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By John W. White
The Old Testament was written to help us learn New Testament truth. Romans 15:4 "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." 1 Corinthians 10:11 "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [tu>pov, type]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [ages] are come."
Numbers 27:8-11 "And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter. And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren. And if he have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his father's brethren. And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses." If you are not in the family of God receiving an inheritance from God is not relevant. Romans 8:17 "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him..." If we have been saved, that is to say, born from above; then we are children of God, then heirs of God. Colossians 3:24 "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." Our inheritance is based upon what we do as servants of the Lord and not what we believe.
Genesis 38:27, 28 "And it came to pass in the time of her [Tamar] travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb. And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread [symbol of hope for the birthright], saying, This came out first." Zarah was the firstborn, but Pharez was chosen to be in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Matthew 1:3 "And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar...." Matthew 1:5 "And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab;" [Rahab who had the scarlet thread, ref. Joshua 2:18].
Deuteronomy 21:17 "But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his." If the family had two sons, the estate was divided into thirds. Two thirds was to be given to the firstborn and one third given to the second born son. The firstborn was entitled to a blessing from the father over others in the family. The blessing of the firstborn made him a ruler over his other brothers as shown in Genesis 27:29 "Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee."
Being the first born does not guarantee that you will get a first born inheritance. Isaac blessed Jacob over Esau when Jacob received the inheritance that was to be Esau's. Genesis 27:28, 29 "Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee." Romans 9:12 "It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger." God delights in setting the last over the first. Matthew 19:30 "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first."
Galatians 4:22-31 "For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. 23. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. 24. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bond woman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman."
God allowed Abraham to have two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, to teach us about two covenants, Old Testament and New Testament, that He made with Abraham's seed. These two covenants have to do with the inheritance of Abraham's seed. These two covenants were not promises made to the lost and promises made to the saved, but what inheritance you will receive by the law and what inheritance you will have by faith. One covenant was for Abraham's earthly seed and the other covenant was Abraham's heavenly seed.
These two sons were not to share the same inheritance. In Galatians 4:30 the casting out of the son of the bondwoman was to create a separation between Ishmael's and Isaac's inheritance. Verse 30 is a quotation from Genesis 21:10 "Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." This was not easy for Abraham. Because of Abraham's grief, God comforted him in that He would bless Ishmael in Genesis 21:13 "And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed." We find further in Genesis 21:20 "And God was with the lad . . ." Ishmael's inheritance was in the wilderness instead of the land flowing with milk and honey. Genesis 21:21 "And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran . . ." Ishmael did not lose his inheritance. His inheritance would be in a different area of land promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:18 "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:" Even the land to the East of the Jordan River was promised to Abraham 's seed yet they are separate from the land flowing with milk and honey.
John 1:17 "For the law was given by Moses . . ." Under Moses the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh received their inheritance East of the Jordan River in the wilderness. Numbers 32:32-33 "… the possession of our inheritance on this side Jordan may be ours. 33. And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, with the cities thereof in the coasts, even the cities of the country round about." Reuben and Gad confirmed this in Numbers 32:19 "For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward (beyond); because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward." This land East of the Jordan River was separate from the land flowing with milk and honey.
I believe that Reuben lost his inheritance, in type, because of sexual sin. We see this in 1 Chronicles 5:1 "Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, . . ." 1 Corinthians 6:9 "Know ye not that the unrighteous [adikov, unjust] shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind," and the list goes on.
Reuben and Gad saw what they thought was a good land and asked Moses for that Land in Numbers 32:1-2 "Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle; 2. The children of Gad and the children of Reuben (not the children of Manasseh) came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying," Numbers 32:5 "Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan." Their inheritance was not given to them on the basis of faith or casting lots. Their inheritance was made on the same bases as that of Lot when he chose the well watered plains of the Jordan in Genesis 13:10-11 "And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east (and not west as did those who entered into the land flowing with milk and honey): and they separated themselves the one from the other." The opposite of faith is sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 "(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)"
Half of the tribe of Manasseh was given his part outside the land so that Ephraim and the other half of the tribe of Manasseh would have their inheritance in the land West of the Jordan River so that Joseph would received the blessing of the firstborn. 1 Chronicles 5:1 "Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright." 1 Chronicles 5:1 ". . . his (Reuben) birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright." I have not found in the life of Manasseh anything that would put his heritage in the wilderness. It was simply given to him by God's design.
