You may have noticed that we are always referring to Israel and saying that we are a part of Israel. You may have wondered where we got this notion from? It is of fundamental importance to know and understand this. Our identity determines how we live. Think about any culture; being part of a certain culture determines what you do and how you live. However, being part of Israel is more than just being part of a culture, it is a way of life in accordance with our Creator. We shall show you in this article why we say we are part of Israel and why it is significant.
If you are reading this, you have probably been awakened by YHVH to His truth. His truth being, His Word, all of it; everything from Genesis to Revelation. Chances are, that you could be part of the Israelites who were scattered abroad during one of the exiles. You, now being restored back to The Way, could be from any of the twelve tribes, as it is written in the book of James.
1 James, a bond-servant of Elohim and of the Master Y’shua Messiah, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.
Alternatively, you could be a gentile who chose to be joined to Israel through your faith. It is very important to know that the one is not superior to the other. You shall understand why we say this when you read the rest of the article.
Israel is YHVH’s chosen people, a brief history
Israel is YHVH’s chosen people. We shall briefly go through history to show you that YHVH has chosen Israel to be His people. The first time the word “chosen” is used, with YHVH being the subject, is when He spoke of Abraham. That does not take away from the fact that there were others before Abraham, who walked with YHVH in righteousness. Abel, Enoch, Noah (Gen 6:9), to name but a few, chose YHVH and were chosen by Him for His purpose.
Abraham was chosen by YHVH and YHVH made a promise to him.
18 since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? 19 â€œFor I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of YHVH by doing righteousness and justice, so that YHVH may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.â€
YHVH also said the following about Abraham:
3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.â€
From Abraham came forth Isaac and Jacob and to each of them, this promise was re-affirmed. Israel as a nation came forth from Jacob.
6 O seed of Abraham, His servant, O sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! 7 He is YHVH our Elohim; His judgments are in all the earth. 8 He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, 9The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac. 10 Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant,
YHVH led Israel out of slavery, made a covenant with them and confirmed the oath He made with Abraham (Luk 1:73) and his descendants, at Sinai.
On this day YHVH gave Israel a choice:
5 â€˜Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;
Israel chose to obey. Three times they proclaimed “All that YHVH has spoken, we will do” (Ex 19:8, Ex 24:3, Ex 24:7)
YHVH confirmed many times that He has chosen Israel to be His people, His peculiar (special) treasure (Deut 7:6; Deut 14:2; Deut 26:18; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet 2:9). This verse in Deuteronomy in particular stands out:
1 â€œYou are the sons of YHVH your Elohim; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave your forehead for the sake of the dead. 2 â€œFor you are a holy people to the YHVH your Elohim, and YHVH has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
YHVH has chosen Israel to be His people forever…
2 Samuel 7:24
24 â€œFor You have established for Yourself Your people Israel as Your own people forever, and You, O YHVH, have become their Elohim.
It was also prophesied that the renewed covenant will be established with Israel. This covenant was initiated by Yâ€™shua when He died and was resurrected. He became Israelâ€™s Hight Priest, interceding for them (us) with the Father (1 John 2:1).
31 â€œBehold, days are coming,â€ declares YHVH, â€œwhen I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
Israel was never replaced by the â€œchurchâ€ or by anybody else. YHVH does not break His covenant.
Do you still wonder what this has to do with you or why this is important? Before we continue, we need to know why YHVH chose Israel.
Why did YHVH chose Israel?
We have seen from the quoted verses that YHVH clearly chose Israel, but why? We find the answer in Jeremiah 13.
11 â€˜For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,â€™ declares YHVH, â€˜that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.â€™
What does it mean to “cling” to YHVH?
