I was really surprised and encouraged last week with the response I received from the message: "Who Are the Gentiles?" I think I received more feedback on that message than I ever have. So, I guess it is a subject that is of interest. So let's spend some more time looking at this subject. I think this is an important subject, because there are those within Preterism that say that the term "Gentiles" refers ONLY to the ten northern tribes of Israel, and thus the Bible is written solely and entirely to national Israel. And, therefore, there is nothing in the Bible for US; it is all about Israel. Well if you believe that this is true, why would you even bother with the Bible? Once you learned that none of it applied to you, including salvation, why wouldn't you just throw it out and go on?
I received an e-mail last week from a man who wrote this, "I was raised in the Israel Identity or Christian Identity movement (as it is sometimes labeled). They are variants of the Anglo-Israel movement. By God's rich grace I was allowed to see the errors in that thinking. Fulfilled eschatology was a major factor in my re-orientation." So Preterism helped him come out of that "Identity" movement, and yet there are those in Preterism that are trying to pull us into it.
There is a lot of confusion as to who the Gentiles are and as to who Israel is. I ran across a new view this week of who Israel is. Listen to these quotes from the website:
http://www.angelfire.com/ill/hebrewisrael/printpages/israelandgentiles.html "Israylite Heritage": "Yahshuah said he was not sent to Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists etc. He was sent to the true Hebrews a.k.a. African Americans." Notice that they don't say he was sent to Africans, but African Americans. If Yeshua was sent to African Americans, He came at the wrong time and to the wrong place.
"Israylite Heritage" goes on to say, "The same love you have for Yah and Yahshuah is the same love you must have for True Israel, so-called African Americans. You as a Gentile can be grafted into the family of Yah, and become part of the commonwealth of Israel. You must follow the laws Yah gave to Israel through the mouth of his servant Moses." So we become part of Israel through Law keeping? In Ephesians 2 Rabbi Sha'ul, who was a true Hebrew, says:
But now in Christ Yeshua you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13 NASB
We are brought near, not by the Law keeping, but by the blood of Christ.
The "Israylite Heritage" website also says, "There are Gentiles who KNOW AND PREACH THE NAMES OF YAH AND YAHSHUAH, THEY KNOW ABOUT THE FEAST DAYS AND KEEPING THE LAWS. BUT THEY DON'T KNOW AND EXCEPT THAT WE SO CALLED BLACKS ARE THE BIBLICAL ISRAELITES." According to what was previously said, it is not just blacks that are Israel, but American blacks.
This is a new one to me. So we have British Israelism saying that white Europeans are the true Israel, and we have "Israylite Heritage" website saying that Blacks are the true Israel. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say one of them is wrong. As a matter of fact, they are both wrong.
We talked last week about the term Jews and Gentiles. We looked at Israel's history and saw that after the death of Solomon the kingdom was divided into the ten Northern tribes and the two Southern tribes, known as Israel and Judah. The term "Jews" referred to the Southern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, was divorced by Yahweh because of sin and was dispersed throughout the nations, and became part of the nations, or Gentiles. Yahweh said they were not His people, and He was not their God. Because of this there are some who say that the term "Gentiles" or "nations" refers only to Israel.
Last week I said that "Gentiles" is a bad translation. It is translated from the Hebrew words, "goy" (singular) and "goyim" (plural) and the Greek words, "ethne," (singular) or "ethnos," (plural). This word is best translated as "nations," representing sometimes the nation of Israel, sometimes the dispersed ten Northern tribes, sometimes non-Israelites, and sometimes everybody, as in "all nations."
So sometimes "goy" refers to the nation Israel. Yahweh says to Abram:
And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; Genesis 12:2 NASB
Here "goy" refers to the twelve tribes of Israel. It's easy to see that "goy" could not be translated as "Gentile" here. That would make no sense.
The Greek term ethnos can be used of the ten Northern tribes as seen in:
even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. Romans 9:24 NASB
Paul says that the called are, "Not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles"—what does Paul mean by this? Most see this as saying that God not only chooses some out of Israel to be vessels of mercy, but He chooses some from the Gentiles also. Although that is true, I don't think that is what Paul is saying here. The word "Gentiles" here is from the Greek ethnos, which is much better translated as: "nations." Chapters 9-11 are all about Israel, and I think what Paul says here is dealing only with Israel, the ten Northern tribes.
The Gentiles Paul is referring to are mentioned in:
Yet the number of the sons of Israel Will be like the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place Where it is said to them, "You are not My people," It will be said to them, "You are the sons of the living God." Hosea 1:10 NASB
These Gentiles are identified as the "Children of Israel." So Paul called Israelites, the ten Northern tribes, "ethnos." Romans 9:26 and Hosea 1:10 are referring to the same people. So at times the ten Northern tribes are called, "goy or ethnos." But these terms are not exclusive to the Northern kingdom of Israel. For example:
saying, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. Mark 10:33 NASB
Here ethnos is not referring to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but to the Romans who were non-Israelites. So sometimes "nations" is used of the nation of Israel, sometimes of the dispersed ten Northern tribes, and sometimes for non-Israelites. Its meaning must be determined by its context.
