Genealogies are hard things for the modern reader to engage since they are simply lists of names, which appear to be unrelated to our life situation. Truthfully, every time I encounter one in the Scriptures, I am tempted to skip over the list and get on with the good stuff, but God intends to reveal something about Christ and his salvation even in a lists of names. So, what can we learn about Jesus or his ministry in this list of names?
First we must recognize that this list of names is given in the middle of the command to lead the people out of their Egyptian slavery and so all those listed, all the families named are going to be freed from bondage. If we approach the list from this vantage point, then some shocking details emerge. Among these details is the salvation of a part of the Canaanite people. We are told that one of Simeon’s sons is,
Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. (Exodus 6:15b)
This feature makes it clear that the chosen people of Israel are not just pure Hebrews; they include even the Canaanite people and those who Israel will later drive out of the land. God’s salvation is not limited to an ethnically pure people; it extends to the Canaanites and metaphorically to all the nations of the earth. Do not the Scriptures declare:
For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. (Romans 9:6)
And doesn’t Jesus even say,
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:16)
These other sheep are prefigured in the exodus inclusion of the Canaanite son of Simeon.
The second detail of importance is Moses and Aaron come out of a relationship which is sexually forbidden by God in later times.
Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative. (Leviticus 18:12)
And yet their father had done this very thing,
Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. (Exodus 6:20a)
This information reminds the reader that salvation is for sinners. Salvation comes to sinners and frees them from their past and opens up a glorious future. Moses and Aaron, children of sin, were used by God to save the nation of Israel. They became key players in the unfolding drama of salvation.
In like fashion, Christ comes to save sinners and invites them into the grand drama of salvation giving them great responsibilities,
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father…I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 14:12, 15:15)
Jesus’ salvation is truly for the world and the sinners who live in it.