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Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates say they will not leave the bulk of their wealth to their children. They will give the bulk of their money to charity. They prefer to leave their children an example of serving others. That seems to have been one motive of Jacob when he revisited the little town of Bethel in ancient Israel. It is true that Jacob deceived his father, stole his brother’s birthright, and fled from home to save his life. Still, God was gracious to Jacob, not as a reward for his terrible deeds or because of is goodness, but because God had made a promise to Abraham and God had a purpose for Jacob. Along the way, God dealt with Jacob, humbled him, and deepened his faith. God faithfully took care of him and allowed him to return home after some 20 years. God then instructed Jacob to return to the place where God first appeared to him when he fled from his brother. God told him to go back and build an altar to God–in appreciation for all God had done in protecting and blessing him. Jacob went to Bethel and memorialized God’s faithfulness to him. Jacob told his children and everyone in his house to rededicate their lives to God. Jacob sought to transmit to his children the gift of faith in the LORD. The best gift we can give our children is a legacy of faith in God and biblical values. They need to know that God is real and rewards those who diligently seek him.

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