Don’t Skip the Begets

The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh. Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died. (Gen. 5:4–8)

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that these aren’t on your short list of favorite verses. I doubt you’ve picked them as the lock screen for your phone or pinned them on Pinterest. Most of us tend to go in hyper-skim mode when we come to the genealogies in Scripture. These sections, often laden with “begets” (as in so-and-so begat so-and-so who begat so-and-so, etc.) can feel irrelevant or at the very least a little boring, right? Yet the promise we find in Scripture is this:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16, emphasis added)

This means that from the first letter of Genesis to the last period in Revelation, every single word is inspired and useful, including the genealogies. Just in case that feels like you’ve just been assigned to read a history textbook, here are four other reasons to pay attention to genealogies in the Bible.

The Bible Is Not a Fairy Tale

With giants (1 Sam. 17), strange creatures (Job 40:15), angels (Psalm 91:11), demons (Mark 5), and a God who is mysteriously three in one, sometimes the Bible reads like a children’s fairy tale or Hollywood screenplay. But it isn’t. The Bible is a history book of events that actually happened to real people. More than that, it’s a book about a very real God.

Every Word of God Proves True

Proverbs 30:5 makes this bold promise:

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

An easy way to prove the Truth found in Scripture is through the genealogies. Let me show you what I mean. Isaiah 11:1 declares this promise, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” That promise wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans without the genealogy found in Matthew 1:1–17 and again in Luke 3:23–38. This list starts with Abraham and ends with the birth of Christ. Smack dab in the middle we find this gem:

And Jesse the father of David the king. (Matt. 1:6)

The branch Isaiah wrote about was Jesus. His words were written 800 years before Christ was born! If we skipped this genealogy, we would miss the wonder of seeing this prophecy fulfilled.

God Cares about the Little People

Ever hear of Mahalalel, Hezron, or Abijah? Probably not, but God has. He made sure their names were listed among the genealogies found in Genesis 5 and Matthew 1. Every single human since Adam has three things in common:

  1. We are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27).
  2. We are loved by God (Jer. 31:3).
  3. We were designed to be with God for eternity (Eccl. 3:11).

There isn’t a person on the planet that God doesn’t love and care about. The genealogies read like lists of some of His favorite people.

God. Is. Faithful.

Here’s a question I love to ask Christians who are older than me: “Tell me about that time God let you down.” I’ve been asking that question for years, almost every chance I get to hang out with people with a gray hair or two. I’ve never met a single person with an answer. Instead they all gush about God’s faithfulness, telling me how time and time again He has shown up in their lives. The genealogies are like a drumbeat playing this truth:

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100:5).

You see, the genealogies aren’t really about the people on the lists; they are about the God who formed each one of them. In the same way, your story is not really about you but about the God who made you. The next time you’re tempted to forget the begets, remember the story they tell. God is faithful. He always has been. He always will be. What beautiful news!

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.