Genesis 11:10-26: God in the detail

“10 This is the account of Shem’s family line.  Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad. 11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters. 12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. 13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters. 14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. 15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters. 16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. 17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters. 18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. 19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters. 20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. 21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters. 22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. 23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters. 24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. 25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters. 26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.” NIV

It is often said that ‘the devil is in the detail’ and I think we understand what is meant by that. You can make an ‘in principle’ decision which seems wonderful on paper, but when you come to implement it, unexpected details keep swimming out of the organisational swamp to bite you!  But when I thought about this further list, my inclination was to state: God is in the detail. It might be possible to read this genealogical table and see it as just another (boring?) list of names. But you’d be wrong. God is in, over, under, through this list, overseeing the process of establishing the chosen line – His own people. He knew all these people by name. He was aware of the intimate details of their lives. He cared about them. They were part of His great purpose. God had promised that He would send a deliverer, the seed of the woman (3:15), who would defeat Satan and bring salvation. Noah’s prophecy revealed that God was going to bless the world through the line of Shem, the ‘Semites’ who were the ancestors of the Hebrew people (9:26-27). ‘’Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber’’ (10:21). (It seems likely that the word ‘Hebrew’ comes from ‘Eber by the way). So God was in control of these movements – these comings and goings: beginnings and endings. People were born and died, but God’s purposes marched on.  ‘The important thing about this genealogy is that it records the faithfulness of God in watching over His people and fulfilling His promises. What to us is only a list of names was to God a ‘’Bridge’’ from the appointment of Shem to the call of Abraham.’ Warren W. Wiersbe.

Another thing you may spot in reading this is the decreasing life-span in the human race. Noah lived for 950 years (9:29). From there, the list ‘dwindles down to Nahor’s 148 years. The post-flood generations were starting to feel the physical consequences of sin in the human body.’ Warren W. Wiersbe.

PRAYER: I thank you Lord that ‘history is HIS story.’ I am grateful to know that your eye is on the sparrow and your hand is on each detail.