Biblical Principle #114: Israel an Assembly of Nations

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God promised Israel would be an assembly of nations.


After Jacob deceived his father, Isaac, to secretly obtain Esau’s blessing, Isaac and Rebekah sent Jacob to Rebekah’s family in Mesopotamia in order to escape Esau’s vengeance.

1 Now Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. 2 Arise, go to Mesopotamia, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. 3 May God bless you, and increase and multiply you, that you may be an assembly of nations; 4 and give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and your seed with you, that you may inherit the land of your sojourning, which God gave to Abraham.” 5 So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Mesopotamia, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.

Genesis 28:1-5 OSB

That night, GOD appeared to Jacob in the vision referred to as Jacob’s Ladder. There, Moses wrote:

10 Now Jacob went out from the Well of Oath and went toward Haran. 11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. Then he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 So behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. Do not fear, the land on which you lie I will give to you and your seed. 14 Also, your seed shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “The Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 So he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” 18 Now Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone he put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 Thus Jacob called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city was Luz previously.

Genesis 28:10-19 OSB

Later, as Jacob was near death, he recounted these events to his son Joseph in Egypt. But this time, Jacob said something incredibly curious and important to the overall Bible story—and your and my future:

1 Now it came to pass after these things that Joseph was told, “Indeed your father is sick”; and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and went to Jacob. 2 Thus Jacob was told, “Look, your son Joseph is coming to you”; and Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed. 3 Then Jacob said to Joseph, “My God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me 4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will increase and multiply you; and I will make of you a gathering of nations, and give this land to your seed after you as an everlasting possession.’

Genesis 48:1-4 OSB

The Greek word in the Septuagint which is translated “gathering” in Genesis 48:4 is “sunagógé,” which equates to our English word synagogue. This word means “a bringing together, an assembling, a synagogue.”

The promises to Abraham included possession of a land, Canaan.

What is a land? A geographic territory or place.

Why is a land important? People (and all living creatures) live in a body and that body consumes geographic space. A land provides that space.

What would happen in this land? An assembly and an inheritance. In other words, life.

Who would receive this land? Jacob’s seed (see Genesis 28:13).

Who would Jacob’s seed include? Nations, plural (see Genesis 48:4).

This principle is among the most important in the Bible, but is also one of the most overlooked or misunderstood.

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