“For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.”
A verse in a song!
Such is the tenor of the text inscribed above!
And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song. A prophetic song! Uttered just before his death. His final word to that ancient people.
An explanation of the Lord’s doings when He divided to the nations their inheritance! When He separated the sons of Adam! When He set the bounds of the people, He did it according to the number of the children of Israel! All the nations of the world are to make room for that people!
The Lord has an elect portion which He claims for His peculiar possession!
The Lord’s portion is His people!
Jacob is the lot of His inheritance!
An elect portion!
A people about whom Jehovah pulls a cord! Concerning whom He declares: They are Mine! All that which is outside that line, He reckons not for His inheritance! Like the land of Canaan was divided by line to each of the tribes of Israel! So the Lord separates from all the peoples of the world a people for a possession!
The Lord of all pulls that line about His possession! Creator of heaven and earth is He! Who spoke, and all things came into being! By Whose word the heavens are made and all the hosts of them by the breath of His mouth! Strong in power, He calls them all by name, and not one is missed! Who measures out the waters, and weighs the dust of the earth in a balance! Who giveth the mountains their place, and lays the foundations of the deep!
Possessor of all things! No one can give Him anything that is not His own! He declares that all the gold and silver is His! He claims possession of the cattle on a thousand hills! Whose lanting is all the cedars of Lebanon! Who made the angels, ministering spirits, cherubim and seraphim, to worship Him and to be His servants! Who upholds the devils, and reserves them in everlasting chains! Who makes them to serve His purpose! Who divided to the nations their inheritance! He gives them kings and rulers, and Who also takes them down from their seats, only to set up others that they may do His pleasure! Who appointed a great conglomeration of peoples, in order that in the very midst of them He might realize the election of grace!
Jacob is the Lord’s portion!
The lot of His inheritance!
Esau and the world are wholly rejected! They do not come within the line that is laid. They abide outside, in outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Objects they are of His holy wrath. Reprobated to eternal destruction through the way of their sin. To be destroyed forever, only after they have, served the purpose of their reprobation1 As the husk about the wheat, and as the shell about the nut, and as the scaffolding about the building, so they shall be brought to nothing, when the building of God shall have been erected, when the precious kernel shall have been harvested!
Small and weak! Deceptive and sinful! Helpless, yet trying in his own strength to maintain himself in God’s covenant! In the eyes of the world, insignificant, despised, rejected. Found as he was in a waste howling wilderness!
About him is the line of God’s covenant drawn! With him is the covenant of friendship established! Not the great and the mighty, has God chosen, but the weak, and the despicable!
A choice possession!
Not a left-over!
So, indeed, would some have it! Who insist that God wants all for His possession! But man willed it otherwise! The devil through the temptation took the greatest share of God’s possessions. In Paradise God possessed all, but the devil made it his possession and a kingdom. But now the Lord wants it all back again. He earnestly desires to redeem all from the power of Satan. And that desire is so great and sincere that He gave His only begotten Son, and poured out His life’s blood on Calvary for all. And so Be causes the gospel to be preached to all. It must be declared to all that He is gracious and merciful, that He loves all men everywhere, and is not willing that any should perish. As far as He is concerned, He is willing that all should come into His inheritance.
But alas! Not all are willing to enter. By far the majority desire to remain outside. The free will of men spoils the good intention of God. God gets only what is left, a small portion of that which He lost. The leftovers become His portion!
According to which God is become small and the creature great! The creature, not God, determines the line! Salvation depends on the creature who is but dust and ashes! Sinful flesh assumes the right to boast that it gives itself to the Lord! Puny preachers boasting that they win souls for Christ! God ought to be pleased that He gets any at all, and surprised that there is as much as there is!
Nay,—not a left-over!
Even though it is true that the greatest portion of the world is and remains under the power of darkness! Even though it cannot be denied that by far the majority never taste Jehovah’s goodness! Even though Scripture leaves the impression that the many go into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth! God forbid that it should ever be said that He takes only what is left!
