When babies are made, that takes a few months.
When a man is made, that takes a few years.
When a patriarch/matriarch is made, that takes a lifetime.
You can’t hurry up and have a legacy.
Legacies take time.
Perhaps this explains why there are so few legacy lives to study today. Americans have an extreme aversion to anything that is slow. Anything that cannot be mechanized or technology improved is somewhat frustrating to us. We are the people who stand impatiently in front of the microwave tapping our feet and checking our watches because it’s taking 45 seconds to heat what we want to eat.
Often when a person sees their mortality approaching and realizes they may have minored on major things and majored on minor things, the question becomes, “What sort of legacy will I leave when I am gone?” The need to leave a legacy is deep, spiritual need.
The great patriarch, Jacob, shows a clear example of the power of legacy when he spoke over each of his sons in Genesis 49. As Jacob contemplates the end of his days, he knows he needs to impart legacy to his sons.
NKJV Genesis 49:1 And Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days: 2 “Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel your father.
Don’t miss the nomenclature in verse 2. Notice the man refers to himself as Jacob and as Israel in the same verse.
“Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel, your father.”
He called them the “sons of Jacob,” but he asked them to listen to “Israel, your father.” This is not an oversight or a poorly written passage of Scripture. He was well aware of the difference between the name he was given as a child, Jacob, and the name he was given after wrestling with God, Israel. He was not using the names interchangeably in some willy-nilly fashion. He was “Jacob, the cheater” when he sired most of those boys, but he was “Israel, a prince with God and man,” when he blessed them. He knew he became a different person with the conversion from Jacob and Israel.
Let me encourage you — don’t view your wrestling with God as a negative event or a judgment from God. Most legacies have to be fought for. When you wrestle with God you’ll emerge with the lingering touch of the holy on your life, and there’s nothing better than the sweet limp of a man who’s been with God, or the example of a woman whose life is impacted from her time with God.
The touch of God on Jacob caused him to change his name AND his walk. We would do well to share our experiences, positive and negative, with our children so they can learn the power of having the touch of God on their lives. The patriarch gave his children physical life as Jacob, but he gave them spiritual life as Israel.
For 25 verses in Genesis 49, Jacob speaks over his children imparting their characteristics, pointing out their weaknesses and their strengths, and he tells them of their legacy. He brings their session together to a close and says,
NKJV Genesis 49:28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing.
Each of us need to find great encouragement in verse 28. Take great comfort in knowing that each tribal leader was blessed “according to his own blessing.” HIS OWN BLESSING! The blessing that God has for you cannot be given to another, so I encourage you to stop desiring what someone else has. Each of Israel’s sons had their own blessing, and God has YOUR blessing and no one else can get it. This should give each of us a sigh of relief knowing you don’t have to try and get what belongs to someone else.
Israel blessed his sons because he wanted to leave a legacy. The need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning and purpose. We build statues and put them in prominent public places to acknowledge the value and the worth and the legacy of a person.
God has called us to be church builders:
· We build churches to value the worth and the legacy of our God.
· We build churches to establish the fact that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
· We build churches to acknowledge that Jesus paid the price for my sin before the sins were even committed.
· We build churches to worship a God who LOVED US when we didn’t love him, and who KEPT US when we didn’t keep him.
· We build churches to give glory to a God who was the answer before the question was even formulated.
· We build churches to establish the legacy that our God’s ministry outlives any man, any organization, any religious order, and anything else established on the earth.
One man recently told me that being human simply means there was a biological function between a man and a woman. The people that purport that to be truth have no hope in leaving a legacy, and they go through life and die as nothing. People who subscribe to nihilism see no difference between their lives and the stray dog on the street who has no home, no purpose, no reason… He just lives for the next meal.
But you are more than that.
You are much more than that.
You are so much more than that.
You are valuable.
You are important.
You are a soul fabricated in God’s hands, and that’s one of the reasons we build buildings to worship God…and we call those buildings churches. We believe that the church of Jesus Christ is a good place for you to birth legacy for your family. The church of Jesus Christ is the perfect place to reverse the poor direction your ancestors may have taken. There may have been no one in your family before you who had a single righteous bone in their body, but in the house of God you can be the first one to develop a legacy.
To leave a legacy on this earth is to fulfill a sense of meaning. Leaving a legacy says something:
· A legacy says, “I existed to help someone.”
· A legacy says, “I existed to be a cure.”
· A legacy says, “I existed to be an answer.”
Have you ever considered the thinking behind planting a giant Sequoia or a redwood tree? Some of the giant Sequoias in California are 2700 years old…and today we enjoy them. They make us realize that we are short-term inhabitants on this third rock from the sun. In 1853, a Scotsman, John D. Matthew, fell in love with the giant Sequoias and decided he wanted some in his native Scotland. He collected a small quantity of giant Sequoia seed from the Calaveras Grove in California, and the seeds were planted in Scotland in August 1853. To plant giant Sequoia seeds you must be a man with a long-range plan. Obviously, John D. Matthew had legacy on his mind.
Stephen Covey said, “The essence of the human need is captured in the phrase to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy.” I agree with Mr. Covey.