Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”-Exodus 5:1
Just as much confusion has arisen due to God’s personal name being totally erased from our Bibles, there is also much perplexity over the use of the word “nation” in the Bible.
When reading our Bibles, it can sometimes be difficult determining whether the word “nation” is referring to gentiles, Hebrews, or all people in general.
In Hebrew, the word usually used for nation is “GOYIM”.
However, this word is NEVER used to refer to Hebrews or the nation Israel.
Because from around Genesis Chapter 12, God implemented a division that separated the Hebrews from the rest of mankind.
Prior to that, GOYIM meant just any old nation like how we would use the word nation today because obviously Israel didn’t exist at that point in time.
So understand that from around the time of Isaac, GOYIM only refers to the Gentile nations, in other words, EVERYBODY except the Hebrew people and the nation Israel.
Now, in contrast, I would like to introduce a new word which appears in verse Exodus 5:1 that refers to God’s people.
That word is AMMI.
It’s the Hebrew word for “My people” from the now famous phrase “Let my people go!” that Moses uttered many times to Pharaoh .
Let’s explore the subtle nuances of this word a bit because it reflects an important principle that will help us to better understand certain key areas of the Bible.
I would simply say that AMMI refers to a group of people who share a common heritage.
And it does NOT matter whether one is born into that heritage or is later adopted (or grafted) into it.
Keep in mind that AMMI does NOT mean “people” in the sense of random individual human beings.
If you were walking down a crowded sidewalk in New York city, you would NOT refer to the people around you as AMMI.
Again it refers to a group of people bound together by an identifiable common heritage.
From a Biblical perspective, this word means “God’s people“.
However, what’s interesting is that God will sometimes use the phrase “LO AMMI” which means “not God’s people”
when dealing with Hebrews.
When Israel is engaged in all kinds of wicked hog wild rebellion against God, God will go from calling Israel “AMMI” to “LO AMMI”.
Essentially “LO AMMI” is another way of saying “Gentiles”.
We see this phrase used when God judged the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Ephraim-Israel.
And indeed they literally did become as the Gentiles because as we all know YHVH dispersed them throughout the Gentile nations where they became completely swallowed up and lost their identity (although God is in the process of reinstating them today).
So in closing, I pose this question.
Who are God’s people or AMMI today?
My answer may surprise you.
Because I actually have two answers.
My first answer is the standard one provided by most evangelical churches.
God’s people are both Jews and Gentiles who have accepted Yeshua as their “Lord and Savior” and thus have come together to form one body.
This answer is correct as I certainly believe the Scriptures attest to this reality.
However, I think there is another reality we cannot ignore concerning unbelieving Israel today.
And that reality is that God has NOT and NEVER will abandon His original chosen people Israel even if as a nation their hearts are still hardened concerning Yeshua’s messianic credentials.
The very fact that God resurrected the nation Israel from the dead in 1948 is more than enough evidence to prove that God has not abandoned His people.
There are also numerous Scriptures in the TANACH which state that while there may be a temporary chastening, God will never forever forsake His People.
For YHVH will not desert his people,
he will not abandon his heritage.
So my second answer is that God’s chosen people is also unbelieving Israel who will eventually come to faith in Yeshua.
Whether it will be just a remnant or every ethnic Jewish/Ephraimite man, woman, and child, I can’t say for sure and of course I can’t be dogmatic about this.
As paradoxical as my answer is, this is the reality that I feel the Scriptures reflect.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery,
brothers, so that you may not be conceited:
Israel has experienced a hardening in part
until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.
And so all Israel will be saved
as it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins”
“Did God reject his people?
By no means!
I am an Israelite myself,
a descendant of Abraham,
from the tribe of Benjamin.
God did not reject his people,
whom he foreknew.
Don’t you know what the Scripture says
in the passage about Elijah
—how he appealed to God against Israel.”
“Then I heard the number of those who were sealed:
144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
from the tribe of Zebulon 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.”