- a father to Pharaoh,
- and lord of all his house,
- and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45:4-8)
- Elijah’s shared identity with God the Father,
- Elisha’s shared identity with Elijah, and
- Elisha accomplishing tasks assigned to Elijah and Jehu,
- It is not confirmed by shared genetics but
- by public actions confirming shared spirit and
- publicly conferred, like knighthood by the head of the nation, in recognition of those who execute the father’s will.
- anoint Hazael to be king over Syria [this project was accomplished by Elijah’s spiritual son]:
- And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel [this project was also accomplished by Elijah’s spiritual son]:
- and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room / spiritual son.
By definition, a son of God shares his likeness. In the case of Creation, that is the ability to impose order, following the Laws of Physics.
Another way to phrase this is being right-eousness – doing things the right way.
Any being who doesn’t do things the right way causes destruction. And so being “spun off” from the Singularity does not automatically qualify a being as a son of God.
Only the ones who use their power in unity with the Creator to make and maintain life are chosen, by him, to be his son. Those who separate themselves from him by destroying his Creation and causing death are most certainly not his sons.
James M. Gibbs, Ph.D.’s doctoral dissertation explains this.
Among the Israelites [and also among other nations] a child became a son or daughter not primarily by the fact of physical generation but rather through acknowledgement or election by the father.
[And so Jesus was acknowledged by Joseph –Matt 1:18-25]
All a man’s acknowledged children were legitimate no matter what the status of their mother, be she wife, concubine, or harlot. Also, a man might adopt a slave as his son and make him his heir. It is worth noting that the Hebrew מַמְזֵ, ‘bastard’, apparently referred to a child born of incest (as in Deut 23.2 and Zech 9.6) not to one born out of wedlock, for, as noted above, there was no difference of legitimacy, in the Graeco-Roman sense, between sons of wives and those of concubines. Thus even in reference to human affairs, Israel’s concept of the father-son relationship was not one that emphasized physical procreation.
In societies where the nuclear family, not a national government, meets all essential needs of food, shelter, protection and quality of life, the extended family is the government. A child has no citizenship, no prerogatives simply by birth, even life itself. Anthropologist Laila Williamson notes that “Infanticide has been practiced on every continent and by people on every level of cultural complexity, from hunter gatherers to high civilizations, including our own ancestors. Rather than being an exception, then, it has been the rule.”
In societies were belonging is based not on legal citizenship but on a more abstract family membership through shared heritage, this sense of father is maintained as legal authority, leader, teacher, master.
We can most easily understand the religious aspect of fatherhood in Catholic priests who have authority to absolve from sin. Even in Protestant Christianity there is a concept of spiritual father as Elder. Islam has the equivalent titles of Sheikh and Imam like Abdullah Azzam, “the father of the modern global jihad”, whose directives are carried out to the death by the deeply devout.
“And the king of Israel said unto Elisha…My father, shall I…? And he answered, Thou shalt not.” (II Kings 6:21-22)
“And it came to pass…that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth…and stood to view afar off…And Elijah…said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion [as Israel willed to son Joseph] of thy spirit / power / energy [Elijah’s spirit power legacy in contrast to Israel’s physical land] be upon me [to carry out the father’s plans]. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless…and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father...And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. And they said unto him, Behold now…thy servants. (II Kings 2:1-18)
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father…hath found?...what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness…How was it then reckoned? when he was in…uncircumcision…that he might be the father of all them that believe…For the promise, that he should be the heir of THE WORLD was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith…to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed…which is of the faith of Abraham...before him whom he believed, even [CREATOR] God, who quickeneth [brings to life, resurrects] the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were…He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” (Romans 4:13-25)“
In order to be acknowledged by the Father as his son, a child has to prove his commitment to the family. This is demonstrated in the account of Lot, who was Abram’s logical heir. But Lot’s self- interests caused him to separate out from his uncle Abram’s family business.
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country…unto a land that I will shew thee…and Lot his brother’s son…and into the land of Canaan they came…And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land…And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee…for we be brethren…separate thyself, I pray thee, from me.” (Genesis 12-13)
Jacob / Israel’s son Joseph is our example of restoring family relationships under the worst of conditions.
“And Joseph said unto his brethren…I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now…God did send me before you to preserve life…and he hath made me
As this passage records, another equivalent title for father is Lord. This derives from the absolute authority required to fulfill responsibilities for providing for and protecting the family, specially in times of crisis like war or famine.
In Western culture this is more commonly recognized in medieval rulers as a sphere of influence where subjects don’t need to be related to the ruling dynasty. It is found even in today’s egalitarian societies in brotherhoods like the Freemasons headed by a Grand Master. We understand that this leader must be willingly served and obeyed in order to belong to that lord’s dominion. This requirement is based on the ancient role of father, which for a woman was transferred to her husband at her wedding.
“Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” (I Peter 3:6)
A true son is distinguished from a bastard not by the legal status of the mother, but solely by the decision of the father to accept or reject the son. Often this is based on the father’s perception of the son’s likeness to himself.
On the son’s side, a true son is characterized by the discipline and training he is willing to endure to make him capable of carrying out his father’s wishes and legacy. If you are familiar with the television series Breaking Bad, you should recognize this principle underlying Jesse’s characterization. He does not share or practice his birth father’s values, which results in his father legally terminating their familial relationship.
Despite being in constant emotional conflict with another authority figure, a former high school teacher, he continues to address him respectfully as “Mr. White” and models his own behavior on his. Jesse’s character development is encapsulated in a brusque comment made by Mr. White on a test paper that Jesse kept among his few belongings – “Apply yourself!” which we hear Jesse repeat to his own subordinates later in time. Clearly Jesse took to heart the instructions, and endured constant berating and even abuse and exploitation, because he believed that Mr. White, unlike his birth father, recognized, valued and developed his potential.
Be ye therefore perfect / complete, faithfully reproducing the original, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5)
In order to inherit the father’s possessions and authority, a child has to prove his ability to carry out the father’s legacy.
“Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him…And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.” (Isaac 21
The Godfather saga is a case study of this concept. Out of Vito Corleone’s sons, the older two lose their intended inheritance because they go their own ways. Both out of pride – the oldest out of arrogance and the middle child out of resentment. Only Michael, the youngest, inherits the father’s dominion, because he carries out his father’s will. Michael in turn names his nephew Vincent as his heir, not his son, because Vincent, not his son, wants to carry on the position and is just like him, capable of doing so because he has submitted himself to Michael’s tutelage and authority.
Until the son receives his inheritance, which includes authority to make his own decisions and power to execute his own will on the family holdings, his submission to his father is no different from that of a servant.
“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.” (Galatians 4:1-2)
As exemplified in
sonship is also a tribal / extended family relationship of Singularity among the siblings.
“a still small voice…when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him…And the LORD said unto [Elijah], Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest,