Everyone leaves a legacy. Whether you're the CEO of some large corporation or a stay-at-home mom, people are looking up to you. The question is . . . what are they seeing?
“More than Crackers for Legacies”
Selected Scripture on the Life of Enoch
My wife bought me a book not long ago entitled, The Best, Worst, & Most Unusual (noteworthy achievements, events, feats and blunders of every conceivable kind.
Marsha knows I am constantly reading and looking for illustrations – this was a great source.
On page 228, I read the unusual story of Sylvester Graham.
Sylvester Graham was born in 1794. His name would soon become a household name and his passion would become his highest calling. Even though he only lived 57 years, his legacy today is known all around this country – and others.
By the early 1830’s, Sylvester had become a pastor and had established himself as a fiery temperance lecturer. Oddly enough however, he became convinced that the way to cure alcoholism was vegetarianism. A strict diet of vegetables, he preached, would cure the longing for rum. He also taught that carnal desires could be cured by eating foods made from ground wheat flour – which came to be known as Graham flour. He would become known abroad for his love of wheat products, in fact he was called “The poet of bran bread and pumpkins.”
Later on he switched trying to get people to stop drinking, to trying to get people to stop eating any bread that was not made from whole wheat. He caused such a stir in 1847 that a riot broke out in Boston with all the Bostonian bakers intent on lynching this madman, which they had nicknamed him. Sylvester Graham was hurting their business. The police were unable to control the crowd, outside a lecture hall where Graham was speaking. But finally, some of Graham’s followers poured grease from the second story window down on top of the lynch mob – and that settled it. Graham escaped with his life. Undeterred, he continued to lecture on the evils of meat and the need to eat things made from wheat.
His legacy? Even though Sylvester Graham was a Presbyterian pastor, his ministry bore little fruit, but his passion for ground wheat flour lived on! In fact, you can still buy it today – it’s a cracker . . . the Graham Cracker – invented by Sylvester and named in honor of himself.
Adapted from Bruce Felton & Mark Fowler, The Best, Worst, & Most Unusual, (Galahad Books, 1976), p. 228
His legacy . . . is a cracker.
Before you think out loud . . . what a weird man, ask yourself the question, what is your passion? What do you feel strongly about?
Will your legacy be that classic car . . . a boat . . . a house . . . a business . . . a wardrobe . . . jewelry . . . those things might be inheritances left behind . . . but what will your lasting legacy be?
Webster defines legacy as something handed down from an ancestor.
Webster’s New World Dictionary (The Southwestern Company, 1964), p. 428
It can be property, riches, awards. But more than anything else, the significant legacies in our lives have nothing to do with stuff . . . they have to do with a name . . . a character . . . a reputation.
No son or daughter will ever grow up to say, “My Dad was the greatest because he was rich.” Or, “my Father was a wonderful man because he owned 3 companies and had 1,000 employees.” Or, “my Dad was a wonderful man because of the way he always brought home a paycheck and I never once missed a meal.”
You see, it’s possible for a child to be well fed, but starving for what really matters in life.
I speak today to those of us who call ourselves men. In fact, I’m not gonna speak just to fathers, on this Father’s Day . . . but to men in general.
Ladies, you can have the day off.
Actually, the word of God applies to everyone, even when someone else is being addressed.
I wanna start by encouraging the men today. Let me say something about the job the average father in the church is doing in the home.
Even the world is beginning to take notice. USA Today rocked the community and drew heated reactions and criticism for an article entitled, “Do Evangelical Protestant Father Really Know Best?” The article went to say, amazingly so in this politically correct environment where religion isn’t supposed to affect anybody. “Religious congregations give young families social support and enforce certain norms about what it means to be a good father. According to recent findings, evangelical Protestant men are more likely to show affection toward their children than religiously unaffiliated men; they are more likely to want to know what’s going on in their children’s lives, and committed Protestant men have the lowest rate of domestic violence of any singular group in the United States of America.
Julia Neyman, “Do Evangelical Protestant Fathers really Know Best?” USA Today, 6-17-04, p. 9D
Isn’t that great?!
So in a climate where the church going, monogamous father is usually the brunt end of a crude joke or a disrespectful movie, let me say, congratulations on your commitment to your family; congratulations on your desire to know about your children’s lives and congratulations on your protection of and care for the wife God gave you.
