I. IT IS PROPER TO LEAVE AN INHERITANCE
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children . . . (Proverbs 13:22).
House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers . . . (Proverbs 19:14).
In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live’” (Isaiah 38:1).
Children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children (2 Corinthians 12:14).
A. OLD TESTAMENT LAWS OF INHERITANCE
You may even bequeath them [foreign slaves] to your sons after you . . . (Leviticus 25:46).
If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. And if he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. And if he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. And if his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his nearest relative in his own family (Numbers 27:8-11).
The Lord commanded my lord [Moses] to give the land by lot to the sons of Israel as an inheritance, and my lord was commanded by the Lord to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother to his daughters. But if they marry one of the sons of the other tribes of the sons of Israel, their inheritance will be withdrawn from the inheritance of our fathers and will be added to the inheritance of the tribe to which they belong . . . every daughter who comes into possession of an inheritance of any tribe of the sons of Israel, shall be wife to one of the family of the tribe of her father, so that the sons of Israel each may possess the inheritance of his father. Thus no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another tribe, for the tribes of the sons of Israel shall each hold to his inheritance (Numbers 36:2-9).
. . . except what they [Levites] receive from the sale of their fathers’ estates (Deuteronomy 18:8).
If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, if the first-born son belongs to the unloved, then it shall be in the day he wills what he has to his sons, he cannot make the son of the loved the first-born before the son of the unloved, who is the first-born. But he shall acknowledge the first-born, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has . . . to him belongs the right of the first-born (Deuteronomy 21:15-17).
. . . If the prince gives a gift out of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance. But if he gives a gift from his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his until the year of liberty; then it shall return to the prince. His inheritance shall be only his sons’; it shall belong to them. And the prince shall not take from the people’s inheritance, thrusting them out of their possession; he shall give his sons inheritance from his own possession so that My people shall not be scattered, anyone from his possession (Ezekiel 46:16-18).
1. The Lord and the tithe were the Levites inheritance
Then the Lord said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel. And to the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform . . . I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, ‘They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel.’” (Numbers 18:20-24).
It shall be with regard to an inheritance for them [the priests], that I [the Lord] am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel – I am their possession. They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering; and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. And the first of all first fruits of every kind and every contribution of every kind, from all your contributions, shall be for the priests; you shall also give to the priest the first of your dough to cause a blessing to rest on your house (Ezekiel 44:28-30).
B. EXAMPLES OF LEAVING AN INHERTIANCE
And Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus . . . since You have given no offspring to me , no one born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir” (Genesis 15:2-4).
The Lord has greatly blessed my master [Abraham], so that he has become rich; and He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and servants and maids, and camels and donkeys. Now Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master in her old age; and he has given him all that he has (Genesis 24:35-36).
Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac [his son] . . . (Genesis 25:5).
Rachel and Leah answered and said to him [Jacob], “Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house? Are we not reckoned by him as foreigners? . . . Surely all the wealth which God has taken from our father belongs to us and our children (Genesis 31:14-16).
Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but god will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. And I will give you one portion more than your brothers . . . (Genesis 48:21-22).
Now they buried the bones of Joseph . . . in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought . . . and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons (Joshua 24:32).
Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of the deceased, in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance.” And the closest relative said, “I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I jeopardize my own inheritance . . . Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today.. I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance . . . (Ruth 4:5-10).
. . . he [Jehoshaphat] gave the kingdom to Jehoram because he was the first-born (2 Chronicles 21:3).
There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches . . . were lost through a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing to support him (Ecclesiastes 5:13-14).
Wisdom along with an inheritance is good and an advantage . . . (Ecclesiastes 7:11).
C. BLESSING OF GODLINESS AND OBEDIENCE WAS ABILITY TO LEAVE/RECEIVE INHERITANCE
. . . observe and seek after all the commandments of the Lord your God in order that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever (1 Chronicles 28:8).
. . . never seek their [the Canaanites] peace or their prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it as an inheritance to your sons forever (Ezra 9:12).
Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land (Psalm 25:12-13).
A servant who acts wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully, and will share in the inheritance among brothers (Proverbs 17:2).
D. PARABLE USING INHERITANCE AS ILLUSTRATION
And He said, “A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ And he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living . . . when he came to his senses, he . . . came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ And they began to be merry.
Now his older son . . . became angry, and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began entreating him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you, and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a kid, that I might be merry with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours (Luke 15:11-31).
1. Jesus responds to inheritance question
“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?” And He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:13-15).
II. INHERITANCE GIVEN TOO SOON WILL NOT BE A BLESSING
An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning, will not be blessed in the end (Proverbs 20:21).
A. GUARDIAN APPOINTED UNTIL HEIR OLD ENOUGH TO MANAGE ESTATE
Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians until the date set by the father (Galatians 4:1-2).
B. VAIN TO WORK HARD AND LEAVE INHERITANCE TO UNWISE OR HAVE NO HEIRS
Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity . . . When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who had not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil (Ecclesiastes 2:18-21).
There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task (Ecclesiastes 4:8).