Life preservation is a cornerstone of our existence. We want to keep ourselves safe from harm or injury. We mostly do what we do to preserve our lives, this means that we work to get money to meet our basic needs: food, a roof over our heads, clothing etc. For some this also means trying to find out what will happen in the future so they can be prepared. For unbelievers this means horoscopes, psychics and who knows what else, for believers, Bible prophecy.
In a previous article Why does evil seem to prevail?, we wrote about being part of the remnant.
When we study Bible prophecy, we find many references to a remnant. We often read about YHVH’s judgement and how a remnant remains. It is prophesied that there will be a future judgment and that a remnant will remain. Everybody wants to be part of that remnant. We want to be part of the group that survives YHVH’s judgment. The question is who is this remnant and what does it entail to be part of the remnant? Is it something we would want to be part of and if yes, how?
In this study, we will search the Scripture to find out more about this remnant and see if we can find answers to these questions. We shall start by defining the word remnant.
8642 שְׁאֵרִית (šeʾē·rîṯ): n.fem.; ≡ Str 7611; TWOT 2307b—1. LN 63.21–63.22 remainder, remnant, the rest, i.e., the part of a whole (mass, collection, or series) that remains or continues (2Ki 19:4); 2. LN 10.14–10.48 descendant, formally, remnant, i.e., those of a successive generation as a figurative extension of a what is left over from a whole (Ge 45:7; 2Sa 14:7+)2
A remnant is the part of a whole that remains. This can refer to a piece of food, material or anything else that is left over. In the biblical context, the word remnant refers to a group of people that remains after a catastrophe. In the case of food or material the remnant is viewed as worthless compared to the used part. However, in the case of the remnant of people, they are viewed as precious in the sight of YHVH. The remnant of the people is the part that is chosen to continue the community or nation. It is not difficult to understand why everybody wants to be part of this group.
We also learn from Scripture that catastrophe is used by YHVH to cleanse the community of its impurities. The remnant that remains is always a sign of YHVH’s great mercy. Noah and his family were a remnant when the earth was flooded with water. Lot and his daughters were a remnant when Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed by YHVH. Noah was chosen because he was righteous (2 Pet 2:5). Lot, because of his association with Abraham (Gen 19:29). In the case of Noah the catastrophe was the flood, in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, it was hail and fire from heaven. Both of these events were judgments from YHVH.
Let us find more examples to see what else we can learn.
This word, remnant, is used sixty-six times in Scripture. The first time the word remnant was used, was in reference to Joseph in Egypt.
7 “Elohim sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.
The remnant Joseph refers to here, are his brothers and their descendants. Through what happened with Joseph a remnant could be preserved known to us as the twelve tribes. In this case the catastrophe was famine.
The remnant is also preserved for YHVH’s purposes and because of His promises.
In the time of Eliyah, Ahab and Jezebel reigned. Ahab was a wicked king and was under his wife’s evil influence. She gave instructions for the prophets to be killed. Eliyah was part of the remnant that was left.
Eliyah was instructed by YHVH to anoint those who will bring the catastrophe over Israel, but tells him that He will preserve a remnant.
1 Kings 19:18
18 “Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
Here we see again that YHVH chose 7000 spiritually undefiled people to be the remnant. We are starting to see a pattern here. When YHVH chooses a remnant, they are those who are spiritually undefiled, or righteous according to His standards. There were cases where a remnant survived despite the fact that they were worthy of destruction (Jer 5:10, 18, Jer 8:3) These are exceptions and confirms that YHVH is a merciful Elohim and act according to His purposes.
We will later look at what YHVH’s standards are. We will first see if we can confirm this pattern that the remnant consists of the righteous.
Who will be part of the remnant?
3 Seek YHVH, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of YHVH’s anger.
This could refer to being part of a remnant. This remnant is characterized by being righteous and humble.
12 “But I will leave among you A humble and lowly people, And they will take refuge in the name of YHVH. 13 “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong And tell no lies, Nor will a deceitful tongue Be found in their mouths; For they will feed and lie down With no one to make them tremble.”