TO CLEAVE, CLING
dabaq (×“Ö¸Ö¼×‘Ö·×§, 1692), â€œto cling, cleave, keep close.â€ Used in modern Hebrew in the sense of â€œto stick to, adhere to,â€ dabaq yields the noun form for â€œglueâ€ and also the more abstract ideas of â€œloyalty, devotion.â€ Occurring just over 60 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, this term is found very early in the text, in Gen. 2:24: â€œTherefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.â€ This usage reflects the basic meaning of one objectâ€™s (personâ€™s) being joined to another. In this sense, Eleazarâ€™s hand â€œcleavedâ€ to the sword as he struck down the Philistines (2 Sam. 23:10). Jeremiahâ€™s linen waistcloth â€œclungâ€ to his loins, symbolic of Israelâ€™s â€œclingingâ€ to God (Jer. 13:11). In time of war and siege, the resulting thirst and famine caused the tongue â€œto cleaveâ€ to the roof of the mouth of those who had been so afflicted…
The figurative use of dabaq in the sense of â€œloyaltyâ€ and â€œaffectionâ€ is based on the physical closeness of the persons involved, such as a husbandâ€™s closeness to his wife (Gen. 2:24), Shechemâ€™s affection for Dinah (Gen. 34:3), or Ruthâ€™s staying with Naomi (Ruth 1:14). â€œCleavingâ€ to God is equivalent to â€œlovingâ€ God (Deut. 30:20). 1
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament sums it up beautifully.
Most importantly, the Israelites are to cleave to the Lord in affection and loyalty (Deut 10:20; 11:22; 13:4 [H 5]; 30:20; Josh 22:5; 23:8) if his blessing is to be theirs. In Jer 13:11 it is said that the Lord caused the Israelites to cleave to him, and Hezekiah is approved because he clave to the Lord. In these verses parallel words and phrases that describe this proper attitude to the Lord are: fear, serve, love, obey, swear by his name, walk in his ways, and keep his commandments.
dÄbaq also means to keep close to someone, and doubtless this sense is included in references admonishing Godâ€™s people to cleave to him.2
Not only was Israel chosen to love YHVH, but also that they might be for Him a people of renown, for praise and for glory (Jer 13:11). YHVH wants to be loved and His name be glorified.
21 â€œThe people whom I formed for Myself Will declare My praise.
What is YHVH’s ultimate plan?
7 Elohim blesses us, That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.
8 Let all the earth fear YHVH; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to YHVH, And all the families of the nations will worship before You.
From these verses, we learn what YHVH’s plan is. It is also confirmed by the use of the Hebrew word “goyim” for nations. Three different words could have been used for nations: “ammim”,”goyim” and “leummim.” Goyim is the only one of the three that can refer to gentiles, “a national group or groups that are not Jewish, with the associative meaning of being uncultured, pagan and heathen”
1580 ×’Ö¼×•Ö¹×™ (gÃ´y): n.masc.; â‰¡ Str 1471;
- people, nation, i.e., a large group based on various cultural, physical, geographical ties, often extended clan relationships (Ge 10:5; 25:23);
- a population of an animal (Joel 1:6; Zep 2:14+);
- the Gentiles, i.e., a national group or groups that are not Jewish, with the associative meaning of being uncultured, pagan and heathen (Ne 5:8)
This same word is used when YHVH gave the promise to Abraham.
18 since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?
Israel, YHVH’s set apart people, had a mission. They had to be a light to the nations, like ambassadors for YHVH’s Kingdom. They would live according to YHVH’s ways and be an example to the other nations, and this would draw these nations to Him.
6 â€œSo keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, â€˜Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.â€™
9 â€˜It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.â€™
Another reason, and more importantly, is that YHVH has chosen Israel for the purpose of bringing salvation to the nations. How can this be? Can one people bring salvation to other people? You would think not, but they can. This is through the Messiah Y’shua, Who was born from this chosen nation. He is our salvation and the salvation of the world.
12 â€œAnd there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.â€
For this reason it is written that salvation is from the Jews (John 4 22).
This will come to pass! Why you would want to be a part of Israel
YHVH’s plan will come to pass; that which He said, He will surely do!
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, â€˜My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasureâ€™;
We learn from the book of Zechariah, that YHVH will be king over all the earth. Knowing this, will you choose to be a part of His people?
