Don’t Skip the Begets

The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. This 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 and 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).

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 (Ps. 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. It’s 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.”

There isn’t a person on the planet that God doesn’t love and care about.

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 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 (Ps. 100:5).

Your story is not really about you but about the God who made you.

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 Author

Erin Davis

Erin is passionate about pointing young women toward God's Truth. She is the author of several books and a frequent speaker and blogger to women of all ages. Erin lives on a small farm in the midwest with her husband and kids. When she's not writing, you can find her herding goats, chickens, and children.

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  • Emma Kauffman

    Thanks for sharing this Erin! I knew the begets were in the Bible for a reason but I could never figure out what it was supposed to mean to me. To be reminded of Gods faithfulness when I read them is an excellent way of looking at them. Thanks again!

  • Savannah

    Thanks, I never looked at it like that

  • Rachelle Martin

    Thanks for this encouragement to read the old testament!

  • Flippin4This

    I love reading the genealogies because it reminds me of how everything is connected in Scripture. Thank you for writing this!

  • Yesterday I attended the funeral of a little boy not yet turned two, who died of the cancer he’d suffered from since he was 9 months old. Where was God? Nowhere. God had no interest in this ‘little person’, no concern, no compassion for either him or his parents. A God who allows a baby to have cancer and to die after 14 months of invasive treatment is callous and uncaring, not the loving father of your fairy tale.

    • Sarah, with Revive Our Hearts

      I’m so sorry to hear of your pain, Acalibre, and loss. My heart goes out to you. I am sure these parents are devastated, too. Bless you; I have paused to pray for you and them, as will our Prayer Team.

      God is not calloused or uncaring, Acalibre. The reality is that we live in a fallen, broken world. When you know the whole counsel of God, a little bit of understanding comes in–for instance, being able to see God’s sovereign purposes and care even in a fallen world for Job. But the pain is never “explainable” to us in this fallen world. So, we just have to trust in God’s character.

      Lysa Terkurst said the following, when asked “Where was God?”:

      “Sometimes things happen in life that are so horrible our minds have a hard time processing them.

      We just don’t know quite where to place the horrific. Deep inside us, an honest question often bumps around our heart. Where was God?

      Where was God when that earthquake hit? Where was God when my sister died? Where was God when my friend’s child got cancer?

      Sometimes we’d rather make an excuse for God than be brave enough to actually go to Him and ask.

      I know where God was. He wasn’t too busy, cold or heartless. And He certainly wasn’t caught off guard. He was there each and every time. He’s grieved over the brokenness of this world, and He reminds us that one day He will make everything right; especially those circumstances we can’t possibly understand right now.”

      You can be sure that God gave grace to this little one in the midst of his suffering. And you can be sure that God will be near and will ease the pain with grace for those who trust in Him through this trial. “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.” (Isa. 30:18) I know these things are not things you want to hear in your suffering, but I say them so that you might have hope and find your peace and help in our loving God. I don’t know the answers, but I do know that in the hardest, most painful times in my life, when I would look up and entrust the pain to the Heavenly Father, He always has come to help. I pray the same for you and your friends. Thank you for posting, Acalibre. My thoughts are with you.

      • Thank you, Sarah, for taking the trouble to reply. However, your argument that ‘God cares, he just has a funny way of showing it,’ is completely unconvincing.
        Saying it’s possible to know God, yet at the same time admitting it’s
        not when he’s doing those ‘mysterious’ things of his, just doesn’t cut it.

        Erin’s posed the question in her post, ‘Tell me about that time God let you down,’ and I did. He let down the little boy who died, he let down his
        parents, his wider family, everyone who loved him and those who desperately tried to cure him. If, as Erin says in the blog post God loves us – if he loved that little one – then saying terrible things happen because this is a fallen world really doesn’t excuse God’s cold-heartedness.

        • Sarah, with Revive Our Hearts

          Thank you for posting “that time God let you down” as Erin requested, Acalibre. Our hearts truly do go out to you and this family in such loss. We do care.

        • Ms

          God loved that boy. God loves everyone and if he was suffering then God was with him the whole time. Maybe God had a reason behind it. And if he didn’t he certainly turned it into something good because now the boy is in heaven. He is probably enjoying being with God.

          • i’m not sure, like all children his age, that the nearly-two-year-old was sufficiently developed to have decided to follow Jesus, so it’s unlikely he’s now in Heaven. All he knew in his short life was suffering and neither he nor his parents had any sense of God’s presence throughout that suffering.

            Sorry, Ms, your defence of God is so vacuous and unfeeling, I couldn’t possibly show it the grieving parents.

          • jem claire

            Acalibre, I am so sorry for your loss. I will pray for you that God may give you and his family strength in the face of such tragedy.
            I also recommend this article (http://lifeteen.com/blog/15-logical-reasons-to-believe-in-the-resurrection/ ), which reminds of several things: that Jesus suffered greatly while here, and so did (and so do) many others. I think that He “cries when we cry,” as the verse goes. I also would like you to know that God is just, and that He knows that the little boy was only an infant. Having made the child Himself, He knows that the child was not at all close to maturity, and His judgements would be made justly. I hope that this can bring you some small bit of comfort. I am sorry that anyone should have to lose a child to cancer or anything else.
            I also want to share this with you: http://lifeteen.com/blog/inspired-fathers-death-changed-life/ I hope that by reading this, you will remember that even in a short amount of time – even in two years, as it may be – a life may touch another life, and have a profound impact on many other lives. I’m sure that that was true of that little boy – that while he suffered, and lived a shorter life than many – that he touched others lives, and was loved by you all and God Himself.