The remnant will do no wrong, tell no lies and will not speak deceit. They will be righteous.
16 Then those who feared YHVH spoke to one another, and YHVH gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear YHVH and who esteem His name. 17 “They will be Mine,” says YHVH of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 18 So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves Elohim and one who does not serve Him.
Those who fear YHVH will be His. We see a clear distinction being made between the righteous and the wicked. We also see that each has a different outcome (Mal 4:1-4.)
29 The righteous will inherit the land And dwell in it forever. 30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speaks justice. 31 The law of his Elohim is in his heart; His steps do not slip.
From all these verses, we see that those who would be part of the remnant, would be those who are righteous according to YHVH’s standards.
What is YHVH’s standard?
YHVH’s standard is His Word, the commandments He gave His people. His selection criteria are written down for us. We have previously written about What does YHVH require of us? In this article we show you from Scripture, what our Heavenly Father expects from us, His children. The basis is found in this verse in Deuteronomy:
12 “Now, Israel, what does YHVH your Elohim require from you, but to fear YHVH your Elohim, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve YHVH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep YHVH’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?
From this verse we learn that we are to:
- fear YHVH,
- walk in His ways,
- love Him and
- serve Him with all our hearts and souls
- AND we are to keep His commandments and statutes.
YHVH does not want us to live lawless lives, He gave us instructions for living. He is our loving Father and has our best interest at heart.
Y’shua also taught ” if you love me, keep My commandments”
YHVH wants us to keep His commandments. He wants obedience from us, not to gain salvation, but out of loving reverence for Him.
Who knows, maybe keeping YHVH’s commandments would be what He uses to preserve us. We know that He has given us His commandments to benefit us. We have found out many times after doing a commandment, that it was beneficial to us in some way. To give you an example: YHVH prohibits us from eating pork and shellfish. These animals are designed by YHVH as garbage collectors, they are for this reason unhealthy for us to eat. So, keeping His dietary instructions, keeps us healthy. There are many more examples like this.
Obedience results in blessing and disobedience in punishment, that is YHVH’s promise to us.
16 The wages of the righteous is life, The income of the wicked, punishment.
25 When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.
27 The fear of YHVH prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death.
That is exactly why we are talking about a remnant. It is an ongoing cycle. There is a period of righteousness which results in blessing. Blessing usually brings prosperity and people start forgetting about YHVH. They fall into sin which takes them further and further away from YHVH. YHVH, not breaking His covenant, then apply measures to bring His people back to Him. A catastrophe follows, a purification and a remnant survives. With this remnant, YHVH starts over and after a while the cycle begins again.
From this we have learned that the remnant is always righteous. The question is will all the righteous be part of the remnant?
Will all the righteous be part of the remnant?
One thing we have to understand is that being part of the remnant is about physical salvation. The remnant will consist of those who remained alive. At the very end, there will be a resurrection of the righteous and there will be the righteous remnant. If you were to compare these two groups, I don’t think either group would have had it easier that the other group.
A good example is the life of Corrie ten Boom. During the holocaust, she and her family, hid Jewish people in their home. She, her sister, elderly father and brother were arrested for doing this and were sent to different concentration camps. She was the only one who survived. Can we say she was more righteous than her family members or can we say she had it easier? We cannot judge the righteousness of another, only YHVH can. Outwardly, if I had to say, they were all righteous. However, did she as the only survivor have it easier or was she better off than they were? She may have had it worse, having lost her family and being all alone grieving for them. However, she arose out of her circumstances, and helped many people and wrote many books that still inspire today. YHVH had a purpose with her life, but also with those of her family members. Their purposes were different.
It is my understanding that it is the same for all of us. Except for living righteously, we can’t do anything to ensure we are part of the remnant and even that does not guarantee that we will be. Also, even if we are part of the remnant, we won’t have it easy.
This is confirmed in YHVH’s word. YHVH gave Ezekiel an instruction to do a prophetic action.
