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Monday: The Genesis Genealogy — 19 Comments

  1. I think that what the lesson is trying to say today is that the genealogy recorded in Genesis justifies our belief system. Forgive me if I sound a little cynical about the emphasis particularly when I face a sceptical and uninterested audience of secular minds that I interact with every day. I am not questioning the historicity of the genealogy, but in the context of the modern world, we need to concentrate on getting one message through very clearly.

    By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another. John 13:35 KJV

    This morning I stood in the darkness of an ANZAC Dawn Service. We were reminded of the sacrifice that men and women made to serve their country in times of war. Interestingly and quite poignantly, we were reminded that these men and women were following the example of Jesus who gave himself for all mankind. I thought of my own family members who essentially gave up a large chunk of their youth to serve their country, and in some cases die for it. And in doing so, sometimes unknowingly, following in the footsteps of Jesus in selfless service. I had the audacity to ask myself if some of these folk actually knew more about Jesus than we do with our complicated theology and Biblical knowledge.

    We devote a fair bit of effort to proving the correctness of our beliefs. But correctness is nowhere near as persuasive as living our beliefs in our relationships with one another.

    • Your comment reminds me of James's remarks on faith in James 2:18. He notes that "I will show you my faith by my works." So, yes, doctrines without demonstration are useless.

      But what about the reverse? What about living a "good life" so that everyone knows we are "good," but we do not share the good news of who God is and what He wants for us? Jesus said to let our light shine so that others my "glorify your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:16) So, is it really enough to live a "good life" without actually sharing about God?

      Maybe it is *how* we share the teachings of the Bible? Jesus spoke to the needs of the people, and we should probably do the same. And there's the rub. Different people seem to have different ideas of what people need to know about God - not to mention different ideas regarding what God is like. And teachings about what God is like have serious consequences.

      • And yet, the Apostle Paul goes on to say that we are saved by "Grace through faith and not by works lest any man should boast." I can understand why Martin Luther rejected the book of James because of how where James seems to "boast" about his works to justify his faith and even goes on to claim that Abrahams' faith was justified by his works but then Paul says that if Abraham could justify his faith by his works he could not do it before God. It is our "Faith alone in what Jesus did and is doing," that justifies anything for us before God. And this is what Martin Luther went on to start his "Protestant Reformation," and what will go on to take us to Jesus soon return in the clouds of heaven.

      • "Talking the talk and walking the walk." We can see the shift of proportions on the road to Christian maturity. The 12 disciples literally walked with Jesus for those 3 1/2 years, yet during that time their witness may have been proportionately heavy on "the talk". What do I mean?

        Well, for example, the 12 were given authority to use words to cast out demons (Matthew 10:1-4), but the demons didn't always listen (Mark 9:18,28-29; Matthew 17:18-20; Luke 9:40). Jesus told them they needed more faith received through prayer and fasting. Let's look closer - Judas Iscariot and Peter were among those 12 Jesus chose to represent Himself. See them crucifixion weekend. When they were in the crosshairs, their faith walk clearly lagged behind their words of faith in Jesus. At that point even their "Jesus words" broke down. We could say they were a very poor witness for Jesus and the way of His Kingdom. They may have acted worse than those who never believed in Jesus.

        Next see a converted Peter after the resurrection. Now, Peter clearly understands that words are easier than actions (before-John 13:37-38; after-John 21:15-17). Peter doesn't even dare use the word "agape" (divine, self-sacrificing love) to Jesus to proclaim his love for Him. Peter says, "Lord, I 'phileo' You. Lord, I'm very fond of You but only You know how deeply I love You. I don't even know or trust my own heart." And then hear Jesus's encouraging response. Jesus tells Peter that when he is old (or mature spiritually), he will have agape love and he will follow Jesus all the way, even to a cross. "Peter, one day your walk will match your talk."

        Peter wasn't there yet. Moments after he had demonstrated this spiritual growth in the area of humility and restraining the tongue, he was asking Jesus about John's future. He was still quicker to look around at what other Jesus followers were up to than to focus on his own relationship with the Lord. Peter was still quicker on the talk than on the walk. But Jesus just repeats, "Follow me" (John 21:19,22).

