209 – CHILDREN OF GOD
Jehovah was the one who revealed himself as god to Moses, and through Moses to Israel, his chosen people from among the existing nations. “For you are a holy people to Jehovah your God; and Jehovah has chosen you to be a people for His own possession” (Deut. 14:2). This happened in the following way: According to the promise made to Abraham, the people of Israel multiplied in Egypt (Gen. 15:13-14). The very Jehovah created jealousy and envy in Joseph’s brothers, and so they sold him as a slave to some Ishmaelite, who sold him to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s eunuch (Gen. 37:27-28). Joseph, whom Jehovah placed as governor of Egypt, later sent for his father Jacob and all his family, seventy people in all, in order to escape from a great famine that all the earth was going through. In Egypt, the descendants of Jacob multiplied. They were thousands of people formed in the lustful costumes of Egypt and in its idolatry for nearly 400 years. The existing Pharaoh, at the end of these 400 years, reduced the Israelites to slaves and forced them into hard labor. The people moaned under this heavy yoke. This was all happening according to the careful project of Jehovah, who called Moses, set him as deliverer of Israel, using convincing weapons of plagues and pestilences. Pharaoh, overcome by the terrible plagues of Jehovah, let the people go free after they ransacked Egypt (Ex. 3:7-17; 2812:29-36).
This people, produced by the evil costumes of Egypt, receives at Mount Sinai a law that forbids everything they were accustomed to practicing, and Jehovah tells them: “You are sons of Jehovah your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave your forehead for the sake of the dead” (Deut. 14:1). The people, used to the pagan sacrifices of Egypt, did not change with the prohibition. On the other hand, they were not new creatures birthed by the Holy Spirit. They were all flesh, therefore, carnal and submitted to the inclinations of the flesh (Eph. 2:2-3). But Jehovah gave the Law, that is, the Ten Commandments, and demanded obedience under penalty of curse. This can be found in chapters 27 and 28 of the book of Deuteronomy. As it is absolutely impossible for the carnal man to fulfill the law in his life, Paul affirms that the law of Jehovah was sick through the flesh (Rom. 8:3). Jehovah demanded a spiritual behavior of the fleshly born, dealing with them as spiritual children, considering them responsible and punishing them cruelly for a perfection impossible for them to attain. This demand, despotic and merciless, was made during 1,600 years, that is, since the exit from Egypt until the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
From the beginning Jehovah considered that his children betrayed him. “Do you thus repay Jehovah, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you?” (Deut. 32:6). “They sacrificed to demons who were not God, to gods whom they have not known, new gods who came lately, whom your fathers did not dread. You neglected the Rock who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth. And Jehovah saw this, and spurned them because of the provocation of His sons and daughters. Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them. I will see what their end shall be; for they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness” (Deut. 32:17-20).The picture can be represented in the following way: A judge, guardian of children, takes home from the downtown São Paulo a great number of street boys, little thieves, drug addicts, robbers, with no morals, etc. and says: You are now my children. You are not going to steal, practice indecencies, smell glue, because you are my chosen. Whoever disobeys will be hit by curses created by me, plagues, pestilences, malignant tumors, hemorrhoids, and besides, you will suffer my vengeance without pity.
The people of Israel were abandoned by Jehovah to die in the wilderness before they entered in the Promised Land. Nine hundred years after that, at the time of the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah still has the same discourse: “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; for Jehovah speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me’” (Is. 1:2). Jehovah imputed the evil of this poor people for all eternity: “Now go, write it on a tablet before them and inscribe it on a scroll, that it may serve in the time to come as a witness forever. For this is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of Jehovah” (Is. 30:8-9). A little further Jehovah says in an illogical way: “Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely” (Is. 63:8).
In order to prove that every children born naturally were not only children of natural parents, but also children of Jehovah, it is written in the Scriptures: “Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me, and you sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children, and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire” (Ezek. 16:20-21; 23:37).
In the New Testament, the apostle John changes the notion of children of God: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Those who were born of flesh and blood, who were children of Jehovah, are not, nor can be, sons of God the Father of Jesus. In order to become children of God, man has to receive Jesus by faith, believe in him, and be born in a different way. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit’” (John 3:3-6). The water John is speaking of is the word of Jesus, that is, the Gospel of Grace (Eph. 5:25-26). To be born of the Spirit is the work of regeneration, impossible to the common and carnal man (Titus 3:5-6). Paul declares that, those who are born of the flesh, and children of Jehovah, as we have seen above, are not children of God. “That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants” (Rom. 9:8). The apostle Peter says. “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself” (Act 2: 38-39).
God, the Father of Jesus Christ, takes the children of another, which are not his children, and through the faith in Christ and the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, that is, the new birth, makes them children. These are really the children of God. Jehovah deceived the Israelites, blinding their eyes (Jer. 4:10; Is. 6:10). He went on deceiving the Church with the same blindness. “The God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira