Not Like the Covenant I made with your fathers
Did not God speak through the prophet Jeremiah, that the New Covenant would be “with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah?” The New Covenant is a covenant with the united Israel [Jer. 31:33], for the Lord states,
31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
The New Covenant is made with the house of Israel. However, it is “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers.” There are at least three main differences between the Sinai Covenant and the New Covenant that we shall touch upon. The first is that the laws of God would be written not on tables of stone, but on hearts of flesh, “in their inward parts.”
The second difference is that the Gentiles should be “fellow-citizens with the saints.” However, this was not made openly known to the prophets, for Paul tells us this mystery,
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: [Eph. 3:5-6]
This mystery or hidden secret was not made known to the sons of men, “as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” The ancient sons of men had an idea that God had a plan for the Gentiles, but the full picture was hidden from them. But now, the full plan for the inclusion of the Gentiles has been revealed to the apostles and prophets by the Spirit of God.
That which had been hid in past ages, was that,
“The Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.”
What exactly does this inclusion mean? Here, Peter tells the Gentile believers that,
10 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.
This is taken from Hosea 1:9,
Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
Loammi means “not my people.” It was originally applied to the northern kingdom of Israel. Here though, Peter sees in it the prophecy of including the Gentiles into the people of God. Peter now includes the believing Gentiles into the description of ancient Israel, in being, “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” He seemed to have learned the lesson which the Lord taught him on that rooftop in Joppa, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common (unclean).” If God has made the believing gentiles clean and fit for use by the blood of His Son, then they are clean indeed and counted as part of His People.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul does the same thing though in different terms. In Ephesians 2:12, Paul says before they knew Christ, the Gentiles were,
- Without Christ
- Aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel
- Strangers from the covenants of promise
- Having no hope
- Without God in the world.
This is a very bleak picture of the state of Gentiles before Christ was made known to them through the Gospel. A few points of interest here.
The term, commonwealth, means citizenship, community, or state. The idea here is that before Christ, the Gentiles were alienated from the community or citizenship rights of Israel. They were also strangers to the covenants of promise, referring to the covenants of promise God made to the fathers of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There can be no sadder picture painted than Paul does here of the godless and hopeless state of the Gentiles before the coming of Christ. However, Paul casts a blinding light upon the state and condition of the Gentiles when Christ is found of them.
- “Ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
- Christ “hath made both one.”
- Christ has made “in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.”
- “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners”
- You are “fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God”
- In Christ, “Ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
Here, Paul demonstrates the beauty of God’s plan for inclusion of the believing Gentiles into the community of Israel. This is not a new idea with God. He placed clues in the Old Covenant of His intention to include Gentiles into the faith community of Israel. We will speak of these momentarily.
However, Paul makes this even more clear in his admonitions to the Galatians. The Galatian believers were under assault by the Pharisaic rabbis, to submit themselves to the yoke of the law in order to be fully accepted into the community of Mosaic Israel. The sign of this acceptance of the yoke of the law was submitting to circumcision of the flesh. This was the initial membership due to be paid to the rabbis, in order to be accepted as members of their Israel. Some of the Galatians were apparently seriously considering this move. Paul opens chapter three with a question.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
Paul seems to believe that someone had cast a spell upon these Galatian Christians, for them to even consider walking away from the truth of Christ “evidently set forth” before their eyes. These judaizers were magicians casting spells upon the unsuspecting in order to bring them under their control.
In his comments on this verse, Vines plainly states the matter in this way,
‘Notwithstanding,’ he says, in effect, ‘that the fact that Christ had been crucified was placarded before your very eyes in our preaching, you have allowed yourselves to be... fascinated by the enemies of the Cross of Christ, when you had only to look at Him to escape their malignant influence;’
Paul continues his argument with them, saying,
6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
He tells them that those who would have you circumcised, do not even keep the law themselves. They only want you to be circumcised so that they can glory in your flesh; they can boast of how they stole you away from the cross of Christ, converting you to their own man-made traditions. Paul ends his argument with these words.
15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Paul tells them that in Christ Jesus, being circumcised nor uncircumcised has no advantage. In Christ, there is no great advantage to whatever your identity in the flesh might be. The only thing that is advantageous, is being a new creation by the new birth. This is the rule, the standard of measurement (kanon), that is followed. All those who walk according to this rule of the new creation are counted as the Israel of God. Upon them rest the Peace and Mercy of God.