        We see that the proportions of "talk and walk" came into balance for Peter. Peter became a man of mighty works that witnessed for Jesus (Acts 3:6-8; 5:12,15-16), as well as a man of mighty words that witnessed for Jesus (Acts 2:14,37-41; 3:12-16).

        For me, this is encouraging. Scriptures show me that God lets me speak for Him, lets me point others to His Word, even when I don't fully grasp what I am saying myself, and even when my life doesn't fully match what I am saying. I've had family call me out on this, remind me that I once interpreted the Bible loosely to fit my own reasoning, too. By the grace of God I just agree with them now instead of defending myself. I say something like, "You're right. Don't take my word for it. Look only at Jesus. Read the Bible, read the Gospels, and test these things out for yourself."

    • Dear brother Maurice, your comment has made me think all week about the issue of using violence again. And I feel I should mention this here. It is my believe that God, Our loving Father, bless His Holy Name, will not make His children pick up arms and use violence. In any setting. Not even in wartime. I am with brother Desmond Doss on this one. You shall not kill. You shall turn the other cheek. You shall pray for your enemies. My Kingdom is not of this earth. If it was, My servants would fight. In the Old Testament it was different. God had a physical people, Israel, and it was He who did the killing, sometimes through His people. It is not so anymore. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26, 26:52. I believe Jesus here also means that the soul will perish. Unknowingly follow Jesus. Is that possible? Would Jesus not reveal Himself to all those who follow Him? Does He not expect us to make a conscious decision to follow Him and make conscious decisions with Him always? This may all sound very extreme but I think it is good to ponder over these questions. I feel I could write much more here to explain my views but I can't. I hope you understand. I am sure there are religious people who like to focus on Church tradition and Bible doctrines rather than on loving one another. But there are also those who need the Bible to keep their faith and to not go insane when they are being separated from the world. Desmond Doss was just one example. Gods children need His Word, the Bible. God bless us all.

      • I should add that my father was in the New Zealand Medical Corps, 22nd Field Ambulance and spent most of his enlisted time building field hospitals.

  2. Maurice, the last sentence of your comment sums it all.

    The subject matter of today reminds me of another topic to which Ellen White commented regarding whether the earth is flat or not. She said: „ Whether the world is round or flat will not save a soul, but whether men believe and obey means everything.“
    Yet, it doesn‘t mean that we should ignore the biblical significance of genealogy records, but not to concentrate on our „foolproof“ knowledge when we get involved in biblical arguments.

      • I found a few
        21 MR 414.5
        5 LtMs Lt 43 1887 par 7
        19 LtMs Lt 390 1904 par 3
        There is one other but I couldn’t figure out the reference so I’m not including it

  3. What is the background to a patriarch's --a mere human-- curses and blessings? How is it possible a human determine the blessings of another human? Is this cultural? What is the success rate of those curses and blessings? Is there a Bible verse that confirms their efficacy?

    • Dear J. Adams, just check Exodus 20:5-6,
      "5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."

      • My question is about a human cursing or blessing other humans (in this case, one's descendants). How is such action regarded as supremely important as if its fulfillment a certainty? If you bless or curse other people in this day and age, do they take it seriously? What, then, is the cultural background?

        • I have discovered in reading the Word of the LORD that He initially spoke to the Patriarchs like Noah and Abraham and Jacob. Then later He chose individuals like Joseph and Daniel to reveal the future.

          So I believe that the LORD revealed to Noah the consequences of the acts of Ham, Shem and Japheth.

          So the question to me is does the LORD take action when He sees people going down the wrong path?
          Adam & Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden
          Cain was banished from his family farm
          The wicked people were destroyed by the flood
          The son of Ham was removed from his father's influence and put under the influence of his righteous uncle Shem
          In this day and age we would call the LORD's actions as a father -Tough Love - disciplining his son while protecting the siblings from negative behaviour.