1 “As for you, son of man, take a sharp sword; take and use it as a barber’s razor on your head and beard. Then take scales for weighing and divide the hair. 2 “One third you shall burn in the fire at the center of the city, when the days of the siege are completed. Then you shall take one third and strike it with the sword all around the city, and one third you shall scatter to the wind; and I will unsheathe a sword behind them. 3 “Take also a few in number from them and bind them in the edges of your robes. 4 “Take again some of them and throw them into the fire and burn them in the fire; from it a fire will spread to all the house of Israel.
This prophetic action is about YHVH’s judgment of His people because they were not keeping His commandments (Eze 5:5-6). A remnant is separated, and from this remnant some are taken to be burned with fire. This passage confirms that a remnant will remain, but also that a portion of this remnant would die. YHVH would do according to His will, plan and purpose.
It is prophesied that the remnant would return to the land. How would this happen? Do we have to return to the land now to ensure we are part of this remnant? It is a misconception to reason that you could only be part of the remnant if you are in the land. However, if YHVH calls you to be in the land, by all means go, be obedient, but don’t do it of your own accord. It may even be against YHVH’s will.
We understand this longing to live in the land, we have it too, but we will only go if YHVH opens a door for us to go. Some people would do anything to live in the land, even deny Y’shua as Messiah to achieve this. This is wrong and will not result in blessing for you. Please refer to our article on this topic: A love of all things Jewish. YHVH did not command us to return to the land. YHVH said in His word that He would gather the remnant.
YHVH would gather the remnant
3 “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. 4 “I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares YHVH.
7 For thus says YHVH, “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise and say, ‘O YHVH, save Your people, The remnant of Israel.’ 8 “Behold, I am bringing them from the north country, And I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, Among them the blind and the lame, The woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; A great company, they will return here. 9 “With weeping they will come, And by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, On a straight path in which they will not stumble; For I am a father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn.”
37 “Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. 38 “They shall be My people, and I will be their Elohim; 39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. 40 “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. 41 “I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.
27 “But as for you, O Jacob My servant, do not fear, Nor be dismayed, O Israel! For, see, I am going to save you from afar, And your descendants from the land of their captivity; And Jacob will return and be undisturbed And secure, with no one making him tremble. 28 “O Jacob My servant, do not fear,” declares YHVH, “For I am with you. For I will make a full end of all the nations Where I have driven you, Yet I will not make a full end of you; But I will correct you properly And by no means leave you unpunished.”
18 “I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts— They came from you, O Zion; The reproach of exile is a burden on them. 19 “Behold, I am going to deal at that time With all your oppressors, I will save the lame And gather the outcast, And I will turn their shame into praise and renown In all the earth. 20 “At that time I will bring you in, Even at the time when I gather you together; Indeed, I will give you renown and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” Says YHVH.
YHVH will supply the means for us to return to the land. He will gather us. How He would do that, we don’t know for sure. As to the timing of this, we need to find the answer in the Scripture.
So, when will this be?
When will the remnant return?
20 “At that time I will bring you in, Even at the time when I gather you together; Indeed, I will give you renown and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” Says YHVH.
When you read the context of this, it is about the time when the king of Israel, YHVH will be in our midst. This is a future time. So, in this future time, YHVH will gather His remnant and return them to the land.
8 Thus says YHVH, “In a favorable time I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages; 9 Saying to those who are bound, ‘Go forth,’ To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’ Along the roads they will feed, And their pasture will be on all bare heights. 10 “They will not hunger or thirst, Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them And will guide them to springs of water. 11 “I will make all My mountains a road, And My highways will be raised up. 12 “Behold, these will come from afar; And lo, these will come from the north and from the west, And these from the land of Sinim.” 13 Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For YHVH has comforted His people And will have compassion on His afflicted.