A few weeks ago I told my grown children to watch out for commericials – between the Stanley Cup and the World, cup, there are a lot of commercials. I told them to watch the commercials that show a father . . . invariably the man will either be out of touch, or ignorant, or uncaring, or gullible, or unaware, or completely out of date. We’ve begun watching with that in mind and sure enough, most of the commercials are just that.
Now men, it would help if you stopped wearing knee-high dark socks with your shorts when you cut the grass or go to the pool; and there’s nothing wrong with trimming away the hair that’s beginning to grow out of your ears. At least do those things . . . that would help some.
Have all the father’s stand . . .
Gentlemen, in an ever increasing hostile environment to values and purity and morality and fidelity and true spirituality, the father who dares to buck the current and live the truth of God’s word and shepherd his family and refuse to be pulled into the undertow of secularism, deserves to be encouraged and applauded, especially on this day, we call father’s day.
Happy Father’s Day . . . applause!
I invite your attention to a father who left a legacy that was much more than a cracker – it was nothing less than character – which matters.
Turn to the Book of Genesis.
In the early chapters of Genesis, God records for us the very first family tree.
In Genesis chapter 4 you have the line of Adam, through his rebellious son Cain. In Genesis chapter 5 you have the line of Adam through Seth, his godly son.
By the time the 7th generation of Cain is roaming the earth, that particular part of the family tree is utterly corrupt and wicked. The 7th generation of Cain is represented by Lamech, who sings in verse 23 of how proud he is that he’s killed someone. He brags that he’s 70 times more evil than his forefather, Cain, who killed his brother Abel.
The line of Cain was corrupt and evil and as far away from God as they could be.
The other side of the family tree is very different. The line that comes from Seth is a godly line. While the 7th from Cain is the epitome of murder and arrogance and lust and evil, the 7th generation from Seth is a man named Enoch.
His name means “dedicated” and he will live up to that name!
Notice Genesis 5:21. And Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. 22. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. 23. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
You can’t miss the double reference that Enoch walked with God.
What does it mean to walk with God.
It represents categorically walking in a way that pleases God. In fact, this verb (euresteo) here in the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, the verb euaresteo literally means to be well pleasing. It’s used in Hebrews 11 where we read that Enoch pleased God.
The phrase to walk with God is used many times in the New Testament for the godly believer.
Paul told the Romans to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
Paul reminded the Corinthians that we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
He warned the Galatian believers that is they “walk by the Spirit, they would not carry out the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
Whole wheat diets don’t keep you from carnal, fleshly living. Holy Spirit directed lives keep you from following after the desires of the flesh.
You get up in the morning and you say, “Father, by the power of your Holy Spirit who resides within me, I want to walk in a pure and wholesome manner; when I trip up throughout the day, convict me and remind me of my walk . . . so that I’ll confess quickly and get back in step with You.”
Walking with God doesn’t necessarily mean you sin less often, but it does mean you confess more quickly.
Furthermore, Paul told the Ephesians to “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us.” (Ephesians 5:2).
The Apostle John tells us that holiness is an ingredient of walking with God, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another . . . (I John 1:5-7)
Later, John the Apostle, gives us that glorious visual picture of the heavenly city where the believer will “walk with God in garments of white.” (Revelation 3:4)
The verb – peripatew – means simply to walk around – to walk about . . . to conduct oneself in the normal events of life.
It isn’t something you get dressed up for and come to church to do . . . it’s life.
You walk around through life with a heart of faith; an attitude of love; a surrender to the Spirit, in newness of life and with a desire for holiness.
And that’s just the beginning.
In order to walk with somebody, there are several things that must be agreed upon ahead of time.
- We have to agree on the place we’re headed. In other
words, if you don’t agree on where you want to end up,
you’re not gonna walk together. If you want to end up at Marble Slab and I want to end up at GoodBerry’s we’re going to have to split up, sooner or later.
- You have to agree on the same path. It’s possible to
have the same destination and take two different routes.
My family takes several cars to the same destination, only because we’re taking different routes. We’re gonna meet at the restaurant but someone is going to Michal’s first and someone else is going to the bookstore and someone else is going early to save seats. Same place, but different paths . . . which means you didn’t travel together. If you’re gonna walk with someone else, you have to agree on the place . . . you have to agree on the path there . . . and third,
- You have to agree on the same pace. If you walk with someone that means you’re not 2 blocks ahead of them, or 10 steps behind them.
