We know it’s important to read our Bibles as well as study them. Some passages are wonderful to read, some passages are confusing and some are really, really boring. Some of the most boring passages in both the Old and New Covenant Scriptures are the genealogies…the seemingly never-ending lists of names. So and so begat so and so, and so and so begat so and so and on and on they go. Do we really have to read through those, what purpose do they serve anyway?
Well, the genealogies are actually very important in spite of the fact they’re a bit boring and more often than not, impossible to pronounce. Just knowing who’s related to whom can be very enlightening when learning about Jewish history and other political and spiritual machinations that took place at the time they were recorded. The genealogies the Old Covenant also help us understand the lineage of Jesus our Messiah as listed in the New Covenant.
For example, the genealogy if Jesus in Matthew 1 is different to the genealogy in Luke, but the differences are both true and both important because the list in Matthew reveals Jesus lineage through Joseph’s family tree through the line of David all the way back to Abraham. The lineage in Luke 3 reveals Jesus lineage through Mary’s family line all the way back to Adam and ultimately God. One genealogy shows Jesus legitimacy as king because He’s in the line of King David, the other shows His divinity going back to Adam and ultimately God.
The differences there are important for numerous reasons we don’t have time to go into now, but they’re significant and quite exciting.
But there’s another really fascinating thing about reading and learning about the lists of names in the Bible. We’ve discussed before the importance of names and that in ancient Hebrew culture (and many other cultures in human history), names were given for familial reasons as well as for describing what a person was like or what you wanted them to be like, or to mark something that was happening at the time the person was born.
For example, when the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines and the Israelites were defeated in 1 Samuel 4:21, the daughter-in-law of the High Priest, Eli, who was pregnant at the time, learned that her husband and her brother-in-law were both killed in the battle and that the Ark of God was taken by their enemies, and the news of its capture caused her father-in-law, the High Priest, to die on the spot. She went into labour and gave birth to a son. She named him Ichabod, which means ‘no glory’. In other words, God’s Glory, which was encompassed in and represented by the Ark of the Covenant, which stood in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, was gone from the people of God. She believed that God and His glorious presence had left them and as such, they were doomed. As soon as she gave birth and named her son, she died.
The poor child had to grow up with a name that would be a reminder to him every day of his life, that on the day he was born, the end of the world as far as his family and his nation was concerned, happened.
But there are some very curious things about the structure of the Bible that lead us to shake our heads in amazement at how God absolutely must be the author of this extraordinary book, even if it does contain boring lists of names.
One of the really wonderful things I’ve always loved about the teaching of the late Dr Chuck Missler, is how he seemed to find hidden treasures that many others never seemed to find even though they were there all the time. Of course, Dr Missler wasn’t the only one, but he was the teacher who first revealed many of these treasures to me.
I want to unfold for you the names of the very first genealogy listed in the Bible, it’s contained in Genesis 5:1-31. There are 3 additional names at the very end of the chapter in verse 32, but they weren’t born until after the flood of Noah and so aren’t included to the list Dr Missler used in his teaching example.
I’ve listed the names in the Genesis 5 genealogy in order along with their meanings as listed by Dr Missler. I looked up each name and checked with the Strong’s Concordance numbers and have listed them in brackets. Some of the meanings come from the root foundational Hebrew words and were accurate, however, two names appeared to be quite different in their meanings to what is listed in the Strong’s concordance. I did some further research into the meanings and their etymology (the study of the origins of words and the way their meanings have changed throughout history). I discovered that the original meanings are correct as Dr Missler taught them.
Adam = Man (first man)
Seth = Appointed (to set, as in appoint or fix)
Enosh = Mortal (from the root word for ‘mortal man’)
Kenan = Sorrow (from the root word for ‘nest’ or ‘lamenter’ following other etymology) 
Mahalalel = The Blessed God (the Mighty One, the One True God)
Jared = Will come down (from the root word to go down, to descend)
Enoch = Teaching / education (from the root word to train, dedicate)
Methuselah = His death shall bring (from the root words for ‘man’ and ‘weapon, missile, shoot’)
Lamech = The despairing (powerful or ‘to make low’ or ‘humiliation) 
Noah = Comfort (rest)
Here are the name meanings in order as though in a sentence or statement.
‘Man appointed mortal sorrow. The blessed God will come down, teaching His death shall bring the despairing comfort.’
In the first genealogy in the Bible, in Genesis 5, the story of the redemption of mankind by God Himself is laid out.
Isn’t that remarkable?
In the next program we’ll look at another reason for listing names is so important.