“For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” (Galatians 3:18)
A primary rule of Bible interpretation is the principle that says, Old Testament types and shadows illustrate New Testament spiritual truths (1 Cor. 10:11). In the physical, the use of natural examples paints a picture of the deeper spiritual realities of God’s Word. We understand, by this principle, that God’s dealings with physical Israel in the Old Testament have their counterpart in His dealings with spiritual Israel (the Church) in the New Testament.
Our text covers one such example of an Old Testament type pointing to a New Testament Truth. God’s Covenant promise to Abraham included the promise to give the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants as a possession (Gen. 12:3). The book of Joshua deals with the conquest and division of this land among the tribes of Israel. As they began to settle in the land, each tribe was given an inheritance in the land, just as the Lord had promised Abraham.
There is much misunderstanding around the true nature of this promised land of inheritance. Failure to rightly divide the Word of Truth has resulted in many Bible readers viewing this Promised Land only in the natural sense. However, Scripture points us to something far greater than what most Bible expositors are able to comprehend in the natural (1 Cor. 2:14).
Hebrews 11:9 tells us that Abraham dwelt in the land of promise by faith. This shows the spiritual nature of the land itself. If the land were nothing more than a physical habitation, Paul would have written that Abraham dwelt there in faith, as though he had the expectation of receiving the same. But it is said that Abraham dwelt by faith, because he already possessed what was his by faith. Then we are told that Abraham was a stranger in the land (Hebrews 11:9) because he looked for the City of God (Hebrews 11: 10).
Back in our Galatians text, we see the subject of the inheritance as it is given to the saints (Gal. 4:7). Being an heir means that we must be Abraham’s seed (Gal. 3:16), which means that we must belong to Christ (Gal. 3:29). If we belong to Christ, we have His Spirit (Rom. 8:9). This Spirit, Paul tells the Galatians, is that promised Blessing of Abraham that was to be on all nations (Gen. 12:3) through Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:14). The Promise is that by the Indwelling Spirit we are made children of God (Gal. 4:6) and become entitled to the Inheritance of the Seed.
What is this Inheritance? Christ is the Seed (Gal. 3:16); and as we have been baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27), we have been made joint-heirs with Him (Rom. 8:17). We became recipients of the riches of the Glory of His Inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:18). The saints are made partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4), receiving in them the Life of Christ (Heb. 1:14; Mk. 10:17; 1 Jn. 5:20), as well as the position of reigning with Him (Rev. 3:21), as we inherit His Eternal Kingdom (Gal. 5:21; Jas. 2:5).
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28-29)
Sadly, most people’s concept of the Promised Land falls short of the glorious Truth found in God’s Word. While the more contemporary view that the Promised Land speaks of Heaven, may ring as a wonderful prospect, this thought also fails to comprehend the Inheritance as a present possession.
Abraham was not concerned with a plot of earth and dirt. When he wanted to bury his wife Sarah, Abraham paid for the burial site confessing that he was a stranger in the land of Canaan (Gen. 23:3-20)
No, dear saint of God, Abraham wasn’t expecting God to give him a piece of dirt. While God certainly did promise the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants as a possession, Abraham looked for something far superior. Abraham’s promised Inheritance was a Spiritual Blessing; a Life of Victory, Power and Glory as a citizen of Christ’s Kingdom. This Promised Inheritance is ours, to be experienced daily in our New Life in Christ.