ICEJ-Feast-of-Tabernacles_Israeli-flag_pilgrims participating in God's plan

Gentiles in God’s Plan of Redemption 

By: Karen Engle, ICEJ USA Managing Editor 

The story of God’s plan for the Jewish people is laid out clearly in Scripture. He created the nation of Israel for many reasons, but ultimately, it was to bring glory (a good reputation) to His name. Through His activity with Israel, the godless, gentile nations would see He is a faithful, promise-keeping, just God—and they would be drawn to Him.

When His children’s disobedience brought shame, they would be exiled from their land. A quick look at biblical history reveals Israel chased after other gods and requested a human king like the nations, showing a lack of trust in God as her King who created the nation to begin with, thus tarnishing His name.

Though Israel was unfaithful, God was not. He remained true to His word: the children of Israel were exiled in 586 BC to one nation, Babylon, and again in AD 70 when Rome destroyed Jerusalem, scattering the Jewish people to the four corners of the earth—just as He said would happen. He was also faithful in bringing them back to Jerusalem after their captivity in Babylon, as He promised through Jeremiah:

You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. (29:10 NLT)

And He is now fulfilling His promise to draw them back to the land of their inheritance from the nations to which they were scattered after AD 70. Today, before our very eyes—as persecution of the Jews continues to intensify—we are watching this great ingathering from the nations as Jews realize that the only place in the world they are truly safe is in the Land of Israel. This increase in Jewish immigration to Israel hints at several biblical prophecies that one day, God will again bring them back into the land, but this time, as Amos says, “never to be uprooted again” (9:15).

Though that story is about God’s activity with Israel and her people’s role in His plan of redemption to draw nations “without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12) near to Him, gentiles have a role in that plan too. However, that role hasn’t always been clear.

Gentile Responsibility in God’s End-Time Plan

Think of a jigsaw puzzle. Often, people find the corner pieces and then search for edge pieces to complete the picture frame. Slowly, as they search for and find middle pieces and connect them one to another, a more complete picture begins to come together. If a piece is missing, it affects the image of the picture.

The gentile piece, for centuries, has been the missing piece of the puzzle. As gentiles begin to understand how they fit into this puzzle and their responsibility in God’s end-time work related to the Jewish people, a glorious picture of His great mercy to all, Jew and gentile, comes into focus.

  1. Gentiles are to bless the Jewish people.

The Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1–3)

In Genesis 12:1–3 God reveals how He is going to restore the breach in His relationship with His people—by creating a nation (the nation of Israel) that will be the vehicle He will use to bring about world redemption. But at the end of this passage in verse 3 is a call specific to gentiles who are not part of that Jewish nation: God will bless gentiles who bless Israel.

God’s design from the beginning was that we would participate in the well-being and survival of His children. Indeed, we are blessed as we participate in His plan of redemption brought about through the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

  1. Gentiles are to declare what God is doing today.

Hear the word of the Lord, O nations (gentiles), and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.” (Jeremiah 31:10)

Tucked alongside Jeremiah’s prophecy of God regathering scattered Israel is a call to gentiles: they are to “hear” (understand) a prophecy of a work of the Lord so incredible that the nations cannot but take notice of it and “declare it in the isles afar off.”

The Hebrew word for “isles” appears 36 times in the Old Testament, and though it is most often translated as “islands” or “coastlands,” it can also mean “region” or even “countries.” Likely Jeremiah was referencing lands west of the Mediterranean, which could include Western Europe, Britain, and even America (had he known about them!).

Through Jeremiah, God called non-Jews who believe His Word and are ready to obey it to proclaim to countries beyond Israel that God is bringing His children back home—and when gathered into one fold, He will keep His flock from being scattered again.

  1. Gentiles are to help bring God’s people home.

Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath (sign) to the nations (gentiles), and set up My standard for the peoples; they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.” (Isaiah 49:22)

Not only are gentiles commissioned to spread the news the world over about how God is regathering His people, but they are also to play a part in that regathering. Gentiles are to carry Jewish people home “in their arms” and “on their shoulders.” But Isaiah uses interesting wording to describe the significance of what that means.

A “standard” was a banner erected high on a mountain in times of war to assemble soldiers in case of an invasion. Isaiah says a day is coming when God will summon gentiles as a military leader musters his forces for battle to help bring the Jewish people home—but with great care and tenderness, as a father carrying his children.

