When people attempt to read through the bible, Genesis 5 represents the first hurdle. It’s a chapter of genealogy.
So and so begat so and so, then they lived this many years and they died.
And on it runs, generation after generation. And the bible lists them in painstaking detail.
Why the detail? It’s been a rolicking read so far. Cosmic creation, catastrophic fall, murder and intrigue. And now a family tree. It seems a ridiculous detour from the central story.
Unless of course the central story is about offspring.
But ever since the promise of Genesis 3:15 that has been the concern of the faithful – the birth of the Saviour. Each new generation was a fresh opportunity for the Offspring of the woman to arise and crush our oppressor. But each new line of the family tree ends… “and he died.” It’s a brutal drum beat throughout the chapter – throughout the bible. “And he died… and he died… and he died…” It’s the rhythm of life – everything cut off by the finality of death. It’s relentless. And it seems like there’s no way out.
Well the genealogies continue through the bible. They begin with a wide angle lens and zero in more and more – to the Semites, the Abrahamites, the Israelites. And then within Israel it’s the priestly and the royal tribes they’re really interested in. The kings in particular.
And then the Old Testament ends and there’s no resolution. Just a lot of begats that end in death.
Turn the page to the New Testament and what’s the first thing you read? A genealogy. Matthew starts with Abraham, then runs through David and all the kings and it all culminates with Jesus Christ. Luke does the same, though he traces Christ’s line all the way back to Adam. Jesus is the true Offspring and Promised King. And with His coming we see the passing of all genealogies. There are no more lines to be added after Jesus (no matter what Dan Brown might suppose!)
Without Jesus you get an endless cycle of begetting and dying – sex and death! Is that all there is?
Well with Jesus Christ the cycle is broken. Here is where the begats have been heading. And His is the one line that doesn’t end in death. If Christ is in the picture, it doesn’t have to be birth-sex-death. Praise God, there’s a Way out.
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