In Genesis chapter 12, when Abraham was 75 years old and childless, he was told by God to move to a new land. He was told that he would be made into a great nation and would be blessed. In chapter 13, he viewed that Promised Land and was told, again by God, that his family would grow so large that the numbers couldnt be counted. It would be like trying to count dust or the stars. It was more than he could comprehend. He couldnt imagine with his human mind how it could happen or when it would happen. He tried to help God out by having a son with a servant, but that was not Gods plan. After the promised son, Isaac, was born with his wife Sarah, maybe he had a little glimpse of what the future held. But when that son was required by God to be sacrificed, Abraham had to be confused. Im sure he questioned Gods instruction, but he rose early the next morning to carry it out. Of course, we know that God stopped the sacrifice of Isaac. But because Abraham was willing to carry out the sacrifice, because he believed in God that much, God added one more promise to the promise of land and a huge family: He promised that all nations would be blessed, not just Abrahams family, through him.
Now lets fast forward to Joshua dividing up the land hundreds of years later. From what Ive read, it was from 700 900 years after the promise to Abraham until his descendants finally claimed the land. They had seen and experienced a lot: famine, slavery, plagues, battles, miracles, and pillars of cloud and fire. Now, at last, finally, they were to receive their inheritance. Can you imagine the excitement? The anxiousness? The anticipation?
After my dads parents died, we had an auction to sell their stuff. Before the sale, the family (and only the family) gathered in one day to claim the things we wanted to keep. Even though I was young, I felt strongly about having something, so I asked my aunts if I could have the rocking chair. They thought it was a great idea, so I now have in my possession my grannys rocking chair, custom made to fit her short legs by my carpenter grandfather. To a lot of people, it wouldnt be anything special, they wouldnt even want it in their house; but to me, it is one of the most prized objects in my house.
About a year and a half ago, even though my mothers parents had been gone for years, our huge family (and only the family) gathered together to go through their house to divide up the stuff. My mom is from a family of 12 with thirty something grandchildren and who knows how many great- and great-great- and great-great-great-grandchildren. With that many people, there was a real possibility of conflict. I prayed and prayed about it, and God answered my prayers in the affirmative, as there were no ill feelings at the end of the day. However, tensions were high as the day began and we tried to figure out just how we should go about the process to be fair to everyone. To me, the most special item in the house was a dresser that had been given to my maternal grandparents many years ago after a house fire by my paternal great-grandparents. I really wanted my sister to get that dresser since she didnt get anything from my dads parents sale seeing as she was just a kid. It was decided that the first generation would go in the house, tag what they most wanted, and draw if more than one wanted the same item, and then the second generation, and so on. When it was time for my bunch to enter the house, I almost ran over someone to get my sisters name on that dresser. She did get it, by the way.
I have several things from my ancestors that are special to me:
rocking chair, lamp Granny Lillian coffee and end tables Granny Madge doilies, ceramic lions, aprons Granny Madge dishes both grannies quilts Granny Madge carpenter rule Grandpa Hiram
I treasure these things because my relatives that I love and who loved me, touched them, bought them, made them, cleaned them, used them, slept under them. I understand that these things are not special to you, and thats okay.
All of these things came to me after the deaths of my grandparents except the ceramic lions. Not too long before she got sick, my Granny Madge gave them to me. They were a gift to me, and therefore, a little extra special.
There are things that are not physical that my grandparents gave to me:
memories of my Grandpa Hiram every time I smell sawdust memories of my Grandpa Frank every time I see a crawdad or hear the bass lead in A Beautiful Life memories of my Granny Madge when I smell fried food, especially potatoes memories of my Granny Lillian when I see someone working in a garden
In some ways, the memories are more special than the physical things, but all of these things will be gone someday. The ceramic lions and the dishes will break, the aprons and quilts will rot, even the memories will be gone when I die. All these things that are so special to me and you have your own will not last forever.
The land of Canaan, promised to Abraham and given to the Israelites thousands of years ago, will not last forever. The Jewish nation, promised to Abraham, so large it cant be numbered, will not last forever. But that third promise, the one about all nations being blessed, thats the one that deals directly with us, and its the one that is eternal. Our inheritance from our earthly forefathers isnt a drop in the bucket compared to our inheritance from our heavenly Father, even when the earthly inheritance is quite substantial. Gary has a friend whose wife inherited $30,000,000 when she turned 30. Even that cant begin to compare with what God is waiting to give us. Abraham couldnt imagine with his little human mind what God had in store for him. Neither can we imagine what God has in store for us.
