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Bible Dictionaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary


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We find the Lord frequently speaking, in his holy word, concerning the heritage of his people. Canaan is all along described as the heritage the Lord had designed for Israel. (Exodus 6:8) And we find also the people not unfrequently delighting themselves in it. "The lines are fallen unto me (said one of old) in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." (Psalms 16:6) But the Lord himself, over and above these things, is spoken of as the heritage of his redeemed. In the same sweet psalm, the sacred writer takes comfort in this assurance, and saith (Psalms 16:5.) "The Lord himself is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot." So again the Lord, as the security of his people, saith himself, that "this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." (Isaiah 54:17) And as the Lord is the heritage of his people, so his people are said to be his; hence in times of trouble, the church is heard to say, "They break in pieces thy people, O Lord, and afflict thine heritage." (Psalms 94:5) See some other sweet Scriptures to this amount: (Joel 2:17; Micah 7:14-18; Isaiah 58:14)

But when the reader hath duly pondered the blessed thought of beholding the Lord and his fulness as the heritage of his people, and his people as his heritage of delight, both in nature, providence, and grace, there is one thought more the subject of heritage proposeth to the meditation that ought not to be forgotten, The customs and manners of the eastern world differ so widely in many points from ours, that unless due attention be had to them we lose much of the sense and spirit of the things spoken of. Thus on the subject of heritages or inheritance. By virtue of alliance and relationship, these things were unalienable, and not liable to be lost to the right heirs of them. A child had an undoubted right, whether by natural birth or adoption, when once lawfully acknowledged as such, to the heritage of his birthright; neither could he be dispossessed by the caprice, or will, of his father. And there was another distinguishing property in the rights of heritage among the customs and laws of the eastern world, namely, that a son needed not to wait the death of the father for the possession of his heritage. He might at any time, when of age, claim it. And this throws a light upon the subject of the younger son in the parable. (Luke 15:11-12) And although, as in that instance, the father foresaw the abuse and misapplication of his heritage, yet by the laws of the east, the father could not withhold his portion from him.

Now, if we make application of these customs of the eastern world to the phrases and expressions we meet with in Scripture, which of course, as they were written there, had an eye to them in those writings, what beauties do we find they frequently give to the sense of Scripture on many points, which we should otherwise overlook and be ignorant of. Thus for instance, on the subject of heritage now before us. The heritage of Christ's children cannot by those laws be ever lost, or become alienable. Jesus hath adopted them as his, both by his Father's gift, and by his own purchase, and by the conquests of his grace; nothing therefore, can dispossess their undoubted right in Jesus and his fulness as their heritage for ever. Hence David saith, (Psalms 119:111) "Thy testimonies have I claimed, as mine heritage for ever; for they are the rejoicing of mine heart."

Neither is this all: the heirs of God in Christ do not wait to a distant period for the possession of their heritage. Their God and Father never dies to render their rightful enjoyment necessary. He lives to put them into possession: and this they have not by reversion, but by present inheritance, here by grace through faith, and hereafter in glory. And though too often, like the prodigal in the parable, we waste and abuse the bounties of our heritage, yet, like him, the eye of our God and Father is always on the look-out for our return, and when by grace brought back, as he was, we are graciously received, and made happy in the pardoning mercy and love of our Father.

And as our person, so our mortgaged inheritance; both are secured from the same cause and fullness of salvation. As we have sold ourselves for nought, so are we redeemed without money. (Isaiah 52:3) Jesus our elder brother, our nearest of kin, hath ransomed both person and property. Our inheritance was not alienable for ever, but only to the year of jubilee. God our Father commanded him to open his hand wide to his poor brother, and he hath done it; so that we are brought into the full liberty wherewith he makes his redeemed free, and brought home also, at length, into the possession of an inheritance infinitely surpassing the one we originally forfeited, even "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the goodness of God!" See those Scriptures, (Leviticus 25:25; Deuteronomy 15:7-8; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Romans 11:33)

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Heritage'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. London. 1828.

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