The inheritance of the people of Israel was Canaan, the land of promise. The Christian tradition is that Heaven is the land of promise of those who believe in Christ. It is true there is a place in the spirit realm called Heaven. But the destiny, the goal of the Christian saint is God Himself. God is our inheritance, our home. The cry of our heart is to be at rest in the Father through Christ and then to be in a position to express Christs love to other people. This is the land of promise toward which we are struggling while we are in the wilderness of the world. This is home. This is the inheritance.
A second aspect of the inheritance, the land of promise, "Canaan," the goal of Christ and His coheirs, consists of the nations of the earth and the earth itself. What is the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God is Christ doing Gods will in the earth. The Kingdom of God is the rule of Christ with and through the saints over all persons and things in the heavens and on the earth.
Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. (Joshua 1:6)
The inheritance of the people of Israel was Canaan, the land of promise. As soon as the Israelites came out of Egypt they were pointed toward their inheritance, their goalthe "land of milk and honey." The geographical boundaries of the land of promise were set forth clearly.
From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. (Joshua 1:4)
Many times in the Old Testament, Canaan is referred to as the inheritance of Israel.
What is the inheritance of Christ and His coheirs? What is the goal, the land of promise, of the saints? Toward what are we pressing? Are the boundaries of our inheritance also set forth clearly?
We understand that Egypt represents the world system of spiritual slavery. We know that God judged the gods of the world on the cross of Calvary and that if we will sprinkle the blood of the Passover Lamb, Christ, on our households the destroyer will pass over us and we will be saved during periods of Divine wrath and judgment.
We are aware also that the "wilderness" through which we are plodding is a place of instruction. We are learning many lessons as the Lord God humbles us and allows us to be deprived of what we so fervently desire. Although the wilderness is a series of testings and troubles we are coming to know the Lord and His ways.
Every test of our faith becomes a stepping stone toward the Glory of God. But if we resist the Lords dealings in this wilderness, insisting on grasping the "pleasures" of the world, then we are failing in the school of the wilderness. We will not be promoted to the glory that would have been ours if we had placed all our trust in the Lord Jesus.
Salvation from "Egypt" we understand, and now we are experiencing the trials of the wilderness. But toward what land of promise are we journeying? What is the promise of Christ to us? What is our inheritance ?
In order to find out, let us turn to the second Psalm.
In the beginning verses God describes the rebellious attitude of the nations of the earth. Then the Spirit speaks to us of the coming Kingdom of God:
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. (Psalms 2:6)
The following verse sets forth an epoch in the history of the Kingdom of God:
I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalms 2:7)
Prior to this statement, Christ was the Word of God. But then an eternal transformation occurred: "This day have I begotten thee." "Today I became Your Father."
God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son. We know from the Scriptures that Christ, the Word, was "in the beginning with God." We understand that the Word was with God and indeed was God. We know too that "all things were made by Him." Nothing was made that Christ, the eternal Word, did not make.
Now, at the commencement of the Kingdom of God, the eternal Word is to undergo an eternal transformation. Christ is unchanging. Yet, in becoming a man He has been set forth as the beginning of the new creation of God.
Will we ever comprehend such a marvel? God became a Man. This is the central fact of all history.
It is not only the Word of God who is seated in regal splendor on the highest throne of the universe, it is the Man who is above all. The cave of Joseph of Arimathea is empty. The human form, once so weary as to fall crushed in the dirt of the Way of Sorrows under the weight of the timbers of the cross, is now King of kings at the right hand of God Almighty.
The Father spoke to the Word: "You are My Son."
Then the Spirit of the Almighty spoke of a day: "This day I became Your Father."
"This day." What day? On what day was the eternal, creative, life-giving Word of God born as the Son of God?
On the day the eternal Word of God became a man.
Christ was declared by the angel to be the Son of God when He was born of Mary.
Christ was declared to be the Son of God at His baptism in water when the Father spoke from the cloud.
