3 generation family January 4 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Genesis 9:18- 11:26;
1Chronicles 1:5-27

Family Trees

Many people find it interesting to trace their family trees. Through library Genealogical Societies, Internet searches, and even DNA samples it is easier than ever to discover ancestry. Where are you from? Are there any interesting characters in your family line? Do your relations give you joy or grief? There are some bramble and wild limbs in every family tree. There are no guarantees, but how can we better ensure that our branch in the tree will be godly?

In today's Bible reading, Noah is the father of three sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth. From these sons and their wives all the peoples and nations of the earth are formed. Ham's descendants form the eastern and southeastern peoples of Mesopotamia (Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Israel, Syria, and northern Iraq). One of his sons, Cush and his descendants, build the first Babylon and Nineveh in Assyria.

A prominent son of Ham, Canaan, is cursed because his father shames his grandfather, Noah. Why? It is not explicitly stated, but it appears Ham seriously violates cultural laws by not giving his father, Noah, proper respect. He sees his inebriated father naked, and then boasts about it and mocks him to his brothers. This makes Noah lose respect in the eyes of his sons. For this, Noah curses Canaan, one of Ham's four sons. Why is Ham not cursed? Why put the curse on his son? Again, we are not sure. Perhaps Canaan is a lot like his father, and the curse is therefore prophetic. Indeed, Canaan's descendants become proud and sexually immoral. Canaanites settle in the area which will later be conquered by Israel, and they will be servants to Israel (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, p. 41).

Lest we become judgmental of Ham and his son Canaan, let us remember we are all under the curse of sin. Sin enslaves us just as Canaanites will become enslaved because of their immorality and wickedness. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23). But, here is the good news—by Jesus death on the cross, he bore our sins in his own body and became a curse for us so we might be set free from the curse of sin and death (Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 6:23). Have we accepted his sacrifice for our sins? Have we called on him to save us and set us free? Romans 10:9-13 tells us how to do that (more...).

The genealogies given in Genesis 10 are not all-inclusive but are representative of family groups of people. From the genealogies of the other sons of Noah we know Japheth was the father of the European nations, and Shem was the father of the Elamites that settled in eastern Babylon. Later, Abraham's family will migrate from Ur of the Chaldees (Babylon) to the area of Israel where the Canaanites live. Other sons of Shem live in the Mesopotamia area. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, pp. 42-44).

Now the whole earth [the entire known world] used the same language and the same words.

It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.

They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.

They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth,” (Genesis 11:1-4, NIV).

What Noah's descendants propose to do displeases the LORD; they are not obeying the command to fill the earth (Genesis 9:1). Instead, they are filled with pride, seeking to make a name for themselves. God hates pride. All glory belongs to him, the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe, so he confuses their languages and scatters them all over the earth. The people then form their own nations with their own languages and dialects. The unfinished tower becomes known as the “Tower of Babel” since they cannot understand each other's languages. Do we give glory to God? If we do, God will give us peace and direction. If we don't, our lives could become chaotic with no sense of direction.

A major part of the book of Genesis supplies the historical basis for God's covenant with his people. With the tracing of each genealogical line, there is a narrowing with the chosen line continuing. Here are examples:

•  In the family lines of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the line of Shem is carried forth.

•  In the line of Terah, Abraham's line is carried forth.

•  In the line of Abraham's sons, Ishmael and Isaac, Isaac's line is carried forth.

•  In the line of Isaac's sons, Esau and Jacob, Jacob's line is carried forth.

Each chosen line has a blessing and cursing motif and a deterioration because of man's sin (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T. by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, pp.24-25). To us, this is a continual reminder of man's need of redemption and restoration. We all need to own a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ to be saved (more...). We can't save anyone, but we can draw others to the Savior by living a good Christian life, a life of love, service, godliness, humility, integrity, and forgiveness. If they are open, we should tell our friends, neighbors, or loved ones what Jesus has done for us and how he can give them forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life. We should pray fervently and consistently for God to work in the hearts of our family and friends. Perhaps, this is the year they will be saved.

Lessons to Live By

  • Family lines are interesting. We cannot know what we have become without knowing our ancestry. We are part of that ancestral line. What do we want our descendants to know about us?
  • Sin enslaves us, but Christ sets us free. (more...)
  • Let's not seek to make a name for ourselves. Let's honor God's name by giving him all the glory.
  • We all need redemption from being enslaved for our sins. We need to tell our family members about Christ and lead them to worship the LORD so that a godly family line will be preserved.

Today’s Bible Memory Verses

Proverbs 3:33 (NIV) “The LORD's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous.”

Proverbs 20:7 (NIV) “The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to

A Look Ahead: Job (pronounced with a long vowel) is the main character in the book which bears his name. Chronologically, the events of Job's life line up with the time of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We will be following their lives next. Why do the Innocent or Righteous Suffer is the theme of our Next Lesson.

Previous Lesson  |  Next Lesson

Back to top of page
Return to Chronological Bible Studies main page
Go to Scriptures main page
Go to Topics main page
Go to Home page

Contact Us