Moving from Slavery to Sonship
Dec 08, 2018
One of the most remarkable aspects of universal truth is that it is applicable on so many levels. The principle of unity in marriage, for instance, is also the principle of divine government. Likewise, the unity principle speaks into our personal relationship with God Himself and how we as His creatures (and children) relate to Him as our King (and Father).
Although there is government in a family unit, the term “government” is hardly a family term. The way we use the word describes an impersonal relationship with a King, and this is suited to those who are mere subjects. Those of us who enjoy a New Covenant relationship with God through Christ know Him as our Father, the King. Fatherhood takes precedence, even though this does not reduce His majesty in the least.
The King-servant relationship is reserved for those under the Old Covenant, for that is the nature of an impersonal or indirect relationship. The Father-son relationship is reserved for those under the New Covenant. Both relationships are valid, but God’s goal is to increase His family, not merely to extend His realm of created beings.
These two covenants are pictured in Scripture in the distinction between Hagar and Sarah. In Galatians 4 Paul shows that Jews (under Judaism and the earthly Jerusalem) are children of the bondwoman, whereas Christians (under the heavenly Jerusalem) are children of the free woman. Yet the principle can be applied more broadly, because there are many Old Covenant religions such as Islam, which teaches that New Covenant relationships with God somehow demean His majesty.
To Islam, “God is great,” whereas to New Covenant Christians, “God is love.” Islam does not question God’s love, nor does Christianity question God’s greatness, yet each paints a different portrait of God, and the effects of each emphasis can be seen in the mindset of each according to its view.
There are also many Christians who remain children of a bondwoman. They view God as great, but unapproachable. They view themselves as unworthy, due to their mortal, sinful condition. Such people are still identified with the flesh, which is indeed mortal and sinful. They have not learned how they may become new creatures in Christ, having a new identity that is neither mortal nor sinful. That new creation man “cannot sin, because he was begotten of God” (1 John 3:9, literal translation).
Many Roman Catholics have been taught that even Jesus Himself is too holy for ordinary men and women to approach. They have been taught to be afraid of Him, and this has hindered them from knowing His love. They are more comfortable praying to Mary or to a saint, thus appealing to Jesus through an intermediary, not knowing that their indirect relationship with Christ is characteristic of the Old Covenant. Hence, they remain children of a bondwoman all their lives and never really achieve the Father-son relationship that God intends for them.
The Roman church itself is like Hagar, the bondwoman, and her Catholic children are thus Ishmaels, children of the flesh (Romans 9:8; Galatians 4:29). As long as they remain in that indirect relationship with an unapproachable God (Christ), they cannot be heirs of the Kingdom. They may be citizens, but not heirs (Galatians 4:30). Both Ishmael and Isaac were children of Abraham, but “in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Genesis 21:12 KJV). Paul quotes this later in Romans 9:7 KJV, saying,
7 neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children; but “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.”
In other words, just because someone can claim ancestry back to Abraham, this does not mean he is one of the chosen “seed.” By genealogy, Ishmael too was a child of Abraham, but he was not “chosen.” Being “chosen” depended not upon one’s father but upon one’s mother. Isaac was chosen because he was the son of Sarah. Paul expounds upon this truth, telling us that Sarah is the New Covenant (Galatians 4:24-26). To be “chosen,” one must be a son of the New Covenant, which came to us through Jesus Christ. In other words, no one is a chosen heir of the promises of God apart from faith in Jesus Christ. Genealogical claims to the inheritance only characterize the wishful dreams of spiritual Ishmaelites.
The Primary Error of Dispensationalism
The Dispensationalists in the 1800’s lost sight of this basic truth. In earlier centuries, the Roman Church had also lost sight of this, teaching that one must be a bond slave of the popes and the institutional church in order to receive the promises of God. The Church thus set itself up as Hagar, though it pretended to be Sarah. Catholics were denied the right to have a personal relationship with Christ, for all of their revelation had to be cleared with the church hierarchy.
The Protestant Reformers gave Christians the right to approach God directly without the need for an intermediary priest and without the need to go through Mary or some saint. That was, perhaps, the most hotly-disputed doctrinal issue of the Reformation. But as men and women everywhere were set free from their slavery, many were able to change their identities from Ishmael to Isaac, or from being children of the flesh to the children of promise.