Christ was declared to be the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit who raised Him from the dead.
Each of Gods sons, each man, must be born of woman, baptized in the Holy Spirit, and raised from the dead into eternal life.
Although none of us is the Word of God from eternity, yet we also become heirs of the Kingdom of God at these same three points: when we are born as a human being; when the Spirit of God comes upon us after our baptism in water; and finally and completely when our body is raised from the dead.
And not only they [the material creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
"The adoption (as sons), to wit, the redemption of our (physical) body." Our new inward man is born of God but our body will be adopted.
As soon as the Father declared that the Word of God is to be born as the Son of God, and therefore as a man by His birth from a human mother, the Father gave to the Son the prayer that will bring into being the inheritance of Christ and the saintsthe Kingdom of God.
"Ask of me, and I shall give thee . . . . "
Isnt it true that the most powerful prayers we pray are those that God places on our heart? When the Lord God of Heaven invites us to ask of Him, then we know the prayer will be heard and the request granted.
The prayer that the God of Heaven placed on the heart of His only begotten Son is the burden for the Kingdom of God, for the land of promise, for the inheritance of Christ and His saints.
The Word of God on being declared to be the Son of God, a Man, immediately was given the following burden. This is the true burden of all saints, of all the sons of God: "I will give thee the heathen [nations] for thine inheritance, and the farthest reaches of the earth for thy possession."
The inheritance, the land of promise, "Canaan," the goal of Christ and His coheirs, consists of the nations of the earth, and the earth itself.
What is the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God is Christ doing Gods will in the earth. The Kingdom of God is the rule of Christ with and through the saints over all persons and things in the heavens and on the earth (Ephesians 1:10). The emphasis of the Scriptures is on the persons and things in the earth.
The Kingdom of God began with the resurrection of Christ and continues in the heart of the saint. The Kingdom of God will come to the earth when the Lord Jesus returns with His saints to rule the nations.
If it is true that the nations of the earth and the farthest reaches of the earth are the possession, the inheritance, the promised land of Christ and His saints, why, then, has it been true up to the present hour in the development of the Christian Church we have considered Heaven to be the inheritance, the eternal home of the saints?
The reason we have regarded Heaven as being Canaan, as our inheritance, is that our life in the present hour is in Heaven in Christ at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1-4). But when Jesus returns to earth to receive His (and our) inheritance we shall return with Him. Where Jesus is, that is where our eternal home is.
But what is home to us? For what are we yearning? For what are we being prepared throughout our pilgrimage on the earth? Where is the place of our rest, our inheritance in the Lord?
What is the meaning, the purpose of our life? Why were we called out of the world to become a member of the Church, the Body of Christ? Where are we heading?
Every person who struggles through the problems of the world has a dream of a land beyond the rainbow, a place of victory that makes the battle worthwhile.
But what or where is it? We call it "Heaven." But what is Heaven to us?
There is a place in the spirit realm called Heaven. But the eternal home of the saint is God Himself. God is our inheritance, our home. Since God in Christ desires to be among the peoples of the earth and to rule them in love, our inheritance as members of the Body of Christ is to participate in Christ in God as the Kingdom of God is established throughout the earth.
Christ is our home, our fortress, our peace, our security, our abode, our place of rest. Paul says, "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord " (II Corinthians 5:8). We have been chosen to be with Jesus forever (John 17:24; I Thessalonians 4:17).
When we leave this fleshly body and go to be with the Lord Jesus we shall be at home. Then we shall be ready to enter our inheritance in Him and with Him.
If we are to understand why the nations and the ends of the earth have been given to Christ and His saints as their eternal inheritance and home, rather than streets of gold in Heaven, emeralds, luxurious mansions, and so forth, we must give some thought to the concept of what constitutes a home.
If we believe that pearls, gold, elegant estates will bring rest and joy to the heart of Christ or His saints, we understand neither the Nature of God nor the nature of man.
