The Genesis Genealogies
in the History of Redemption
Why remember the “days of old”?
Immediately before the Israelites entered into Canaan, Moses reminded them in his farewell sermon, “Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations!” The “days of old” and “years of all generations” are not merely old fairy tales or legends. They are a recording of the providence of God, who poured out His fervent love by intervening into the history of mankind since the fall of Adam. It is a story of the fathers of faith who unwaveringly preserved the path of godliness according to God’s providence. As the Israelites had to remember the days of old in the wilderness when they were preparing to enter into Canaan, we Christians must also remember the days of old as we prepare to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Rediscovery of the genealogies
The genealogies in the book of Genesis that seemed so tedious with repetitions of names and births were actually the treasury of what we need to remember about the “days of old” and the “years of all generations.” They clearly portray God’s administration for the redemption of mankind and the entire universe. The genealogies in Genesis are only a few verses. Yet, they contain the redemptive providence over a long period of about 2,300 years. Thus, each verse and name in these genealogies is saturated with historical and redemptive significances. This book helps the readers rediscover the spiritual meaning contained within each of the 20 generations from Adam to Abraham.
The history of redemption is the history of separation
The book of Genesis records the genealogies of all generations, including those who have strayed away from the godly lineage, such as Cain, Ham, Ishmael, and Esau. They are examples that reflect our own sinfulness and unfaithfulness. This division between the godly lineage and the ungodly lineage continues to run together with the history of redemption. The people of God had to learn to separate themselves from the path of sin and live a consecrated life. One great example of such a life is the life of Abraham, who is probably the most prominent character in this book.
The genealogy of the godly seed continues on in the book of Genesis through the fathers of faith who were able to overcome and set themselves apart from the sins and desires of this world. This genealogy in Genesis leads up to introduce Abraham, an essential figure in God’s administration to bring salvation for the entire world. The work of redemption takes on a new phase through God’s calling of Abraham and is fulfilled through the Messiah who comes as the son of Abraham. This magnificent story of godly lineage is what Moses refers to as the “days of old.” They may be called “days of old,” but they are actually a reflection of my story today.