Look to the past to live in the present for the future.

Foundations for a Christian Worldview: The Times (7)

Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 
Genesis 15.5

Place in time
A important feature of the worldview that begins to emerge in the books of Moses has to do with time and our place in it.

For most people today, time is merely something to spend. “Spending time” is perhaps the most common way of thinking about the succession of moments God grants us each day. Typically, we spend on things we want. Time, therefore, is to be invested for one’s own self-interest, one’s own view of happiness. A person’s time is his own unique possession, to do with as he thinks best according to vision of the life and world which he pursues.

But this is not what we see in Scripture. Even as early as the books of God’s Law, the people of God are encouraged to cultivate an awareness of time, and to use their time, within a framework governed by what we might describe as three “looks” – past, present, and future.

Within the framework of the Biblical worldview, we look continuously to the past, to remember what God has done and promised, and to learn the lessons of our forebears’ experience with God. We owe a debt to the past, both to keep and obey what God has spoken, and to honor those who have gone before us in His covenant. To ignore or disdain the past, as is increasingly the mood today, has no place in the Christian worldview.

But we live in the present, and in the present our desire is to realize what God has promised in the past by understanding and obeying His Word, and living toward His promises in all we do.

Living fully under God in the present allows us to keep an eye on the future, and what we by our works will leave for those who succeed us in the covenant line of our God. How we understand the past times of God and His people will help to shape what we do with the time of our lives in the present, so that we leave the generations to come in the future a legacy they can build on for the generations that will succeed them.

Within the vision we pursue of the worldview to which God calls us, we must nurture a vision of the legacy we will leave, the fruit of our efforts in time, for the blessing of the generations to come.

Dominion achieved
Since the legacy we leave will be shaped within our particular calling from the Lord, we need to think of our legacy in those terms, and resolve to leave an example and whatever tangible goods we can to help others serve the Lord in their generation. The Hebrew artisans, Bezalel and Oholiab, were called by God to make the tabernacle and its furnishings. They received from Moses God’s Word instructing them concerning a dwelling place with His people; they invested the time of their lives in making the tabernacle and all its furnishings; and they left a legacy to facilitate the worship of God’s people up to the time of David (cf. Ex. 35, 36).

We must think of our own callings as the quarry from which our legacy will come. It will be a legacy of dominion, the product of our example and our labors in seeking to realize the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 

Each of us has people in our lives who, though now departed, have left us an examplethat continues to impact us in these days. We may not even have known these people personally, but only read about them; still, the power of their example exerts a shaping influence on how we live today.

Others have, by their labors, made tangible contributions to helping us realize our own calling – institutions, freedoms, endowments, bequests, estates, and more humble but equally important items such as books, tools, recipes, journals, letters, or even household furnishings. All these fruits of the labors of previous generations, we receive as gifts from the Lord, and put to use in our own calling for the purpose of exercising dominion in His Name, so that He might be glorified in all we do. And, as we do this, we are creating our own legacy of exampleand labors that will bless and serve the generation to come.

Dominion transferred
But we must also strive to leave a legacy of people, who are minded and able, to carry on the work of having dominion that we have given our lives to in our time.

God specifically gifted Bezalel and Oholiab to teach others how to do the work necessary for constructing and maintaining the tabernacle. Heads of households in Israel were commanded to teach their children the ways of the Lord. Priests, judges, and rulers were established, whose primary responsibility was to ensure that the Word of God directed the ways of the people in all their communities. 

No small part of our legacy will be in the lives of people we encourage, equip, and assist in taking up the work of exercising dominion within the context of their own calling. Children, neighbors, students, and many others will be affected by us, directly or indirectly, intentionally or otherwise. We must be always mindful of the impact our lives can make on others, and work to ensure that that impact directs them to seeking the goodness of the Lord in their own lives and callings.

As faithful people in Israel looked forward to the generations that would succeed them – generations who would be blessed by God and would bless the nations of the world – they worked in their own times, following the example and using the legacies of those who had gone before, to ensure that the worldview which begins to emerge in God’s Law would continue from one generation to the next, for the praise and glory of the Lord Who chose, redeemed, and called them.

Questions for reflection
1. Are you conscious of leaving a legacy of example and labors for the next generation? In what ways?

2. How can you see that the legacy, of previous generations of the people of God, continues to serve you in your calling?

3. How can believers encourage one another to nurture a vision of the legacy they will leave?

Next steps – Transformation: In a short paragraph – three or four sentences – write out the legacy you believe God wants you to leave for the future. Commit that legacy to the Lord in prayer, and begin working more consistently toward it day by day.

T. M. Moore

All the studies in this series on Foundations for a Christian Worldview are available in PDF and can be downloaded for free by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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