Can you envision generations you cannot see?
If you are like me, life is pretty busy as it is. My wife and my kids keep me pretty busy, and there are now 2 grandchildren—a great delight. And the truth is that those are enough to keep my life full. But when you sit and contemplate your life and what you might consider a success, do you think beyond grandchildren, even great-grandchildren? Do you think to the 5th, the 6th, even the 7th generation?
The mark of a successful family is not just in the moment—what’s in front of us. But the mark of a successful family is in generations.
In Genesis 28, there is a fascinating twist on this idea. For context, Genesis 28 finds Isaac sending his youngest son off to the land of Rebecca, his wife’s family. Jacob has cheated his older brother, Esau, out of his birthright. As a result, Jacob needs to leave; otherwise, Esau will likely kill him. But as Jacob prepares for his departure, his father Isaac offers this blessing:
God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you [emphasis added], that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham! (vv. 3-4)
At the time of this blessing, Jacob is a single man. Yet Isaac is asking God to provide him with Abraham’s blessing. What is Abraham’s blessing? It is the blessing of a mighty nation, possession of the Promised Land, and having offspring that will be numbered as the stars of heaven.
Isaac was seeing the progeny of Jacob even though they had not been born. Indeed, Isaac was seeing generations of men and women who would be participants in Abraham’s covenant.
And of course, where did Abraham’s covenant come from? God. From the very beginning of the covenant, God saw generations through Abraham. Isaac was repeating the vision of a multiple-generation family that had been provided to him by God.
What is the lesson? As you look at your family, as you reflect upon where you are, look at little longer. Consider future generations even beyond the children and grandchildren you may have currently. Why? Because it’s a God-sized vision and it changes how we practice the art of family.
If you are intrigued by Abraham’s vision for future generations, you may also want to take a look at this seven-generation success story about his descendants the Recabites.