Friday, February 2

Permanent Property (Real Estate part 2)

Yesterday I talked about real estate, real property, and gave some reasons why Jen and I would like to own a house. I have more reasons:

1) We would be located permanently until we decided to move--we couldn't be kicked out by a landlord. Jen's parents have lived in one house since she was little, and there's something about stability that's good for our souls, I think.
2) Our kids would be locked in for their school district. Again, the stability of their social worlds and education would be great.
3) We wouldn't be dependent upon a landlord to act. We waited a whole year for this present landlord to install a damper in our chimney, so we covered the fireplace with blankets to slow down the constant draft in cold weather. We could make repairs and changes in our home without needing permission. 

Yesterday I started looking at Psalm 37, where God promises us real estate--the meek and righteous shall live in the land and inherit it. The psalmist draws a sharp contrast between the righteous and the wicked. God gives the righteous many glorious promises, which we'll delve into in a minute, and warns the wicked of terrible disasters which will befall them.

In light of that, let's list the characteristics of the wicked and of the righteous in Psalm 37, and we'll start by picking up where I left off in verse 21. 
   21 The wicked borrow, and do not pay back, but the righteous are generous and keep giving; 22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off. 23 Our steps are made firm by the LORD, when he delights in our way; 24 though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the LORD holds us by the hand. 25 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. 26 They are ever giving liberally and lending, and their children become a blessing. 27 Depart from evil, and do good; so you shall abide forever. 28 For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his faithful ones. The righteous shall be kept safe forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. 29 The righteous shall inherit the land, and live in it forever. 30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak justice. 31 The law of their God is in their hearts; their steps do not slip. 32 The wicked watch for the righteous, and seek to kill them. 33 The LORD will not abandon them to their power, or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.

We sure don't want to be caught in the situation of the wicked! So how do we know if we are wicked or righteous? The Psalm helps us by listing many characteristics.

Starting in verse 12, the wicked:
-Plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them (v. 12)
-Use their resources as weapons to bring down the poor and needy ("Claw your way to the top!") (v. 14)
-May be very rich (v. 16)
-Borrow and don't pay back (v. 21)
-Watch for the righteous and aim to kill them (v. 32)
-Have power and bring the righteous to trial (v. 33)

But the righteous:
-May have little (v. 16)
-Are generous and keep giving (v. 21)
-May stumble (v. 24)
-Always give liberally (v. 26)
-Lend (v. 26)
-Even their children are a blessing (v. 26)
-Depart from evil (v. 27)
-Do good (v. 27)
-Utter wisdom (v. 30)
-Speak justice (v. 30)
-Have the law of God in their hearts (v. 31)
-Wait for the Lord (vv. 7, 9, 34, 40)

In a moment we'll have to list out all the results for both the wicked and righteous, but we need to read the end of the Psalm. The poet keeps giving us more of this glorious picture.
   34 Wait for the LORD, and keep to his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on the destruction of the wicked. 35 I have seen the wicked oppressing, and towering like a cedar of Lebanon. 36 Again I passed by, and they were no more; though I sought them, they could not be found. 37 Mark the blameless, and behold the upright, for there is posterity for the peaceable. 38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off. 39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their refuge in the time of trouble. 40 The LORD helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

The results for the wicked? They will:
1. fade and wither like grass and herbs
2. be cut off (i.e., get no inheritance)
3. be no more--they will be gone, perish, vanish like smoke
5. the Lord will laugh at them
4. be killed by their own sword entering their heart
5. have their weapons smashed and their arms broken
6. be cursed by the Lord
7. will be altogether destroyed
8. their children and their posterity will be cut off (from any inheritance)

This gives us the way to be meek. If we really knew that was coming, we would either laugh at them or maybe have compassion on them in their ignorance and lost state, instead of fretting over them, plotting against them, and gnashing our teeth at them. Many times I gnash my teeth at them--Lord, help me apply today's study by seeing them through your eyes, through remembering their sure end if they don't repent.

On the other hand, the righteous will:
1. live in the land
2. enjoy security
3. receive the desires of their hearts from the Lord
4. have God act on their behalf
5. be vindicated so the justice of their cause is as bright as the sun at noon
6. inherit the land
7. not see the wicked or be troubled by them anymore
8. delight themselves in abundant prosperity 
9. be upheld by the Lord
10. be known by the Lord
11. have their heritage last eternally
12. not be put to shame
13. have abundance even in times of famine
14. have their steps made firm by God and have him hold their hand so they won't fall headlong when they stumble
15. not be forsaken
16. not need their children to beg for food
17. be kept safe forever
18. not be abandoned to the power of the wicked or condemned
19. be exalted by God
20. have posterity
21. be saved, rescued, and helped by the Lord

Wow! That is an incredible list. Clearly, I want to be righteous and not wicked--that's the way to own real property, eternal real estate.

For the ancient Jews, the land was not only a home as I think of when I desire to own land, but it was a family business, a farm, a source of livelihood and income, of good work, of self-determination and self-sufficiency for the family, a source of food and nourishment, a homestead. It was a center of hospitality and of well-being. That's what God is promising us when he promises us eternal land. 

And Jesus took this language quite seriously. I don't believe it's symbolic for some vague, ethereal niceness in heaven. Jesus said he went to prepare dwellings or mansions for us, if we were shrewd with our possessions we would be welcomed into eternal habitations, if we gave up families and homes and lands and our own lives we would receive 100 times as many including houses and lands, in the age to come. 

The next age includes not only a new heaven but also a new earth! And the righteous will be inheritors, landowners, and have eternal property. Now that sounds good!

So that's why the psalmist can make this stunning comment: "Better is a little that the righteous person has than the abundance of many wicked."

Will I be content with little? Will I pour my best efforts, make my on-going investment strategy, to wait on the Lord? To trust in him and delight in him? To do good? To turn from evil? To be generous and to lend?

Ahh, there's the rub. It does involve my money and possessions here and now. I can invest my wealth in a home--either here, one that could burn and be gone in thirty minutes, or in an eternal piece of property. 

Lord, help me become shrewd and aggressively generous. Help me not hedge my bets but put it all on the one sure thing, the kind of property that will last forever.


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