“Out of Egypt I Have Called My Son”: A Biblical Theology of Sonship

On yesterday at Farmdale Baptist Church I departed from my typical type of exposition in order to preach a message that traced the idea of sonship throughout the Old and New Testaments. You can listen to the audio below and I have included my notes beneath the audio links. 

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In Hosea’s sermon recorded in chapter 11, the familiar themes of God’s judgment, the need for repentance and hope of restoration are found. But additionally there is in this text a window into the larger story of God’s plan of redemption. There are certain texts of Scripture which provide portals into this grand story of the Bible.

Such a text is Hosea 11:1. “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” Here we are given a glimpse into the larger story of the coming of Jesus of which the story of Hosea is a part. We know this because the inspired writer Matthew wrote in his gospel in 2:15 that when Jesus was carried by his parents to Egypt for his safety as an infant, his subsequent return out of Egypt fulfills Hosea 11:1. In Matthew 2:15, Matthew provides not only a way of interpreting Hosea 11:1, but the entire Old Testament.

Matthew interprets Hosea in the same way that Hosea interprets the Exodus. In Hosea, Israel is going back to Egypt in judgment (which typifies the impending captivity in Assyria), but a future day of restoration is coming: a new Exodus. As Matthew looks back at the Exodus through Hosea, he says that new exodus has come with the coming of Christ! In this morning’s message I would like to offer a biblical theology of sonship.

I. Adam – God’s Son through Physical Creation, Genesis 1:26-27.

In Genesis 1:26-27, man is said to have been created in the image of God.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

For this reason, Luke is able to call Adam “the son of God” in his genealogy of Jesus found in Luke 3:38. Likewise, all human beings share in this image of God and can be called the sons of God in that sense. There is a truth in the universal fatherhood of God which the liberals often speak of, but it is a partial truth (therefore an untruth). God is the father of all men through creation, but that won’t get anyone to heaven. You must become the sons of God through the new birth in order to go to heaven!

The fact that all mankind can be considered the sons of God gives the apostle Paul common ground upon which to speak in his sermon to the Greek philosophers at Mar’s Hill in Acts 17. There he said in verses 28-29:

for “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.” (29) Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.

Paul elsewhere clearly states that mankind bears the image of Adam who bore the image of God, albeit imperfectly. “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:49)

For this reason James appeals to the image of God that remains in man post-fall in James 3:8-9 by saying that we should not curse men “who are made in the likeness of God.”

II. Israel – God’s Son through National Election, Exodus 4:22.

But there is another sense in which Scripture speaks of this idea of sonship. In Exodus 4, Jehovah God is sending Moses back to Egypt to lead His people out of bondage and into the land of promise. God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh in vv. 22 and 23:

Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, ‘Let my son go that he may serve me.’ If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”

This is no doubt what Hosea had in mind in Hosea 11:1 when he said, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”

But not only is the nation of Israel corporately spoken of as God’s son, but King David himself is promised that he would have a descendant who would be called “son” by God in 2 Samuel 7:12-14,

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. (13) He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (14) I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.

And Isaiah raises the ante by saying that this “son” will be virgin-born and called Immanuel meaning “God with us”!

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

This “Child”, this “Son” is nothing less than the “mighty God,” the ruler whose kingdom will never end!

Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

III. Jesus – God’s Son through Eternal Generation, Matthew 2:15.

Jesus is qualified to be called the son of God by virtue of his human birth. The genealogies of Matthew and Luke serve to show that Jesus is the son of David, Abraham and Adam. He is the descendant of Adam and therefore the son of God by physical creation as the only true man who ever lived. He is the descendent of Abraham and therefore the son of God through national election as the true seed of Abraham. He is the descendant of David and therefore heir to the throne of Israel and the title promised to David’s seed as son!

I believe that Matthew 2:15 is one of the hinges upon which the whole story of the Bible turns. This text ties together the theme of sonship found in both testaments. There Matthew writes

And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt (15) and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Commentators on both Hosea and Matthew agree. Derek Kidner in his commentary on Hosea 11:1 writes:

Not surprisingly the infant Christ, who summed up in His person all that Israel was called to be, was likewise threatened and delivered; and although the details differed, the early pattern was re-enacted in its essentials, ending with God’s Son restore to God’s land to fulfil the task marked out for Him. (Derek Kidner, Hosea, 101-102)

Similarly, Craig Blomberg in his commentary on Matthew 2:15:

Just as God brought the nation of Israel to inaugurate his original covenant with them, so again God is bringing the Messiah, who fulfills the hopes of Israel, out of Israel, out of Egypt as he is about to inaugurate his new covenant. (Craig Blomberg, Matthew in NAC, 67)

Note the parallels of Jesus’ life and Israel’s experience in Matthew 1-7.

