How far back can you trace your ancestors? Most people can probably name their relatives of the past three or four generations, but after that, our heritage may be largely unknown. To the nation of Israel, it was critical that they were able to trace their lineage back to one of the sons of Jacob (whose name became Israel).
In Nehemiah chapter seven, we have a detailed listing of those who returned to Jerusalem and the land of Judah from exile in Babylon. Included in this list are those who were from the tribe of Levi.
Many years earlier, after Moses led the nation of Israel out of Egypt, God appointed Aaron (from the tribe of Levi) to serve as High Priest. It was Aaron’s job to lead the nation in offering sacrifices and repenting for sin. Aaron’s sons served as priests, and the rest of the members of the tribe of Levi were assistants who cared for the tabernacle, kept it clean and ready for worship, and carried it when God told the nation to move through the wilderness. (You can read more about the Levites in Numbers 3 and 4.)
Nehemiah’s list includes the names of some family members who could not find their genealogical records. Therefore, they could not prove their heritage, and they were excluded from serving as priests in the newly-renovated temple.
If producing my genealogical records were a criterion for membership in the Kingdom of God, I would definitely be excluded. Thankfully, I belong to a King who does not require me to trace my ancestry. I serve a High Priest who does not require me to offer sacrifices. Instead, He has given Himself as the only acceptable sacrifice for my sin and yours. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf, you and I can inherit eternal life by faith. We become citizens of a new kingdom. Jesus takes us from a kingdom of darkness and brings us into a kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). He gives us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14). And we become children of God (John 1:12).
No record of my family history – nor yours — is required. We just accept God’s gift by faith in His Son Jesus, and we enter into the joy of serving Him.
For more, you may enjoy listening to our Bible study on the book of Nehemiah. Tune in to your favorite radio station, listen to our podcast on iTunes, or listen through TuneIn or Stitcher online radio. You can also listen on our website where you will find the study guide available for download too.