God's Last Will and Testament
Issue No. 225
From the beginning, the earth has been man’s inheritance under God. God owns the earth by right of creation, but He was the Creator, not the inheritor. To be an inheritor, one must receive it from another who has died. Since God had no predecessor, it cannot strictly be said that the earth is His inheritance.
The earth is man’s inheritance. The lawful process of giving us the inheritance began when Jesus died on the cross. Hebrews 9:15-17 says,
15 And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where a covenant [testament] is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.
When a man dies, his “last will and testament” is read to the inheritors. A testament is not in force (activated) until the testator dies. Only then will the trustees read it to them and begin to dispense it’s provisions.
The first testament’s trustees were the Aaronic priests. But they failed as Executors of the will in their assigned task of dispersing the first will properly, God replaced them with a new Order of priesthood, the Melchizedek Order. These are now the Executors of His will.
Their job is the same as what God gave to Abraham in Gen. 12:3,
3 And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Abraham’s seed was to dispense the blessings of God to “all the families of the earth.” Each family had its own inheritance, though not all families would have the same inheritance. Each nation, each family, and each individual has his own particular calling, and so the will provides each person with the means to fulfill his calling. But the Executors of the will have a special calling to dispense the inheritance of God’s Estate to the beneficiaries.
The Change of Executors
Aaron was appointed as the original Executor of God’s will. His powers and responsibilities are listed in the books of the law. There was a provision for succession, because Aaron’s sons were to succeed him in death as Executors.
It was their sacred duty to identify the inheritors correctly and dispense the inheritance accordingly. However, they ran into some problems almost from the beginning. First, Aaron made a golden calf for the people (Ex. 32:2-4). Later, two of his sons, Nadab and Abihu, carelessly offered “strange fire” in burning incense (Lev. 10:1) and were killed by this.
A few centuries later, during the days of the High Priest, Eli, his sons had become so corrupt that God’s presence left that location at Shiloh. Eli was 98 years old at the time, and the glory of God did not return for another 98 years when Solomon’s Temple was built and glorified by his presence.
Yet within two centuries, the priesthood in Jerusalem had again become corrupted, and God’s presence left that temple as well (Ezekiel 10, 11). Even when the second temple was built after the Babylonian captivity, the glory of God did not return to Jerusalem, for Jeremiah had prophesied that God would leave that place as He had left Shiloh (Jer. 7:14). He never returned to Shiloh. Neither will He return to Jerusalem—that is, the old Jerusalem.
In Jesus’ day, the priests in Jerusalem failed to give Jesus His inheritance, although they knew who He was. Instead, they said (Matt. 21:38), “This is the Heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on His inheritance.”
In appropriating the inheritance for themselves, rather than acting as Executors of the inheritance, they usurped authority, even as a corrupt law firm might do today with someone’s inheritance. They broke trust with God and disqualified themselves as Executors.
For this reason, God replaced them with a new set of Executors, called the Melchizedek Order. These are the overcomers, and they are characterized by having the mind of Christ in dispensing the inheritance to the inheritors.
The beneficiaries of God’s will were to inherit the earth, each in his own portion of God’s estate. They were to be responsible to care for it with respect. Environmental issues, then, are very much part of the responsibility that should concern the inheritors. But it goes beyond that, for the land must be used in accordance with the dispositive provisions set forth in Scripture.
For instance, the land was to enjoy a rest every seventh year (Lev. 25:4). Many farmers today do this through the principle of crop rotations and allowing the land to lie fallow; but for it to work best, the practice should be uniform throughout the country.
Some disagree with this, thinking that it is not practical to produce no food for an entire year. God anticipated this very question and answered it in Lev. 25:20 and 21,
20 But if you say, “What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops?” 21 Then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years.
This requires faith, of course, without which it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Yet even so, there is no reason why grain could not be stored a little at a time during the entire six-year period, even as Joseph did.
Another provision in the law was that there must be a Jubilee declared after seven land Sabbaths in the 50th year to allow every man to return to his inheritance (Lev. 25:13), if he should lose it or sell it for any reason during the previous 49 years.
In distributing the inheritances to the beneficiaries, it must be understood that they only hold the property in trust and are not totally free to use it or dispose of it as they please. They only own the land under God, for God is the Creator and Owner of the whole earth, as Lev. 25:23 and 24 says,
23 The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me. 24 Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide the redemption of the land.
