“Receiving an inheritance from one’s father is a socio-legal practice well attested throughout the history and variety of cultures of the Bible.” In ancient times as well as modern times, an inheritance was a gift from a father to his offspring (Prov. 13:22). However, most references to the “inheritance” in the Old Testament were references to the land of Canaan, which God had promised to His people after their escape from Egypt (Deut. 12:9-10, 31:7; Ps. 105:9-11). It was God’s intent to bring His people into a land of great blessing. Specifically, it was God’s intent to bring His people “to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod. 3:8). However, it soon became clear that possessing and retaining the Promised Land required obedience from God’s People.
God requires His People to live according to certain commandments and principles. In the Old Testament, Israel was identified as God’s chosen people, and God provided them with His commandments (Exod. 20). Later, prior to their entry into the Promised Land, He reiterated His commandments. They were required to fear God (Duet. 6:2). They were required to listen and obey (Duet. 6:2-3), and they were commanded to love God with all of their heart, soul, and strength (Duet. 6:5). In fact, Israel was supposed to always remember that Israel belonged to God, and God belonged to Israel. Israel was God’s inheritance, and God was Israel’s inheritance (Duet. 32:9; Jer. 10:16). Israel was warned that God’s promised blessings and continuance in the land was contingent on their obedience (Duet. 6-7, 9, 11).
Describing God’s promises regarding Solomon, David said,
I will establish his kingdom forever if he resolutely performs My commandments and My ordinances, as is done now. So now, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the presence of our God, keep and seek after all the commandments of the Lord your God so that you may possess the good land and leave it as an inheritance to your sons after you forever. As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
(1 Chron. 28:7-9)
God has promised special blessings to His people, but the promise of special blessings is contingent on continued obedience. Yes, our obedience is possible only because of God’s grace. We are dependent on His Word, guidance (the Spirit), and provision. King David said, “Who is the person who fears the Lord? He [God] will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will dwell in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land” (Ps. 25:12-13).
In Psalm 37, David provided an important insight into what is required of us to receive a full inheritance. David said all of the following: “Trust in the Lord and do good; live in the land and cultivate faithfulness” (Ps. 37:3). “[T]hose who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land” (Ps. 37:9). The “humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Ps. 37:11). “The Lord knows the days of the blameless, [a]nd their inheritance will be forever (Ps. 37:18). “For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, but those cursed by Him will be eliminated” (Ps. 37:22). “The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever” (Ps. 37:29). “Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land (Ps. 37:34). As we see above, receiving the inheritance was dependent on the believer’s function and practice of certain character traits, which were a byproduct of God’s grace and the believer’s receptivity. In other words, receiving the inheritance was a byproduct of God’s grace and human free will.
With the coming of Christ and the New Covenant Spiritual Life, the inheritance has been expanded to something far beyond the land of Canaan and to far more than just the Israelite people. All believers have been grafted into Israel (Rom. 11), and we now anticipate inheriting the Kingdom of God (which is a present spiritual reality and a future political kingdom, which will encompass all of God’s creation). God and His Kingdom are our Promised Land! All believers have the privilege to inherit eternal life (which is sharing in God’s own life). Eternal Life is much more than an endless existence. Eternal life is a type, kind, and quality of life. If we lay hold of eternal life (fellowship with God) in this life, we will be given the privilege of fantastic blessings for all eternity. In one of his last epistles, the Apostle Paul encouraged every believer to “[f]ight the good fight of faith [and] take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Tim. 6:12). In the previous verse, Paul instructed Timothy, “you man of God, …pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11).
As explained in the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, the image of the “inheritance” has received “greater spiritual definition” in the New Testament texts. Now, the “inheritance” is described as the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10), eternal life (Mark. 10:17), salvation ((Heb. 1:14), and the New Heavens and Earth (Rev. 21:7). Our preoccupation with physical existence should not blind us to the reality that the spiritual must always have priority over the material Universe. Christ’s resurrection assures us of a future physical body, but our primary existence is spiritual. An important part of spiritual maturity and being an “overcomer believer” is understanding that our spiritual reality must always take precedence. In the Book of Revelation, John wrote, “The one who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son” (Rev. 21:7). Every believer is a child of God in position, but not every believer functions as a child of God or will inherit the blessings associated with obedience.
The Apostle Paul wrote,
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior, idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
If we take possession of the new spiritual reality found in the Kingdom of God, we will ultimately inherit the entire material Universe with Christ. In his farewell to the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “And now I entrust you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all of those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Paul prayed that the Ephesians would be enlightened to see and understand the hope of God’s calling and the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18). Likewise, Peter encouraged the “chosen” (1 Pet. 1:1) to press forward and obtain the “inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4).
#biblicalimagery #inheritance. #oldtestamentshadows #specialblessings
 “Inheritance.” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, edited by Leland Ryken, et al, InterVarsity Press, 1998.