God’s Covenant: with
Israel or the Church?
 Part 2 

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atonement

Long before the Israelites were unfaithful and disobedient to God, He knew that they would “blow it.”  So He affirmed that for Him to remember His covenant with them, they would be required to confess their sins, humble their hearts, and pay for their sin (Leviticus 26:40-42).  As noted before, it was God alone who could and would reinstate the covenant with Israel and Judah, and He alone could pay for their sin.

Jesus (Yeshua or Yahshua in Hebrew), the Son of God, was born to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25).  He was the descendant, offspring, or “seed” promised to Abraham to come (Genesis 12:7, 13:15; Galatians 3:16).  According to God’s law, though, blood is required for atonement to be made and forgiveness to be extended (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).  So the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, in the first century A.D., was the means by which God’s atonement and forgiveness came to Israel.

Just as the blood of Pesach or Passover lambs brought about the release of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:3-6,11-13), Jesus was the ultimate Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) whose shed blood provided Israel’s freedom from their bondage to disobedience and sin.  Jesus was led like a silent lamb to slaughter (Isaiah 53:7), and He willingly gave up His life to pay the necessary price to compensate for Israel’s broken covenant with God—if they only would believe.  By and large, though, they did not.


dispersion and regathering

Although the State of Israel was established in 1948, and many Israelites and Jews have returned to their homeland, there still remain multitudes of Jacob’s descendants located in nations around the globe today.  A great many of them have lost their identities and do not know their true roots as members of the tribes of Israel—but God does, and He has not  abandoned them.

The days are coming when God will bring His people, Israel and Judah, back from the nations into which they have been dispersed; and He will restore to them the land that He originally promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel (Jeremiah 30:3,10, 31:7-10).  God will join together Israel (Ephraim) and Judah as one people, one nation, to live in their homeland forever, never to be divided again (Ezekiel 37:16-25).  These are verses that point to and describe the regathering, by God, of the dispersed and scattered Israelites out of the nations and back to Israel:

At that time, Israel and Judah, as a unified nation, will choose to enter into a new covenant  with God, having broken the first covenant with Him long ago, soon after they came out of Egypt (Jeremiah 31:31,32).  God will put His eternal law into their minds and hearts; once and for all, He will be their God, they will be His people, and their sins will be forgiven (Jeremiah 31:33,34).  As long as the sun, moon, and stars continue to shine, Israel will be God’s chosen nation; and He never will reject them again (31:35-37).


new covenant

The Israelites broke the ancient covenant that God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel.  Later, they also broke the covenant with Israel that God had made with them through Moses.

Then Jesus/God came along after a couple of millennia and, by the shedding of His own blood, made a new or renewed covenant  at Passover (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25) with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8:6-8, 9:15).  As a whole, though, Israel and Judah have failed to enter mutually into that new or renewed covenant with God, since they have not acknowledged or accepted Jesus as their Messiah.

However, that does not  mean that they never will.  A time is coming when the new/renewed covenant will be restored with Israel and Judah, along with those who have been grafted and re-grafted into Israel.  When God incorporates His laws into the Israelites’ minds and hearts, they all will know Him, they again will be His people, and the old, broken covenant will become obsolete and will disappear (Hebrews 8:9-13).  And this new state of affairs will continue eternally.


lost sheep of Israel

The apostle Paul, who was from the tribe of Benjamin, spoke with great sorrow about how he wished that he could be cursed and cut off from Christ (the Messiah, Jesus) in place of his (unbelieving) “brothers”—that is, on behalf of the people of Israel (Romans 9:1-3).  He added that it was the people of Israel who were to be adopted as sons, through whom the covenants of God had come and the promises of God had been made, and who were the ancestry of Christ, who is “God over all” (9:4,5).  The gospel is first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (1:16).

Jesus Himself said that He had been sent only to the “lost sheep of Israel(Matthew 15:24).  In fact, Jesus initially told his twelve disciples not  to go among the Gentiles but, instead, to the “lost sheep of Israel” (10:5,6).  Jesus’ original purpose in coming was to redeem Israel from the consequences of breaking their old  covenant and to bring them into a new covenantal relationship with Himself, God in flesh, and with the Father in heaven.  Certainly, Gentile believers would  be included in the covenant at a later time, but not initially.