The inheritances of Esau, Ishmael and Lot were in the wilderness as well, East of the Jordan River, outside of the land flowing with milk and honey. All of these things happened unto them to teach us some very important lessons about our inheritance. There are those who teach that our inheritance is sure and that we can not lose our inheritance, but that is not taught in the Bible. The proof text for this teaching is 1 Peter 1:4-5 "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith . . ." You can count on the promise of this verse as long as you don't make shipwreck of the faith. If you depart from the faith your inheritance is not sure. Our inheritance is based upon our obedience and faith. Inheritance is reward based upon service. Colossians 3:23-24 "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." We can lose our inheritance. 2 John 1:8 "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward."
We see that the Lord gave Esau his inheritance in Deuteronomy 2:5 "Meddle not with them (children of Esau); for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession [also translated inheritance in Judges 21:17]." It is interesting to note that the children of Esau were called their brethren in Deuteronomy 2:4 ". . . Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau . . ." Why was Esau's inheritance outside the land? I believe the answer is found in Hebrews 12:16 "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright." Why did he sell his birthright? The answer is in Genesis 25:34 ". . . Esau despised his birthright." The word despised is translated "disdained" in 1 Samuel 17:42 "And when the Philistine [Goliath] looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance." It seems to me that Esau thought he was going to get it anyway because it would be his father who would bless him with it.
Abraham was grieved when God told him that Ishmael was not to be heir with Isaac in Genesis 21:10-12 "Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. 11. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. 12. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called." Ishmael did get an inheritance, in a sense, from Abraham. Genesis 21:14 "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba." What a contract between Ishmael and Isaac in their inheritance. Ishmael received bread and a bottle of water while in Genesis 25:5 "And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac." What inheritance would you prefer?
Why was Ishmael cast out away from Isaac. The main reason was so that the Lord could teach about the inheritance of the two covenants. There may be another reason found in the following passages of scripture. Genesis 12:3 "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: . . ." Genesis 21:9 "And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking [scorning]." Genesis 16:12 "And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren." Ishmael would be violently apposed to Isaac.
Lot's inheritance was also outside the land flowing with milk and honey. Lot's inheritance was also given to him by God. Deuteronomy 2:9 ". . . Distress not the Moabites, . . . because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession." Included in the inheritance of Lot was the children of Ammon in Deuteronomy 2:19 ". . . the children of Ammon, distress them not, . . . because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession." Because the Moabites and the Ammonites were the children of Lot, this means that Lot received a double portion inheritance outside the land as Joseph received a double portion inheritance inside the land. Why did the Lord give Lot a double portion? It was because Lot was just. 2 Peter 2:7-8 "And delivered just [dikaiov] Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8. (For that righteous [dikaiov] man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous [dikaiov, just] soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)" This is the same righteousness of Zacharias and Elisabeth in Luke 1:6 "And they were both righteous [dikaiov] before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." Being obedient, as Lot was in type to the first covenant, did provide him a double portion inheritance, but it was outside the land flowing with milk and honey.
There is no evidence that any of those who received their inheritance outside the land were just. If Lot had been just and lived by faith he would have had an inheritance in the Land flowing with milk and honey. In Hebrews 11 we see that it was by faith that all those who entered into the land pleased God. Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: . . ." It was by faith Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and others pleased God. It was by faith Moses also, but Moses made shipwreck of the faith because his last act of faith was at the Red Sea. The next act of faith was at Jericho.
Hagar is to be associated with Mount Sinai where the law was given to Moses. Paul further associates Hagar with the earthly Jerusalem. Isaac was born to Sarah is to be associated with the heavenly Jerusalem which is in the heavenlies. Abraham had two seeds. One is an earthly seed with an earthly inheritance and the other is an heavenly seed with an heavenly inheritance. This is affirmed in Hebrews 11:12 "Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars (heavenly seed) of the sky in multitude [translated bundle in Acts 28:3, a smaller number than the sand by the sea], and as the sand (earthly seed) which is by the sea shore innumerable." Those who were about to enter into the Land flowing with milk and honey were called stars in Deuteronomy 1:10 "The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude."
