October 2001


A Peculiar People, A Holy Nation

By C. Eldon McNabb

Many, many years ago, in Haran, there dwelt a man named Terah who had three sons: Abram, Nahor and Haran. The people of that day worshiped idols, having gods for everything. According to tradition, Terah and his family even made their living by manufacturing the idols that the people worshiped.

In the midst of this wicked and idolatrous people, the Lord God called out to Terah's son Abram, saying, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: And 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 families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:1-3) Later, God changed his name from Abram (meaning high father) to Abraham (father of a multitude), and promised him, "I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee." (Gen. 17:6) This Abraham did not waver in his faith in God. He knew that God would fulfil every promise, and followed him even when it seemed impossible.

Abraham did indeed become the father of many nations. His eldest son, Ishmael, was promised to become a great nation and beget 12 princes of his own. By Keturah, whom he took to wife after Sarah's death, he had six more sons: one of whom was Midian, the father of the Midianites.

But it was of Isaac, whom he begat by his wife Sarah, that God said, "I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him."

Isaac's wife Rebekah conceived, and carried twins. The Lord said unto her, "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." (Gen. 25:23) The Lord had chosen Jacob over Esau, even before they had been born. Jacob got the birthright and the blessing. Esau became the father of the Edomites.

The Lord called Jacob's name Israel, "Prince of God." The Lord had raised up many nations from the descendants of Abraham, and was now raising up the nation of promise.

During a great famine, God placed one of Israel's sons, Joseph, in a position to deliver all the people from certain death by starvation. The small nation of Israel, 70 souls besides Jacob's sons' wives, were brought into Egypt and dwelt in Goshen. Once again this peculiar nation, with their belief in one all-powerful, unseen, Most High God found themselves among polytheistic heathens.

In the process of time, the Israelites grew and prospered and a king arose in Egypt that didn't know Joseph's role in the deliverance of their nation. He persecuted the children of Israel, and the Lord raised up a prophet of the tribe of Levi named Moses. Although raised as a prince in Egypt, he forsook the wealth of that land, and accepted the will of God. He was used to plague Egypt, and to deliver his people from bondage.

Moses brought the people to mount Sinai. When he went up unto God on the mountain, the Lord said, "Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."

Except for brief moments in its troubled history, the people of Israel, who conquered the promised land of Canaan, failed to meet the requirements of God. They were plagued with idolatry and doubt, temptation and transgression. They mixed with the surrounding nations and adopted their beliefs. The kingdom was divided into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and eventually both kingdoms were conquered and enslaved or scattered. The nation that Abraham had desired - the peculiar people, the holy nation - was hardly realized.

Throughout the years, God raised up judges and prophets to set the nation straight. Sometimes the people heeded God's messengers, but more often they did not. Then, God did a new thing.

God sent a new prophet. A great prophet. A deliverer. God sent His own Son, Jesus.

Jesus preached, "Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand." He taught repentance and redemption. He declared that one must be "born again" to see the kingdom of God, and, by His death and resurrection, provided the way for this new birth. To natural Israel, which had failed to become the holy nation God had foretold, Jesus said, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." (Matt. 21:43) The disciples of Christ, having become new creatures in Him through redemption by His blood, fulfilled Jesus' words.

The apostle Peter, writing to the Christian Elect, declared boldly, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." (1 Pet. 2:9-10)

In the years after Jesus' resurrection and ascension, a group of believers rose up to fulfil the will of God. They had succeeded, by the blood of Christ, where natural Israel had failed: obeying God's voice and keeping His covenant - becoming the nation bringing forth the fruits of the kingdom.

Towards the end of the first century a.d., early signs of decline began to appear among the believers. The Apostle Paul prophesied, saying, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." (Acts 20:29-31)

By the time of the ministry of Jude, Paul's words had come to pass. Jude's epistle describes the problem. "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:4)

By 325 a.d., when Emperor Constantine declared the "conversion" of the Roman empire, apostasy had fully set in. From then until now, reformers arose to set the Christians back on the right track. Men like John Huss, Martin Luther, John Wesley, and others fought, some unto death, for the faith against the "mainstream."

In 1896, in North Carolina, the Holy Ghost was poured out on a group of holiness Christians. In 1903, under the direction of A. J. Tomlinson, that group became the Church of God. By the Churches of God, through the ministries of Bro. Tomlinson, his son Milton Tomlinson, and Grady Kent, the Lord has shown that He is preparing to restore a group like the early Church: a peculiar people, a holy nation.

In 1972, Bro. Eldon McNabb was led by God to begin a new movement. At that time, it was known as The Kingdom of God. In 1981, the Lord dealt with us to rename the movement The People of Truth. Today, we continue to seek God's will and His word to be that people - a peculiar people - striving to serve Him, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. It is our greatest desire to partake of the fulfillment of God's promise to have for Himself a holy nation on the earth.

This will we do if God permit. Amen.