Leaving a Legacy
A good parent always wants to leave behind a legacy which he or she hope their children would follow when they have children of their own. In the Book of Genesis, the legacy that was most prized was the father’s blessing. It is difficult for us in this modern age to understand why the blessing from a parent was so important to children receiving it; so important in fact some would even trick their aging parent in order to get it (Jacob and Esau for example).
In Genesis 49, Jacob, who was on his deathbed, gives his blessing to his twelve sons. Each blessing was unique and all had an element of prophecy. At first glance, some don’t even sound like blessings at all.
For example, verses 3-4 was the blessing to Jacob’s first born Reuben. Even though he was the first born, the rights and privileges that came with that position would not be given to him or to his descendants because of his act of sexual immorality. Israel’s words sound more like a curse rather than a blessing.
Feelings About the Blessings
After Jacob pronounced his blessings, I wonder what all the sons thought about them. I can imagine some of them may have felt bitter and were envious of those brothers who got better blessings than they. However I don’t believe that they would complain to their father as to why they got the blessings they got.
Source of All Blessings
Why would they not complain? The sons understood that the words that their father spoke of them didn’t come out of nowhere, but originated from the Lord God. I can assume that Israel told his children many times about the blessing that he had received from his father Isaac. I am sure that he pointed out to them that most of the words from that blessing had come to pass (with the exception of a promise of land in Canaan).
This was proof to Israel that the words spoken to him were the words of his Heavenly Father. Even more so, he recognized that this was the same blessing that was given first to his grandfather Abraham, then to his father Isaac, and finally to him. When Israel was ready to give his blessing to his sons, there must have been a great deal of prayer involved so that he could speak clearly the words of God.
After blessing his sons, Israel gave them final instructions in regards to his burial. In verses 29-32, he commanded them to bury him in the family plot which Abraham bought in order to bury his wife Sarah. At first glance, these funeral instructions appear impractical. The family were living in Egypt not Canaan, wouldn’t have been easier just to be buried in the land where they were staying?
Israel hadn’t forgotten the promises of land and nationhood that God promised to him. He recognized that their stay in Egypt would not be a permanent one. Egypt was not a part of the promise. He knew that some day, God will come to bring His people out of Egypt and into the promise land. His command to be buried in Canaan clearly shows that his heart still clung to God’s word.
The Christian Legacy
The legacy that Israel left for his children was the remembrance of God’s promise. Those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ have a legacy as well that we are called to pass down to the next generation. We are called to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation that is found in only in Jesus Christ.
This command requires us to model and teach the Good News to our youth and show them what a true child of God looks like. Therefore, let us put forth every effort to leave behind such a glorious legacy. If we shirk away from this responsibility, who will teach our children about the love of God found in Christ?