9 And YHVH will be king over all the earth; in that day YHVH will be the only one, and His name the only one.
Further along in this passage, we see that even the nations would have to go up to Jerusalem for the feast of Sukkot.
16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, YHVH of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
The question now remains: do you want to remain a part of the nations and obey out of fear of punishment, for if you do not obey, you will be punished…
17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, YHVH of hosts, there will be no rain on them. 18 If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which YHVH smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
OR do you choose to be a part of Israel, YHVH’s chosen people and be a part of the elect and share in the blessings. YHVH promised to bless those who keep His covenant and who are obedient to His instructions. He gave these instructions to teach His people how to live. It was given for their benefit and ours if we choose to join in.
There is another reason you would want to be part of YHVH’s chosen. It is about the end times and the inheritance. The chosen of YHVH will inherit the land.
9 â€œI will bring forth offspring from Jacob, And an heir of My mountains from Judah; Even My chosen ones shall inherit it, And My servants will dwell there.
We can go into a lot more detail about this and will in a future article. This is just to give you a glimpse of what is in store for YHVH’s elect. Now that we know that we want to be a part of Israel, how do we join?
How do we become part of His people?
Do we have to be born into this nation or is there another way of becoming a part of Israel?
We find many examples from Scripture of people who were not native born Israelites, yet who chose to join themselves to Israel. When YHVH led Israel out of Egypt, there was a mixed multitude who joined themselves to Israel (Ex 12:38). Another great example is Rahab (Jos 2) and Ruth; Rahab, hid the spies in Jericho, her family was spared and she joined the nation of Israel. Her son Boaz later, became the great grandfather of King David. Ruth chose to join herself to Naomi’s people (Ruth 1:6) and later became the wife of Boaz. It is clear from these examples, that anyone who chooses to join themselves to YHVH’s people and live according to His ways, can become a part of the nation of Israel.
Let us verify this statement with some more Scripture.
What did Y’shua teach?
When a Centurion came to Y’shua to ask Him to heal His servant, He was commended by Y’shua for His great faith (Matt 8:5-10) and his servant was healed.
Another example is the Canaanite woman of the Syrophoenician race, who asked Y’shua to cast the demon out of her daughter. At first Y’shua was reluctant, saying: â€œI was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.â€ and then â€œLet the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the childrenâ€™s bread and throw it to the dogs.â€ (Matt 15:22-28) However, she persisted and after He saw her faith, He cast the demon out of her daughter.
There are many more examples in Scripture that prove that Y’shua was not indifferent to Gentile believers.
What happened in the time of the Apostles?
Later we see YHVH giving Peter the vision on the roof (Acts 10:9-16). Please do not stop reading after the passage about the vision for the explanation of this vision was given later.
34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: â€œI most certainly understand now that Elohim is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.
Please continue to read Acts 11:1-18 especially verse 18. Here Peter gave an account, to the believers in Jerusalem, of what happened to him when he saw the vision. Understand also that gentiles were considered unclean according to the halacha (laws) of the Pharisees. A Jew would not go into the house of a gentile for this reason. With this vision, YHVH showed Peter that gentiles could also enter in and YHVH confirmed it by giving them, the gentiles, the same gift of His Spirit.
18 When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified Elohim, saying, â€œWell then, Elohim has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.â€
What did Paul say about gentiles?
6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Messiah Y’shua through the gospel,
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Y’shua. 29 And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abrahamâ€™s descendants, heirs according to promise.
So, how do we become part of Israel? It could not be any clearer than this. Whoever is a believer in Messiah Y’shua and obedient to YHVH’s instructions, as He was, is a fellow heir, an Israelite.
Now, what are we to do, being a part of Israel?
The next question would be: What are we to do now that we are a part of Israel? The answer is found in Scripture.
22 â€˜There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am YHVH your Elohim.â€™ â€
There is one standard or one set of instructions for all believers, whether part of Israel, genetically, or by choice. It is spelled out for us in the book of Numbers.
