Legacy (Part 1)

Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them. (Ezra 5:1-2 ESV).

One of the definitions of the word “legacy” is “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” Finishing the little series dealing with the event in David’s life when God told him he could not build the Temple, I was naturally turned to this topic. Legacy has been used in other ways; however, here God’s message to David is that he has a different legacy to leave. It was not a mere building, as grand as that would become. David’s son, Solomon, would build the Temple; but, David’s legacy was not to be found in that structure.

To start this series dealing with our legacy, let’s look at some background first. In 586 BC the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, destroyed Solomon’s temple, and took most of the Jews into exile. About 50 years later Cyrus, the Persian, took Babylon, and brought the Babylonian Empire to an end. The next year (538 BC) he allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. All of this was owing to the sovereign hand of God fulfilling the prophecies of Jeremiah (cf. Ezra 1:1). Among the returning exiles were the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Our reading today sums up for us what these two contemporaries accomplished. So Haggai and Zechariah were sent by God to assist in the rebuilding of the temple. This work began on the 24th day of the sixth month of the second year of the reign of Darius, which in our dating is September 21, 520 BC (cf. Haggai 1:15). So you can see that about 18 years went by between the return of the exiles and the rebuilding of the temple. This delay is what brings forth the message of Haggai. The way Haggai motivates the Jews to build the temple of God has a powerful application to our own to accomplish the legacy God intends for us to leave.

Today I’ll leave you with just one story to illustrate. Jonathan Edwards felt God’s call to become a minister. He and his wife, Sarah, began a pastorate in a small congregation. During the years that followed, he wrote many sermons, prayers, and books, and was influential in beginning the Great Awakening. Together they produced eleven children who grew into adulthood. Sarah was a partner in her husband’s ministry, they spent time talking about these things together, and, when their children were old enough, the parents included them in the discussions. The effects of the Edwards’s lives have been far-reaching, but the most measurable results of their faithfulness to God’s call is found through their descendants. In their direct descendants there are: 100 lawyers and a dean of a law school; 80 holders of public office; 66 physicians and a dean of a medical school; 65 professors of colleges and universities; 30 judges; 13 college presidents; 3 mayors of large cities; 3 governors of states; 3 United States senators; 1 controller of the United States Treasury; and, a Vice President of the United States. The question for us then becomes what kind of legacy will we leave?