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No study of the Judges is complete without a comment on the legal implications of Israel’s captivities. In other words, what hidden things are accomplished by putting Israel into captivity? What happens to the dominion mandate during a captivity? How does God view this shift in authority?
First, it is important to understand that the Birthright originated in the first chapter of Genesis, even though it was not actually mentioned until Esau sold it to Jacob in Gen. 25:31, 32. There were two main provisions in the Birthright: (1) the dominion mandate (Gen. 1:26, KJV), which gave authority and the right to rule, and (2) the fruitfulness mandate (Gen. 1:28), which was the responsibility that was to be accomplished by the Birthright’s authority.
Many miss this, because they see the idea of being fruitful and multiplying only in terms of increasing the population of the earth. But when this mandate was given, Adam had not yet sinned, and so he was truly a “son of God,” as Luke 3:38 describes him. If Adam had brought forth children prior to his sin, he would have brought forth sons of God in his image and likeness. Why? Because by the law of biogenesis like begets like., or, as Gen. 1:11 says, “after their kind.” However, when Adam sinned, he lost that pristine condition as a son of God, so when he later begat children, they were born in his imperfect and mortal image and likeness.
For this reason, the divine revelation from that point on was really designed to show us how to become the sons of God—that is, how to regain that which was lost. John 1:12 thus says,
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [exousia, “authority”] to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
We see here that the children of Adam are no longer sons of God but must “become children of God” by faith in Christ. Their genealogy from Adam does not make them sons of God, because they lost God’s “likeness” when Adam sinned. So John goes on to explain that this right to become children of God is given to those who are “born not of blood,” better rendered, “begotten not of physical bloodline.”
The point is that the Birthright, or Right of Birth, comes on two levels: physical and spiritual. Being physically a first-born son of the Birthright holder gave him certain legal rights, but those rights were conditional upon his spiritual character. Such rights were not absolute. So Ishmael was disqualified on account of his mother’s status as a slave, and Reuben was disqualified because “he defiled his father’s bed” (1 Chron. 5:1; Gen. 35:22).
Ultimately, all of the descendants of Adam were disqualified through sin, and so we must all become sons of God in another way—by a second begetting by faith through hearing the word and receiving the immortal seed of the New Covenant gospel.
Sin brings slavery and captivity, where men lose their freedom and are stripped of the authority inherent in the Birthright. This happened universally when Adam sinned, bringing us all into slavery to Sin (personified as the slave master), whose “law of sin” (Rom. 7:23) we are forced to obey through the weakness of human nature. Hence, “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23).
In a national application of this principle, Israel as a nation held the Birthright, including the dominion mandate to rule the earth. In other words, they were “chosen” as a nation to bring forth the sons of God and thus fulfill their responsibility to be fruitful and multiply. Their mandate was primarily to beget children of God. However, they failed to do so through sin.
Because the law allows a first-born son to be stripped of the Birthright if he proves himself to be unworthy, Israel as a nation was also stripped of the Birthright. God convicted Israel in the divine court. Because the nation lacked the spiritual resources to pay restitution, God “sold” them to the king of Mesopotamia (Judges 3:8).
This sale came through the law found in Exodus 22:3, which says that if a man cannot pay restitution, he was to be sold as a slave. In other words, he would lose his freedom and be forced by law to serve his master for a specified time.
Later, God again “sold” Israel to Jabin, king of Canaan (Judges 4:2). The dominion mandate was taken away from Israel, and this time it was given to the Canaanites. The legal implication of this is that Israel lost its “chosen” status temporarily. The dominion mandate was given to various foreign nations, and God then treated them as being “chosen.”
With this “chosen” status came the responsibility to be fruitful by bringing forth the sons of God. But those foreign nations, being largely ignorant of God’s law and His ways, used the dominion mandate to increase their personal power and wealth, rather than to seek to bring forth the sons of God. They were given opportunity to hold the scepter for a short season, but they did not understand the responsibility that the law had attached to it.
In this way, God (legally) “chose” a variety of other nations, each in turn, giving them opportunity to experience the Birthright. Yet the sovereign plan of God had determined ahead of time that these nations would not fulfill the terms of the Birthright, nor would they bring forth the sons of God. Flesh is always given the first opportunity to do the work, if only to prove its insufficiency and unworthiness. Having the legal right to hold dominion over another man or nation does not ensure success in fulfilling its obligation within the allotted time.
