Summary: We remember that the things we do are not just for ourselves but for posterity.
1 Peter 1:12 (ESV)
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
I want to consider as Americans what we are leaving our posterity. Since this is around Father’s Day, I want Dads to really think about what we are leaving our children.
What would it have been like to have been a prophet like Isaiah and been given a message about the future Messiah? Don't you know Isaiah and the other prophets really tried to understand their prophecies? Don’t you know that they hoped that Messiah would come in their generation? Yet, it would be many years later that Messiah would come.
The coming of Jesus, the Messiah (or Christ), would be a blessing to all people on both sides of the cross. But He literally came to the descendants of the ones to whom the prophets spoke. There is something important about our posterity. Parents (and prophets) make great efforts for the benefit of their children and the generations to follow.
This reminds me of a significant event in the life of Abraham, Genesis 21:33 (ESV) after he made his covenant with Abimelech. At first glance, it does not seem significant but it makes a powerful statement when we look into it. Let’s read the text:
33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.
In a lecture I heard Ray Vender Laan ask, “Why did Abraham plant a tree? Why did he plant a Tamarisk tree? Why at Beersheba?”
Tamarisk trees are significant in the desert. Bedouin families want Tamarisk trees. They bear no fruit, they only provide shade. They are the slowest growing of all the desert trees. They must be intentionally watered, either by hand or diverting water to them. It is the only shade tree in the desert if it is cared for – it lasts for generations. One does not plant a Tamarisk tree for oneself but for one’s great grandchildren – won’t live long enough to see its maturity.
Beersheba is God’s city of faithfulness. It is here that Abraham and Abimelech made their covenant regarding Abraham’s well (see Genesis 21.25-34). Perhaps Abraham planted the Tamarisk tree as a slow growing, long-lasting symbol of that covenant.
Beersheba is also the place where Abraham lived after the “binding of Isaac” in Genesis 22:15-19. Once again, it is the reminder of covenant. This time, the covenant regarding the descendants of Abraham. The Tamarisk tree would have been a reminder to Abraham that God promised him descendants and the tree would have been for them.
Our Founding Fathers had “posterity” in mind when they began our separation from Great Britain and the tyrannical rule of the king. Consider these thoughts on Posterity:
First, there is the desire to bless our posterity. We see that in the Preamble to the Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
But there is also a responsibility that lies with posterity. That is, not to take the gifts of our ancestors lightly, but to take up their cause where they left off.
Daniel Webster stated in an Address to New York Historical Society, February 23, 1852:
If we, and our posterity, shall be true to the Christian religion, if we and they shall live always in the fear of God, and shall respect his commandments, if we, and they, shall maintain just, moral sentiments, and such conscientious convictions of duty as shall control the heart and life, we may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country...It will have no Decline and Fall. It will go on prospering and to prosper.
But, if we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution, which holds us together, no man can tell, how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us, that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity. Should that catastrophe happen, let it have no history! Let the horrible narrative never be written!...