Monthly Archives: August 2012

Christ’s Inheritance

In all we have been saying about the Christian’s inheritance we have been looking at things from the point of view of our own advantage.  But there is another point of view—a higher one, I would say.

God, too, has an inheritance.

For the LORD’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance (Dt. 32.9).

This is why God lifted up Israel “on eagle’s wings,” and brought them unto Himself—not only to give them the inheritance He promised Abraham, but that they themselves might become His own inheritance as well, His own inheritance among all the peoples of the earth.  For all the earth was His, He told them, but they were to be a special people among all peoples (Ex. 19.4-6).  His desire was to live and walk and dwell among them.  He wanted to come in and settle down in their midst.  Among them He would be able to, as it were, put His feet up, and say, “At last, I’m home.”  In them He could have total liberty to just be Himself.  In them He would have things His way.

Now, this was not to be something exclusive of other peoples; Israel was to be “a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.”  God always had in mind to increase this inheritance to include all peoples.  And so even under the Law provision was made for “the stranger” to become part of Israel.

But ultimately God’s longing for an inheritance that included all peoples is fulfilled in His invitation to Christ:

Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession (Ps. 2.8).

Christ did ask, and “for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross.”  It was the joy and hope of being given a people who would become His own inheritance.  A sister in the Lord mentioned this to me a while ago, adding how humbled she felt that Christ would die on the cross to purchase with His precious blood lost sinners like her to become His own inheritance.  It is humbling.  What value did He see in us?  But, looking through the eyes of love He saw a people in whom, as a result of the Cross, He would be able to put His feet up and say, “At last, I’m home.”

And so there is an intertwining of these two aspects of the inheritance.  Our inheritance.  God’s inheritance.  What a beautiful and mutually satisfying relationship we are called to.  The Lord is our inheritance, and we are His inheritance.  He is our dwelling place, and we are His dwelling place.  “Abide in Me,” He urges, “and I in you.”  To the one who hears Him knocking, He says, “I will come in and sup with him… and he with Me.”

Is that not a wonder?  To think that God is hungry for something that only you and I can satisfy?  We know readily enough that God has much to satisfy us with, and we go to Him continually holding out our empty plate.  But what about God’s empty plate?  What about that empty feeling He has?  “What can I give God?” you ask.  “How can I feed God?”  With fellowship.  He delights in fellowship with us as much as we delight in fellowship with Him.  He is very willing to share what’s “on our plate.”  Really, Lord?  Do you know what’s on my plate?  Yes, He does.  And He is willing to share it with me.  For He is meek and lowly of heart.  And He invites us to share what’s on His.

It was He who sought out Adam and Eve in the Garden.  He called out, “Adam, where are you?”  What was He looking for?  Friendship.  Fellowship.  And though that fellowship was broken, He never gave up on it.  He restored it in His Son, that in Him He could find fellowship with man again…

…And in Him we could find fellowship with God again.

“For the LORD taketh pleasure in His people,” David said (Ps. 149.3).  How can this be? David tells us.  “He will beautify the meek with salvation.”

Let us believe the love He has for us, beloved.  He will not rest till He has fully possessed His inheritance, till He has made that which He purchased on Calvary fully His own… so that in us He lives, in us He talks, in us He walks, in us He looks upon those around Him, in us He  stretches forth His hand to heal.

The Christian’s Inheritance (Part Four)

In the last three blog entries we’ve been talking of the inheritance of the Christian. We mentioned that this was foreshadowed in the Old Testament by Israel coming into Canaan the promised land. We pointed out that theirs was a temporal and earthly inheritance; the Christian’s is eternal in the heavenlies, the realm of the Spirit.

There’s another way our inheritance is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. God told the tribe of Levi—the priestly tribe—that they were to have no inheritance with their brethren when they came into the land of Canaan. Rather, “I am their inheritance,” God said.

At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before Him to minister unto Him, and to bless in His name, unto this day.
Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him (Dt. 10.9).

