Friday, February 1, 2013

Adopted by God

Good morning!  Today is the last day of our fourth week reading the Bible through in a year together.  We end the book of Genesis on the last day of the week, but we begin a new month seeking God's blessings in His Word.  Our scripture readings today are Genesis 49-50 and Galatians 4.

As always, God's Word is thick and rich and filled with so many layers of meaning that I am able to only scratch the surface in a daily blog that covers three whole chapters.  Since we have limited time, I want to focus on just one topic, that the Genesis passage and the Galatians passage have in common--the subject of adoption.

A couple of days ago, Beth and I watched an excellent Christian movie called October Baby, which is a story about a college freshman named Hannah, and how she comes to terms with learning that she was adopted, and that she was the survivor of an attempted abortion.  She wrestles with issues of forgiveness and worthlessness--what is means to have been rejected and then to have been wanted.  If you have a Netflix membership, then you can watch it, streaming online.  Here's the trailer, below:

Genesis 50:23 (KJV) says, "And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees."  This is a strange expression, made stranger when we understand the Hebrew to mean (literally) that they were "born on Joseph's knees."  But this Hebrew expression is an idiom, and doesn't actually mean that babies were delivered on his knees.  The ESV makes it more clear by saying, "And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph's own."  In the same way that Jacob adopted his his grandchildren (Joseph's children) Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:1-22) Joseph adopted his own great-grancchildren!  (Never underestimate the power of godly grandparents!)

Galatians 4:4-7 (ESV) says, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."

This means that through the gift of Jesus' eternal life, those who receive Him as Savior and Lord are adopted into the family of God.  Though He is the only begotten Son of God, we are adopted by God and receive all the privileges of sonship.  At the risk of redundancy, I'll repeat what I said in yesterday's blog post about gender relations in Galatians.  Since in ancient times women didn't generally inherit property, it's significant that Paul uses the phrase that's here translated "adoption as sons." Some translations (NLT, ISV, GWT, WEB) choose to be more gender-inclusive (to their credit) by rendering this phrase "children" rather than "sons." Yet, in this case, gender-inclusiveness is inaccurate.  The Greek word, huiothesian, has the word huios, or "son" at its core.  This isn't simple gender-bias--Paul uses an intentionally masculine word here.  He then elaborates on this, making that point that because every believer (whether they are male or female) receives the spirit of sonship (rather than daughtership).  By this, they can become full heirs of all the blessings and promises of God.  

How wonderful to know that God loves us so much that He chooses us as His own--that even though we were born separate from Him, He draws us to Himself and adopts us into the heavenly family!  Even then, God doesn't keep us at a distance, forcing us to call him by the ever-formal term "Father," but allows us to climb up into His lap, snuggle up close, and call him "Abba--Dear Daddy!"  What a marvelous relationship God wants to have with His adopted children!  I hope that you will trust Jesus as your Savior, that you will take the hand of your Big Brother and let Him usher you into the glorious family of God.

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