The Bible claims that Yeshua is the Son of God, but how can the eternal Creator of the universe have a son? Did He mix with humanity to father biological offspring? Or maybe replicate His essence through some kind of cosmic reproduction? No, the reality and sense in which the God of Israel can have a Son—and for that Son to be Yeshua—is nothing like anything any mere mortal could conceive. And though it defies comprehension, it was through this embodiment of Himself that God decided—from the beginning—He would not only restore Israel, but bring salvation to the world.
The suggestion that a holy God would procreate in the same or similar way that we reproduce is not only inconceivable, but offensive. Such an idea stems from Greek myth and pagan religion, and nothing in the Scriptures suggest this concerning Yeshua—despite any cynical implication to the contrary. Nevertheless, we find clear and unambiguous statements in the Hebrew Scriptures that God does indeed have a son. Perhaps the most explicit of these is found in Exodus 4:22, where God instructs Moses to tell Pharaoh, “My son, My first-born is Israel.”
But in what sense is Israel God’s son? Perhaps the answer is in Adonai’s threat to Pharaoh, when He tells him that if he will not let God’s firstborn son (Israel) go, then He will kill Pharaoh’s firstborn. The firstborn son is unique among all children. He is the direct heir of the father; he’s specially treasured and forever irreplaceable in the father’s heart and mind. By likening Israel to Pharaoh’s son, God is expressing His singular love and protection for Israel, but also an expectation for the future that only the firstborn of a father can fulfill. So Israel is God’s son in the sense that He has a special love for Israel—as a father to his firstborn son. God’s expectations for Israel—as the inheritors of His promise—is that they will carry on in His Name, and as they act according to His teachings, His hope for their future would be fulfilled.
God also referred to King David as His son. In Psalm 2:2, David speaks of the kings of the earth coming against Adonai and His anointed (the Hebrew here is mashiyach—Messiah), whom God calls in verse six His King on Zion. Then in verse seven, David says of himself, “I will declare concerning the decree: Adonai has said to me, ‘You are My son; today I have brought you forth.’” So we find here the grouping of terms: son, king and messiah. This tells us that David is not only God’s son, but a messianic King. And while this isn’t unusual—since each king would be anointed with oil, and in that sense, be a messiah—it nevertheless speaks to the unbroken expectations for the One who would be Israel’s ultimate messiah: the Messiah. That messiah would also be the King of Israel, and, as the Son of David—the greatest of David’s line—the Son of God.
God further sets the stage for this as He makes His covenant with David, promising the establishment of David’s line of kings forever. In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, God says to David—referring to David’s son Solomon—“I will raise up your seed after you… and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he will be to Me for a son.” In making this promise to David, God reiterates and establishes with David’s line their unending, eternal sonship.
So, now we see from the Hebrew Scriptures that there is nothing bizarre or outrageous about God having a son. It doesn’t imply or necessitate any kind of natural childbirth or other-worldly conception, but rather speaks to the characteristics of a special relationship with God. Israel and David, then, are God’s sons in the sense that He is the progenitor of a people through whom He would disseminate and propagate His message and glory to the world.
And this sonship is encapsulated brilliantly by Paul, when he declares to his Jewish listeners how, in Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead (and the salvation that comes with it), Yeshua brings the promise of Israel and the kingship of the messianic line of David to their culmination. In Acts 13:32-33 Paul says, “And we proclaim Good News to you: that the promise made to the fathers—this, God has completed to us (their children) in full, having raised up Yeshua, as also it has been written in the second [Psalm], ‘You are My Son; today I have brought you forth.’”
The Messiah Yeshua came to be the perfect embodiment of His Jewish people. Like Israel, Yeshua is God’s completely irreplaceable, entirely unique, one and only Son. He was sent as a savior according to the heart of David, so that through Him, all Israel—and the whole world—might be saved. Yeshua was not the Son of God simply because of the miraculous manner of His birth and His mysterious makeup as both fully God and fully man. He was also the Son of God because of His purpose and calling, as well as His special relationship as the one-of-a-kind Son of the Father.
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