By Mark Heber Miller [Used through permission from Shawn Miller)
©2000 All Rights Reserved
The following words have been changed:
God was changed to Most High, Elohim or יהוה
Yehowah was changed to Yahweh
Jesus was changed to Yahshua
Christ was changed to Messiah
Bible was changed to Scriptures
HOW TO BECOME A CHILD OF ELOHIM
In Matthew 6:9 the Nazarene’s model prayer begins with first things
first, or the primary teaching of the Bible: the Fatherhood of Elohim [God]. This includes the potential, or possibility, that you can enjoy a close and intimate relationship with Elohim through a spiritual rebirth. For Yahshua begins, ‘Our Father in heaven.’ The designation “Father” was one of Yahshua’s most preferred terms for Elohim. He uses it 45 times in Matthew and 109 times in John. Yahshua uses this intimate designation or name “Father” in his own prayers. [See Yahshua’s Prayer article]
WHO IS THE FATHER?
When the Nazarene uses the expression “Father” he means Elohim, or more specifically The God (ho theos) in the mode of a special relationship with His worshippers. It is one thing to speak of Elohim in a general sense as the Supreme Being, the Creator, or the Almighty. It is quite another to infer a specific relationship with Elohim the Father, indicating one believes oneself to be a Child of Elohim.
The word “father” occurs over 1,000 times in the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures. Of this total only about a dozen refer to Elohim directly. Most of these verses are in the context which would apply to the foretold Messiah. It does occur rarely with reference to those other than the Messiah. So, that in the whole body of the Hebrew Bible this relationship with humans is mentioned less than a dozen times. Abraham stands unique as a “Friend of Elohim” but no where is he called a “Son of Elohim” nor does he ever address Elohim as “Father”.
It is the Nazarene who introduces to his world the possibility of becoming a Child of Yahweh and entering a Father-Child relationship with the Almighty. Though the relationship is foretold by inference, it is now with the Nazarene, that this becomes a true possibility when he introduces his model prayer.
In his famous Sermon on the Mount (or, Mountain Teachings) the Nazarene uses the Divine Name once in a quotation but uses “Elohim” 6 times and “Father” 17 times. Is it fair to state that Yahshua has a clear bias for his preferred designation of the Supreme Being — “Father.”
ARE ALL CHILDREN OF ELOHIM?
All persons are not children of Elohim by virtue of birth. In Moses’ song at Deuteronomy 32:5 he sings in praise as a warning to Israel, ‘They are not Yahweh’s children.’ This hymn demonstrates, in the first use of the term “Father” to designate Yahweh, that divine parenthood does not come automatically.
The beloved Apostle of the Nazarene, John, teaches us when he comments, ‘As many as received Yahshua, by believing in his name, he gave authority to become children of Yahweh, not willed by flesh, but born of Elohim.’ Conversely, those pious religious leaders who claimed Abraham as their natural father asserted, ‘We are not bastards! We have one Father, Elohim [God]!’ But, Yahshua replies to them, ‘If Elohim were your Father you would love me for I come from Elohim. You are of your father the devil and it is his passionate lusts you desire.’ They were thus identified as having a different fatherhood by their murderous passions and religious lies.
HOW DOES ONE KNOW?
The tone of the Nazarene above is similar to what the great Apostle John wrote about sixty years later. In First John the apostle identifies five basics for knowing one is truly born from above, or Elohim-born by a spiritual rebirth.
- RIGHTEOUSNESS- We must practice righteousness or be law-abiding, for, ‘Everyone Elohim-born does righteousness.’ Anyone claiming to be a Child of Elohim must give evidence of habitual obedience to the commandments of Elohim as revealed through His Son, the Nazarene. This one Elohim-born demonstrates a character or disposition which always has a bent toward what is right, just, or correct from Elohim’s view.
- HABITUAL SIN- We must not become habitual sinners, for, ‘Everyone Elohim-born is not doing sin.’ Here the negative of the previous point is emphasized. Anyone claiming to be a Child of Elohim and yet persisting in the habitual practice of sin belies such a profession.
- LOVE- We must be characterized by love (agape), for, ‘Everyone Elohim-born is loving.’ The Child of Elohim is evidenced by a loving nature and a character which conforms to that description of love in
1 Corinthians 13:4-7: ‘Love is tolerant and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful. Love is not arrogant and never ill-mannered. Love is never concerned with Self and never provoked. Love does not keep a log on hurt and never rejoices over the hurt that befalls others. Love rejoices over Truth. Love bears everything, believes in all, always hopes, and endures anything.’
