The One With All The Genealogies

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In Star Trek 7 Jean-Luc Picard stumbles upon a recreation of James Kirk’s Earth cabin while trapped in an energy ribbon known as the Nexus. Kirk is outside chopping wood as Picard cautiously approaches and introduces himself. As they talk Picard tries to convince Kirk that what they are experiencing there isn’t real. Having learned about Kirk’s exploits during his 5-year missions, Picard asks Kirk to return with him to his reality and help defeat a scientist who’s leaving a trail of destruction across the galaxy for his own selfish gain. To help make his point Picard tells Kirk that history records his death aboard the USS Enterprise-B 80 years before that moment and that he is regarded as a legend in Federation history.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘legend’ as ‘someone whose fame is comparable to that of a hero’. The story of these heroes goes all the way back to the beginning of Scripture and we see them connected to each other through genealogies. If you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered why these lists are even included in Scripture in the first place. I’m certainly guilty of simply skipping over them when I come to one, thinking it unimportant but this is far from being the case. By helping us see the trends of history they connect the past to the present and set up the future. They help us to understand that we didn’t arrive at this current point by accident. It would be somewhat strange, at least to me, if we went from four people living on earth, one of which was killed by another, so really three people, to a world filled by mankind. Some scholars estimate that there could’ve been as many as seven billion people on Earth in the time leading up to the flood. Without genealogies like the one found in Genesis 5 the question would remain, how did we get there? Was there anything or anyone of note that happened or lived in the period leading up to where we are now? Without sections like this one we probably wouldn’t know that because Enoch “walked with God” he is one of two people, the other being Elijah, to never experience physical death. (verse 24)

Psalm 127:3-5 tells us that “sons (and daughters, for all the ladies out there) are indeed a heritage from the Lord, offspring, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. They will never be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the city gate”. Throughout Scripture children are clearly seen, not only as a responsibility, but also as a blessing and a gift. They are a physical manifestation of God’s goodness and faithfulness. This is why the refrain that the men mentioned in this chapter “fathered other sons and daughters” (verses 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 26, and 30) is so important but, as we soon find out in chapter 6, not all of these offspring were faithful to what they had been taught. We also see this in the history of the nation of Israel. God told them in Deuteronomy 11:26-28 “look, today I set before you a blessing and a curse: there will be a blessing, if you obey the commands of the Lord your God I am giving you today, and a curse, if you do not obey the commands of the Lord your God and you turn aside from the path I command you today by following other gods you have not known”. God made the importance of choosing obedience and its implications for those that come after us even clearer when he told Moses that “the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation”. (Exodus 34:6-7) Joshua understood this so well that before entering the Promised Land he challenged the people of Israel saying “therefore, fear the Lord and worship him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord. But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord”. (Joshua 24:14-15) There are consequences, both good and bad, that can have a profound impact on those who come after us.

After Kirk’s initial conversation with Picard he goes out to ride his horse. During the ride he comes across a ditch that, in the real world, had caused him to be afraid each time, however, this time he doesn’t experience any fear during the jump. It’s at this moment that Kirk realizes that what Picard has been telling him is true, nothing he has experienced in the Nexus is real. Picard catches up and Kirk confesses, “Maybe this isn’t about an empty house, maybe it’s about that empty chair on the bridge of the Enterprise. Ever since I left Starfleet I haven’t made a difference.” Kirk then asks Picard, “Captain of the Enterprise huh?” “That’s right”, Picard replies. “Close to retirement?” Kirk asks. “I’m not planning on it”, replies Picard, to which Kirk responds, “Let me tell you something, don’t. Don’t let them promote you. Don’t let them transfer you. Don’t let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship because while you’re there you can make a difference.” Kirk realized where his place was and why he had been put there. God has placed us in a position to make a difference for his kingdom and equipped us with what we need to carry out that mission and “we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified”. (Romans 8:28-30) It’s very easy, especially in the world that we live in, to get lost in the monotony of everyday life. The hustle and bustle of moving from one place to another, one task to another, one person to another, often serves to keep us from realizing that there’s a larger story in motion. God used each person mentioned in Genesis 5 to get us from chapter 4 to chapter 6 and he used them in a particular way to reveal himself to those that they came into contact with. This chapter reminds us that God isn’t a watchmaker who winds the dial and then lets the universe do what it’s going to do but rather he is intimately involved in every aspect of life and nature. Psalm 95:3-5 tells us that “the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. The depths of the earth are in his hand, and the mountain peaks are his. The sea is his; he made it. His hands formed the dry land” and Isaiah 40:12 asks “who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand? Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure or weighed the mountains on a balance and the hills on the scales?” In short, he, as the classic children’s song reminds us, has the whole world in his hands and in the midst of this you and I have a God-ordained and God-directed part to play in the story. The story that he is telling is grander than any play that Shakespeare could write and more moving than any of Beethoven’s finest works. It’s the story of the immortal becoming mortal, the spiritual taking on the physical, the lost being found, the broken being reconciled, the light piercing the darkness and the corrupted becoming redeemed. You and I get to be a part of this. In every moment, every smile, every laugh, every struggle, every question, every doubt, and every fear God is drawing us closer to Himself and shaping us into the likeness of his Son. That is, after, the whole point of the story.

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