Furthermore, in speaking to those in Jerusalem, who primarily were Jewish as Jesus was, He pointed out that He had “other sheep” not of that fold or sheep pen (John 10:16)—that is, not from the tribe of Judah.  Initially, these “other sheep” were not  Gentiles; they were the other tribes of Israel besides Judah.  In that same statement, Jesus added that “there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”  He was not  implying that the two flocks of sheep were Israel and the Church but, rather, that they were Israel  and Judah.  Later, the Church of believers would be grafted into Israel (Matthew 11:17,18), and only by that means would they become part of the unified flock.

Ezekiel wrote about how God, eventually, will join together Israel (figuratively known as Ephraim) and Judah as one people (Ezekiel 37:16-25), under one Shepherd (Jesus).  This will take place at the end of this age and continue throughout the Millennium.  We know that this is yet to happen, since God/YHWH has not yet put His Law/Torah in their minds and written it on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), so they do not yet obey it willingly and naturally.  Ultimately though, after Jesus returns, they will.


grafted and re-grafted

Now, how does the Church of Christian believers fit into all of this?  Are they part of the new covenant?  Yes, those who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and those who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) and understand that Israel is His chosen nation, indirectly are part of the new covenant, but only by the grace of God.  It certainly is not  because they have “replaced” or “superseded” Israel as God’s chosen people.

Ruth is an example of a Gentile who was grafted into Israel.  As a Moabite girl, she refused to leave her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi.  Instead, Ruth chose to return to Israel with Naomi; she insisted, “Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).  As a result, Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David (Matthew 1:5,6) and an ancestor of Jesus (1:1).

There are those who believe that all  of the lost tribes of Israel, dispersed among the nations, have become Christian believers in Yeshua/Jesus.  In some Hebraic and Messianic circles, such as the “Two House” movement, this is a foundational belief.  Indeed, many genetic Israelites have become believers; however, certainly not all  believers are genetic Israelites.  I feel that this notion is a type of “replacement theology” or “supersessionism.”

Olive Tree: representative of Israel
Olive Tree: representative of Israel
In Scripture, the splendor of Israel has been likened to an “olive tree” (Hosea 14:5,6).  Paul, an apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13), pointed out that some of the “branches” of this “olive tree” had been broken off, but “wild olive shoots” have been grafted into that tree (11:17,18).

In essence, most of the “branches” within the actual tribes of Israel have become hardened toward God (Romans 11:7,8).  They also have not recognized and acknowledged the blood sacrifice of Yeshua/Jesus as the means of restoring their covenant with God.  They have not seen His great sacrifice as clemency for their failure to remain in covenant with God.  As such, they have been “broken off” of their covenantal “olive tree.”

On the other hand, Gentile believers, like shoots from “wild  olive trees” that have no inherent covenantal relationship with God, have recognized and accepted Jesus’ blood on the cross as atonement for their sins.  Thus, they have entered into God’s new covenant  with Israel—which is not  a covenant that God has made directly with the Gentiles.  For that reason alone, believers have been grafted into Israel’s covenantal “olive tree.”  This does not  mean that they have become Jews or Israelites; Gentiles retain their own personal identities, just as Jews retain theirs.  However, all believers in Jesus are God’s elect or chosen people, whether Israeli or Gentile.

Basically, many genetic Israelite “branches” have been broken off of their own “olive tree” because of unbelief, while many non-genetic Gentile “shoots” have been grafted into the “olive tree” of Israel because of their faith  (Romans 11:20).  This faith imparts the same righteousness that originally was bestowed upon Abraham for his faith (4:13).  It is due only to the fact that God made an original covenant with Israel, and then God attached Gentile believers to Israel’s “olive tree,” that Gentiles can be saved; otherwise, they all would be lost forever.

