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The Family Heritage (Ecclesiastes 2:18-26) November 21, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Ecclesiastes, Family, Father's Day, Solomon.
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THE FAMILY HERITAGE (Ecclesiastes 2:18-26)

Heritage is an important theme in the Old Testament. When you follow the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Saul and David, you find that the heritage left for the oldest son was crucial. It is why in each of these cases God decided who would be the son of the promise. Isaac was chosen over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph and Judah over their ten other brothers, and Solomon over all his brothers. You see heritage is more than possessions. It is more than proud memories as those that we celebrated this past Thursday on Veterans Day. Heritage is even more than the DNA which we have from our birth parents. Heritage is that which God has given us that our children have use of in their life. It may be possessions, proud memories, ethnic identity, or a godly worldview. Whatever it may be, there is always something that we pass on to our children, the family heritage.

I. There is no guarantee, however, that the heritage we leave behind will be cherished (2:18-23). Genesis tells us about Esau. His grandfather had received the initial promise from God. His father was the son of that promise, the miracle baby, Isaac. As the oldest son, Esau was next in line for that promise. He was a hunter. Coming back from an unsuccessful hunt, he met his brother cooking a pot of pea soup. He was hungry. He asked his brother for a bowl. Jacob said, “I’ll trade you a bowl of soup for your heritage.” Esau did not care, “What good is my heritage if I am dead?” His statement showed a lack of faith in God’s promises and his family’s heritage. Esau did not cherish the heritage God had given his family.

Our children make their own spiritual decisions (2:18-19). This is the hardest lesson as parents that we have to learn, there are no guarantees. Often we quote with hope, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Unfortunately, that is likely a mistranslation. More like it should read, “Train up a child in the way he wants to go and when he grows up he will continue in his old ways.” Yet there is hope, even if we as parents mess up. We can start over. Jesus said, “Except a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” How is one born from above? 1 Peter 1:22-23 explains, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever…” In other words you hear the truth of the word of God, you believe the truth of the word of God, and you obey the truth of the word of God.
a. Our children may not embrace their godly heritage (2:20-23). “The father wants a legacy; the son wants autonomy. The father feels betrayed when his son exercises his freedom in a way that robs the father of his legacy. The son spends his life caught in the tension of wanting both independence and approval. To gain approval, he must cooperate with his father’s view of life; but to feel independent, he must violate it.” (from God of My Father by Larry Crabb, Jr. and Sr.).

II. We are to enjoy life as a gift from God (2:24-26). Walter C. Kaiser points out that not only the possession of the blessings of life but also the ability to enjoy the blessings of life is a gift from God.

a. When we please God we receive the ability to enjoy God’s gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and joy. The unbeliever cannot actually enjoy life as God intended. He can take pleasure in things as Solomon did but when it is all over, the pleasures simply slip through his hands (2:26b).

b. We might seek for these things (1:12-2:11) but in the end there is no profit unless God gives us the ability to enjoy it. A man once told Max Lucado, “I learned, that once I had what I wanted, I found I didn’t want what I had.” (from the Inspirational Study Bible).

III. We are to live for God while we have life (11:8-12:1). Ecclesiastes was written with death in view. The heritage we provide for our children is only for this world. It is in the nasty now and now and not the sweet by and by in which we are to live for God.

a. Rejoice in the good (11:6-9). Solomon reminds us here that it is not wrong to pursue the good things of this life. It is not wrong to dream dreams, to get educated or trained, to build houses and wealth, to establish a career, to provide a heritage for your family, to enjoy a retirement. In all of these things that belong to our life we are to rejoice. As we rejoice we are to remember that we are accountable to God. We are not ultimately accountable to the future generation nor even to the present generation but to God, who judges everything correctly.

b. Remove all wickedness (11:10). Martin Luther used to say that we should live a life of repentance. Of what have you repented of this week. Has God convicted you of any sin? Have you dealt with it or have you shrugged it off and said, “It’s no big deal.” Perhaps you are struggling to remove wickedness in your life but cannot seem to put it off. You need to immerse yourself in God’s Word. We can help you with that. We can show you how to study God’s word in such a way that you can confess and forsake your sin. You need to immerse yourself in prayer. We can pray for you also. You need to immerse yourself with the fellowship of God’s people. Some of them have sat or are sitting exactly where you are sitting. Take your sin, however, seriously and repent and forsake it.

c. Make plenty of room for God (12:1). It is likely that someone sitting here today has not put their faith and trust in Christ. Jesus died for your sin. You deserved to be punished in hell for eternity but Jesus, who was without sin, died on the cross for your sin. God allowed His Son to be sacrificed for you. You need only trust the resurrected Christ as the only way of salvation from sin. Whether you need to be saved and forgiven or you need as a believer to conquer sin in your life, make room for God.

Have you any room for Jesus, He who bore your load of sin?
As He knocks and asks admission, Sinner, will you let Him in?

Room for pleasure, room for business – But, for Christ the Crucified,
Not a place that He can enter In the heart for which He died?

Room for Jesus, King of glory! Hasten now, His Word obey;
Swing the heart’s door widely open, Bid Him enter while you may.
(Source unknown, adapted by Daniel W. Whittle)

A lady once asked Mr. Wesley, “Suppose that you knew you were to die twelve o’clock tomorrow night, how would you spend the intervening time?” “How, madam?” he replied, “why just as I intend to spend it now. I should preach this evening at Gloucester, and again at five tomorrow morning; after that I should ride to Tewkesbury, preach in the afternoon, and meet the society in the evening. I should then repair to friend Martin’s house, who expects to entertain me; converse and pray with the family as usual; retire to my room at ten o’clock; commend myself to my heavenly Father, lie down to rest, and wake up in glory.” (from Spurgeon’s Encyclopedia of Sermons). We need to live in such a way, that nothing we are planning would need to be changed.

Next week: Psalm 30 “Thanksgiving and Prosperity”

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Comments»

1. rcottrill - January 19, 2011

Greetings from Wordwise Hymns. And thanks for your insights. It was your quotation from Daniel Whittle’s gospel song, “Have You Any Room for Jesus?” that caught my attention today. To read more about the hymn, I invite you to check out my blog. God bless.


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