Some people have the idea that Yahweh dealt only with Hebrews in the Old Covenant and thus He deals only with Hebrews in the New Covenant. Well let's look at the Tanakh and see what it tells us about Yahweh's dealings with non-Israelites:
"But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. Exodus 12:48 NASB
The word "stranger" here is ger, which means: "a foreigner:—alien, sojourner, stranger." The "you" is the nation Israel. Notice what it says, "let him come near...," and "he shall be like a native...." So here is a non-Israelite, a goy, worshiping Yahweh like a native. He has attached himself to Israel and is worshiping Yahweh. So what we call "Gentiles," non-Israelites, could worship Yahweh, but only through Israel.
'And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. Leviticus 17:10 NASB
The word "aliens" here is also ger. So here we have Israel, the twelve tribes, and non-Israelites, goy, under the same laws. This "alien" could be "cut off from his people," which means he was counted as one of the people of Israel:
'When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 'The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:33-34 NASB
Stranger here is ger. The "ger" is to be treated as a native, an Israelite. They are to love the ger, the non-Israelite, as themselves:
'There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the LORD your God.'" Leviticus 24:22 NASB
The native, Israelite, and the ger, [gair] non-Israelite are to live by the same Torah. We see this also in:
'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 the LORD, just as you do so he shall do. '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 the LORD. Numbers 15:14-15 NASB
We see this all through the Tanakh, the ger live and worshiped with the Israelites, abiding by the same Torah.
Notice what the ger's position will be in the Messianic Kingdom:
When the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. Isaiah 14:1 NASB
Here "ger" are distinct from Jacob and Israel, they are non-Israelites. The "nations," non-Israelites, would then be joined to Yahweh when Ephraim and Judah were re-united.
Notice what Ezekiel says about the Messianic Kingdom:
"You shall divide it by lot for an inheritance among yourselves and among the aliens who stay in your midst, who bring forth sons in your midst. And they shall be to you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. "And in the tribe with which the alien stays, there you shall give him his inheritance," declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 47:22-23 NASB
Did you catch that? The "ger" are to be as native-born and share the inheritance of Israel. So the Bible is not just about Israel; Yahweh has always made provision for the goy to share the inheritance of Israel in the New Covenant.
Look at King Solomon's prayer to Yahweh at the time of the dedication of the Temple:
"Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name's sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name. 1 Kings 8:41-43 NASB
The "foreigner" here is from the Hebrew nokry, which means: "foreign, non-relative, alien, foreigner, stranger." Notice that the "foreigner" is "not of Israel," he is a goy. Solomon wanted "all the peoples of the earth to know Yahweh... as Israel does." So in time the "ger" were assimilated culturally and religiously into Israel. Doeg the Edomite, for instance, was a worshiper of Yahweh by the time of Saul (1 Sam. 21:8), as was Uriah the Hittite in the reign of David (2 Sam. 11:11):
In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD near its border. It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. Isaiah 19:19-21 NASB
Again we see that in the Messianic Kingdom the Egyptians, who were goy, will know Yahweh.
Isaiah 56 contains an incredible prophecy:
Thus says the LORD, "Preserve justice and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come And My righteousness to be revealed. Isaiah 56:1 NASB
This is about the Messianic Temple in the Messianic Kingdom:
Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, "The LORD will surely separate me from His people." Nor let the eunuch say, "Behold, I am a dry tree." Isaiah 56:3 NASB
The word "foreigner" here is nekar, which means: "a foreigner of alien." It is referring to someone not from the tribes of Israel, a non-Israelite. The "His people" is Israel. Drop down to verse 6:
"Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath And holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." Isaiah 56:6-7 NASB
These "foreigners" have joined themselves to Yahweh the God of Israel. Now notice carefully verse 8:
The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, "Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered." Isaiah 56:8 NASB
The "others" are different from Israel. When Yahweh gathered together the tribes of Israel, He also gathered in non-Israelites, you and me.
Throughout the Tanakh Yahweh has promised to reunite the twelve tribes and to make them one with one leader. This is fulfilled in the New Covenant as Yahweh gathers the tribes together through faith in Yeshua. And along with Israel the "goy" are coming to faith in Christ.
Let's look at a verse in the New Testament that seems to teach that the "goy" will also be saved in the Messianic Kingdom:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44 NASB
Many have claimed that the man in the parable represents the sinner who, when he finally realizes the true value of salvation, gives up everything to obtain it. This explanation, however, runs contrary to the whole message of the Scriptures that salvation is free to the sinner, without money or price; in fact there is nothing he or she can do of themselves to obtain it.