Land ownership in the Bible is conditional upon obedience. In writing a will, the testator has the right not only to identify his beneficiaries, but also to specify certain conditions which must be fulfilled before the beneficiary can actually receive the inheritance.
Thus, in the will of the first covenant, God sets forth the conditions in Exodus 19:5,
5 Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession [specially owned] among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.
No one gets to inherit unless they meet the special conditions of the will’s dispositive provision.
Unfortunately, Israel violated the law and did not fulfill those provisions. Theoretically, they might have had success, if they had not been so fearful. But when they refused to draw near to hear the rest of the law (Ex. 20:19-21) and to have it written on their hearts by the spoken Word directly from God, the law was then given on external tablets of stone and imposed upon them from the outside.
But we all know that no amount of laws imposed from the outside can change a rebellious heart that is motivated by fear and lack of love or faith. Such laws may regulate behavior and restrain sin, but they can never alter human nature or instill in us the mind of Christ.
And so Israel failed to meet the dispositive provision of that first covenant, and ultimately, they were disinherited. Israel was sent into the Assyrian captivity, and later Judah was sent into the Babylonian captivity.
Judah was allowed to return for a season, however, in order to fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2 that the Messiah, who was the Primary Heir, would be born in Bethlehem of Judah. But when He came, the Executors of God’s will rejected Him and killed Him in order to usurp His inheritance for themselves. He who perfectly fulfilled the entire law was accused of lawlessness, blasphemy, and for violating the Sabbath.
And so in the end, Judah was also disinherited under the dispositive provisions of the law. Thus, the entire nation—all the tribes—were disinherited under the first covenant, paving the way for a new covenant, a new will, and a new way by which men may inherit the Kingdom.
The New Covenant
A New Covenant was needed, because, as Heb. 8:9 says, “for they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them” (NASB).
In other words, they violated the conditions of the first covenant. The New Covenant did what the first covenant could not do, because God made Himself the responsible party to fulfill the conditions of the will. Heb. 8:10 says,
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Whereas the people had run away under Moses, they would draw near to Jesus Christ. Under Moses the law was given on tables of stone; under Jesus the law is being written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The purpose of Pentecost was to make it possible for the law to be written on our hearts, so that we would be able to receive the inheritance.
But, you say, it is by faith and not by works. I do not have to qualify by obedience in order to receive my inheritance from God. I have it now, even though I am not following the law.
That is a partial truth. Because it is based upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and not upon our own righteousness, the FACT of universal reconciliation has been established at the cross. It is the FACT that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). God is now responsible for seeing to it that all men will have the law written on their hearts. Therefore, all will be heirs of God, for “all families of the earth” are named in His will as beneficiaries.
However, the WHEN question is currently being resolved, “each one in his own order” (1 Cor. 15:23) means that not everyone gets an inheritance at the same time. They still have to conform to the original dispositive conditions of the will. The difference is that under the New Covenant, God will make that possible for all men.
The Feast Days
The full truth is that we have been given three steps to the inheritance. These are three feasts that we must experience before we may inherit. The three feasts are a summary of the three main dispositive provisions that all mankind must fulfill before they can inherit.
With Israel under Moses, the people had to keep the Passover and leave Egypt. Justification was a prerequisite to inheriting. Secondly, they had to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost at Mount Sinai, without which they would not have the faith necessary to enter the Promised Land.
As we know, Israel ran into problems at Mount Sinai when they refused to draw near to God at Pentecost. Hence, they died in the wilderness, not having received the promised inheritance. They were still “saved,” but their inheritance was postponed by the dispositive conditions that determine WHEN the inheritance will be given.
Under the New Covenant, God has taken responsibility upon Himself to instill faith in all men, so that they will believe that Jesus Christ died for their sin. In so doing, they will have faith in the blood of the Lamb and thereby experience Passover. Some will experience this during their life time, and others at the Great White Throne when all unbelievers will be raised. At that time, “every knee will bow, and every tongue confess (or swear allegiance—NASB) that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Isaiah 45:23; Phil. 2:10, 11)
There will be no unbelievers in that day, because every man will have a personal revelation of Jesus Christ as he stands before Him. All will be justified in that day.
Those of us who have faith in Him in this life time have opportunity to begin dealing with the leaven by Pentecost, which is the second feast and the second step toward meeting the provisions of the inheritance. This involves being led by the Spirit daily, submitting to the fire of God that purifies us and writes His law upon our hearts.
