The Holy Assembly and the Everlasting Covenant

3 - The Holy Assembly

In Biblical days, a person's name was more than just a means of identification as it is today. A person's name was who they were. A child was often named after a character trait of that child. A good example of this is the twins Jacob (ya'acov) and Esau (esav). Jacob's name means heel, and he was given this name because during delivery he was grasping the heel of Esau. Esau means red, which may have been the color of his hair. A person could also be named after an event, such as, in the case of Moses (moshe). Moses means "drawn from the water" which is how he was found. It was not uncommon for a name to be changed later in life if there were a change in the character of the person or if a major event occurred within that person's life.

Names were not the only means of identifying with a person; titles were often used giving a description of who they were. Yeshua for example, had many descriptive titles, Messiah, Son of God, Son of man, Yeshua of Nazareth, Emmanuel, Savior, Lamb of God, King of kings, and many others. By looking at the descriptive titles of Israel we are given a picture of the character of that person or nation. Let us look at some of the names and titles, which were applied to Israel.


A People Set Apart

I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. (Leviticus 20:26)

The Hebrew word used in this passage for "set apart" is "badal". It is used in Genesis 1:18 where God separated the light from the darkness. Just as God separates the light from the darkness, God has also separated Israel from the other nations. Through the rest of this chapter and the next chapter we will see how God has set apart Israel from the other nations.


A Holy People

Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy. (Leviticus 20:7,8)

Another Hebrew word meaning, "to set apart" is the verb "kadash". Kadash is more specific in its application in that it means, "to set apart for God". This is the meaning of our English word "consecrate". Since this passage indicates that the people are to consecrate themselves, we can see that God also requires action from the people. In the passage above, God explains that the people are to "set themselves apart" by keeping his decrees and following them.

The Hebrew word "kadosh" is the noun form of the verb "kadash". Kadosh, translated as "holy" in the above passage, is a combination of these two actions, being set apart and obedience to God.

The progression of becoming holy according to the above passage follows this pattern: God sets Israel apart from the other nations, by giving them his decrees for them to keep, Israel consecrates themselves by keeping those decrees, then God makes them holy.


A Community Set Apart

The Hebrew word "edah" means a gathering of people. The KJV always translates this word as "community", while the NIV will translate it as "community" or "assembly". When "edah" is used of Israel, it always refers to all of the descendants of Jacob (Israel), the entire nation of Israel. In the following verses are examples of how the word "edah" is used.

The whole Israelite community (edah) set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin. (Exodus 16:1)

Moses assembled the whole Israelite community (edah) and said to them, "These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do". (Exodus 35:1)

"Take a census of the whole Israelite community (edah) by families". (Numbers 26:2)

Since God has set the entire nation of Israel apart from all the other nations, we could say that the community (edah) of Israel are those whom God has set apart (badal).


The Holy Assembly

Another Hebrew word used for a gathering of people is "qahal". Again the KJV is consistent in translating this word as "assembly", but the NIV may translate it as "assembly" or "community". The Assembly of Israel are those within the community (edah) who have consecrated themselves by keeping God's decrees and are therefore made holy by God. Here are a few verses using the word "qahal".

When they become aware of the sin they committed, the Assembly (qahal) must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the Tent of Meeting. (Leviticus 4:14)

The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the Assembly (qahal) of the holy ones. (Psalms 89:5)

The difference between the Assembly and the community is based on an individual's relationship with God. All the people within the community have been set apart by God. They were all delivered out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and were given God's decrees, but there are some within the community who rejected God and his covenant. Those who remain faithful to God and his covenant are part of the Assembly of Israel. Those who are in the Assembly of Israel, are also a part of the community of Israel, but not everyone in the community of Israel is part of the Assembly of Israel. Although the whole community is set apart (badal) by God, only those who keep God's covenant are part of the Assembly and are made holy (kadash), this then is the Holy Assembly (qahal kadosh).


Descendants Of Abraham

Abraham was given the name Abram at birth, which means, "exalted father". When God gave him the covenant God changed his name to Abraham, which means "father of many". As we have seen, the people of Israel are the descendants of Abraham.

O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend. (Isaiah 41:8)



God also changed Jacob's name to Israel meaning "God rules". The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob became known as Israel or the children of Israel (often translated as Israelite). There were six hundred thousand men (Ex 12.37), an estimated three to six million men, women and children, who came out Egypt at the exodus. As God had promised Abraham, his descendants had become a large nation.



Abraham was the first to be called a Hebrew (Genesis 14:13). The Hebrew word for the "Hebrew" is "eevriyt" which literally means the "crossing ones". Genesis 12:6 says that Abraham "traveled through the land". The word "traveled" is the Hebrew word "avar" which means to "cross over" and is the root word for the name "eevriyt". Abraham crossed the Jordan River into the land his descendants would cross over into many years later and which would become known as "the land of Israel".

A Hebrew is one who has joined the Holy Assembly, whether born of Israel or another nation, for they have all "crossed over" from death (outside of the covenant) to life (inside of the covenant). Reminiscent of Yeshua's (The Hebrew name for Jesus) words in John 5.24; "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."


The Chosen People

God has chosen Israel, the descendants of Abraham, to be a holy people. Set apart from the rest of the nations to be a people belonging to him. We do not know why, only that he did. It was not because of their size or their strength, but only because it was his will. It will be through this nation which he has chosen to bring about the redemption of all men.


A Holy Nation

"Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation". (Exodus 19:5-6)


The People Of God

"I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God." (Exodus 6:7)

"I will walk among you and be your God and you will be my people." (Leviticus 26:12)


The Children Of God

This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son. (Exodus 4:22)

You are the children of the LORD your God. (Deut14:1)



For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "I myself will search for my sheep and look after them." (Ezekiel 34:11)



If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. (Deut15:7)

All of Israel is descended from Jacob and are, therefore, brothers within the community, but they are also the children of God making them brothers in the LORD. As we will see later, those who are not physically descended from Jacob, but join the community are still considered brothers because they are children of God.


Putting The Names Together

As we can see by looking at the names and titles of Israel, we have a good picture of who Israel is. They are.

  • A Community Set Apart
  • The Holy Assembly
  • Descendants of Abraham
  • Children of Israel
  • The chosen people
  • A Holy nation
  • The people of God
  • Children of God
  • Sheep
  • Brothers

God chose the descendants of Abraham and set them apart from the rest of the nations and made them his holy people and to be his own son bestowing on them His blessings, inheritance and protection.


Chapter Summary

  • Israel is a community set apart, that is, a nation chosen by God and separated from all the other nations.
  • Israel is also a Holy Assembly, that is, the collective of individuals who love and obey God.
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