The Bible contains some long genealogies, with a host of strange names, from Jehoshaphat to Shealtiel. It’s tempting to ignore or skim over them. After all, what does it matter that Azor was the father of Zadok or Abijah the father of Asaph?
But a closer look shows them rich in significance. For instance, the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17 shows that God was utterly faithful to bless the nations through Abraham and to raise up a king from the line of David, just as He promised. The world was oblivious to Jesus’ bloodline around the time of Perez or Eliud, but God was at work through these people just the same. Generation after generation, the Lord superintended history, ensuring that the “torch would not be dropped.”
This doesn’t mean that all the torchbearers had flawless pedigrees or resumes. Rahab is a prime example. Hebrews 11:31 says she was a prostitute in Jericho before she joined the Israelite cause and later became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth. And what about Ruth, also an ancestor of Jesus? Well, she was a fine woman, faithful to her widowed mother-in-law Naomi. But she came from the Moabite people, who were offspring of an incestuous encounter between a drunken Lot and one of his daughters.
Then there was David, who took another man’s wife for himself and had the husband killed to cover his adultery.
These people don’t sound like promising material for God’s great work of salvation on earth, but He is able to work with everyone and everything to accomplish his purposes.
So when you read that Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, don’t glaze over, but thank God for His constancy in shepherding the inheritance of Abraham through the centuries. And when you read that some of the procreators were scoundrels or the relatives of scoundrels, rejoice that He can do great things with bad bets. There’s even hope for us.
(Note: This article is presented within The Biblical Story Course as an Insight under Books of the Bible, Matthew’s Genealogy).