Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

New Covenant, Israel of God

In the light of Jesus,

What is the New Covenant ?
Who are Israel of God?  Who is a Jew?
Where is Jerusalem?
Fig tree ?

Let’s find out the Bible definitions of these terms.

Clarifying these terms, helps us understand the Bible better,
both the Old Testament and the New Testament,
and the world we live in.
The best way to explain these terms is to use the Bible to explain.

Psalm 119:160 (NKJV, NASB)
The entirety of Your word is truth
The sum of Your word is truth


There is something interesting in the book of Joshua.

Joshua 5:13-15 (NIV)
13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

14 Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

 “Neither,”
The reply to Joshua’s question whether the commander was for Israel or for their enemies is food for thought.


New Covenant

Psalm 25:14 (NASB)
The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him,
And He will make them know His covenant.

Luke 22:20 (NASB)
20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, through His blood and body, the new covenant was bound .

Hebrews 8:6-13 (NASB)
But now He (Jesus) has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant,
which has been enacted on better promises.

For if that first covenant had been faultless,
there would have been no occasion sought for a second.

For finding fault with them, He says,

Behold, days are coming, says the Lord,
When I will effect a new covenant
With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;

9 Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers
On the day when I took them by the hand
To lead them out of the land of Egypt;
For they did not continue in My covenant,
And I did not care for them, says the Lord.

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
11 And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,
And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
For all will know Me,
From the least to the greatest of them.
12 For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.”

13 When He said, “A new covenant,”
He has made the first obsolete
.
But whatever is becoming obsolete
and growing old is ready to disappear.


When He said,
“A new covenant,”
He has made
the first obsolete.


In this New Covenant, through Jesus the perfect mediator, everyone (even the very least) can know God personally, our sins are forgiven through Jesus, and our hearts and minds are transformed by God to follow His ways.  The New covenant is built upon better promises, and a better covenant.  The New Covenant was prophesised in Jeremiah 31:31-34.  ….. a new covenant With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;  The writer of Hebrews quotes from Jeremiah 31, and explicitly mentions that the old covenant — obsolete and disappear.
The old covenant was a shadow of the realities of the new covenant.

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.
Hebrews 10:1 (NASB)

Paul compares and contrasts the glory of the Old and New covenant in

2 Corinthians 3:5-11, 18 (NASB)
clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us,
written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

And we have such trust through Christ toward God.
Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,

who also made us adequate as servants of a
new covenant,
not of the letter but of the Spirit;
for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory,
so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,

how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?

For if the ministry of condemnation has glory,
much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.

10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory
because of the glory that surpasses it.

11 For if that which fades away was with glory,
much more that which remains is in glory.

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Old Covenant — letter of the law, ministry of death, engraved on stones, ministry of condemnation
Moses encountered God personally,
glory fades away

New Covenant — ministry of the Holy Spirit, ministry of life, engraved on human hearts, transformation, ministry of righteousness
Anyone by faith can encounter God personally,
glory remains
even more with glory,  abound in glory,  the glory that surpasses 

Why the need for a New covenant?
For they did not continue in My covenant (Hebrews 8:9)
My covenant which they broke,
although I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord (Jeremiah 31:32)

Matthew 27:50,51 (NASB)
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.

When Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn, so that all of us can have direct access to God,  through the once and for all sacrifice of His blood and body.

Luke 21:5,6 (NASB)
And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”

Jesus prophesised that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed.  This happened in AD70.
Through the blood and body of Jesus, we can all enter into God’s holiest presence from anywhere and everywhere in the world;  not only at a fixed geographical location on earth.  Through Jesus we can worship Him in spirit and truth.

John 4:19-24 (NASB)
19 The woman *said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

23 But an hour is coming, and now is,
when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;
for such people the Father seek
s to be His worshipers.

24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

True worship is no longer based on geographical location (this mountain or Jerusalem), but in spirit and in truth.  God is spirit.

The old covenant is only a shadow of the new covenant in Jesus.

Colossians 2:16,17 (NIV)
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come;
the reality, however, is found in Christ.  

Hebrews 10 explains Jesus sacrifice for the whole world is final and complete, no animal sacrifice can accomplish what Jesus has done for us.  The old covenant that came through Moses to Israel is only a shadow of the good things to come in the new covenant in Jesus to both Jews and Gentiles.

The writer of Hebrews further explains the New Covenant in Hebrews 10,

Hebrews 10:1-4, 11-18 (NASB)
For the Law, since it has only
a shadow of the good things to come and
not the very form of things,
can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year,
make perfect those who draw near.

Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?
But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 

11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,

16 This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
And on their mind I will write them,”

He then says,

17 And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more.”

18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things,
there is no longer any offering for sin

Through Christ death, the promises of Abraham and the promise of the Holy Spirit are given to both Jew and Gentile believers of Christ.  Both Jews and Gentiles are partakers of the New Covenant.

