In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. (Ephesians 1:11, NIV)
Have you ever seen advertisements for unclaimed property? States regularly publish notices of money waiting to be claimed, yet there are countless numbers of people who fail to lay hold of their inheritance. It seems incredible that in a world where so many people are struggling, that list still exists! It would be silly not to take hold of an inheritance that belongs to you. Not surprisingly, the same thing is true spiritually.
God has promised us “every spiritual blessing” (just read the book of Ephesians to get an idea of how blessed you really are!) You probably know the story of how the Israelites took 40 years to make an 11-day journey into the Promised Land. (Deuteronomy 1:2) And many of us have taken the steps to correct our complaining attitudes and the character flaws that might keep us in our own personal wilderness. So why are so few of us actually living a life marked by spiritual blessings? If we know where Canaan is, what is stopping us from living there?
I believe there are three keys for us in the book of Joshua. Remember, Moses did not enter the Promised Land because of his sin; he was only permitted to see it. But Joshua, who had been with Moses from the beginning, led the Israelites in to Canaan, allotted land to all the tribes, and was buried there himself, on land that belonged to him. There are three steps that show us how Israel took possession of an inheritance that was already theirs.
- Consecration. Before we can lay hold of things in the spiritual realm, we must dedicate ourselves to the Father of our spirits, who is the only one who can truly bless us. At Gilgal, the Lord told Joshua to have the Israelites circumcise their flesh as a sign that they belonged to God. (Joshua 5:1-8). Moses’ generation of Israelites had previously been circumcised, but because of their disobedience, they had all died in the wilderness. The children who had been born to them in the wilderness had not yet devoted themselves to God. So a second circumcision took place at Gilgal once Israel passed over into the Promised Land.
Today, we “circumcise” our hearts through salvation, as a sign and seal of our full commitment to God. This sign is seen by God and by the entire spiritual realm. Once we become Christians, we are “marked” in the spirit as God’s children and even the enemy knows that we are God’s children. We have “crossed over” out of the place of wilderness provision and living under a curse, and entered into a new kingdom, the Kingd0m of God. We are now entitled to every blessing He promises us in Scripture, because He has cleansed us of all sin and made us righteous in Christ. Note that in the story of Joshua, as soon as the children of Israel consecrated themselves, the first blessing manifested: the wilderness provision of manna stopped, and they ate the fruit of the land of Canaan, including corn and unleavened cakes, on that very first day!
- Warfare. I believe this is the crucial step most believers want desperately to omit, and it is the main reason why we don’t take possession of what belongs to us. As soon as Israel entered the land, they faced opposition. The pages of the book of Joshua are filled, not with happy Israelites resting in their new sunny paradise, but with stories of warfare. City by city, Israel fought and claimed their territories. They began awkwardly at first, hearing God, yet making mistakes. A theft of cursed items and the subsequent covering-up of this sin caused them to lose a battle. (See Joshua 7). Later, Israel was deceived by the inhabitants of Gibeon, who tricked them into making an alliance when the Gibeonites should have been destroyed. (Joshua 9). But after these initial mishaps, Joshua’s armies became strong and virtually undefeated, conquering every area until the land was under their full jurisdiction.
We are called to a different kind of warfare under our new covenant in Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds…” (KJV)
Our warfare is done in the spiritual realm. We do not slay people with the edge of the sword, as Joshua did, but we do slay demonic thoughts and imaginations with the edge of the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. (See Ephesians 6:17-18). How do we do this? By prayer.
Prayer becomes the link to our partnership with a mighty and victorious God who wins our battles for us. As we involve God in our struggles, whether mental or physical, He gives us the power to overcome every obstacle to our spiritual success. When we have a God-given vision that hasn’t seemed to manifest, and we pray promises from the Word in prayer, God wields His mighty sword and cuts through the red tape that has been blocking our inheritance.
There is a hidden gem of a verse in Joshua 11:20 which reads: “For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that He might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Joshua 11:20, NASB, italics mine).
In other words, it was God’s plan to have Israel learn warfare and defeat the armies that opposed His kingdom. Moses didn’t complete this task, but Joshua did. We don’t like to believe that the Lord would intentionally send us into battles! It doesn’t seem consistent with His character as a loving and merciful God.
However, this same loving God wants His people to be strong and to do great exploits in His Name, and to enjoy the sweetness of victory that He ensures. The enemy is occupying territory in our homes and families that belongs to us, and we enter into our blessings only by fighting for it.
Many believers pray, but not all pray things through until they see their victories. Just like in military warfare, there are times when a “siege” in the Spirit is necessary to cut off the work of the enemy. Other battles might require reinforcements, and sometimes we are too proud to ask for help with our struggles. But with a promise like the one in Matthew 18:20, we should be eager to engage others in prayer, knowing that with God’s Presence, we are guaranteed a win!
The key here is prayer: first to understand God’s strategy for the battle, and second to utterly destroy anything standing in the way of God’s purposes coming to pass in our lives. We must fight! And we must believe that although the battle is unseen, God will always honor His Word if we stick with Him.
- Envision your blessings. Joshua 18:2 says that even after all of the warfare, there remained 7 tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. Even after the land was subdued and the tabernacle (the sign of God’s abiding presence) had been set up, some of the people had not yet taken hold of what belonged to them. Why?
Joshua’s answer is amazing; he says: “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?” (Joshua 18:2, NASB). The war had been won but these people were procrastinating doing the will of God. They had to be told to go in, walk the land, divide it up into sections, and distribute it amongst themselves. More specifically, Joshua told selected men from these tribes to “describe” the land, or map it out as they entered it, and to allot it accordingly.
I believe this is a representation, for us, of envisioning our lives as God intended us to live them. Once we are convinced that God has given us the victory over specific battles or personal fears, we must literally step into the “land,” or the areas, where we are anointed and see what it is He has called us to do or to be in His Kingdom. We must take stock of what our personal inheritance looks like, how we can use it, and how it can be made to be fruitful and yield a harvest. If we are called to preach, then we begin preaching. If we are called to be givers, then maybe we establish a storehouse as Joseph did for sharing with others. We begin to use the resources of the areas God has placed us in to advance His Kingdom.
Even Caleb, Joshua’s friend and spy, had to ask for what belonged to him. He had been commended for his positive vision in the very beginning, and after fighting to conquer Canaan, he went to Joshua and said “Give me this mountain!” (Joshua 14:12). He had both the vision and the strength to claim his promised inheritance from God, and he succeeded.
We can be successful if we consecrate ourselves to God wholeheartedly, fight for our blessings without giving up, and ask the Lord to give us His vision for using our inheritance. Each of the three keys is activated by prayer. And each one is guaranteed to open the doors to our inheritance