You mean, when the children of Israel began enjoying their beautiful acreages in the land of Canaan there was nothing reserved for the tribe of Levi? All they got was… God?

What a letdown, eh? All they got was… God? All they got was the priesthood, the anointing?

…He that hath an ear let him hear.

There came a time when God uprooted Israel from their heritage because of their disobedience. He sent Nebuchadnezzar his servant to destroy the beloved city and temple they boasted in, and evict them from His land, and take them captive to Babylon. Jeremiah the prophet was heartbroken, and overcome with anguish. He was so bitter he felt he was drunk with bitterness.

He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood.
He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.
And Thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity.
And I said, my strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:
Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall… (Lam. 3.15-19).

Suddenly it seems that Jeremiah, the tears streaming down his cheeks… he remembers something. He is a priest of the tribe of Levi (Jer. 1.1).

And he says, “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope… The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him” (Lam. 3.21,24).

All was gone! The heritage of Israel had been obliterated, utterly desolated! Yet in the midst of it all Jeremiah discovers hope, because God is His portion, His inheritance, His lot. He has fellowship with God in the midst of the desolation, weeping together with Him… and rejoicing in hope with Him as well. He knows God’s compassion will not fail, that His mercies are new every morning; out of the desolation a new day will dawn, and out of the ashes God will bring forth something even greater than what was lost. So Jeremiah wipes away his tears; he will wait in patience for the faithful God to reveal His great salvation.

The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

David, too, while not of the priestly tribe… light dawned on him as well one day, and he saw that the portion God had given the priestly tribe of Levi was prophetic of His desire for all of His saints. For He would have them all to be a kingdom of priests. I think it likely that David wrote this psalm in the days when he was, as he said, being “driven out from the inheritance of the Lord” (see 1 Sam. 26.19). And so David said:

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage (Ps. 16.5,6).

This is very beautiful. If not for this we might feel envious of our Christian brothers and sisters who seem to have a better inheritance than we do. We look over the fence and envy their lot.  They have it so good.  They are free of afflictions and troubles. It seems God has blessed them with things He has not blessed us with; they have happy circumstances, fulfilling relationships, while we ourselves are going through such hard things.

It’s a formula for bitterness isn’t it.

…Not when the Lord draws nigh, and reveals that He Himself is our portion, our inheritance, our lot. Now we are able to say—and mean what we say—“the lines (the boundary lines) are fallen unto me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.” Why so? Because in the midst of our suffering and pain we are beginning to see that… God Himself is our inheritance.

Pleasant—it means pleasing, delightful. We have a goodly heritage right there in the midst of unhappy and hard things. What heritage? God Himself. His Presence. His peace. His love. His joy… Himself. The hidden beauties of His own heart and character, the greater things He gives us in the very things life seems to deny us, things that perhaps we would never have known were even there if we could have chosen to live our lives happily ever after with all that we wished for. But no man or devil or circumstance of life can separate us from the inheritance of God.   It is a wondrous, wondrous secret—that the cross we must carry, the way of the cross which seems such loss to us, and which seems to lead in the wrong direction, actually leads to Life.

“Thou wilt shew me the Path of Life,” David concludes his psalm. “In thy Presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore.” This is where the lines were drawn for David the outcast who had nowhere to lay his head, and he knew that it was because a loving God had drawn those lines to include this territory for him.

“Thou maintainest my lot,” David said.

…Lord, we ask that you maintain our lot too, the heritage that is You yourself. Some things are so beautiful and so high that we worry we might miss out on them. Not if it is You looking after this on our behalf, Lord. So we lean on You to do this; look after this for us, dear Lord, maintain it, protect it, keep it for us, tend it with care; uphold our lot, Lord, that we might continue to enjoy the riches and beauty of this pleasing and goodly heritage—You yourself—regardless of our earthly circumstances. Amen.