We read in Matthew 25:34 that we can inherit the kingdom that was prepared for us from the foundation of the world. Matthew 19:29 says we can inherit eternal life. Solomon says in Proverbs 3:35, the wise inherit honor or glory, and in Revelation 21:7 we read, He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. Hebrews speaks of inheriting promises and salvation, while I Peter 3 mentions inheriting grace and blessings. You know, we dont have to wait until we die to start receiving blessings or gifts from God. Just like my granny gave me those lions for no reason except that she loved me and wanted me to have them, so our God gives us good gifts here and now. Lets remember that not all blessings from Him are physical. Indeed, the spiritual ones are extra special like the memories of my grandparents and are even better than the physical ones. A kingdom, eternal life, honor, blessings, promises, salvation
It all sounds too good to be true, doesnt it? But it is true. We can inherit all these things, if we believe in God and are led by our belief to action. Remember how I kept emphasizing that only the family was present when we went through my grandparents things? Its that way spiritually, as well. If you want to be a part of this inheritance, you must be part of the family. Ephesians 1:13,14 says, In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance . Romans 8:16 says, The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow (or joint) heirs with Christ . I cannot imagine being joint heirs with Jesus Christ, can you? I dont feel worthy! Im so thankful for verses like I Corinthians 6:9-11, Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. We are all sinners, but no matter what weve done, we can choose to become justified, sanctified; how does that happen? It happens when we come into contact with the blood of Jesus in baptism. In Hebrews chapter 9, the writer reminds us that it is the blood of Jesus that has the power to cleanse us, and that without the death of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, there would be no eternal inheritance for us. If my grandparents were still living, I wouldnt have these things. It is only after death that an inheritance takes place. I sometimes feel sad that my grandparents are dead, but I can rejoice with my memories and the things they left behind. Its the same spiritually. We feel sad that Jesus had to die for us. We feel guilty. But praise God He has provided a way to become free from our sin. Praise God that Jesus is not still dead, but alive, overcoming death for all of us! Thank you, God, for the blessings, the promises, the inheritance you have prepared for us!
Sometimes, we might be like Abraham, we might question God or be confused about what we are to do or not do. We might not understand why God asks us to do the things He asks us to do. Ladies, we dont have to understand God, we just have to believe Him, and believe in Him. We must be willing to do anything He requires of us, just like Abraham was. In Hebrews chapter 11, we read, By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
I encourage you today to become a child of God if you are not one. It is the only way to receive the inheritance that is waiting for you. If you are a child of God, I encourage you to act on your belief, act on your faith. Your actions wont save you; were only saved by the grace of God, but let your faith lead you to action, to good works. I encourage you today to trust God with your future like youve never trusted before. Dont try to help God out like Abraham did. Remember, He always knows best, and even though we dont know when or how, He will take care of us and keep His promises.
Remember how I wanted my sister to have that dresser? Remember how adamant I was and how I made every effort for her to get it? It was a special antique dresser, owned at one time or another by both sides of our family, and no one was happier than I when we loaded it up for her. It makes me think that spiritually we need to be concerned about the promised inheritance, not just for ourselves, but for others as well. We have a responsibility to people in this world, and there are millions of them, who do not know Jesus. We know of the promises, the blessings, the inheritance, and we know its the greatest gift weve ever been given. Have you studied with someone, taught them the gospel, and brought them to Christ? How happy did that make you? Even happier than I was the day Tamara got the dresser. Heres another great thing about the inheritance from God: we dont have to draw names to get the best stuff! Unlike our earthly families, there is no reason to worry about who is going to get what. There is no tension concerning who gets to choose first. We dont have to wait our turn to see what is left over! There is plenty for all.
Canaan was the promised land for which Israel had longed for years. It was beautiful, more than they could have even imagined. They had to learn some hard lessons concerning obedience along the way, but all their efforts were well worth it once they arrived. Heaven is our promised land, and I know we all long for it. We cant even begin to comprehend how beautiful it will be. Sometimes we have to learn some hard lessons concerning obedience along the way, but all our efforts will be more than worth it once we have arrived. Only the one, true God could make such incredible promises and keep them. Only the one, true God could plan an inheritance for us that allows us to live forever in His presence.
Sing some songs about our "promised land."
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Ladies Bible Class, 29 November 2005
Link to Rochelle's lecture "The Storms of Our Lives"
Link to Rochelle's lecture "The Resurrection: Believe It or Not"
Link to Jeannie Cole's Ladies' Bible Class lectures
Link to WINGS Home Page