“All The Heathen”
One of the absolute essentials concerning the death of Christ is the following question:
Who Did the Lord Jesus Die For? (John 14:7, Amos 9:11-12, Acts 15:13-18, Acts 11:26)
The Lord Jesus said in John 14:7, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”
The meaning of this statement is absolutely true: “No man.”
But before the Lord Jesus was born into this world many civilizations have come and died without ever having heard of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is to become of their souls?
The answer is found in the words: “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” It means that anyone who dies without ever having heard the Gospel of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ cannot come into heaven. And the same applies to the barbarians of northern Europe and of Asia who did not hear of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ until at least 500 years later. And so, the conclusion is that the Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer and die for everyone in this world.
Who then did He die for?
Now, that is the topic that I would like to teach in this article. We read in Amos 9:11-12,
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:
That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.
Did you see those words in verse 12?
“That they may possess the remnant of Edom”
This refers to the remnant of Esau. Esau was never saved. But that does not mean that all his descendants also must remain unsaved. Our God, who is rich in mercy, has mercy on a remnant of the descendants of Esau.
Moreover, verse 12 also mentions, “All the heathen, which are called by my name.”
Who are those?
Let us see if we can work out this interesting question in this article.
These two interesting verses in Amos 9 have been quoted in Acts 15 by James, the Lord’s half brother, the son of Mary. After the Lord Jesus went back to heaven the first church in Jerusalem was headed by James, not Peter, but James. This was not the apostle James, the brother of John, for that James was beheaded by king Herod in Acts 12. During the first counsel that was held in Jerusalem circumcision of the Gentles was brought up for debate. After long deliberations and listening to Peter, and Paul, and Barnabas, then James made the final decision. He said in Acts 15:13,
And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
Did you notice, in verse 17 the words of Amos 9:12 are repeated, “All the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called.”
What does that mean?
When we search out the precise meaning of the Greek text we find that primarily it could mean two things:
1) it could mean that the name of the Lord was preached to these Gentiles,
2) it could mean that the name of the Lord is given to these Gentiles.
From the context we can see that the second meaning must be the right interpretation: The name of the Lord was given to these Gentiles, since not all the Gentiles to whom the Gospel was preached believed. In fact, only a small number of them believed the Gospel.
What was the name of the Lord that was given to these Gentiles?
In Acts 11:26 we read, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” They were called “Christians”, which means “Of the family of Christ.” They received the name of Christ.
Now we need to apply this conclusion to all the places where in the Old Testament we find the expression “Called by My Name.”
Who Are Called by My Name? (2 Chronicles 7:14, Isaiah 49:3, Matthew 2:14-15, Hosea 11:1, Isaiah 43:6-7, Jeremiah 15:16, Amos 9:12)
This is a very familiar verse in 2 Chronicles. After Solomon finished building the temple, and all his other building projects, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream to give him support for all his works, and to give him warnings for the time when they shall fall away from the true Gospel. We read in 2 Chronicles 7:14,
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
What is meant by “my people, which are called by my name”?
When we search out the Hebrew word for “called by My name”, which is “qara shem”, we find that it is primarily used for name calling. In other words, the beginning of 2 Chronicles 7:14 states that the people of God carry God’s name.
How can this be?
God’s name is Jehovah, and the people’s name was at that time Israel. These were the children of Israel which were at that time called the nation of Israel.
Has God perhaps adopted the name “Israel”?
When we search the Bible, we find that this is indeed so. In Isaiah 49 we read the 8th Servant Song that we find in the prophecy of Isaiah. There are a total of 10 Servant Songs, the last one in Isaiah 53. But in chapter 49 we find that the first 10 verses make up the 8th Servant Song, and it is a song that entirely refers to the Lord Jesus Christ.
We read in Isaiah 49:3, “And Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
This says plainly that Christ is called “Israel”. But if you still doubt that this is the right interpretation, then please turn to the ‘Gospel According to Matthew’, and read the 14th verse of chapter 2. We have here the event of the flight of Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus into Egypt, for Herod he king intended to kill the baby Jesus. Then we read in Matthew 2:14-15,
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
Where is that found in the prophets, “Out of Egypt have I called my son”?
We find in Hosea 11:1,
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
This verse does not refer to the nation of Israel which was taken out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus, but according to Matthew 2:15 this refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is here called “Israel”. And so, we have double proof that the Lord Jesus is also called “Israel”. And thus, when we read in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “my people, which are called by my name”, we must understand that Jehovah in 2 Chronicles 7:14 gives Himself the name “Israel”. This also gives further support to the notion that the Lord Jesus Christ is Jehovah. And if Christ is called Israel, then all those who are “in Christ” are also called Israel.
