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model house cradled in hands March 18 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 12, 13, 14

Safe-Guarding Your Inheritance

If you were given an inheritance, how would you safe-guard it so that it would remain valuable? Perhaps, if it were land or other physical assets you would hire a trusted property manager; or, if were your house you would have an alarm system installed. Perhaps, if it were jewelry you would put some of it in a safe deposit box; or, if it were money you would put it into safe Federal Reserve notes. However, if you were promised an inheritance and had not yet received it, you would want to stay in the good graces of the benefactor who offers it. You would serve him/her with loyal devotion. You would live an exemplary life so that the benefactor would continue to believe his/her confidence in you is well placed. In most cases you would want to do the will of the benefactor, and for that you would also receive benefits.

The second generation of Israelites out of Egypt were about to receive their promised inheritance, the land of Canaan. They needed to do the will of their benefactor, God, to keep it. What was the will of their benefactor? Deuteronomy 12-26 gives specific stipulations that they were to obey (see the stipulations of the suzerain treaty in more…). Furthermore, in Deuteronomy 12:2-3 and 7:2-6 they were to destroy and dispossess the nations in which they were to occupy. Why? The March 16 Bible study provides the fullest answer to this question, but this is the most important reason: they were to destroy the nations completely and their idols because of their wickedness so that the Israelites would not serve their gods or follow their evil practices (one practice mentioned in today's Bible reading was offering their children as burnt offerings to their gods). In other words, by destroying the Canaanites they would safe-guard their inheritance.

The Israelites were a treasured possession of the LORD. 1Peter 2:9-10 says Christians are also a treasured possession of the LORD. In fact, we have been adopted by him and have become his sons and daughters and have also received an inheritance (Ephesians 1:3-14 and 1Peter 1:3-4). John 1:12-13 says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God,” (NIV). Romans 8:16-17 informs us that “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,” (NIV). Since we are God's treasured possession, we also need to safeguard our inheritance.

While the Bible teaches us that our inheritance is eternal, so that we can never lose it (John 5:24; 10:27-30; 1Peter 1:3-5 ), we may suffer loss of rewards (1Corinthians 3:12-15). Sometimes we have to physically remove things or remove ourselves from temptations so that we will not ruin our inheritance. We have an enemy who wants to destroy our spiritual life. 1Peter 5:8 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” (NIV).

In the Promised Land of Canaan, the Israelites would not immediately have a place of worship. God's instruction to his people in Deuteronomy 12:4-7 was that they must not worship the LORD their God in their own way and in their own place. Neither were they to practice worshipping God like the pagans of the land worshipped their gods. The Israelites were to bring sacrifices and offerings to a place where God would choose. There they would rejoice with thanksgiving and praise to their God.

Is it important that we gather together with other Christians in a place of worship? Yes. Some believers are self-deceived; they think that worshipping God in their own way at home is enough. Church is a place we are to gather with fellow believers in Christ to worship God. His Holy Spirit has given gifts to all members of the church: gifts of pastors, teachers (or pastor-teachers), encouragement, helps and other gifts (Romans 12:1-13; 1Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:7-16). How can we exercise our spiritual gifts to help one other, encourage one another, and bear one another's burdens if we isolate ourselves? How can we receive the help and encouragement we need? Believers are the body of Christ and should not forsake the assembling of themselves but should meet together for Bible teaching or preaching, encouragement and fellowship on a regular basis (Hebrews 10:23-25). If it is possible for us to attend a good Bible believing church, we should go.

Deuteronomy 13 presents the problem of false teaching and false prophets in the land. Following them would ruin their inheritance (and ours, too). How were the Israelites to know who was a prophet they were to obey and who wasn't? How do we know? They were to carefully listen to the message of the “prophet” and discern if it was true and consistent with the Word of God. If he was trying to lead them away from following the LORD, he was a false prophet. We also must test the prophets. Beware: The devil disguises himself as an angel of light to deceive the children of God. It is not surprising that his messengers try to do the same (2Corinthians 11:14-15). Other tests for truth are found in the writings of 2Timothy 3:13-15 and 1 John 4:1-6.

We can also safeguard our inheritance by separation from the evils of our culture. The Israelites were to obey the law fully and completely and live a clean life because they were His holy people, His treasured possession. This even affected their diet. This is a repeated instruction that was given in Leviticus 11 for the first generation of Israelites out of Egypt (February 19-20 Bible study). Their specific diet, given by the LORD, may have been for health reasons, or it could have been food that was offered to idols in the land of Canaan. God would not have wanted them to partake of anything related to idolatry. This restriction on food was removed in the New Testament by Jesus and the Apostle Paul (Mark 7:15-19; 1Corinthians 8). Nevertheless, since we, too, are God's treasured possession, we must seek to please the LORD in everything, and this includes our diet. Christians should safeguard their diet, not because the food is evil, but to have the strength and energy to do the will of God. They should not engage in the gluttony, revelry, and the idolization of food that our American lifestyle glorifies.

Being thankful also safeguards our inheritance. Each year the Israelites were to set aside a tenth of all their agricultural products and the firstborn of all their flocks and herds. Every third year they were to set aside the same type of tithe. The offerings of the tithe were given for the Levites who carried on the work of the temple. Although obligatory, it was a fellowship offering of thanksgiving which they shared with the Levites and the widows, orphans, and aliens in the land. If they did these things the LORD would bless them and their inheritance would be safeguarded. What about us? It is a principle of Scripture that if we give our material goods or money to the Lord for his work and his will out of our thankfulness to God, he will give us back even more than what we give so that we can continue to support his works and help others (Malachi 3:10; 2Corinthians 9:6-8). This is not a get rich scheme; God knows the intent of our hearts.

Lessons to live by: To safeguard your inheritance

  • Do you have an inheritance in heaven? God offers forgiveness, peace, spiritual life and an inheritance (more...)
  • Once you have it you cannot lose your spiritual inheritance, but you may suffer loss of rewards by disobedience. Be loyal to God and seek to please him.
  • Eradicate evil from your personal life. Sometimes we have to physically remove things or remove ourselves from temptations so that we will not ruin our inheritance.
  • God wants us to regularly meet with fellow believers in church for corporate worship, to give thanks, to exercise our spiritual gifts, to receive instruction from God's word, and to give and receive encouragement.
  • Since we are God's treasured possession we must seek to please the LORD in everything, and this includes our diet.
  • Being thankful is a safeguard for our inheritance.

Today's Bible memory verse:

Deuteronomy 14:21c, “But you are a people holy to the LORD your God.” (NIV)

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