          • Shirley Debeer, what about Moses? Moses even went on to say that the Messiah would be sent and would be like him and that God's people were to listen to Him when He would show up. Yet none of those "geneologies" mention Moses at all. I can understand why the geneology in Genesis does not mention Moses because this one was many, many years before Moses time. But why do the ones in Matthew and Luke make no mention of Moses at all? And if it is because Jesus did not come from the genetics of Moses then what is so important about what genetics Jesus did come from when anyone of can actually trace our genetics to Adam period; for just the fact that Adam is and was the very first human being and we all (humans) came from there?

            • Although your question has no relation to Shirley's comment, the basic answer to your question is that Moses is not listed in the genealogy of Christ because he was not an ancestor of Christ. Moses was of the tribe of Levi, and Christ was prophesied to come through the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10).

              It is interesting that God tested Moses on this point when the nation rebelled at the foot of Mt. Sinai and God suggested that He would wipe out the rebellious people and make a great nation of Moses. As you know, Moses, acted as a type of Christ when he said that, instead, God should wipe his name out of the book of Life and save the nation instead. (Ex. 32:9-13)

              If you are really interested in biblical genealogies, there are full books on the subject. For a single article on OT genealogies by an expert, consult "Reading Biblical Genealogies," by Prof.Aaron Demsky. There's much more available on the internet, but the point of today's lesson is not an in-depth study of biblical genealogies in general, but a look at the genealogy of Noah, and it seems to me that the purpose of that genealogy is reasonably well-stated in the lesson. Demsky's article is also helpful.

          • I liked this comment and the easy way you delineated the thought. Quite nice. Great scene creation and thought provoking, particularly describing it as 'tough love' and connecting this love to wisdom: how we can preserve brotherly love among our children by well thought out actions, where emotions are kept wisely to the rear.

  4. Genealogy just reinforces the idea of the Creation, because we all came from one Father. It tracks the first coming of Jesus among us, and it also gives us an origin. May we be as one, as Jesus was/is with the Father, not just genetically, but most impotant, in Spirit and truth!

  5. Today's lesson proposes that one of the functions of biblical genealogy is to "remind[s] us of human fragility and of the tragic effect of sin’s curse and its deadly results on all the generations that have followed."

    I would invite you to note carefully what the lesson is saying here through presentation of the the word 'sin' in its possessive form (ie, "sin's" and "it's") - 'sin' is the 'agent' that directly produces (and therefore is responsible for) the 'curse' and 'deadly results'. Thus a 'curse' is not something that is imposed additional to sin because a 'curse' is not something separate from sin. Therefore, sin's nature is a 'cursed' nature in that sin is only capable of producing "deadly results".

    I find the lesson's representation to be consistent with both a biblical and Ellen White perspective. Romans 8:2 refers to the "law of sin and death" that is contrasted with the "law of the Spirit of Life". The 'law' being referred to here is not a made-up and enforced 'rule', but rather is a 'constant' or 'principle' of inherent cause-and-effect. Therefore, Romans 8:2 is presenting that sin is the cause that inherently produces death - in contrast with the Spirit being the cause that inherently produces Life. Note that, according to Paul, these two 'concepts' are the only two options and that they are inherently opposite. Compare this with Galatians 6:8 - a direct parallel with Romans 8:2 - which further emphasises that the ruin and destruction of a person is the direct, reaped result of the sin that the person has sown to. James 1:14-15 similarly notes that it is sin that inherently "gives birth to death". This also matches 1 John 3:4 that describes the functional nature of sin as "lawlessness" - the 'mechanism' that inherently can produce nothing other than "deadly results"*.

    In Patriarchs and Prophets, Ellen White discusses the incident of the curse of Canaan. She first states that, "The posterity of Canaan descended to the most degrading forms of heathenism. Though the prophetic curse had doomed them to slavery, the doom was withheld for centuries." It would be easy to read this statement quickly and conclude that it is the curse (and therefore the cursing) that was the cause of "doom" and therefore that a cruse is something that is imposed. However, Ellen White subsequently goes on to unpack that this is not what she believes happens:

    "The prophecy of Noah was no arbitrary denunciation of wrath or declaration of favor. It did not fix the character and destiny of his sons. But it showed what would be the result of the course of life they had severally** chosen and the character they had developed. It was an expression of God's purpose toward them and their posterity in view of their own character and conduct. As a rule, children inherit the dispositions and tendencies of their parents, and imitate their example; so that the sins of the parents are practiced by the children from generation to generation. Thus the vileness and irreverence of Ham were reproduced in his posterity, bringing a curse upon them for many generations. “One sinner destroyeth much good.” Ecclesiastes 9:18." (Patriarchs and Prophets 118.2)

    I therefore commend the lesson for incorporating this concept in its explanation.

