Father showing son a lion in the clouds February 1 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Genesis 47:13- 50:26

Legacy and Destiny

It is not how a person begins his quest in life that determines how he or she is remembered. It is not necessarily the rough journey and the conquests along the way by which he is remembered. Not many plaques on buildings are placed in memory of those who end their lives dishonorably. What is remembered is the faithful life that endures to the end. What legacy would you like to leave for the next generation?

In the days of Joseph, the famine in Canaan and Egypt was severe. The people of the land at first paid for their grain, but when that was gone they sold their cattle, and finally their land and their own selves to Pharaoh so that they might live. Joseph was astute in his business dealings but fair to the people of the land; he gave them grain to eat and plant and the opportunity to provide for their own needs. He was not ruthless. He was remembered as a leader who saved their lives. Have you made positive contributions to your family and community so that you will be fondly remembered?

In today’s Bible study we see memorials that are inscribed in remembrance of Jacob and Joseph. Over 2,000 years after Joseph passed away, the writer of the book of Hebrews inscribes them for the entire world to read. Hebrews 11:21-22 says,

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones. (NIV)

Let's look at these memorials more carefully. First, let’s look at Jacob. What is so special about Jacob blessing his sons and worshipping God that would place his memorial in the hall of faith in Hebrews 11? Jacob wants to be buried in Canaan, the Promised Land. When Joseph agrees to do this (Genesis 47:29-31), Jacob worships because he will be buried there. This is a definite sign and example to his sons that this is where their inheritance is and someday they will return there. It is in this faith that he blesses his sons, telling them what their place will be in the land of promise. (What follows is an interpretation and summary from The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament, by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, pp. 98-99)

What place will Jacob’s sons have in Canaan?

Reuben dishonored his father by sleeping with one of his wives, Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). For this he lost the rights of double inheritance as the firstborn son. The meaning of Reuben’s name, “turbulent as the waters” (Genesis 49:4) may indicate that he could not be counted on to take the leadership. His tribe was one that hesitated to help fight Israel’s enemies in the days of the Judges (Judges 5:15-16).

In the early days after Jacob ’s move to Canaan, Simeon and Levi slaughtered all the males of the city of Shechem for the rape of their sister, Dinah (Genesis 34:25-29). For this unbridled vengeance, Simeon’s family would be absorbed into the tribe of Judah, and the family of Levi would be scattered among all the tribes, not having land of her own but serving as priests to the rest of the tribes.

Judah was the middle child of Jacob’s family (born of Leah). He would become a prominent tribe. Judah was praised for his strength, and it was prophesied that rulers would come from his tribe - first David, and then later the ultimate ruler, Jesus Christ. During the millennial reign of Christ, the land of Judah will be abundantly blessed with vineyards and prosperity.

Zebulun would be enriched by sea borne trade.

Issachar, though her tribe would live in the pleasant and fertile Plain of Esdraelon, she would be frequently invaded and forced to work for others.

Dan, whose name means “judge” was to show justice, but his tribe would choose treachery instead, like a snake by a roadside. The first major idolatry after the tribes began to take possession of Canaan happened in Dan (Judges 18).

Gad would constantly have battles with other nations over her borders.

Asher would settle along the rich fertile land on the northern coast of Canaan.

Naphtali, like a doe, would be a free mountain people, settling northwest of the Sea of Galilee. Her beauty inspired the writing of songs.

Since Reuben forfeited his birthright by his immoral actions, the birthright passed to Joseph, the firstborn of Jacob’s wife, Rachel. Much blessing was bestowed on Joseph because he was the first born and a prince among his brothers. Both of his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh would inherit the land in place of their father (a double inheritance). Ephraim would have a fruitful land, and Manasseh would be victorious in battle.

Benjamin was described as a ravenous wolf and would be a very powerful and destructive tribe.

All of Israel's family would have destinies, but not all would do well. Some who have rebellious or otherwise troublesome children can relate to that. However, a lesson we can learn from Jacob is to pass on our faith to the next generation. Let's show them hope and a future in God's plans if they will be obedient. Let’s bless them. They desire it, and we need to do it.

Joseph ends his life in faith. Like his father, he, too, wants to be identified with the Promised Land by having his bones buried in Canaan. God reveals to him that his large family of Israel will go through a long period of persecution, but he has faith that God will deliver them. Sometimes, we know the journey in life will not be easy for us or the next generation. We should encourage them to place their faith in God for their help and deliverance.

Finally, let's consider our own legacy. What plaque might be written about our lives? Will we be known only as financial donors to worthy causes, or will we pass on our faith and hope in God to the next generation?

Lessons to live by:

  • We will be remembered for a faithful life that endures to the end.
  • Let’s pass on our faith to the next generation. Let's show them hope and a future in God's plans if they will be obedient. Bless and encourage them.
  • Make positive contributions to your family and society. Consider your legacy.
  • A godly legacy and destiny begin with a personal relationship with God through Jesus. He can give you forgiveness, spiritual life and peace (more...)

Today’s Bible Memory Verse:

Psalm 25:3 “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.” (NIV)

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