Genesis chapter 36 is one of those chapters you tend to skim over on your way to more powerful and meaningful chapters. After all, it’s just a long list of names of people you don’t know and will never encounter; not to mention a list of names you can’t pronounce.
So you glance over the chapter, occasionally taking in a name or two, much like the polite acknowledgment of a stranger you meet when you’re out somewhere. Then, once you’re past them, you forget them and their name.
It’s so easy to forget that all those names you casually glance over were intimately loved and sought after by God. They were as important to Him as the Adams, the Abrahams and the Moses. The difference is we don’t know their story. We don’t know what God has done in their life, how He has pursued them or how they have responded to Him. They are just a name in a list to us, but to God, they are unique and special people who He passionately longs for and pursues.
The same is true when we meet a stranger or read a name on some sort of list. At first, they may just seem like a face in the crowd, or another stranger on a list, but to God the are unique and special and passionately loved by Him. They are as important to God as you or I.
May we remember this the next time we read a list of names in the Bible we can’t pronounce or know nothing about. May we remember this the next time we read the name of a stranger on some sort of list. May we remember this the next time we meet a stranger and are tempted not to put much effort into getting to know them. To God, there are no strangers and every life matters.
Bret Legg is the Teaching and Counseling Pastor at Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, GA.