacle, long lists of strange-sounding laws for purification, GENEALOGIES.

You know, the sections of Bible text that often bring yearly reading plans to an abrupt end, are simply skipped over for “more interesting” passages, or cause our eyes to glaze over and our mind to zone out.

CASE IN POINT

A couple of weeks ago, while working through the book of Luke, we reached the later portion of Luke chapter 3. Yes, the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  Our pastor admitted to considering the thought of “skipping over it.” However, committed to a verse-by-verse study of the book, he pressed on. And in an effort to keep people’s attention as he read through all the names of the genealogy, he asked the congregation to follow along and shout, “Amen,” each time they heard a name they were familiar with.

We struggle to keep reading, to read every word, to pay attention.

Can genealogies really be “profitable?”

REFLECTING ON LUKE 3:23-38

I’ve always been interested in genealogy and have traced my family back several generations.  I find it fascinating to talk with people and see how far back they can remember their family members. Some can go back to a great-grandparent. Occasionally, someone can even remember a great-great-great grandparent.

My parents were older when I was born. Therefore, I only have one grandmother that I can recall, but she influenced my life greatly.

As I thought on her influence, Genesis chapter 5 came to mind.  This is where we find the lineage of Noah. 

If you go beyond the rather odd-sounding names and plot the lifespan of each person in the lineage, you will notice some interesting tidbits.

Look at the chart below:

A quick glance let’s you know that multiple generations walked the earth at the same time, multi-generational interactions were possible across several generations, and family members could trace their genealogy back to several great-grandparents.

Look closer. Noah could have known Enosh (the grandson of Adam)!

Don’t you wonder what happened? By the time of Noah’s generation, God determined it was necessary to wipe out mankind and start again. What could have possibly happened to cause such a falling away from God?

GENERATIONAL FAILURE

As my eyes pour over this lineage, I see it pointing to generational failure. One generation failing to pass faith in God on to the next generation.

Noah’s father, Lamech, was the son of Methusaleh (the oldest man to have ever lived at 969 years old) who was the son of Enoch (the man who didn’t die but was taken by God)! How does such a terrible falling away from God happen so quickly?

SIMPLY A LIST OF NAMES?

We get to the genealogies, the list of names, and sometimes we simply skip right over them. Other times we scan them quickly, looking for names we recognize – important people whose stories are recorded elsewhere in Scripture. We think how great these “heroes” must be to have their names and their stories included in the Bible.

But these genealogies are so much more than a list of names or a hall of fame.

They’re an account of people, individuals with the same sinful nature we have. And whether we view them as bigger-than-life “heroes of the faith” or inconsequential to the over-arching Bible narrative, we can learn much from each.  For if we will take the time to look closer, we will see that those we consider heroes, struggled with sin just as we do. Some chose their own way, some remained silent, and others neglected to pass a Godly heritage to the following generations. And those names we skim over as inconsequential, the ones that appear solely in lists of genealogy, teach us that God can use anyone and give us hope.

Yes, right there in the genealogies of the Bible, crucial lessons recorded for our profit.

AN APPLICATION FOR GRANDPARENTS

The generational failure in the lineage of Adam to Noah, led to the destruction of the world.  This is a crucial understanding for grandparents.

Equally important is the account we read immediately after the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Luke chapter 3. It is here in Luke chapter 4 that we find Jesus being tempted by Satan. Each temptation stemming from an “If:”

 “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

“If you, then will worship me…”

“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here.” 

This is Satan’s modus operandi (M.O.). He sows seeds of doubt. He questions – what we know or what we should know.

He did it in the garden with Eve (Genesis 3:1).

He did it with Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13).

He does it with us and with our grandchildren.

It’s not enough to be prepared ourselves. We must help prepare our grandchildren for Satan’s inevitable attacks – the ones that are sure to come especially when we are at our weakest (tired, hungry, lonely).

To avoid repeating generational failure, we must work to pass on a heritage of faith in Jesus. We can do this by teaching God’s instructions and telling our grandchildren about God’s good works – in the Bible and in our own lives. And we can help our grandchildren be prepared to respond to Satan’s attacks, as Jesus did, with Scripture by memorizing it together and teaching them to defend their faith.


Don enjoys many things including baseball, corny jokes, and the Smokey Mountains. But most of all he loves and enjoys his family. Don and Debbie have been married 40 years, He is blessed with 3 wonderful adult children, their spouses, and 11 of the best grandkids in the world. When not working at his day job or spending time with family, you can often find him encouraging other grandparents in any way he is able.

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