God's Plan for Jews and Gentiles
If you began receiving the Jews for Jesus newsletter after hearing one of our missionaries speak at your church, you probably filled out one of our involvement cards.” Perhaps you remember the boxes we ask folks to check on the back of the card, so we know whether to send our newsletter, or gospel literature. The boxes are as follows:
- I am Jewish and do not believe in Jesus.
- I am Jewish and I believe in Jesus too.
- I am Gentile and do not believe in Jesus.
- I am Gentile and believe in Jesus too.
One of our missionaries was speaking at a church in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. When it came time to fill out the involvement cards, the pastor’s little boy was confused by the array of boxes to be checked. “Dad, what am I?” he whispered. “You’re a Gentile and you believe in Jesus, son.”
“I’m a Gentile?” the boy replied, somewhat shocked. “I thought I was a Baptist!”
Sometimes confusion over the word Gentile gives way to offense. One sister filled out the card saying she did not want to receive our newsletter, but she wanted to know why we used the word Gentile. “I do not like being called a Gentile,” she wrote.
We explained to this sister that the Bible speaks of Jews and Gentiles, and nothing derogatory is intended when we use the term. The fact is, Scriptures do make a distinction between the Jewish people and the other nations of the earth.
At a time when other nations were in idolatry, Abraham’s descendants became proclaimers of the one true God. God commanded the Israelites to live apart from the other nations. Yet some non-Jews who loved the God of Israel lived among them.
The Hebrew Bible uses several words for those who were not physically descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The most frequent word is ger, from the root lagur, which means to sojourn. Ger is translated sojourner, alien, foreigner, or stranger. It usually means one dwelling as a newcomer, but it also refers to a convert or proselyte.
The ger was a “protected citizen,” a guest, who was entitled to legal protection and permitted to participate in much of the religious life of the Jewish people. The Hebrew Scriptures taught that the alien was to be treated with love and justice, for that was how God treated Israel.
Another Hebrew word often used for those apart from Israel is goy, plural goyim. The word is translated nation(s) or Gentile(s). While this usually refers to non-Jews, it may also refer to Israel, depending on the context. In Genesis 12:1-3 God promised Abraham that He would make him into a goy gadol (great nation).
Yet another word, am, plural ammim, also means nations. In the singular, it can refer to the nation Israel; otherwise it means Gentiles.
Throughout Scripture, many passages indicate that the faithful of all nations will be included in the blessings of God. This theme is seen from Genesis to Revelation. The following passages are just a few samples of the Scriptures that tell how God’s plan of salvation was always to include both Jews and Gentiles.
While we affirm that the Jews are God’s chosen people, it is important to note that God’s plan from the beginning has always been to bless all people through the Jewish people.
Old Testament promise or principle of blessing to the non-Jew
New Testament Fulfillment or application
All families of the earth were to be blessed through Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)
God commanded that the ger enter Israel’s Sabbath rest (Exodus 20:10; 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:14)
There was no distinction in obligation between the ger and Israel. Both shared in the blessings of God; both had responsibilities to God (Numbers 15:14-15)
The promise to Abraham was not only to his descendents, but to all those who would walk by faith (Romans 4:11-13, Galations 3:8)
Jesus invites all who are weary to come unto Him, and he will give rest (Matthew 11:28)
God’s rest is for those who believe, whether Jew or Gentile (Hebrews 4:1-9)
God does not give preference to those who received the law, but will judge according to the gospel (Romans 2:10-16)
Ruth, a loyal ger, was greatly blessed by God (Ruth 1:16-18; 4:13, 21, 22)
God’s glory to be declared among the nations, goyim, and His marvelous works among all peoples, ammim (1 Chronicles 16:24)
Gentiles will have a part in the Kingdom of God (Psalm 86:9)
The Psalmist will sing praises with the nations—Jews and Gentiles together (Psalm 108:3)
All the families of the nations will worship before the Lord (Psalm 22:27-28)
Because Ruth was used to bring forth King David, she was also part of the lineage of King Messiah, Jesus (Matthew 1:6)
Jesus commanded the gospel be proclaimed to all nations (Matthew 28:19)
The nations are fellow heirs of God’s promises through the gospel (Ephesians 3:6)
Jews and Gentiles are united by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13)
Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11)
Gentiles, goyim, will come to thy light (Isaiah 60:3)
God will show mercy upon one who had not obtained mercy and will say to them which were not His people, “You are my people,” and they shall say, “You are my God” (Hosea 2:23)
Jonah preached to Gentile Nineveh, the city repented and God spared it (Jonah 3:10)
Simeon recognized Jesus as the light who would lighten the Gentiles (Luke 2:29,31)
Those who were once strangers and aliens, far from God, have now drawn near through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:11-13)
In contrast to Jonah, the early “Jews for Jesus” rejoiced because the Gentiles received the word of the Lord (Acts 15:3)