This common misinterpretation is that Yeshua and salvation are the treasures, and the man is a seeking sinner who sells all that he has to receive salvation. Of course, there are problems with this interpretation.
First of all, the man finds the treasure. But truth is, people don't find Yeshua, rather, He finds them. I know what people mean when they say that they found Yeshua, but in theological terms it's not accurate, for if you come to Him it's only because He found you, called you, and you simply are one who heard His voice and answered the call:
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44 NASB
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10 NASB
Yeshua does the seeking and saving. We do the running away.
A second problem is that the man sells all that he has to purchase the field. Obviously, this doesn't send the right message about salvation by grace. It looks more like works that way. But many are trying to buy their way into heaven, sadly:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Ephesians 2:8 NASB
Salvation is a gift given, not a prize earned.
In his book, Protestant Biblical Interpretation, Bernard Ramm says this: "Determine the one central truth the parable is attempting to teach. This might be called the golden rule of parabolic interpretation for practically all writers on the subject mention it with stress." Dodd writes, "The typical parable presents one single point of comparison." The details are not intended to have independent significance. Others have put the rule this way: "Don't make a parable walk on all fours." Keeping this in mind, let's look at a few details of this parable.
"Kingdom of heaven is like"—there is no real difference in the identity of Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God. Matthew uses "heaven" as a substitute for God, which would have been a common Jewish practice out of reverence for the divine name. Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God are used interchangeable in the Scriptures.
The Kingdom of Heaven is the central theme of Yeshua's preaching, according to the Synoptic Gospels. The Kingdom of God is synonymous with the Church; it is the New Covenant; it is Mount Zion, the Heavenly Jerusalem. The Kingdom of Heaven is the rule or reign of God. It is a spiritual, not geographical kingdom. God reigns in the hearts of people! Christianity is the Kingdom of God.
"Like a treasure"—what is this treasure? May I suggest to you that this treasure is Israel? It is my understanding that all the parables are about Israel:
For Jacob hath Jah chosen for Himself, Israel for His peculiar treasure. Psalms 135:4 YLT
The word "treasure" here is the Hebrew word segullah, which means: "to shut up; wealth (as closely shut up):—jewel, peculiar (treasure), proper good, special." We see this same word used of Israel in:
"The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; Deuteronomy 26:18 NASB
"For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 14:2 NASB
Again the word "possession" is the Hebrew word segullah. So Israel is Yahweh's treasure.
We see in the parable that the treasure is hidden in a field. "Hidden in the field"—who is the father of the Hebrew people? Abraham. Go back to the starting-point in Abraham's life. Did Yahweh choose him because he was godly? Was he living in separation from the idolatrous people around him? No, he was hidden away among them—one of them! Abraham was a pagan moon worshiper, a goy, when Yahweh called him.
Abraham's and Jacob's descendants become a numerous progeny, until they number some two million souls. But where were they? Working in the brick-kilns of Egypt, a company of slaves. What was there to distinguish them? What was there to denote that they were Yahweh's peculiar treasure? Nothing, the treasure was "hidden." That is where the parable begins, and that is where their history as a nation began—buried, as it were, amid the rubbish of Egypt.
"Which a man found"—who is the man? We see a "Man" in the first two parables—a Man who sowed good seed in His field (v. 24). The Lord Yeshua Himself has told us who that Man is:
And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, Matthew 13:37 NASB
If, then, the Man in the second parable represents the Son of Man, then in this fifth parable it is safe to say He is the Man also.
"Which a man found and hid again"—this is the scattering of Israel among the nations. The ten Northern Tribes rebelled and formed a separate Kingdom of Israel ruled by Jeroboam. Rehoboam retained the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi to form the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Henceforth they are spoken of in history and prophecy as Two Kingdoms, Two Houses, Two Families, Two Nations, Two Sticks, Two Sisters and Two Sons.
Rehoboam assembled a great army to march north, subdue the rebels and reunite the Israel Kingdom, but was expressly forbidden by God to do so:
'Thus says the LORD, "You must not go up and fight against your relatives the sons of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing has come from Me."'" So they listened to the word of the LORD, and returned and went their way according to the word of the LORD. 1 Kings 12:24 NASB
Some two centuries later the Northern Kingdom of Israel became so wicked and apostate that God allowed them to be conquered by the Assyrians, together with an estimated two hundred thousand Judahites from the Southern Kingdom as well. They were deported into exile from 745-676 B.C. never to return to Palestine. Thus we read:
"Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob," Declares the LORD. "For behold, I am commanding, And I will shake the house of Israel among all nations As grain is shaken in a sieve, But not a kernel will fall to the ground. "All the sinners of My people will die by the sword, Those who say, 'The calamity will not overtake or confront us.' "In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins And rebuild it as in the days of old; Amos 9:8-11 NASB
Thus was the Israel Treasure lost and hidden even as the Lord had spoken. But He promised to one day reunite the two kingdoms. Yeshua talks about this re-gathering in:
"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. "And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Matthew 24:30-31 NASB
This is the fulfillment of all those promise in the Tanakh that speak of the re-gathering of Israel, especially in conjunction with the diaspora, the scattered Northern tribes. This verse is a clear reference to the fulfillment of those promises.