The unbelievers, however, will have to submit to the discipline of the “lake of fire” after the Great White Throne judgment. In effect, the lake of fire is the baptism of fire—Pentecost—by which men will be put under the authority of the overcomers to learn righteousness.
As believers, we know that we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). But this does not mean that we received the inheritance yet. We have no more received our inheritance than Israel did at Sinai. No, the inheritance was the Promised Land—in their case, it was the land of Canaan. Though they were heirs from the beginning, they could not receive their inheritance until the Feast of Tabernacles.
So it is also with us. Though we are heirs, there are dispositive provisions that must be fulfilled before we actually receive the inheritance specified in His will. These establish the WHEN question—WHEN will all be saved? WHEN will all families of the earth be blessed? WHEN will all receive their inheritance from God?
For this reason, we read in 2 John 8,
8 Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.
The dispositive provisions have changed form, but they are still there. We no longer have to kill a lamb for Passover, nor do we have to put blood on the lintels and door posts of our houses. Today we apply the blood of Jesus to our minds and ears and have our hearts (altars) sprinkled with His blood.
We no longer have to go to Sinai for Pentecost, for we have come to a new Mount Zion in a heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22). We no longer have to bake two loaves of bread with leaven (Lev. 23:17), but rather we offer our hearts to Him as the two tablets on which to write the law.
We no longer have to pitch booths and camp out for the Feast of Tabernacles, as they had to do under the first covenant. We might do so as a learning tool, but to truly “keep” this feast, we must be clothed with that tabernacle from above—the glorified body—that mortality might be swallowed up by life (2 Cor. 5:4).
In order to receive the inheritance, one must experience all three feasts, for the dispositive provisions of the New Covenant are: justification, sanctification, glorification. All the conditions of inheritance are summarized by these three things.
Keep in mind that prior to being clothed with that heavenly tabernacle from above, we are not perfected yet. Neither Passover nor Pentecost require perfection. These only require justifying faith and a willingness to come under the Spirit’s discipline to learn obedience.
Nor does one need to be perfect to qualify for Tabernacles, for Tabernacles is the perfecter of the saints. We only need to be concerned with pressing in to the high calling of God, not assuming that we have already attained the perfection of absolute and total obedience (Phil. 3:12-14).
Nonetheless, God knows our hearts. He knows who is truly justified by faith. He knows who is a true Pentecostal and who is a lawless imitator. He who searches the hearts knows all the overcomers by name. He has instilled within them the vision of the Promised Land, and they are not satisfied with either Passover or Pentecost. Their goal is Tabernacles, and their only “fear” is to come short of the promise of entering into His rest (Heb. 4:1).
Who are the Inheritors?
Hebrews 8:8 tells us with whom the New Covenant was made:
8 Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
This has caused some confusion, because some have taught that the old covenant is for the Jews, while the new covenant is for “gentiles.” This misunderstanding has spawned a “Dual Covenant” theology, one for Jews and one for “gentiles,” as if to say that Jews are saved by the old covenant, and “gentiles” by the new.
But Heb. 8:8 above makes it clear that the New Covenant is with Israel and Judah. What does this mean?
In my books, Who is a Jew? and Who is an Israelite? I show the legal definition of both terms, rather than the genealogical definition that most people assume. To be a “Jew” (i.e., of the house of Judah), one must be justified by faith by an inner circumcision of the heart (Rom. 2:28, 29). In other words, one must experience Passover by faith in the blood of the Lamb of God.
But to be an Israelite, one must be part of the house of Joseph, to whom was given the name Israel. Joseph’s inheritance was to be “a fruitful SON,” (Heb. ben), as it says in Gen. 49:22.
A person is of the tribe of Judah if he is following the King of that tribe—Jesus Christ. He must be a believer. But a person is of Israel only when he or she comes fully into the inheritance of Sonship. This is an Israelite as it was originally defined.
The first Israelite was Jacob, who was not born Israel, but attained it as his inheritance at the age of 98 when he wrestled with the angel in Gen. 32:28. (He was young for his age.)
None of us are born Israelites either. The genealogical Israelites were disinherited and can only come into their inheritance the same way that everyone else receives theirs. Then will Hosea 1:10 be fulfilled,
10 And it will come about that in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.”
Will all genealogical Israelites be “Sons” on the basis of their genealogy? Or will all Sons be Israelites on the basis of their character and faith? I believe the latter to be true, for only these fulfill the dispositive provisions and conditions of God’s last will and testament.