The majority of Christians I have met tell me when the topic comes up that they skip the genealogies. If they come to a biblical genealogy they skip right over it and continue reading on the other side. Why would I want to read a list of names that are hard to pronounce and have no relevance to my life. Those lists come from another culture and from a distant time in the past and is filled with numbers of people’s ages that are totally irrelevant to me. I can skip them with ease knowing there is nothing of value in them for my life. Beside it speeds up my Bible reading.
I personally have found amazing things in genealogies or in passages related to names. Let me use the genealogy in Genesis Five to demonstrate. There we read that Enoch had a son named Methuselah. Do you know that the name Methuselah means “his death shall bring forth” or “at his death it will happen”? What a strange name to give a boy. Imagine his life at school. I bet he was nicknamed “deathy” by his mates. What flack did Enoch cop from the villagers? “What did you call him “his death shall bring forth” for?”
Did Enoch say, “No, my wife saw the name in a Book of Names.” Hardly! We know that Enoch walked with God so close that he did not die a natural death but was caught up to heaven at the end. I am sure I would be safe in saying that it was God who inspired Enoch to call his son Methuselah. I wonder how many of the villagers took it seriously and wondered what might happen when Methuselah died? Did they rubbish Enoch and comment about how he was “too spiritual to be of any earthly good”? Or when Methuselah got sick and looked like he might die were they overcome with fear as to what might happen if the boy died?
The Genesis 5 genealogy tells us Methuselah was 187 years old when his son Lamech was born. Lamech was 182 years old when Noah was born. We are told that Noah was 600 years old when the flood came. Totally irrelevant? Well add up those numbers. The total is 969! That is exactly the same as what we know to be the age of Methuselah when he died. Conclusion? Methuselah died and then the flood came. So the event that would happen when Methuselah died was God’s judgement in the form of the father of all floods. Why should women get blamed for it – i.e. the mother of all floods.
Hidden in Methuselah’s name was a prophetic statement by God of the coming judgement on the earth. But as Suzanne Paul would say, but wait there’s more. Pay careful attention to the names in the list of names in Genesis Five.
Names in Hebrew culture are given with a purpose. Either because of a quality seen in the baby or something the parents hope the baby will grow into as an adult or in a way to bless the baby or as something that decribes their life at the time the baby was born. Well here are the meanings of those names.
- Adam = “man” or “dust”
- Seth = “appointed”
- Enosh = “mortal”
- Kenan = “sorrow”
- Mahalalel = “The Praise of God”
- Jared = “descend”
- Henokh = “teach” or “teaching”
- Metusalah ““his death shall bring forth”
- Lamekh = “despair”
- Nuh = “comfort”
Irrelevant? So sad to see a boy named “Despair”. It’s almost as bad as “his death shall bring forth”. Maybe, but what happens if you join all those names together. You get a statement from God which says:
Man was appointed mortal sorrow; the Praise of God shall descend teaching [His] death shall bring the despairing comfort.
There in the Genesis Five genealogy is a prophetic statement from God concerning His plan for salvation. And that is found at the very beginning of the Bible. Yes it surely is true that Jesus is “the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world”. Even the genealogies tell us that.
My advice to you is don’t skip the genealogies.