The Old Testament Genealogies

Their Importance for the Believer!


By Dr. Ken Matto


These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. (Nehemiah 7:64)


Have you ever wondered why the Genealogies were such a vital part of the Old Testament and to the nation of Israel?  It goes way beyond “he beget him, or he was the son of so and so.”  Many skip over the genealogies because they find them to be boring.  However, they are anything but that.  God saw fit to place the genealogies in the Hebrew Scriptures and placed great emphasis on them.  The first eight chapters of 1 Chronicles was dedicated to them.  Ezra 2 & 7-8, Nehemiah 7 & 11 are some chapters which are heavily loaded with genealogies.  So if God saw fit to dedicate so much Scripture to genealogies then we need to sit up and ask the reason why?


In Nehemiah 7:64, Nehemiah could not find many names in Zerubbabel’s register and that meant those people were unqualified to perform the service of priest and therefore Nehemiah removed them until they could be verified by Urim and Thummim.  Since their names were not found in the register, they were considered Gentiles and therefore polluted and could no longer perform the duties of a priest which was reserved for the Levites in the lineage of Aaron.  Now to the great representation the Old Testament genealogies attested to.


According to Revelation 13:8 & 17:8 the names of all the true believers were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world.


And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)


The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Revelation 17:8)


The Old Testament genealogies was an earthly representation of the Heavenly Register of all true believers otherwise known as the Lamb’s Book of Life.  It is where the true believer’s name was written before the foundation of the world.  This is why the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth to pay for this sins of his people and not everyone in the whole world.


And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)


The earthly genealogies were also a legal document denoting who was a true Israelite and who was an unbeliever.  In the books of Nehemiah and Ezra, they held to the register which gave proof of those who were truly Israelites and those who were not.  This was important because when Judah went into captivity, they had integrated their lives with the heathens to the point that many stayed in Babylon even after the release date.  It was like a person spending 5 years in prison and then staying another year after their sentence was up.  So Nehemiah and Ezra had to make sure there were no mixed heathen blood among those who returned and especially those who were performing the duties of a priest.  There is also a legal document in the New Testament which pertains to the true believer.


15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. (Hebrews 9:15-17)


It is quite interesting to note that this information was included in the book of Hebrews since they would have been familiar with the genealogies being a legal document.  If a person’s name was not found in the register, then they were considered as outcasts or Gentiles.  If their names were included then they could have full rights as a citizen of Israel and if they were of a priestly family, they could then legally perform the functions of a priest.  Now we turn to the legal document in Hebrews.  It is speaking of a will and legally only those who are named in the will be the inheritors.  Those who are not named in the will have no claim on any of the contents of the estate.  Above we saw the names of the true believers were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world which means Christ died only for that select group and because of his death, the will is now in force.  This means the named believers were now heirs.


And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17)


And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)


That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:7)


Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)


Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:5)


Here we have five particulars the true believer is heir of because of the last will and testament of Christ.   We are heirs of God, heirs of the promise made to Abraham, heirs of eternal life, heirs of salvation, and heirs of the kingdom.  So every believer who is named in the Heavenly Register will inherit all five of the items above and more. 


Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: (Colossians 1:12)


The word “us” is speaking about the body of believers. 


Only true believers have the authority to go forth and bring the true gospel.  The unbelievers who play church do not have the authority and are unsaved which means they are Gentiles according to the flesh.  16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? 17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. (Psalm 50:16-17)  Gentiles in the Old Testament were separate from Israel because they were the unsaved, outside of the true body of believers.  The heathen nations did not care about the true God of Israel.  They were too busy making up their own gods like Athena, Moloch, Baal, Mars, Jupiter, etc.


Is there a parallel to the Old Testament priesthood?  There sure is!


But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9)


The true believers are called “a royal priesthood” which means they are the only ones commissioned to bring the true gospel which also means the unbeliever is unqualified and has never been commissioned to bring it.  In other words, they are “put from the priesthood” as they were under Nehemiah.  (Nehemiah 7:64)  The unbeliever is in constant rebellion against God because they are in an unregenerate state.  Just like the false priests whom God calls wicked in Psalm 50:16-17 had no right to declare his word since they themselves did not understand it nor obey it, in fact he states they hated it.  Just as Nehemiah opened the books to see the lineage of all those who were with him, on the last day the Heavenly Register will also be opened and those who are not written in it will be sentenced to eternity in hell.


And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:12)


And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)


Remember one main thing that specific names were written in the register that Nehemiah used and specific names are written in the genealogies we find written in the Scriptures. 


To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. (John 10:3)


I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (John 10:14)


As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:15)


In these three verses in John we read an amazing fact about the sheep.  In verse 3, the Lord Jesus Christ calls his own sheep by name.  In verse 14, he states he knows his sheep and then in verse 15, he states that he gave his life for those sheep.  So Christ died only for his own sheep and not the whole sheep pen because he knew who his sheep were and are and he knew and knows them personally.  This is why on Judgment Day he will say to the unbelievers.  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:23)  First, he never knew them because they were not named in the Heavenly Register, and secondly, they are workers of iniquity which means they have not been redeemed.  Just as the earthly register that Nehemiah used to determine who was a true Israelite, the Heavenly Register will be opened on Judgment Day to determine who is the Lord’s and who is not.



The earthly genealogies were a picture of the Heavenly Register which in both cases contains specific names.  Only one major difference between the two.  A saved grandfather or father cannot get anyone into Heaven, each person must be redeemed individually.  In the earthly register ancestry of a true Israelite could give a person access to Israel and show they belonged to the nation without any Gentile blood polluting the line.  So the next time you read the genealogies in Scripture, don’t skip over them because God gave them to you as an encouragement if you are a true believer showing you that names and individuality in the body of believers is important.  Christ died for you personally because your name was in the Heavenly Register.  Take it personally because that is how the Lord meant it.