Our last reading in Genesis for a little while, we will look at something different starting tomorrow, but we will come back to the wonderful and unmissable story of Joseph which takes up the rest of the book later on.
So our final reading is Genesis Chapter 36 which looks like and actually is a list of names. You might think this is a bit boring, or this is hard to read, or even more so, I’m glad I haven’t been asked to read this passage out loud in church!
To help us today, may I suggest you click on the link above and when you get to the Bible Gateway page you click on the brown speaker icon on the far right above the passage and listen to it being read. I think you will find this a lot easier than having to read it yourself! And having just done it myself you see different connections more easily because someone else is doing the hard work of reading.
So a list of names may not be the most edifying and you might ask what can I learn from this? Let me suggest a few things.
– A list of names is a bit boring, it won’t win any literary prizes, but it makes me think even more that the Bible is true and trustworthy. If it is just a made-up story why put in a whole lot of names that won’t mean much to the average reader when it was written, let alone several thousand years later. If Chapter 36 is a true account then so must be the amazing birth of Isaac to Sarah in her old age (Chapter 21) or that Joseph is amazingly able to interpret accurately predictive dreams later in the story (Chapters 40 & 41). I hope you get my logic.
– A list of names tells me individual people matter, their names are recorded. We have lists of names today, Christmas card lists, church address lists, lists of names on war memorials. These lists are important, every name and the person behind it matters. If a name is missed off, someone will be upset. If we are missed off a list, we will be upset.
Every person in Kings Heath matters to God. Every person in our wider family matters to God.
– These lists tell us that God’s promises are being fulfilled. Apart from the list of rulers of Edom (vs.31-39) all the rest are descendants of Esau, which means they are also descendants of Abraham, Esau’s grandfather. Abraham was promised descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis Chapter 15 verse 5) and you now know well Abraham’s response, ‘He believed God and it was credited/counted to him as righteousness’.
Also Rebekah, when her pregnancy was uncomfortable because she was having twins who were jostling in her womb, the Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated…’ (Chapter 25 verse 23). Here is that 2nd nation being mapped out for us.
Esau and Ishmael before him are both Patriarchs who are not part of the chosen line, that privilege belongs to Isaac and Jacob, but they are not forgotten by God in His wider purposes. We have the names of their descendants to prove it.
And so in our own church address list, and trying not to miss anyone out(!), we remember in our prayers today,
– Terry and Dawn
– Mary, Sharon’s Mum.