Rather, an elect kernel in a reprobate shell!
God’s portion constitutes one whole! It is one body, of which Christ is the Head, and His people the members of His body. It is an elect kernel which is separated from its reprobate shell. As the farmer is no poorer when the chaff is blown away, but rich with the choice kernel that is garnered in his granary, a portion from which separation does not make poorer but richer, so Jehovah’s portion is separated ultimately from its reprobate element. Not all Israel is of Israel! Not all nations are His people! Only His elect are drawn out by the cord of His covenant!
A sovereign choice!
It is God Who pulls the line about His portion!
No one gave Him counsel! No understanding of the creature influenced His counsel. No good or evil of man persuaded His thoughts. No one was with Him when He decided upon His inheritance!
God alone sovereignly decided for Himself. He did it in sovereign love! When there was no world, when there was no people!
It was solely His good pleasure! A good pleasure that was sovereignly free! But also gloriously, unfathomably, profoundly wise; unquestionably righteous and good! A good pleasure that throbbed with divine love!
And the line is unchangeably fixed and sure! As unchangeable as God Himself! Decisively antithetical! For His portion must shine as light in the midst of darkness! As the rose in the midst of the thorns! As the kernel in the chaff!
All must work to the realization of this choice!
The whole, scheme of redemption: the incarnation; with its holy conception and birth of the Son in the fulness of time; for the inheritance must be beautified in the image of His Son! The cross: the blood of the atonement which must be poured out; for that inheritance is bought with the precious blood of Jesus! The resurrection: of Christ out of the realm of the dead; for He must be the first fruits of that heritage that presently shall stand at the right hand of God! The Spirit of Pentecost: the Spirit of the resurrected and living Redeemer; for He must raise that inheritance out of its natural-spiritual death to the kingdom of life and light!
Yea, every creature must serve, and every circumstance must contribute to the realization of Jehovah’s inheritance! The hosts of angels, who are made to be ministering spirits sent forth for God’s elect. The sun, moon, and stars in their courses! Rain and drought, war and peace, health and sickness, prosperity and adversity, love and hate, saints and ungodly, devils and hell, life and death, all must work together for the formation of Jehovah’s choice!
For so God remains God!
Not so to conceive of Him, is to make an idol. And an idol is a vain thing. Though it may have ears, it hears not. Though it may have eyes, it sees not. Though it may have material substance, it lives not. An idol is a god that must be carried about, but it cannot carry you. It is indeed a vain thing, and they that make them are like unto them!
How degrading is that conception of God that really makes Him to be a victim of circumstance! How God dishonoring is the thought that His people are an afterthought! How displeasing to Him must they be who would let God have what their puny wills were willing to concede to Him!
How exalted He is when He remains what He has declared Himself to be! How praiseworthy He becomes when He reveals Himself to us as the independent, sovereign Jehovah, Who changes not, and we are not consumed! How comforting it is to know that God will maintain His purpose in respect to His inheritance! God’s people are not only His portion, but God is His people’s portion forever!
And comforting it is because we remain His possession!
No one shall be able to pluck us out of His hand! We are precious in His sight! And He will guard and protect that which is precious to Him! Then, surely, all the Esaus in the world will not affright us! We are perfectly safe, nestled as we are within the indestructible walls of His covenant friendship!
Besides, all things must work together for our good! All things are predetermined to serve unto the good of that inheritance! All things are so directed by eternal wisdom that God accomplishes His purpose in us! By His mighty power He so operates in all the world that every creature wittingly or unwittingly serves His elect. And in the midst of all these operations He graciously works through His Word and Spirit to gather together His beloved. Through the Son, Whom He has appointed, and to whom we are given, are we finally presented in the assembly of the elect in life eternal, without spot or blemish! Presented to the Father as His own!
Then shall that people hear Him say: Thou art my portion, the lot of My inheritance!
And all the people shall respond:
Amen! So, O Jehovah, let it forever be!