Galatians 2:13,14 (NASB)
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Acts 2:32,33 (NASB)
32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

Romans 3:9,29,30  (NASB)
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;
29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

The Holy Spirit is the seal of the covenant.  We are marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit, the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.

Ephesians 1:13, 14 (NIV)
 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter explained:

Acts 2:16-28, 38,39 (NASB)
16 
but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

17 And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.

38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

In the new Covenant, all who believe in Jesus, receive the Holy Spirit into their hearts.

… you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us,
written not with ink
but with the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone
but on tablets of human hearts.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but
our adequacy is from God,

who also made us adequate
as servants of a new covenant,
not of the letter
but of the Spirit;
for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:3 (NASB)

Therefore only by the Holy Spirit, God says,
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts
who empowers all of us to be
servants of a new covenant of the Spirit,
the Spirit gives life

This is the distinct blessing of the new Covenant,
we, all of us can receive the Holy Spirit;
not just some, like in the old Covenant.

a new covenant of the Spirit

All have sinned, both Jews and Gentiles.  All need a redeemer and a perfect blood sacrifice for our sins.  God justified both Jews and Gentiles through faith in Jesus in the New Covenant.

Galatians 3:26-29 (NASB)
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,

27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Both Jews and Gentiles through Jesus  become adopted as children of God, baptized into Christ, belonging to Christ, Abraham’s descendants and heirs of Abraham’s promise.

If you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s seed,
and heirs according to the promise.
in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,


God’s covenant with Abraham:

Genesis 17:1-7 (ESV)
When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

Galatians 3:16, 7-9, 14, 26-29 (ESV)
16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say,
“And to offsprings,” referring to many,
but referring to one,
“And to your offspring,”
who is Christ.

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith,
preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying,
“In you shall all the nations be blessed.

So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham
might come to the Gentiles,
so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free,
there is no male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

29 And if you are Christ’s,
then you are Abraham’s offspring,
heirs according to promise.

God’s covenant with Abraham is fulfilled in Christ and through Christ,
And to your offspring,”
who is Christ.

And if you are Christ’s,
then you are Abraham’s offspring,
heirs according to promise.
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
you are all one in Christ Jesus

In Christ Jesus the covenant blessing of Abraham come to both Gentiles and Jews.

Acts 4:11, 12 (NIV)
11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Hebrews 10:4, 9,10 (NASB)
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.”
He takes away the first in order to establish the second.

10 By this will we have been sanctified through
the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all.


In the Old Covenant, given through Moses, Israel had the
Passover,
    circumcision
    & the Sabbath.

In the New Covenant, in Christ we have
the Lord’s supper, 
    baptism,
    & the Lord’s day.

In Christ, we no longer observe the festivals (feasts), and dietary laws of the Old Covenant.

Romans 14:17,18 (NIV)
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

Galatians 4:9-12 (NLT)
So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? z
10 You are trying to earn favor with God
by observing certain
days or months or seasons or years.

11 I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing.
12 Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you
to live as I do in freedom from these things,

for I have become
like you Gentiles
—free from those laws
.

What about natural Israel  ?

Luke 20:9-18 (NASB) (cross-reference Matthew 21:33-46)
And He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. 10 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. 13 The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.”

When they heard it,
they said, “May it never be!”

17 But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:

The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”
19 The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them.

In Matthew’s account, Jesus said,
21:43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.
21:44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Jesus parable in Luke 20 is similar to Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 5, (the religious leaders knew Isaiah 5).

What Jesus said angered the scribes and chief priests that they wanted to lay their hands on Him that very hour?

Jesus said He will destroy the vine-growers and give the vineyard to others.
When they heard it, they said, “May it never be!“.

Isaiah 5:1-7  (NASB)
Let me sing now for my well-beloved
A song of my beloved concerning His vineyard.
My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill.

He dug it all around, removed its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it
And also hewed out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones.

“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge between Me and My vineyard.
“What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it?
Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?

“So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground.
I will lay it waste;
It will not be pruned or hoed,
But briars and thorns will come up.
I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it.”

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel
And the men of Judah His delightful plant.

Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.

 Jesus echoes the last verse, Isaiah 5:7 in Matthew 23.

 Matthew 23:23 (NASB)
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law:
justice and mercy and faithfulness;
but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Jesus was looking for the fruit of righteousness – justice, mercy and faithfulness,
not just the ceremonial, liturgical law, outward piety & devotion for others to see.

 Micah 6:8 (NKJV)
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Romans 9:30-33 (NIV)
30 What then shall we say?

That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness,
have obtained it,
a righteousness that is by faith;

31 but the people of Israel,
who pursued the law as the way of righteousness,
have not attained their goal.

32 Why not?

Because they pursued it not by faith
but
as if it were by works.

They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall,
    and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

God is still graciously working on the Jews to come to know Him personally.

Romans 11:2, 5,6,25,26 (NASB)
God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew

In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved;

John 3:17
17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world,
but that the world might be saved through Him.

