I had such a tender moment over the phone with my Dad this morning. What made it all the more special was that it revolved around Christ. It reminded me of how blessed I am that my father is a godly man. I was raised in church, but my family didn’t always attend. There was a time in my teens when my parents didn’t go. I am so greatful that God brought them back to Himself. My father even surrendered to preach a few months ago. It is amazing what God can and will do in the institution He established known as: the family. In conjunction with this, the Lord also brought a song from several years ago to my mind called “Legacy” by Nichole Nordeman. I used to sing it in church some. The chorus says:
“I want to leave a legacy.
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering.
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically.
And leave that kind of legacy.”
I began to think about the years Jason and I have spent in ministry; about the countless broken families we have encountered. I do not think I could list all the adults and children who have been affected by a negative inheritance. There are numerous lives which have been forever altered by alcohol, drugs, violence, and other sins. Often, children follow in the footsteps of their parents. Thus, there are two options: Will we leave a gift of godly living for our children and grandchildren, or will there be a tradition of sin that they must overcome?
God’s Word is not silent concerning this issue. Exodus 20:5b says, “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.” This passage is located in the Ten Commandments. It is connected to God’s command to not worship idols. It follows the first command to have no other gods besides Him. Basically, the Lord is telling us that if we worship Him, we leave a standard of godliness that trickles down to a thousand generations! We leave a legacy of righteousness! If we choose to worship anything besides Him, our children will reap the consequences. We will leave them an inheritence of sin that they have to rise above. Did you even know that the Lord said He would bless your faithfulness to Him to your thousandth generation? For some reason, we focus only on the punishment of God in this verse. Yet, His blessing flows far beyond His judgment. The blessing is for a thousand generations, and the punishment for only four. God repeats this same sentement in Exodus 34:7 and Deuteronomy 5:9-10. He reveals His compassion and grace (Exodus 34:6) through His blessing and His punishment. The Lord is just in all His actions! I must pause here because I am simply overwhelmed by how amazing the Word of God is! I am “amening” the Lord as I take it all in! His desire is always to restore a relationship with us. Praise His name!
Now, 1 Kings gives a snap shot of a son who continues the sin of his father. During Rehoboam’s rule of Judah, the people are “evil in the Lord’s eyes” (14:22). They built alters to false gods and even had male prostitutes in their shrines (verse 23-24). Rehoboam’s son, Abijam, becomes king after him, and Scripture says he “walked in all the sins his father had done before him, and he was not completely devoted to the Lord…” (15:3). He continued the pattern of sin. God’s Word notes that there had been war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all Rehoboam’s life, and that war continued between Abijam and Jeroboam (verse 6-7). I do not think that it is a stretch to say that war was a consequence of Judah’s sin that these kings allowed under their rule. God used war to discipline His people frequently in the Old Testament, and He did so here.
God intends for us to follow Him and to teach our children, our families to do the same. He desires to bless our faithfulness. Deuteronomy 4:9 and 10b says, “Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen and so that they don’t slip from your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren… So that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth and may instruct their children.” This same thought is repeated in Deuteronomy 6:7 (part of the famous passage known as The Shema), and also in Deuteronomy 11:19. We are to be growing in the Lord and instructing our decendants to do the same. God has taught us how to live, and we must pass it on in word and deed. I cannot say it any better than the Lord says it Himself. Psalm 78:1-7 tell us, “My people, hear my instruction; listen to what I say. I will declare wise sayings; I will speak mysteries from the past–things we have heard and known and that our fathers have passed down to us. We must not hide them from their children, but must tell a future generation the praises of the Lord, His might, and the wonderful works He has performed. He established a testimony in Jacob and set up a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children so that a future generation–children yet to be born–might know. They were to rise and tell their children so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works, but keep His commandments.” The Lord is laying out His design for us of how we can lead the next generation to Him. We must teach them about Him. We must tell them of Christ. We have to share the Gospel and disciple them to live for Jesus. Psalm 112:1-2 says, “Hallelujah! Happy is the man who fears the Lord, taking great delight in His commandments. His descendants will be powerful in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”
Finally, Hebrews chapter 11 is affectionately known as the chapter on “The Heroes of the Faith.” It lays out the men and women God chose to use to establish the foundation of Christianity. It highlights their great faith in God and how they lived for Him. Hebrews chapter 12 begins, “Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” (verse 1-2) Hallelujah! We have a long lineage of faithful followers before us. They have shown us the way. We, then, should be encouraged to face the day as the current cloud of witness. It is up to us to keep it going! We have to continue to pass on the Gospel so that it is never forgotten; so that their are those to pass it on after we are gone. What will you be remembered for? Our purpose is Christ. May we be found serving Him. May we tell our children, our families, the next generation about His plan of salvation. May we leave a legacy; better still, a cloud of witness. Amen!