God's Faithfulness Across the Generations
Pastor Oliver explains why the Bible includes lists of genealogies and how they point to God's faithfulness across generations.
In traditional Asian culture, knowing your genealogy gives you a sense of identity. Your family of descent tells you of your family origin and the relationships and support you have. In Singapore, clan associations, formed around dialect groups and surnames, were important support to the early Chinese immigrants in the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. If you were a Hokkien surnamed Tan, your genealogy would ensure you receive help from the respective clan association as you arrived in Singapore for work.
There are lists of genealogies in the Bible. For example, in the book of Genesis, we have ten sections introduced by "These are the generations of" (Gen 2:4, 5:1, 6:9, 10:1, 11:10, 11:27, 25:12, 25:19, 36:1, 9 and 37:2). We also have lists of genealogies in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. Why genealogies? Why have a list of names? These genealogies give us, the reader, the identity of the character in focus. More importantly, these genealogies point to God's grace for His people across the generations.
Let's look at the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Luke 3:23-38. Firstly, it points to God keeping His promises. In the aftermath of Adam and the woman's disobedience and fall, God promises in Genesis 3:15 that an offspring of the woman would be the serpent crushing redeemer. This offspring will rescue mankind and reverse the effect of the curse of the fall. God keeps His promises in Jesus: Jesus is the son of Adam (Lk 3:38) and the promised offspring. Luke's genealogy also shows that God keeps His promises to Abraham (Lk 3:34) and David (Lk 3:31); the promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God's promises to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3—of land, offspring, name and blessings find their fulfilment in Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, all peoples of the earth will be blessed. They will experience a reversal of the curse of the fall. God also promises David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 that he will have an offspring who will sit on the throne of Israel, and God will establish his kingdom forever. Jesus is David's greater Son, who sits on the throne, and His Kingdom will be forever. God keeps His promises.
As we look at Luke's genealogy, we can only marvel at God's faithfulness despite human sinfulness. The Bible is honest about human sinfulness and brokenness. We have seen the patriarchs of the nation of Israel portrayed in their flawed humanness. Abraham lied and gave away his wife not once but twice. Jacob was manipulative and a deceiver who relied on his own strength. Joseph was prideful. Why such an honest depiction of flawed ancestors of the faith? It is to demonstrate God's faithfulness. Despite their sinfulness, God continues to advance His promises in and through them. We see God's grace and mercy shining brightly amid the darkness of real human sins.
What does it mean for us believers on this side of the cross? God's faithfulness across the generations gives us robust confidence that our God who makes promises will keep His promises. When we struggle with doubts, trust in God's faithfulness. Trust in God's faithfulness to forgive your sins and keep you to the end when you struggle with sin habits and fail again on Monday. Trust in God's faithfulness when He says He will not leave you nor forsake you when you walk in the darkness of depression and feel alone. Trust in God's faithfulness when He tells us that Jesus will be coming back again and everything will be made right when life seems hopeless. Beloved, trust in God's faithfulness.
God's faithfulness across the generations also keeps us humble. It shows us that God's promises are advanced and fulfilled, despite of us and not because of us. We are infected with the exact sinful nature and habits of the patriarchs in Genesis. Like Adam, we do not steward God's revelation and take spiritual responsibility. Like Abraham, we fall into cycles of faithfulness and cycles of fear and disobedience. Like Jacob, we are deceitful and self-reliant. Left to our efforts, it is unlikely that the promises will be fulfilled. But thanks be to God for His faithfulness across the generations—God himself advances and keeps His promises. Beloved, keeping God's promises is all of God, and this realisation should humble us.
After all, we have seen God's promises fulfilled. God's promises are a Yes and Amen in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 1:20). Jesus is the second Adam, the true and better Abraham. Jesus perfectly obeyed God. On the cross, Jesus took God's judgement for our sins in our place so that we who place our trust in Jesus Christ will receive the blessing of the forgiveness of our sins. Beloved, in Jesus Christ, we are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise (Gal 3:29)—the blessings of Abraham have come to us. Beloved, let us place our hope and confidence in God's faithfulness, as seen across the generations!
1. Monthly Prayer Meeting
Join us for our Monthly Prayer Meeting on Friday, 27 May, at 8pm. Although our prayer meeting will still be over Zoom, it will be wonderful to have members gather in small groups in homes to pray. You are encouraged to have members over in-person in your homes to pray!
Meeting ID: 890 9907 9298
2. Weekend Worship Services
Join us for an in-person worship service at 5pm this Saturday (28 May 22) or 9am this Sunday (29 May 22). Let us gather as we continue in our sermon series in Genesis. We will be looking at "God Leads Us Home" in Genesis 31. Do pray for God's Spirit to prepare our hearts to hear from God's Word and change us.
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