The English word “gentile” in the Hebrew language is “goiim,” meaning heathen. A heathen is anyone who does not obey the God of the Israelites–the God of the Bible (Heb.-book). Historically, God’s people have been known as “the people of the Book.” The Bible was written to, for and about the Hebrews–a word that means “one who crossed over.” The word was first used in reference to the patriarch Abraham. Upon believing and obeying the true God, the former heathen from Ur of the Chaldees became the progenitor of the Hebrews, later known as Israelites after Abraham’s grandson Jacob whose name God changed to Israel (“power with God”) following his conversion. True Christians are those who “walk in the faith of father Abraham” by worshiping and obeying Abraham’s God as he did (Rom. 4:12). As this passage reveals, the obedience command applies to both Israelites (“the circumcision”) and Gentiles (“the uncircumcision”), both of whom must obey the Biblical God as did their ancestor Abraham when he “crossed over” his nation’s border and traveled to a land he did not know (Gen. 12) simply because God told him to do so. Historically, to leave one’s native land was virtually unheard-of. The vast majority of ancient peoples never left the land of their birth. The land Abraham traveled to and walked throughout came to be known as the “Promised Land.” Because of Abraham’s unquestioned obedience, God promised to give the land between the Euphrates River and the Nile River to his descendants. At the time the Lord made the promise the aged man did not have a child. Every Sunday Schooler knows the story of Isaac, Jacob and his 12 sons who came to be known as the Nation/House of Israel so I will not revisit that subject in this series.
The Nation of Israel was created by God to take His light/Word/Law to the world’s heathen peoples, thereby affording them the opportunity to become spiritual Israelites (God’s church–Acts 7:28) whom He would live among and lead. The English Word “church” is the Biblical Word “egglesia,” meaning “called out ones.” These are people whom God commissioned to shine forth His glory within this dark world. As the Apostle Paul put it, we are to live in the world while remaining separated from it. He noted that the world hates God’s light because it exposes its Satanic darkness. This explains why the Institutional Church rejects God’s people, the Biblical lives they live and the Biblical message their ministers proclaim.
From the beginning the Standard for Israel’s morality was to be God’s Word–the foundation upon which they would build their individual lives and their nation. They would live their God-directed lives (walk their “walk”) before the world (1 Jn. 2:6). The goal was then and is now for God to “walk” in His people (2 Cor. 6:16)–to manifest Himself through their thoughts, words and deeds. The Israelites’ social, political, economic and spiritual lives would be strictly governed by the Lord’s Words. Through His Holy Spirit the Almighty would speak to His leaders who would then speak to the people. God’s chosen leaders would come to be known as prophets, apostles, pastors and evangelists. The Lord’s Words came to be known as “the Law.” At Mt. Sinai He condensed His Law into the Ten Commandments. His entire Law would later be codified into what came to be known as the Holy Bible and preserved for Israel’s posterity. In this regard the Lord’s will has been carried out. The Bible remains the most purchased printed material in the history of mankind. Unfortunately, it is also the least understood Book in the history of printing. Ironically, it is also the Book most referred to by those who take pride in perverting its message (Gal. 1:6-9). Anyone who doubts the power of Satan over the church does not know what he ought to know.
Israel’s national identification would be a church-state union that would identify their God as the Law Giver and themselves as His Law-keepers. God promised to greatly bless the nation of Israel if her people would strictly obey His Law. The blessings He would give Israel would entice the heathen to embrace her God, obey His Law and thereby enter into those blessings. The first example of this took place when God sent Moses into Egypt to lead Israel out of the bondage the heathen nation had forced upon her. As the result of the miracles God performed, “a mixed multitude” (of Gentiles) came out of Egypt with the Israelites (Exo. 12:38). These Gentiles were in all probability slaves who had been brought back to Egypt following her many wars. We do not know the nationalities of this (racially) “mixed multitude.” We do know that they were absorbed into the Israelite tribes and became spiritual Israelites by obeying God’s “one Law” which He would give them a short time later at Mt. Sinai (Exo. 12:49; 20:1-17). Note that God spoke to Israel as one nation when He met with them on the mountain. There was no mention of a Gentile tribe. They were now spiritual Israelites who would intermarry with biological Israelites and be accepted as equals by their God.
By obeying the Almighty as did Abraham and being greatly blessed for doing so, Israel, including the Gentile converts within her, was to shine forth as God’s glory. His “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38) would serve as His light in the spiritual darkness that saturated the world. In contrast to the heathen, God’s saints (holy ones) were to be pure, godly, righteous, strange and peculiar (Exo. 19:5/ Titus 2:14/ 1 Pet. 2:9). They would be the exact opposite of their heathen (Gentile) neighbors. God’s plan was for the Gentiles to see Israel’s light and come to it (Isa. 60:3). Some of them would learn His ways, embrace them and become part of the Commonwealth of Israel–God’s “peculiar treasure,” His “Jewels” (Mal. 3:17)–the people whom He had chosen (Rev. 17:14). The nation would be “the church, the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). Two things would separate this nation/church from all others: their faith in and obedience to the Law of their God. However, let us not forget that the Lord has given to mankind the freedom of choice, Adam and Eve being prime examples of that freedom. Would Israel follow in their original parents’ footsteps? Unfortunately, yes. Historically, only God’s tiny “remnant” has remained true to His Word/Law/Truth. L.J.