A PEOPLE SET APART
Out of all the Gentiles, God set one man apart for Himself. From this man He made a new people, physically and covenantally distinguished from all the others. The circle in the diagram surrounds those people and indicates their distinctness from all the Gentiles.
The new people created from Abram was to be different and set apart from the Gentiles. "Behold, a people who dwells apart, and shall not be reckoned among the Gentiles." (Num. 23:9) Yet strangely enough, in instituting the covenant, God said, "No longer shall your name be called Abram [exalted father], but your name shall be Abraham [father of a multitude]; for I will make you the father of a multitude of goyim." (Gen. 17:5) In setting Abraham apart to be the father of the Jews, God also declared His intention to make him the father of a multitude of Gentiles.
The change of Abraham's name had great significance. Nevertheless, for clarity, the Bible later refers to "Abraham" whether speaking of him before his name was changed of after. This is true both in Tanakh (cf. Is. 51:2), and in the New Covenant Scriptures. (cf Gal.3:6,8,9,16,18; Rom. 4:3,9,12,13) God instituted the covenant of circumcision with Abram to set apart this new people. "This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your seed after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you." (Gen. 17:10-11)
God's purpose was to keep Israel holy, to have a people to worship Him, and Him alone, in Spirit and in Truth. "When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to do according to the detestable things of those Gentiles. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
"For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For those Gentiles which you shall dispossess listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so." (Dt. 18:9-14)
In each book of the Law of Moses, God taught the Israelites to be separate from the Gentiles, and not to live like them. Upon redeeming them out of Egypt, He commanded, "You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes." (Lev.18:3) "You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds." (Ex. 23:24)
Before the children of Israel entered the land of Israel, the Lord again warned them against the idolatry of the Gentiles. "You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you. . . . For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth." (Dt. 7:2-4, 6)
The Lord had called Israel to be holy, which necessitated physical separation from the Gentiles. He promised terrible judgments if the Jewish people allowed the Gentiles to remain in their midst and if they committed the abominations of the Gentiles. The ultimate judgment would be exile among the Gentiles. If the Jewish people would not be separate, if they would not be different, then God would banish them to live among the Gentiles. (Please see ISRAEL'S SIN AND GOD'S FAITHFULNESS.)
Diagram 1 is the first of a series that portrays the relationship of Jews, Gentiles, and the Church. None of the diagrams are intended to be to scale. They simply portray the nature of the relationship. DIAGRAM 1 portrays the people of Israel, which is differentiated from the goyim by the covenant of physical circumcision.
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In the Beginning
The Goyim Were First
The Origins of Israel's Separation
The Gentiles who joined themselves to Israel
A People Set Apart
Jews and Hebrews
You Shall Be Cut Off
The Faithful Remnant of Israel