    * From a functional perspective, lawlessness is chaos. Chaos is, in turn, the opposite of order - the order that is essential for authentically viable life and living. Thus, chaos is antagonistic to life and therefore precludes life. Hence lawlessness/chaos is inherently destructive in nature - lawlessness/sin can be and do nothing else.
    ** "Severally" refers to someone choosing something for themselves, reinforcing the idea that it is not something that has been imposed upon them by someone else. It is interesting that the Nigerian use of this word means to do something repeatedly - which well describes the process by which a person's choice becomes 'cemented' into their life and therefore habitually reflected in their way of living.

    • Phil, I appreciate the quotations you asked us to consider.

      It seems we need to go back to reviewing our presuppositions regarding the basic concept of "sin." In light of previous comments regarding the nature of "sin," I find some suggestions in this comment problematic.
      (Readers can follow the link to see our exchanges there.)

      You wrote:

      I would invite you to note carefully what the lesson is saying here through presentation of the the word 'sin' in its possessive form (ie, "sin's" and "it's") - 'sin' is the 'agent' that directly produces (and therefore is responsible for) the 'curse' and 'deadly results'. Thus a 'curse' is not something that is imposed additional to sin because a 'curse' is not something separate from sin. Therefore, sin's nature is a 'cursed' nature in that sin is only capable of producing "deadly results".

      In the bolded portions, you appear to treat sin as some sort of force independent of a thinking being. Yet, you earlier clarified to me that you see sin as a "functional principle" and identified it with "self-seeking," among other things - with which I fully agree. .

      If sin is a "principle" of action, then it cannot directly act on its own because it has neither rationality nor substance. It can only generate results by being put into action by a rational created being, such as angels or humans.

      I also find that your saying that a "curse" is not separate from sin does not make sense to me in light of "unpacking" the meaning of Noah's "curse" as a "prophecy of Noah," which is also the way I see it. It seems to me that a "prophecy," whether of good or bad consequences, is, indeed, "separate from sin." The curse/prophecy foretells the results of sin, and that is different from being inseparable from sin. That's like all of God's foreknowledge being separate from actually causing the actions He foretells. (I do, however, agree with what I assume to be your intent - that the curse aka prophecy is not arbitrary but a result from a life course of sinning.)

      Thus it seems to me that you are injecting too much meaning into

      " it reminds us of ... the tragic effect of sin’s curse and its deadly results on all the generations that have followed.

      I doubt that the author intended the meaning you have ascribed to "sin's" as sin being an active agent, rather than our usual definition of sin as "transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4) and of anything "not of faith." (Rom 14:23)

      You also wrote

      Therefore, Romans 8:2 is presenting that sin is the cause that inherently produces death - in contrast with the Spirit being the cause that inherently produces Life. Note that, according to Paul, these two 'concepts' are the only two options and that they are inherently opposite.

      In this sentence you directly equate "sin" as a "cause concept" opposing the "cause concept" of "the Spirit." Although I doubt you meant it that way, it makes "sin" appear an active agent directly opposing the work of the Spirit. This would necessitate "sin" and "the Spirit" to be essentially of the same nature and function.

      By contrast, I see "the Spirit" as the third member of the Godhead and directly functioning as God in the universe. The Spirit empowers us to love as God loves. And "sin" is the principle that is directly opposed to the love principle. Thus, as I see it, sin and love are of the same nature and function. Both are principles that only become functional as they are embraced by a thinking created being with the power of choice.

      To sum things up:
      I believe "sin" is any thought or behavior that is out of harmony with God's character of self-sacrificing love. That would include all forms of self-seeking or self-exaltation.

      Can you share your brief definition of "sin"?


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