Saturday, September 17, 2011

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

“Gather around, that I may tell you what will happen to you in days to come. Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob; listen to Israel your father.” ~Genesis 49:1-2 (NRSV).

A nation is born. The Abrahamic line had come to some sense of completion right about this time as Jacob prepares to die. We can just imagine—with all the drama of Joseph and Egypt in the background—Jacob’s sons waiting on his every word.

And so would we at our father’s deathbed. The meandering web of emotions would trickle over and through our psyches.

What God began with Abraham and Sarah, and that which he continued with Isaac and Rebekah, reaches its logical end point for the stage—the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Significance of Paternal Heritage

Familial lines are the classic input to identity. What our ancestors were, to some extent, translates into what the family becomes; though commonly there are great forms of departure where that model is undesired.

We can just imagine the power of prophecy that Jacob (Israel) exemplifies here.

He is speaking into the lives of his sons, the character of each of the tribes, even to his descendants. The power in ‘the last things’, particularly, is significant. These parting words would be a resonating legacy for each son and, therefore, tribe.

Carrying Our Lineage Through

As we exist in such a global world economy there is a threat to the character of family so far as lineage is concerned. Family and community seem a whole lot less relevant than they would have in Jacob’s time.

Popularity is a fine example. We will naturally follow some varying sources of wisdom far and wide, not to mention our appreciation of entertainment. The voices of reason in our day come from all over the world and hit not just our homes, but come to us constantly through mobile media. The voices of father, mother, grandfather or grandmother, or those influential ones in the community, are not the only sagacious voices we hear. And because there are so many different voices, we can pick and choose what seems most right to us.

The threat is we miss out on the God-adorned insights of our lineage that should be carried on through our next generations.

Perhaps these days we underestimate the intrinsic value of learning via interpersonal relationships; indeed, we can avoid learning these ways. These, quite often, are accurate mirrors into the true circumstance of our person as we relate with our worlds.


Abraham, Isaac and Jacob illustrate the importance of lineage—that each succeeding generation might propagate more of God’s Sovereign plan as it’s to be known in this world. We have the opportunity to ask, “What is God doing through my family and hence through me, during the future period that is the rest of my life?”

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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