Two of the better definitions of this kind of “love” (agape) are given in 1 Corinthians 10:24 and Philippians 2:4: ‘No one should always be looking after his own welfare but rather let each one seek the good of others. Stop looking after your own interests but practice looking out for the interests of others.’ The scholar William Barclay defines this quality as ‘always looking for the highest good of your neighbour.’
- BELIEF, OR FAITH- We must believe Yahshua the Nazarene is the Messiah, for, ‘Everyone God-born believes Yahshua is the Messiah.’ When asked what the “works of Elohim” were, Yahshua responded, ‘This is the work of Elohim, that you believe in the One sent forth.’ The apostle John wrote, ‘The one believing in the Son has everlasting life.’ In making that statement John paralleled the idea of belief or faith with obedience to the Son. This subject of belief or faith in Yahshua as the Son of Elohim is a major theme of the Nazarene’s preaching as well as the subject in much of the apostolic letters. The one who claims to be Elohim-born must give evidence of such a belief and this usually shows up in speech. Paul wrote, ‘I believed, therefore, I spoke.’ Persons who have a firm conviction will be found speaking about it.
- VICTORIOUS!- And, finally, we must be victorious over worldly influence because of our faith, for, ‘Everyone Elohim-born conquers the world.’ The Nazarene made a similar claim, ‘I have conquered the world.’ It is not enough for one to just begin with faith, for conviction and trust must be carried on to complete victory. The Nazarene exhorts, ‘The one who endures completely will be saved.’ (Matthew 24:13)
These brief basics help one appreciate what is involved in being “authorized” (John 1:12) to become a Child of Elohim. John continues to stress this theme when he writes:
1 John 3:9, 10 9 Everyone having been born of Elohim does not sin, because His seed stays in him, and he is powerless to sin, because he has been born of Elohim. 10 In this the children of Elohim and the children of the devil are manifest: Everyone not doing righteousness is not of Elohim, neither the one not loving his brother.
This is something like inheriting a certain gene from a parent but here the source is Elohim and so the spiritual DNA as it were keeps one from habitual sin which could bring about the Father’s permanent displeasure.
HOW MANY CAN BECOME CHILDREN OF ELOHIM?
It ought to be clear “all” or “everyone” or “as many as” who follow the above and truly “receive” Christ, can be called “sons of Elohim.” There are no limitations to this as if there were a pre-selected number. It is open-ended and all real Believers hold this hope dear. ‘Everyone,’ John wrote. (John 1:12, 13; 1 John 5:4. Compare Romans 8:14). These verses all use a form of the word ‘hosoi’ which means “everyone.”
This endearing form of address, “Father,” is used by those disciples of the Nazarene who wrote their great epistles. Paul uses “Father” four dozen times, almost always with the connecting designation “Elohim” in a formula such as “Elohim the Father.” Peter uses “Father” four times in much the same way. The beloved Apostle John uses it most often, 16 times. Despite this, none of the Nazarene’s disciples ever address יהוה as “my Father” as Yahshua himself does. On the other hand the phrase “my Elohim” occurs about 190 times in the Scriptures with Paul using it several times. (Romans 1:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 4:19; Philemon 4) In harmony with the spirit of the Yahshua’s Prayer’s opening phrase, “Our Father,” this expression occurs about a dozen times only in the writings of Paul. (Romans 1:7; 4:12; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:16; Philemon 3) It seems clear the term “Father” finds its root in Yahshua the Nazarene. Thereafter, “Father” becomes one of the two most popular designations for the Almighty.
It is Yahshua who uses the metaphor or parable of the difficulty of putting “new wine” into old wine skins (Matthew 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37). If one views the old wine skins as the Jewish receptacle under the Mosaic Law with its Pharisaic distortions, and the New Wine as the teachings of the Nazarene, then here is entirely new “wine” in the form of a new relationship between Elohim and those disciples of the Nazarene. They are not standing below Mount Sinai in the relationship Moses had with יהוה . They are not trembling in fear at the awesome spectacle of Sinai. They have approached an entirely different spiritual mountain as the writer of Hebrews puts it:
Hebrews 12:9, 18, 19, 22 ‘For you have not come to a physical mountain like Sinai, which burned with fire, approaching darkness and blackness, begging not to hear any more words from Yahweh; but, you have come to Mount Zion, the City of the Living God… the Father of our spirits.’
What else is involved in this spiritual rebirth is taught by the Nazarene himself when he speaks to the Jewish Elder Nicodemus:
John 3:3, 5 ‘Only if one is born of water and spirit may he enter into the Kingdom. It is a necessity that you be born from above.’
