Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
Kathy bought me an Ancestry DNA kit for Christmas. Last week, the results came back with my “ethnicity estimate” (if you care, it’s 41% Scotland, 35% England, 11% Ireland, 6% Wales, 3% Norway, 2% Germanic Europe, and 2% Sweden). It has been even more interesting to look through the records on the ancestry site, filling in blanks on my family tree (as well as that of Kathy’s family). It’s fun to trace back as many generations as the records will reveal, as well as finding out how certain ancestors died or what they did in their lives. My 8th-great-grandfather on my maternal grandfather’s side, Isaac Perkins, born in 1676, was a sea captain in Massachusetts. My 8th-great-grandfather on my paternal grandfather’s side, John McClain, immigrated from Scotland to Virginia in the late 1600s. Almost every day, I am still finding out new details about my family. But all of us have interesting twists and turns in our family tree.
Lineage, the family line or people, was important to the Jews. From the time Abraham is promised, “And you will be the father of a multitude of nations” (Gen. 17:4), the Jews felt it essential to trace back to Abraham’s descendants through his grandson, Jacob (Israel). Twelve sons and twelve tribes, these people looked back to find out who they belonged to. Ethnic Jews are proud of their heritage and do everything they can to trace back to their tribe. In a study of God’s eternal plan of salvation, Matthew and Luke provide us Jesus’ lineage. In it, we find some very interesting people–Tamar (Mat. 1:3), Ruth (Mat. 1:5), Bathsheba “who had been the wife of Uriah” (Mat. 1:6), and notorious Manasseh (Mat. 1:10; cf. 2 Chron. 33).
Your ethnic heritage may be extremely fascinating, and you may be connected to both famous and infamous folks. But, spiritually, you find yourself in a unique heritage if you are a part of the New Testament church. It is not necessary to trace back, uninterrupted, for 2,000 years of church history and have had your physical family a part of the family of God through all that time. If you hear the gospel, believe Jesus is God’s Son, repent of your sins, and are baptized for the remission of your sins, you are a part of “the household of God” (1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 2:5; 4:17). The Father Himself adds you to His family (Acts 2:47). It matters whether or not you are part of that great heritage of faith revealed in the New Testament. What a heritage to bequeath to your children and grandchildren, too! Your obedience to the will of God can help them enjoy the benefits of this family line for eternity!