The Christian’s Inheritance (Part Three)

We mentioned last time “the Holy Spirit of promise” which is the earnest of our inheritance.  We are in Ephesians now.  And there is so much here that we will just have to break midstream into Paul’s thought.  He says that in Christ:

…we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will;
That we should be to the praise of His glory who first hoped in Christ;
In whom ye also, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,
Which is the earnest of our inheritance unto the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1.13,14).

(Let’s bookmark for the moment that twice-repeated phrase “to the praise of His glory.” We’ll come back to it.)

The Holy Spirit, then, “that Holy Spirit of promise,” is given us as the earnest of our inheritance—the pledge, the seal, the guarantee, that assures redemption of the purchased possession.  Paul has already told us back in verse 7 that in Christ we have “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”  But forgiveness of sins, wonderful as it is, is only the negative side of our redemption.  Now Paul shows us the positive side– the giving of the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest, the pledge, of an inheritance fully purchased… but not yet fully in our possession.  Yes, it is ours—the earnest of the Holy Spirit guarantees it, guarantees that in due time the holders of the pledge will be able to redeem in full the purchased possession.  In fact the Greek for earnest is arrabon, which can also mean engagement ring.  The Holy Spirit is, then, our engagement ring—the pledge of a coming marriage.  The bride-to-be rejoices in the ring, and holds out her hand to show it off.  But no bride or groom would be content to settle for the engagement ring alone.  It’s the bridegroom himself she has in mind, total union with the bridegroom—and so does he.  We too must not put the pledge for the whole.  By the engagement ring of the Holy Spirit we are sealed unto the marriage—total union with Christ our bridegroom in the day when all that He has—and is—becomes ours.  Let this be our consuming desire, as it is His.

Meanwhile the Holy Spirit is the earnest, the seal, the pledge, “unto the redemption of the purchased possession.”  Let us keep our seal inviolate till the wedding day.  “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4.30).  Israel in the wilderness came to the place where, in spite of all that God had done to fit them for their inheritance, they “vexed His Holy Spirit,” they “grieved Him in the wilderness” (Isa. 63.10, Heb. 3.17).  We can’t go in, they said.  “We are not able…” (Num. 13.31).

We are able, said Caleb.  “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13.30).

We too are able!  Delivered from sin and death, and being given the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are meet, we are sufficient, are competent, are well able, to partake of our portion of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Which is?  God Himself.  “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.”  If we are children of God, we are His heirs, Paul says, “heirs of God…”  All that He has is ours—all that He is.  What can this mean?  It is so high and so vast a thought as to be largely incomprehensible to us.  It means, I believe, that we are to come to know God—the depths of God.  “For the Spirit searcheth all things, the depths of God” (1 Cor. 2.10).  It humbles us and fills us with awe when the implications of this passage dawn on us.  This is something the angels don’t have—the Spirit of God in such a way as to enable us to search out the depths of God… because we share His very nature.  For, as Paul explains, it’s only the spirit of a person that knows all about that person.  Even so, it’s only the Spirit of God that knows all about God (1 Cor. 2.11).  Paul’s point is that– wonder of wonders– we have received His Spirit (vs. 12).  We are born of God, share His nature.  We are His children, and so His heirs.  The Holy Spirit is our guide, then, leading us to search out and explore and make real in our experience… the very depths of God.  We are to come to know Him—and this in such a way as only those who are partakers of His nature can come to know Him. It is a wondrous hope, and the very thing that the New Covenant promises.  “They shall all know Me from the least of them to the greatest.”

But know Him to what degree?  Paul goes on, “…Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.”  We are to know God the Father just as the Son of God knew Him when He walked here on earth.  We are joint-heirs with Christ; all that is His is ours.

