The complexity of the world population today would cause one to ask just how and why so many groups of people have come to inhabit the earth. Endless hours and reams of paper have been spent on genealogies and intense study of ancestors and family lines. Nations have been led and lost through the course of a family strand. While so many people today are concerned about an enduring legacy and what the family tree will grow to be, it is wise to heed the warning of James as he asks, “what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14, KJV).¹ Still, the question does remain- from whence came the races of peoples which are so prevalent on the globe today? How do all of these people fit into the Biblical framework of the end times? How does understanding the characteristics of these groups help one to further understand Bible prophecy? A study of God’s Word clearly explains such complicated matters and provides the Bible student with a secure understanding of this topic.
In writing to the Corinthians, Paul lists the three strands of the human family as being the Jews, the Gentiles, and finally, the Church of God (I Corinthians 10:32, KJV). Two of these family strands further developed into the many races and peoples seen on the globe today. The third strand, the “church”, is a spiritual strand of people. Unlike the first two, the “church” grows through a spiritual birth of the physical man. The church is unable to populate the earth as is capable of the Jews and Gentiles through basic physical principles, but rather it is grown through the work of the Spirit. While procreation continues to increase the numbers of Jews and Gentiles, the church as grown through a spiritual process where the Lord has “added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47, KJV).
The first mention in Scripture of a group of people by name is found in Genesis, chapter 10. Moses lists several descendants of Noah that would grow into a multitude of people and concludes with, “by these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands…” (Genesis 10:5, KJV). God’s Word further states that “these are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood” (Genesis 10:32, KJV). It is clear then, that the Gentile strand came into existence after the flood for the purpose given to Noah to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1, KJV). It is also worth noting that, it is in the Gentile strand that is seen the first mention of a human kingdom being set up by Nimrod, the son of Cush, in an attempt at human government (Genesis 10:8-11, KJV). The Gentile nation flourished after the flood and quickly adopted a humanistic approach to their existence. The arrogance that led to the building of Babel would cause the dispersion of this strand all across the globe as the Lord “scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth…” (Genesis 11:9, KJV).
The second strand of the human family is that of the Jews. Genesis, chapter 12, records the Abrahamic Covenant in which the Lord sets forth His covenant with Abram to make him a great nation. Called out of his own country, Abram went in faith as the Lord promised to him, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3, KJV). By this time, no doubt, the Gentiles had greatly populated the earth. Abram would now be the father of another great nation of people that would for certain have conflicts with the Gentile nation as testified by God Himself. This conflict has continued to grow and become more violent throughout the centuries until the present day. This must be understood to correctly interpret Bible Prophecy.
The third strand of the human family is found in Acts, chapter 2. Paul records that the Church comes into existence on the day of Pentecost, and it is the first record in Scripture where the word “church” is used (Acts 2:47, KJV). Unlike the Gentile or the Jewish strand, the Church is seen as being something built by God. God’s Word further declares this in Psalm 127: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it…” (Psalm 127:1, KJV). It is interesting to note that one could view the Gentile strand as “man based”, the Jewish nation as “God based”, and the Church strand as “God based through the intercession of Christ”. The Gentile strand continues to pursue self fulfillment and humanistic beliefs and practices today. The Jewish nation continues in some degree of exile awaiting a Messiah that has already come, and the Church lives among both strands embodied in the individual believer, awaiting the return of Christ. This strand of the human family is tasked by God with the duty of proclaiming His Word throughout the centuries and the saving grace found in Christ Jesus alone. While all three strands are different in their theological approach, one thing remains certain throughout all of history: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, KJV).
To understand the characteristics of these three strands gives the Bible student a workable framework by which to study and correctly interpret Prophetic Scripture. All three strands of the human family will continue on this sphere called Earth until the rapture, at which time God will remove the Church (Revelation 4:1, KJV). The Gentile and Jewish strands will then enter into the great time of trial known as “Jacob’s trouble” in which God will punish the many centuries of neglect and distortion of His Word and the rejection of His Son, the Messiah- Jesus Christ. It is through this time that the Gentile nation will reap horrific destruction and torments as God fulfills His commitment to Abraham to “curse him that curseth thee” (Genesis 12:3, KJV). It will also be a great time of trial and suffering for that of the Jew as well, but it is through this great torment that the Nation as a whole will finally recognize her Messiah. With this in mind, one must interpret the Prophetic Scripture with a clear understanding of God’s point of view of these three strands. To interchange or replace one for the other is a great disgrace and distortion of God’s Word. Within all three strands reside a future Prophetic script that must be played out in the end times. To deny this is to deny the Word of God and the importance He places upon these three distinct groups of people.
1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.