It is clear from this that this nation, the Israel of God, is made up of those of faith in Christ Jesus. It is not restricted by genealogies, nor adherence to the doctrines or traditions of men. As John tells us in the first chapter of his gospel,
12 But as many as received[welcomed] him, to them gave he power[privilege, right] to become the sons[children] of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
This nation shall be composed of the children of God, who believe upon His Name. These are born,
- Not of blood - Physical descent has no part in this birth.
- Nor of the will of the flesh - By no works of the flesh can one come into nor earn this birth.
- Nor of the will of man - No one can make the decision for you or proclaim you to be so born.
It is only by being born of God, through His Spirit [John 3:3,5], that one can see or enter the Kingdom of God. Nothing else will gain you entrance.
- Not your ancestors
- Not your due diligence to observe the law or men’s tradition
- Not by an act of any legislative body or decree of an emperor.
Hints in the Old of Gentile Inclusion
The Lord had given the ancient Israelites hints along the way, that His heart always desired to include the Gentiles into the community of Faith. One such instance is found back in Exodus 12, at the first Passover.
In the original Passover, God provided two ways for the non-Israelite to partake of the Passover. The first way regarded a gentile slave of an Israelite. The Word says,
12:43 And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:
44 But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.
45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.
In order for the servant to partake of Passover, it had to be a servant that was purchased, not a hired servant. Only a slave who was bought for a price could partake. The slave could then only partake after he had been circumcised.
So if an Israelite had purchased a gentile slave, he could have him circumcised, then that slave would be enabled to eat the Passover. He would be enabled to sit at table with his master as one of the household. How do we know this? I will explain in a moment.
The second way in which a non-Israelite might partake of Passover, was if he was a Ger.
48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
The stranger (ger) is different from the foreigner (tosab), mentioned above in verse 45. The ger is one who sojourns with the Israelites, i.e., he lives among them. The Tosab is a stranger who is just passing through. These strangers (ger’im) are likely referred to in the phrase “mixed multitudes” mentioned in verse 38.
The ger was one who had to desire (or will) to keep the Passover. It was something that he had a heart’s desire to participate in and join Israel in celebrating. The ger likely felt that he had been delivered from the bondage of Egypt also. However, the stranger had to be circumcised and all the males of his house. Being thus circumcised would introduce the Ger into the covenant community of Israel.
At this point of being circumcised, God states, “he shall be as one that is born in the land.” He was to be treated as a homeborn Israelite. Did they actually treat them like this? Probably not, but this was the heart of God. To make this point even clearer, God stated,
49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
There was to be One Law for him that was homeborn and the stranger (Ger) who lived among them. This would provide equal protection under the law. Did this happen? Probably not, but as already stated, this was God’s heart, which He was able to finally make a reality in the Israel of God through Christ.
One other brief example of showing God’s heart was always to include the gentiles, comes from Jesus Himself. After He returned from His wilderness trial, He went to synagogue in His home town of Nazareth. He rose to read from the scroll. After reading from the prophet Isaiah [Isa. 61:1-2a], He sat down to expound on the reading. He proclaimed that this passage of Isaiah, a well known Messianic passage, was fulfilled in their hearing on that day. In other words, He was proclaiming that He was the Messiah.
However, it really didn’t seem to register what they had just heard. The only response they could get out, was “Is not this Joseph's son?”. He knew they could not receive Him, for “No prophet is accepted in his own country.” He gives two examples when the prophets of old, being instructed by God, had to go to the gentiles to do their work.
He first gives the example of the prophet Elijah, who went to a widow in Zidon. Zidon was a pagan town who worshipped Baal and Ashteroth. Although there were many widows in Israel at the time, a time of severe drought (3.5 years), God sent Elijah to this pagan widow. While there God provided for Elijah, this widow and her son. This son fell sick and died, but Elijah raised him up.
The second example Jesus gave was the healing of a leper by Elias. There were many lepers in Israel in those days, yet God sent Elias to heal Naaman, a Syrian.
These two examples of God’s heart for the Gentiles did not go over very well. They so disliked what Jesus said that they tried to throw Him off a cliff. It should be very telling that they did not try to throw Him off a cliff for claiming to be the Messiah. However, it enraged them that He dared to say that God cared about some dirty, godless gentiles over His own people, Israel. For this they tried to kill Him.
