An inheritance is something that parents may try to build and leave for their children or grandchildren. It may be anticipated by the intended recipients. We think of receiving an inheritance from God—but do you think of yourself as his inheritance? Moses uses that language in Exodus 34:9. What does it mean for you to be God’s inheritance?
God gives you your inheritance. God gives what he has promised. God had made his promise to Abraham, first in Genesis 12, then amplified in Genesis 15:12-20, the he would give his descendants the land. That this is an inheritance gift is emphasized by God referring to Israel as his firstborn son, Exodus 4:22. He underlines his gracious gift in Exodus 19:3-6 and Psalm 135:12. That gift of the land to his people anticipates all the glories of the new heavens and earth which we inherit as sons and daughters of God.
God gives himself to you. It is not just that God gives things to you. He is not only the one from whom you inherit—he is the one you inherit. Lamentations 3:24 and Psalm 73:26 and 142:5 refer to God as the portion of his people. You are an heir of God in a double sense—you inherit from him, and the heart of your inheritance is God himself. The heart of the heresy of the health and wealth gospel is that it replaces a focus on God with an emphasis what you receive. The biblical language is rich. God is faithful to his covenant, and provides his people with their inheritance. More than that, his is their inheritance. But that is not all.
You are God’s inheritance. In Christ God takes you as his own. Moses, appealing again to God’s free grace, dares to ask God to take this people as his inheritance. As wonderful as it is to see God’s faithfulness, Moses asks for something more. He wants the people for whom he is interceding to be God’s own possession, his own inheritance. That is something God can do, because he created all things, not just by his Son, but for him. “Jesus did not come into the world for us: we came into the world for him. We must not lightly skim over these words. . . . The decree for the God-man occurred as part of God’s original eternal plan and was foundational to his appointment of Christ as Redeemer and his selection of a people for himself: all things, including his people, were created for him (Col. 1:16).” (Mark Jones, Knowing Christ, p. 9).
Live as the inheritance you are. This close relationship with God—he giving himself to his people and taking his people as his inheritance, God calls his covenant. He makes that clear in Exodus 19, and again here in 34:28. Paul understands that as well, seeing Christ as the faithful, covenant making Lord. “Paul reaffirms the absolute ‘self-existence’ of the eternal Son and declares him to be the Creator and Preserver of all things. The emphatic ‘HE IS’ recalls Christ’s majestic claim, ‘Before Abraham was I AM’ [John 8:58].” (Geoffrey Wilson, Colossians and Philemon: A Digest of Reformed Comment, on Colossians 1:16). If you are God’s inheritance, live that way. In Exodus God 34 goes on to detail how his people are to live—worshiping him and serving him in their lives. Paul makes the same point in Colossians 3. If you belong to God, you want to live in fellowship with him.
No less than Israel, you are God’s inheritance. He is even more concerned about how you live than you are.