Tuesday, July 3, 2007

My inheritance

When my parents died, they left me a portion of their resources and personal things like green glass salt and pepper shakers from the back of Mother’s stove. My inheritance is even richer because they were such good parents and gave us a strong and loving family environment. I also inherited wonderful memories. Yesterday, when I was sorting old photographs, some of those memories flooded back. What a delight!

My heavenly Father has also blessed me with His resources and a loving family environment. When I read today’s verse, my mind was filled with memories and good thoughts all over again.

I was reading a section in Deuteronomy 4 that warns the Israelites about idolatry. He tells them that since God has no form, they are not to make carved images to use in worship. They are also not to make idols of the sun, moon and stars, for God created them. Then He says in verse 20, “But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.”

An iron furnace was used to heat raw ore so it could be shaped into useful tools and instruments. The people of God experienced bondage in Egypt, and in that bondage God softened them so they could follow Him and serve Him rather than be enslaved in a land that was not their own.

My Egypt is my old life before Christ. It represents the bondage of sin that still tries to pull me back. I fight it because serving that taskmaster is hard labor. Oh, it looks good in the beginning, and serving God can be hard labor too, but over the years, God’s furnace keeps burning out the resistance in my heart. He wants someone who is useful, malleable and pliable in His service, someone free from sin’s demands.

As I think about being His child, I’m overwhelmed. Imagine the God who created the sun, moon and stars even wanting me to belong to Him! I have no brilliance. He is awesome, His glory above all things. How incredible that He loves and accepts sinners such as I, then works in us to make us better people!

Another word grabs my heart: inheritance. One of my Bible dictionaries says that inheritance means: “the passing of property at the owner’s death to those entitled to succeed. Unlike ancient Near Eastern society, which bestowed the legal status of son or daughter with rights to inherit upon a stranger through adoption, Israelite law recognized only family relationships of blood kinship. Furthermore, the patriarchal structure of Israelite society was based on the agnatic family in which only blood relatives on the father’s side were considered family and hence entitled to inherit.” Further, land and other possessions belonged to families, not individuals.

The Israelite’s had a complicated system of inheritance. The word is used over 300 times in the Bible showing how important this is for God’s people. A couple of things stand out in defining how I am God’s inheritance.

First, He died so that I might belong to Him. That is major. Sin separated me from God and kept me from Him. The death of Jesus Christ changed all that. My sin is forgiven, and I have been adopted into the family of God, yet not like the adoption in the above definition. According to the New Testament, my adoption made me a true child, a relative by blood because Jesus shed His blood to make it so, and because the very Son of God lives in me and unites Himself with me. I am now His family, a blood relative on my Father’s side. I belong to God.

As God’s inheritance, I also receive an inheritance. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 says all things are mine, including “the world or life or death, or things present or things to come . . . .” Through the death of Christ, I inherit abundant life in this world, eternal life in the next, and all good and holy things. I belong to Jesus, and Jesus belongs to me!

Yet this is a family thing. Those who inherit and those who are God’s inheritance are members of His family. We are in this together. Like any family, we have our ups and downs, but I am so thankful and filled with joy today because God has blessed me with Himself, a great Parent, and the privilege of a loving family environment where we share resources and together create wonderful memories.

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