(This post is part of the Confidence in Our Calling series.)
Scripture tells of God’s adoptive actions for His people on a grand scale. But what role does adoption play in the stories of real people in the Bible? Does God use adoption in the lives of particular saints to show His love for them and further His kingdom?
Consider Moses. Here is a baby who is saved from Pharaoh’s massacre of infant Israelite boys when the king’s own daughter takes him into the royal family (see Exodus 1:15-21, 2:1-10). Moses’ adoption into Pharaoh’s household juxtaposed with his own half-forgotten and misunderstood Hebrew heritage creates a tension that God uses as He forms the life of this leader (see Exodus 2;11-15, 3:1-6, 10, 4:24-26).
Ruth is at once a widow, a foreigner, and an orphan. When this Moabitess’s husband dies, her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi decides to return to Israel, exhorting Ruth to stay with her own people and god (see Ruth 1:1-15). Yet Ruth pleads to join Naomi’s family and the people of God. “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17) Later in the story, Boaz acts as kinsmen redeemer, and by marrying Ruth, adopts her into God’s household and into the very lineage of Jesus Christ (see Ruth 4:1-13 and Matthew 1:5).
Speaking of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God is adopted by an earthly father. Joseph probably sacrificed his reputation and livelihood to marry the Virgin Mary who “was found to be with child” rather than “divorce her quietly.” (see Matthew 1:18-25). And in a series of events eerily and providentially parallel to those in Moses’ day, God uses Joseph to rescue Jesus and his mother from Herod’s massacre of the baby boys in and around Bethlehem (see Matthew 2:13-18). Joseph’s care and protection of Jesus is a depiction and reflection of God’s adoption of His people.
And God weaves adoption, both physical and spiritual, into the stories of other heroes of the Bible – for instance, Samuel (see 1 Samuel 1-3) and Timothy (see Acts 16:1-3, 1 Corinthians 4:17, 2 Timothy 1:3-6). Can you think of other Biblical characters whose lives God shaped through adoption?