Identity Issues Much?
Whether you are fully on board with the “whole Israel thing”, or if you are still searching God’s heart and His Word on these matters, if you are a Gentile I am guessing this topic has at some point brought up identity issues for you. It has for me.
As a Gentile married to a Jewish believer and living in Israel, my revelation of God’s heart for His Jewish people made me feel at home in Jerusalem in the sense of fulfilling His call on my life—but that didn’t mean I felt at home. This is the home of the Jewish people.
As I read through the Hebrew Scriptures and prayed God’s promises over His people as the way He intended them to be understood, I could not help but wonder—what about me?
After the revelation hit me that I should read and interpret the Bible literally without stealing promises that were not particularly mine, my heart continued to wrestle with one painful issue—am I anywhere in the Bible?
Does God really love me?
Do I have an identity and promises as well?
Why does all of this talk about Israel suddenly make me feel so insignificant?
There’s a Place for Us
Part of the sense of being left out is that quite frankly, for many centuries, Gentiles were far off from the Lord. We were not given access to Him, as was given to the Jewish people. The Lord had not yet revealed Himself to us. “…Remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh…were at that time separated from Messiah, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:11-12)
Paul, the author of Ephesians, was not meaning to disparage nor discourage Gentiles by reminding them of the terrible plight of their past alienation but rather he was helping them to come into a deeper understanding of the amazing blessings they were now being offered.
The law of Moses was given to the Jewish people as a means of teaching His people about their own sin, about His holiness, about the need for sacrifice, and about how to train them to be set apart unto Himself—different from the rest of the world.
However, this law caused a seemingly irreconcilable division between Israel and the nations. Israel had a means of accessing the Lord, whereas the Gentiles were not even able to enter His presence—they had neither the law, nor the covenants, nor the prophets to guide them.
The nations were left to either “seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him”(Acts 17:27) as Rahab, Ruth, and Naaman did, or to choose to remain in their sin and idolatry.
“But now in Messiah Yeshua you who once were far off (Gentiles) have been brought near by the blood of Messiah. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments…that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two.” (Ephesians 2:13-15)
It was the best kept secret of the universe—one day the Lord would make His house a place for all nations! This coming reality was prophesied in places like Isaiah 56 and Zechariah 8 where the nations would be able to join themselves to Israel in varying ways in order to draw near to the Lord. But the fullness of the work that Yeshua did on the cross gave each person direct, redemptive access to the King of Kings no matter their ethnic identity. The doors to God’s presence were flung wide open!
One Big Happy Family
Our God is in the reconciliation business! The blood of Yeshua primarily reconciles sinners to the Lord, but it also reconciles the Jews and the Gentiles into one family of God. The Prince of Peace, “reconciled us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:16)
We retain our God-given identities, callings, and promises; but we also become one under the banner of Yeshua. The Lord is diverse and creative. His Kingdom is a kaleidoscope of peoples coming together to worship Him in solidarity and in power. The blood of the Lamb has given us a united testimony.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…crying out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)