Lessons from Your Family Tree

The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Pentateuch written by Moses, is a very important book to understand. It contains the Shema, considered the most important prayer of Judaism (Deut. 6:4-9), spoken daily according to Jewish tradition. It was a most quoted book in the early centuries of the church (along with Genesis, Psalms and Isaiah). And Jesus quoted from no other OT book more often, with the exception of the Psalms. In fact, He tells us that the most important commandment in the entire Old Testament law is found in Deut. 6:5, Deut. 10:12 and Deut. 30:6.

In addition to being written in the form of a thorough contract or covenant between God and the nation of Israel, Deuteronomy presents a series of three sermons delivered by Moses.

  • Sermon 1 (Deut. 1:1 – 4:43)
  • Sermon 2 (Deut. 4:44 – 26:19)
  • Sermon 3 (Deut. 27-30)

Allow me to share some thoughts regarding the first sermon, recorded in Deuteronomy 1:1 – 4:43. This sermon urges the nation of Israel to reflect upon key facts and events from their family tree, especially from the previous generation. Moses implores them to give careful thought to the things that God did, the ways that their forefathers responded to Him, and what happened as a result.

Have you ever done this? Do you ever give careful thought to God’s involvement in your family tree, the ways your ancestors behaved and what happened as a result? My personal reflection on this sermon by Moses teaches me several important lessons about my own family tree:

  1. Like the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy, God provided my ancestors with opportunities to know Him.
  2. My ancestors often resisted God and failed to respond to Him the right way.
  3. I have the same rebellious tendencies as my forefathers and must overcome them.
  4. It is important for me to recognize God’s intervention in the lives of my ancestors.
  5. God is giving me (my family and my generation) a fresh opportunity to love Him with all of my heart, regardless of my family history.

Lessons 4-5 are very important. It is important for me to recognize God’s intervention in the lives of my ancestors., By recognizing this throughout my family line, I will discover ways that He blessed my ancestors, guiding them, protecting them, and opening fresh doors of opportunity for them. But I will also be instructed to discover the instances in which He appointed consequences as a result of their sinful choices.

Even though my ancestors exhibited failures and flaws, can I find any ways that God was moving them forward, introducing more goodness and opportunity into our family line? And in those ways that my ancestors exhibited sinful failure, what regrettable consequences were the result? The answers to these questions will encourage me that God offers more grace for my generation to move forward, as I choose to love Him, take steps forward and leave behind the repeated failures I discover in the past.

Yes, God is giving me (my family and my generation) a fresh opportunity to love Him with all of my heart, regardless of my family history. And reflecting on my family history, especially the previous generation, is a great way to observe the goodness of God, notice my potential areas of failure and focus my heart on loving God with all of my heart, teaching my children to do the same and better. I must praise Him for His intervention throughout the generations. And I must pray that He will enable me to avoid the same mistakes my ancestors made before me.

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