Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
The glory of God is the centerpiece and goal of all existence.
God’s glory is maximally realized in the promised, coming Kingdom.
A prevalent theme in the Scriptures is that of “inheritance,” where, in the Old Testament, the Lord is looking to give a promised piece of land to the smallest of all the peoples in the world, Israel. In the New Testament, an inheritance is promised to those believers who persevere in holding fast to Christ, being understood as a reward to be earned by faithfulness and good deeds in accordance with the Word of God. YHWH, the Creator, the God of the Bible, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a giver.
While Israel’s inheritance is earthly in nature, the inheritance offered to the Church is one that is heavenly. In both instances, each people group has been sufficiently provided for, extravagantly blessed, and has before them a life which they are to steward according to what they have been given. The Lord God has eliminated all excuses for one not receiving the inheritance offered to them, refusing to violate the free-will of each person. In the end, the things of this world, personal apathy and slothfulness, and neglect or misuse of the plenteous resources that have been supplied will be the only reasons that one will not inherit what has been offered. YHWH desires His children to have success. Regardless if the focus is on Israel or the Church, He desires them to take possession of the inheritance that awaits each of them.
The word “inheritance” is used in the Old Testament over 230 times and occurs in the New Testament around 35 times. This concept is significant in Scripture, for with it comes the conversation of “heirs” (Isa 65:9; Rom 8:17), “sons” and “firstborn sons” (Exod 4:22; Matt 5:45), “rewards” (2 Sam 22:21; Matt 6:6), “ruling and reigning” (Isa 24:23; 32:1; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 5:10; 22:5), judgment (1 Cor 3:11-15; 2 Cor 5:10), and being partners
(partakers, companions) with Christ (Heb 1:9; 3:14). Reading Deuteronomy, the words “possess” and “possession” are used 66 times, with the Hebrew word “yerusha” meaning “to take possession, to be an heir, to inherit” (Deut 1:8, 21, 39; 2:5, 9, 12, 19, 24, 31, for example). In Deuteronomy, this word is interchangeable with “inheritance”.
In Scripture, there are actually two types of inheritance regarding both the Israelites and the believer in Christ.
The first type of inheritance is unconditional in nature, being something that the Christian receives at the moment that one believes in Jesus Christ. This inheritance is what is understood as “eternal life” in the Scriptures (John 3:16; 5:24; Gal 4:7). For Israel, this inheritance is YHWH Himself, as found in Psalms 16:5 and 119:57. Both are immediate for each respective group when faith is exercised (Gen 15:6; John 3:16).
The second inheritance is conditional in nature, meaning that obeying by faith (“walking by faith”) is the requirement to receiving it. This can be seen in Colossians 2:6 which says, “as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” “Receiving” is the unconditional inheritance, while the conditional inheritance requires the believer to “walk in Him.” For the Israelites, the conditional inheritance is their resting in the land that was promised to them. Numbers 14:28-30 shows the Lord’s perspective on the failure of the first generation to trust His promises and to move forward in possessing the Promised Land. “As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.”
Caleb and Joshua remained faithful to the Lord’s Word in this trying situation. Therefore, they are granted inheritance of the land. Those who walked in unbelief died in the wilderness.
This Jewish understanding of the kingdom and the inheritance being earthly in nature is seen also in Acts 1:6 where the disciples ask Jesus if it was at this time that the Lord would be restoring the kingdom to Israel. The intentional use of “restoring” tells us that the Jewish mindset of
these early Christians was that of Israel’s former glory when David and Solomon reigned upon the throne of Israel.
This chart from James S. Hollandsworth may prove helpful.
As with any passage of Scripture that we are looking to interpret, context determines the meaning.
Another summary passage that explains both inheritances can be seen in Romans 8:16-17. It reads, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
Notice the emphasized portions. The Spirit of God testifies that believers are children of God. This is a fact that requires nothing of us but believing in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The logical conclusion that the Apostle Paul draws is that IF we are children of God, then we ARE heirs of God. To be one is to automatically be the other. There are no contingencies in this matter. To be justified is to be God’s child, and to be God’s child is to be an “heir of God.” This is most important because it reflects the exact type of relationship that was put forth in the Old Testament when it spoke of YHWH being the inheritance (or portion) of the Israelites (Deut 18:2; Josh 18:7; Psa 16:5; 119:57; Lam 3:24). The
children of Israel did nothing to receive YHWH as their inheritance (portion), it is simply because of His love for them (Deut 7:7-8).
However, the second part of Romans 8:17 entails the second inheritance. If we are automatically “heirs of God” we also have the opportunity to be “fellow heirs with Christ,” but such a designation comes with a requirement, namely that of suffering with Christ, or experiencing suffering because we are holding fast to Him and His Word. When speaking of the second inheritance there will always be a contingent factor present, which is seen in the phrase “if indeed we suffer with Him.” The reason for this is found in the emphasized words “so that.” Being glorified with Christ is the culmination of our salvation. Having suffered with Christ, we are qualified to be glorified “with Him,” IF we have suffered for His Name’s sake.
