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Israel’s Adoption

In part 7, I briefly argued that God raised up Abraham to address the catastrophic problem of man’s lost sonship. The Apostle Paul is clear on this, God’s promises to Abraham anticipated our “adoption as sons.” But here’s the question: When did God’s work through Abraham to address man’s lost sonship really begin to take shape? Even though God’s promises to Abraham anticipated adoption, Israel was not formally adopted by God as His corporate son until after He delivered them from Egyptian bondage. Several hundred years passed after Abraham was called before God’s work of adoption really began to crystallize.

We know this because of what Paul writes in Romans 9:4, where we find a list of privileges Israel enjoyed. Notice the first privilege Paul lists: “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” As I mentioned in part 4 of this series, scholars believe that Israel received adoption, becoming God’s corporate son formally, three months after God delivered them from Egypt. Israel’s adoption at Mt. Sinai as God’s corporate son coincided with their inauguration as a nation. To be the Nation of Israel, then, was to be God’s son.

It was common for ancient Near Eastern nations to boast of having a father-son relationship with their gods. Most ancient religions believed that the gods bore their sons through companions. These nations considered themselves to be the “natural” born sons of their particular gods. This was the religious and cultural context in which Israel entered into a Father-son relationship with God. What distinguished Israel’s Father-son relationship from the father-son relationships that the other nations boasted was that Israel entered into theirs through adoption. It was through this unique adoptive relationship that God, in due time, would address man’s lost sonship.

But again and again throughout their history, Israel, like Adam, failed in its sonship. Israel proved to be God’s prodigal son. In the end, the privileged Nation of Israel essentially replayed the story of Adam’s failure. As a result, the restoration and advancement of man’s lost sonship seemed doomed to failure, but it only seemed that way. It was through Israel, God’s corporate son through adoption, that God’s eternal and perfect Son would be sent to redeem humanity.

In part 9, we will look at the incarnate mission of God’s eternal and natural Son.

Parts 1-8 of this series.

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