Legacy of Enemies

Psalm 35:11–28, Exodus 35:1–29, Acts 10:9–23

Sometimes the greatest evidence that we are doing well is those that oppose us. Another way of perhaps saying that is that the measure of one’s success is the quality of one’s enemies. Some scholars have claimed that part of the reason why David had so many power struggles was the jealousy of others that we don’t read about.

Whether it was the counselors of Saul or (later) David’s son Absalom, some scholars believe that there must have been more than Saul and Absalom in the picture. Many times there are those that we are no looking at that are truly the ones guiding things…the power behind the throne, so to speak. We could think of such people positively, as there were and are many counselors who believe their greatest success is the successful leader. On the other hand, there are those who hide behind the leader, using the leader as a distraction from themselves, so as to hide their deeds in the shadows.

These last ones are in the same spirit as those about whom David laments. David has cared for them. Lamented for them. Prayed for them. How did they repay the care? By piling on when David was down. Not only did they mock him, but they also made it worse by saying bad things about him. They celebrated his misery and misfortune, they who had benefitted from his love and care. As David looked forward, he relied on God to see him through it all. David’s legacy was at stake, and his response was to turn to God. David, like all people, wanted personal success, yet understood that his true legacy relied upon the faithfulness of God.

Moses understood that everything relied upon God. While in the desert, God called upon the Israelites to give to something greater than themselves. Through Moses, God called upon the Israelites to give from their hearts so as to make a temple to their God, a symbolic reminder that their God was among them. If you’ve ever read the list of items required to make the tabernacle, it’s easy to see how monumental that list was. It also speaks to where the hearts of the Israelites were at that moment. They had escaped slavery with much of the Egyptian wealth. For the most part (there are always exceptions) they freely gave of this newfound wealth to the creation of this temple, rather than hoarding it. Instead of holding on to what would make them individually rich, they gave to something that made them collectively richer than material goods. Yet, if they had just piled all of that stuff at Moses’ feet, nothing would have happened. Instead, people of skill (particular skills of varying types) were required. God just so happened to have blessed some people with those very skills. Out of the collective goodwill, in addition to skills of certain people, and through the faithful leadership of Moses, something greater than they could have imagined came into being. How could a bunch of slaves tasked only to make bricks make something as intricate and amazing as the tabernacle? Through God.

This amazing event that helped to define a people for generations also captured the hearts of the people, and not in a good way. They had become so ingrained with the outward appearance that when God did a new thing, they were still blind. People important to the seemingly insignificant were so blinded by the wrong legacy that they could not see the truth that was never hidden by God. It had been wrapped so tightly and so much by human will and tradition, that God’s love could not be seen through it all. When Peter had his vision, he too was still captured by the traditions passed down. It was not that God’s law was wrong or ever invalid it was just that the deeper (and Truer) truth could not be seen. God is love. Peter had to have an experience that challenged the legacy he had been handed that God was a God of (rigid) Law. Peter had to have an experience that showed God meant what he said to Abraham, “you will be a father to the nations.”

1) Legacy is important and must be part of how we frame our lives. However, we must be careful to hand off a good legacy. How can we work to make sure we leave a good legacy?

2) What makes a legacy good or bad? What makes a legacy live-giving or not?

3) What are your thoughts about what legacy you will leave behind?

FD) What family traditions were (or are being) passed down to you?