In our last program we began looking at the issue of orphans and how God laid out very clearly in His Word that He expected His people to be compassionate and caring toward orphans. This is very important to understand because it demonstrates very clearly how God views all men who are estranged from Him. We also saw that Jesus fulfills the criteria as the ‘go-between’ so to speak, to bridge the gap between orphaned human beings and our God who is in fact a Father to those who are fatherless. We saw Jesus as our prophet, declaring the kingdom of God. He is our King, the Son of David – the Messiah who will come to set all things right in this world at the appointed time. We saw Him as our Great High Priest and Mediator not only making the offering on our behalf but He was the offering given on our behalf ensuring our redemption.
It’s important to understand that because of sin, humanity is Fatherless, we’re all orphans.
Because of Him, we would no longer be fatherless…we would finally be reconciled to our Father, in fact Scripture says we become ‘adopted’.
Romans 8:15, ‘For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba Father!”
Ephesians 1:3-6, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, Messiah, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus our Messiah to Himself, according to the kind intentions of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.’
God knew that we’d rebel and sin against Him, He knew we’d become orphans and still He created us but in the process of that creation, He predestined us to adoption so we’d be restored to Him and we’d no longer be ‘Fatherless’.
When you realise that Paul wrote these passages during the rule of the ancient Roman Empire, you understand that it was common knowledge and widely understood by the general populace, what adoption meant under Roman law. Here’s an excerpt from sermon by Dr John Macarthur who taught about the laws of adoption in ancient Rome.
“There were two steps. The first one was called mansupoteo from which we get the word emancipation. And mansupoteo was carried out as a symbolic sort of sale. If the father would agree to let his son be adopted by another man, there was this symbolic sale they went to; they had some scales and some copper and they used this symbolism to carry out sort of a transaction like I’m selling this young man to you. They did it three times. Twice the father symbolically sold the son and twice he bought him back and then the third time he didn’t buy him back and the Potrea Protestus was broken.
After the sale there was ceremony called Vindacateo and the adopting father went to the Roman magistrate and presented a legal case for the actual legal transference of the person to be adopted into his own Potrea Protestus. And when all this was complete the adoption was done.
Now there were four main consequences in a Roman adoption. The adopted person lost all rights in his own (natural) family and gained all rights in his new family. He gained all the rights of a fully legitimate son in his new family.
Secondly he became full heir to his new father’s estate even if there were other sons, even if there were no sons, if other sons were afterward born into the family who were real blood relations it did not affect his right of progenerate, his right to be the primary one. He was an inalienably identified heir.
Thirdly, according to Roman law, the old life of the adopted person, this is interesting, was completely wiped out. If he had any debts they were cancelled, if he had any record of crime it was abolished. They wiped out all the records as if that person had never existed, as if they had never been born. And the adopted person was regarded as a new person entering a new life with no past.
And fourthly in the eyes of the Roman law the adopted person was literally and absolutely the son of his new father in every sense.” 1
Is that not remarkable! This is a natural picture of the exact process that takes place in our relationship with God when we come to saving faith in Jesus, and this was the understanding that the early church had when Paul explained that we are adopted into God’s family when we put our faith and trust in Jesus.
1 ‘Marks of a Child Adopted by God’, Dr John Macarthur, Oct 26, 1997 (Romans 8:14-16)