The Israelites pressed forward, spurred on in their quest to obtain their inheritance by conquering the enemies around them and claiming enemy land as their own. They were following the charge God gave to Joshua, courageously taking hold of the inheritance they had been promised. They faced enemies and danger and exhaustion.
What is Our Inheritance?
The New Testament also has this idea of inheritance. Peter tells us that, as Christians, our inheritance is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:4). He compares this incredibly perfect inheritance with the pointless customs handed down to us as our earthly inheritance.
But just what do we inherit? What is it we are promised as children of God?
Exactly that. We are promised standing as a child of God. A place in the kingdom of God, standing as a son or daughter in the court of the King of the Ages.
How astounding is that? How earth-shattering—how world-changing!
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).
You Don’t Have to Earn It—Because You Can’t
One of the saddest thoughts we hear shared in this culture is this: You have to be good enough to get to God. It is so ingrained in our humanity that we have to earn our way to perfection, that we have to earn the right to His attention and care and love.
Of course, we can’t be perfect. That much should be obvious to most of us. But even if we try to just be “good enough,” we still miss the mark—not only will we fall short of that, too, but even if we could somehow pass that test, it wouldn’t matter.
Because it’s a gift.
An inheritance is not something we rise through the ranks to achieve, but what another’s life work—and death—freely gives to us. We don’t earn an inheritance. We are given one, by no merit on our part. Paul says that “in Christ we have obtained an inheritance” (Ephesians 1:11). No more trying to exchange the currency of our good-ish deeds to coins of His favor.
It’s all in the gift.
Thou Mine Inheritance
When God told the Israelites what land each tribe would inherit, there was none for the tribe of Levi. Not because they were disqualified from an inheritance, but because they had a greater one: God Himself.
“Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers. The Lord is his inheritance…” (Deuteronomy 10:9a).
Peter tells us that now we are all priests, so we know our inheritance is the same: a living, solidly real relationship with the God who created us. Our inheritance isn’t just going to heaven when we die. It isn’t just about having our eternal destination planned. Our inheritance is Christ and a renewed right relationship with Him.
Ironic, isn’t it. All those years the Israelites yearned for their inheritance, thinking their great treasure was real estate and prosperous fields, forgetting the God who ransomed their country out of slavery and promised a fellowship with Him. And He was with them all along.
And He is with us. Our inheritance isn’t just temporary pleasures in this life, but treasure held waiting for us that we can only taste in part right now. As the classic hymn proclaims, “Thou mine inheritance, now and always”—not “it mine inheritance.” Jesus gives us Himself, and there is no greater gift.
A glorious mystery of the Gospel is this: what the ancient giants of faith hoped for in their future we have now in our daily lives. They set out to claim their inheritance, and we have already obtained it—not through our own battles and conquests but through an unimaginable sacrifice and death made on our behalf.
And here we find another mystery, something we will never fully understand. Because typically, any earthly inheritance we ever receive only comes through the death of the one who gives it—and with that death, the grief of separation and loss.
Our spiritual inheritance also came through a death.
Jesus didn’t stay dead. Our heavenly inheritance brings riches beyond our imagination AND a deeper, constant relationship with Him who died…and rose again.
The fight is over. The gift is ours.