One of the biggest challenges to space exploration is the sheer amount of time required to travel from one place to the next. Given today’s propulsion technology, inter-stellar travel is, by necessity, multi-generational. Project management in our digital age focuses on compressing the schedule, getting it done faster and more efficiently. We roll out major technology platforms and build skyscrapers in months, not years. But how good are we at project management spanning generations? Can we maintain vision? Sustain design commitments? And keep our attention focused for three or four consecutive generations?
As we turn our eyes to the heavens to think about traveling to Mars and beyond, our greatest challenge is the shortness of our life-span. Here it is helpful to look back to our medieval past. Men in the middle ages also had their eyes to the heavens. But they planned to travel by building great cathedrals. Projects that, without hydraulics and power equipment, took hundreds of years to complete.
The cathedral in Rouen, France, took 735 years to complete and the great Münster in Cologne, 632 years. On average the great cathedrals of Western Europe required 275 years to complete, three or four generations of craftsmen. Andreas Hein has written a fascinating comparison between the challenges of space travel and cathedral building. He concludes that “the products of our space program are today’s cathedrals.”
The sheer faithfulness of multi-generational craftsmen, to commit generation after generation of their families to build something they would never see finished, brings to mind the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for…. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.Hebrews 11:1-2, 39-40
How steadfast is our faith? We often struggle to maintain “faith once for all delivered to the saints” in our own lifetimes. Do we have a vision to see that all the generations of our family, love the Lord with heart, mind, soul and strength? The promise annexed to the Second Commandment is that the Lord shows “love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Is that our vision? Do we have a multi-generational vision for faithfulness to Christ in our families? Are we Cathedral builders? Do we have our minds set upon things above? And do we desire this to be the vision that animates every generation of our progeny?
During the reign of King Jehoiakim, the prophet Jeremiah warned the people to turn back to the Lord. They were a faithless generation and they were training the next generation to be even more faithless. Time and time again, Jeremiah points out that even Judah’s young ones were caught up in their parent’s idolatry. They refused to listen to the words of the living God, or even incline their ear to what he had to say. But in their midst, God had placed a ready example to rebuke His people.
The Rechabites had been commanded by their forefather, Jonadab, not to drink wine or live in houses or cultivate fields or have vineyards. They were to live a simple, pastoral life, avoiding the settled comforts of contemporary culture. For over 250 years, they had carefully followed the instructions of their dead ancestor. God instructs Jeremiah to publicly challenge their convictions. Yet their commitment to Jonadab’s instruction was unshakable. While the Lord does not specifically commend their commitments, He does commend their commitment.
It is rare in scripture for God to commend men for their faithfulness. Jesus commends a centurion in Matthew 8:10, saying, “truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” And in Jeremiah 35, the Lord commends the example of the Rechabites. In faithless Judah, they are a remarkable example of steadfast commitment. They provide a powerful illustration of one generation discipling the next.
What do our lives illustrate? Can the Lord point to us in the midst of a faithless generation as an example worth nothing? What will the world know of our faith by observing our descendants in 250 years? Join us this Lord’s Day as we examine Jeremiah 35 and consider the power of multi-generational faithfulness.
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP.