Well, we made it! Today marks the conclusion of our series in Origins! It is fitting that this series ends with a genealogy as it reminds us that everything we have studied thus far in the book of Genesis is actual history. God revealed all of this to Moses so that His chosen people would have a better understanding of where they came from before they embarked on the dangerous journey to conquer the Promised Land.
Chapter 11 of Genesis not only marks the conclusion of the first series on Origins, but it also marks a transition into our next series on The Life of Abraham, which we will start next week. Thus, this genealogy at the same time both reminds us of where we came from and points towards where we are going. With that in mind, please read Genesis 11:10-11.
Notice that Arpachshad was born two years after the flood. It’s possible that he was already alive when Noah cursed Canaan, his cousin, but we can’t be sure because we have no dates for the lives of the descendants of Ham. We are given the dates of the lives of Shem’s descendants because it was through the line of Shem that God would eventually send His Messiah. Let’s look at those dates by reading Genesis 11:12-26.
Probably the most important thing to note about this genealogy is its brevity. Shem lived for 600 years, which is how old Noah was when the great Flood happened. Noah lived another 350 years after the flood! What’s more, Shem’s descendants lived about 200 years less than he did (Arpachshad 438, Shelah 433, Eber 464) until you get to Peleg. After Peleg, the descendants of Shem tended to live half as long as their predecessors (Peleg 239, Reu 239, Serug 230, Nahor 148, Terah 205).
What does this tell us? Contrary to popular scientific belief, humanity is not evolving but devolving. We are going from the perfect Man and Woman in the Garden of Eden who lived lives that were nearly a century long to bodies that can only last less and less. Eventually, we will get to modern man whose lifespan is only about 80 years. Before we do that though, let’s finish the chapter. Please read Genesis 11:27-32.
There is a formula that has been used throughout Genesis so far to distinguish between different significant sections of Scripture. It is often referred to as the Toledot formula. Toledot is Hebrew for “the generations of,” and it sometimes points back to the previous text, but usually points forward. So far, we have seen the generations of the heavens and the earth (2:4), which describe their creation; the generations of Adam (5:1), which describe his family adventures; the generations of Noah (10:1), which tell us about the Great Flood; and the generations of Shem (11:10), which detail the continuation of the godly line. Now, we see the generations of Terah (11:27), which leads us into the next major passage of the book: the life of Abraham.
This is the most well-known Patriarch in the entire world. the three largest religions in the world all trace their lineage back to him. As Christians, all true children of God are also called "children of Abraham." So what is so significant about this man? We will spend the next few months journeying through his life to find out. Please join me starting next week.
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