The Judges, part 4, Legal implications of captivity
Apr 20, 2019
I want to pause briefly in our study of the Judges to comment on the legal background of Israel’s captivities. In other words, what hidden things are accomplished by putting Israel into captivity? What happens to the dominion mandate during a captivity? How does God view this shift in authority?
The Birthright and Dominion
First, it is important to understand that the Birthright originated in the first chapter of Genesis, even though it was not actually mentioned until Esau sold it to Jacob in Genesis 25:31, 32. There were two main provisions in the Birthright: the dominion mandate (Genesis 1:26 KJV), which gave authority and the right to rule, and the fruitfulness mandate (Genesis 1:28), which specified the responsibility that was to be accomplished.
Many miss this, because they see the idea of being fruitful and multiplying only in terms of increasing the population of the earth. But when this mandate was given, Adam had not yet sinned, and so he was truly a “son of God,” as Luke 3:38 describes him. Because like begets like by the law of biogenesis, if Adam had brought forth children prior to his sin, he would have brought forth sons of God in his image and likeness. But when he sinned, he lost that pristine condition as a son of God, and when he later begat children, they were born in his imperfect and mortal image.
The Responsibility to be Fruitful
For this reason, the divine revelation from that point on was really designed to show us how to become the sons of God. John 1:12 thus says,
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [exousia, “authority”] to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
We see here that the children of Adam are no longer sons of God but must “become children of God” by faith in Christ. Their genealogy from Adam does not make them sons of God, because they lost God’s “likeness” when Adam sinned. So John goes on to explain that this right to become children of God are those “born not of blood,” or better, “begotten not of physical bloodline.”
The point is that the Birthright, or Right of Birth, comes on two levels: physical and spiritual. Being physically a first-born son of the Birthright holder gave him certain legal rights, but those rights were conditional upon his spiritual character. Such rights were not absolute. So Ishmael was disqualified on account of his mother’s status as a slave, and Reuben was disqualified because “he defiled his father’s bed” (1 Chronicles 5:1; Genesis 35:22).
Ultimately, all the descendants of Adam were disqualified through sin, and so we must all become sons of God in another way—by a second begetting by faith through hearing the word and receiving the immortal seed of the New Covenant gospel.
Sin brings slavery and captivity, where men lose their freedom and are stripped of the authority inherent in the Birthright. This happened universally when Adam sinned, bringing us all into slavery to Sin (personified as the slave master), whose “law of sin” (Romans 7:23) we are forced to obey through the weakness of human nature. Hence, “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23).
In a national application of this principle, Israel as a nation held the Birthright, including the dominion mandate to rule the earth. In other words, they were “chosen” as a nation to bring forth the sons of God and thus fulfill their responsibility to be fruitful and multiply. Their mandate was primarily to beget children of God. However, they failed to do so through sin.
Giving the Birthright to Other Nations
Because the law allows a first-born son to be stripped of the Birthright if he proved himself to be unworthy, Israel as a nation was also stripped of the Birthright. God convicted Israel in the divine court, and because the nation lacked the spiritual resources to pay restitution, God “sold” them to the king of Mesopotamia (Judges 3:8).
Again, God “sold” Israel to Jabin, king of Canaan (Judges 4:2). This sale came through the law found in Exodus 22:3, which says that if a man cannot pay restitution, he was to be sold as a slave. In other words, he would lose his freedom and be forced by law to serve his master for a specified time.
This is what God did with Israel. The dominion mandate was taken away from Israel and given to foreign nations. The legal implication of this is that Israel lost its “chosen” status temporarily. The dominion mandate was given to various foreign nations, and God then treated them as being “chosen.” But those foreign nations, being largely ignorant of God’s law and His ways, used the dominion mandate for their own carnal advantage, rather than to seek to bring forth the sons of God. They were given opportunity to hold the scepter for a short season, but they did not understand the responsibility that went with it.
In this way, God “chose” other nations, each in turn, giving them opportunity to experience the Birthright. Yet the sovereign plan of God had determined ahead of time that these nations would not fulfill the terms of the Birthright, nor would they bring forth the sons of God. Flesh is always given the first opportunity to do the work, if only to prove its insufficiency and unworthiness.
So throughout the book of Judges, we can see how God chose Mesopotamia (i.e., Babylon), then Moab, then Canaan, then Midian, then the Philistines, and so on. All of them proved to be unworthy of the Birthright, and so all of them were stripped of it at their appointed times. The dominion mandate continued to revert back to Israel when they repented, but unfortunately, Israel always fell into sin again.