  1. Gentiles are to remove obstacles.

Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway! Remove the stones. Raise a banner (standard) for the nations. (Isaiah 62:10)

God also calls the nations to help prepare the path for Israel’s homecoming by removing anything that might hinder their return. Notice Isaiah speaks of the construction of a highway where impediments are removed so the Jewish people’s physical passage is safe and easy and even escorted by gentile nations. Earlier in chapter 57:14, Isaiah issues a similar calling to build up, prepare the road, and “Remove obstacles out of the way of my people” (57:14 NIV).

  1. Gentiles are to bring wealth to Israel and rebuild.

The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, but in My favor I have had mercy on you. Therefore your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession. (Isaiah 60:10–11)

During the Holocaust, Jews were stripped of all their earthly belongings, down to the gold fillings in their teeth. Yet Isaiah repeatedly speaks of a day when the “sons of foreigners” (gentiles) will not only build up Israel’s walls but in a divine turn of events, bring “the wealth of the gentiles” to Israel, hinting at helping Israel through finances.

  1. Gentiles are to speak words of comfort to Israel.

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1–2)

As Israel’s war with Hamas continues and tensions heighten in the north—not to mention Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel in early April—an end to Israel’s warfare seems far off. Yet God has not forgotten His people. Elsewhere in Chapter 40 Isaiah speaks of a time of rest, peace, and coming redemption for Israel, and here in verses 1–2, commissions the gentiles to comfort and stand with them until that day comes.

  1. Gentiles are to announce the coming Savior!

The disciples were commissioned to go into all the world and preach the message of a Jewish Savior and His life, death, and resurrection. For 2,000 years, the church has proclaimed this message to every nation on earth. Now the time is approaching for Israel’s Savior to return to Zion, and the prophet Isaiah says to: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes!” (Isaiah 62:11 NIV).

ICEJ Director Juergen Buehler writes that no other nation has suffered more than the Jews, but now, God is asking the church “to proclaim in love that the greatest chapter in their entire history is about to unfold.” Israel’s physical return to the land points to something more profound: an Aliyah—the spiritual return of the children of Israel to their God.

  1. Gentiles are to pray.

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:6–7)

Though the Bible outlines several practical tasks for Christians related to His work with Israel, the call to pray undergirds everything. Ultimately, God will cause all He has spoken in His Word to come to pass. He will bring His people home from the nations to which they were scattered. But as ICEJ USA Director Susan Michael writes, we are responsible to pray those promises through.

A New Spirit and Changed Hearts

The idea of God regathering His people to the land promised to them through Abraham first shows up in Deuteronomy 30:4–6:

If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Don’t miss that linked to Israel’s future regathering to a particular piece of real estate is God’s promise to put a new spirit in them and change their hearts. It’s a promise of eternal life, salvation, and restoration that ICEJ Aliyah Director Howard Flower says, “resonates well with the message of the gospel.” Except for a remnant, Flower writes, “the Jews are blind and deaf to the gospel until such time as the Lord touches their hearts and gives them new life.”

One way we can partner with God in this coming restoration of Israel is to help the Jewish people come home to the land He says is theirs to possess. According to Isaiah, doing so is more than a physical act of love: “Isaiah 66:20 describes the act of gentiles bringing His people home—the people He loves and will use to bless the whole earth—as so sacred it is likened to ‘bringing an offering to the Lord,’” writes Dr. Michael. “What a wonderful image depicting the biblical significance of the return of the Jews to their homeland.”


Gentile participation in God’s plan for the redemption of Israel has been the missing piece of the puzzle for centuries. But as Adam Berkowitz writes, “When the Jewish State rose up from the ashes of the Holocaust, it brought with it something entirely new and unexpected: a movement of Christian-funded organizations that see it as their God-given mission to bless the Jewish people and assist in their return to the Land while also helping to rebuild Zion.

God is waking up Christians to an understanding of what their posture should be toward the Jews and their role in His end-time activity with them—and it is nothing short of a miracle. The full picture of what God intended for Jews and gentiles is beginning to take form. For Christians, there are two ways to respond: sit on the sidelines and watch the greatest story of all time play out, or be an active participant in that story.

I choose the latter.

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Join the daily ICEJ Global Prayer Gathering at 9:00 a.m. (EST) and pray with others around the world for Israel and the nations.