April 27, 2023
“The descendants of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, had gone up with the men of Judah from the City of Palms to the Wilderness of Judah, which was in the Negev of Arad.”
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“The descendants of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, had gone up with the men of Judah from the City of Palms to the Wilderness of Judah, which was in the Negev of Arad. They went to live among the people.” Judges 1:16 (NCSB)
The term “to go up” in the Jewish mindset denotes more than a person’s direction of travel. The Hebrew word is “aliyah” (ah-lee-‘yah). Aliyah is representative of “going up” to Jerusalem to worship.
Because modern Israel is a Jewish state, its government recognizes the birthright of all Jews throughout the world to immigrate. This process of repatriation is called “making aliyah.” In essence, by allowing Jews to immigrate, the State of Israel provides Jews the opportunity to “go up” and worship the Lord in Jerusalem.
When the Bible makes the point of including Moses’ “non-Jewish” relatives settling in the land as “going up,” it sends a powerful message. That is, Gentiles WERE allowed to settle in the land, and God considered them quite different from the Canaanites who fought against Israel. Moses’ in-laws had a legitimate, God-honoring place among God’s people.
There is no Old Testament Biblical record of the Lord denying any Gentile who honestly seeks to know and follow Him. On the other hand, He will rebuke and chastise His own children who turn away from Him.
The hope of this passage is that God wants for ALL men to come unto repentance, and He always has wanted it that way. He chose for the Kenites to be included alongside the Israelites as legitimate settlers. At the risk of being redundant, it is important for us to remember that God has always allowed Gentiles to believe in Him. Furthermore, He has always accepted those Gentiles (who converted from idolatry to Him) to be included alongside His own people. For example, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (the wife of the Hittite) were all Gentile women; yet we find them listed in the Davidic/Messianic genealogy of Matthew 1. Consider the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“No foreigner who has joined (converted) himself to the Lord should say, ‘The Lord will exclude me from His people.’” Isaiah 56:3a (HCSB)
These days (since the resurrection of Jesus), our spiritual identity is also not determined by our genetic bloodline; it is Messiah’s blood that counts! The test of a true follower of God is not, “Who’s your daddy?” Rather, it is, “Who’s your Father?”
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©Steve Wiggins 2021