The central theme of the Old Testament is found in the first three verses of Genesis 12:
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father's family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (NLT)
Genesis 11 tells of how the world, because of sin, was divided at the Tower of Babel. At the start of chapter 12 God makes this great promise to bless all the nations of the world. This is the theme that forms the background of the Old Testament.
To bring about this blessing God chose Abraham and Sarah and their descendants. The line started with Isaac, the son of promise, and then went through Jacob. The story of the Old Testament is the story of God's faithfulness to Jacob and his descendants to bless the world.
We have the ability look back on history and see the impact this one family had on the world. Jacob's family produced prophets, priests, kings, and apostles who had an influence in their world. There is no question that the world is a better place because of the blessings God brought through this one family.
It is good to remember that the importance of Jacob and his family wasn't always clear.
For much of his life Jacob was nothing more than a nomad shepherd with no place to call his own. The one moment that stands out, that declares that this family is special, is Jacob's son Joseph, who went from being a slave in Egypt to being second in command over the nation.
I'm This was a short lived glimmer of the potential that Jacob's family had to impact the world. It was not long after Joseph died that Israel's fortunes drastically changed. The descendants of Jacob soon found themselves as slaves in Egypt.
That story played out continually in the history of Israel. No matter what happened, through the times of blessings and times of exile, there were always people who continued to believe in God's promise and to live with the faith their ancestors. That is the reason why they were able to be a blessing to the world.
It is not possible to appreciate the impact of one person's life, or even an entire family, in a moment. Their impact is always slowly revealed through the tapestry of history that God is weaving.
My Grandma Steele died on August 10 and since that time I have been searching for the right words to honor her memory. It is has been difficult because it is impossible to adequately talk about her legacy when so much of it has yet to be written. I have a firm belief that the full impact of Grandma's life will not be realized until the day of Resurrection, that glorious day when Jesus returns and makes everything right.
In the meantime it is possible to consider the life Grandma lived and the example she left for her family to follow.
The defining characteristic of her life was faith. Grandma had a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ. This faith was seen in her commitment to the local church, in her generosity, and her desire for people to know Jesus.This was especially true when it came to her family.
As a young woman Grandma made a vow that none of her descendants would be lost. Her children and grandchildren knew her concern for their eternities was real. I know many of the grandchildren, at one time or another, received a personal letter from her written to encourage them to live a life of faith in Jesus.
Grandma wanted to do whatever she could to help and encourage her children and grandchildren down the path of faith. Time and time again this sent her to her knees in prayer. I wonder how many hours she prayed for us and the effect those prayers had on our lives. It is an area that we can only speculate.
What I do know is that it was an encouragement to me to know that Grandma prayed for me every day. I remember on two different occasions, days that were difficult, I received a phone call from her. Each time she told me that she felt like I needed some extra prayer that day and wanted to let me know she was praying for me.
Grandma was proud of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. She liked to tell people that Jacob had 70 descendants when he went to Egypt, and she had more. If my calculation is right, with the birth of my daughter today, Grandma has 87 descendants. Among these descendants are teachers, lawyers, veterinarians, coaches, farmers, business owners, pastors, and other community leaders. Between all of us we have traveled the world and influenced thousands of people. It is through us that Grandma's legacy is still being written.
My grandma was a special woman. Outside of my parents I don't know if there is a person who has influenced me more than she did. I miss her and the talks on faith, family, and politics that we enjoyed after I helped her with some project around her house.
It was very important to me to write a tribute to my Grandma Steele (a tribute to Grandpa Steele , a tribute to Grandpa Huff, and a tribute to Grandpa and Grandma Steele), but I know the best tribute I can give to her is to follow her example of faith. That is the best way to honor Grandma's memory and extend her legacy.
My encouragement to you today is to honor those faithful people who have gone before you by following their example of faith. By doing this not only are you paying a tribute to their lives, but you also creating a legacy for others to follow.