SOAP – Through the Gospels
S – SCRIPTURE
Matthew 1:1 – the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
When I was just learning to read, one of my daily routines was going through a devotional bible reading plan called “Bible Pathways.” Their particular plan was set up in such a way that if you followed it closely (reading approximately 3 chapters/15 minutes/day), you would finish reading the entire Bible in one year. I absolutely loved finishing my reading because then I could put a check mark on the scheduled reading plan for the day. (Nothing like crossing things off a list! DONE! Still love doing that.)
That said, I hated reading the genealogies & family trees. Whenever I came across them, I would just SKIP over them to the end; the spot where the ‘boring’ & meaningless to me list of oft-unpronounceable names ran on & on. I can remember asking several people WHY this was in the Bible; it made no sense to me to have all these people listed & that I had to read over it. And it wasn’t like there was only one spot in the Bible where the genealogies were, like the “Book of Genealogies” located after Esther & before Job, so you could just kind of SKIP over them to get to the good stuff. Nope. They pop up all over the place, invisibly connecting narratives, histories, & stories like connective tissue – its there, but you don’t know the reason for it.
Matthew 1 begins with a genealogy – one that I have skipped over many, many times. Until I got frustrated & asked God a question: “Why? Why are these in the Bible? Is it to build my perseverance? To make me thankful for the end of the list? I don’t get it – but if its in there, its gotta be important. What is it?”
A – APPLICATION
The answer to my prayer/question was not immediate, & it came from an unlikely source: my dad’s cousin Laurie. Cousin Laurie is our very own “Family Tree & Ancestry Expert.” For some reason unbeknownst to me, she has been passionately researching our family line for years, even crossing the Atlantic to peruse family records in Scotland. To my knowledge, she has traced our family of origin, with multiple branches, back into the 16th century. I had heard many 2nd hand stories about her searches, but never really got the straight scoop until one day she stopped by my office after church on a Sunday, & started in on a story about “our family.”
Laurie pulled out a notebook with several pieces of paper – it was obvious she’d spent a lot of time with it, & that the information on it was valuable. In a very short period of time, she showed me different branches of the family tree, complete with names, birth/death dates, & interesting vignettes. What had once been a poorly understood & mostly unknown collection of names came to life. These were people, with lifetimes of stories – & every one of them was connected to me & my own story. The actions, choices, & lives (good, bad, & ugly) of people living hundreds of years prior had somehow, someway led to me & my reality.
As I listened & observed, suddenly threads began to emerge in my mind – I could see & trace God’s hand of mercy, grace, & purpose on my family line. Generation upon generation, God had been working redemptively & faithfully. The family tree revealed a forest of purpose & intentionality. It was like a puzzle piece being placed into the 10,000-pc puzzle it originated in; somehow it fit.
And then I saw it – an answer to the prayer/question I had asked God long before. Genealogies are reminders of the importance of individual lives in the grand story of the gospel, as well as a picture of the absolute sovereignty of God to weave those threads of story into a beautiful tapestry that reveals HIS story, purpose, plan, & the Good News of Jesus Christ.
P – PRAYER
LORD – thank you for not only being a “big picture” God, but also for dealing with the small & seemingly insignificant life story threads… that You make something beautiful from it. Remind me of the significance of my actions, choices, & the way I invest my life today. Fill me with awareness of where You are at work in & around me, & show me how to cooperate with Your Spirit in that work.