It is common to hear Y'shua the Messiah referred to as the "Son of God" (and rightly so, except that "Son of Elohim" is more accurate*). But the New Testament says the same thing about Adam. (Luke 3:38)
In fact, Yahshua's favorite title for Himself was "the Son of Man". In Hebrew, that's Ben Adam (as used frequently in Ezekiel). So Yahshua bears a special relationship to Adam.
"Elohim created Adam in His own image: in the image of Elohim He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen. 1:27)
Together they were called Adam even before there was an Eve:
"Male and female He created them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam on the day in which they were created." (Gen 5:2)
Once He separated them, He intended that they voluntarily come back together into one. (2:24)
This is the history of the world from start to finish, in a nutshell. An Ancient Hebrew conceptualization of creation portrays the Infinite One wishing to share Himself with someone else, but being unable, since He was All there was. So He withdrew a space within Himself that was not Himself (much like a womb), created a universe within it, then injected into it a light that refracted to reveal as much of His nature as can be known by finite beings. (Compare John 1:4-5 and 1:18) This began a pattern of expansion also seen when Eve was separated from Adam. That refracted light is also described as a "body" known as the "Ancient Adam"--mankind, when the image of Elohim was complete.
But not satisfied to be merely His "image", Adam tried to fit into himself what only Yahweh's infinite nature could contain, just as Lucifer had done (Isaiah 14), and the "image of Elohim" shattered like a wineskin that had burst.
Though mankind had forfeited the intimacy Yahweh intended to have with us, He immediately began restoring that "image of Elohim", but meanwhile imposed vicious cycles of laboring and getting nowhere (one theme of Ecclesiastes) to set the stage. He "subjected the whole creation to vanity, in hope [of being] freed from the slavery to corruption, into the glorious freedom of the children of Yahweh." (Rom. 8:20)
Humanity became impatient and tried to unite at the Tower of Babel and break free from Yahweh's "oppressive" limits and "make a name for themselves" (Gen. 11:4)--just as Lucifer had.
Yahweh had told men to fill the whole earth; it was too soon to unite. He said, "'The people are unified; ...nothing that they plan to do will be out of their reach.'" (Gen. 11:6) So He scattered us (expansion again) so we would not be utterly ruined before He could complete the restoration. (Acts 17:26-27) Then, in contrast to Babel, Abraham was given the promise that Yahweh would make a name for him. His obedience of faith began a special counter-history that would come to be called Israel. Yahweh set clear parameters within which His people had to remain so His image could again begin to be seen. He provided the Torah ("instruction") by which order could be held together in a disjointed world.
Isaac Luria, A wise Jewish scholar, wrote, "Woe to the man who sees the Torah as anything more than a garment, and fails to see the Man that lies beneath it." The Hebrew word for "garment" emphasizes that it is something that "takes the shape" of what it fits over. (I.e., it, too, is an "image".) So all the particulars in the Torah are meant to teach us what that "Man" (that image of Elohim) is like. Perhaps he knew Yahshua after all.
When all the tribes of Israel were together at Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah, the reunited image of Elohim did flicker into flame for a moment when the whole nation agreed "with one (united) voice" to obey His commands. (Ex. 24:3) On another occasion, all of Israel was said to "assemble as one man before Yahweh". (Judges 20:1) But these were still mainly previews; the expansion was not yet complete.
After King Solomon's reign, the northern tribes of Israel seceded, but Yahweh said this was from Him. (1 Kings 12:24) The northern kingdom kept the name of Israel, but went off into idolatry, and, for that, was scattered all over the world and mixed with all nations, ceasing to be a nation. But even in the type of punishment He chose, Yahweh had the larger interests of the world in mind. (Rom. 8:28) Afterward, He said, He would reverse the process and make Israel one people again (Hosea 1:9-10)--a contraction following the expansion, like a rubber band.