The final difference between the Sinai Covenant and the New Covenant, is that the New Covenant is based upon faith in the Messiah. It was no longer a matter of being born with a certain DNA profile. It was a matter of faith in the Promised Seed. It would only be those of Israel, even a remnant, who believed in and followed that Promised Seed, the Messiah Jesus, that would be counted as Israel in the sight of God. In the beginning, there were only twelve.
Paul answers the question concerning those who did not believe the testimony of God concerning Christ. Does their unbelief make the word of God of no effect? By no means!
Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
They are not all Israel, which are of Israel. Not all of those who came out of the loins of Israel (Jacob) are counted as being Israel. Just because one descended from Jacob, does not mean in God’s eyes he is counted among Israel.
Neither is it true, just because you are descended from Abraham are you counted as the children of Abraham. The seed is counted in the seed of Promise, as in Isaac (Christ, Gal. 3:16). Those who are children strictly by the flesh (only of natural lineage) are not counted as the children of God. It is only the children of the promise (by faith in Christ) who are counted for the Seed.
Gal. 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
In Galatians chapter four, Paul brings forth another interesting contrast between the two covenants. In chapter four, he places Hagar in contrast to Sarah. These represent the two sons of Abraham. The one, Ishmael, was the son of the bondwoman, Hagar, while the other, Isaac, was the son of the free woman, Sarah.
These are two covenants. Hagar is Mount Sinai, which “answereth to Jerusalem, which now is, and is in bondage with her children.” Sarah represents Jerusalem “which is above is free.” You will notice that Paul speaks of two Jerusalems, the one which is below “and now is,” and the Jerusalem which is above. This Jerusalem which is above, is of course the New Jerusalem [Rev. 21:2]. This New Jerusalem is the city of the Living God sitting on Mount Sion [Heb. 12:22]. This is the heavenly Mount Sion, from which King Messiah Jesus reigns [Ps. 2:6].
These two Jerusalems demonstrate the existence of the two Israels. The Jerusalem which is below, belongs to natural Israel, who is in bondage. The Jerusalem which is above belongs to the Israel of God, which is free and “the mother of us all” [Gal. 4:26].
The Jerusalem which is below is in bondage with her children. At that time, she was in bondage due to being under the heel of the Roman boot, but most directly so because of her still being under the law. The presence of the temple proclaimed that she was under the bondage of the law of Sinai. Sinai could never make men free, but only bring them into slavery of the law. If the law could make men free, then there would never have been the need for the death of the perfect Lamb of God [Heb. 8:7].
What is Paul’s response to this contrast of Hagar and Sarah? What sayeth the law?
Gal. 4:30 …Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
The son of the bondwoman cannot share in the inheritance with the son of the freewoman. Hence the necessary separation of the two covenants and the two Israels.
Jesus placed the leaders of natural Israel on notice, that their services as shepherds of God’s people would no longer be needed. They had proven themselves to be enemies of the Lord and His Christ. When you kill the king of the kingdom which you profess to desire, it doesn’t look good on your resume.
Jesus would give the oversight of the kingdom and its advancement to another nation, who would render its proper fruits. However, as Israel is the covenant people of God, this nation would be Israel, but not the Israel of the flesh. It would not be the Israel of Sinai, for they had already proven themselves unable.
It would be the Israel after the Spirit, composed of Jews and Gentiles who have been circumcised in heart, born of the Spirit and of the Word. Those who walk according to the rule of the new creation in Christ, whose praise is from God and not of men.
This is the nation to which Jesus referred to. Many have argued that this is nothing but Replacement Theology. Well, yes and no. It is and it isn’t. Jesus replaced the failed ministry of the flesh, operating in natural Israel, for the Spirit empowered new creations in Christ of the Israel of God. If it is Replacement, it was done so by the Messiah Prince Himself. You’ll have to take that up with Him.
Those of natural Israel were branches broken off from the Olive Tree planted by God. This is a tree of faith and one must come in faith to Messiah to be grafted into it. The branches of this tree are composed of men “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” This is and has been the very heart of God, to redeem this Bouquet of Humanity unto Himself. Those broken branches of natural Israel may be grafted back into this Olive Tree, when they come in faith through the Messiah, for “no one comes to the Father,” but through Him.
Those who are the children of Sinai cannot share in the inheritance of the children of the promise. For the law, which came 400 years after the promise not only cannot disannul the promise [Gal. 3:17], but it has no share in its inheritance, because they are not children of faith [Rom. 9:8]. But they can be as already noted.