Have we lost the meaning of what our God and King meant for us?

John 3:3  “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”

 

The term “born again” has lost its meaning over time and through misuse. How many people living today are “born again” without being able to explain its implied meaning? It has unfortunately become the rallying cry of cheap grace which is not of God.

Among street evangelists the conversation generally runs like this; “If you were to die tomorrow what would you say to God as a reason He should let you into His Heaven? The average person if they answer will generally try to justify their works to which the well meaning evangelist quotes Romans 10:9,10 or a similar verse. If the person accepts this, the well meaning evangelist prays with this person the “sinner’s prayer” and invites them to church and they are now saved.

 

This as an example may sound sharp and critical, but how can you be critical of well meaning people who care enough to take on this task to begin with? You cannot.

If Jesus Himself said His followers must be those that sat down and “counted the cost” of what this meant, how do we expect better?

Nicodemus asked the best and most honest question that could be asked. He is identified by Jesus as a “ruler” of Israel and a Pharisee. This would make him a prince and a member of the Sanhedrin. His life experience is making the “laws” that righteous Israel lives by. His wealth and position separate him from the average person. He is a Pharisee and has taken the two vows. He avoids contact with the average person or amheretz as a matter of purity.

He is a ruler looking at the younger King, a legislator of “the Law” and a legal councilor.

“How can a man be born when he is old?”

John 3:7 “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”

 

If this is what God meant for us the answer must be simple to understand and accept. Given the theocratic nature of Israel, Jesus’ answer had to be within the body of Law.

This being “born again” is the adoption into the family of the King, and knowing who He is, the family of God.

1 Peter 1:23 “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever…”[Romans 8:15,23, 9:4, Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5…]

 

So far it is simple enough but does not convey the fullness of meaning. Adoption through the first century into a royal family or a family that had greater social status meant giving up your old familial ties. You were no longer a part of the family you grew up with. In a sense you are at first orphaned in the process. Matthew 10:37 “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

 

In practical terms the adopted took on the name, lineage, heritage, privilege and responsibility of the adopting family. This practice was widespread across the ancient world and even the Roman Caesars chose their heirs whom they would train to be Caesar from other families. They would adopt them; give them their new name, family name, and all the privilege of being a son of the household.

They were also governed by the rules and laws that pertained to that position. For example if there was a law that stated that a son of Caesar would be supported by taxes, they would be supported by taxes. This same type of scenario applied to ancient Israel from at least the time of Saul forward.

 

1 Samuel 17:58 And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.

1 Samuel 18:1 “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.

3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

5 And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.”

This was why Saul accused Jonathan of giving over the kingdom to David. In giving all those items Jonathan was stating that all he was as heir, David was now also. David gained entry into the “kingdom” of Saul through marriage into the family.

Why doesn’t this stretch on both Scripture and reason? tSanhedrin 4.2 “None may ride on his horse, or sit on his royal chair, and none may make use of his crown or sceptre or any of the regalia. When he dies these are all buried with him at his burial, for it is written:  THOU SHALT DIE IN PEACE, AND WITH THE BURNINGS OF THY FATHERS, THE FORMER KINGS.

 mSanhedrin 2.5. None may ride on his horse, and none may sit on his throne, and none may wield his sceptre. He may not be seen naked, nor when he is having his hair cut, nor when he is in the bath; for it is written:  THOU SHALT SURELY SET OVER THEE A KING whose fear shall be upon thee.”[1]

With regard to David himself, being adopted into royalty through marriage would have and did set him into the family of Saul, but not as first claimant for the Throne. The act of adoption in brotherhood by Jonathan and not his marriages gave the kingdom over to Judah because Jonathan had made them equal (ISamuel 20:30, 31) and gave him claimant status.

Saul knew that as long as David lived his goal of a dynasty would never be realized.

 

 

The honor of the king was sacrosanct. In everything that had to do with life it was to be held up. The Talmudic examples given are after Judaism split with the Religion of Israel but point to the previous law. This can be shown through the historical documents with regard to James the brother of Jesus. In Heggesipus about James “He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath.”This shows James’ regard of his position as a king and a priest and that he did live within the royal statutes.

Until the first century this type of adoption was rare. A king could not call a commoner or even a prince equal. A king could not call a High Priest equal. A brother to a king was equal in the sense that they are both kings by bloodline. The eldest who is heir apparent always had the double portion and responsibility as the right of the first born. This should give us pause.