The Christian’s inheritance, then, with Christ Himself, is the heart and mind of God, the mountains of His righteousness, the vastness of His love.  We are to know Him with the kind of knowledge that makes us like Him.  We are to be like Him in this world (1 Jn. 4.17).  This is the end of all the teaching, the talking, the preaching, the praying—all that now makes up Christianity. Sons in God’s image. Partakers of the divine nature, which angels are not heirs of.  Only fallen men now made meet are heirs, men once held in the bondage of darkness but now made fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in a realm of pure Light… unto which no sinful man can approach.  Only these are the heirs of God.  Sons, daughters, who think like He thinks, who feel as He feels, who walk as He walks, who talk as He talks, and act as He acts.

…I pray for an awakening of the saints of God.  Oh that we might see that with our Passover experience and our Pentecost experience we are but in our beginnings.  Yes, God has delivered us from the authority of darkness.  That was what the Passover accomplished.  What about the rest of the sentence?  He has “translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”  He has “made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”  Translated?  The word simply means, transferred. This is what God accomplished in Christ on our behalf.  We need not spend years in a wilderness, like Israel of old in their disobedience.  God’s intent at Sinai was to equip his people to immediately enter into their inheritance. “Let us go up at once and possess it,” said Caleb. “We are well able.”  We too are able.  This is God’s intent in the pouring out of His Spirit at Pentecost.  Strengthened with all might by His Spirit in the inner man we are well able to begin immediately to apprehend our inheritance.

I pray for an awakening.  It ought to provoke us that we Christians are so short of what is our own.  Why are we content with so little?  We should be jealous for what is our own.  We spend our days wandering in a wilderness, like Israel of old.  Yes, God looks after us in the wilderness, as He did them.  But oh how straitened they were in that wilderness… as are we.  This is what accounts for the condition of the church these days—the Christians, the saints of God.  We mourn sore like doves over the condition of things—the problems, the carnality.  There is scarcely a Christian who doesn’t have problems of some kind.  Quite simply, we have not yet apprehended the awesome inheritance Christ purchased for us at Calvary, and our present condition reflects it.  Instead of total conquest over God’s enemies and casting them out of the heavenly heritage which is our own, our enemies spoil for themselves.  They are able to do that from their heavenly vantage point—that belongs to you and me.  We must take our inheritance!  Really, it’s a matter of life and death—and as the Day draws nigh it’s going to become more so—that those in the world around us be able to find a Christian who is walking in his or her inheritance and knows their God, and has authority in heavenly places.  It’s far from a selfish thing that we enter into and take our inheritance.

Let us press on, then, and press in.  We are thankful that Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us; we rejoice in our Pentecost.  But like Israel of old, at this stage we are yet in our beginnings.  These are but to make us meet for our inheritance.  The Passover has dealt with the past; the earnest of the Spirit is just that—the earnest, the pledge, the deposit that guarantees us the fullness of the purchased possession “to the praise of His glory.”

Let us note this last phrase well, which we bookmarked earlier.  It is only as we come into our inheritance and abide there that we become those in whom the Lord is glorified.  Only then does the glory of the Lord shine forth from our lives for all the world to see.

The Christian’s Inheritance (Part Two)

Last time we got a little ahead of ourselves and didn’t answer the question as to what God did to make Israel of old fit for the inheritance He had promised them.  We’re thinking of that passage in Colossians in which Paul said that God has “made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Col. 1.12).  Meet—it means fit, competent, able, sufficient.  We can discover the answer to how God did this by seeing what He did to make Israel of old sufficient for the inheritance He had awaiting them.

I believe that, in the main, He did two things.

First, with the blood of the Passover lamb He redeemed them “out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Dt. 7.8).  It was a great beginning for them, so new a beginning that they were to start their calendar from this date. They were now a people unhindered, set free; no longer would they serve Pharaoh and his interests.  They were now separated unto a divine destiny.  In that great “night of the LORD” they made their exodus from Egypt, and were shortly looking back over their shoulders at the impassable sea they just been baptized in.  That was the next thing God did to make them “meet” for their inheritance. Having come through this baptism, Egypt—the land, the territory, the domain wherein they had been slaves—was behind them forever.