The southern kingdom (Judah--i.e., the Jews) retained David's throne, the Torah, and the Temple. They lost the Temple, but it was restored after the Babylonian captivity when they repented. When the altar was rebuilt, "the sons of Israel ...gathered together as one man." (Ezra 3:1) Again, when the Torah was read again to those returning from exile, they "gathered as one man". (Neh. 8:1)
At the "fullness of time", the framework for our liberation became complete when Yahshua perfectly kept the Torah and defeated death. A "new man" began to be formed, which would restore the image of Elohim that Adam had failed to maintain. He is called the "second Man" (1 Cor. 15:47), the "Last Adam" (15:45). In Hebrew, "new" and "renewed" are the same, so this "New Adam" is not necessarily a different entity, but a restoration (like the New Moon and the New Covenant)--a "Renewed Adam":
"As by one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, ... much more did Yahweh's favor and the gift through [His] provision overflow to many through one Man, Yahshua..." (Rom. 5:12-19)
Y'shua is the Head of that restored image of Elohim. In Hebrew, "head" is from the word "first"; the head is the part of the body born first. With His resurrection on the feast of Firstfruits, Yahweh made a down payment guaranteeing that the rest of the "new Adam" would indeed be born:
"Since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead ... each in his proper order: Messiah the firstfruits, and after that, those who belong to Messiah." (1 Cor. 15:21-23)
But His followers were Jews; the restoration could not be complete without the other, scattered part of Israel returning also. Restoring them in particular was one of the Messiah's jobs (Isaiah 49:6). He said He had come "only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel" (Matt. 15:24), and He sent His disciples out to finish the job of finding and bringing them back. They did get busy reuniting the Northern Kingdom and Judah into one house (Rom. 14:19), proclaiming that
"In Messiah Yahshua you who were once far off have been brought near by [His] blood, since He is our peace, who has made both one, having broken down the barrier, having abolished in His flesh the cause of enmity--the rule of commandments through a threat of judgment--so as to create in Himself one new man from the two...and completely restore both of them to favor..." (Eph. 2:13-16)
Like Abraham, those who responded were known as the "Called-out Ones" (ekklesia). They were called out from the Gentile lifestyles they'd assimilated to. If you belong to the Messiah, you are meant to be part of this reconvergence. The "body" of this new Man must "hold fast to the head" (Col. 2:19) in order to finish rebuilding the lost image of Elohim. Part of the process of restoration is taking on the selfless attitude of Yahshua, "who, [though] being in the form [similar to "image"] of Elohim, He did not consider [full] equality with Elohim something to be seized" (Phil. 2:6), as Lucifer, then Adam, had.
But Y'shua had said an enemy would plant false wheat in the Kingdom (Matt. 13:24ff). That counterfeit "man" that had begun at the Tower of Babel never disappeared; it only suffered a setback. Babylon (the Greek form of "Babel") is its head. This "dynasty" continued through the Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires. (Daniel 2:31ff) Rome brought this "mystery Babylon" back into the ekklesia. (Dan. 7:25) So yet another separating out must still occur before there can be a true unification. (2 Cor. 6:17; Rev. 18:4) The dragnet has been pulled back in; now it's time to sort out what it has caught. (Mat. 13:47-48)
Many have tried without success to resuscitate the Roman Empire. (Dan. 2:41) But when all is ready, it will be permitted one brief reunification so it can be proven to have "feet of clay". The other side (e.g., the New Age Movement) is again saying they are "gods" in their own right--just what Satan told Eve. (Gen. 3:5; Isaiah 41:23) "Unity" and "peace" are their themes. (Dan. 8:25)
Soon everyone will merge into one or the other. But the counterfeit man will attack the true, and be executed for it, by stoning. (Lev. 24:10ff; Dan. 2:35) Then there will be only one. (Zech. 14:9)
"Then comes the end, when He delivers up the Kingdom to the... Father, when He has rendered every principality, authority, or power inoperative... When all things are subjected to Him, the Son Himself will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so Elohim may be all in all." (1 Cor. 15:24-28)
Y'shua is indeed the "son of Elohim", but that's not where it stops. Hosea promised the prodigal Northern Kingdom would also one day be called "sons of the living Elohim". (1:10; cf. Heb. 2:10)
Just before His arrest, Y'shua had prayed, "I ask...that they may all be one, even as You, Father, are in me, and I in You--that they also may be in us... The authority which You have given me I have given them, that they may be one, just as we are one, I in them and You in me, so that they may be perfected in unity." (Jn. 17:20ff) We are to become all that he is!
