We’re wrapping up the book of Genesis. And what a great read it’s been!
In these final chapters, Jacob speaks his last words to his children. In Chapter 48, he adopts Ephraim and Manasseh and blesses them, giving them the right to divided portions of Joseph’s large share of the Israelite inheritance in Canaan. Chapter 49 contains the blessings Jacob gives to his twelve sons. He dies, and his burial is described in Chapter 50.
Above everything else, these passages help us understand where our priorities should lie with respect to the kind of inheritance we want to leave to our families.
In our day-to-day, we’re often very focused on providing temporally for our children. Everyone wants the best for their kids. When asked what “the best” is, most of us say it consists of a comfortable home in a safe neighborhood, a good education, nice clothes, and three square meals a day.
It’s great that parents work hard to procure those things for their children. It’s our responsibility to make sure these temporal needs are met. But in our efforts to be good temporal providers, let’s make sure we’re not forgetting the grand charge to be good spiritual providers.
People stress out trying to get their financial estate in order before they die. They pay a lot of money to iron out their wills so that they can leave their families as fair an inheritance as possible.
But how much thought do we put into the spiritual inheritance we leave them? Remember, we can’t ignore temporal needs. But they’re only means to an end–not an end in themselves. Our salvation in the Kingdom of Heaven is the end. Eternal life is the goal. Everything else should further that goal. Nothing should distract us from it.
Look at Jacob. In what he knows are his last days in mortality, he isn’t worried about how much money he’ll be leaving his sons. Sure, the blessings he leaves have consequences as far as physical geographical inheritances (how the land of Canaan will be divided), but that’s secondary to the spiritual blessings.
Through Israel, the Gospel message is to be lifted up to the world. Through the line of Israel, the Savior of mankind is to be born.
Jacob makes sure his children understand the sacred nature of these blessings. His greatest concern is for them to become a righteous people. A covenant people.
Let’s follow that example. Are we centering our lives on the sure foundation this is Christ? Are we remembering him daily and honoring him in both word and deed? Are we leading our children in Gospel-focused activities that draw us closer to the Lord?
A lot of parents make the mistake of providing temporally but failing in the department of Gospel instruction. They think they should let their kids “figure religion out for themselves.” They think it’s somehow wrong to “force” their morals onto them. But what’s truly wrong is having access to the fountain of eternal life and not inviting their children to drink and live.
Let’s evaluate our lives each day and take the steps necessary to leave our children with the greatest blessings we can give them–a spiritual inheritance of faith and discipleship.
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