So throughout the book of Judges, we can see how God chose Mesopotamia (i.e., Babylon), then Moab, then Canaan, then Midian, then the Philistines, and so on. All of them proved to be unworthy of the Birthright, and so all of them were stripped of it at their appointed times. The dominion mandate continued to revert back to Israel when they repented, but unfortunately, Israel always fell into sin again.
Finally, in the time of Isaiah, God cast Israel out of the land and put them into captivity to Assyria. This turned out to be a very long captivity, and they never returned to the old land. A century later, Judah too was taken captive to Babylon. They returned after 70 years, but even then they remained under the dominion of the Persians—followed by the Greeks and Romans and finally the “little horn” that was an extension of Rome. (See Daniel 7.)
Jesus called this “the times of the gentiles” (Luke 21:24), or, more accurately, “the times of the nations.”
As long as Israel and Judah remained in captivity or exile, the dominion mandate was held by foreign nations. That means the Birthright itself—and the right to be “chosen”—was held by foreign nations who could never bring forth the sons of God to fulfill the fruitfulness mandate.
During this long captivity, neither Israel nor Judah were “chosen,” for they were still in “the dispersion” and not in the Kingdom of God. God treated other nations as if they were “chosen” temporarily, giving each the opportunity to bring forth the sons of God. Ultimately, God’s purpose was to show that all flesh will fail, regardless of one’s genealogy or ethnicity.
In the end, Dan. 7:21, 22 (KJV) says that when the final beast has reached the end of its time, the dominion will be given to “the saints of the Most High.” Daniel does not define this term, leaving room for many to think that he was referring to physical descendants of Israel or Judah. But the New Testament shows clearly that there is no “saint” apart from Jesus Christ.
A “saint” is one who is holy, pure, or clean. Under the Old Covenant, such cleanliness was achieved by ceremonial washings (baptisms), which the priests performed at the laver before entering into the sanctuary. But Heb. 9:8-10 says,
8 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly, both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10 since they relate only to food and drink and various washings [baptismos, “baptisms”], regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.
We read in 1 John 1:7, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Jesus Himself said in John 15:3, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” Men are not cleansed by physical water but by the washing of the word—that is, by believing the word of Christ and applying His blood, which cleanses us from all sin.
That is how a “saint” is defined under the New Covenant. That, then, is how we must define the word used in Dan. 7:22. These are the ones who have received the Birthright that was stripped from both Babylon and Esau at the end of their allotted time of “seven times” in 2017. Those carnal nations refused to release their slaves and give up the dominion mandate, even as Babylon refused long ago (Jer. 50:33). God has allowed them to hold it beyond their time limit in order to establish lawful cause to take it from them and to enslave them to the Kingdom of God (Jer. 50:34).
The Birthright goes to the inheritors of God’s Kingdom. Paul explains this in 1 Cor. 15:48-54,
48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable… 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Paul was comparing Adam with Christ. Adam’s name means “earthy,” and we have all borne his fleshly, mortal, and corruptible image. But through a second begetting and new birth, we are being changed into the immortal and incorruptible image of Christ, so that we may inherit the Birthright and the Kingdom. The Birthright will no longer be given to carnal people who remain in the image of the earthy man, Adam. Those who are “chosen” at the end of the time of beast dominion will be those who bear the image of the heavenly.
In conclusion, we see that Israel and Judah proved themselves to be unworthy, so God gave other nations the opportunity to hold the dominion and to fulfill its responsibility. All failed, of course, because all of them remained in the image of the earthy man, Adam, and so they followed his example of sin and corruption.
The time of the Kingdom was yet afar off, because Adam and his estate were sold into slavery for “six years” (Exodus 21:2), which prophetically was 6,000 years. So the beast nations were given the dominion until the time appointed for the saints of the Most High to become the manifested sons of God. These saints will include those who have died in the past, because Paul says that they will be raised from the dead first.
The bottom line is that the saints of the Most High are those who not only are given the dominion mandate but who also are birthed as sons of God. These are to be presented to God on the eighth day of Tabernacles and then manifested to the people on earth.
This will mark the beginning of a new era of evangelism, where the kingdom of God grows exponentially during the Great Sabbath Millennium leading to the Great White Throne, where every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10, 11).