Children of God During the Old Testament Era

During Old Testament times, only a few were God’s spiritual children in His world (Psa. 14:3). In Jesus’ time, a few were spiritual children of Abraham (John 8:23), and we see that the apostles were walking in the steps of Abraham under the Old Law (John 8:39).  God’s spiritual children were scattered abroad during the Old Testament era (John 11:51-52).

There was a spiritual birth and death in Old Testament times.  All men were born alive to God during the Old Testament and New Testament periods (Rom. 7:7-9).  Adam and Eve were the first ones to die spiritually after they sinned (Gen 2:17).  In the Old Testament period all men died the same spiritual death we see in Rom. 5:12-14.  He gives the reason why all have died and simply testifies that all have sinned (Rom. 5:12).  All have sinned and thus have died spiritually (Rom. 3:23).  Men could be born again in the Old Testament period (Psa. 14:3).  Notice that Daniel came alive to God one day when, for the first time, God began to listen to his prayers (Dan. 12:10).  During that time God did not accept those who had turned away from His law (Pro. 28:9).  Even those once alive were rejected when they turned to sin (Isa. 59:1-2).  In Old Testament times the sinners were dead to God but the righteous were alive to God (Eze. 18:5-9).  It was during the Old Testament era that Paul died spiritually (Rom. 7:7-9).  There are two births in New Testament times (John 1:10-13).  The Old Testament birth is still a real birth (Dan. 10:12).  Daniel and many others came alive to God after they sinned and died spiritually.  The apostles were alive to God before the cross (Matt. 13:16).

The Lord gives many examples of those who were alive to Him before they came into the kingdom.  Cornelius was alive to God and his prayers and alms were accepted before he was in the kingdom (Acts 10:1-3).  He could not enter heaven without being in Christ, in the kingdom (Eph. 2:11-13).  Paul saw Christ and talked to Christ before he was converted (Acts 9:3-6), and he saw a vision before he was in the kingdom (Acts 9:12).  The Ethiopian Eunuch was chosen before he heard the gospel (Acts 8:26-29).  God opened Lydia’s heart before she was in the kingdom (Acts 16:14).  God knew many of the Corinthians before they heard His word (Acts 18:9-10).  God continues to seek those who understand and are seeking Him (Psa. 53:2).  God is the one who decides who will be become his children, and they are “. . . born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12, 13).  This is not to say that man has no part.  God responds to “. . . as many as received him. . .” and gives them “. . . power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12-13).

VIII. GOD’S SPIRITUAL CHILDREN: Old Testament and New

Entering the kingdom of God is to become a citizen or child of God.  Those who are not children of God are not in the kingdom.  Who are the children of God and how can we recognize them?  The Lord recognizes at least two different kinds of children.

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed  (Rom. 9:6-8).

The Lord discerns between two very different kinds of children—fleshly and spiritual.  Not all of the Israelites were circumcised in heart.  All physical Israel is of Israel physically; however, not all of Jacob’s physical descendants are spiritual children of Israel.  Jesus describes those who are children of Abraham in heart as well as in the flesh. (John 8:37-44).  He acknowledged that the Jews were physically descended from Abraham, as his seed (John 8:37); however, he shows a difference between Abraham’s seed and Abraham’s children.  Jesus acknowledged that the Jews were Abraham’s seed (John 8:37) but denied that they were Abraham’s children.

They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.  But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham  (John 8:39-40).

Abraham’s children are those who do the works of Abraham.  They walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham.  Only those who walk in Abraham’s steps are his children (Rom. 4:12).  The Jews who had the heart of Abraham could do the works of Abraham (Matt. 12:35).  The Jews (with some exceptions) in Jesus’ time did not have a heart like Abraham.  Their heart was more like the Devil’s heart, because they were seeking to kill God’s Son (John 8:44).  Abraham did not kill the prophets like these Jews were trying to do to Jesus (John 8:40). John the Baptist chided the Jews when he said: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matt 3:9).  God could not raise physical children of Abraham out of the stones.  A physical child of Abraham must descend from Abraham’s fleshly body; however, God could easily create “a body” out of stones, and put a soul in that body which had the faith of Abraham (Matt. 3:9) who would do the works of Abraham from “the abundance of a heart” of faith like Abraham.  Unless we do the works of Abraham, we are not children of Abraham.

Similarly, those women who walk in the steps of Sarah, will do the works of faith which Sarah did.  For example: she trusted the One who gave her husband authority over her and obeyed the Lord by obeying Abraham, calling Abraham Lord (1 Pet. 3:6

ALL KINGDOMS HAVE FOUR ESSENTIAL PARTS

Every kingdom must have four parts to be a kingdom – It must have 1) a King, 2) a Law, 3) Citizens and 4) a Place to reign.  If it lacks any of these parts, it is not a kingdom.  In physical kingdoms all of these parts are physical.  For example, King James was the king who translated the King James version of the Bible.  During his reign the law was the British Commonwealth law, the citizens were the British people, and the place was England.  This kingdom was not eternal, for when king James died he was no longer king and when the people died they were no longer in that kingdom.  That kingdom was then left to other people – the next generation.