13 â€˜All who are native shall do these things in this manner, in presenting an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to YHVH. 14 â€˜If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to YHVH, just as you do so he shall do. 15 â€˜As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before YHVH. 16 â€˜There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.â€™ â€
There is ONE LAW for Jew and Gentile, to teach anything different is false and contrary to Scripture.
Acts 15, the Jerusalem Council
You may wonder how Acts 15 fits into all this? Some teach that this passage makes a distinction between Gentile and Jewish believers. They use this to teach that Gentiles do not have to keep YHVH’s commandments or only some of them.
First, remember that YHVH does not change!
19 â€œElohim is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
6 â€œFor I, YHVH, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
Y’shua confirmed this when He said the following:
17 â€œDo not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 â€œFor truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 â€œWhoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 â€œFor I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Keep this in mind as you read this passage in Acts and remember that if something sounds like a contradiction, it could be because we don’t understand it correctly. YHVH does not change!
It is also important to understand the historical context of this passage. We read here that some were teaching that you have to become a Jew in order to be saved. In order to become a Jew, you had to undergo a process of proselytism. This is often referred to as becoming circumcised.
The worse part is that they taught this as a prerequisite to being saved. We know that our salvation is NOT in keeping the commandments, it never was.
1 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, â€œUnless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.â€
Presented with this problem, the assembly had to come up with a solution. James ruled the following:
20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.
Four things were decided and many people stop reading there, assuming that this is all Gentiles are required to do. Please continue to the next verse.
21 â€œFor Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.â€
These four things were necessary for new believers to do before they were allowed to go to the Synagogues on the Sabbath to learn. Refraining from these things will make it easier for them to become a part of the believing community. They would otherwise be seen as defiling the place of worship.
When we as a family, first became Torah observant, we were already believers in Y’shua so we did not do any of these things, except for eating what was strangled. To eat what is strangled is to eat meat that was slaughtered in a wrong way, allowing the blood to remain in the meat. When an animal is shot, this will happen. Anyway, we first started keeping the Sabbath and then proceeded to do more commandments as we learned. It could be very overwhelming if you have to, from one day to the next, go from keeping some commandments to keeping all the commandments. We experienced our restoration as a gradual process which is still continuing. We will continue to learn and unlearn until Y’shua returns to teach us all things.
It may have been the same for these believers, who were previously entangled in idolatry, sexual immorality, eating things strangled and shedding blood. The abstaining from blood could be referring to eating blood, or shedding blood (murder) or even having relations with a Niddah. You can read more about this topic in the article: “Family purity and the law of Niddah.” All of these will cause physical and spiritual defilement and will also offend the other believers.
When a Gentile becomes a believer, he or she becomes a part of Israel, YHVH’s chosen people. Whatever is required of native-born Israelites, in the line of Torah, is required of Gentile believers.
We have been grafted into the olive tree.
17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, have been grafted in among them, and came to share the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. And if you boast, remember: you do not bear the root, but the root bears you! 19 You shall say then, â€œThe branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.â€ 20 Good! By unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by belief. Do not be arrogant, but fear. 21 For if Elohim did not spare the natural branches, He might not spare you either. 22 See then the kindness and sharpness of Elohim: on those who fell sharpness, but toward you kindness, if you continue in His kindness, otherwise you also shall be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, shall be grafted in, for Elohim is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
Prayerfully consider this passageâ€¦ Being grafted in is not a reason to boast or to believe we are better than any other group who have the truth not yet revealed to them. Being a Torah observant believer in Y’shua is no reason to feel superior. We have not replaced Israel, we have become a part of Israel, through YHVH’s mercy and grace and through Y’shua’s sacrificial death and resurrection. Let us, being a part of Israel, be a light to the nations and proclaim Y’shua with our lives. May YHVH help us do this!
21 But everyone who does what is true comes to the light, so that all may see that his actions are accomplished through Elohim.â€ (CJB)
- Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vol. 1: Vineâ€™s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (37â€“38). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.
- Kalland, E. S. (1999). 398 ×“Ö¸Ö¼×‘Ö·×§. In R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, Jr. & B. K. Waltke, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (178). Chicago: Moody Press.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.