How to Preach Theology-in-Genealogies (an example from 1 Chronicles 1:1–9:34)

If you’re committed to preaching through books of the Bible, sooner or later you’ll come face to face with an OT or NT genealogy. What’s an expositor to do?!

  1. Enjoy the thought of covering 9 chapters in one sermon. I am finding that there are large preaching portions in the first several sections of 1 Chronicles. This allows the series to cover large pieces of biblical real estate tracts with each sermon.
  2. The lessons for the Church from 1 Chronicles’ history includes the narrations sprinkled throughout the genealogy. In no particular order, the omniscient narrator reveals…
  3. that we are products of Divine election (1:26-28; 2:15 where Abram is selected out of the blue, Isaac is put ahead of Ishmael, and David is selected even though he was “the seventh,” not the first).
  4. we are a people who make the right choices (1:1; 4:9-10; 5:18-22 where folks like Seth and Jabez highlight those who call upon the name of the Lord (cf. Genesis 4:26)).
  5. but we are also a people who sometimes make fatal decisions (1:1; 2:3, 4, 7; 5:1, 25-26; 9:1 where we see sin entering the world through the likes of Adam, and Israel’s firstborn, Reuben; not to mention those that “broke faith with the God of their fathers…”). What an appropriate warning for our faith-families! Hebrews 2:1 warns us of the possibility of professing Christians to “drift away…”
  6. Finally, these chapters are filled with God’s people fulfilling certain tasks in the world (4:14, 23; 6:31-33, 48-49; 9:13, 26-33). The tribe of Levi, for instance, is situated in the middle of the lengthy genealogy. Worship had to be central for God’s people to enjoy His benefits. But there was the need for “craftsmen” and “potters” too. There is lots of work to be done.
  7. Finally, we find our place in this family tree through faith in Christ, the son of David (Matt. 1:1; Luke 3:23-28).

Everything in the genealogy is headed towards King Saul and the theological explanation for Israel’s predicament: “And Judah was taken into exile in Babylon because of their breach of faith” (9:1). Their only hope and ours is found in another King, David and, ultimately, David’s Son.

And when we say we’re in Jesus’ family tree, we have to be honest about what kind of family member we are. Which characters are we most like? It’s a time for us to bolster, not break faith. It’s a time for us to work hard by the grace of God at our worship of and work for our King.

I hope this gives some ideas for preaching an extremely difficult section of Scripture so God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).


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