  • A wicked ruler
  • Murdered infants
  • Sojourn in Egypt
  • Departure from Egypt
  • Baptism Jordan River / Passing through Red Sea
  • Temptation in Wilderness
  • Sermon on Mount (New Covenant) / Mount Sinai (Old Covenant)

But if Israel failed in the Wilderness to obey the demands of the Old Covenant, Jesus succeeded. As D.A. Carson has noted,

In fact, Jesus is often presented in the New Testament as the antitype of Israel; that is, the true and perfect Israel who does not fail. If Israel is likened to a vine that produces disgusting fruit (Isa. 5), Jesus is the true vine who brings forth good fruit (John 15). If Israel wandered in the wilderness 40 years and was frequently disobedient in the course of many trials and temptations, Jesus was sorely tempted in the wilderness for 40 days, but was perfectly obedient (Matt. 4:1-11). Israel in the Old Testament is the Lord’s son (Exod. 4:22, 23; Jer. 31:9); but Jesus, Himself a son of Israel, indeed a son of David, was supremely the Son of God; and therefore He re-enacted or recapitulated something of the history of the “son” (the nation of Israel) whose very existence pointed forward to Him. (D.A. Carson, God With Us, 18)

You may note also the theme of sonship in Matthew 3:17-4:4.

Grame Goldsworthy has likewise noted:

Jesus is looked upon as both the ideal Adam and the ideal Israel-that is, He is the people of God, the Seed of Abraham to whom all promises were made (see Gal. 3:16). Jesus as the Son of Adam (Son of man) accomplishes that which Adam failed to do; and likewise, as the true Israel, He does what Israel failed to do. Thus the temptation narratives show the reversal of Satan’s conquest of Adam in the garden and of Israel in the wilderness.

If Jesus is the true people of God, the true Adam and the true Israel, all the prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel to be the people of God must have their fulfillment in Him.

But there is much more to Jesus’ sonship than merely physical descent from Adam, Abraham and David. Jesus is the eternally begotten Son of God. The eternal second person of the Trinity. He did not become the Son of God at Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. He has been the Son of God throughout all eternity. What I’m saying is that there was never a time when the Son was not!
The reason this is difficult for us to comprehend is because our human experience is quite different. Human fathers always precede their sons in time. But the Heavenly Father has eternally begotten His Son! The testimony of Scripture is clear:

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Likewise, the “I Am” statements of the Gospel of John are Jesus’ own declarations of His own eternal self-existence. John 8:58 “Before Abraham was, I am.” This is the contrast between the Son of God and all humans. Humans were, but Jesus is!

In Malachi 3:6 the Father declares, “For I am the LORD, I do not change.” and the inspired author of Hebrews likewise declares of the Son in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

IV. Believers – God’s Sons through Spiritual Regeneration, John 1:12-14.

The wonder of wonders is that we, the fallen sons of Adam, can be the sons of God! Not in the same sense in which the 2nd Person of the Trinity is the Son of God, but in relationship with Him we become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ!

Galatians 3:26-29 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. (27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, (5) to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (6) And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (7) So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

1 John 3:1-2 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (2) Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

This is why the work of Sunrise Children’s Services is so important! This is why foster-care and adoption is so important! It is a picture of the gospel of what God has done for each and every believer! He has adopted us and placed us in His family and claimed us as His own!

This is also why the work of missions and evangelism is important! The reason we share the gospel, the reason we give to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for the North American Mission Board and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for the International Mission Board, the reason we go on mission trips, the reason we have Vacation Bible School, the reason we need to share our testimonies, is because the gospel is about making people God’s children!

How do you know if you are one of God’s children? The evidence according to John 1:12 and 13 is reception of Him and belief in His name (which is the totality of His Person and Work). Have you received Him? Have you believed in His Name?

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