The spiritual kingdom of God consists of these four parts but they are all spiritual: namely  1) a spiritual King,   2)  a spiritual law,   3) spiritual citizens, and 4). a spiritual territory.  The king: is Christ.  He is not on earth and does not have a physical form.  He is a spiritual king in a spirit form (John 4:24).  He is at the right hand of his Father in his throne at this time (Rev. 3:21).  Its citizens: The kingdom is made up of souls, not bodies, for Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).  The Colossians were delivered “from the power of darkness” and translated “into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).  Being translated into the kingdom made them citizens (Eph. 2:19).  The law: the kingdom is governed by an eternal law that will never pass away (Matt. 24:35) which deals primarily with spiritual laws for hearts and minds (Heb. 8:8-10).  (For example, the beatitudes deal with purity, meekness, righteousness, peace, etc.). Place: Jesus rules in the heart, a spiritual place (1 Cor. 13:1-3).  If he does not reign in our hearts he will not accept us.  Thus  the laws of the kingdom of God are laws governing the inner man – the eternal nature of man. The kingdom was cut out of the mountain, without hands, because it is a spiritual kingdom.

THE KINGDOM IS AT HAND

For three years Jesus had preached that the kingdom was at hand.  However, after three years of preaching, the kingdom had not come.  When the Pharisees attacked Jesus and demanded to know when it would come Jesus told them where and  how it would come.

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20-21).

The kingdom of God was nothing like what the Pharisees imagined.  They were looking for a world ruling physical kingdom like the nation of Rome which would fight and conquer Rome and rule the world.  Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world.  There are only two worlds–God’s and man’s.  If Jesus’ kingdom is not of this physical material world, it must be of the eternal spirit world.  His servants were not called to fight a physical battle, but a spiritual battle against Satan and all spiritual wickedness (Eph. 6:12).  Paul was fighting the same spiritual battle.  He said “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling dowan of strong holds” (2 Cor. 10:3-4).  The kingdom of God is not something that could be seen (observed) with physical eyes.  Jesus said “…The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). By this we understand the kingdom of God can not be a physical kingdom.  It is eternal and thus can not be physical, for “. . . the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).  Daniel foretold there would be no end to the kingdom God would set up during the Roman rule.

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever  (Dan. 2:44).

God informs us the earth itself is not eternal (2 Pet. 3:7, 10-13). The angel Gabriel predicted there would be no end to Jesus kingdom (Luke 1:30-33).  His kingdom must be an unseen spiritual kingdom for no physical kingdom can be eternal (2 Cor. 4:18).

Physical kingdoms are made up of physical bodies, physical laws and physical places which will be destroyed.  God’s eternal kingdom is made up of souls, spiritual laws and spiritual places which will never be destroyed.  The stone was cut out of the mountain without hands (Dan. 2:34).  God, not man, set up this kingdom.  God’s kingdom “shall never be destroyed . . . but it shall stand for ever” (Dan. 2:44).

The King (Messiah, Christ) of the Kingdom

Some confess that “Jesus is the Christ” but do not fully understand what they are confessing.  The Bible defines the words Messiah and Christ as being the same thing.  John translated the word Messiah when he recorded Andrew as informing Peter, “We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ” (John 1:41).  To the Jews, the words Christ (Greek) and Messiah (Hebrew) were literally translated “the anointed one” which was another word for a king.  Jewish kings were crowned by being anointed.  Samuel anointed Saul and David as kings by using the oil of anointing.  When he was going to ‘anoint’ David as king in the place of king Saul, he saw Eliab and said, “surely the Lord’s anointed is before him” (1 Sam. 16:6). David referred to king Saul as the Lord’s anointed (1 Sam. 24:5,6). Thus the Messiah or Christ was the king of the kingdom which God had promised to set up.  The scriptures identify these two words together.

If the Jews could find the king, (the Messiah, the Christ), they could find the kingdom. When the chief priests asked if Jesus were the Christ, they wanted to know if he were the king of the kingdom of God (Luke 22:67).  They did not believe his confession that he was the Christ, the king of Israel.  However, when they sought to justify themselves for wanting to crucify Christ, they accused him of making himself king of a kingdom that was seeking to destroy the Roman government.  Jesus told Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).  Pilate understood that Jesus was no threat to the Roman government.  He then put the sign over Christ that he was the King of the Jews (Luke 23:38).  Jesus confessed that he was the king (Matt. 27:11).