The only treasure that brings eternal joy and contentment to the heart of Christ and to the heart of His saints is the love that flows from God through Christ through His saints to other people. No other treasure begins to compare in value with such relationships.
This is why the Father, on the supremely momentous occasion when the beloved Word of God became the Son of God and Son of Man, advised the Choice One of His Heart to pray that the nations of the earth and the farthest reaches of the earth would become His eternal inheritance, His eternal joy, His eternal rest, His eternal home.
We need to give some thought to the concept of a home.
Let us say a boy was raised in a wealthy home in a certain city. There his family enjoyed all of the luxuries of the world and were knit together in love. The neighborhood was friendly and at peace.
After a while the boy grew up and was called into the military service. While he was gone, financial reverses struck his father and he was forced to sell the estate and move to a much more humble residence in a smaller town. There he established himself in business and the family once again was happy and content.
Several years passed. The young man was discharged from the service and returned home. He had such fond memories of the former estate that he decided to visit there before going to the small town where his family now was located.
When he came to his former house he found that the new owners had kept up the elegant appearance. The lawns and gardens were neat and flourishing. The shrubbery was trimmed. The house was newly painted. A limousine gleamed in the long driveway.
But when he knocked on the door an unfamiliar face appeared. He did not recognize the voice that fell on his ears. A visit to the surrounding homes informed him that the families he had known from his earliest years had moved away. He was a stranger.
Was there joy in his heart? Did peace and contentment flood his soul? Did the stately house, the lawns, gardens, shrubs, the limousine and chauffeur bring joy and rest to him? Was he home ?
Going to Heaven of itself would not bring lasting joy and rest to the believer. No paradise in the creation of God can bring joy and peace to any soul. It is only our relationship with God and other people that can bring joy and peace to us.
Then the young man journeyed to the small town where his family was living. As he walked up to the cottage he heard the voices of his family. He knocked on the door. When it opened he saw his father and mother, his brothers and sisters. There were cries of joy and loving embraces as he was made welcome. The family dog, now old and gray-muzzled, barked a greeting and wagged his tail as if it would break off. The familiar sights and sounds and smells told him he was home.
It is people, not houses and grounds, who make a home.
Every human being has a longing in his heart to go home. He may deceive himself for many years as he plays with the toys of the world. But no person ever will attain joy and contentment in success, in money, in things; nor would he if he managed to acquire all the money in the world and were the most famous of all the inhabitants of the earth.
The story of the prodigal son is the account of every persons life.
When we are sick from attempting to satisfy our appetites with the glamour and tinsel of this Satan-filled world we are ready to "go home." We hunger for joy, for contentment, for security, for rest. But such can be found only in our relationships with Christ and with people.
We desire to be with God and our loved ones. When we die we want to be "gathered to our people," to use the scriptural expression. Apart from God and our loved ones there is no home, no inheritance.
We have been chosen to be ever with the Lord Jesus. That desire is deeper in our heart than we may realize.
We may think of mansions and streets of gold as the deep longing of our heart. An unsaved person might well be of the same opinion concerning Heaven.
But as we begin to grow to maturity in Christ we understand that mansions and streets of gold will not satisfy the hunger of our soul. The cry of our heart is to be at rest in the Father through Christ, and then to be in a position to express Christs love to other people. This is the land of promise toward which we are struggling while we are in the wilderness of this life. This is home. This is the inheritance.
What would Paradise mean to you if Christ and your loved ones were not there? If there were no person for you to love and help toward the knowledge of God, how would you feel? Would Paradise prove to be empty and cold? Would you be restless? Would all that the Holy Spirit has taught you be unused and wasted? Would your life be empty, void of meaning and purpose?
The Word of God created all things in Heaven and on the earth. But things do not satisfy. Did the Word of God lack anything after He had created all things? Yes, He did. He lacked companionship. He lacked someone to love and serve, and someone to adore Him and to appreciate His lovesomeone like Himself. Angels cannot provide that contentment of being.
