Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Genesis 10 - My family

This is one of those chapters that challenges my concept of writing a post per day, for each chapter. If you read Genesis 10, you'll see that it is essentially a family history of Noah's sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Have you ever wondered why chapters like this are in the Bible? I mean, if you were God, wouldn't you make sure every chapter of the Bible had deep, deep wisdom and knowledge? Wouldn't you jam pack this thing with goodness on every page?

But maybe, despite my first impression, that is exactly what God did here. Maybe this chapter is actually pretty important. Maybe the information about Noah's family is there so that I'll get curious about my own family tree.

In counseling, they call that working on your "family of origin." You basically spend time trying to understand what the roles and rules in your family were. For instance, who was the "scapegoat" in your family? Who was the "hero" or the "addict?" Who played the role of the "mascot," constantly joking to make sure things never got too uncomfortable in the room? What roles did everyone play? What were the rules? In some families, there was a rule that you "did not show feelings" or that "anger is sinful" or that "boys don't cry" or that "honest feelings should be hidden and expressed in sarcasm."

There are a millions rules and roles. If we don't ever spend time understanding them, then we repeat them. We forget that. We forget that for 18 years, we basically had a crash course in life from our families. Good or bad, ugly or beautiful, it can be a pretty powerful thing to go back and learn what it is you learned growing up.

Maybe this chapter wasn't so bad after all.

16 comments:

- Sarah :-) said...

I never thought of it that way...

Maybe you can point me in the direction of the "how to unlearn about life through the eyes ofyour family" chapter. There's got to be one, right?

I love my family, I really do - but that's been the hardest thing my husband and I have come accorss in our marriage of only 7 months, so far - figuring out that our families didn't do everything right, and now learning how do un-do the bad and replace it all.


Is it just me?!

Kate said...

I'm a homeschool kid, so I benefit from having a Christian curriculum. I'm currently doing world history, from "ancient civilizations" to "the contemporary world." It started with learning what a civilization really is, and why there was a need for it after the "fall of man," and the "great flood." Then it showed how Noah's family divided up into the different civilizations we have today. For example, the Hamites spread to today's Africa.

I think this chapter is a great example of how the Bible is applicable to our entire lives! It doesn't just apply to "Bible days," but also modern days. It's applicable in our personal lives, but it's also applicable in our history, science, language...

The Bible is so awesome!!!

~just me~ said...

hey. a friend pointed me to your blogs. love 'em! can't wait to read more. :)...

97 seconds, huh? - not 98 or 99? if it only takes me 96 seconds to read, does that mean i'm a bad Christian. ;~)

Chuck Anderson said...

I'm curious about Shem's name...since the word "shem" in Hebrew means "name"...

Lindsey said...

Never thought of it that way! That's really cool. The next time I'm reading through one of those great big long lists of names, I'll definitely stop to think that these are not just names. These are individuals and families just like myself and my crazy family (and believe me...they are all kinds of crazy!)

:)

Jordan Kristine said...

The name Shem can also mean fame or renowned.

Amanda said...

Sarah you are not alone. I'm still battling things my family taught me that my husband finds unacceptible after nearly 7 years! Its mostly hiding how you spend $$ so its not life or death but we do learn a lot from our families.

eastern ky pastor said...

Learning what the names mean, tells you a lot about the people and the overall spiritual heritage. Sometimes when the Scripture doesn't seem to say much, what God is really wanting us to do is dig a little deeper.

David said...

That is an interesting perspective, Jon. I also think that one of the reasons there are so many "begat" chapters in the Bible is because of God's promise to always be with us. The names in the Bible are to remind us that, just like those long ago people, God has our name written in His book of life, and will never forget nor forsake us. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

It's not just you Sarah! Family is probably the number one cause of conflict in my marriage. I find myself often saying "Why didn't your parents teach you this??!!!"

(As a sidenote, that is not the greatest way to encourage communication.) It's very easy to fall into the pit of blaming our parents for the things we hate about ourselves. We all want to know who we are and why we are the way we are, yet there is a point where we simply have to move on with the peace of knowing that "we are His workmanship."

Lori said...

i was once taught that the names of noah's sons applied to the different races we have -- shem, meaning brown, ham meaning dark, handsome and japheth meaning fair skinned.

shem settled in the east, ham settled in africa and japheth settled in europe. it certainly makes sense but i cannot find anything to support this, especially when looking up the meaning of the names.

btw, thanks jon, for these devotionals, they are very annointed and very well written :)

vanilla said...

I wondered, too. I fell asleep last night counting 91,92,and so on. I decided 97 is the only one requiring four syllables to pronounce, so that must be the reason for the choice?
[It usually takes me four or five minutes to digest what Jon is saying and an additional four or five to read the comments. So, 547 seconds?]

sara said...

I've spent a lot of time studying the family histories in the Bible...they are really boring at first glance, but if you dig into them and start tracing the names through the Bible, God opens up all this really cool information...the genealogies in the Scriptures actually have much more purpose than meets the eye. If you trace this one, for example, you start to see how the curse of Ham (Canaan) affects the people groups in the centuries to come...and you can see where the different groups the Israelities fought start out...and there's just a lot you can learn about history and family lines and such.

I think you are right on with your analysis - God wants us to care about our history because there is so much there. Apparently familiy histories are important to God - He uses many, many of the chapters of the Bible spelling them out! Thanks for taking a good look at a chapter of the Bible that people usualy skip right over - every single word of the Bible makes a difference, and I am learning more and more not to skip anything but to let God sink everything in. Thanks for a great post!

Anonymous said...

My husband's family, though all claim to be saved, have caused more hurt and trauma to me than anyone ever (even combined!). They have been so hard on us and when I was pregnant with our first child, they tortured me and I had moved in with his sister and then the Mum and her put me out on the street. That baby died. When we write our family tree we most likely will not want to include their names so we won't have a chapter 10.

bridget said...

Without Gen 10, there'd be no "Nimrod" in Elgar's Enigma Variations! It's a seriously gorgeous song--you should look it up. Elgar wrote it for his friend Jaeger (which is german for hunter) about a walk they took, talking about Beethoven. It's definitely one of my favorites.

...maybe not a 100% biblical reason to like Genesis 10, but it makes it a lot less boring for me!

Flesheater said...

I've never seen much reason for genealogies besides seeing the lines of people everyone came from and how Jesus would later fit into it all.

It's never been more than an addition for scholars and historians who want all the details.

To me they've just always made it hard to read through the whole bible or even just certain books. They just make me want to skip over them.

I'm open to it being more than that... Just haven't experienced it much. I'm sure there are some lessons to be learned or something and who know maybe I'll get something great after reading a genealogy someday.