There is a precedent for being grafted in to Israel (Numbers 15:14-16).  Abraham is the genetic father of the Israelites, but he also is the spiritual  father of Gentile believers, who have the same faith in God’s refuge as Abraham did (Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:26-29).  As such, the promises of God will be bestowed upon them, as well as upon genetic Israelites who come to accept Yeshua’s blood atonement for themselves.  The latter will be re-grafted back into their own covenantal “olive tree” of promise (11:23,24).  When Yeshua returns to rule and reign, Israel’s partial blindness and hardness of heart will be purged.  He will deliver them from ungodliness, remove their sins, and reinstate Yahweh’s new covenant with them (Ezekiel 16:60,62; Daniel 9:24; Romans 11:25-27).


Torah and Prophets

Obeying the rules of the Book of the Covenant was not inherently difficult or complicated for Israel; but due to their rebellious hearts, they simply chose not to do it.  Later, God even pointed out to the people that fearing and loving God, walking in His ways, and observing His commands and decrees (that is, following His Law/Torah) was good for them (Deuteronomy 10:12,13).

Jesus asserted that He had not come to abolish or do away with the Law (Torah) or the Prophets but to fulfill them and, furthermore, that even the least bit of the Law would remain intact until heaven and earth disappear (Matthew 5:17,18).  He was, in fact, the living, breathing Torah.  The idea put forth by many Christians that the ancient Law of Moses was “nailed to the cross,” and should not be obeyed, is erroneous.

The books of the Torah/Prophets are not  mutually exclusive with the books of the Gospel.  In fact, the Torah/Prophets and the Gospel complement each other and, together, give the complete Word of God.  The Holy Spirit of God will show each earnest believer the fullness of this.

God does not change (James 1:17), nor does the Word of the Law, Yeshua/Jesus, change; He was with God in the beginning (John 1:1,2).  Christians should emulate and imitate Jesus, who never broke even the tiniest strand of the law and instruction of Torah; in fact, He lived it out to the fullest.  The only “law” that Jesus and the apostles spoke against was that of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which was the distorted, slanted law of their oral  traditions.  But God’s original written Law remains intact, and it will remain unchanged forever.


feasts, festivals, and holy days

The Feasts of Adonai, Valerie MoodyChristian believers—who have been grafted into the “olive tree” of Israel—should consider observing God’s Hebraic feasts, festivals, and holy days, in the Spring and in the Fall.  They also should consider observing a seventh-day Shabbat  or Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 23:3; Deuteronomy 5:12-15), from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.

It is fine to worship God or to have “church” on the first day of the week, Sunday, or on any other day of the week.  However, completely eliminating the seventh-day Sabbath is breaking the Fourth Commandment.  On the Sabbath, no regular work should be done, and one should assemble with others, of like mind and spirit, who also observe the proper Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3).

The Hebraic feasts, festivals, holy days, and Sabbath are part of God’s Torah and commandments to Israel.  They will be observed and celebrated throughout the earth during the Millennium, when Jesus is sitting on His Throne in Jerusalem, so why not now?  The book at the right, The Feasts of Adonai, is very descriptive in explaining how to have these observances and celebrations.

Observing the Hebraic feasts, festivals, and holy days is not  for the purpose of receiving forgiveness for sins, since only the blood of Yeshua/Jesus shed on the cross has done that.  Nor are these observances to be performed to gain eternal salvation, since only His resurrection from the dead has provided for that (Romans 10:9,10)—although Jesus did  tell the Samaritan woman that “salvation is from the Jews(John 4:22), as He Himself, the Savior of the world, was Jewish.  Moreover, these observances do not  make Christians “become Jewish” nor cause them to “convert to Judaism”; that is not the objective.

Rather, the purpose of these observances is to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation, to God, that by His grace He has allowed Gentile believers to be a part of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel, and to partake in His eternal promises with Israel.  Israel, including the Jews, are and always will be God’s chosen and covenant people.  Let those who have been grafted into the covenantal “olive tree” of Israel (Matthew 11:17,18) consider it a privilege that God has welcomed them as members of His elect people of promise, forevermore.

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 God’s Covenant: with Israel or the Church? 
 Part 2 
 
 
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