The Holy Assembly and the Everlasting Covenant

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)


The Natives

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 Foreigners

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 gods.


The Aliens

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 properly.

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 Israel.

"You are to have the same laws (mishpat) for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 24:22)

"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.


Israel Is 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". (Isaiah 42:6)

"I will also make [Israel] a light for the Gentiles that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6)

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.


What Is the Light?

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." (Zechariah 8:22-23)


Aliens 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 Messiah Yeshua.


God's Love 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.


Chapter Summary

  • Natives are those physically descended from Jacob.
  • Foreigners are those not descended from Jacob.
  • 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 well.
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