Five generations. As I turned the old black and white photo over, those were the hand written words I saw on the back. It was the typical old picture with hard to distinguish features and poor composition, however, the subject matter was captivating to me. The image captured a line of four females and one little boy outside an old house. The youngest of the five in the picture was my brother-the oldest my great great-grandmother. I wonder what these women were like? I know my mom, brother, and grandmother, but the other two died before I was born. Perhaps the shape of my nose or the color of my eyes resembles them. One thing I do know-there is a part of them that was passed on to me. Somewhere in my DNA, we have something that is the same.
We are connected in ways that are both seen and unseen.
On the way home from my parents house, my husband and I were talking as the photograph found it’s way back into my thoughts. Most families have three, possibly four, generations alive at one time. Having a photograph with five is a treasure. In fact, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most generations alive at one time in a single family is 7. Interestingly, the oldest of the 7 generations was 109 years old and they lived in the United States.
This got me to thinking about another five generations. The first chapter of Matthew tells us the geneology of Christ beginning with Abraham. A man named Salmon is where I want to begin the five we will look at. We don’t know anything about him except who bore his son- a woman named Rahab. The name Rahab doesn’t provoke a lot of positive thoughts when you consider her occupation – a prostitute. However, she recognized the fear of the Lord, and kept spies safe, and thus protected her family. Salmon and Rahab gave birth to a son named Boaz. Boaz was a wealthy man of position who showed kindness towards a widow named Ruth. Boaz became Ruth’s kinsman redeemer which is a beautiful picture of what Christ does for us. Ruth found favor in the eyes of Boaz because she decided to follow her mother in law Naomi. Naomi tried to convince Ruth to go back to her people, yet Ruth showed kindness in following Naomi and helping her.
The life of Boaz can’t be truly appreciated without understanding who his mom is, and the grace and redemption of Rahab cannot be fully understood without the other generations that surround her.
Ruth 4:13 tells us “the Lord enabled Ruth to conceive and she bore a son”. The name of their son was Obed, which in Hebrew means worshipper. We don’t know much about him, but he is the father of the fourth generation in the line which is Jesse. Jesse was spoken of prophetically in Isaiah 11:1 – Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The last in the five generations may be the most well known. He is the shepherd boy who fought the giant and is known for beautiful poetry such as Psalm 23. David’s name in Hebrew means “beloved”, and he is known as a man after God’s own heart.
What if Rahab would not have protected the spies and found favor? What if Ruth would have taken her mother in law’s advice and never of met Boaz? What if David would have been afraid to fight the giant. Each generation had their part to play. When you view the five generations as a whole you see sin – redemption- worship – prophecy – King. They all fit together beautifully. I doubt Rahab could have imagined that her great-great grandson would one day be King of Israel- let alone that her name would be included in the geneology of the Messiah.
What about your generation? Have you looked at the bigger picture? I wonder if we would live differently if we weren’t concerned with just preserving our generation and the one after it. What if we weren’t afraid to do what seems foolish like Ruth did, or weren’t afraid to face a giant like David.
Each of us is given a small amount of time to live on this earth. Some lives are full of excitement and adventure, while others appear (from our limited view) to carry out the more mundane tasks in life. This pattern is also seen in what we know about our five biblical generations. One of the five has a whole book named after her, while others only get a mention of their name. However, all five were mentioned in the geneology of Christ.
Often in the day to day we lose our perspective.
Between laundry, diapers, spills, chores, and dishes we fail to see that our lives are a part of a bigger picture. Somehow when I think of helping my children live out their destiny and my future grandchildren being who God has called them to be, it encourages me to give more. I am able to love more and die to myself more. One day when my great grandchildren see a picture of me, I hope they know I lived out my life to the fullest. I wasn’t afraid to do what seemed crazy, or I wasn’t afraid to face the giants because I didn’t lose my perspective. I hope that when my generation is looked at alongside those that came before and after me, it points to a beautiful picture of Christ. Although many decisions made now may appear foolish, I pray one day they make sense when seen through the eyes of HISTORY.