Roots are important!



Has your child ever asked you where they came from? I look forward to the day that my son does, although perhaps after asking me he will wish he hadn’t, as I will have a very well prepared answer for him! But seriously, everyone wants to know where they came from. Our roots are important to us. Sometimes people’s roots have caused grudges to be held for a very long time, even centuries, leading to the separation of people who would otherwise get on, and even causing wars to be waged for generations. People take a certain sense of pride in their personal history and key moments in their nation’s history, celebrating such figures as the Christian hero and anti-slavery activist, William Wilberforce. In other cases they may wish to forget about some awful events as well, for example the Nazi regime in Germany leading to the Holocaust and the Second World War (see Hitler’s ‘master race’ children haunted by their past).

Alex Haley, DoubleDay PublishingThis novel, published in 1976, tells the story of an 18th Century African slave, and traces his descendents through to the author, Alex Haley himself.
This novel, published in 1976, tells the story of an 18th Century African slave, and traces his descendents through to the author, Alex Haley himself.

Programmes about someone’s past, such as the series Who do you think you are? (broadcast in the UK, Australia, USA and a number of other countries1), where celebrities trace were they have come from, remain very popular. It can also be noted that the last episode of the hit 1977 television mini-series Roots (based on Alex Haley’s book of the same title) still remains the third highest rated episode in American TV history.2 In this, a distinguished black author traced the historical origins of his family back through their days of slavery in America, and to his African progenitors.

The implications of Genesis genealogies

That’s why the genealogies in Genesis 5, 10 and 113 are so important; they are our roots, telling us where we have come from. Genesis 11 takes us back to the Tower of Babel where God split up the descendants of Noah (all of us ultimately trace our ancestry back to one of Noah’s three sons), which have become the nations that we have today; then Genesis 5 takes us right back to our progenitor, our federal head, Adam. This is a key reason why the argument about Genesis history, your roots and mine, is so important. Are you simply space dust4 which over billions of years has magically transformed itself into the animal kingdom, with you as just another animal at the end of a long chain stretching back millions of years? Or is your worth something far greater—are you a descendant of Adam, made in the image of God?

The importance of tracing our origins back to Adam, showing our common ancestry and need for Jesus, in missionary activity can be seen in: How the Binumarien people of New Guinea discovered Jesus is real, the Namblong people’s desire to know their origins, and in the importance of Creation for foreign missions.

Genealogy of Jesus according to Luke

  1. God
  2. Adam
  3. Seth
  4. Enosh
  5. Kenan
  6. Mahalalel
  7. Jared
  8. Enoch
  9. Methuselah
  10. Lamech
  11. Noah
  12. Shem
  13. Arphaxad
  1. Shelah
  2. Eber
  3. Peleg
  4. Reu
  5. Serug
  6. Nahor
  7. Terah
  8. Abraham
  9. Isaac
  10. Jacob
  11. Judah
  12. Perez

  1. Hezron
  2. Ram
  3. Amminadab
  4. Nahshon
  5. Salmon
  6. Boaz
  7. Obed
  8. Jesse
  9. David
  10. Nathan
  11. Mattatha
  12. Menna
  13. Melea
  1. Eliakim
  2. Jonam
  3. Joseph
  4. Judah
  5. Simeon
  6. Levi
  7. Matthat
  8. Jorim
  9. Eliezer
  10. Joshua
  11. Er
  12. Elmadam
  13. Cosam
  1. Addi
  2. Melchi
  3. Neri
  4. Shealtiel
  5. Zerubbabel
  6. Rhesa
  7. Joanan
  8. Joda
  9. Josech
  10. Semein
  11. Mattathias
  12. Mahath
  13. Naggai
  1. Hesli
  2. Nahum
  3. Amos
  4. Mattathias
  5. Joseph
  6. Jannai
  7. Melchi
  8. Levi
  9. Matthat
  10. Heli
  11. *Mary & Joseph
  12. Jesus

Jesus’ family line back to Adam, which contrasts with evolutionary ideas of origins that our family tree extends back to a microbe and includes all animals and plants. Table from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genealogy_of_Jesus

Your ancestry affects your life now

Unless your past is rooted with dignity, being made in the image of God, then what difference does it make what happens to you? Ultimately you have absolutely no value within a naturalistic evolutionary worldview. Your thoughts, words, deeds, and movements have no more meaning than the steam rising off a freshly laid cow pat. For today you exist, but tomorrow you may not (see: Proverbs 27:1).

It would be foolish to try and argue that the past is meaningless, since the laws that order and govern our own societies, and that affect us on a day to day basis, are all rooted in the past (see: The foundations of the rule of law in the West). You and I are ultimately tied into history whether we like it or not. We are not free entities from the legacy of our shared past history (back to Adam) whose actions influence who we are today; we are a product of the Fall, sinful by nature, separated from God by our own sin, rejecters of Jesus, and will all be judged accordingly.

It is only if we know the truth about where we came from that we can truly know how to live our lives, what is expected of us, and ultimately what will happen to us when we die. It is our link to the past that provides us with a direction for the future. It is this fundamental understanding of our roots and our place before God that will then lead us on a correct path regarding our views on all matters including vital ones such as: marriage, the family, sexuality, abortion and other ethical issues. For it is the Creator alone who has the right to define and govern these matters.

Your ancestry also affects your future

So don’t just skip over the genealogies in Genesis, or for that matter any of the history contained in the Bible; read those genealogies with the satisfaction of knowing your true roots! Without them the rest of the Bible is meaningless and incomprehensible.5 The only way you can find out who you really are is to read the Bible starting with Genesis, learning that you have inherited your forefather Adam’s sinful nature, and because of this, that you too need to be reconciled to God through the repentance of your sins and the acceptance of Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Once you are saved then you can really start living, for you know that your earthly existence is just the anteroom to the eternal life with God!6

Published: 13 December 2012

References and notes

  1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Do_You_Think_You_Are?_(UK_TV_series), accessed 8 November, 2012. Return to text.
  2. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roots_(TV_miniseries), accessed 8 November, 2012. Return to text.
  3. Also referred to as chronogenealogies; see Biblical chronogenealogies. Return to text.
  4. As many astronomers claim, e.g. blogs.scientificamerican.com/basic-space/2011/07/21/were-cosmic-dust-but-youre-everything-to-me/, accessed 9 November, 2012. Return to text.
  5. The rest of the Bible becomes meaningless and incomprehensible in the ultimate sense, without the ‘back drop’ of Genesis 1–11, containing the genealogies, as this explains the origin of man, sin, death, the nations, languages, and the need for Jesus to live and die as he did. While parts of the Bible may be read in isolation from these larger questions and events and a localised meaning of the passage may be obtained, for any sort of true and wider application the ‘back drop’ must always be included. Return to text.
  6. The afterlife, which will be eternal, will consist of those who are saved and will dwell in eternal happiness with God, and those who are not saved, who will spend eternity in hell (Revelation 20:11–21:27). Return to text.

Helpful Resources