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Genealogies and census data are some of the most skipped parts of the Bible. They are still important. Here’s why.
Every year my wife and I read through the Bible. Some sections fly by, such as the stories of Goliath, the fiery furnace, and the raising of Lazarus. Other parts crawl, like the sacrificial system in Leviticus. The slowest portions of all are the genealogies and the census data. “How?” we ask ourselves, “does knowing that Mikloth became the father of Shimeam, and that they lived with relatives in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 9:38) impact my life as a Christian?” Likewise, we struggle to care that “The priests, the sons of Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua, (numbered) 973 (Nehemiah 7:39)?” Isn’t this a waste of space in a book that calls itself the word of the Almighty God?
Statues are coming down all over America, some in a raging mob amidst political pandering, and others with government-directed construction crews. Few memorials are coming down after calm debates and reasoned decisions. Why do we have such statues in the first place? Which ones is it appropriate to remove? Which not?
The mass killing of Jews and other “undesirables” by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust (1939-1945) was one of the worst crimes in modern history. The Holocaust spilled oceans of blood, and its cruelty was beyond imagination. Concentration camps like Auschwitz in Poland and memorials and museums in places like Berlin and Washington DC educate current and future generations on what happened in the hopes that such an atrocity will never occur again.
Regardless of religion, nationality, culture, or theme, historical sites are a precious and irreplaceable legacy of man. They must be preserved.
History is the story of man, who we are and where we came from. More importantly it is the story of God’s work with and for man. As such every part of it is important, even parts that don’t please us or fit our world view. Not every historical location can be saved because man today needs space just as man yesterday did. However, we need to save as much as we can. Sometimes we ruin irreplaceable artefacts through ignorance. Worst of all is the intentional destruction of historical sites by those who disagree with what they represent.
Henry Ford may have believed that “history is bunk”, but most people at most places and most times have disagreed with him. History is a record of people, and peoples – who they were, what they did, and why. History tells stories of courage and cowardice, of selfishness and selflessness, and of victory and vanity. Descendants discover who they are, why they are, and what they should do, from their ancestors. As such, history is the record of the universe.
People follow calendars, but they also create and use them to advance their personal and political agendas.
The two primary parameters that shape human thinking, regardless of culture, antiquity, or language, are space and time…spacetime for the physicists among us. It is difficult to understand any communication without a common understanding of these parameters. Such simple phrases as “See you tomorrow” require both parties to have a similar understanding of “tomorrow”.
In the absolute sense, time is dictated by the rhythms of nature as determined by the Creator. In the past it was viewed as the distance in history (as opposed to geography) between events. In that mindset, the idea of saving time was ludicrous. Time progressed at its own rate and rhythm and man could do nothing to change those realities. Ancients wanted tasks to be quick and efficient just like moderns do, and for many of the same reasons, to maximize the duration of pleasant experiences and minimize that of unpleasant ones. However, in the ancient mind time was not like money, which could be stored. It had to be used.
God made the universe and He created it in accordance with His love, righteousness and infinity. However each person sees the universe differently depending on his or her culture and other factors. In my study of world religions, philosophy and history, I have reviewed many works on culture and how to study it. I have included some reviews here.