Bible Readings for January 5th
It’s tempting to gloss over the many genealogies included in the Bible, but there are important reasons not to. God himself decided to place the text of genealogies within his written word, so we should recognize that the genealogies are canonical Scripture just as much as the more familiar verses like John 3:16. Genealogies may require more careful study, but they are worth the work.
The overarching idea in Genesis 4–5 is to contrast the wickedness of the descendants of Cain with the righteousness of the descendants of Seth. The text does not completely demonize the offspring of Cain but points out all of the significant cultural advancements they achieved, including city-building, livestock domestication, music, and blacksmithing (Gen. 4:17–22).
Still, the line of Cain culminates in a wicked man named Lamech, who boasts that he murdered a young man who had merely struck him (Gen. 4:23–24). Even more disturbing, Lamech essentially dares God to punish him by sneering at the fact his own crime was far worse than Cain’s—seventy-seven times worse.
On the other hand, we see in Genesis 5:1–5 that Seth is considered the true offspring of Adam, so God’s promises to save the world through the offspring of the woman (Gen. 3:15) are traced through Seth, not Cain. So, the line of Seth is filled with righteous people like Enoch, who “walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24).
But the spotlight in this passage shines on Noah. Even Noah’s father, Lamech (not the same Lamech as earlier), saw that his son would play some role in God’s redemptive purposes: “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands” (Gen. 5:29; cf. Gen. 3:17–19). Just as Eve saw Seth as the promised offspring of woman who would save God’s people, so now Lamech sees Noah in that light—but like Seth, Noah would only be a partial fulfillment of that prophecy.
The reason, then, that the Bible includes so many genealogies is that God makes genealogical promises. It is the offspring of the woman who will crush the head of the serpent, and after Seth and Noah, we learn that it will be the offspring of Abram who will bless the whole world (Gen. 12:3). Then, it is the offspring of David who will forever sit on the throne over Israel (2 Sam. 7:11–16).
So, Jesus’ genealogical records in Matthew 1:1–17 and Luke 3:23–38 are central to the gospel. God is telling us that his promises about the offspring of the woman find their yes and amen in Jesus Christ, the son of David, son of Abram, son of Noah, son of Seth, son of Adam, and the Son of God.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.