"THE TESTIMONY OF A GRANDFATHER"
"By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff"-Hebrews 11:21
The last words of a dying man are not easily forgotten, especially when they come from a loving parent or grandparent. Among the Hebrews, the blessing, in the form of a prayer, was frequently the last earthly experience between children and parents. The purpose: "That it might be more attended to and regarded, and more strongly impressed upon the mind." We have known of some who used this moment to make unreasonable requests, but Jacob was wise: he "worshipped". Their mode of worship at this moment was prayer, a prayer to Jehovah beseeching Him to bless the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh. These boys were his grandsons. Here we discover "THE TESTIMONY OF A GRANDFATHER."
The importance of grandparents and the role they play in the life of their childrens' children is invaluable. While we considered the role of grandmother last week, we must not overlook a testimony that is equally important and powerful: the testimony of grandfathers.
Among the Hebrews, the oldest male member of a family or tribe was considered the family head. He was respectfully referred to as 'father': father Abraham is a good example. Many times, this was the "grandfather". Therefore, the Bible places grandfathers in a place of great respect and solemn responsibility in the family. Their words were fraught with wisdom and their actions were weighed by their offspring. Jacob was found in such a position in his later days as our scripture would suggest. In the passage before us we have a "dying" old man who had been through manifold temptations and experiences in his life. Too weak to stand, leaning upon the top of his staff, he calls Ephraim and Manasseh to his bedside and peers upon them through clouded eyes. This one scene alone probably stuck in the mind of Ephraim and Manasseh for the rest of their days. That was Jacob's intention. This last earthly experience between Jacob and these two grandsons is found in Genesis, chapter 48, which suggests many examples for every grandfather. Consider: (1) Jacob shares his testimony with his grandsons. v.3. (2) He tells about his first experience with the Lord. v.3. (3) He acknowledges the blessings he received from Jehovah's bountiful hand. v. 3. (4) Jacob shares with them the future promises of God that they should look for and teach their children. v.4. (5) Jacob is honest with them about life as he shares some of his personal heartaches and struggles. v.7. (6) Jacob openly shows his affection for his grandsons: "and he kissed them, and embraced them."-v.10 (7) They "worshipped". v. 15-16. (8) He encourages them, "Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers."- v. 21.
In this brief episode, Jacob shares with his grandsons the reality of life. He shares his heartaches, his failures, his victories and his blessings. But most of all, he shared with them his God who went with him every step of the way. Much was hidden between the lines of this conversation but I observe this sentiment most of all: "The Lord was with me during my struggles. Let me introduce him to you as my God. Acknowledge Him in your life for he will be with you as well."
It is a strength to children to have fond memories of godly grandparents. When they can remember a life of faith, the testimony of a grandparent, there is an example before them that will add fuel to the fire of their own faith. I wonder how many grandchildren have had temptations set before their eyes, when something within would say: "Would your grandfather do that? How will that make your family look?" The example of the grandfather sets the precedent for the whole tribe. In the eyes of the Lord, I am certain this example of faith is of much greater value than that of stocks and bonds. And this example is one that every grandfather can afford. There is no doubt about it: There has been many a grandchild safely brought into the fold as a result of a grandparents prayer and example.
I was blessed to know and love both of my grandfathers. Between the two I had a barn to play in, a creek to swim in, a horse to ride, a watermelon patch to enjoy, a little league baseball coach, a hunting and a fishing buddy, a fan, a private booster club and most of all a best friend. In the midst of their declining years they had time for me; I knew that they loved me. That is the most important thing to a child. But in addition to all of that, I knew they were men of faith. The were not perfect men, but I knew that God was important to them which made me respect them even more.
The scripture we have before us today is an age old reminder to every grandfather. It is to remind him of the solemn responsibility that goes with the hoary head. Since God has answered your many requests, brought you safely through the waste howling wilderness to a ripe old age, given you a seed to remain upon the earth, it is for you, the grandparent, the oldest member of the tribe, to set the example of faith. Live it, talk it, walk it and by so doing, these little ones around your cot may also live to see the number of your years in safety and approach the end of their sojourn here in peace. May I take this opportunity to say publicly, "Thank you Lord for my grandfathers."
Come to worship with us at HARMONY PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. Phone 501-337-1115.
By His Grace,
Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.