Only Israel’s Messianic Believers In the Times of the Apostles
Were Offered to Accept the New Covenant
This Offer Was Suspended When Israel Fell.
It happens every now and then that I receive e-mails where believers oppose the Bible’s doctrine about Israel as the sole addressee of the New Covenant offered by the apostles.
Such believers are captured by their habits (habitual thinking) under the doctrinal rules held by their denomination, thus not allowing new and better knowledge to come through to them. This is regretful, isn’t it?
The thought of and the idea of the Christian church having that New Covenant deal with Christ, is an old and twisted concept derived from the so-called early Church Fathers. Their failing doctrinal views of the Bible led Christianity into a state of confusion, in that nobody made the right separation between what God had promised Israel in Scripture, and what He later on promised the Church as Paul got on with his ministry. He was given to introduce a whole new dispensation, as described for us in Eph 3:1-9, the dispensation of the Grace of God.
When Paul ministered by offering Israel in the Empire the New Covenant (Acts 13 – 28) in the years 43 AD to 62 AD, he had taught the Jews and their proselytes about the covenant and the soon (imminent) return of Christ to establish the promised Kingdom in Israel to them. He did not go to the raw unconverted gentile, but turned only to the Greek proselytes who were present in the Synagogues everywhere he went. Knowing of course that only Israel was the rightful addressee.
But as Paul started to teach from the time that the Church dispensation began, we non-Jews (gentiles) at that time were considered only as proselytes at the most, but as a general group of people we gentiles were entirely shut out of all things pertaining to Israel (Eph 2:12).
We find Romans 9 as a trend setting chapter when discussing the New Covenant and to whom it belonged. There are no doubts whatsoever: The New Covenant, like the Old Sinai Covenant (Law), as well as the intermediate prophetic Davidic Covenant – all belonged to Israel. Let us read:
Verse 4: “For they are Israelites, AND TO THEM BELONG God’s adoption (as a nation) and the glorious Presence (Shekinah). With them were the special COVENANTS made, to them was the LAW (the Old Covenant) given. To them (the temple) worship was revealed and (God’s own) promises announced.”
Verse 5: “TO THEM BELONG the patriarchs, and as far as His natural descent was concerned, from them is the Christ, Who is exalted and supreme over all, God, blessed forever! Amen.”
As a contrast we find gentiles are such people that DO NOT HAVE SUCH BELONGINGS:
Rom 2:14: “…Gentiles, who have not the Law…”
And in Paul’s explanation to the confused Zeus/Hermes worshippers at Lystra in Acts 14:16 we hear the following truths about our Gentile status:
“In generations past He permitted all the nations (those outside of Israel) to walk in their own ways” – in other words: They did not walk in the ways of the Lord, like Israel did.
So while God had elected and segregated and made Himself a holy nation, Israel, and also revealed His glory in many ways and given them the Law of Moses and covenants, thus finally and recently sent them His Messiah, Jesus Christ – we Gentiles on the outside of all of these blessings, were given to walk – not in the ways of the Lord – but in our own ways. We were shut out of it, just like Paul wrote in Eph 2:12. We had, as Gentiles, our own ‘Law’: Our conscience – which would either free us or judge us, depending upon good or bad conscience (Rom 2:14-16). In other words, we Gentiles ‘..walking in our own ways’ was not the same as being unsaved! This is important to know! We were ourselves a law, says Paul, for good or for bad. Read that passage to yourself please.
The well-known fact that Paul took in proselytes in cases where Jews refused to accept Christ, does not alter the fact that Gentiles in general were shut out entirely. Having a few, or more than just a few proselytes, was not the same as if God should have cancelled the ongoing segregation between the Gentiles and the Jews. We must learn to read the Bible properly and avoid misunderstanding and bad guesswork. These proselytes were submitted to the ordinances found in Lev 17 (see Acts 15 also) and were spared of any circumcision like the previous proselytes had undergone before the time of Christ.
Thus – on the one hand we find therefore Israel, to which the covenants and the promises belonged, and on the other hand we had the Gentiles at that time, such people ‘who had not the Law’ – and had not any of the other things given to Israel. We were given to walk in our own ways.
In an incident I had with a Norwegian Pentecostal believer (he had read several of my articles and books), he opposed me and meant that Eph 3:6 as Paul speak of the inheritance and the promise in Christ, was the same as being given the New Covenant.
But Eph 3:6 is not about the New Covenant, but about the promise given us in Christ, of the salvation in heaven with Him. We are promised to be appearing with Christ in glory in heaven when the time is up. (See also Col 3:1-4).
The church at Ephesus was made up of Gentile believers and of Jewish believers. The passage seems to address the Jewish contingent there, using such terms as ‘promise’ and ‘inheritance’ etc. Paul is simply cancelling the proselyte-status for us Gentiles, telling both them and the Jews there that now all believers are going to inherit with Christ directly in heaven.
But in times before that, when Paul ministered to Jews with the New Covenant, Gentiles could only inherit with Israel, and not Christ directly.
No covenantal agreement is mentioned or anticipated.
Rom 9:4 – “To them belong….the covenants”.
If the New Covenant agreement should at any time had been transferred over to the Church (a congregation in which Jews and Gentiles now are all equal, Eph 2:15) – then Paul would have told us straight forward, and with thorough explanation. No such explanation is found in the New Testament.
Secondly, I like to remind us of that the covenant to Israel was not only made for signs, wonders and miracles, and Holy Ghost baptism (Mark 16 etc.) – it was a covenant that also implied as a deed: The promise of the land, because if there should be established a Kingdom, they would need a land! Like already promised to the Hebrews at Sinai in Ex 19:5-7 – a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation for God. The covenants cannot be torn loose from the promises. It has to be all of it or nothing. This means that the New Covenant does not include heaven up above, but only the earthly millennial Kingdom in Israel. Of which the Church of Christ has no share or no promises. We have promise to come to heaven (Greek: Epiuranos, heaven up above the heavens) where Christ now sit at His Father’s side (Eph 1:20-23).
Dan 2:44 explicitly tells that only Israel can own and live in the land and the millennial Kingdom. The millennia will be given to no other people than the restored future Israel after the Great Tribulation is over.
Jer 31:31 of the New Covenant given only to Israel’s house and the house of Judah cannot be altered by some vague uncertain human guesswork. Paul confirms in Heb 8 and 9 chapters that it is the Jer 31:31 passages which prophesied of that new covenant to Israel.
But we, the Church (or Body) of Christ, have a free gift, salvation by faith alone and no works (Eph 2:8).
This gift needs no assistance from an imaginary ‘Covenant’ to bring about our salvation!