This week’s Torah portion is Nitzavim. It contains more of Moses’ final admonitions to the children of Israel before they enter the promised land as well the commissioning of Joshua to succeed Moses.
The parashah is all about getting the Jewish people ready for the culminating event of their forty years in the wilderness: the conquest of Canaan.
If we look carefully, we can also find hidden within the instructions for Israel an allusion to the prophetic role that the nations will play in the redemption of the world. Deuteronomy 29 tells us that when Israel turns away from HaShem and his Torah, God will bring judgment upon the Jewish and their land. Then the nations of the world will remind the people of Israel of their sins and the reason this punishment has come upon them:
And the next generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the LORD has made it sick—the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger and wrath—all the nations will say, “Why has the LORD done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?” Then people will say, “It is because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them. Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.” (Deuteronomy 29:22-28)
Who are these non-Jews from the nations who are coming to the land of Israel and bringing the message of repentance to the Jewish people? No doubt they are Gentile followers of Yeshua. It is they who will remind Israel of their need to turn back to HaShem. These Gentiles will play a critical role in ushering in the final redemption. We can see this being played out today with the tremendous support that the majority of followers of Yeshua have for the land and the people of Israel. While this support has not led to all of Israel coming to recognize Yeshua as the promised Messiah, it has led to the strengthening of the resolve of many Jewish people toward Israel and the Torah.
The role that Gentiles play in redemption does not stop with the message of repentance and the land of Israel. We read in the next chapter of Deuteronomy that after Israel has repented of their sins and turned back to HaShem that he will once again restore the land of Israel and return the Jewish people to their home:
Then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. (Deuteronomy 30:3)
Rashi makes an interesting comment on this verse that this ingathering is not just for the Jewish people:
We find this idea also regarding the ingathering of exiles from the other nations, as the verse says, “And I shall bring back the exiles of Moab” (Jeremiah 48:47).
In this sense, it seems that part of the restoration of the earth will be that many nations, along with Israel, will return to their rightful lands from which they have been exiled. There is even evidence that Gentiles will be gathered along with Israel and brought to the promised land:
Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zechariah 8:23)
In turn, all of this is clear evidence that the nations of the earth, in particular, non-Jewish disciples of Yeshua do not just take a back seat as the redemption unfolds but instead have an active role of participation. The kingdom of heaven is ushered in by joining the roles of both the Jewish people and Gentile followers of Yeshua.
Source: First Fruits of Zion