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The people of Israel were divided in twelve tribes. Each tribe had specific characteristics and blessings. In Numbers, chapter 2, we see that HaShem arranged them is a specific order around the Mishkan, the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

Numbers 2:2  -    “The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some  distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners 

            his family.”

The tribes were arranged on the four cardinal in clusters of 3 tribes per cardinal point. To keep order in the camp, every tribe had their individual banner and in that way it was easy to recognize the identity of each tribe.  

Tribal identity creates a sub-identity within the greater identity which was the  identity of belonging to the people of Israel. So, within a common identity, there may be different and a unique distinctiveness that separates the people in a positive way.

General unity was kept by the Israelite identity while particularity was kept by tribal identity. In this way, there can be unity in diversity. The flags of the tribes represented their particular identity within the general identity of the whole people. And, Israel was identified by the Presence of G-d within the Tabernacle!

This principle can be transferred to the Body of Messiah composed of Jews and non-Jews. In Acts 15:14 it's written: "Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.” (ESV) Through faith in the message of salvation the hearts of the gentiles are purified to be able to receive the Spirit of G-d. When this happens, they are engrafted into the Olive Tree that is Israel (Romans 11). Or, expressed differently, they become part of the Commonwealth of Israel! Addressing the nations, Paul taught:


Eph 2:12-13

12        that at that time you were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants  of                 promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

13        But now in Messiah Yeshua you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah.

The engrafted in nations do NOT become Israel nor Israelites nor Ephraimites, but a people of the Almighty among the gentiles as it is written in Romans 15:10: “And again it is said, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people."” (ESV) These people have been grafted into the heavenly olive tree, the heavenly Israel, but not in the earthly Israel.

There is however, a common element between both peoples: they are both the people of G-d, what Paul calls the One New man. The one new man is not some amorphous ‘blob’ devoid of distinctiveness; each one has a particular identity (banner) which should be kept so that there is order in the people.


1 Cor 7:17-20

17        Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.

18       Was a man already circumcised (Jewish) when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised (Gentile) when he was called? He should not be circumcised.

19        Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts.

20       Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.

In Revelation 5:9-10 it's written: “And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Those who were bought and allowed themselves to be redeemed by the Lamb are part of a heavenly priestly nation that will reign on earth. That nation is Yeshua's congregation (ecclesia) and is composed of Jews and gentiles who have a first citizenship in heaven and the second one on earth.

The general identity doesn't remove the particular or specific one; and in such way, unity, and at the same time the diversity of each one's calling, can be kept.

This is why there is no envy, nor should there be a desire for gentiles to become Jewish. Fulfill your calling and be faithful in anything that HaShem has given you. Keep your identity as a son or daughter of the living G-d whether you are Greek or Jewish! Do not assimilate and lose your identity. By doing so, we honour G-d!


Publish Date: 
Friday, May 17, 2013