What Scripture Says About Salvation
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
Monograph 25: The Heir and the Inheritance
This section might be considered as a sequel to the previous section concerning holy spirit as God's gifts to men.
When God called Abram to leave the land of Ur, he made several promises to Abram. Genesis 12:1-3 describes these promises:
"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
The key part here is "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Later, these promises were also extended to Isaac and Jacob.
The second promise is found in Genesis 12:6-7:
"And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him."
The key part here is, "Unto thy seed will I give this land."
The Lord repeated this promise to Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah.
"And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." (Genesis 26:2-5).
Following his receipt of the blessing from Isaac through deceit, Jacob fled the country to escape the wrath of Esau, who felt he had been cheated out of his birthright. As Jacob fled, he lay down to rest and the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." (Genesis 28:12-15).
After Jacob had worked many years for Laban, God called him to,
"Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee." (Genesis 31:3).
Later, after Jacob had returned, God again appeared to him and told him to return to Bethel, the place where he had dreamed when he first fled from Esau. There, God said to him,
"Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land." (Genesis 35:10-13).
As Jacob lay dying, he told Joseph he would adopt his two sons. Genesis 48:5-6:
"And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance."
Joseph's two sons would be counted equal with Jacob's other sons when they entered the promised land, or their inheritance, and any other children of Joseph would also share in the inheritance of Ephraim and Manasseh. This gave Joseph two shares in the inheritance, the promised land. Jacob's promise to include Joseph's two sons was the first time that the word "inheritance" was used in relationship to God's promise to give them the land.
In Exodus 13:11-12, the Lord said to Moses,
"And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, That thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the Lord's."
Notice that it is the Lord who will bring them into the land.
God did not allow Moses to lead the people into the promised land, but selected Joshua to lead them in. Moses told the people about this in Deuteronomy 3:25-28:
"I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see."
After this, throughout Deuteronomy, the Lord told Israel how to live when they enter the promised land. One prominent thing that the Lord desired was for Israel to rejoice. Deuteronomy 12:9-12 says:
"For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God giveth you. But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord: And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you."
The land is continually referred to as a gift from God, emphasizing to the Israelites that the land belonged to God. He created it and he never relinquished the control of it to anyone. This was demonstrated by instituting the Day of Jubilee, which decreed that any land sold by any Israelite was to be returned to the seller or his descendants every 50 years. Under God's laws, the Israelites could not permanently dispose of the land God gave them. They could use it, but God retained control of the land's final disposition.
Psalms 47:7 says,
"For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding."
The earth is his to do with as he wills, and the people are recipients of his largesse.
God was depicted in the Bible in terms that people of that day understood. He was described as a feudal Lord, dividing his lands as he wished to whom he wished. Deuteronomy 32:8 says,
"When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel."
God divides his land and thereby obligates his subjects to render personal service.
This obligatory service can be seen in the many commands that God gave to Israel, whom he had chosen to inherit the promised land. God required that they be obedient if they were to stay in the land; otherwise, he would have them removed and replaced. This was a constantly repeated warning in the scriptures.
The sovereignty of God was also demonstrated when he gave Moses instructions on how the land was to be divided by lot. This was done before Israel was even in the land, while it yet remained to be taken from the present inhabitants.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names. To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him. Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few (Numbers 26:52-56)."
The first part of this chapter gives a list of the tribes and some of the families. Notice that when God spoke about inheritance, it concerned the promised land, at least in the early history of Israel.
Wilson (p. 260) gives this definition for the word lot.
"Primarily a stone which is cast or drawn in doubtful or equal cases as when several persons are to have an equal share to determine which share each shall have."
The biblical teaching implies that it is God who controls the lot so it results in his choice.
The Lord told Moses where the land was located and gave him the boundaries (Numbers 34:2-12). Then, Moses told the people,
"This is the land which ye shall inherit by lot, which the Lord commanded to give unto the nine tribes, and to the half tribe (Numbers 34:13)," and, "The two tribes and the half tribe have received their inheritance on this side Jordan near Jericho eastward, toward the sunrising (Numbers 34:15)."
Numbers 36:2 says,
"And they said, The Lord commanded my lord to give the land for an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel."
Note that the inheritance was the land and that the division of the land was to be determined by the lot of God.
The providence and grace of God was illustrated for the Israelites because the land had not yet been conquered when God gave the instructions for its division by lot. It was he who gave the land. It was he who gave the requirements for staying in the land. God gave; they received. God not only gave the land, he also gave the Israelites their power and strength in battle. He gave them everything they needed to obey his commands.