19 “For your waste and desolate places and your destroyed land— Surely now you will be too cramped for the inhabitants, And those who swallowed you will be far away. 20 “The children of whom you were bereaved will yet say in your ears, ‘The place is too cramped for me; Make room for me that I may live here.’ 21 “Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who has begotten these for me, Since I have been bereaved of my children And am barren, an exile and a wanderer? And who has reared these? Behold, I was left alone; From where did these come?’ ” 22 Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations And set up My standard to the peoples; And they will bring your sons in their bosom, And your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. 23 “Kings will be your guardians, And their princesses your nurses. They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth And lick the dust of your feet; And you will know that I am YHVH; Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame.
49:17-21. Judah’s captors will depart (v. 17) and be far away (v. 19) and Judah’s sons will begin to return (vv. 18). This will brighten up the nation as a bride enjoys ornaments. This return will be so great that the land (personified by you and your, vv. 19-21) will not be large enough for all the inhabitants, called its children.
But when the people returned from the Babylonian Captivity they were a comparatively small, struggling band. The return mentioned in verses 19-21 seems to be much larger and therefore probably refers to Israel’s return at the beginning of the Millennium.
49:22-26. When Israel returns to the land in the future the Gentiles will worship before the LORD and will be friendly toward Israel. In fact the Gentiles will even help transport Israelites to Palestine. Gentile leaders will be subservient to Israel, which will cause her to realize that the LORD really is in control of the world (v. 23). It is unusual for captives to be rescued, but God will see that it is done for Israel.3
11 So the ransomed of YHVH will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, And everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.
In Isaiah YHVH comforts the remnant. From the context of Isaiah 51, it is also clear as to when the remnant will return. If you look at verse Isa 51:6 – it describes the destruction of the world and after that the remnant returns to Zion.
Another prove that confirms that it is not up to us to return is found in Revelation and Isaiah.
Revelation 12 refers to two groups of believers. One group will be taken into the wilderness, where they will be nourished for three and a half years.
14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
The other group will remain where they were and war will be made against them.
17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of Elohim and hold to the testimony of Y’shua.
When you read further, it could seem that these believers would all be killed, however, when you read other prophecies, it does seem to indicate that there would be a remnant coming from other places.
8 YHVH Elohim, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, “Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”
11 Then it will happen on that day that YHVH Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. 12 And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. 13 Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart, And those who harass Judah will be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, And Judah will not harass Ephraim. 14 They will swoop down on the slopes of the Philistines on the west; Together they will plunder the sons of the east; They will possess Edom and Moab, And the sons of Ammon will be subject to them. 15 And YHVH will utterly destroy The tongue of the Sea of Egypt; And He will wave His hand over the River With His scorching wind; And He will strike it into seven streams And make men walk over dry-shod. 16 And there will be a highway from Assyria For the remnant of His people who will be left, Just as there was for Israel In the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt.
Another important point to consider is that Israel and Judah will be gathered together.
Israel and Judah shall be gathered together
10 Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living Elohim.” 11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head; and they shall take possession of the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
12 And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.
This proves that YHVH will do what needs to be done. He will gather us when the time is right and He will decide who will be part of the remnant. This may shock you, but some of the righteous of Elohim will be killed in this time.
10 If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.
So, what have we learned from this?
We hope this study of the remnant has answered some of your questions.
The remnant will consist of righteous believers. YHVH decides who will be part of the remnant and who won’t. We are to wait on YHVH, it is up to Him, not us. Returning to the land on our own initiative may not be YHVH’s will for us. Some righteous believers may not survive this final judgment. That may be YHVH’s will for them, however, they will be resurrected (1 Thes 4:16.)
The point of showing you all this is, that we are not to focus all our energy on trying to figure out and prepare in order to be part of the remnant. We are to focus on living righteously where we are, which may be where YHVH has purposed us to be. We are, furthermore, to focus on our relationship with YHVH, learn to hear His voice and obey. He will guide us to do what He has purposed for us to do. When we hear His voice we will be at the right place at the right time.
We are to trust in YHVH always, He will guide our ways. If we live righteously and it is His purpose for us, we will be part of the remnant to survive the final judgment. If not, we will still have eternal life with Him.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Y’shua for Jesus.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Ps 37:23–31). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
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