A few months ago, a relative wrote and asked me to participate in a DNA test so that the genealogy she was working on would have some gaps filled in, possibly.
I am aware that some people have made a serious hobby or pastime of compiling family trees and meticulously poring over genealogies. It has never been of interest to me, past knowing something of my grandparents and fairly immediate family history. Growing up in southeastern Iowa, I was unaware of anyone else in the universe other than an uncle and my grandmother, who had the same last name as I did. Years later, as I was driving home on the street in Indianapolis that our church is located on, I just about lost control of the car when I glanced in the rearview mirror and read the personalized license plate of the westbound car that had just passed me: SLUTZ. How can that be, I wondered! That was on a Saturday afternoon, and the next day a visitor to our Sunday services at Thompson Road Baptist Church introduced himself. His last name was Slutz. He lived in Ohio, had heard that I pastored here in Indianapolis, and decided to drive over to pay a visit. I later learned, through other sources, that there were cemeteries in Ohio, especially around Zoar, that have lots of headstones with that last name on them. So I figured that I did have some cousins out there somewhere. The name has had variant spellings but is still the same basic name.
So, when I received a request from a person named Slutz (this one living in Texas) to participate in a DNA test, expenses paid, I had no reason not to accommodate the person in her search to fill in some genealogical blanks. The test arrived, I followed the instructions, sent it back to the lab, and forgot about it until recently, when I received communication from my Texas “cousin” thanking me for my participation and informing me that the information obtained through it had proven to be quite helpful. She sent several pages of a genealogy and informed me, too, that somewhere in the past an illicit union (it was thought) had occurred between two of my ancestors. This was not happy news, of course, but it was what the facts had revealed. She was not doing this to bring discomfort but simply as a messenger.
Well, as I have said, genealogies have never intrigued me, nor have I ever been too engrossed in affairs of my forefathers. I pretty much shrugged off what might have been troubling news to some. I live now, not then. What a great, great someone or other did (or did not do) with his or her life, I could never undo, nor bear any responsibility for it.
It did set my mind to thinking in Biblical terms though, and I mused over how precise God is in His Word about genealogies. Most everyone has tried to labor patiently in reading the Old Testament genealogical lists. God is very meticulous in tracing the lineage, especially of Abraham’s descendants from which the Messiah was born. “Because he (Joseph) was of the house and lineage of David” in Luke 2:4 is critical in the narrative of the birth of Jesus Christ. He was out of the tribe of Judah and of the house and lineage of David, a must for the Messiah.
Then, in Matthew’s Gospel, written by a Jew primarily for a Jewish audience, Christ’s lineage is presented so that it is without disputation that He was the son of David, son of Abraham. He was indeed qualified to be Messiah! In Matthew’s detailed genealogy, he mentions early in his enumeration of Abraham’s descendants, Judah, son of Jacob, then Phares and Zara, born to Judah through an incestuous affair with his daughter-in-law Thamar. How awful! But there it is, in the genealogical tree of Jesus the Messiah. A few verses later, we read that David the King begat Solomon through “her that had been wife of Urias.” (Matt. 1:6) Another dark blot in the genealogy of Jesus! His ancestors were anything but pure. Bathsheba conceived Solomon through an adulterous act and the father of the child tried to cover the whole thing up with murder! Quite a checkered ancestral history! And, did I mention Rahab the harlot? There she is in Matt. 1:5, in Jesus’ genealogy! So, it was and is my humble conclusion that, yes, humanity is broken and sinful deeds have occupied the asterisks of history’s pages. So it is. We cannot be accountable for the deeds of those who have gone before us. Their lives, in many respects, are an open book, seen and read of all men. We can and should thank God that we were born when, where, and to whom we were born, not knowing how our life story would be written had we been there, then, in their shoes and in their circumstances.
I praise God that the “grace of God hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world.” (Tit. 2:12). I am unspeakably thankful that somewhere in my past, the gospel came to our household and that my parents received His Word with gladness and confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior, and that I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home! Somewhere, at some time, the sin chain was broken because of God’s grace, and I and my siblings had the opportunity of knowing Him whom to know aright is life eternal. I hope the story of sordidness that clouded my ancestral pages in the past had a happy ending, like Rahab’s story did. I do not know. But this I do know: God’s amazing grace—which teaches sober mindedness, righteousness and godliness—hath appeared to all men. The chain can be broken to His glory, and the scarlet blot can be made white as snow. To God be all praise and glory.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa.1:18)