In Isaiah 43 we read the 4th Servant Song in Isaiah, and it is a song which refers to the church. God is addressing the church, meaning the body of saved people all over the world, whom He addresses in the beginning of this chapter as Israel, and then in verses 6 and 7 God declares that hey will be brought in from the ends of the earth. We read in Isa 43:6-7,
I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;
Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
Who does God refer to in verse 7 when He says, “every one that is called by my name”?
It means that every one who is truly saved is called Israel, which is also the name of Christ. To this the prophet Jeremiah testifies when He writes in Jeremiah 15:16,
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
When Jeremiah says, “I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts”, Jeremiah does not refer to him being named “Jehovah of Hosts”, but to him bearing the name Israel.
When we read in Amos 9:12 “All the heathen, which are called by my name”, we now understand that this refers to the remnant chosen by grace out of all the nations of the world, including the nation of Israel, and they all receive the name Israel, because they were and are “in Christ” from before the foundation of the world. Let us now look at a few examples of the word “Called” and see if we have used it properly.
Called (Genesis 1:5,8,10, Genesis 2:19, Zechariah 8:3, Zechariah 11:7, Zechariah 13:9, Malachi 1:4)
It is the Hebrew word with Strong’s Concordance number , which occurs 689 times in the Bible. Obviously I am not going to show you a list of 689 verses. But let us just look at a few verses in the beginning and a few verses at the end of this list. And let us see if this word indeed is used to call to someone with a name, or to call to give that person or thing a name.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
And now we turn to the Prophecy of Zechariah chapter 8, near the end of the Old Testament.
Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.
And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.
From these examples we can conclude that the primary use of the word is indeed for calling out a name. And so we are on the right track.
A Nation that Was Not Called by My Name (Isaiah 65:1, Hosea 1:6-10, Hosea 2:23, Romans 9:23-26)
In Isaiah 65 the Lord points to the nation of Israel as a nation to whom He has spread out His hands all the day, but they remained a rebellious people who walked after their own thoughts and not after the thoughts of God. And then God speaks of the heathen nations in Isaiah 65:1,
I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.
God says here that He was found by the heathen, a remnant from the nations of the world who formerly were not called by the name of Israel; a nation that did not labor to seek for Him, for God says in Romans 3:11, “There is none that seeketh after God.” God simply said to them, “Behold Me, Behold Me” and this was enough to draw them to the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, God is speaking of the New Testament time when He will draw a remnant from all the nations of the world to the Lord Jesus. God uses similar language when He speaks of the Gentile world in Hosea 1.
In this first chapter of Hosea, God uses the marriage of the prophet Hosea with his wife Gomer and her three children as a historical parable. It was historically true, but the spiritual meaning of all these historical events is the dominant theme of this chapter and of the following three chapters. Hosea plays the role of God, and Gomer plays the role of the harlot nation of Israel. We read in Hosea 1:6,
And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.
Therefore, Loruhamah represents the house of Israel, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel as well as the southern kingdom of Judah, which will completely be taken away, first by the kingdom of Assyria, and thereafter by the kingdom of Babylon. But then God will have mercy on the house of Judah and rescue them from their bondage to Babylon. We read in Hosea 1:7-9,
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.
Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
Now we are entering into the New Testament age. Lo Ammi is a picture of the remnant chosen by grace out of all the nation of the world. Initially we were all by nature the children of wrath, even as others. We were not His people, and on the way to Hell, and this condition applies to Gentiles as well as those who were born as natural descendants of Jacob. We read in Hosea 1:10,
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people (Loammi), there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
“The place where it was said to them” refers to the Bible. This is the place where it was said to them. There is no other place in the world that can fulfil this promise. When we have received our regenerated soul, God says to us here in the Bible, “Ye are the sons of the living God”. God says in Hosea 2:23,
And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy (Ruhamah) upon her that had not obtained mercy (Loruhamah); and I will say to them which were not my people (Loammi), Thou art my people (Ammi); and they shall say, Thou art my God.
In other words, a remnant from the house of Israel, Loruhamah, as well as a remnant from the Gentile nations, Loammi, shall obtain mercy and shall be called the sons of the living God. We know that this is the right interpretation, for God says so in Romans 9.
In this chapter of Romans God revealed His plan of salvation for mankind, and His plan entails that He has reserved for Himself vessels of mercy, and the rest of mankind He calls vessels of wrath. This is God’s plan. He is the infinitely wise God. This is the best plan He could have designed, for if there would have been a better plan, then God would not be infinitely wise. Romans 9:23-26,
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
As he saith also in Osee (Hosea), I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
When God reveals to us that we are saved by grace, through the faith that He puts within us, and that He has made us children of the living God, then this prophecy from Hosea and from Romans 9 has found its fulfillment. Then the nation that was not called by My name from Isaiah 65:1 has been identified.
