In Deuteronomy this week, Moses teaches of a time “it will be when you come into the land the Lord, your God, gives you for an inheritance, and you possess it and settle it.” Moses’ promise is rich indeed, but the glory of the inheritance becomes clearer and grander when we read Isaiah’s words that accompany the text.
Isaiah prophesies: “Nations will walk by your light…Lift up your eyes all around and see, they are all assembling and coming to you…they will be brought up with favor upon My Altar, and I will glorify the House of My Splendor.”
The land, thus, is more than a land of promise to the Israelites. It is that, to be sure. But, for Isaiah, it is also to be the spiritual destination of all peoples, that is, it will be where all the nations, whatever their gods, will place their hope, where they will glorify the place and the ways of the God that dwells in our midst.
So, what is the land of which our teachers speak? Is it the physical land we see on a map that we associate with Israel? Yes. But should we see it as more? Could it be as well the space in our lives – wherever we may be – where we live in accord with the Divine principles of righteousness and love? Could the inheritance that Moses and Isaiah have in mind be that space in our lives and that of the nations where living true to these principles brings wholeness and peace?
Let’s look first in the text of Isaiah for answers. This inheritance for all is God’s wish, yes, but, importantly, it requires something of us, too. God will indeed be our “eternal light,” yet our “inheriting the land” goes along with “our people being righteous.” “I will designate your appointed officials for peace and your overlords for righteousness.”
Do we have guidance on what leads to this righteousness? Moses helps us here. At the very beginning of this portion, he grounds our inheritance of the land in our bringing the first of our fruits to honor God, to serve those in need, and to support those who bring us closer to God. This is to be done “so that you will be a holy people to the Lord, your God.”
So, we sacrifice the precious first fruits of our production as a step to holiness. In other words, holiness begins with our acknowledging that our true riches come not from fortune or even principally from our own doing, but rather from the Source of all blessings. Once we are oriented to serving, loving and giving of our best – first fruits – in this manner, we’re of a way to becoming righteous and loving. And once we’re righteous and loving, we will inherit the greatest bounty.