The Bible: An Amazing Family Tree! (Part 1)

(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version 1984, unless otherwise stated.)

FOCUS: From beginning, through the middle, and to the very end, the Bible — above everything else — a record of a remarkable family tree!

FOUNDATION SCRIPTURE: “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven:  ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’  Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, … the son of David, the son of Jesse, … the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac [a.k.a. Israel], the son of Abraham, … the son of Shem, the son of Noah, … the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:21-37).

PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: From Adam to Noah to Abram to Ishmael

God created Adam in His image. But Adam sinned against his Creator and the world tumbled into an inevitable relationship with “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph. 2:2) — the devil or Satan. The Deceiver entered into the hearts of humankind, and eventually “the inclination of the thoughts of [their hearts] was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5). The Lord God destroyed all of mankind to get rid of that strain of evil, with the exception of Noah and his family. And the world was given a fresh start through Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Jephath. But once again, wickedness blanketed the world and the created turned against their Creator. So the Lord God chose one man for the purpose of preserving GOOD on the earth — Abram.

A. Genesis 9:8-16:

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you  and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth.  I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.’

“And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:  I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.’

B. Genesis 12:1-5; 15:1-7:

The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

 “’I will make you into a great nation 
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

 ‘I will bless those who bless you, 
   and whoever curses you I will curse; 
and all peoples on earth 
   will be blessed through you.’

“So Abram left, as the LORD had told him … He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there…. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’

“… the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward … a son coming from your own body will be your heir … Look up at the heavens and count the stars … So shall your offspring be.’

Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: From Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Judah

Abram believed the Lord, but his wife Sarai wasn’t sure that Abram had understood the Lord correctly. So she talked her husband into laying with a slave woman to conceive a child. Her name was Hagar, and the child who resulted was named Ishmael. Ishmael became Abram’s first-born, and the father of 12 tribes — ancestors of the modern-day Arabs. This is why the land promised to Abram is being fought over in the Middle East today. But there is another side to the story

A. Genesis 17:3-16 (abridged):

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.  No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.  I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God…. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. … As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’”

B. Genesis 21:1-13 (abridged):

“… the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him…. it is through Isaac that your  offspring will be reckoned….

“[Sarah] said to Abraham, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son, Isaac.’

“The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son [Ishmael]. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.  I will make [Ishmael] into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

NOTE: This is the basic historical event upon which Jews and Arabs disagree. Arabs insist that Ishmael was the son to whom God promised the land. Please read Genesis 22 for understanding of another issue of contention: Though this passage confirms that Isaac was the “son of promise” and the heir through which Abraham’s offspring would be “reckoned,”  descendants of Ishmael tell the same story, except they replace Isaac with Ishmael and therefore claim for themselves the promise given in Gen. 22:15-18.

C. Genesis 25:19-34:  Isaac’s wife Rebekah had twin boys — Esau and Jacob. Esau despised his birthright as the firstborn son, so Jacob became heir to the promise. Esau became the father of the Edomites. 

D. Genesis 28-32: Jacob’s story is quite involved, but the bottom line is that his two wives gave him 12 sons, and one of them was named JUDAH. The Lord God changed Jacob’s name to ISRAEL (Gen. 32:28). Before Jacob died, he blessed his sons. And he told Judah: “… the scepter will not depart from Judah … until he comes to whom it belongs” (Gen. 49:10). This is a prophecy concerning the coming Messiah — He would be a descendant of Judah!

PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: From Judah to David to Jesus

The family tree continued to branch out, but the Old Testament — the Torah — kept careful records of the Messianic bloodline from Adam to Seth to Jacob (a.k.a. ISRAEL) to Judah to David to Jesus …

A. 2 Samuel 5:4-10:

David was thirty years old when he became king [Jesus was 30 when He was baptized by John and began His ministry], and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years [Jesus was 33 years old when He was crucified].

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites who lived there…. David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David…. David took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David…. And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.”

Centuries later, the archangel Gabriel visited a young woman named Mary, a virgin who lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. She and her betrothed were descendants of David, and Gabriel’s news would radically change both of their lives …

B. Luke 1:30-35:

“The angel said to [Mary], ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus [Yeshua]. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. THE LORD WILL GIVE HIM THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER DAVID, and He will reign over THE HOUSE OF JACOB [Israel] forever; His kingdom will never end…. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

When Jesus was born — in fulfillment of many prophecies — an angel appeared to a bunch of frightened shepherds to deliver His birth announcement …

C. Luke 2:10-11:

“The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today IN THE TOWN OF DAVID [David’s birth place, Bethlehem] a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.'”

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WHAT’S THE POINT?

Jesus’ genealogy — the carefully preserved record of His human ancestors — proves that He was who He claimed to be: the Son of Man AND the Son of God. Tangible proof of the authenticity of this documentation can be found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Jesus was the heir to “David’s throne.” When someone shows up to claim an inheritance, he or she must prove their identity and their biological connection to the deceased, in this case, King David of  the tribe of Judah, a direct descendant of Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham — which could be proved by the census that was taken at the command of Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus.

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THINK ABOUT IT …

“Christ” in Greek and “Messiah” in Hebrew both mean “the Anointed One” — the Savior. Because, as an angel told Joseph, Mary’s betrothed: “… He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Before Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, His primary purpose was to reach the descendants of Abraham, the heirs to his promise made through Isaac, his son by Sarah (see Gen. 21:12 and 35:9-13). But after He ascended into heaven, Jesus chose a most unlikely candidate for Christian discipleship to take His message of salvation (the “gospel”) to the “Gentiles” — all non-Jews — and expand the family tree even further! (We’ll look at that in Part 2.)

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