rediscovering christianity's forgotten, organic ways amidst the modern industrial religious machine

Abraham’s Secret

Father Abraham had many sonsBy Kobi & Shani Ferguson.

If you’ve ever committed yourself to reading the Bible through, you know some of the hardest parts to get through with excitement are the genealogies. It’s tempting to skip over and you almost wonder how the endless chapters of “begats” and tribe listings could be relevant to our modern life. After all, isn’t life about finding and pursuing God’s destiny for us as individuals? How then does reading an endless list of hard to pronounce names enrich our spiritual lives?

Well, aside from recording history, the genealogy demonstrates that everyone’s relevance in Scripture is tied into their lineage. Where they came from – not just who they were – was important.

For example, Moses had a wise mother who would not accept the death sentence for her child. She took a huge risk and landed her son in the palace where he would be educated. His sister, who talked Pharaoh’s daughter into paying her mom to nurse Moses was pretty clever as well. Without the bold intervention of his family, Moses would’ve never been Moses.

John the Baptist’s childhood was also unique with instructions that required dutiful parents to follow. David was the grandson of a woman who turned from the pagan gods of her ancestors to serve the God of Israel. Yeshua’s life on earth was dependent on His earthly parents’ obedience to God’s specific directions. And even Esther who was orphaned had an uncle who picked up the slack and raised her to be a God-fearing woman.

What about you? When asked to tell about yourself, do you begin telling your story with your birth as if the world began then? Few people in western culture consider their family history as relevant to who they are. And yet so much of who we are depends on the family (or lack of family) we grew up with – and the family our parents grew up with.

On the other hand, in the Middle and Far East, people understand themselves to be part of a bigger story – a piece of the bigger puzzle rather than the puzzle itself. It is this perspective that makes Islamic culture a force to be reckoned with in the west. Western culture wants instant gratification. Accomplishments are things we work hard on for a month or a year. Working for something for 10-20 years and achieving it is celebrated as a “life’s work.” On the other hand, the Muslim world views achievements in 100 year spans. For example, there are countries that Islam desires to dominate, but couldn’t get away with launching an all out war. Instead, they simply import scores of Muslim families to live there and have lots of babies. Demographic studies show that within a few decades Muslims will have enough of a population to vote into power Muslim governments in those countries. No bloodshed needed, just patience.

This method is only possible however, because these people see themselves as part of the larger vision of world domination of Islam. This perspective makes their lives so much more significant in the pages of the history of the world, although right now, they are virtually unknown by anyone.

One Now or Two Later

On the way home from school one time my kids asked me for candy. In order to teach them delayed gratification I answered, “You can have one now, or two later.” The youngest two wanted theirs immediately while our oldest, Illit, took the challenge. The two youngest munched with pleasure as Illit sat and peered out the window so she wouldn’t have to look at her sisters smiling faces. But “later” came soon enough and when it did, Illit sat and enjoyed her two candies while her sisters looked on longingly. Finally, Lahav broke down and started crying, “Why can’t I have one more – she got two?” I explained to her that often in life if you wait for good things you could end up with a better version of it later. But you will have to endure watching everyone smile as they eat their destiny now.

Who among us would not have liked to be Abraham – the one chosen by God to be the father of a great nation? And yet, God’s promise to Abraham (his destiny if you will) was something he wouldn’t actually witness. Hebrews 11:13 says of him – “They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced.” Rejoiced? Rejoiced that his dreams and promises from God would not occur in his lifetime? Well, yes. His satisfaction with knowing his children would benefit more from his hard work than he would was what won him the title “Father of many nations.”

If asked why God chose Abraham to be such a key figure in the lineage of mankind and the father of the nation who would bless the world, most people would answer that he was a man of faith who trusted God. But Genesis 18:19 reveals the answer: “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

God chose Abraham because bringing people back to proper relationship with Himself would take thousands of years. He needed someone who would pass on the information received in each generation to the next. Even rescuing the children of Israel from Egypt into the promised land was such a complex event that it took two generations to walk the short distance from Egypt to Israel – and another generation after that to get completely settled.

As each generation came and went God would inch them closer to Himself. Step one would be setting God’s standard for living – the commandments. After issuing the most important commandment to the children of Israel, “Love the Lord your God,” the very next verse describes the way to pass that information on to future generations. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. (Deut. 6:7)

Family Force

Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. (Psalm 127:4)

Kennedy Family

Joseph Kennedy Sr. with his wife & 8 of their 9 children

I recently saw a documentary about the Kennedys. Controversies aside, I was intrigued by the strategy behind their way of life. Early on, Joseph Kennedy Sr. had a vision to make his family a political force in the country. The son of equally ambitious parents, he began his rise to power and reached the respected status of “Ambassador to the UK.” But his goal was the presidency.

In his pursuit of the presidency, however, he came to a crossroads – would he use political allies as stepping stones in hopes of reaching the top, or would he continue to build political ties and use the support to help his sons reach the top? The latter option would mean he would never feel the thrill of being called “Mr. President.” But it also meant his eventual influence in the political world would be much stronger. He chose to build ‘bigger and better’ for his children’s future.

Few people are interested in the lives of the Kennedy’s before the 1930‘s because few understand that those were the foundation years. To anyone wanting to learn the secret of the success of the Kennedy family, the years where the Kennedy’s were raising their 9 young children at home were arguably the most important in laying the foundation stones of the family legacy. By the time the children were old enough to be noticed, they were sharpened arrows ready to be fired from the Kennedy quiver. It was too late to stop them.