The House Which Is Called by My Name (Jeremiah 7:10-11,14,30, Jeremiah 32:34, Jeremiah 34:15, 1 Kings 8:43)
We now understand who the people are that are called by the name of God. They always refer to the remnant chosen by grace out of all the nations of the world.
But what is “the house that is called by My name”?
God is definitely referring to a building made by man; the temple in Jerusalem. We read in Jeremiah 7:10-11,
And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?
Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.
In verse 11 God emphasizes that this building was a house that was called by His name. And in verse 14 God compares this building with Shiloh. Shiloh was the name of a city which was abandoned after the Ark of the Covenant fell into the hands of the Philistines, which occurred through the sin of the priests of those days who used the Ark of the Covenant as a “good-luck-charm”. We read in Jeremiah 7:14,
Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.
At this time in history the nation of Judah had completely lost their proper mode of worship, and God was not pleased with their worship in the temple. We read in Jeremiah 7:30,
For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it.
When we think of the name of the house which is called by the name of God, we must harmonize it with those that are truly worshipping there. And certainly there will always be a remnant chosen by grace from Israel who will worship there. And since God’s name is Israel, it stands to reason that this building, the temple in Jerusalem, should be called “the glory of Israel”.
And this does not refer to the apostate part of Israel, but to the Israel of God, those who are truly saved. This conclusion is also borne out by the prayer of Solomon. In 1st Kings chapter 8 we read about the dedication of the new Temple in Jerusalem, and Solomon delivered the prayer of dedication.
1 Kings 8:43
Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.
This house serves to be to the glory of God, and thus the name God refers to must be related to “The glory of Israel”. We arrive to the same conclusions when we see another edifice which man has made.
The City Which Is Called by My Name (Jeremiah 25:29, Daniel 9:18-19)
Let us return to the Prophecy of Jeremiah and take a look at chapter 25. In this chapter God pictures the end of the world. God says in verse 26, “And all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth”. Clearly the end of the world is in view. We read in Jeremiah 25:29,
For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts.
What is the reason why God calls for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth?
It is not because the calendar says that it is the time for judgment, but because the church has turned to other gods than the God of the Bible. If the nations of the world have turned to other gods, that is expected. If the heathen still worship their idols, that is nothing new; they have been doing that for many thousands of years. But if the people that are called by God’s name are turning to other gods, and are holding on to works gospels that cannot save, and are defiling the temple of God which had as its purpose the glory of Israel, then the end of the world is near. The first time this occurred God gave the nation a second chance. In Daniel 9:18-19 we read a part of Daniel’s prayer, where Daniel realized that the destruction of Jerusalem was brought about by the apostacy of the nation of Judah. We read in Daniel 9:18-19,
O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.
Both the city and the people are “Called by Thy Name”. And thus we conclude that the city which is called by thy name has as its name: “The Glory of Israel”.
But Who Are Thy People Israel? (Deuteronomy 21:8, 2 Samuel 7:24)
It is commonly understood in most churches that whenever the Old Testament speaks of Israel, it must refer to the entire nation of Israel, all the descendants of Jacob. But from what we have learned so far in this study of who the people are who are “Called by Thy Name”, it seems that we need to make a correction there. Let us learn from the compassion of Moses for his people, the descendants of Jacob. But let us also learn that these words were crafted by God, and thus they are full of meaning. We read in Deuteronomy 21:8,
Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them.
Here is the answer to our question: “Thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed”, can only refer to those within the nation of Israel who belong to the elect of God, the remnant chosen by grace. At the time the nation of Israel went out of Egypt this was a very small number, for we read in Hebrews 3 that most of them died in unbelief.
Again, God tells us here in 2 Samuel 7:24 that we must not refer to the entire nation when we see the name Israel in the Old Testament, for that will not fit the description God gave of those who are called Israel. We have here a prayer of David concerning Israel. We read in 2 Samuel 7:24,
2 Samuel 7:24
For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, LORD, art become their God.
The specification “for ever” can only refer to the elect of God. And so, when we read the Old Testament we should be aware that in many places the name Israel can only refer to a small fraction of Israel, the small group of saints who belong to the elect of God.
How Shall We Know if We Are Called by His Name?
1 John 5:1
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
1 John 5:2
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
1 John 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:5
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
By Alfred J. Chompff