After Moses died, Joshua became the leader of the Israelites and led them into the promised land, or inheritance, and divided it by lot. Joshua 18:1-3 describes the division of the land by lot.
"And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them. And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance. And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you?"
Even though God gave the land to the Israelites, he expected them to go possess it. Their responsibility was to possess the land.
Joshua asked them to choose three men from each tribe to examine the land and report back to him how it had been divided into seven portions. This was done for the purpose stated in verse 18:6:
"That I may cast lots for you here before the Lord our God."
After the men returned, the lot was cast; and the rest of Chapter 18 records the divisions and a description of their locations.
The Israelites entered and possessed their inheritance under the guidance and provisions of a caring and merciful God. Although lots were cast for other matters, the land was never again subject to the casting of the lot. It was finished. The Israelites had received their inheritance, the land.
The Bible describes the trials and tribulations of the Israelites as they entered the land, and also notes how they turned away from their God to worship false gods. They were eventually removed from the land because they refused to follow the Lord.
The TWOT (Vol. 2, p. 568) points out that,
"God is often the one who 'leads.' So, Abraham's servant reported God as his 'guider' (Gen. 24:27). In the Exodus this guidance was manifested by the pillars of cloud and fire which preceded (led) Israel (Ex.13:21). The Psalms frequently recall how God led his people along the right path and beseech him to do so again. This request is for far more than guidance. It is that God be before them showing the way to righteousness (Ps. 5:8-9; 23:3). Moreover, the pious are to be led by God's commandments (Prov. 6:22) in conjunction with the integrity of the heart (Prov. 11:3). The nations are obligated to worship God because he will judge and govern (i.e. graciously guide) Ps. 67:4-5, 31:3-4 in the Messianic kingdom."
The entire episode of how the Israelites were given the promised land is a grand analogy of how we were given the right to enter the kingdom of God (salvation). Even as the Hebrew name Joshua was the Greek equivalent of Jesus, so Joshua's leading the people, under God, into the promised land, foreshadowed Jesus, under God, leading others into the Messianic kingdom and its righteousness.
Just as God gave the land to the Israelites, he has given everyone the right to enter the kingdom in the next age. And, just as the Israelites lost possession of the land, so can we lose our right to enter the kingdom. Both gifts were conditional, their retention being based on continued obedience.
After the Israelites were expelled from the promised land, the emphasis of scripture was focused on the future return of Israel. Psalms 105:5-11 recalls God's promises to the Israelites concerning the land and says that God will still fulfill his covenant to them at a later time.
"Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen. He is the Lord our God: his judgments are in all the earth. He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance."
Isaiah 34 tells about the day of the Lord's vengeance upon the nations who have been used to punish Israel, and in Isaiah 34:17, God again repeats his promise to Israel.
"And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein."
Isaiah 35 contains a description of how the desert will blossom, the eyes of the blind be opened, the deaf will hear, and the lame will leap. Then, Isaiah 35:8-10 says,
"And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
Notice that the highway is called "the way of holiness," or righteousness. Throughout the scriptures, the terms "righteousness," "the salvation," and "the kingdom" are often used in parallel, almost synonymously.
Isaiah 63:17-19 says,
"O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance. The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name."
The speaker recognized that Israel is the inheritance of God, even as the land is the inheritance of Israel.
Isaiah 62:10-12 reinforces this concept of Israel being the inheritance of God.
"Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken."
Obadiah 1:17-21, also contains a prophesy that Israel will again possess the land of Canaan in the last days:
"But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it. And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south. And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord's."
Indeed, Israel will again possess the promised land in the millennium. However, there is also another side to God's covenant as expressed in Isaiah 65:8-9.
"Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there."
And, in Isaiah 54:3:
"For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited."
This brief introduction ends with the concept of "the seed," which is the subject of the next monograph.
# When God called Abram to leave the land of Ur, he made several
promises to Abram. Later, these promises were also extended to Isaac
# Jacob's promise to include Joseph's two sons was the first time that the
word "inheritance" was used in relationship to God's promise to give
them the land.
# The land is continually referred to as a gift from God, emphasizing to
the Israelites that the land belonged to God.
# God required that the Israelites be obedient if they were to stay in the
land; otherwise, he would have them removed and replaced.
# God not only gave the land, he also gave the Israelites their power and
strength in battle. He gave them everything they needed to obey his
# The entire episode of how the Israelites were given the promised land is
a grand analogy of how we were given the right to enter the kingdom
of God (our salvation). Both gifts were conditional, their retention
being based on continued obedience.
© 2009, Fred Kenison and Merrill Douglass. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.