The lives of the generations who came before us have an impact on us today. Likewise, our lives will have an impact on the generations to come. Our ancestries usually come from a variety of countries and traditions. My mom's family is of German, Irish and English descent. My dad comes from Swedish and German stock. My ancestors' personalities and practices, abilities and talents have a direct effect on who I am now. Their attributes have been passed on to me.
Since I am a Christian, my ancestral influence also comes from the family I am grafted into—Abraham's family. One of my favorite Scriptures concerning our heritage as Christians comes from Romans 4. Verse 13 explains the promise God gave to Abraham. "It is not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith." Verse 16 and 17 explain further. "The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: 'I have made you a father of many nations.' He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were."
Let's look at Galatians 3:29. "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." We are heirs to the promises of God and our heritage is one of righteousness and faith. "Consider Abraham: 'He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.'" (Galatians 3:6-9)
God told Abraham, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you..." (Genesis 12:1-2) The definition of Abraham's name is "father of many nations" or "father of multitudes." He is called a Hebrew for the first time in Genesis 14:13. Hebrew means "one who crosses over from the other side." This is exactly what Abraham did as he left all that he was familiar with and traveled to a land he did not know. In this act, he demonstrated the faith he had in God's promises.
All the characteristics that Abraham and his descendants demonstrated were handed down to Believers. Other attributes for Believers are written about in the Psalms and in Isaiah. "For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name." (Psalm 61:5) "Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart." (Psalm 119:111) “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me..." (Isaiah 54:17)
God has planted both unique and similar qualities within each of us so that we can live out our destinies. All that has been given to us through Abraham's line is what makes us carriers of the Lord's presence. We have a rich inheritance from Him. Within us are seeds of righteousness, faith, fear of the Lord, respect for God's Word and power to overcome every obstacle. Let us use these qualities to the glory of the Lord!
Joan E. Mathias