Having a good father is one of the best blessings in life. I was blessed to have a wonderful, loving father, but he passed away about nine years ago. Some people have, like me, lost their fathers, some had fathers who were not good to their children or maybe even abusive, and some never even knew their fathers.
Estimated Reading Time –8 minutes (Music video approximately 5 additional minutes)
Everyone has the opportunity to be the child of the best Father ever—a Heavenly Father. But there’s a very popular misunderstanding about that. We often hear people say, “We’re all God’s children.” Actually, just being a human being doesn’t automatically make us one of God’s children. The Bible makes that very clear. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive him [Jesus Christ, the Son of God], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” In Mark 1:15, Jesus Himself invited the people around Him to “Repent and believe the gospel.” “Repent” means to change your attitude. I believe that means changing your attitude about the way you should have been living your life and the fact that you need God’s forgiveness. The “gospel” is the good news that God sent His Son Jesus to give His life to pay the penalty for the sins of those who believe in Him.
Probably the most famous verse in all the Bible, John 3:16, says this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” By repenting and believing that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins, we can be approved for adoption as one of God’s children. Why do I use the word adoption? Because that’s how the Bible sometimes describes it. Galatians 4:4-5 say, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son . . . that we might receive adoption to sonship.”
The gotquestions.org website gave some interesting insight into this subject. Adoption was not a Jewish concept. When the Jewish father who supported a child died, it was the duty of the father’s brother to marry his brother’s widow. Therefore, when Jesus described becoming God’s child to the Jewish leader Nicodemus in the third chapter of John, he used the term “born again.” When addressing the Romans, Paul described becoming a child of God in terms of adoption, which was a Roman custom. The gotquestions.org website reminds us about the story in the movie Ben-Hur, wherein Jewish Ben-Hur was adopted by a Roman leader whose life he had saved.
Would God Make a Loving Adoptive Father?
By hearing or reading bit and pieces of the Old Testament books of the Bible, you can get a false impression of God. You might be thinking: “I’m not sure I want to be God’s child. He sounds like an angry God.”
Yes, the Old Testament does often show God in a state of anger. But we really need to know the whole story. The eighth verse of the beautiful chapter found in Psalm 103 states: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
God placed the first humans He created , Adam and Eve, in a perfect setting. But they chose to trespass the only restriction God gave. Their sin broke their relationship with God and caused God to displace them from their perfect quality of life to a life of difficulties, pain, and death.
The offspring of Adam and Eve continued down a path of sin. One of their sons killed the other. As time passed, life on earth was full of more and more sin. Genesis 6:5-6 tells us, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.”
Since God was so grieved over how evil mankind had become, He decided to flood the entire earth. He only saved a man named Noah, and his family. Noah had been faithful to believe in God and follow God’s ways. But even after the flood, descendents of Noah’s sons– Shem, Ham and Japheth—didn’t all strive to please God. Shem did follow after God. The gotquestions.org website confirmed what I thought I had learned before. Genesis 10:21 tells us that “Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.” “Eber” is where the word “Hebrew” came from. “Shem,” which means “name,” is the origin of the words “Semite” and “Semitic” that you hear today.
Later God chose a man of faith named Abram (later changed to Abraham), who was a descendent of Shem, to be the beginning of the Israeli nation. The name of Abraham’s grandson Jacob would be changed to Israel. The Israelites would be the nation through whom God’s Son would be born in human flesh to provide salvation to all who would believe in Him. But hundreds of years would pass first. God provided a place for the Israelites to grow and flourish in Egypt, but the Egyptians enslaved them and were cruel taskmasters. If you’ve read the Old Testament or sat through lots of Sunday School lessons or even just watched the classic movie The Ten Commandments, you know that God sent ten plagues on the Egyptians before Pharaoh finally agreed to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt.
One of the books a pastor named Ron Mehl wrote was about the Ten Commandments God gave to Israel after they departed from Egypt and miraculously crossed the Red Sea. The book was called The Tender Commandments, because the author understood that a loving God knew that following the Ten Commandments would make life on earth so much more beautiful. [Ron Mehl also wrote another great book I read called God Works the Night Shift.] Think about it. Isn’t life much better when people honor their parents, when there is no murder, when husbands and wives are faithful to each other, when no one steals, lies, or is jealous of what other people possess? (The first 5 commandments have to do with honoring the true and living God. That, too, will make life more beautiful.)
