As part of the activities of the Fostering, Adoption and the Church research project, I’ve contributed a week’s worth of studies to the current issue of Guidelines Bible Study notes on the topic of ‘Adoption in the Bible’.
Over the course of the week I look at Moses, the adoption of the king of Israel, the adoption of the people of Israel, adoptive language in Jesus’ story, and two reflections on adoption in the apostle Paul’s letters. You can order copies in your local Christian bookshop or online. Here’s a link to BRF’s website
Here is the opening section of the material to whet your appetite!
As I write this introduction it is national adoption week in the UK, a concentrated few days when peoples’ newspapers and Facebook feeds fill with articles on the joys and challenges of adoption, and stories of families who have permanently embraced a child into their home.
Such stories may be easily missed, however, if we are not tuned in to the topic and I wonder if this can be the case with our Bible reading as well. The purpose of this week’s studies is to alert us to examples of adoption imagery in God’s word, and to see how the biblical writers explored this rich theme. Thinking about the Bible and adoption can take us in a number of directions, two of which we will pursue over the next few days.
First there are stories of ‘adoption’ in the Bible. While we should be careful when drawing parallels between what happened in biblical times and our own, there are cases in Scripture where a child is taken in by a household and becomes a member of that family.
Secondly, the Bible uses the language of adoption to describe God’s relationship with his people. While this is well known of Paul’s writings perhaps it is less recognised as something that happens in the Old Testament.
I hope this will make for an interesting series of studies but I hope, too, that they will raise the question of how our identity as God’s adoptive children will encourage us to look outwards to consider the plight of vulnerable children in our midst. Historically the church has done great things to address the needs of vulnerable children, yet with nearly 70,000 children in the UK care system there is still so much to do. Adoptive families are needed, but so are foster families, as well as churches that work hard to know how to become the best supportive communities we can be.
How can the Church respond? How can the Bible shape that response? Perhaps one step we can take is to renew our understanding of our own transforming adoptive identity in God, the roots of which are traced in these studies.