In His Kingdom, the Messiah will be called "Yahweh [is] our Righteousness". (Jer. 23:6) But at that time Jerusalem will also be called by that same name. (Jer. 33:16) Why? Because Jerusalem is His Bride! (Rev. 21:2) The bride takes on her husband's name. The Messiah's Body is also called His Bride. In both metaphors we become one with Him. (2 Cor. 11:2) All the analogies converge--a full reversal of the expansion, except that this time Yahweh has someone to share it with--by drawing us into His unity so we can partake of His nature after all (2 Peter 1:4)--but in His way, not our own.
By looking into the mirror of Torah, we can see our "natural face"--that we are indeed Israel, and what that's supposed to look like--then act accordingly, rather than forgetting what that "Man under the garment" is shaped like. (James 1:23ff) As we recognize the face in that mirror as Yahshua's, we will be changed into the same image! (2 Cor. 3:18) "Now we are called sons of Elohim... but ...when He is made manifest we will be like Him." (1 John 3:2)
Paul called the Galatians "my little children, of whom I labor in childbirth again until Messiah is formed in you..." (4:19) So we, too, need to become that Man--not as individuals, but corporately:
"Speaking the truth in love, [let us] grow up into Him who is the Head--Messiah--out of whom the whole Body (fitly joined together and united through what every joint supplies, as each part operates to its proper extent) produces growth that lets the Body build itself up--by means of love [commitment]." (Eph. 4:15-16)
We all need so much refining, and it takes a long time to change. How will we ever get to the point of having twelve tribes function together as one unit and move "as one man"?
The unifying of all Israel won't come about overnight. But it also won't occur by magic. It has to start somewhere. Where?
An Ideal Training Ground
The practical place to begin is with those with whom you already meet for the Sabbath and festivals--but take it up a notch.
Just as you can never become great at a sport if you play alone, no one can really practice Torah without other people, especially if you want to receive instruction and feedback for your actions. Community keeps us accountable in a way that is just not possible if we only see each other once a week. If we're only together for Scriptural study on the Sabbath, we won't be able to sharpen one another in the other practical skills that are needed for the job of building a physical nation.
Functioning as one unit requires getting in order. And as nice as that sounds in theory, anyone who trains children knows that this really only comes about through discipline. Yes, there is self-discipline, but that's the slow road. But look at how quickly an immature youth can become honorable and responsible when he joins the army. The key to that kind of order is being under authority. In other words, we need leaders.
That grates on modern ears. For those used to personal rights, it seems like several steps backward, especially for those who had to break away from the tyranny of the Church. But our goal is not freedom for its own sake, but pleasing YHWH. There's a right context for rules added by men; when they're founded on wisdom, they keep us from even coming close to violating the Torah. If we want to get past a certain point in our walk, there's no choice but to trust YHWH to keep the leaders He's chosen from abusing their position.
"Iron sharpens iron", and there's no faster track to that than community. Becoming "one bread" requires much "grinding" that sets our individual idiosyncrasies straight, keeping us from "majoring on the minors".
Each local "cell" is small enough to know one another well enough to do that fine-tuning. It gives us a practice-ground in which to make our mistakes early on so we'll be ready when it really counts.
But these humble beginnings are also prototypes for when we merge into the gathering of all Israel. In ancient Israelite cities, the gate complex was the place where rulings were made on how to apply the Torah to specific situations. By establishing "gates"-particular, cohesive communities--we can start restoring the ancient authority structures around which the Torah was built, so we have a context to live out what would otherwise be abstract commands. It makes our knowledge of the ancient ways practical again. As communities begin to interact with one another, the small beginnings-the "rulers of ten"-can then build back up to the Torah's ideal of rulers over hundreds and thousands--and finally form a single people.
*It is best to use Hebrew terms to avoid inadvertently having the names of pagan deities on our lips (Exodus 23:13). "God" was not just a generic term but a particular Germanic deity, and it also sounds exactly like the Hebrew "Gad", which means "Luck/Fortune", whom Isaiah 65:11 specifically forbids any connection with.