Not too many days pass in which we do not get a rather pointed reminder about the uncertainty of life. We read or see on the news about a devastating earthquake. Thousands have died in an instant of time. In some other place, terrorists have massacred another village. A few days later we hear about a commuter train derailing, killing and maiming dozens. The list of such incidents goes on and on.
The point is that we do not know when or where some life-threatening event is going to occur. Though we don’t like to think about it, such an event could happen to us. This is why financial planners, consultants and other experts put so much stress on making a will. If the unthinkable should happen, who will take care of your dependents? Who will get your stuff? Will it be distributed the way you want, or will the state decide?
Making a will is not always easy. It can be stressful deciding who will inherit what. While it can be sort of fun designating that a certain heirloom will go to a particular person, there can also be concern about whether your decisions about who gets what will cause arguments and jealousy.
On the flip side, being named a beneficiary in someone’s will or receiving an inheritance can be a tremendous blessing. It’s a thrill to receive a check from someone’s estate especially when you had no idea it was coming to you.
What does all this have to do with the purpose for which we are gathered here this morning? Those of us who are Christians are part of God’s household. We’ve come together on family business. If you’ll pardon the play on words, one of the things we’re here for is to read and talk about our Father’s will. The legal documents He’s given us (the Bible) say that we’re named as beneficiaries. We have an inheritance coming when we reach our majority.
What is the inheritance we’ve been promised? We don’t really know – at least not the details. Yes, He’s giving us a makeover. We’ll be getting a new body. We’ll have a new place to live. But the Apostle Paul indicates that it’s really far beyond what we can even think or imagine.
Now the pesky thing about inheritances is that they don’t come into effect until after someone dies. Uncle George would get a bit upset if the family tried to distribute his property while he’s still using it. It’s only after Uncle George dies that his beneficiaries inherit the property.
It’s the same way in God’s household. The only reason we are receiving an inheritance is that there’s been a death in the family. Our older brother (Jesus) has died. It’s His death that triggers the provisions of the will.
Another thing to remember about wills is that a newer one always takes precedence over an older one. When someone writes a new will, any provisions or instructions in the old one no longer apply.
The writer of Hebrews describes it this way in chapter 9, verses 11-18. He’s contrasting the effects of the old will God established under the Law of Moses with the will which Christ’s death brought into effect. “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.” (NIV)
Jumping down to verse 27, he writes, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28 NIV)
As I said before, we’re here on family business. We’re here to think about our inheritance. More than that, we’re here to remember our older brother, Jesus. We’re here to remember His death, His sacrifice which brought the will into effect so that we can inherit eternal life.
When He comes back to take us to our inheritance will we be waiting for Him?