This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.
Inheritance occurs over 200 times in the Bible. In the Old Testament it is used to speak mainly of land. God promises the people land (the promised land), which becomes their inheritance. In the New Testament the inheritance is about being adopted into God’s family and often refers to spiritual gifts.
Either way an inheritance is something given freely and not earned, although there are warnings about losing an inheritance. 1 Chronicles 28:8 Passing on the good land was conditional on behaviour. Proverbs 13:22 A good person’s wealth goes to their children, but a sinner’s to the righteous. Several proverbs are about how to treat an inheritance or to gain one.
The Book of Numbers sets out rules for inheriting from a father. The way the land had to be shared between the tribes of Israel also features in various Old Testament books. The land became their inheritance.
Psalm 78 sets out the history of God’s dealings with the people of Israel up to David’s time in the form of a warning to the people. The word inheritance appears a few times.
Proverbs 20:21 Is about claiming an inheritance too soon (as the son in an earlier story did.)
Isaiah 61:7 inheriting and joy are linked.
A story within a story
Jesus had gone to Jerusalem with his disciples for the Passover festival. He knew that his enemies wanted to kill him. This is one of the stories he told while he was teaching in the temple courts.
A landowner had worked very hard on his land, which he valued highly. He had planted a vineyard and set a wall with a watchtower around it. There was also a winepress. Then he went to live somewhere else. Before he went he rented out the vineyard giving his tenants instructions to look after his property.
Harvest time came round and he sent his servants to collect the fruit. Instead of giving them what they asked for, the tenants attacked them violently. One died and others were injured.
The landowner sent a larger group of servants to collect the fruit. They were treated similarly.
The landowner decided to send his son, who would have more authority than his servants.
The tenant farmers recognised the son as the landowner’s heir. They killed him in order to obtain his inheritance.
Jesus asked the people listening to him, what the landowner would do to the tenants.
They replied that he would bring them to a miserable end and would rent out the vineyard to trustworthy farmers, who would give him his share of the crop.
The chief priests and the Pharisees were upset by Jesus’ teaching, which they knew was about them. They looked for a way to kill him.
The story is told in Matthew 21:33-46
Other references to inheritance in the New Testament include Paul’s letter to the believers in Ephesus, the letter to the Hebrews and Peter’s first letter.