Peter and James echo the same:
‘The Father regenerated us into a living hope through the resurrection of Yahshua the Messiah. You have been regenerated by incorruptible seed through the Word of a living Elohim. As newly generated infants, eagerly crave the pure milk of the Word. The Father of the Lights wished our birth by the Word of Truth and we became, as it were, the first children of His new family.’
The later statements by the Nazarene’s disciples emphasize the place Yahweh’s Word plays in this process of rebirth. It cannot occur without some appropriate knowledge of the Scriptures.
WHO IS ELOHIM? ACCORDING TO THE NAZARENE
When the Nazarene speaks of “Our Heavenly Father” who does he have in mind? Any Jew would have understood this expression “Father” to mean Elohim as John 8:41 shows, ‘We have one Father, God.’ The apostle John understood this as he writes, ‘Yahshua knew everything had come from the Father. Jesus knew he had come from God and was to return to The God.’ (John 13:3) Yahshua himself made it clear that when he spoke of the “Father” he meant Elohim: ‘For (on the Son of Man) the Father, even The God, put His seal.’ (John 6:27)
On many occasions Yahshua quoted the sacred Jewish texts. For example, note John 6:44, 45: ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws that one to me… In the prophet (Isaiah) it is written, “And they will all be taught of יהוה .’ If you turn to this quoted verse from Isaiah 54:13 it reads according to the Hebrew Bible, ‘And your children will be taught by Yahweh (Yehowah).’ (NJB) Here the sacred Tetragram, or the four letters YHWH (JHVH), appear in the original and some translations faithfully render it so. It seems clear when Yahshua speaks of Elohim he means the Father who is the same as “Yahweh” (or, Jehovah) in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The Nazarene makes other quotes where the divine Name appears about half a dozen times. (Matthew 4:7, 10; 5:33; 22:37, 44; Mark 12:29; Luke 20:42) Let us look at a few of them.
In Mark 12:29 Jesus quotes the well-known Shema of Deuteronomy:
Deuteronomy 6:4 [The Scriptures] 4 “Hear, O Yisra’ĕl: יהוה our Elohim, יהוה is one!
Generally, this is repeated by the Jews: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our Elohim is one,’ as the anthem of monotheism. Whether the Nazarene would have uttered the Divine Name (YHWH) (he is not condemned for this by the Jews), or respected the Jewish sensitivity with regard to the Commandment, it demonstrates that Yahshua viewed Jehovah of the Old Testament as “our Elohim.”
Again in his reunion with his home synagogue in Nazareth, Yahshua boldly quotes from Isaiah
Isaiah 61:1, ‘The spirit of Lord Yahweh is on me for Yahweh has anointed me.’ (NJB; compare also Luke 4:16)
Whether this little town’s scroll of Isaiah would have had a copy of the Septuagint with the Tetragram or a Hebrew edition, it is likely they both contained יהוה in these two locations. The Nazarene applies this text to himself from his seat by inference. Therefore, it was יהוה who anointed him and made him Messiah (Anointed; Christ)
In the wilderness temptation, the Nazarene quotes Moses against the devil,
Matthew 4:10; Deuteronomy 5:9 ‘It is the LORD (יהוה) your God you must worship.’
Whether Yahshua uttered the Divine Name to Satan the devil is unknown. It is true the Jews had abandoned the use of the Divine Name and when they came to the sacred four letters יהוה they inserted LORD or GOD. That the Name of God is of great importance to the Nazarene is consistent with the Second Principle in he Lord’s Prayer which we will examine, ‘Let your Name be sanctified.’ (Matthew 6:9) In his long prayer with his disciples at the Last Passover, the Nazarene prays, ‘I have made your Name manifest to the men you gave me.’ (John 17:6) And, again, Yahshua himself hears the heavenly Voice speak in response to the Nazarene’s petition: ‘Father, glorify your Name.’ And in response a Voice came from heaven, “I have glorified my Name and will glorify it again.”’ (John 12:28)
Though it cannot be firmly established that Yahshua ever used the Name beyond a quotation, these verses above establish the Nazarene’s view that his Elohim and Father was the “Jehovah” (יהוה) of the Hebrew Scriptures.
The First Principle of the Nazarene’s prayer, then, is the revolutionary possibility of becoming a Child of Elohim, a member of Elohim’s own Family with all the rights and prospects that such an “heir by Elohim” (Galatians 4:7) would be entitled. Such a hope and privilege ought to arouse the greatest response in heartfelt appreciation of our Heavenly Father.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from The Scriptures,
Copyright by Institute for Scripture Research.
Used by permission.