Fables and Genealogies

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Monday, November 7, 2016
(1 Timothy 1:4) Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. There are some issues which a man of God does well to not only not emphasize in his ministry but to not even give them the time of day, such as fables and endless genealogies: “Neither give heed to...” A fable is “a fictitious narrative or statement; a story not founded on fact.” The Christian religion is not based upon fables, not even “...cunningly devised fables...” (2PE 1:16) but facts and eyewitness accounts of actual events in history, preeminently, the appearances, words and actions which were the “...many infallible proofs...” (ACT 1:3) that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Fables might be of Gentile concoction like Aesop's or they might be Jewish fables (TIT 1:14). The Jews had many fables about things like behemoth, leviathan, a messianic millennial Jewish earthly kingdom (Chiliasm), wine kept in the grape from the foundation of the world, the rolling of the dead through the caverns of the earth at the resurrection, etc. It is interesting that, knowing there would be an eventual loss of church members who would look for fulfillment in fables rather than doctrine (2TI 4:3-4), Paul never suggests something like, “Give them the occasional fable to keep them content.” Rather, he everywhere told ministers to not give heed to fables (1TI 1:4; TIT 1:14) and refuse them (1TI 4:7). Accommodators who think they do God a favor by catering to carnal men with substitutes or compromises of the truth are sorely mistaken. It is no secret that the Roman Catholic Church did this very thing with many fables. It also adapted the superstitions and idols of the heathen to the Christian gospel to make it more palatable to the heathen, as when Pope Gregory told Augustine: “Do not destroy the temples of the English gods; change them to Christian churches. Do not forbid the harmless customs which have been associated with the old religions; consecrate them to Christian uses.” All such accommodations are little different than when Aaron formed a golden calf to gratify Israel's carnal lusts and then thought to make it acceptable by “...a feast to the LORD” (EXO 32:5-6). NOTE: True conversion is turning to God FROM idols (1TH 1:9), not WITH idols, and accommodations like Aaron provided are plainly identified in 1CO 10:7 as idolatry that believers are to avoid. Paul's warning against fables remains relevant to Bible-believers in our day in view of the popularizing of Premillennial Dispensationalism (particularly in the footnotes of the Scofield Reference Bible), the revival of the old Jewish fable of Chiliasm. Also promoted is the old Jewish fable of a large gap of time between GEN 1:1 and GEN 1:2 during which there was a pre-Adamic age of warring demons, soulless men and creatures destroyed by a “Lucifer flood.” This gap was also popularized in the footnotes of the Scofield Reference Bible and is called the Gap Theory or the Ruin-Reconstruction Theory. Like many others, Dr. Scofield had bought into the fable of Evolutionary Theory and its concocted Geologic Column, and sought to accommodate the new intelligentsia by “helping” Scripture with the fable of the Gap: “Relegate fossils to the primitive creation, and no conflict of science with the Genesis cosmogony remains.” (Scofield Reference Bible footnote on Gen. 1:11) Dr. Scofield had a thing about gaps and he inserted them willy-nilly to prop up his spin on that Jewish fable of Chiliasm. It is highly unlikely that Dr. Scofield was on God's mind when He was looking for a man to “...stand in the gap...” (EZE 22:30). Similarly warned against in our text are endless genealogies. This also remains a relevant warning in view of the likes of some sects which think they have found that the “lost ten tribes of Israel” are the British people who need to re-discover their Israelitish tribal lineage and appointed inheritance from God. They even think they have found that Queen Elizabeth II's throne is the throne of David and that the word Saxon derives from Isaac-son or “the son of Isaac!” Of course, this overlooks the fact that all twelve tribes of Israel are accounted for in the New Testament (ACT 26:7; JAM 1:1) and that the true inheritance of God's Israel depends on the preserving shed blood of Christ (HEB 9:11-15; JUDE 1:1), not the preserved bloodline of the patriarchs. Then there are the Mormons who diligently research genealogies in accord with their belief in present proxy baptisms to save long-dead ancestors, a folly largely based on 1CO 15:29 which no more encourages modern rituals “for the dead” than did God's mention of old heathen superstitions of “...cuttings in your flesh for the dead...” (LEV 19:28). Paul's chief opponents were his very own people: the Jews, “...specially they of the circumcision:” (TIT 1:10). The vestiges of O.T. Jewish beliefs and practices which had been abolished by Christ's cross (COL 2:14-17 c/w GAL 3:19) remained an issue to be preached out of the N.T. churches. One of those vestiges was a preoccupation with genealogies, owing to the importance to them of knowing who, for example, could be identified as a priest or Levite, as in the days of Ezra (EZR 2:62), or for determining the Messiah of promise. The Jews had kept scrupulous genealogical records to which both the N.T. evangelists and their Jewish opponents had recourse. Had those opponents been able to find fault with the apostles' genealogical evidence that Jesus was the Christ, they would no doubt have jumped on it. But they did not because they could not: their own public records backed up the apostles' claims. Jesus of Nazareth