In reading the Old Testament, some may wonder why God would have the Israelite priests make all those bloody animal sacrifices on behalf of the people. Was it necessary to kill all those animals? Killing those animals was an important representation of the sacrifice God’s Son Jesus would someday make with his own blood, to pay for sin once and for all. In Hebrews 9:12 we read these words: “He [Christ, our permanent high priest] did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place
[in Heaven] once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” Mankind would never be able to keep God’s commandments perfectly. There had to be a way to receive forgiveness.
If you keep reading through the Old Testament, you find that after the giving of the Ten Commandments there were plagues, the earth swallowing people up, and bloody battles with thousands killed. If God is loving, why was killing sometimes condoned by Him? We need an understanding of the wickedness that abounded. God’s own people were rebellious, and God had been tolerating horrendous sins among other nations .God commanded the Israelites to drive out the nations in the land of Canaan and dwell in that land themselves. The Canaanites were descendants of one of Noah’s sons, Ham, and had developed very wicked customs.
Here is one of the references that give insight into why God was often angered, found in Deuteronomy 18:9-12: “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God.”
Although God warned the Israelites not to follow the evil practices of the pagan nations they were to displace, the Bible tells us that some of the Israelite leaders led their people right into those same horrific sins, again angering God. II Kings 16:2-3 says: “Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father [meaning ancestor], he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He followed the ways of the [wicked] kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.”
With this in mind, we begin to understand that God didn’t want His creation to be an ugly place where people clung to evil instead of good. He wanted people to love and respect each other and worship Him as the source of true wisdom.
Remember the story of “Jonah and the Whale”? God was merciful to the people of Nineveh, the capitol of the Assyrian Empire, when He sent Jonah to tell them that in 40 days they would be conquered. When they repented, God was compassionate. Nineveh’s only sin mentioned in the book of Jonah was violence. We find that Nineveh returned to its sins later. The book of Nahum describes sins of Nineveh, before God later did bring judgment down on that city. Nahum 3 lists the sins of bloodshed, lies, hoarding spoils, and sorcery.
I found some very disturbing information about what archaeologists have discovered concerning the cruelty the Assyrians used on their captives. I will not list the horrible atrocities here. It seems that God was certainly justified in bringing the stern judgment on them described in Nahum 3. By entering “cruelty of the Assyrians” in my search engine, I found those unthinkable cruelties at a website called thattheworldmayknow.com.
Psalm 103:13-14 says: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear [respect] him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” God was patient for many years before He finally sent harsh judgment. He sent many prophets to Israel to warn them.
But they didn’t listen, and they even killed some of the prophets.
I John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” If we understand how truly loving God is, it seems we should be anxious to be “adopted” as one of His children.
The Costs of Adoption
I didn’t know much about what it costs for Americans in our current economy of 2023 to take children into their homes to care for them by means of adoption. A little research clarified the different kinds of adoptions and the costs adoptive parents might expect. A nerdwallet.com article updated in April of 2023 gave me some answers. The article states that adopting through the foster care system, in which you might begin as the child’s foster parent, usually costs about $1,000. That figure was taken from an Adoption Families magazine survey of 2016-2017. Then there is private adoption, in which parents connect with an adoption agency or a private attorney to take in an American child. The article states that going through an agency will probably cost $30,000 to $60,000. Going through a private attorney for an “independent adoption” is said to likely cost $25,000 to $45,000. Then again there are intercountry adoptions to adopt a foreign child. They may cost anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000.
What did it cost God to adopt human beings as His children? It cost Him sending His only Son to earth to die a very cruel death on a cross, to take the punishment for the sins of the world. There could be no greater cost than that. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The Benefits of Adoption
The benefits of adoption by human parents are obvious. Everyone wants to live in a home where they are loved and wanted and where all their needs are met.
What are the benefits of being “adopted” by God, besides having our sins forgiven? Ephesians 1:13 says,
- “ . . . When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit . . .” Galatians
- 5:22-23 enumerates some of the advantages of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” And the best benefit of all is that after God’s adopted children die or are “caught up . . . to meet the Lord in the air”
- (I Thessalonians 4:17), they will be with God forever in a world far better than the present one. Revelation 21:4 gives us this encouragement for God’s children: “He [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Below you can click on a video of a joyful hymn called “Child of the King,” rendered with lots of heart by the Gaither Vocal Band.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. TM Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office of Biblica, Inc. TM
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