Three months later God brought them to Sinai where He brought them into covenant relationship with Himself in the giving of the Law.  This is the consequent thing that God did to make His people fit for their Canaan heritage.  The first was the Passover.  The second was their baptism into Moses (1 Cor. 10.2), and the giving of the Law at Sinai. Which correspond to Pentecost.

For, as do many other Bible students, I believe that what took place at Sinai is intertwined with Pentecost, as is the baptism “in the cloud and in the sea.” Pentecost was to be celebrated in the third month fifty days after the Passover, which was held on the 15th of the first month.  (See Lev. Ch. 23.)  And so we read, “In the third month when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai” (Ex. 19.1).  They had been on the move, then, for 45 days when they came to Sinai.  A few days later God came down to them in fire and gave them a law written in fire (Dt. 33.2).

This, their Pentecost, their baptism and their receiving the Law, was vital to the taking of their heritage.  The Passover was indispensible, but only with this further step would God’s people be “meet” to enter the land and make it their own.  God would remind them over and over again that if they were to be successful in driving out their enemies and taking their inheritance—and keeping it—they would have to be ever mindful to observe this Law (Dt. 4.1, 6.1, Josh. 1.7, etc.).

These two things were tremendous things, but—and let this sink into us deeply—they were not ends in themselves.  The children of Israel were still in their beginnings.  Before them lay their heritage.

So with us.  We are inclined to view certain elements of our Christian experience as ends in themselves, forgetting that we too have a heritage before us.  Let’s review our scripture passage again, this time more fully, and watching now for the parallels to the Exodus of Israel and their entry into Canaan.

…Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light…

Having stated this, Paul now backs up to show us what God has done to make us meet to be partakers of this inheritance of the saints in the light.

…Who hath delivered as from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the son of His love;
In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness (remission) of sins… (Col. 1.12-14).

This passage is so closely paralleled by another in Acts that I must quote it also.  Paul is making his confession before Agrippa.  He says that God has sent him to the Gentiles:

To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light, and the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in Me (Acts 26.18 Interlinear).

And so Paul shows us that like Israel of old, the Christian too has been made meet for his heritage.  And we need to be made meet.  Unrighteous sinners have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5.5, 1 Cor. 6.9).  But we are no longer unrighteous sinners: we have been delivered from “Pharaoh”—the authority of darkness under which we were held in bondage to sin—by Christ the Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5.7), and, consequent to that, by our baptism into Christ.  We are now fit for this wondrous eternal inheritance in the light among others who have been similarly sanctified—set apart—by faith in Jesus.

We who believe in Jesus have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, in whom we have forgiveness, remission, of sins. And after having believed comes the Spirit baptism, the seal of “that Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1.13).  With this we have come  to our Sinai, our Pentecost, our receiving of the law.  What law?  The same Law that Christ sent to the disciples in fire on the day of Pentecost when He baptized them in the Holy Spirit—the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, by which we walk through the land of our inheritance in total liberty from the law of sin and death.

Just as the Torah was the law of the old covenant, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is the law of the new covenant.  Israel had to adhere strictly to the Torah in order to possess their heritage (Josh. 1.7).  We must abide by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling the righteousness of the Torah, and thus having “good success” in possessing our spiritual inheritance.  It is only as we walk in this Law, walk in the Spirit, that we are able to possess our inheritance.  It is utterly impossible to do so without this.

But the thing is—and this ought to encourage us immensely—because of the provision God has given us, we are fit, competent, able to possess it!  In fact with this enabling, there is nothing in this universe that can hinder us from possessing our spiritual heritage.  Many Christians are in circumstances that are heart breaking.  But no circumstance of life regardless how bitter or grievous or difficult can hinder us from entering into and enjoying the heritage in the Spirit that God has marked out for us in Christ.

…More next time.