met all qualifications as the seed of Abraham and of David Who should be Messiah. Debates and questions among the Jews abounded concerning the differences between public and private genealogical records. John Gill observed: “By reason of their captivities and dispersions, they were much at a loss to distinguish their tribes and families.” Adding to the frustration was the fact that Herod, to discredit the noble ancestry of the Jews and take away the reproach of his Idumean heritage, had the genealogical records in the temple burned. Whatever might have survived that order was probably eliminated in the temple's destruction in 70 A.D. Paul was not overstating it when he described the futility as endless genealogies: patching things together from memory or differing and incomplete private records. The only bona-fide surviving Jewish genealogy is that of Jesus Christ, Whose line according to the flesh is traced without break from Adam (LUK 3:23-38), and according to the royal covenant of David, from Abraham (MAT 1:1-16). This is a profound proof to the Jews that Messiah has indeed come, for the proper records needed for any future messiah are long gone. So obvious is this dilemma that some of the noted rabbis have concluded that when their messiah does come, he will restore the needed genealogies by the Holy Spirit, in which case the genealogical record of that messiah will be conveniently provided by the messiah who needed the proof. There is exactly and only one Person in history for Whom there is a preserved genealogy from the beginning of time to Christ, and that is Jesus Christ. The record extends from the first Adam to the Second Adam. Christ's genealogy is unique from even all others listed in the scriptures, in that it alone has dates assigned to the entire length of that line, thus providing a chronological continuity from Creation. “...Let it be realized that, starting with Adam, and following the ever widening circles, from generation to generation, of his rapidly multiplying offspring, there were countless millions of directions which any selected chronological and genealogical line might have taken. It is, therefore, to be reckoned among the clearest evidences of Divine superintendence in the writing of the Scriptures that the one line, to which alone dates are unfailingly attached, is that which led finally “unto the Messiah, the Prince” (Dan. 9:25). “It is well worth while to dwell further upon this immensely significant fact, because of the proof it affords of the inspiration of the Bible. Let it be observed then that the chronological table of Genesis 5 goes no further than the flood; and that the table of Genesis 11 stops abruptly at Abraham; and that neither in Genesis, nor in any Book of Moses, nor indeed in any of the Old Testament, is there any indication of God's reason for counting the years along this particular line only; nor was any indication given that the line of dated events was to be continued any further; nor was there any indication as to where that line was to lead. The purpose of God in all this comes not into view until the Bible is completed by the addition of the New Testament Scriptures, in the light of which (particularly of the genealogical tables of Matthew 1 and Luke 3) that purpose may be clearly seen. Here then is proof of the most convincing sort that He Who alone sees the end from the beginning is the Author of the Books of Moses, and of all the later Books of the Old Testament, through which runs this marvellous chronological line. For the Old Testament concerns itself, from beginning to end, with but one subject, namely, the coming of the Redeemer. All other matters of an historical nature which are found recorded in it are seen to be in some way connected with the main subject. That is never lost sight of.” (Philip Mauro, The Wonders of Bible Chronology, p. 9) The Messiah of promise was to be “...a priest upon his throne...” (ZEC 6:13). It is therefore notable that the preserved genealogy of Jesus Christ is one that descends from Judah, not one that descends from Levi (the O.T. priestly tribe). The genealogies of Levi's descendants are as futilely endless as any others. Messiah's priesthood would not be from Levi but from Melchisedec (PSA 110:4 c/w HEB 5:5-6). Melchisedec preceded Levi by hundreds of years so his “...descent is not counted from them...” (HEB 7:6) and there was no record of his “...end of life...” (HEB 7:3). The priesthood was his alone for life, and was superior to Levi's since Levi paid tithes to him in Abraham (HEB 7:6-10). His priesthood was never conferred upon anyone else but Christ Who likewise does not descend from Levi and Who has no end of life. Here then is a great contrast: the Messianic priesthood is not after the powerlessness of endless genealogies, but “...after the power of an endless life” (HEB 7:16). Jesus Christ's fleshly genealogy from Adam has an end: He is the last of the line. He is the only descendant of Adam who never gave in to lust's temptation, that other genealogy which has an end: (JAM 1:14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (JAM 1:15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Let us therefore not be concerned with endless genealogies but only with these two which have an end. The latter is one to abhor, the former is one to adore. He who ended Adam's genealogy ended the death which lust conceived and brought forth (genealogical terms): “...It is finished” (JOH 19:30). Hence: (HEB 2:14) Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; (1CO 15:21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (1CO 15:22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

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