There are many examples of God’s people intentionally building legacy in the Bible. After God spoke to Jacob and said to him, “Your name shall be Israel,” Jacob set up a stone pillar and called the place Bethel (Genesis 35:14). After God spoke to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments, Moses got up early the next morning and stood up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 24:4). And for Joshua, he set up twelve stones from the river Jordan to remember God’s clearing of the river for safe passage. He told the Israelites to use the stones as a reminder to tell their descendants about what the Lord had done for them (Joshua 4:21-24). Each of these examples of legacy in the Bible have a common theme: “standing stones.”
The Israelites regularly used “standing stones” to remember a covenant with the Lord and to mark the significant events for their descendants to remember. The same concept can apply to us. Our legacy is not just about monetary transfer of wealth or even passing along a good family name. Biblical legacy is about the standing stones you place throughout your life as you pass the values, faith lessons, and inner wealth on to next generations.
God wants us to create historic markers. “They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan … as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down.” (Joshua 4:8) Intentionally marking the points in our life that have impacted our character, family members, and faith creates the opportunity to pass a family legacy.
In the gospels, Jesus repeatedly emphasized the important teachings of His ministry that would become His legacy. 1 John 2:6 reminds us that whoever claims to abide in Jesus must walk as Jesus walked. Jesus journeyed with those whom He loved to show the way. He also stopped time and time again to share a parable which the disciples could use to create a clear memory of His teachings.
You can mark the moments of your life that establish your family legacy, like standing stones, by journeying with your family, spending time in person or through writings, and communicating the wisdom you have gained through your experiences. Write a family mission statement together as your very own standing stone of remembrance.
It is important to look back. Joshua told the Israelites at Gilgal, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’” (Joshua 4:21-22). Throughout the Bible, we see the importance placed on tradition and remembrance.
Even Jesus sought to establish a way for His disciples to remember His sacrifice. “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19)
Have you established tradition with your family? Consider setting up specific family meetings to consistently share the written and verbal stories of what has shaped you and your family name. Hang that family mission statement in a common place for all to be reminded of what drives your family.
Impart and Entrust
Joshua set up the twelve stones “so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” (Joshua 4:24). Joshua’s careful action after the Jordan river crossing teaches us that these stones also serve to remind God’s people that they are to represent God’s glory to the rest of the world.
Perhaps God has blessed you in some way or an event has changed the way you walk with the Lord. In your shared stories, include the eternal lessons about God’s promise, His power as Comforter, Teacher, and Savior to mankind.
What are the lessons you take away from these stories of legacy in the bible? What are your standing stones? 1 Peter 2:5 tells us that “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.” Not only are we called to create standing stones, but we are also to remember them with our loved ones and to share the lessons of impact they had on our character, faith, values, family history, and life. The sight of stones erected by many in Biblical times may hint of a previous significant event, but without their story, without the intentional remembering and imparting of their significance, their legacies are lost. Intentionally pass on your family legacy.