Unfortunately, many in later generations began to revert back to the original condition, especially when denominations began to enslave their own people in the same way that the Roman Church had done in previous centuries. By not understanding the difference between the two covenants, those churches taught Old Covenant principles under a New Covenant label.
This made conditions ripe for the Dispensationalists in the 1800’s, who then taught that the Jews were chosen by genealogy to Abraham, rather than reserving “chosen” status to those who were truly in Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant. Thus, the crowning achievement of the Protestant Reformers was lost, as men again reverted back to Old Covenant understanding.
This condition has since matured to its logical end—Dual Covenant Theology—where men teach that there are two means of salvation, one for Jews and one for Gentiles. Each is saved by its own covenant, depending upon whether one is a physical descendant of Abraham or not. At this point in time, most Christians would not go that far, but that is the direction the evangelical churches are moving.
Right now, most evangelicals are merely Christian Zionists, who give unbelieving Jews “chosen” status based upon their genealogy, even while they reject Jesus Christ. Christian Zionists do not share the same view of Jewry that the apostle Paul had. In fact, many Jews hate Paul more than Jesus, because of Paul’s insistence that Jews (and all men) must come to God through Jesus Christ. Paul levels the playing field, telling us that through Christ the dividing wall has been demolished, and that God has created “one new man” (Ephesians 2:14, 15). It is NOT the case that Jews get to be closer to God than women and Gentiles. No, being “chosen” has nothing to do with one’s genealogy, gender, or social class (Galatians 3:28, 29).
Dispensationalism brought Hagar back into mainstream evangelical Christianity. Not only have Christians been placed in bondage to denominations calling themselves “the true church,” but they have also been put into bondage to the Jews themselves. By teaching that the Jews are chosen to rule the world in the Millennial Kingdom, Dispensationalists have changed the definition of the elect (“chosen ones”), and Christians have lost the distinction between believers and overcomers.
The State of Israel
Dispensationalism has reversed much that came from the Protestant Reformation. Its tenets are now so mainstream that few today have even heard of Dispensationalism. The term no longer applies, because it no longer distinguishes its particular viewpoint from mainstream Christianity.
The establishment of the Israeli state in 1948 appeared to confirm the Dispensationalist view of Christian Zionism, because most people did not understand the biblical story of Esau-Edom and how God was bound to do justice to Esau. Jacob had taken the birthright in an unlawful manner (by lying to his father), and because of that legal breach, Esau had a valid claim against Jacob.
Isaac recognized this at the time, and so when Esau asked for a blessing, Isaac told him, “when thou shalt have the dominion [mandate], that thou shalt break his [Jacob’s] yoke from off thy neck” (Genesis 27:40 KJV). The dominion mandate was the authority of the birthright, just as the fruitfulness mandate was the responsibility to bring forth the sons of God.
Isaac was telling Esau that at some point in time, Jacob would have to give the birthright back to Esau in order to allow Esau time to prove himself unworthy, so that Jacob could receive the birthright in the lawful manner. That is what occurred in 1948, as I explained in my book, The Struggle for the Birthright.
Esau’s descendants were conquered and absorbed into Jewry in 126 B.C., as every historian knows. (See Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XIII, ix, 1.) This merger between two peoples combined each set of prophecies in a single people. The Israeli state has fulfilled the prophecies of the remnant of Judah (i.e., the cursed fig tree), which was to bring forth more leaves but no fruit (Matthew 21:19; 24:32).
At the same time, the Edomite side of world Jewry was being given justice. The law of Tribulation forbids Judah from returning to the land apart from repentance of their hostility to Jesus Christ (Leviticus 26:40, 41, 42), but Edom was allowed to return on account of the injustice perpetrated upon him in Genesis 27. For this reason, I contend that the Israeli state represents the nation of Edom, to whom the birthright has been given for a season. With that birthright came the birthright name, Israel.
Since Esau-Edom is dominated by children of the flesh (unless genuinely converted to Christ), the state of Israel is a powerful representative of Hagar religion. Those who subject themselves to its influence cannot help but be enslaved to the flesh in some manner.
By understanding the Scriptures, the law, history, and the nature of the two covenants, we have the opportunity to change our status from slaves to sons and thereby qualify as overcomers. Those who do will be heirs of the promises of God. Those who choose the path of slavery cannot hope to rise to the level of reigning with Christ in the Tabernacles Age to come.