When we talk about or read through passages in the New Testament that exhort the church to obedience, walking by faith, and good works, we are not simply subscribing to a “this-is-what-we-ought-to-do” existence that is without meaning or significance. Embracing the commands of Scripture and living out the New Life that Christ makes possible has monumental value in eternity to come, bringing greater degrees of glory to God! The more a saint lives this New Life in obedience, the more that God’s Word is promoted as trustworthy and sure, the more that He is glorified in the obedience of His children!
For our purposes in the chronological approach of God’s Word, we look to Israel’s historical example regarding the second inheritance.
With the failure of the first generation to trust YHWH in moving forward in inheriting the land, the opportunity was postponed (Num 14:28-33). After wandering for 40 years, the book of Deuteronomy finds Moses and the children of Israel standing on the edge of the Promised Land. This is the 2nd generation, for all that were 20-years-old and older had passed away due to their rebellion (Num 14:29). Only Moses was left to die before the 2nd generation of Israelites could crossover into the land to possess it (Num 20:9-12). Moses’ charge throughout the book of Deuteronomy is that they remain faithful, knowing the Word of God as revealed in the Law and doing all that it commanded them. Some passages to elaborate on the specifics would be helpful.
Deuteronomy 1:8. The command is to go in and “possess” (inherit) the land that was promised to them.
Deuteronomy 4:37-40. What motivates the faithfulness and blessing of God toward Israel is His love! Not only does He fight for Israel, but He has promised an inheritance to them, being the Land of Canaan. They are told in v.39 to “take it to your heart” that YHWH is the only true God and that by keeping His statutes and commandments, they would live long in the land, prospering there, even unto the times of their children.
Deuteronomy 6:1-3. This passage occurs right before the Shema setting the stage for what Israel was about to receive. The people would be taught doctrine and were expected to implement it in their daily lives. This was meant to leave a legacy, directing the family structure and lifestyle into successive generations that fostered a culture of obedience to YHWH, with the entire nation walking in fellowship with Him. The emphasis is found again in v.3 on the importance of listening to what Moses was teaching them and to apply it. Doing so would bring blessing.
As mentioned in previous lessons, these historical events in Israel’s life are vivid pictures of the spiritual realities of the Christian life.
With the death of Moses (Deut 34:5) comes the command for Joshua to assume command in leading the Lord’s people. The exhortations of the Lord toward Joshua hold some valuable secondary applications for us today in regards to receiving the inheritance.
Joshua 1:1-9. The command is given to Joshua to lead the people in crossing over the Jordan River (1:2). YHWH understands that this is a difficult assignment, and the people of Israel have just come off hearing Moses reiterate to them the failure of their fathers in inheriting the land forty years prior when the opportunity was given to them. For Israel, Moses was a symbol of leadership and stability. With Moses’ passing comes a void to be filled but also a new era; one which finds the second generation learning from their predecessors’ mistakes and trusting the Lord in moving forward.
Three times in the passage YHWH encourages Joshua, telling him to “be strong and courageous” (1:6,7,9). Two of those times, the fact that YHWH is with him is communicated to reinforce the command (1:6,9), while the exhortation in 1:7 is one that calls for the keeping of the Law so that he will prosper in the land. The application for the Christian is that the Lord our God is always with us, even more so in the Church Age because the Holy Spirit indwells the believer in Christ (John 14:17; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13-14). We have no need to fear, since the Spirit that we received is not a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). Too often fear has crippled the believer, shutting his or her mouth, and stifling the flames that would otherwise compel us to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These things need not be so because God is with us. Therefore, let us be strong and courageous so that we can move forward in sound obedience.
The inheritance before Joshua is specified in 1:4, noting the boundaries of south, north, east, and west. This is the same designation of land as seen in Genesis 15:18-21. What God had promised years before was coming to fruition in Joshua’s time.
Undoubtedly, the most familiar exhortation in this passage comes from 1:7 where YHWH tells Joshua to “be careful to do according to the law” exactly what it says to do. In taking the land, Israel was to be a beacon of righteousness to the pagan nations around her (Deut 4:6-8). This beacon can only shine forth if Israel is walking in fellowship with YHWH. So it is with the Christian today. While we are not saved by obedience, our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone gives way to a new way of living before the world. This is the New Life, walking in love, operating in joy, confident at every turn because our hope is reserved in heaven, not earth. Such living causes us to inherit the wondrous riches and positions of ruling and reigning alongside Christ (Rev 20:4). Our lives on earth are a time of stewardship. How will you spend it? Jesus states, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” Are we ready?
 James S. Hollandsworth, “Two Inheritances,” at http://kingdompreparation.com/2014/09/two-inheritances, accessed 10 April 2018.
 Shema means “Hear, O Israel.”
 Secondary application is how one who is not part of the originally-intended audience should respond to a command or moral teaching.