November was National Adoption month, I know this because I work for a Christian ministry that serves as an adoption agency. The organization I work for held our annual fundraiser/celebration dinner last month, during the dinner an adult adoptee shared some of His story. He was born in an Eastern European country that was highly superstitious. He was born without arms and was viewed as cursed in his culture. A world away in the United States his parents were convicted that they needed to do something out of their comfort zone for the Kingdom. They decided that they wanted to adopt a child that no one else wanted. So they went to Eastern Europe and adopted the 10 pound, severely malnourished 18 month old with no arms. They adopted the child that no one else wanted, the child that was sure to die, the child nobody else was willing to take on and they called him son.
I was struck by that story and what an incredibly beautiful picture of the Gospel it is. We are the children that no one else wanted. We are ex-orphans. We are the ones that God sought out as we wallowed in our own sin nature. We were dead and He gave us life. He adopted us as sons.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” –Galatians 4:4-7
Adopted as sons. I’ve seen a lot of translations and heard a lot of people insert “and daughters”. As one who didn’t know what the literal translation is, I never thought about this much. I just assumed that Paul was doing what many people were taught to do in English class; that is to use the masculine pronoun in situations where the gender of their subject(s) is unclear or variable, or when a group to which they are referring contains members of both sexes. But to assume that does not give the God of the Universe much credit.
It was pointed out to me recently that in Roman society, during the time Paul was writing to the Galatians, daughters didn’t have full rights. Sons were given preference to inherit the family estate and in general it was males who were adopted by wealthy families to carry on the family name. So, when Paul says that God has adopted us into His family as sons, it’s not because of longstanding grammatical rules/traditions and it’s not because Paul is misogynistic; it’s because of the Father’s great love for us. It’s because of God’s absolute and unfailing attention to detail. It’s because there is absolutely nothing that our Heavenly Father did not think of in eternity past or eternity future. He has sent His Spirit into our hearts crying, “Abba! Father!” so that we can cry out as sons, “Abba! Father!” to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
When I was a little girl one of the best parts of each day was anticipating my dad’s arrival home from work. I would pester my mom asking her “How much longer?!”. I loved it when my dad would burst through the front door, as he said my nick name in a sing song voice which delighted me to no end. Dad was home. Our family was together and whole. All seemed right.
At this special time of year we reflect on and wonder at the great love of our Heavenly Father who sent His son into this world as a precious babe; the God-man born in a lowly manger. The Prince of Peace came to our broken world, bore our sins, poured out His blood, and clothes us in His righteousness. Our Father would stop at nothing to adopt us as sons. As we rejoice in and look back on our Savior’s birth, we should also look forward as we cry out with joy, pain, and hope, “How much longer?!”. How much longer until our family is together and whole? How much longer until all is made right? How much longer until we see His face and praise His name as He sings over us with love? How much longer, indeed.
Merry Christmas, dear ones.
“Come, Thou long expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free; From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art; Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart. Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King, Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone; By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.”