Genesis 11:10 These are the descendants of Shem. When Shem was a hundred years old, he became the father of Arpach’shad two years after the flood; 11 and Shem lived after the birth of Arpach’shad five hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. … 26 When Terah had lived seventy years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. 27 Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. 28 Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chalde’ans. 29 And Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sar’ai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Now Sar’ai was barren; she had no child. 31 Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sar’ai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chalde’ans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there.
With the birth of Abram the Bible begins its clear focus on one particular people on earth. That the Bible was moving in this direction becomes all the more obvious in the chapters that follow in Genesis. Just as a Christocentric reading of the Old Testament reveals how the entirety of the Scriptures was moving toward Christ and in Christ finds its full meaning, so too with Abram the direction of the early chapters of Genesis becomes clear and pointed. God’s plan for the salvation of His fallen creation is being put into motion and revealed. This becomes clear in the genealogy Matthew placed at the very beginning of his Gospel (Matthew 1:1-25). Matthew does not trace Christ back to Adam, the first human, but rather he traces back the genealogy to Abraham, God’s chosen servant, who is the father of Israel, the man with whom God makes an eternal covenant that is to be traced through his descendents, or more properly through a particular descendent: “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many; but, referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). In Orthodoxy we read Matthew’s genealogy on the Sunday before Christmas because we do believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. Immediately after Abraham had shown himself willing to sacrifice his son, the God-promised heir for whom Abraham had so hoped, the Lord said, “By myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:16-18). Jesus is believed by Christians to be the fulfillment of God’s promises and prophecy. All the nations of the world are blessed through Jesus Christ, not just the nation of Israel.
God’s universal hope for all of humanity which is established with the creation of the first man Adam (the prototype of all humans) and whose fulfillment is promised through Abraham’s descendent is accomplished in Jesus Christ (the new universal man, the prototype of the resurrected human). The genealogy of Matthew’s Gospel offers the world the sense of the continuity in God’s plan – the promise and the fulfillment are traceable through one Holy Tradition which is laid out in the Bible. In the Gospel according to Luke the genealogy (Luke 3:23-38) is traced in the reverse order of Matthew. St. Luke begins with Jesus, the divine God-man who also is the new universal man and the new Adam, and traces His ancestry through David to Abraham, Shem, Noah, Seth and back to the first Adam who was the first universal man and the son of God. Thus Christ fulfils what God intended His humans to be from the beginning. The birth of Jesus is not merely the birth of a good or holy man. The birth of Jesus is the beginning of the universal salvation of all humans, the reunion of God and humanity, and the restoration of humanity to their original and God-given role to be mediator between God and all the rest of creation, and the fulfillment of God’s promises to His chosen people. The Nativity of Christ is the restoration of humanity to humanity’s God-intended role in the universe. Finally a human exists who has Godly dominion over the rest of creation.
“For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, ‘What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels, you crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.’ Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one” (Hebrews 2:5-9).
“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. ‘For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection under him,’ it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).