At the beginning of July, the Bible in a Year possé kicked off, and the questions have begun! This week, Michele Hayes asked the group a great question. The title of her email read: “Genealogies — the slop of spiritual food?”
In the email Michele asked:
“Tips on being fed through genealogies? I’m trying to do more than just slog through, but I find myself glazing over and rushing to get to the ‘dessert’ of my NT reading. Does anyone have some strategies that have worked for you?”
Michele is a JWU graduate and a foodie, so she connects with the theme of feeding on God’s word. I love that and I love her question. There are lots of things that I love about it. One thing I love about this question is that Michele just put it out there. She asked what many people wonder but are too afraid to ask due to fear of sounding less spiritual (or maybe for fear of it turning into a blog post). One thing I have learned by caring for people spiritually is that many people question themselves on spiritual practices. Am I doing it right? Is this supposed to be like this? Does everyone else know something I don’t know? But often we are too afraid to ask and get help because we think we should already know the answers to seemingly simple questions. I love the fact that Michele was willing to ask.
I also love that she asked because most people have had this very same question. Let’s face it, some parts of Scripture are easier to feast on than others. That is one contributing factor why many a well-intentioned person has attempted the Bible in a Year plan only to quit in Leviticus or Chronicles.
So, I thought it was worth addressing this question with all of you. Here was my response… A little cleaned up and a little more thought out.
Michele, great question:
This is a common struggle, and one I have wrestled with.
Here are some things I remind myself of before I read, and as I complain or struggle I remind myself again that:
- God inspired every word of Scripture, so this is important.
2 Tim 3:16 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
The word of God is inspired, every book, every word. Every. Single. Word. It’s all profitable…Including Chronicles and Leviticus.
- This shows that these aren’t just stories, but THE story that God has written using real people.
Why do people participate and go to graduations? Because that moment when your name, or the name of someone you know is called is a recognition of something much greater. It is a statement, a confirmation, and an acknowledgement of reality. The Bible mentions people in part to acknowledge their part of the greater reality, and when we pay attention to every detail we see the greater reality with more clarity. If you want to feed on genealogies, one idea is to pay attention to detail. Who are these people? Why are they included? One detail in a lust that impacted me as I studied it was in a list of people rebuilding the wall in Nehemiah. It doesn’t just say the craftsmen, or the strong, or the civil engineers were working on the wall, it mentions everyone, and one specific group that has always stood out to me is that the perfumers were rebuilding the wall (Nehemiah 3:8). Why were they included? What this detail tells us is that Israel was in so much danger that they called for all hands to be on deck in order to rebuild their defense from attacking enemies. Often the details give us more insight to the story.
- These show that the Bible is provable history and gives you more confidence about everything else you read.
Think about this, the early church would read the genealogy of Jesus in the gospels and would recognize names, know stories, and would say, wait, I know about them! The Bible is much more than a group of stories that are detached from reality. The Bible is historically accurate truth. Although parts of the Bible would have been cut by an editor working on a thrilling page turner, we can thank God that the harder books to read were not cut from Scripture.
- Each of these people and books leads me to Jesus.
The Bible is the story of God, which includes the people of God. Each book points towards our Savior, some more clearly than others, but this side of the cross, we can see the Gospel in every book. One of the things I do when reading through the Old Testament is look for the Gospel in each book and whenever I come across it in the OT or in a surprising place, I underline it in green. As far as genealogies go specifically, if we wanted to, we could consider how each person connects to Jesus. Some, for example, Mary, are main players in the immediate story. Some are main players that proceeded but pointed toward Jesus, like Adam, Abraham, Moses, David etc. And some are people that we hardly know anything about, but isn’t it cool to know that one day we will stand shoulder to shoulder with all of these people as a part of that multitude that worships in heaven? The names in Scripture are part of the story of Jesus and so are we.
Here are some other resources for times when you feel like you need just a little more encouragement to get through a book of the Bible that is a little harder to read:
- Here is a link to an 8 minute interview with John Piper about how to benefit from reading hard books from the Old Testament.
- Here is an article by Nancy Guthrie about the best things about reading the “boring” parts of the Bible.
The Bible in a Year possé is off to a great start. We have a great group that is already encouraging one another as we seek to feed on God’s inspired Word. Everyone chose their own plan, and it seems the most popular are: The Chronological Plan, the 5 Day a Week Plan, the M’Cheyne Plan and the ESV Study Bible Plan. As a pastor, it is a joy to pray for our whole congregation’s spiritual growth through meeting God in His word. Right now, I am praying specifically that we would have a hunger for all of God’s word.
Author: Rev. Dave Kulp