The Christian’s Inheritance (Part One)

One thing we discover in our reading of the New Testament is that the story of Israel coming out of Egypt and entering Canaan foreshadows the Christian life and walk.  The story of Israel being delivered from Egyptian bondage by the blood of the Passover lamb, receiving the Law at Sinai, and entering into Canaan the promised inheritance underlies much of what the new-covenant apostles taught.  They refer to it either directly or indirectly over and over again.

The inheritance Joshua led the children of Israel into was an earthly heritage, and therefore temporal.  It was but a prophetic picture, a shadow, of a heritage yet to be revealed—the Christian’s inheritance in which those (whether Jew or Gentile) who are brought into relationship with God under a new covenant “receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9.15).  This eternal inheritance is, in the words of the new-covenant apostle Peter, “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in the heavenlies for you…” (1 Pt. 1.4).

It is an inheritance so vast that we cannot lay it out in any sense of fullness in a short message.  Briefly summed up, it is the whole range of truth laid out for us in the New Testament.  All this is the Christian’s blood-bought territory, his heritage—that which our Lord Jesus Christ purchased for us with His life at Calvary, and for which He purchased us.  It is life in the Spirit totally free from bondage to sin.  It is fellowship with God, and in God.  It is God Himself.  We are “heirs of God, and joint heirs of Christ” (Rom. 8.17).

Some teach that this is so pure and holy a heritage that it is impossible to enjoy while yet in mortal flesh.  And certainly, we shall be exploring the riches of this heritage throughout the ages of eternity.  But Paul teaches clearly that God has made us fit for this heritage while yet on earth.  He, the Father, has “made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Col. 1.12).

Meet—it means fit, competent, able, sufficient.  It’s the same word Paul used to describe new-covenant ministers.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new covenant… (2 Cor. 3.5,6).

The same God who has done all that is necessary to equip us and enable us to be effective new covenant ministers has also made us fit for this inheritance in the light.  What has he done to make us sufficient for this with no lack whatever, entirely capable of possessing this inheritance?  A look back into the Old Testament record of how God made Israel fit to enter Canaan will help us to see how God has made us fit to enter and possess our heritage in the Spirit.

First we want to look quickly at the earthly heritage the Israelites were looking forward to.  No doubt in the days of Egyptian bondage they would comfort one another after a long and backbreaking day building Pharaoh’s treasure houses.  They would apply the balm of hope to their weary souls, reminding themselves of the promise God gave Abraham.  Someday they would be no longer slaves; they would have a land of their own.  But what about this rumour they’d been hearing?  Apparently some man named Moses was saying the time had come!  Four hundred years of Egyptian bondage had not caused the promised land to fade away– and neither would forty years of wilderness wandering later on.  They’d been told it was “a land that floweth with milk and honey.”  Apparently it was not like Egypt, a desert land with very little rainfall where they had to sow their seed and water it “with thy foot,” speaking of the primitive irrigation pumps they had to use to water the land from the canals of the Nile.  Rather, Moses told them, “the land whither ye go to possess it is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it from the beginning of the year unto the end of the year” (Dt. 11.9-12).

In other words, in this land the labour was primarily God’s and not their own.  God watched over this land continually and took care of it Himself.

It was, Moses told them, “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills, a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey, a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig bronze” (Dt. 8.7-9).

Think how wonderful that was.  No doubt the people were very excited at the prospect of all this, just as you and I would be, knowing we had been given a tract of land or a beautiful stream-side acreage, and were about to take possession of it.  No doubt each Israelite wondered, as would you and I… what will my particular inheritance be like?  For, there was a specific portion allotted to each one of them.

Yet even with Moses’ description of the promised inheritance it would still be vague in their minds.  The thing is, it wasn’t necessary for them to know in detail what their allotment would be like.  What was necessary was to believe God, and continue moving forward in faith and obedience every step of the way.  God promised He would bring them in, and when He had done so they would know and experience firsthand what their inheritance was all about.

