Genealogy as Evidence

by Terry Wane Benton

One thing about all the lists of names in the Bible (forget about the difficulty of pronunciation) is that they were kept meticulously to keep the record accurate and verifiable. When Genesis gave a genealogy, it was to show that the writer was being historical and factual. Families could keep their history straight, but they could also see the connection of each link in the seed line path to the coming Messiah. The Jews, after their law was given at Mt. Sinai, needed to keep records for two reasons:

  1. the Promise of the coming Savior-Messiah was prophesied to come through Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob, then Judah, then David, and
  2. the priesthood of the sons of Aaron had to be kept clear for legitimate priests in Israel.

To be a legitimate priest in Israel, you had to be from the tribe of Levi and, more specifically, of the sons of Aaron, and if you could not prove your genealogical credentials, you could not serve as a priest. So, evidence of genealogy was vital on both of these counts. Therefore, genealogical records were meticulously used for proof on both counts. No one could claim to be the Christ (Messiah) without the pure seed line to David, and no one could be a priest in Israel without good genealogical ties to the tribe of Levi. All records were lost and destroyed by AD 70. Thus, the priesthood of Levi ended, and the need to keep records of the king coming from descendants of David was no longer needed since the Messiah had come.

This is why Matthew starts out his book with the genealogical credentials of Jesus. The Jews would have eliminated Jesus as a rightful Messiah if the genealogy of Jesus did not fit the predictive avenue of the seed line. Matthew’s credibility would be shut down immediately if the genealogy of Jesus could not be verified as accurate and connected to Abraham and David. The unbelieving (in Jesus) Jews would have loved to have discredited the disciples of Jesus for getting the genealogy wrong and, therefore, proving their messiah was false. If their message was false, their movement would be short-lived. But the genealogy of Jesus was without controversy, and it was offered as proof that Jesus is the “Christ” (the anointed Messiah) of long-standing Jewish prophecy. The disciples offered the genealogy of Jesus as evidence, and it stood close scrutiny through the centuries. The Jews will never be able to come up with another alternative to Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew (Matthew 1) and Luke (Luke 3) take Mary and Joseph and show that either route you take, either through Mary or through Joseph, Jesus is from Abraham and from Israel’s greatest king, David, and all the prophecies connect to Jesus. Genealogy was a key piece of evidence. Jesus is also the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, explaining why He let Himself be crucified. He is also the antitype of David, who suffered and suffered rejection as he pinned Psalm 22. Jesus is also the Child that would be called “Mighty God,” as predicted in Isaiah 9:6f.

The four eyewitness accounts of Jesus were never countered with proof that these men concocted an elaborate story that was disproven at every turn. No! The opposite is the case. They presented the facts and details so carefully, thoughtfully, and convincingly that the world can never be the same. Even our calendars reflect the truth about the “year of our Lord.” The genealogy of Jesus is one piece of evidence that passed the credibility tests in the very city where Jesus was crucified, was buried, and left that tomb empty forever! Jesus is the Christ of prophecy, and we must believe in Him!

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