Israel's Inalienable Possesions - The Gifts and the Calling of God Which are Without Repentance/Chapter 04

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Ill

ISRAEL'S ADOPTION "Israel is My son, My firstborn"

How can a first born son be considered to be "adopted"?? This entire article makes no sense.

HE second of the irrevocable


gifts or privileges included in Israel's high calling of God, as enumerated by the Apostle in this scripture, is expressed in the words, " To whom pertaineth the adoption," or more literally, "the sonship." At the very beginning of their national history, when God sent Moses to bring them out of Egypt, His word to Pha- raoh was, " Israel is My son, My firstborn, and I say unto thee,


ISRAEL'S ADOPTION 4*

Let My son go, that he may serve Me."

Thus Jehovah avouched them in a special sense as His pe- culiar people His firstborn from among the nations ; and all His subsequent self- revelations to them, and all His dealings with them, were designed to teach them what is implied in this blessed relationship ; what it means in the spirit and in truth to pronounce the word " Abba." Hitherto, though Israel has had this most precious Name of God much on their lips, they have not as a nation entered experi- mentally into its meaning, nor have they as yet corresponded to the character of " children of the living God." There, has, indeed,.


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always been the little remnant according to the election of grace, who worshipped God in the spirit and in truth, and who by the spirit of adoption which was in them cried, " Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknow- ledge us not ; Thou, O Jehovah, art our Father, our Redeemer; Thy Name is from everlasting " (Isa. Ixiii. 16) ; but to the people as a whole the words uttered by Malachi to the priests may well be applied : "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master ; if then I be a father, where is mine honour ? and if I be a master, where is my fear ? saith Jehovah of Hosts."

One of the most pathetic


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complaints of God against Israel in this connection is to be found in Jeremiah iii. 4. In the first verses of that chapter He re- minds them of their many grie- vous sins and apostasies from Him of their spiritual adultery, which, if He dealt with them ac- cording to law, would be suffi- cient to separate them from Him for ever ; but being full of com- passion, He is willing to forgive all the past, and cries, " Yet re- turn again to Me, saith Jehovah." Then follow those wonderful words which give us a glimpse into the yearning and love of His heart for His people, and show us His longing that they should at last understand and enter ex- perimentally into the relations in


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which He stood to them accord- ing to His covenants and pro- mises : " Wilt thou not from this time (Wilt thou not now at last) cry unto Me, Abi (' my Father') Thou art the Guide of my youth?" The word, " alluph? translated here " guide," is the same as in Prov. ii. 17, where it is used of the "strange" adul- terous woman who forsake th "f/ie guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God" a truer rendering, however, of which would be : " Who for- saketh the gentle mate, or friend (or husband], of her youth " ; and so, by this act forgetteth or breaketh, the covenant of her God.

Now these were the two great


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and blessed relationships into which God had entered with His people that of a father to his son, and that of a husband to his wife. In both of these Israel has thus far proved unfaithful. As a Father, God has to com- plain of His disobedient and gainsaying people, that they are " children who have corrupted themselves " and become cor- rupters (Isa. i. 4) : and as a Hus- band He has to pour out His heart's grief and pain ever so many times at Israel's spiritual adulteries, because she " had played the harlot with many lovers." But, blessed be His holy Name, our God abides faith- ful and true, though men always prove liars, "He will ever be


4 6 ISRAEL'S ADOPTION

mindful of His covenant" (Psa. cxi. 5) ; and in spite of all our disobedience and apostasy He has never ceased to be "a Father to Israel," or to call Ephraim His " firstborn " (Jer. xxxi. 9, 20). And in the end Israel will at last enter experimentally into the blessedness of both these rela- tionships.

It is beautiful to note in that same third chapter of Jeremiah, where, 'in the second part, a glimpse is given us of the future when Jerusalem shall be called the throne of Jehovah we read, " But I (Jehovah) said, How shall I put thee among the children and give thee a goodly heritage of the hosts of the nations ? and I said, Ye shall


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call Me, Abi ('my Father'), and shall not turn away from follow- ing Me" (vers. 17-19). "Wilt thou not from this time cry unto Me, Abi ? "

Not yet has Israel as a nation apprehended that for which they were apprehended of God ; not yet has the people as a whole re- sponded to their high calling and looked up to the God of heaven and earth, crying, " My Father." But to them pertaineth the huiothesia the sonship, and in the end Jehovah has pledged Himself to bring them, actually and experimentally, into this blessed relationship.

"And I said" it is His irre- vocable purpose "ye shall call Me, Abi" for He who has


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called them to be "His son, His firstborn," will pour the spirit of adoption the spirit of filial fear and of love into their hearts, so that they shall be obedient children and shall "no more turn away from following after Him."

So also that other near and precious relationship of the Bride to the Bridegroom, or of the Wife to the Husband, to which Israel was called, shall yet become an actual experimental reality in their experience ; for after Israel re- pents of her past unfaithfulness and returns to her "first (or lawful) husband " (Hosea ii.), we read : " Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken, neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called


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' My Delight is in her,' and thy land ' Married ' ; for Jehovah de- lighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy Builder * marry thee ; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee" (Isa. Ixii. 4, 5). Meanwhile, during this period of Israel's unfaithfulness and dis- obedience, there is a remnant according to the election of grace from that nation, and a people taken out for His Name from among the Gentiles, who enter into the enjoyment of those very " gifts," or high privileges, to

  • An ancient alternative reading for " thy

son." The word for "son" and "builder" is the same in Hebrew. E


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which Israel was called. To us, too, if we be Christ's, belongeth the huiothesia the sonship "for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear ; but ye have received the spirit of sonship, whereby we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God " (Rom. viii. 14-16).

I was recently asked by a friend, a Scotch evangelist, as to the meaning of the repetition of the word " Father " in this passage, and also in Gal. iv. 6. There is meaning and beauty in it. " Abba " is, of course, the Hebrew for "Father"; and Ho


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Pater, which immediately fol- lows, is the Greek for the same word : and the repetition in the two languages is in keeping with the character of the Church in this dispensation, in which there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, who, through Christ, have access together by One Spirit unto the Father ; for the same Holy Spirit which creates in the believing Israelite the spirit of sonship and teaches him to cry in his language, "Abba," fulfils the same blessed mission in the heart of the Greek believer the Greek standing in the New Testament as the repre- sentative of the Gentiles and teaches him to cry in his lan- guage, Ho Pater.