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.)

The Bible: An Amazing Family Tree! (Part 2)

(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 — is a record of a remarkable family tree! In Part 1, we looked at the documented genealogy of the bloodline connecting Adam and Jesus. Sin and death resulted from the choice Adam made. The choice Jesus made — a brutal death on a cross as payment for sin — re-established relationship with God and brought eternal life for those who will choose to believe that Jesus is the Son of God … the Messiah! Because of His sacrifice, Gentiles can now be “grafted” into the family tree and become “children of God.”

FOUNDATION SCRIPTURE: [Paul speaking] “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.  He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out,  ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 3:26-4:7)

PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: Peter’s Testimony

After Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven, Peter — one of Jesus’ closest friends — shared what he knew to be true with the people who had witnessed the miracle of Pentecost (see Acts 2) and the undeniable power of the Holy Spirit. Peter pointed out prophecy connections in Scripture, and he was given a vision concerning divine acceptance of non-Jews — proof that God had given permission to graft Gentiles into Abraham’s family tree!

A. Acts 2:22-3:

“‘Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on HimDavid said about Him:

“‘”I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will live in hope,
   because you will not abandon me to the grave, 
   nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
   You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

“’Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.  Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.… 

“‘… let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ…. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy SpiritThe promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.‘”

B. Acts 11:1-18:

“The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.  So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.’

Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened: I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.  I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air.  Then I heard a voice telling me, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“’I replied, “Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.”

“‘The voice spoke from heaven a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.

“‘Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying.  The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, “Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.”

“’As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said:John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?

” ‘When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.

PROPHECY CONNECTION #2:  John’s Testimony

John was Jesus’ best friend. He called himself “the one Jesus loved,” and John was with Jesus from the moment He was arrested until the moment He died on the cross (see John 18 – 19.) He actually entered the tomb and saw the linens that had wrapped Jesus’ dead body. (Google the “Shroud of Turin”!) And he was entrusted with a vision of the future, given to him personally by the risen Lamb of God, Jesus Christ …

A. Revelation 1:1-8:

[John writing] “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near…. Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Look, He is coming with the clouds, 
   and every eye will see him, 
even those who pierced him; 

 and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. 

            So shall it be! Amen.

“’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”

B. Revelation 5:1 – 6:1 (abridged):

John watched as a scroll appeared in the right hand of God. Many scholars believe this scroll represents the deed to planet earth, which was forfeited to the devil when Adam disobeyed his Creator in the Garden of Eden and sin entered the world. Jesus is the only one worthy to “buy back” mankind because He is “the Lamb who was slain”! 

[John writing] “Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?‘ But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.  I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.  Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David [Jesus, descendant of Judah and David], has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’

“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain [Jesus, sacrificed to atone for the sin of mankind], standing in the center of the throne … He came and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who sat on the throne….

“‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain, 
   and with your blood you purchased men for God 
   from every tribe and language and people and nation. 
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.’ …

“I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals …”

PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: Paul’s Testimony 

Paul was a powerful persecutor of Christ’s followers. He did not walk with Jesus or learn from Him as the other disciples did. Instead, Jesus’ Spirit spoke to Paul (then called “Saul”), and through a miraculous turn of events, gave him knowledge, insight and an unexpected commission …

A. Acts 9:15-31 (abridged):

“The Lord said to Ananias [a disciple of Jesus], ‘Go! This man [Saul/Paul] is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.

“Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may … be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ … [Paul] got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

“Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  All those who heard him were astonished and asked, ‘Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’ Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.

“After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him … he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him …

“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

“Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

B. 2 Corinthians 11:24-31; 12:6-10:

It didn’t take Paul long to figure out that as a member of the family of God and a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, HE WOULD FACE PERSECUTION AND SUFFERING FOR THE SAKE OF JESUS’ NAME 

[Paul writing] “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness….

“Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

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WHAT’S THE POINT?

The Bible is documented evidence that the Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth has had a plan from the very beginning. (Google the “Dead Seas Scrolls.”) When He said to the serpent in the Garden of Eden — the devil in disguise — “I will put enmity you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers,” God was announcing the struggle that would ensue between Himself and the evil one that would play out down through the history of the world. And when He said, “He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” the Father was foreshadowing the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son, Jesus the Messiah. (See Genesis 3:15.)

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

For me, it matters because this information assures me that I’ve been adopted into God’s family through the promise made to Abraham (father of the covenant), through Isaac (the miracle child),  through Judah (symbol of sovereignty), through David (king with a heart for God), and through the understanding — thanks to men like Peter, John and Paul — that Jesus IS the Son of Man AND the Son of God! So when I believed and was baptized, according to Jesus’ example, I became a child of promise and heir to everything my heavenly Father owns!

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THINK ABOUT IT …

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).