model house cradled in hands March 18 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Deuteronomy 12, 13, 14

Safe-Guarding Your Inheritance

If you were given an inheritance, how would you safe-guard it so it remains valuable? Perhaps, if it were land or other physical assets you would hire a trusted property manager; or, if it were your house you would have an alarm system installed. If it were jewelry, you might put some of it in a safe deposit box; or, if it were money you would put it into safe Federal Reserve notes.

If, however, you are promised an inheritance and have not received it, you want to stay in the good graces of the benefactor who offers it. You serve him/her with loyal devotion. You live an exemplary life so that the benefactor will continue to believe his/her confidence in you is well placed. In most cases you want to do the will of the benefactor, and for that you expect to receive benefits.

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

The Israelites are a treasured possession of the LORD. The Apostle Peter says Christians are also a treasured possession of the LORD (1Peter 2:9-10). We have been adopted by our heavenly Father, becoming his sons and daughters, and have also received an inheritance (Ephesians 1:3-14 and 1Peter 1:3-4). The Apostle John says in his writing, “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” (John 1:12-13, NIV). The Apostle Paul says, “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” (Romans 8:16-17, NIV). Since we are God's treasured possession, we also need to safeguard our inheritance.

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

In the Promised Land of Canaan, the Israelites will not immediately have a place of worship. However, they must not worship the LORD their God in their own way and in their own place (Deuteronomy 12:4-7). Neither are they to practice worshipping God like the pagans of the land worship their gods. The Israelites are to bring sacrifices and offerings to a place where God chooses. There they will rejoice with thanksgiving and praise to him.

Is it important that we gather together with other Christians in a place of worship? Yes. Some believers say they will worship God in their own way at home. However, church is a place we are to gather with fellow believers in Christ to worship God and encourage each other. The writer of the book of Hebrews says,

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV).

God's 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? If it is possible for us to attend a good Bible believing church, we should go.

Not only are the Israelites (and us) to worship the LORD where he desires, they are to discern what are false teachings and who are false prophets (Deuteronomy 13). Following them will ruin Israel's inheritance (and ours, too). How are the Israelites to know who is a prophet they are to obey and who isn't? How do we know? They are to carefully listen to the message of the prophet and discern if it is true and consistent with the Word of God. If he is trying to lead them away from following the LORD, he is a false prophet. We also must test the prophets. Beware: the devil disguises himself as an angel of light to deceive the people 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 1John 4:1-6.

We can also safeguard our inheritance by separating ourselves from the evils of our culture. The Israelites are to obey the law completely and live a clean life because they are God's holy people, his treasured possession. This even affects their diet. This is a repeated instruction given at Mt. Horeb in Sinai for the first generation of Israelites out of Egypt (February 19-20 Bible study). Their specific diet may have been required for health reasons, or perhaps to prevent the Israelites from eating food offered to idols in the surrounding nations and in the land of Canaan. God doesn't want them to partake of anything related to idolatry. This restriction on food is later removed 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, which includes our diet. Christians should safeguard their diet, not because some 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. Our purpose is to glorify the LORD.

Thankfulness also safeguards our inheritance, our blessings from the LORD. Each year the Israelites are instructed to set aside a tenth of all their agricultural products and the firstborn of all their flocks and herds. Every third year they are to set aside the same type of tithe. The offerings of the tithe are given for the Levites who carry on the work of the tabernacle. Although required, it is a fellowship offering of thanksgiving which the people are to share with the Levites, widows, orphans, and aliens in the land. If they do these things the LORD will bless them and safeguard their inheritance.

What about us? It is a principle of Scripture that if we Christians give our material goods or money to the Lord for his work and his will out of our thankfulness to him, he will give back even more than what we give so 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 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.
  • Thankfulness is a safeguard for our inheritance, our blessings from the LORD.

Focus Verse

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

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A Look Ahead: Our next Bible study continues the thoughts of this one. We are to Prevent Corruption from ruining our inheritance. How do we do it? Learn more in our Next Lesson.

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