If you’ve never considered your life activities in light of a multi-generational vision, perhaps it is because you’re thinking, “Why bother since Yeshua’s return is imminent?” Consider the term ‘hitting beyond the ball.’ It’s a classic rule in games like golf and baseball. It is derived from a simple law of physics: those who try only to hit the ball will not hit it nearly as well as those who continue swinging after the ball is hit. So let us live ready for Him to return any day while planning for His arrival in 100 years. Even in His parables, Yeshua was clear that His arriving while we are busy doing His will will be much better received than His arriving to see us standing staring at the sky.

Ichabod’s Grandfather Loved God

“…Turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 6:4)

Death of Eli

Death of Eli

King Hezekiah, a hero in his day, is a prime example of a man who loved the Lord but failed his family. He was quite the intercessor. His prayers brought about the angelic slaughter of 185,000 enemy soldiers. He even managed to talk God into adding 15 years to his life. But when confronted by the prophet Isaiah and told that everything he inherited from his ancestors would be taken and his sons would be eunuchs he didn’t seem phased. His response of, “At least I won’t be around for that,” screams of the utterly self-absorbed life he lived. Some could argue that his life was a powerful example of worship and intercession – but the two generations that followed him were so destructive to Israel that by the second generation the servants of Hezekiah’s grandson killed him. He would be replaced by an 8 year old boy named Josiah – in essence – a new line.

Eli the priest was not as “fortunate” as Hezekiah. He actually lived long enough to witness the consequences of his life choices. Eli was responsible for two major things in his life – the presence of God in his family and the presence of God in his nation. It wasn’t enough that he took seriously the second responsibility of his national priesthood. His failure to fulfill his first responsibility to his family eventually made it so that he failed his second responsibility as well. In the end, his wicked sons were killed and the ark of the covenant (the symbol of Gods presence) was taken from the children of Israel. He died from the agony of hearing about it knowing it was on his watch that things had gone so terribly wrong. Just hours after Eli’s death, his grandson would be born. He was named Ichabod (“the glory has departed”), solidifying the unfortunate legacy left behind by his grandfather – who loved God.

Destroy the Family Stop the Blessing

When Balaam tried to place a curse on Israel he opened his mouth and could only prophesy blessing. When he realized he could not come against the blessing of the Lord he chose a different method: Seduce the men of Israel with the pagan women and God’s curses would automatically be unleashed on them.

God promised that through Abraham the families of the earth will be blessed. The enemy obviously cannot come against the Source of the blessing, nor can he stop the blessings from flowing. So, he has come against the entity that absorbs the blessing – the family.

A recent study found that a few generations ago those known as the ‘Baby Boomers’ grew up in traditional family structures. Some of the Baby Boomers in later years were also dubbed “Generation Jones” for their aggressive pursuit of material possessions. As the drive to get more stuff took the place of the simple family life,  the next generation – Generation X – grew up with much exposure to daycare and divorce. The study explained that Generation X’s lack of the “family first” experience, created a dynamic where they viewed their friends like family. This created a breeding ground for pseudo-family structures like gangs. The further corrosion of the “family experience” by the next generation, often referred to as Millennials, viewed friends as family. It wasn’t that Millennials had learned how to forge unusually deep relationships with those outside the family circle. The epidemic of broken families and push for alternative families created a reality where a whole generation of children perceived family members to be as replaceable as friends.

Without the foundation of family, it’s hard for the blessings of Abraham to reach their intended target. But the blessing still awaits. Think of it like waiting to be seated in a restaurant. The table is ready, but you can’t be seated until the entire family arrives. Sure there may be snacks in the waiting room but snacks have nothing on the main course. There is a special blessing promised to us when we present ourselves before God as a family unit because it will take several generations to come to fruition. And remember, although there are obvious blessings passed through the line of godly families, if you’re thinking to yourself your heritage is not much to be proud of, remember Abraham himself was the son of an idol worshipper. God saw his heart and decided to build a new line beginning with him.

Abrahamic Prayer Watch

Abrahamic Watch

Abrahamic Watch

We’ve been involved with a House of Prayer in Jerusalem for years. A prayer slot of an hour or two at the House of Prayer is called a “watch.” Kobi leads a healing watch where he prays for the sick and intercedes for healings to be commonplace among believers. Shani often leds a devotional watch on the piano as well. Both of us, however, wanted to have our children involved in the watches but knew how young kids have a hard time sitting quietly for two hours as others prayed. It seemed like there wasn’t much of a framework for families to expose their children to the House of Prayer environment until they were older. So, we began what we call the “Abrahamic watch” designed specifically for us to pray and worship with our children. Suddenly, we had so many other families get excited at the idea of training with their children that we’ve had to figure out how to handle so many parents and children at once.

For years, we prayed with our kids’ typical ‘prayers for the day.’ But we hadn’t taken concentrated time to focus on teaching them to pray, nor had we ever thought to pray with our children for their children.  And yes, while it is odd to hear our 3 yr old prayer that, “God will make her a good ima (mom)” and that He “will give her a husband that loves God and loves their children,” it is simply wonderful and just feels right.

Looking from the outside, our ‘Abrahamic watch’ appears “messy” as one child escapes the prayer circle, another child keeps lunging for the microphone and the baby is ready for a nap. But, we know we are laying the foundation stones of our family legacy, and the legacy of many other families in the land of Israel. As Abraham’s secret of success begins to be revealed to other families, imagine what an arsenal of God-filled children we will have to thrust into Israeli society in the coming years!

The fruit of our times of prayer is already evident in our children. They are being visited by God in dreams and on their own initiative express how close they feel to God and how much they want to tell their friends – and their future children about Him.