So with us Christians.  We too have a plot of land—one with our own individual name on it, you might say.  Ours is a heavenly land, not an earthly land (Heb. 11.16).  Like Israel of old it’s somewhat vague to us too, although we do have a little understanding as to what it’s like.  It’s a land of Life, and that more abundantly, a land abundant in fruit that grows on a certain Tree on the banks of a River that flows eternally from a Fountain of Life.  We realize we see through a glass darkly as to what this is all about.  We know “in part.”  For now, that’s okay.  God will be faithful to reveal our eternal inheritance to us in magnificent fullness—as we continue in faith and obedience, and enter the Land and explore it and walk in it.  Only thus do we actually comprehend what this inheritance is all about.  However, God does want us to have a measure of understanding as to our inheritance—enough to give us vision and hope, enough to prevent us from settling for less, enough to encourage us to continue moving forward in obedience.

…More next time.

Believing That God Is

The writer of Hebrews commends to us Enoch, who “by faith was translated (transferred) that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him.  For, before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Heb. 11.5).

I wonder why the word for is there.  “For, before his translation…”  That seems to be the emphasis of the Spirit-inspired writer.  Enoch was translated because before he was translated he pleased God.  But then the writer goes on to say:

But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11.6).

Meaning, if Enoch had the testimony that He pleased God, it could only be because he was walking by faith.  For without faith it is impossible to please Him.  Enoch was translated because in his day-by-day walk with God, he entered into a faith that enabled God to do something very powerful, transcendent, prophetic.

The other day I was dwelling on this passage and wondering if there wasn’t more to believing that God is than merely believing He exists.  It seems so obvious we must believe He exists that it hardly needs stating.  Suddenly the “light bulb” came on.  It’s easy enough to believe that God was.  What about believing God is?  We have countless testimonies from the past of the wonderful and mighty things God did in a previous day.  Our present-day denominations are proof that God was.  He was the God who restored justification by faith to His church; He was the God who restored baptism by immersion. He was the God who moved mightily in the days of the Wesleys; He was the God who returned Pentecost to His people—the baptism of the Holy Spirit; He was the God who opened His heavenly storehouse and lavished the gifts of the Spirit on His people—the charismata.  We love to read the stories of the mighty healing evangelists of yesteryear.  In more recent decades He raised up powerful ministries of teaching.  All this and more was opened up for our enrichment by people who in their day believed that God is.  They believed.  They sought Him diligently.  They were rewarded for their faith and seeking.

But the same God who to Christians of a previous day was the God who is… do we have the same expectation of faith in our own day?  Or has God become for most of us the God who was.  All around us we see churches that owe their existence to the God who was.  And we are thankful for what God has done in the past, and rejoice in it.  But it was with a plaintive note that the psalmist came to God reminding Him of what He had done in the days of his fathers:

We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work Thou didst in their days, in the times of old (Ps. 44.1).

In other words, what about my day, Lord?  What about  today?

It’s interesting how the Genesis account about Enoch reads.  It says, “Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah” (Gen. 5.21).  Then it goes on, “And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years…”  This is a dramatic change from what is recorded of the other patriarchs.  Of them it reads only that they lived after they begat an heir… not that they walked with God.  The record of Enoch stands out in blinking lights.  Enoch, we read, “walked with God after he begat…” (Gen. 5.24).

This has to imply that Enoch was not just living life as it came along like the others were.  When he woke up in the morning he expected to walk with the living God—and who knows the potential involved in this.  He believed in a God who is… day after day after day.  Enoch’s God was not confined to yesterday’s revelation, nor to yesterday’s experience.  The God with whom Enoch walked yesterday… he continued to walk with Him each new and unfolding day.

God was pleased with him because of it.

Let this same desire to please the living God be our own pursuit.  Let us believe that He is.  Let us seek Him.  He will reward us.  We’ll still rejoice for what He did yesterday.  But we’ll be rewarded with what He greatly longs to do today.

And what does He long to do today?  The answer to this question will be discovered only by those who come to Him, believing that He is, and therefore diligently seeking Him.