Alright folks, since I firmly believe repetition and review is the foundation of solid learning, let’s go over everything you’ve learned about about the word GER (“foreigner” or “stranger”) so far and its implications for us as modern day believers.
YOU LEARNED THAT…although our English Bibles usually translate GER as “foreigner” or “stranger“, those words do not fully capture the true Biblical meaning of the word. The truth is there is no one English word in existence that fully encapsulates what a GER was all about from an ancient Middle Eastern and Biblical perspective.
YOU LEARNED THAT…GER in its most simplistic sense means “protected stranger” with strong emphasis being placed on the word “protected“. In the Bible, a GER is usually a gentile born into another culture or tribe who for whatever reason has decided to attach himself to Israel on a temporary or even longterm basis and the new tribe has welcomed him as part of their group.
YOU LEARNED THAT…there are times when the word GER is applied to the Israelites themselves. For example, with regards to ownership of the land of Israel, the Lord makes it clear to His People that they are just “foreigners” sojourning with Him. And within Israel, the Levites were considered as GER to the other tribes.
YOU LEARNED THAT…a GER’s life was defined by carefully laid out customs and boundaries that shaped and guided his behavior. Scripture doesn’t go into too much detail about these customs since it was common knowledge at the time. Basically, a GER was not allowed to own land and because of this they generally worked as laborers for others or they dealt in a very specific trade.
YOU LEARNED THAT… although a GER was considered a 2nd class citizen, they were given full protection under Israel’s civil laws. Understand that they weren’t considered as slaves or looked down on as misfits. If a GER remained in Israel for a long enough period of time, they were eventually full integrated into the tribe they had joined. This usually happened via intermarriage with a tribe member. Once this happened, over the passage of time, the term “protected stranger” no longer applied to that person.
YOU LEARNED THAT…the Torah is divided into civil laws and religious laws and that the religious laws are further divided into NEGATIVE COMMANDMENTS and POSITIVE COMMANDMENTS. The GER was expected to obey the NEGATIVE COMMANDMENTS but was given a free choice when it came to some of the positive commands like whether or not to observe the Biblical Feasts. However, if he did choose to participate in the positive commands, he had to do it strictly according to the dictates of the Laws of Moses.
YOU LEARNED THAT…according to Rabbi Shaul (the Apostle Paul), believers in Messiah are NOT to be classified as GERIM. In other words, gentile believers are not 2nd class citizens along with their Jewish brethren inside of what Rabbi Shaul terms the “True Israel” or “Spiritual Israel“. Interestingly, according to Paul, the modern gentile believer in Yeshua was further away from Israel than the GER was in ancient Israel. Paul calls the gentile before coming to Yeshua as nothing, people who were without hope and without God. At least, the GER in ancient Israel because he was living in the land had direct access to God’s Chosen People.
YOU LEARNED THAT…the true meaning of a believer being grafted into the commonwealth of Israel is that he becomes bound to the Biblical Covenants that God ONLY made with Israel. Understand that when I say “the Biblical Covenants that God only made with Israel”, not only am I referring to the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, but I’m also referring to the New Covenant. That’s right! There never has been and never will be such a thing as a gentile covenant. For His own purposes, HASHEM, the Creator of the Universe, has chosen the People of Israel as His divine vehicle to introduce Himself and provide salvation to the whole world.
YOU LEARNED THAT…if you’re grafted into the covenants that God only made with Israel, you’re obligated to obey the terms, conditions, teachings, and instructions of those covenants. A “lawless” lifestyle has no place in the Kingdom of HASHEM. Just as an immigrant to the United States has to pledge fidelity to the US Constitution and agree to abide by the nation’s laws, so must the gentile believer via his “spiritual immigration” so to speak, also agree to adhere to the terms of the Biblical covenants he has been grafted into.