"From the four winds" —that is, from the four quarters of the globe—East, West, North, and South. The Jews expressed those quarters by the winds blowing from them.
Back to our text: What is the field? The "field" is mentioned in two of the preceding parables—the field in which the good seed was sown, and the field that was over-sown by tares; and in verse 38 Christ tells us that the field is the world:
and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; Matthew 13:38 NASB
If Christ says that the field is the world in a previous parable, why would it mean something entirely different in this fifth parable of the same chapter?:
"And from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field"—in buying the whole field, He also regained the treasure which He found. The Bible tells us that the Man, Yeshua the Christ, sells all that He has and buys the field. At this point, we must notice that the picture in this parable is not focused on the treasure. In other words, the parable tells us that the Man, Yeshua, buys the field. We understand, of course, that He does it for the sake of the treasure. But it says that He bought the field. After His death and resurrection, Yeshua declared to His disciples:
And Yeshua came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18 NASB
With His death, Yeshua bought the world. Why? To save every individual? No. We see Yeshua's limited atonement in the parables that follow. He bought the world to have authority over it. The word "authority" in Matthew 28:18 is from exousia, and is often translated: "power," but it more properly means: "authority." Since His resurrection, Yeshua has been ruling the world.
But why did Yeshua buy the world and gain this authority? After telling His disciples that He had authority over the world, Yeshua says:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20 NASB
Notice the "therefore." This is why He has the authority over the world. It is so His disciples could teach all the nations. Satan has been bound, and Yeshua is plundering his house.
An important point in understanding this parable is that Christ had sent the multitude away, had entered the house and spoke this parable to His disciples only. This parable, unlike the four which precede it, was spoken to the disciples only.
The purchase is made after the treasure had been "hidden"—notice what John says:
Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Yeshua was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. John 11:51-52 NASB
Here we are told that Yeshua died not just for the nation, which is the word ethnos, and is referring to the nation Israel. But not just for the nation, but for the children of God scattered abroad. Just as in Ephesians 2 He is going to gather the nations and the children of God into one.
This phrase "children of God" is used ten time in the Scripture, never of Israel:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, John 1:12 NASB
Do you know what the previous says? "He came to His own [Israel], and those who were His own did not receive Him." But the ones who did receive Him He gave the right to become the children of God. This is a term used for believers, the elect, throughout the New Testament.
In this parable we have the treasure hidden in the field: that takes us back to the beginning of Israel's history as a nation. Second, we have the Man finding that treasure; Third, we have the Man hiding the treasure; that is Christ's judgment upon Israel because of their sin. It is referring to their dispersion abroad throughout the earth. Fourth, we have the Man purchasing the treasure and the whole field in which it was found, referring to the death of Christ. The treasure in the field is Israel. The Man in the parable is Christ. He went and sold all that He had. He who was rich became poor, and bought the field, which is the world.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46 NASB
There has been a tendency among many to say that these two Parables mean one and the same thing. It is true that there are certain important similarities between the two stories but there are also certain important differences.
Throughout the Scripture the pearl is regarded as something very costly and precious:
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. Revelation 21:21 NASB
The pearl which the merchant bought, contrary to popular theology and hymnology, is not the Lord Yeshua the Christ, neither is it Israel the Hidden Treasure. "What else," you may ask then, "did our Lord purchase with His blood?":
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28 NASB
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20 NASB
So we see that Christ died not for Israel only, but also for the Church, which is His body. The Church which is made up of those from Israel and those of the nations.
Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 1 Corinthians 10:32 NASB
Here we have Jews Greeks and the church. The "church" is a new category, it is the "one new man" of Ephesians 2:15.
So the terms "goy" and "ethnos" are used of both the ten Northern tribes of Israel and of non-Israelites. Believers, the promises of Yeshua for salvation are for all who trust in Him. Salvation is for us, non-Israelite goy who trust in Him as well as for Israelites:
And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Revelation 5:9 NASB
Yeshua's death purchased men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
So it is my understanding that our text in Ephesians 2 is referring to Israelites being united to the Jews, in accordance with Yahweh's promise to unite the twelve tribes, and it also refers to non-Israelites in accordance with Yahweh's promise that when He united the twelve tribes also save the goy. Those of Israel and those not of Israel who trust in Yeshua are joined to the "One New Man" becoming one people in the body of Christ.
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