We are warned that those who forsake and depart from the Lord will be ashamed and their names will be written in the earth. Jeremiah 17:13 "O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters." We are to rejoice in having our names written in heaven in Luke 10:20 "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Those who are written in heaven are those who do not despise their birthright Hebrews 12:23 "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, . . ."
In the case of Joseph's sons, Jacob blessed the second born son, Ephraim, over Manasseh over the objection of Joseph. This blessing was by choice and not by birth order. Genesis 48:12-14 And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him. And Israel stretched out his right hand [firstborn blessing], and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn." This blessing of Ephraim is born out in the distribution of the inheritance in the land flowing with milk and honey. All of the tribe of Ephraim obtained an inheritance where only one half of the tribe of Manasseh was included in the land flowing with milk and honey. By all of the tribe of Ephraim being in the land gives him a double portion inheritance over Manasseh.
Genesis 48:17-20 "And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh."
Hebrews 11:20 "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come." The blessing of Jacob and Esau had to do with their inheritance and position in the family. Through this type we can learn how the Lord will bless His children with their inheritance and position in the family. Genesis 25:31-34 "And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright." The blessing of Jacob and Esau is used by the Lord to help us understand the doctrine of election. (See the tract on Election).
When the land was divided by lot, Joshua 13:7 "Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance unto the nine tribes, and the half tribe of Manasseh, With whom the Reubenites and the Gadites have received their inheritance, which Moses gave them, beyond Jordan eastward, even as Moses the servant of the LORD gave them;" The Reubenites, Gadites, Moabites, Edomites, and half of the tribe of Manasseh were given their inheritance outside of the land flowing with milk and honey. Their inheritance was on the wilderness side of the Jordan River. The enemies of Israel had to be defeated for the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh to possess their inheritance. Likewise the whole nation of Israel had to defeat their enemies in the land of Canaan for the other nine tribes to possess their inheritance.
Caleb (a Gentile whose name means dog in Hebrew and who wholly followed the Lord God of Israel) had to fight the sons of Anak in Hebron for his inheritance. The Anakims are a type of the enemy in heavenly places. Joshua 14:12 "Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said. And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance." Caleb's inheritance was among the tribe of Judah and close to the children of Aaron who inherited the city of Hebron. Joshua 21:12 "But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession." (Ref. Ezekiel 47:22,23.)
It seems, in type, that the nation of Israel had to defeat the world, typified in Egypt; the flesh, typified in their lusts in the wilderness; and the Devil, typified in their enemies in the land of Canaan. Not all that came out of Egypt, but Joshua and Caleb, were able to conquer all of their enemies. We can defeat them: 2 Corinthians 6:7 "By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,"
The first act of faith leaving Egypt was at the Red Sea. Hebrews 11:29 "By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned." The next act of faith by the nation of Israel was at Jericho, when Israel defeated their foes in the land. Hebrews 11:30 "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days." The land had been given to Israel, but they had to defeat the enemy to possess that land (their inheritance). If we expect to have an heavenly inheritance, we have to do what Paul said he did in 2 Timothy 4:7,8 "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."; and in Ephesians 6:12 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
We see the change of the high priest in Numbers 20:28 "And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount." The stripping of Aaron's garments disqualified him from being the high priest. Leviticus 21:10 "And he that is the high priest among his brethren... shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;" Eleazar was present when Aaron was stripped of his garments. During the conquest of Canaan, Eleazar, the new priest, helped distribute the inheritance to the tribes of Israel as seen in Joshua14:1 "And.. the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers... distributed for inheritance to them."
As there was a change of the priesthood in the days of Aaron, there was a change in the priesthood in the days of Jesus Christ. Mark 14:53 "And they led Jesus away to the high priest..." Mark 14:63 "Then the high priest rent his clothes..." he was disqualified to be the high priest and a new one had to be chosen. Hebrews 7:12 "For the priesthood being changed...." Hebrews 7:17 "For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
Hebrews 9:11 "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come...." Hebrews 9:15-17 "And for this cause he is the mediator [of His own will, an executor] of the new testament , that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament [one's will] is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator [one who wrote the will]. For a testament [one's will] is of force [has legal authority] after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength [authority] at all while the testator liveth."
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