This past week, our message in Acts 12 mentioned one of the seven Herods revealed in the Bible. Herod the Great was the King of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth. His son Archelaus was the ruler that scared Joseph into avoiding Judea and returning to Galilee with his young family. Antipas was responsible for beheading John the Baptist. Agrippa killed James and arrested Peter, and Agrippa II was the ruler who interrogated Paul in Acts 25 and 26.
That extended family (through four generations) was known for its political, sexual, and violent drama. They married indiscriminatingly. In fact, Herod the Great was married ten times. They intermarried, choosing uncles and cousins for strategic mates. They killed off their rivals, had their children executed or banished, and displayed real evidence of insanity.
Not the kind of family you would be proud to be a part of.
As a contrast, I got to thinking about the extended family of the 18th century American preacher, Jonathan Edwards. He was a Puritan preacher who went on to become the president of Princeton University.
Edwards and his wife, Sara, had eleven children. Their custom was to spend an hour every evening praying over each individual child. Christ was the center of their home, and the children grew up with godly examples and plenty of direct Biblical instruction.
The family tree of Jonathan Edwards is worth noting. A study done by A.E. Winship traced the descendants of Edwards over a 150-year period of time. This is what he found: There was 1 U.S. Vice President, 1 dean of a law school, 1 dean of a medical school, 3 U.S. senators, 3 governors, 3 mayors, 13 college professors, 30 judges, 60 doctors, 65 professors, 75 military officers, 80 public office holders, 100 lawyers, 286 college graduates and 100 pastors.
What a legacy! One hundred pastors! Not to mention all of the very responsible community leaders.
This week might be a good time for a thoughtful review of our own family life. Is Christ at the center of our home? Do we regularly pray specifically for each child, regardless of their age? Are we careful to teach our children according to the principles set out in Deuteronomy 6? Are we laying down a solid Biblical foundation for our future generations?
Are mom and dad on the same spiritual page? Could we be more intentional about our spiritual expectations? What do we need to shore up? How could we better spend our time?
The Herods were a mess. The Edwards were exemplary. What will our family trees look like? What will our legacy be?