A commoner who is adopted by the king would now be a king because he is of the household of the king. A king would be equal.

Mathew 10:24b “…If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?”

If then we also are adopted in Jesus and are a part of His household, what does this mean?

Matthew 10:24a “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.25 it is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.

This statement should give us all pause. He has said we are to be like Him in this adoption. The example of Jonathan and David also set precedent for other groups including the Pharisee who adopted “sons” that they felt worthy to carry their traditions.

These adoptions put the adopted squarely into these families forever. The Rabbis agreement with this was shown in the examples of R. Simeon b. Netanel the priest (Gamliel), and R. Joshua b.Gamliel (Boethus, the High Priest). 

 

This again in no way is an argument for supersession of religion or people. Contrary to that it is a statement in agreement with Moses as well as the Sages of Judaism on the practice of adoption with regard to the accepted practice of the extension of family on the lines of Judah. We are now of that household but not its title holder.

Position

He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them forever, and they are exalted.  Job 36:7

“The Mishnah states (in the Law of the Kings), “Who is meant by ruler‟? A king, for it is stated in Scriptures, any of all the things which the Lord his God hath commanded (Lev 4.22), ‟ a ruler above whom there is none but the Lord his God.”

Leviticus4:22 And if a ruler sin, and break one of all the commands of the Lord his God,27 And if a soul of the people of the land should sin unwillingly, in doing a thing contrary to any of the commandments of the Lord,” [2]

The two distinctions made are the differences between the king and the rest of the people. First the ruler is singled out as separate from “the souls of the people”, which includes everyone else except the king. Second is the phrasing of “the LORD (YHWH) his God” compared to “of the LORD (YHWH)”. The Statute (law) shown is ‟ a ruler above whom there is none but the Lord his God.”

To use a standard Hebraism for Job 36:7, “The righteous are as kings”, or the Tsaddiq are as Melchi. [Melchi-Zedek].

This is shown in the net result of “Royal Adoption” in the first century by the Nazarenes. First the condition “righteousness” needed to be met.

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Part of our inheritance is netzer [king-priest (melchi-tsaddiq)] status in the family and economy of God, as noted in verse 6. Our place is in the Temple and the Temple of God is in us and as “lively” or living stones is us. Our responsibility is to keep the Royal Law. That is the expectation of God for His adopted.

1 Chronicles 28:6 “And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.”

The most common usage of the term “son of God” in the first century was in reference to the king is based on the above verse. It is by the adoption we have this privilege. Our limits are in the Royal Law. Our privilege is in the Royal Statutes.

1 Peter 2:9  “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:”

 

With that stated examples of Royal Law, precedence, requirements, and application are provably shown in the New Testament, history and early writings as applicable to followers of Jesus. 

The fourth century view follows; One only, therefore, is to be worshipped, who can truly be called Father. He also must of necessity be Lord, because as He has power to indulge, so also has He power to restrain. He is to be called Father on this account, because He bestows upon us many and great things; and Lord on this account, because He has the greatest power of chastising and punishing. But that He who is Father is also Lord, is shown even by reference to civil law. For who will be able to bring up sons, unless he has the power of a lord over them? Nor without reason is he called father of a household, although he only has sons: for it is plain that the name of father embraces also slaves, because “household” follows; and the name of “household” comprises also sons, because the name of “father” precedes: from which it is evident, that the same person is both father of his slaves and lord of his sons. Lastly, the son is set at liberty as if he were a slave; and the liberated slave receives the name of his patron, as if he were a son. But if a man is named father of a household, that it may appear that he is possessed of a double power, because as a father he ought to indulge, and as a lord to restrain, it follows that he who is a son is also a slave, and that he who is a father is also a lord. As, therefore, by the necessity of nature, there cannot be more than one father, so there can only be one lord. For what will the slave do if many lords shall give commands at variance with each other? Therefore the worship of many gods is contrary to reason and to nature, since there cannot be many fathers or lords; but it is necessary to consider the gods both as fathers and lords.- Lactantius The Divine Institutes Chapter III- Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries Phillip Schaff         


[1] Tractate Sanhedrin, Herbert Danby tr. [1919], at sacred-texts.com The Laws pertaining to the Kings

[2] English Translation of the Greek Septuagint BibleThe Translation of the Greek Old Testament Scriptures, Including the Apocrypha.Compiled from the Translation by Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton 1851

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