A Critical Evaluation of Selected Articles in Relation to Old Testament Principles
This essay demonstrates the relevance of the principles of “גֵּר are able to join in worship of Yahweh” and “Even Israel are sojourners in their own land” to the present day, and includes applications and difficulties in dealing with strangers in the church.
The two principles to be discussed are that “גֵּר are able to join in worship of Yahweh”  and “Even Israel are sojourners in their own land”. גֵּר were seen as the resident aliens who were committed to Israel and Yahweh. Yahweh also commands that Israel should not forget they too were once sojourners in Egypt and in fact were even sojourners when they possessed the land of Canaan; Yahweh owned the land and He owned their hearts.
The evidence in the Old Testament of Yahweh not only allowing and encouraging but commanding the גֵּר to participate in worship of Him comes in various formats. Yahweh places conditions, or boundaries, upon their participation whilst maintaining the precept that He is the Almighty, the King of Creation, and most worthy of creation’s adoration. It is crucial to note in Isaiah 45:22-23 this latter concept, often neglected, but also echoed in Romans 14:11:
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ ”
The גֵּר were welcome to present sacrifices for the Levites to perform on their behalf, with the same restrictions and conditions as the Israelites. Worship of Yahweh also included festivals; גֵּר were allowed to participate in Passover as well as other important holy celebrations with the provision they were circumcised, just as all Israelites were commanded. There is a recurring pattern: for the majority of the time, the גֵּר were included and accepted so long as they were obedient in the same way as God’s people; minor exceptions did take place but for the purpose of this study the main principles shall be extracted and discussed.
The Septuagint translates the Hebrew word גֵּר as προσηλυτος. When it appears in the New Testament, this word is generally translated into English as the word “convert” or “proselyte”. The implication is that these are non-Jews coming into the Judaism, or possibly the church. It would seem that those described as proselytes in Acts were proselytes to Judaism who also came into the church, since so few of the converts are described as proselytes, and generally in a situation where proselytism to Judaism was the most reasonable assumption.
Throughout the Old Testament narrative, Yahweh reminds Israel they have been set apart and even the Promised Land is His possession; they are to enjoy its prosperity and be the guardian of the area. Yahweh implies that life here is short and eternity is long; their hearts should be set on things to come. In the New Testament we can see Peter reiterating the point: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”
How these principles apply within a Church situation today can be seen in Colossians 3:1-4:6. Whilst the whole passage is relevant the key verses are:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth . . . .
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all . . . .
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
The whole of creation is to praise God and as previously demonstrated from Isaiah and Romans every human should and shall worship God. In regard to non-believers who enter the lives and churches of Christians, it is the duty of God’s people to direct them to Yahweh – the Lord of all.
Though Christians may come from varied cultures they are all born sinners but those who are “in Christ” are all one family. While in their depravation, they will continue to experience the pervasiveness of sin, and the devastation it causes. “Salvation in Christ more than overcomes the effects of the fall, rendering salvation certain for all believers.”
In expansion: whilst Christians are steeped in the effects of the fall, Christ, in rendering salvation and guaranteeing eternity for them, also paved the way for all Christians to become family.
As a family, believers should be reaching out to those who are in some way an outsider; which effectively includes every person in society depending on which aspect of their life is examined. What Christians must also realise is whomsoever should enter a church property instantly becomes an alien. This is especially true of a non-believer visiting a religious precinct. Will Humes puts it well when he says:
It would seem to follow naturally then that the church should reach out to all people, period. There are no ifs, ands, or buts here. This means the church must seek to minister to people of all races, to people of all creeds, to people whose lifestyles are at odds with our own, to outcasts as well as to those in positions of power.
This concept, once firmly understood, leads to the Pauline teaching of Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Difficulties may include cultural differences, limited communicative ability, inappropriate resources, lack of relevant skills, sinful hearts, and poor attitudes. With a more specific problem other issues could be added to this list. The solution, sadly, is never easy; though it is certain that the spiritual blessings reaped from longsuffering, whilst undertaking such a battle, would greatly aid in the sanctification process.
In conclusion it has been demonstrated the principles of “גֵּר are able to join in worship of Yahweh” and “Even Israel are sojourners in their own land”, are clear throughout scripture and have ongoing relevance today in the area of dealing with strangers in the church.
Alastair R. McEwen, The Adam – Christ Concept. 1974. Section III, Chapter VIII, page 99.
From the unpublished work: Will Humes. Journeying Home: An Understanding of the Church and its Mission for Sojourners of the Way. This article can be found at http://willhumes.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/welcoming-the-strange1.pdf
 As shown by Exodus 12:48
 As shown by Leviticus 25:23
 As shown by Leviticus 17:8-9, 22:18-24; Numbers 15:14-15
 As shown by Numbers 9:14
 As shown by Numbers 15:26 and 19:10
 As shown by Matthew 23:15 and Acts 13:43
 As shown by Acts 6:5 and 2:10
 As shown by 1 Chronicles 29:15-16
 1 Peter 2:11
 Alastair R. McEwen, The Adam – Christ Concept. 1974. Section III, Chapter VIII, page 99.
 From the unpublished work: Will Humes. Journeying Home: An Understanding of the Church and its Mission for Sojourners of the Way. This article can be found at http://willhumes.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/welcoming-the-strange1.pdf