Ancestry and God

Because of people’s growing interest in tracing their family history, Ancestry.com has become the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world. Subscribers can use the Internet to access billions of historical records and submit DNA samples to learn about their roots.

This month we will take a deep dive into God’s genealogical database as we study the book of 1 Chronicles. Although genealogical lists play an important role in 1 Chronicles, it is also a book of history that focuses primarily on the dynasty of David. The first chapter describes David’s lineage, beginning with Adam and Abraham’s descendants.

The list is impressive. There are 200 proper names in the first chapter alone! With so many unfamiliar names and so little narrative, we may be tempted to give up and turn to a more familiar passage. We should remember that each name listed in this book represents someone’s story. We will learn some of the details along the way, but only God can know the whole story. We should also take heart because these lists of names show us that the God who made us is also the God who knows us. He knows us by name and is familiar with every detail of our lives. The God whose actions are described along with the names listed in this book is the God of their history and of ours.

This is especially true of Jesus Christ, who “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3). As we begin this study, let’s ask God for the patience to persevere in our reading. Our circumstances may not be identical with theirs, but if we know Jesus Christ as Savior, we have become part of this story.

Apply the Word

This list of names in Chronicles is more than a genealogy. It is a kind of faith history. Why not get things started by doing some research into your own family’s faith history? Ask family members about their journey of faith. How does it compare to your own? Look for an opportunity to share your faith story with your family members as well.

BY John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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