Phoenix, my new horse, is a former show horse. As such, he came with a story – papers tracing his genealogy back to 1958! I can look up the stories of many of the horses listed in his lineage; however, since Phoenix is now a pleasure horse, this is mostly a curiosity to me. It’s cool, but not really important.
This is not the case for today’s reading — OT genealogies were incredibly important. The Israelites knew their genealogy told the story of where they came from, that their story began before they did and was a part of something larger. Thus, since Gen.5:1-32, their genealogy would have been memorized and repeated orally over and over while becoming lengthier and lengthier, as seen in Chronicles 1&2. What is unseen, though, is that the original readers would have understood their recitations revealed two lineages: the unrighteous line of Cain and the righteous line of Seth. Further depth is added to our understanding when we realize that also being revealed is the continued process of death through the unrighteous line and “the continued faithfulness of God to accomplish his promise of bringing the righteous one” though the righteous line.
With this background in mind, we understand why Paul is disappointed and not about to excuse Israel. The lineage Israel has been working so hard at tracing and the unending names they have been memorizing reveal that the one whose laws they have been keeping, the righteous one, Christ, has arrived through the remnant of the righteous line. But the Israelites have stumbled; many remain unrighteous because they refuse to acknowledge the one who can make them right. They choose to keep the law rather than step out in faith and believe.
The Gentiles, though, have chosen to believe and are now called children of the living God. Paul longs for Israel to be saved. And while God continues to offer Israel salvation, we are told that anyone, Jew or Gentile, who believes the message will be saved. Now, this wonderful genealogy becomes of utmost importance to us as well. As followers of Christ, made right through belief and faith, we, too, participate in a narrative that shows us that our story begins long before we do. And as important as our story is, it is part of something much larger.
 Wilkens, Jen. “Named and Known” God of Creation. Session 7. Lifeway, 2017.
One of Pastor Carla’s favourite women’s ministry volunteers!