Friday, April 20, 2012


"[These] were all David's sons, with their sister Tamar, in addition to the sons by his concubines." (1 Chronicles 3:9 HCSB)

In 1977, the first big TV mini-series, hit the airwaves. The saga was called, "Roots." It was based on the book, bearing the same name. Written by Alex Haley, it chronicled the story of Kunta Kinte, taken from his village in Africa and sold into slavery in America. These were Alex Haley's roots and the storyline follows the development of his family tree. It was ground-breaking television, and the results were numerous awards, becoming the third most watched program to this day.

There is something about knowing our roots that draws us. That is why companies exist to help you find your ancestors. Hundreds of thousands of people, invest hundreds of thousands of dollars, hundreds of thousands of hours, and travel hundreds of thousands of miles, digging for their roots. I know it beckons me to come and explore the family tree.

I can trace my mother's roots through the Ellers back to Prussia, in Germany. On my father's side, I have gone back to my great-grandfather, Richard Thurman, who married Martha McKinnon. Martha's father, William, was born in Virginia and fought for the 54th Virginia Infantry in the Civil War. He survived that conflict and his grandson would become my grandfather, Paul Thurman.

"Big Daddy" as we called him is now in heaven. But, Paul Thurman lives on in me. His picture hangs in my office at the church. He stands at a pulpit, holding his Bible in one hand, and with the other outstretched, beckons as if calling people to come to faith in Christ. He was a faithful preacher of the Word of God, like his namesake, Paul the Apostle, and now I follow in his steps.

Roots--they mean a lot.

They are certainly important in Scripture. We find several genealogies recorded. There are chapters of these family lists in 1 Chronicles. Our tendency when we come to them is to skip over all these difficult names of people born in obscure places, and wonder why God would have inspired an author to include what we think of small importance in the most important Book ever written.

He did because roots are important. It is really what 1 and 2 Chronicles is about--the roots of the royal family of David and his line. The sacred history will chronicle the story of the kings of Judah from David's reign until the fall of that kingdom to Babylon. The roots of David's dynasty are traced back to the first man, Adam. We can all claim him in our tree, for he is father of the human race. That's important. His sin nature is the inheritance of each of his descendants. The curse of death that came from his disobedience now extends to every branch of Adam's tree. But, the promise was given when Adam and Eve sinned that there would be a Redeemer born of woman. As the Old Testament unfolds, the focus of the covenant promise will become David's family. Those roots would produce the Son of God, the Son of David--the virgin born, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Paul offers the best commentary on the significance of these birth certificates being displayed in the Bible:

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to a person's account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam's transgression. He is a prototype of the Coming One.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man's trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. And the gift is not like the one man's sin, because from one sin came the judgment, resulting in condemnation, but from many trespasses came the gift, resulting in justification. Since by the one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone. For just as through one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:12-21 HCSB)

Roots are important. Acknowledging that we are rooted in Adam's family tree by virtue of our first, physical birth, establishes our problem--condemnation because of sin. The critical issue becomes as to whether we are now in the royal family, rooted in Jesus Christ through a second, spiritual birth which establishes our position--justification by faith!

Israel's family tree was bound up in a land. Their claim to a piece of property was rooted in their family name. It was the Old Covenant connection. Their lineage connected them to all the blessings God had promised Abraham's seed. No one can claim a plot in the Heavenly Land that is not related to the King. Only those in the royal family of Jesus Christ are heirs of the New Covenant. In connection to Him, we are heirs of every spiritual blessing!

Roots are important. In this sense, they mean everything.

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