Adapted from R. Kent Hughes, Hebrews: Volume 2 (Crossway, 1993), p. 77
- You have to relate to the same principle of nature. In other words, you have to have a corresponding nature to walk with someone else.
Think of the difference in this light; “some animals can become very good companions to people. They may have great loyalty and sensitivity to their owners, and a close relationship can develop over the years. But humans cannot fellowship with even the smartest and most devoted animal. Our natures are different – they do not correspond. Animals can offer companionship, but not fellowship. We can take a walk with a dog, but we cannot ‘walk’ with a dog, in the sense of having communion and fellowship with him.”
John MacArthur, Hebrews (Moody Press, 1983), p. 266
Peter wrote that when we trust Christ, we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We share in the principle of Christ’s nature – therefore we fellowship with God. Without that corresponding nature, we can’t walk with God. Our spirits are dead in trespasses and sins. We must be made alive in Christ, by the power regeneration and His nature coming to reside within our nature so that we now have a new nature – the nature of Christ.
Now we can walk with God.
If I said to you, “Listen, why don’t I stop by your house this afternoon, and let’s take a walk together.” For us to take a walk, presupposes we’ve agreed on several things:
We’d have to agree on the place where we wanted to go;
We’d have to agree on the path we’d take;
We’d have to agree on the pace – the speed at which we walked;
And we’d have to share the same nature in order to commune and fellowship along the way.
Enoch walked with God for 300 years.
What an incredible legacy . . . which I would think is remarkable when someone can say they’ve walked with God for 30 years.
But would you note, this is not a race with God . . . or a run . . . or a quick hop, skip and jump. It’s a walk.
Now, what caused Enoch at 65 years of age to change direction – to alter his destination?
We were told in verse 22. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah.
Something ignited in him a change from passivity about God to passion for God. He went from spiritual apathy to spiritual activity.
He became a father.
For some of you Dad’s, that made a difference in your life didn’t it. That first sight . . . that first cry . . . the first time you held your baby. If you were like me, the first though you had, as you held that newborn baby was the thought, what in the world do I do now? And then you probably prayed . . . “Lord, help me not only be the father You want me to be, but help me even know where to start.”
Perhaps Enoch recognized that for the first 65 years of his life, no one was really taking notes.
But everything changed with little Methuselah.
Maybe he realized, as many of you did, that you will become larger than life to your child. You will define the word “father” and shape in their minds what it means to call God – their father.
You see, the question is not whether your child will have a relationship with God; the question is what kind of relationship will he have with God?
What’s yours like?
The question is not, “Will your children develop spiritually?” the question is, “How will they develop spiritually?”
Ken Canfield, The 7 Secrets of Effective Fathers (Tyndale House, 1992), p. 169
How are you developing, Dad?
One author wrote,
Just this week
I read a newspaper account
Of a thirteen-year-old boy
Who saved his brother’s life;
By driving him to a hospital
In his father’s car.
Never having driven before
His explanation was simple,
I just did what I saw my father do.”
Canfield, p. 102
- How did you know how to drive a car? I’d watched my father and just did what I saw him do.
- Why did you refuse to argue with that neighbor when he said some unkind things? I just did what I saw my father do.
- Why’d you get mad and throw your wrench at the lawn mower? I just did what I saw my father do.
- Why’d you get those adult channels on cable TV? I just did what I saw my father do.
- Why’d you stick it out in that difficult job day after day? I did what I saw my father do.
- Why’d you give the clerk back the money when he gave you too much change?
- Why’d you teach 3rd grade boys even when your sons had grown and gone?
- Why’d you pray and thank God for good times and bad? I just did what I saw my father do.
- I did what I saw my father do.
Maybe, at the age of 65, holding his newborn son, Enoch knew he had been on the path of Cain, instead of the path of Seth and he realized someone was going to be watching from here on out.
Enoch wanted to leave a legacy . . . something more significant than crackers made of wheat flour . . . but character made of sterling silver.
There’s more to this turn-around.
Enoch named his son Methuselah, not because he wanted to embarrass him every time he registered for classes.
The name was a prophetic announcement. It meant, “when he is dead, it shall come.”
Simply put, Enoch had been given revelation from God that judgment was coming from God. And it will come when his son dies.
Enoch not only changed his direction in life, he changed his occupation. He became a prophet/preacher who preached for 300 years that God’s judgment was coming.
