By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11:8)
The Bible has a fair amount to say about inheritance and about an inheritance from God in particular. Even the simple mention of the word will put most of us in mind of Abraham, the great father of the faith. The Jewish people and the Gentiles trace their divine inheritance back to the father of many nations, the man whom God called out and called friend. Of course, we can never discount the glory and eternal power of Christ. We can only ever receive or enter into our inheritance ‘in Christ.’ We cannot claim to be of the line of Abraham in the physical sense, or have any claim to his promised inheritance through physical blood or family ties. Our inheritance from Abraham is spiritual. Part of Abraham’s inheritance is that God used one son to create many spiritual children. Abraham and Isaac lived a glorious inheritance that is often discounted – they lived as a type of the miraculous multiplication power of God.
An inheritance from God is seen in the spirit before it is seen in the flesh.
This truth can be a great disappointment, especially in the face of the pressure of the world to perform, be a success, stand out from the crowd, and be materially blessed. In essence, the world’s idea of an inheritance is something we get from a parent or another person who has died. Generally speaking, it’s ‘for free’ through there may be some conditions attached. The reality is that we get to ‘live in’ the inheritance here on earth provided that the person dies before we do. In a spiritual sense, these requirements are already met. Our inheritance from God is not the same inheritance as that for the people of Israel, the direct descendents of Abraham. Our inheritance is through Christ who has already died, and God intends that we live in it here on earth.
This is the point where confusion sneaks in and our walk can get distracted and diverted by lack of understanding. We need to grasp the difference between our spiritual inheritance from God and our physical inheritance from God. They are very different, but the way we live in either one of them will affect the other. Abraham is once again a very good example, and today’s verse provides a critical insight for us to begin to understand. Two things stand out, and they provide for interesting truth.
First, Abraham obeyed. To live in our inheritance from God we must first be obedient. But it’s not a simple ‘monkey-see-monkey-do’ kind of obedience. It’s more than just reading the Word and living accordingly. The Word is our daily bread. It governs how we live. Where we live is determined by our inheritance from God, although the inheritance itself is always founded on and directed by the Word. It’s perfectly logical that we can live in obedience to the Word of God but do so in the wrong place. This happens because we don’t obey when God calls.
When God calls, He always calls us out. The list of what we’re called out of is long, and some things will be different because we’re different and our lives and personalities and behaviours are different. But we’re all called out. Living in our inheritance from God means He will first call us out of where we are and we must obey. The real truth is that it’s hard to go out, because going out means leaving behind everything we love, are familiar with, and what defines us and our lives. It takes courage and faith, but it’s impossible to live in our inheritance from God unless we obey when we are called out.
This raises the second issue – that Abraham did not know where he was going. Abraham’s relatives and friends must have thought he’d gone nutty as a fruitcake when he packed up his life and set off – for someplace. Some vague, undefined inheritance from God that wasn’t even marked on a map. The calling out seldom has a road map. We may have a ‘label’ for our inheritance from God, but we don’t have the exact GPS co-ordinates or the how of getting there. When God calls us out, we have to obey in faith.
Together, these criteria begin to shape the look and feel of our inheritance from God. It is not, in the beginning, something we can see, touch, smell, taste, or feel. It is purely spiritual. We can argue that Abraham lived in the promises of God of prosperity, wealth, and protection, and that is certainly true. But these things were not the inheritance. They were the physical manifestation or outworking of the inheritance in his life through his obedience. But the real truth is that Abraham did not live in his inheritance from God on earth. He did not live in the promised land as part of the people of God and the nation of Israel. But he did live it spiritually. He settled and died in Hebron, which means ‘to join.’ The spiritual heritage that Abraham received from God was to be united or joined to God in friendship and obedience.
That is, first and foremost, the inheritance from God that all the children of Abraham receive. Even today, God is fulfilling His promise to Abraham and fulfilling Abraham’s inheritance in all of his spiritual children through Christ. Anyone who receives forgiveness and salvation and who is brought into God’s family, is also brought into Abraham’s spiritual family as children of the father of the ‘people of God.’ In this, Abraham is a type of the Father, he never replaces the Father. Our inheritance is always only from God, but our heritage and legacy has roots in the obedience of Abraham.
What all this reveals is that our inheritance from God is primarily concerned with our purpose in God. Abraham was certainly blessed in this life and became a man much respected by his friends and his enemies, and had wealth and comfort as God blessed his endeavours. But this was simply the overflow of his obedience to his real inheritance – his purpose in God’s plans to establish His people for eternity. Abraham’s purpose – his inheritance – was to ‘father’ and eternal family which would ultimately provide redress for the fall through obedience and faith. Material blessings have little significance in eternal purpose. They are rewards at best, and means to achieve the end. They are temporary and transient and often be the greatest stumbling block to receiving and living in our real inheritance from God.
We can only imagine what Abraham saw and felt when he packed up his household and set off to ‘somewhere.’ While it’s wonderful to hold onto promises that God will reveal His will, and that He will always reveal to His servants what He intends to do, He very seldom provides a dossier with a road map and plan of campaign up front. That doesn’t require faith, nor does it require us to have courage or to trust implicitly in the nature and character of God. First, God calls us out, and from there, it’s a daily process of small revealed steps which we obey in faith. He may or may not provide a clearly labeled vision. Sometimes He does, but just as often, the final destination is unclear. The one we have today may not be the ultimate destination, but a point along the way. God continually grows us into our inheritance. It’s not static and final but dynamic and powerful because it’s defined by purpose.
There is a trend in the church to declare ‘the blessings of Abraham’ in a literal sense as if we were literal descendents. While the spiritual principles in these blessings are relevant to all of God’s people, we err if we limit these principles to the literal ‘here and now’ because that is not correct. The Jews are and always will be the physical children of Abraham on earth. We are Abraham’s spiritual children, those born of God and the spirit and not of the world. We cannot approach the issue of inheritance from a physical or material sense. It is a spiritual truth which may or may bring tangible blessings in this world, depending on what God knows we require. If we want to live in our inheritance from God, we need to live in this truth: Our purpose is our inheritance. Everything else is the outworking of this in our lives.
We must seek earnestly for our purpose. When we are called out, we must hurry to obey, even if it is to go somehow to somewhere. If we sit around waiting for God to reveal all, we will miss out. Our inheritance from God has been in place since the foundation of the world. We were created for it, for the specific purpose that He has prepared for us. Like the Israelites who finally came to the borders of the promised land, we can draw back in fear or go boldly forward with God. Living in our inheritance from God means hearing, obeying, and walking with God as He unfolds His purpose in our lives and grows us into our place in eternity.
Father God, we thank You that You have a purpose, an inheritance in You, for every single one of us. Help us to draw near to You in faith, to obey Your call to go out, to look to You rather than at the destination we cannot fully see. Grant us a desire for Your Word and a longing to remain in Your presence, and lead us to our inheritance according to Your will.