Key Verse: 1 John 5:1-5 (NIV)
My husband began this new year by logging onto an online genealogy database and researching our family tree to pass along to our children and our children’s children and on down. It has been interesting listening to the different stories he has unearthed during this process. Through it all we have found ourselves saying things like, “If Great, Great, Great Grandpa hadn’t moved the family from Sweden to Canada…,” “If Great Grandpa hadn’t met Great Uncle…” “That’s when the spelling of our name changed…,” “That’s where that tradition came from…,” or “We almost wouldn’t have met.” My husband’s activity on our genealogy has coincided with my usual New Year activity. January is the month I open my Bible to the book of Genesis and study the beginning of our family tree.
In the beginning, of course, is our so-many-greats-I-cannot-list-them-all grandparents Adam and Eve. They rebelled and brought the wrath of God on this world. Their son, our just-as-many-greats-as-Adam, Uncle Cain, had issues as well. He killed his brother, Great you-get-the-point Uncle Abel. Cain lost his inheritance completely, was disowned, and a new family line had to be started.
We don’t know as many particulars about the new family line from Adam to Noah; so, I play a math game called “How many generations did Adam see before he died?” (The answer is eight. Adam died 126 years before Noah was born.) Then I look at the data and ponder the implications. Some of it adds to the story. Such as, Noah’s father, Lamech, died five years before his own father, Methuselah, died. Methuselah died during the year of the great flood, and he didn’t ride on the ark; so, either he died that year before the flood began, or he died during the flood. Lamech was lamenting over “the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed” when he named his firstborn son Noah. Had some of the family forgotten why God cursed the land by this time? Of course, Adam was 874 when Lamech was born; so, maybe Adam was too tired to tell the story, yet again, of how he and the wife lost the family Eden and brought God’s wrath down upon the entire world. Methuselah had a good example of how to walk with God, however. His father, Enoch, walked with God for 300 years after Methuselah was born. He walked with God 300 years! “Then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:24)
Family trees can be so humbling, can’t they? Someone, like Enoch, challenges me to walk closer to God. Sometimes, however, I look at our family tree and feel embarrassed, and other times I look at it and wonder if future generations will look back and be embarrassed to find me on it. We all come from a very long line of sinners and interesting characters, however. Not one of us alone is righteous enough to call ourselves sinless.
Thankfully, we have a very creative, patient, loving God. Even in Adam and Eve’s rebellion, God foretold His redemption plan before He gave them His discourse on sin’s consequences (Genesis 3:15-19). God did lovingly confront Cain about sin before Cain chose to kill his brother (Genesis 4:6-7), and I believe He wanted Cain to make the right choice. God gave our forefathers commandments to live by so they knew the difference between right and wrong, and commanded them to live it out every moment of the day and impress it upon their children “so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give, and so that you may enjoy long life” (Deuteronomy 6:2).God the Father has given us that all powerful antidote for sin now. Jesus. It’s now administered when we admit our sins; believe in the power of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and it is forever renewed through a maintenance program of daily prayer, time in God’s Word, and counseling with the Holy Spirit. Just as Woman was renamed Eve to show her new beginning (Genesis 3:20), we are renamed Child of God; a new creation through Christ Jesus (1John 5:19).
We were not told we could ignore His commands, however. Jesus has made them possible. See how it is told in 1 John 5:1-5. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
It is something everyone is eligible for, and everyone is in need of. This is what I want to impress upon my children all the hours of the day, and with all my heart, soul, and strength as written in Deuteronomy 6:4-7.“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Dear Father, thank You for Your love and strength. I am Yours, and I give myself to You completely. I was once a slave to sin, but You have broken the bonds of my sin, and You have conquered Satan’s attempts to separate me from You. I love You, LORD, with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength. I am placing Your commands upon my heart, and I am working to impress them upon my children. I will talk about them when we sit at home and when we walk together, when we lie down and when we get up. My faith is in You and so is my family. I pray this through the powerful name of Your son Jesus Christ. Amen.