by A.M. Kisly
Several weeks ago I began to think about my family genealogy. I knew I had a strong Christian heritage, but really not much more. I was curious and made a phone call to my mom, and together we began our quest. Tracing our lineage has been somewhat confusing....the who begat who, and how many generations down the line we were and so forth...well, it has been challenging to find the undisputed, accurate accounting of our family tree. Just exactly why I began to think about our family history out of the blue, I do not know. Perhaps it is a natural curiosity that one begins to wonder about as family members begin to grow old or die off. As we grow older, those who might have some information about our family heritage are no longer around to question, and in some ways, not knowing is as though something has been left unfinished...some revelation hidden forever.
Why am I sharing this? Well it seems that the portions of scripture that deal with genealogies are somewhat of a bore to some folks. I will admit I belonged to that group at one time in my life, that is until I understood the importance of the biblical record.
When one considers the amazing accuracy in which the genealogies are recorded in the Bible...one can better understand that God can do the most amazing miraculous things. Anyone who has researched their family history can tell you that records are hard to come by, and let's just say that the accuracy pales in comparison to the Biblical records by far. In my family genealogy, the records can show up to 4 or 5 different spellings of a last name for the same person.....but the Bible's record gives a complete and accurate accounting that is untarnished by man's inadequacy and proven truthful as it has stood the test of time.
I read an article recently by Dr. David R. Reagan. The article is entitled, "Those "Boring 'Begats' - Why did God bother to include all those boring begats in the Bible?" Apparently, some fellow wrote him inquiring about this...referring to the lengthy genealogies written in the gospels of Matthew chapter 1, and Luke chapter 3. In repy, Dr. Reagan wrote that the begats are very important, and they are anything but boring, if they are studied carefully. Their importance lies in the fact that they substantiate that Jesus' lineage fulfilled the prophecies that the Messiah would be descended from Abraham (Genesis 12:3) through Isaac (Genesis 17:21) and Jacob (Genesis 28:14), and that He would be from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8), the family of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), and the house of David (Jeremiah 23:5).
Paul mentions this prophecy (Genesis 12:3) in Galatians 3:16: "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ." It is evident from the genealogies in both Matthew 1 (Joseph's) and Luke 3 (Mary's) that both legally and naturally Jesus is a descendant of Abraham.
What a wonderful gift to be given a full and accurate accounting of the lineage of Jesus Christ from Genesis to the Gospels at the announcement of His birth. Thus the fulfillment of the prophetic passages in scripture is proof positive of the certainty of the Word of God . In an age where we are hard pressed to find truth anywhere, the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, and the accurate historical accounts proves beyond any doubt that the Bible is authentic, accurate, inerrant and absolutely the true word of the living God.
Digging a little deeper into the who's who in the family tree, there is yet something more that is revealed to us. In fact, those who God chose to be a part of the Messiah's lineage reveal something so wonderful about the nature and character of God. For within these begats, we get a full picture of the wonderful grace of God and his provision of hope and salvation for every sinner.
Dr. Reagan includes the following in his article:
Two Lists Full of Gems
Matthew presents the royal genealogy through Joseph who was Jesus' legal father. Luke traces Jesus' blood line through Mary's father, Eli.
The begats in these verses reveal that whereas Joseph was a descendant of David through Solomon, Mary was a descendant through David's son Nathan. This is an important distinction because God had disinherited Solomon's line through King Coniah, stating that none of Coniah's descendants "will sit on the throne of David or rule again in Judah" (Jeremiah 22:24,28-30). This curse did not affect Jesus since He was not Joseph's natural son and therefore did not literally descend from the cursed bloodline of Coniah (also know as Jeconiah — Matthew 1:11).
The begats are full of gems like this. Consider, for example, that Matthew mentions four women in the heritage of Jesus — Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. All were Gentiles, and three of the four were either prostitutes or adulterers. In prompting Matthew to mention these three, it's as if the Holy Spirit wanted to emphasize that the Jesus Christ came to save sinners among both Jews and Gentiles.
I hope you can see how the genealogy of Jesus Christ is immeasurably more than a list of ancient names; it is even more than a list of Jesus' human forebears. It is a beautiful testimony to God's grace and to the ministry of His Son, Jesus Christ. He is truly the friend of sinners who came to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance (Matt. 9:13).
Next time you read through the genealogy of Jesus Christ, I would encourage you to slow down and consider God's wonderful gift of grace, His accurate record of history, His ability to fulfill His promises and His sure testimony of TRUTH.