February 16, 2016
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
O.K., so this may not be the most interesting tour you’ve ever been on. That’s fine because it is not a tour. Remember, we are on pilgrimage, and on pilgrimage every step counts. On a tour one can hop back on the bus and take a nap while being transported to the next photo worthy destination. On a pilgrimage, we must come to appreciate the long stretches of what can be arduous miles that at the time seem to carry no apparent relevance to anything.
Try googling the name Ram. You will get all kinds of stuff about computers and trucks and animals but you will have to scroll through a lot of search pages before you ever come to a character from the Bible. Yet in the scheme of things, Ram matters infinitely more than the way Google will ever even have capacity to remember him. So it is with our lives.
Today we encounter nine strange names, most of whom we don’t know and likely never heard of. Let’s put this in perspective. Think about your own family tree. If you put yourself in the place of Salmon in today’s text, that would make Judah your great-great-great-great grandfather. Putting it on a rough present day timeline. If Salmon were born in 2000, that would put Judah back in the period of the American Revolution. Again, roughly in years, the span of time covered by the generations in today’s text covers the whole timespan of the entire history of the United States of America as a nation.
So what, you may be asking. Just like most of us have no clue about who Perez, Hezron and Ram were, neither could we list the names of our great grandparents, much less the names of our great-great grandparents or our great-great-great grandparents. Here’s why this matters. While Judah may get the highest name recognition award in today’s text, without these eight other relative unknowns, Judah doesn’t much matter. In that sense, the most unknown, unheard of, seemingly also-ran ancestor is as important and essential as the most famous and celebrated one. And why? They matter simply because of Jesus.
In the same way and even moreso, every successive generation of the followers of Jesus matters even more to the future—simply because of Jesus. For better or worse, the most unremembered generation matters as much to the future as the most celebrated one. We may be living through a long trackless uneventful generation in the scheme of history and eternity. Even so, the stakes of our faithfulness to Jesus is as high as ever. Our nameless and unremembered faithfulness, 0r lack thereof, will matter as much to history as that of Ram (relatively speaking).
I’m increasingly convinced that the present generation is passing through one of the great seams of history. I believe we live in a watershed moment where the Spirit-inspired faithfulness of ordinary Christians may prove especially pivotal in whether a great awakening happens in our own time or in the generation coming behind us or it is delayed for another hundred years. The stakes are high, and yet the stakes have always been high on this pilgrimage to the Kingdom of God. While history will report our legacy, only our bold faithfulness in our brief span of years can determine it.
From our limited vantage point, history seems long and life seems short. From the genealogical point of view of the Father, history is short and life is eternal. It’s why every single life in every generation matters so greatly. Thank God for Ram. And thank God for you and me. And above all, thank God for Jesus!
P.S. For anyone out there who is raising their hand and saying, “But you forgot Tamar,” come back tomorrow. ;0)
1. Do you ever think your life is inconsequential to the outcomes of history? Does this exploration of the genealogy of Jesus encourage you otherwise?
2. Consider Ram. Did you ever imagine you would be thinking about such a character today? Are you prepared to own your place in the story in a more significant way?
3. How about the times in which we live? Do you grasp the significance of what is at stake for the present generation and the ones to come behind us? What difference will this make for you today? Tomorrow?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.