Finally, in the time of Isaiah, God cast Israel out of the land and put them into captivity to Assyria. This turned out to be a very long captivity, and they never returned to the old land. A century later, Judah too was taken captive to Babylon. They returned after 70 years, but even then they remained under the dominion of the Persians—followed by the Greeks and Romans and then the “little horn” that was an extension of Rome. (See Daniel 7.)
As long as they were in captivity, the dominion mandate was held by foreign nations. That means the Birthright itself—and the right to be “chosen”—was held by foreign nations who could never bring forth the sons of God to fulfill the fruitfulness mandate. During this long captivity, neither Israel nor Judah were “chosen,” for they were still in “the dispersion” and not in the Kingdom of God.
The Final Phase
In 1948 Esau, aligned with the remnant of Judah (the cursed fig tree that came back to life), was given the Birthright in order to satisfy Esau’s claim on account of Jacob’s sin against him in Genesis 27. Yet because Babylon’s time was not yet complete, Esau’s claim had to be fulfilled within the overall context of the Babylonian captivity. Otherwise, Babylon might complain in the divine court that its time was being curtailed. God solved this problem by having Esau-Edom take control of Babylon, so that both claims could be fulfilled concurrently in the final 70 years of the dominion of the beast nations.
Of course, neither Edom nor Babylon have fulfilled the terms of the dominion mandate, for both were carnal. Neither had any intention of bringing forth the sons of God. Both sought slaves, rather than sons, and we know that slaves are not inheritors of the Birthright. Hence, these nations all followed in the footsteps of Hagar, the bondwoman, who could only produce slaves as her offspring.
Who are the Saints?
In the end, Daniel 7:21, 22 KJV says that when the final beast has reached the end of its time, the dominion will be passed down to “the saints of the Most High.” Daniel does not define this term, leaving room for many to think that he was referring to physical descendants of Israel or Judah. But the New Testament shows clearly that there is no “saint” apart from Jesus Christ.
A “saint” is one who is holy, pure, or clean. Under the Old Covenant, such cleanliness was achieved by ceremonial washings (baptisms), which the priests performed at the laver before entering into the sanctuary. But Hebrews 9:8-10 says,
8 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings [baptismos, “baptisms”], regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.
We read in 1 John 1:7, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Jesus Himself said in John 15:3, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” Men are not cleansed by physical water but by the washing of the word—that is, by believing the word of Christ and applying His blood, which cleanses us from all sin.
That is how a “saint” is defined under the New Covenant. That, then, is how we must define the word used in Daniel 7:22. These are the ones who are have received the Birthright that has been stripped from both Babylon and Esau on October 12, 2017. And while those carnal nations have yet refused to release their slaves and give up the dominion mandate, God has allowed them to hold it beyond their time limit in order to establish lawful cause to take it from them and to enslave them to the Kingdom of God.
The Birthright goes to the inheritors of the Kingdom. Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 15:48-54,
48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable… 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Paul was comparing Adam with Christ. Adam’s name means “earthy,” and we have all borne his fleshly mortal and corruptible image. But through a second begetting and new birth, we are being changed into the immortal and incorruptible image of Christ, so that we may inherit the Birthright and the Kingdom. The Birthright will no longer be given to carnal people who remain in the image of the earthy man. Those who are “chosen” at the end of the time of beast dominion will be those who are in Christ’s image.
In conclusion, we see that Israel and Judah proved themselves to be unworthy, so God gave other nations the opportunity to hold the dominion and to fulfill its responsibility. All failed, of course, because all of them remained in the image of the earthy man, Adam, and so they followed his example of sin and corruption.
The time of the Kingdom was yet afar off, because Adam and his estate were sold into slavery for “six years” (Exodus 21:2), which prophetically was 6,000 years. So the beast nations were given the dominion until the time appointed for the saints of the Most High to become the manifested sons of God. These saints will include those who have died in the past, because Paul says that they will be raised from the dead first.
The bottom line is that the saints of the Most High are those who not only are given the dominion mandate but who also are birthed as sons of God. These are to be presented to God on the eighth day of Tabernacles and then manifested to the people on earth.
This will mark the beginning of new era of evangelism, where the kingdom of God grows exponentially during the Great Sabbath Millennium leading to the Great White Throne.
This is part 4 of a series titled "The Judges" To view all parts, click the link below.