God became a Man. But not to be by Himself, for there is no joy and peace in that. There must be others of His kind. It is not good for a man to be alone.
The Word owned all things, having created them. But love and companionship cannot be created. Love must be purchased with ones self.
The Word of God had to become ChristSon of God and Son of Man. He had to come to earth and be cruelly treated by people. He had to give His body and blood for the life of the world. He had to learn obedience to the Father as His only begotten Son. All of this was required if Christ were to gain the supreme inheritance, if He were to build an eternal home.
Then the loving Father, in His infinite wisdom, directed the prayer that inaugurated the Kingdom of God: "Ask of me, and I shall give the nations to you. I shall give to you the earthall of it."
Why the earth? Because earth, not Heaven, is the home of all men, including the Son of Man. Heaven is not our home. This is why people resist death. They do not want to leave their loved ones or the earth.
The reason we want to go to Heaven is that we desire to escape the fears and pains of life on the earth. But in actual fact, the deepest cry of our heart is first for Christ and our loved ones, and then for the familiar earth, sea and sky where we were created.
How would you like to stand forever on a crystal sea in a place where there was no earth, no grass, no trees, no sky, no animals, no lakes, no childrennothing with which you are familiar? Would you take comfort in the angels and six-winged creatures?
God created man on earth because the earth is mans home. We understand this in the depths of our soul. We are not angels, we are people.
If you possessed a glorified body and could appear and disappear at will, feeling neither fear nor pain, would you rather live and minister to people on the earth or would you rather sit in a mansion in Heaven?
Has God directed the Lord Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to request the nations and the ends of the earth for His inheritance? Is this the inheritance that Jesus desires with all of His heart?
Yes, indeed! And the desire burns with an intensity far beyond our imagination to picture or our senses to experience.
Christ wants the nations. Christ wants the earth. Mansions and streets of gold in Heaven are as nothing in the sight of Christ when compared with the love of just one person of the nations of the earth.
Christ created the heavens and the earth. He can have either or both for His inheritance. He has chosen the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for His special inheritance (He is Lord of the heavens also). As glorified Man He already has authority over all things.
Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:8)
Why, then, is that same desire not in our hearts, since we are coheirs with Him? Why do we dream of moving permanently to the spirit realm?
Why do we not desire the nations of the earth and the farthest reaches of this planet for our inheritance, our home? Why are we willing to flee to Heaven and allow fallen angels and demons to inherit the nations and the earth? The fallen angels and the demons are more than willing to occupy the earth because they understand better than we the desirability of the inheritance.
Are we unwilling, as were the Jews, to fight for our inheritance?
The reason we cannot understand the nature of our inheritance, of the Kingdom of God, is that Christ has not been formed in us. We are still young in the ways of the Lord.
But as Christ begins to be formed in us He gives us a part of His love for the peoples of the earth, of His desire to come and rule the world in righteousness. Christ has to exercise patience in waiting for the Kingdom of God to enter the earth just as we do (Revelation 1:9).
As Christ is formed in us we become oriented to the Kingdom of God. There comes into us such a love for the nations, as the Spirit of God directs, that we can understand why Christ was willing to offer Himself as a ransom in order to purchase for Himself so wonderful an inheritance.
What is the inheritance, the land of promise, of the Christian saint? Our inheritance consists, first of all, of perfect, complete rest in God through Christ. Then, as God directs, our attention is turned toward the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.
As God in Christ grows in us and the spiritual darkness is purged from us we find our "home" in God through Christ. Then we are at rest. Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, has led us home.
Now the love of God flows from God through Christ to us. But it does not stop there. The love of God in us begins to be directed toward the nations of the earth. We long for the return of Christ so we can receive our inheritance and begin to minister the love and wisdom of God to those people toward whom the love of Christ in us is flowing.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. (John 15:9)