7 - Other Nations Enter the Covenant|
Within the First Covenant we find
three different kinds of people, they are natives, aliens and
foreigners. Each of these three groups is different in their
relationship to Israel and the covenant with God. In this chapter we
will be looking at several passages which show this relationship. Let
us look at the first Passover, which shows each of these people groups'
relationship to this festival.
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "These are the
regulations for the Passover; No foreigner is to eat of it. Any slave
you have bought may eat of it after you have circumcised him, but a
temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat of it....The whole
community of Israel must celebrate it. An alien living among you who
wants to celebrate the LORD's Passover must have all the males in his
household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land.
No uncircumcised male may eat of it. The same Torah applies to the
native-born and to the alien living among you." (Exodus 12:43-49)
Natives (ezrah in Hebrew) are those who
are descended from the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. From
discussions in the previous chapters, plus the passage quoted above, we
see that the natives are part of the community of Israel, the chosen
people of God.
It is with Israel that God has given his
covenant, and not with any other nation.
[The LORD] has revealed his word to Jacob, his
laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they
do not know his laws. (Psalms 147:19,20)
Has any god ever tried to take for himself one
nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and
wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great
and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in
Egypt before your very eyes? (Deuteronomy 4:34)
The Exodus 12 passage pretty much sums it
up when it says, "No foreigner is to eat [the Passover]". Foreigners
(nackriy in Hebrew) are those who are not born in the line of Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob and are not part of God's covenant or the community of
Israel. These people would be of other nations who worship other
Is God's covenant then a restricted
membership to Israel only? Absolutely not. Any foreigner who wishes to
join the community of Israel may do so, by accepting the covenant and
taking on the sign of the covenant, circumcision. These foreigners are
now considered aliens
(ger in Hebrew) and are to be treated as one
native-born. Continually throughout the Torah, God reminds Israel that
they were once aliens in another land and that they are to treat aliens
The alien living with you must be treated as one
of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in
Egypt. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
In the Exodus 12 passage above we see that an
alien must be circumcised, and they are considered as part of the
community of Israel.
The aliens are not only to be treated as a
native-born but are also expected to obey God and his Torah just as
"You are to have the same laws (mishpat) for the
alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus
"The community is to have the same rules (huqah)
for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance
for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before
the LORD: The same Torah and regulations (mishpat) will apply both to
you and to the alien living among you." (Numbers 15:15,16)
This is one of the everlasting (olam) ordinances we
discussed in chapter 4. The Torah itself states that the aliens are to
keep the same Torah as Israel forever.
A Light to the Nations
Going back to the promise which God made with
Abraham, he said, "All the peoples on earth will be blessed through
you" (Genesis 12:3). God desires that all people on the earth come to
him through his covenant with Israel.
"I, the LORD, have called you [Israel] in
righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will
make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles".
"I will also make [Israel] a light for the
Gentiles that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."
The Hebrew word for Gentiles is "goy" and means
nations. God is telling Israel that his redemptive plan for the
salvation of all nations will come through them. Throughout the First
Covenant, we see some Gentiles entering the assembly, but it is not
until many years later where we see Israel bringing in the Gentiles by
the thousands in the New Testament fulfilling this prophecy. This will
be discussed in part two of this book.
See, I have taught you decrees (chok - Hebrew
word related to huqah) and laws (mitzvot) as the LORD my God commanded
me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take
possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your
wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these
decrees (choq) and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and
understanding people." What other nation is so great as the have their
gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to
him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous
decrees (choq) and laws (mitzvot) as this body of Torah I am setting
before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:5-8)
As mentioned previously, Israel shows their love
to God by keeping his Torah. When the other nations see this love of
God and his Torah, they will be marveled at their close relationship,
which of course they do not have with their false gods, and they will
desire to have that same relationship with the God of Israel.
And many peoples and powerful nations will come
to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him." This is
what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days ten men from all languages
and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and
say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you."
Entering the Community of Israel
Previously we looked at the "other
nations" which joined Israel at Mount Sinai. Throughout the First
Covenant we see people of "other nations" joining Israel in the
covenant with God. Let us look at one of these examples.
Ruth, a Moabite, is the daughter-in-law of
Naomi, an Israelite. Naomi has lived in Moab with her husband and sons
all of whom have passed away, and Naomi decides to leave for her home,
Israel. Ruth follows her mother-in-law and tells her.
"Don't urge me to leave you [Naomi] or to turn
back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.
Your people will be my people and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16)
Once in Israel, Ruth meets Boaz, who is to
become her husband. He tells her'
"May the LORD repay you for what you have done.
May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose
wings you have come to take refuge." (Ruth 2:12)
Ruth was not only an alien who has joined Israel
but she becomes the grandmother of King David and her descendant is the
and Grace to the Aliens
Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD
say, "The LORD will surely exclude me from his people."... For this is
what the LORD says:... "foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to
serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who
keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my
covenant - these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in
my house of prayer Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be
accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for
all nations." (Isaiah 56:3,6)
There is no exclusion from God or his covenant,
but equality for those willing to follow him and obey his Torah.
- Natives are those physically descended from
- Foreigners are those not descended from
- Aliens are foreigners who choose to live with
Israel and enter the covenant with God.
- The Torah applies to the aliens also.
- Israel, by keeping the Torah, are a light to the
other nations (foreigners).
- God's grace and love is given to the aliens as