Adoption is not only a New Testament truth but we see it pictured book ending the Old Testament festivals and story of redemption. This is the story of adoption in the Old Testament and its meaning for Christians today.
“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”
It is interesting to reflect on the Old Testament:
- Annual calendar
- Annual cycle of feasts
- Story of redemption
It is interesting to note that the annual cycle of feasts begins and ends with:
- Passover at the beginning – 14 th day of the 1st month – Abib / Nissan
- Purim marks the end of the year of feasts – 14th day of the final month Adar
With both of these festivals, at the beginning and at the end of the year are marked by 2 noteable individuals:
It is remarkable, that whilst in the Old Testament story, adoption is unusual, that both Moses and Esther are adopted.
- Moses adopted by Pharoah’s daughter (Exodus 2:10)
- Esther adopted by her cousin Mordecai (Esther 2:7); “And he brought up -- Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.”
The whole of the Old Testament calendar, annual cycle of religious feasts and the whole of the old testament story of redemption are thus bookended by the theme of adoption.
It is interesting to note that:
- Moses delivered from a place – from Egypt
- Esther delivered from a person – Haman, recall what the book of Esther says about “And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman” (Esther 7:6). It was that Haman who devised a plan for the genocide of the Jews and who particulary constructed the “gallows” or “tree” (Heb) for the destruction of righteous Mordecai. By a twist of providence it was by his own designed means of death that he died! "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” (Heb 2:14)
Perhaps we need not reflect too hard on these to see a picture of our own adoption:
- From a PLACE – the world
- From a PERSON – Satan
To complete the picture, perhaps we can note a third individual in the Old Testament system who was adopted: Samuel. It was the task of Samuel not to deliver from a:
- Place – Egypt
- Person – Haman
But rather from a:
- Principle – Flesh (1 Samuel 2:13ff) – consider the condition of the nation in those days, even amongst those who ought to be leading God’s people, they were very much controlled by the flesh.
It is from these 3 that God’s people are delivered in New Testament days too:
"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)
It is interesting to see that in the OT with adoption, with the privilege there came great responsibility.
- Moses – Dignity of Sonship – as the son of Pharoah’s daughter he no longer spent his days in the dirt making bricks and behaving as a slave!
- Samuel – Service marked his adoption in the temple
- Esther – Responsibility was integral to her adoption! Esther had opportunity of access to the King and grasped it for the salvation of her people!
Old Testament adoption is a picture of what God has for His people here in Ephesians 1:5.
Even in the Old Testament days, the entire workings of God were under the umbrella of grace and adoption. God did not have to deliver fallen humanity, an enslaved people nor the Jews from Haman in Babylon, but He did.
In the principle of adoption we have to the fore the thoughts of:
- Grace as the motive behind salvation
- Gratitude as the response to that salvation
In response to God’s salvation the challenge is to live to make our Father proud, to live to the “praise of the Glory of His Grace.”
In the spiritual reality of adoption we have something that goes beyond the human equivalent of adoption. In the case of human adoption the issue is one of NURTURE, ie one fallen human being adopts and cares for another fallen human being. When God adopts us it is the Divine adopting one who was fallen and sinful. For this adoption there must be a change in our NATURE. Christian adoption is a matter of:
Adoption forms a major sub theme in the Ephesian epistle:
- Chapters 1 to 2 – God’s PLAN of adoption / salvation
- Chapters 2 to 3 – The PRIVELAGES of adoption / salvation
- Chapters 4 to 6 – The PRACTICE of adoption
In each and every step it is to the “praise of His Glory”
Dr J Stewart Gillespie