This is it: We reach the end of our time in Ezekiel this morning, as we consider 47:13–48:35. These verses, which discuss Israel’s restoration to the Promised Land, focus on the broad theme of inheritance.
As has been the case throughout this extended closing vision, we must be careful of pressing the details too literally. As can be seen in the attached image, while the land is essentially the same as that promised to Moses and the patriarchs, the division is quite different and somewhat impractical. We must understand that the intent of this closing vision, which Duguid captures as “to encourage repentance, faithfulness, and hope: repentance over the sins of the past, faithfulness in the difficult present, and hope for a brighter future through God’s grace.” Yes, there would be a geopolitical restoration, but there was something of deeper significance. The people’s inheritance was greater than geography. That greater inheritance offered both hope for the future and perseverance in the present while they awaited its fulfilment.
It is an unfortunate reality that too many of the Israelites missed the real focus of this vision. Unlike their forefather, Abraham, who “was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10), too many of the returning exiles focused exclusively on their geopolitical inheritance. That geopolitical inheritance was always temporary but, in their obsession with it, they missed the true inheritance that God offers to his people through Christ.
Peter writes of the believer’s true inheritance, which is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3). In the words of F. W. Beare, this inheritance is “untouched by death, unstained by evil, and unimpaired by time.” Every temporary inheritance that we receive is subject to death, evil, and time, but the Christian’s inheritance—his or her completed salvation and eternal life in the kingdom of God—which is “kept in heaven” is not so. Consider, then, the threefold glory of this inheritance.
First, our inheritance is “untouched by death.” It is “imperishable.” God himself, in the Person of the Spirit, is “the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Ephesians 1:14). Once our inheritance has been promised, it cannot be removed. Those who have received the promise of an eternal heritance in Christ can be sure that they will receive it. Death itself, the greatest of all enemies, is incapable of doing any harm to our inheritance.
Second, our inheritance is “unstained by evil.” It is “undefiled.” We recognise, even as redeemed sinners, we are sinners.We displease God daily through our disobedience and regularly need to come before him for forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). But the glory of our inheritance is that sin does no damage to it. God keeps our inheritance firmly in his hand.
Third, our inheritance is “unimpaired by time.” It is “unfading.” Earthly inheritances fade over time. The shiny new house that you have been awarded in the will fades over time. The financial windfall you are promised shifts with the market. But your eternal inheritance, “kept in heaven” is not subject to entropy. It does not fluctuate with financial markets. It remains secure. It never fades. It never loses value. God himself ensures this.
That all sounds wonderful, but does it mean that our inheritance is purely future and that there is no benefit to following Christ in the present? Peter answers that question when he says that we have been “born again to a living hope.” We can face the challenges of this life with a living hope because our inheritance is secure in heaven. Life on earth may be tough, but realising that our inheritance is guaranteed gives us hope as we face life.
As you meditate on Ezekiel 47:13–48:35 this morning, ask God for the grace to lift your eyes—and your hopes—to your internal inheritance so that you can live a life of living hope while you wait that eternal inheritance.