Insight for the Day

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and You

April 18, 2024 Robert Wolgemuth—Editor

"I will confirm my covenant that is between me and you and your future offspring throughout their generations. It is a permanent covenant to be your God and the God of your offspring after you."

For many years, two large portraits hung in my parents’ home—one was of my paternal grandfather, and one was of my maternal grandfather. Both of these were godly men—full-time farmers, in order to keep bread on the table, and also full-time parish ministers.

No two men could have been more dissimilar. Grandpa Wolgemuth was an immaculate, focused, intense man. One of the most prominent rooms in his home was his study. The walls in this familiar room were lined with books—Bible commentaries and reference books, biographies of great missionaries, and other inspirational volumes. His car was never dirty. I can still see him headed toward the barn with a single bucket of water to wash it. Thick, black eyebrows and furrowed crevasses across his forehead let us know that he was on a mission. He embodied hard work and the serious business of life. Not a lot of levity swirled around the life of this man.

Grandpa Dourte, my maternal grandaddy, was in love with life. His laughter filled every room of their home. Music from his harmonica cheered us for part of the day; his humming and silly rhymes took care of the rest. The two most memorable places in his home were the parlor with the player piano—he loved music—and his workshop in the shed—he loved building things.

And like Grandpa Wolgemuth, this man loved God. His crystal blue eyes would fill with tears as he quoted something from the Psalms by heart.

How well I remember these two men. As a young boy, I studied their every move, I listened to their voices, and I believed what they believed. And why shouldn’t I have? They were for me what the Bible calls “patriarchs.” Men who started a whole generation of offspring. Men who set the pace for dozens of others who would follow—including me.

In today’s passage, we read that God promised Abram that someday his descendants would be greatly multiplied; from him would come kings and entire nations. Then God sealed his promise by changing Abram’s name (meaning “exalted father”) to Abraham (meaning “father of nations”). Imagine how the news, coupled with God’s promise, must have affected Abraham.

If you and I are dads, someday our children will have children. Then they will have children who will have children. And every one of these people will know us, either because they remember us or because they hear stories about us from others. In a word, we’re patriarchs to a whole generation.

Who we are, the words we speak, how we treat others, and what is important to us will become common knowledge to many people. Some of those people will even say they inherited certain character traits from us. What an awesome thing this is.

This might be a good day for you and me to begin to see ourselves in the light of those who are to follow in our footsteps. Who we are today will become a legacy for others to follow tomorrow.