EXPLORING THE WORD
The Gnarled Family Tree of JesusDenise M. Kohlmeyer
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Liar. Deceiver. Schemer. Faithful followers. Murderers. Adulterer. Kinsmen redeemer. Idol worshippers. Child sacrificers. Reformers. Polygamists. Prostitute. Jesus' genealogy reads like a Who's Who of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!
This is what I recently shared with my brother, a new believer in Christ who was trying to wade through all the "begats" in the first chapter of the Book of Matthew. Frustrated by the laborious list of names he didn't know (much less pronounce), he eventually gave up and did what many well-meaning Christians before him have done: he skipped over it.
"I just don't get it," he told me over the phone. "Why do I need to know all those people? I just want to read about Jesus."
But that's just it, genealogies — "all those people" — are about Jesus! And we miss something profoundly beautiful and wonderfully redeeming when we bypass them. Yes, at first glance, genealogies seem tedious and irrelevant, but truly "they hold an important place in Scripture," cites Gotquestions.org in "What is the relevance of genealogies in the Bible?" "Genealogies bolster the historicity of Scripture, confirm prophecy, and provide insight into the character of God and the lives of His people."
But theological, historical, and prophetic explanations aside, if there is anything — anything! — that can give us comfort, strength and encouragement from the genealogy of Jesus, it is this: Jesus' earthly lineage is filled with dysfunction.
It is this fact that genealogies provide unique insights into the lives of God's people that I have found particularly beneficial, which is what I shared with my brother. Providentially, I had just finished researching every single name in that long, illustrious list of 42 generations just weeks before our conversation. God knew — as only God can know — that it was going to take place, and He knew that what I would discover first for myself would also be a blessing to my newly born-again brother. Love when that happens!
The gist of my discovery, as I already mentioned, is that Jesus' earthly Family Tree is gnarled, twisted, and grossly misshapen with all sorts of sordid and sorry characters. In today's terms, we call that dysfunctional. The prefix "dys" means "ill, bad." Used in conjunction with the word function (excuse the rhyme &263A; ), it simply means "badly functioning," which aptly describes every single person's Family Tree due to our inherited sin nature. Every family since Adam and Eve has functioned badly. Some more than others. Mine included.
Going back only two generations, I find relatives who were abusive alcoholics, one of which is currently serving a life sentence in prison for child molestation, which tragically contributed to the death of that child. And that's just one side of my Family Tree. I'm somewhat hesitant to trace the other side, which hails from Germany, afraid that I might find a Nazi or Nazi collaborator.
But, blessedly, I also find at least one close relative (ironically, the brother of the one who is in prison) who faithfully followed the Lord and — although his life was cut short — was apparently an out-spoken witness, which earned him the title of "the religious one."
My brother now finds Jesus' genealogy a source of encouragement and comfort. And I hope others do too, because, the bottom line is, we don't have to come from blue-blooded, pedigreed lines in order for God to adopt us into His Family...because Jesus Himself — God incarnate — didn't either!
Take a look. It's a tad long, but DON'T skip over it. Lol!
Abraham — faithfully followed God to a foreign land; became the father of all nations, but was prone to lying to save his own skin and subsequently put his wife in some compromising situations; unfairly banished his Egyptian concubine, Hagar, and their son, Ishmael, to wander in the wilderness;
Isaac — dutifully honored and trusted his father, even allowing Abraham to potentially sacrifice him on an altar;
Jacob — lived a life of habitual deceit and scheming; stole his twin brother's birthright; had two wives and two concubines; unwisely played favorites among his 12 sons;
Judah — collaborated with his half-brothers who sold their baby brother into slavery, married a Canaanite woman ;
Tamar — married to Judah's son Er, who, after Er's death, seduced Judah in order to conceive a son and preserve the family line;
Perez — one of a twin born to Judah and Tamar;
Hezron, Ram — no information;
Amminadab — his daughter, Elisheba, married Aaron, Moses' brother;
Nahshon — appointed by Moses as prince and military commander of the Tribe of Judah;
Salmon — married Rahab;
Rahab — practicing prostitute who graciously hid two Israelite spies at Jericho; mother of Boaz;
Boaz — kinsman redeemer of the Moabite woman, Ruth;
Ruth — followed her mother-in-law to a new country; married Boaz; gave birth to Obed;
Obed — father of Jesse ;
Jesse — had eight sons, the youngest of which was David who was anointed king of Israel;
David — a warrior-king for God; considered "a man after [God's] own heart," (1 Samuel 13:14); had his commander, Uriah, killed to cover up his adulterous affair with Uriah's wife who became pregnant; was a negligent parent; had at least eight wives; wrote many poems and songs which we know today as the Book of Psalms;
Solomon — considered the wisest man that ever lived; built the glorious first Temple; penned more than 3,000 proverbs, only a fraction of which are included in the Bible; kept 300 concubines; married 700 women in political alliances, who, in his later years, "turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God" (1 Kings 11:4);
Rehoboam — reigned over the united kingdom of Israel until it split, then reigned over the southern kingdom of Judah; had 18 wives, 60 concubines; "did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord" (2 Chronicles 12:14);
Abijah — in his three-year reign, he "committed all the sins of his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God" (1 Kings 15:3);
Asaph — (also Asa) "he did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment" (2 Chronicles 14:2-4);
Jehoshaphat — "He walked in all the ways of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. Yet the high places were not taken away and the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places…he exterminated the remnant of the male cult prostitutes who remained in the days of his father Asa" (1 Kings 22:43, 46); also "the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel" (2 Chronicles 17:3);
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