In the little New Testament Book of Jude, we’re given the content of Enoch’s message as he prophesied, “Behold, the Lord will come with thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have don in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
When will the judgment come on the earth? This is a prophetic reference to the second coming of Christ – but it will have a specific application in the flood that will come as soon as Methuselah’s grandson Noah finishes building the ark.
When Methuselah turned 850 years old, Noah received word from God to begin building an ark. He will pick up Enoch’s message of judgment and warning, “As soon as Methuselah dies, judgment will come.”
Can you imagine how odd that must have sounded to the sons of Cain and the Sons of Seth. All of whom will disbelieve, including Methuselah’s own son.
Building an ark was odd enough – but to tie God’s judgment to the death of an old guy like Methuselah seemed odder still.
But imagine with me . . . Methuselah is now:
967 years old – Noah is hanging the door of the ark . . .
968 years old – Noah and his family pack the ark with food . . .
969 years old – the animals have arrived . . . the ark is finished.
Noah hears the message from God to board the ark around the same time he hears the message that Methuselah has just died.
For the first time in human history, the sound of thunder is heard and rain begins to fall.
Methuselah was a living reminder of judgment.
Fathers, you don’t need to be Enoch or Methuselah to deliver the same warning. It is appointed unto man once to die – and then the judgment. Have you told your children? Listen, after you die – you will stand before God . . . are you ready? Have you received the forgiveness of God through Christ? Have you asked for the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ alone?
Methuselah became, not only a living testimony of the coming judgment of God, he also became a living illustration of the grace of God.
He lived longer than any other human being ever lived. It was no small irony that judgment came from God when Methuselah died – and God allowed him to live longer than anybody else ever lived.
Are you alive? Are you breathing? Then you can still get right with God! As long as you’re alive, Jesus Christ can become your Savior and . . . don’t wait.
What was it like being the son of Enoch?
- He was the son of an odd man. At odds with his world.
- He was the son of a passionate man
- He was the son of a lonely man – his uncles and aunts and cousins and friends and neighbors thought Enoch was crazy. And none of them believed him, just as they would refuse to believe Noah after him. Enoch was willing to stand alone!
- Methuselah was the son of a focused man who wanted to make the most of his son’s life and the time that was left, for the glory of God.
For many fathers, it is the birth of that child that crystallizes their focus on what really matters.
I recently read in Ken Canfield’s book on Effective Fathers a story from the Olympics of 1924. It was the summer games in Paris. Bill Havens was selected to represent the United States that year in a canoeing competition – a single paddle and a single competitor racing against other nations. A few months before the Olympics, Havens learned that his wife was due to give birth sometime during the Games. He had a decision to make: the opportunity of a lifetime or . . . the opportunity of a lifetime. He made his decision and stayed home. The team left for Paris without him and on August 1, 1924, his son was born – four days after the games. He could have gone after all, but had made up his mind not to risk being away.
Fast forward the Olympic tapes to 1952, the year the Summer Olympics were in Helsinki. Bill received a telegram from Helsinki that he wouldn’t have traded for any amount of gold. The telegram read: “Dear Dad, thanks for waiting around for me to be born in 1924. I am coming home with the gold medal you could have won. Your loving son, Frank.”
Canfield, p. 12
Methuselah’s daddy was odd . . . passionate . . . courageous . . . focused . . . and one more thing.
- Methuselah was ultimately the son of a missing man.
Genesis 5 tells us that God took Enoch . . . translated him without death into paradise. For Enoch, one author wrote, it was merely a change of location, not a change of company.
His family probably suspected foul play . . . an accident . . . an abduction . . . no one knew for sure. We do.
The old British expositor from the last century, G. Campbell Morgan said, “Enoch was a man who used to go for long walks with God. How did it end? One day they walked on and on and on and when they had gone so far, God turned and said to him, “Enoch, you’re a long way from home, why don’t you come on home with me.”
Sam Gordon, Jude: Fighting Truth Decay (Ambassador, 2002), p. 89
Now, that’s a legacy . . . a man who walked with God became a man who walked away with God.
That would be something to tell the grandkids, wouldn’t it?!
In case you’ve forgotten, you can tell your kids the same possibility exists for you too. Should Christ come for His church right now – every one of us would be translated to heaven – without dying. At the shout . . . and the trumpet of God, we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:17)
One thing is for sure, let’s leave this kind of legacy . . . walking with God now . . . anticipating that we might walk away with God at any moment, but knowing that we will one day walk with God in heaven – forever.