Exodus Motif in Adoption

The Exodus motif is applied to the people of God in 1 Peter 2:9-10. Israel’s journey, testing, and receiving God’s covenant were based on their identification as God’s son (Exodus 4:23). Others have applied this motif to the return of the Israelites from exile as predicted in Isaiah 40-55. Matthew 2:15 alludes to this motif in Hosea 11:1, a prophecy fulfilled in a sensus plenior by Jesus.

Adoption (huiothesia, υἱοθεσία) is an important Pauline metaphor describing our connection with God the Father (as well as with the Son and the Holy Spirit) (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:23; Galatians 4:5). Ngwa connects Moses’ adoption with the Exodus of Israel, but there is a lack of literature connecting the Exodus motif with adoption (both sociologically and with regard to the spiritual metaphor). This paper advances the understanding of this metaphor (both sociological and spiritual) and its relationship to the Exodus.

The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt includes their departure from Egypt, journeys in the wilderness, and entry into the Promised Land. Adoption is marked by children leaving their home of origin, being formally adopted by their new parents and given a new identity, struggling in the realization of this adoption, and entering into place of rest aligned with their adoption. God’s adoption of His children also includes a new beginning (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:9-10), being formally adopted by Him (Romans 8:15), and an ongoing struggle to reconcile the old and new lives (Galatians 2:20). As Jesus fully satisfied the Law, God’s adoption of His children results in their justification, and their entry into a promised land to receive an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11).

Just as the Israelites experienced God’s supernatural deliverance from slavery, so God’s children experience release from slavery to Satan (Romans 8:12-15). The Exodus of Israel required God’s call and divine rescue, as does that of God’s children. The legal terms of Israelites’ adoption were spelled out on Mount Sinai, and those of God’s children are spelled out in 1 Peter 1:13-23. Teaching is an important part of the transmigration. The Israelites experienced a period of liminality going from Egypt to the Promised Land, and God’s children undergo liminality in the “already/not yet” process of sanctification. During this period, the Israelites had to rely on God for sustenance. Their new identity was solidified by shared experiences. While the destination is described in general terms, neither the Israelites nor God’s children fully appreciate this during their travels. Instead, the new beginning initiates a period of spiritual warfare and doubts.

In adoption, both parents and children experience their own Exodus-type journey, punctuated by multiple transitions along the way. These transitions are analogous to those the children of Israel went through during their Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. In adoption, God reveals Himself to both parents and children as they learn to trust Him.

5 thoughts on “Exodus Motif in Adoption”

  1. Distracted by multiple proposals from same person . . .
    Should I be? . . . And . . . did he present last year? (What am I forgetting? . . . )

    If not for the above . . . looks like it could be a really interesting paper, actually.


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