There are loads of genealogies in the Bible. The book of Genesis is structured around genealogies (ten genealogies, in particular). The opening chapters of 1 Chronicles is simply a multifaceted genealogy accounting for the families of the Jewish people going back to Adam.
The most famous genealogy is that of Jesus that we find in the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke. Jesus’s genealogy is important because it was prophesied that the Messiah was to come out of King David’s family. If we don’t know where Jesus comes from, then it’s difficult to be sure that he’s the Messiah. In other words, genealogy is a part of the prophetic ID kit of the Messiah. It would help determine false messiahs.
So what are genealogies all about? Why are they so important in the Bible?
For starters, they indicate the historicity of the Bible. They lay out a concrete record of God’s work in history in real places and among real people.
Many today claim that the actual bodily resurrection of Jesus is inconsequential. What matters, they argue, is whether it is true or not for you. It doesn’t matter if it actually happened or not. To put it bluntly, this is nonsense. Of course, it matters if Jesus was actually raised from the dead! If he wasn’t, then death still reigns, and there is no hope for change in this world. If death still reigns, then there is absolutely no reason to be a Christian. The Bible goes out of its way to confirm over and over again that Jesus resurrection was, in fact, real.
Another important part of genealogies that we’ve already touched on is that God works among real people and in real places in real the world. For those of us not living in Israel and being far removed from ancient Near Eastern culture and the culture of the first century, this is hard to get our heads around. The world of the Bible seems so far removed from our contemporary Western world that the characters of the Bible seem mythical at times.
We cannot let this deter us, however, from being mindful of the fact that the stories of the Bible are about real places, real people, and real circumstances.
This is a world-altering idea as it reminds us that God is at work in contemporary Philadelphia, Washington DC, Seattle, New York, LA, Hong Kong, Seoul, Munich, London, Tokyo, and the list goes on. It furthermore means that he’s at work in real families and real individuals in the world today, including my life and yours. He is not some distant god who is far off and works only in the lives of royalty and the rich. He’s close. He’s in the details. He’s in the lives of the poor, marginalized and downtrodden as much as in the lives of political leaders and the rich and famous.
God is real and at work. This is what the genealogies are all about.