Let’s follow our Lord’s attitude, who loves all peoples,
all nations, tribes and tongues.


Israel of God
Galatians 6:14,15 (NASB)
14 But may it never be that I would boast,
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

15 For neither is circumcision anything,    (Jews)
nor uncircumcision,    (Gentiles)
but a new creation.
16 And those who will walk by this rule,
peace and mercy be upon them,
and upon the Israel of God.

Both Jews and Gentiles, circumcised & uncircumcised, through Jesus are the Israel of God,
and in Christ, a new creation who have received the promise of the Holy Spirit, the seal of the new Covenant.

After Jesus resurrected,

Acts 1:6-8 (NASB)
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying,
“Lord, is it at this time
You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;
but
you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;

and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Its interesting that Jesus did not answer their question about whether the time has come for Him to restore the kingdom to Israel.  Instead Jesus focused on the arrival of the Holy Spirit on all peoples, and the power they will receive by the Holy Spirit,
and God’s Kingdom will spread from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and to the remotest part of the earth.

Why?


Jesus answered,
“My kingdom is not
of this world”


John 18:36 (NASB)
36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.
If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting
so that I would not be handed over to the Jews;
but as it is,
My kingdom is not of this realm.”

Jesus focus is on the eternal kingdom of God for the whole world.  This kingdom is not of this world;  it is not physical, but spiritual.   Hence, the focus is not about land or pieces of land … but the Holy Spirit in hearts of  people, .. the reign of God in people’s hearts.

Daniel 2:44,45 (NASB)
44 “In the time of those kings,
the God of heaven will set up a kingdom
that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
45 This is the meaning of the vision of
the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands
a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

The book of Acts begins with the 120 in Jerusalem, and ends with Paul in Rome.  In Acts we follow the witnesses through Jewish Jerusalem, …. Judea, Samaria, provinces of Roman empire, island of Malta … and to Rome, the seat of Gentile power at that time,
…. the kingdom of God like yeast working through the whole dough.

This  is what the Lord said to the Israelites just before He gave them the ten commandments.

Exodus 19:5-6 (NASB)
Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant,

then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples,
for all the earth is Mine;

and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests
and a holy nation.

These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

Notice how Peter paraphrases this verse and applies it to a chosen race/people, a holy nation – Jew and Gentile believers in Christ.

1 Peter 2:9,10 (NASB)
But you are a chosen race,
a
royal priesthood,
a
holy nation,
a people for God’s own possession,

so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

10 for you once were not a people,
but now you are the people of God;

you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Peter also paraphrased from the prophet Hosea,  which Paul also quoted.

Romans 9:23-26 (NASB)
23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25 As He says also in Hosea,

“I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”
26 And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

John prophetically saw the gathered called &  chosen people of God
in Revelation at the end of the age.

Revelation 5:9,10 (NASB)
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God;
and they will reign upon the earth.”

Like Peter, Paul also reiterates the chosen holy and dearly loved people as the Jew and Gentile believers in Christ whether slave or free,

Colossians 3:11,12 (NIV)
11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew,
circumcised or uncircumcised,
barbarian, Scythian,
slave or free,
but Christ is all, and is in all
.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

In the Old Covenant, the Lord chose and loved the Israelites because of his promise to Abraham.

Deuteronomy 7:7 (NASB)
“The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

God gave the Israelites the land of the nations in Canaan
“not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart”
but because of “the wickedness of these nations in Canaan”.

Deuteronomy 9:4-6 (NASB)
“Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

“Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness
that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess,
for you are a stubborn people.

Today, who are the children/descendants of Abraham ?

Romans 9:6-8 (NASB)
But it is not as though the word of God has failed.

For they are not all Israel
who are descended from Israel
;

nor are they all children
because they are Abraham’s descendant
s,

but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.”

That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God,
but
the children of the promise are regarded as descendants

Galatians 3:6-9 (NIV)
So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.

Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham:
“All nations will be blessed through you.”
So those who rely on faith are blessed
along with Abraham, the man of faith.

In the preceding Galatians passage, Paul quoted from the promise God made to Abraham,

Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.

In Romans 9:6-8Paul says Israel is not all who are physically descended from Israel, or Abraham’s physical descendants.  The children of the promise, both Jews and Gentiles who have faith in Christ are the children of God, Israel.

Both Jews and Gentiles by faith in the finished work of Christ are sons of the living God;  a righteousness which is by faith.

Romans 9:30-33 (NASB)
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written,

Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”


 Children of Abraham

Luke 3:8,9
 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

The ax is already at the root of the trees,
and every tree that does not produce good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
 

Romans 2:28,29 (NASB)
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly,
nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.

29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly;
and circumcision is that which is of the heart,
by the Spirit, not by the letter;
and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Paul did not invent this idea of  circumcision of the heart
Its found in the Old Covenant, which expressed God’s intention,
so that we can all
love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul

Deuteronomy 30:6 (NASB)
Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart
and the heart of your descendants,
to love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul, so that you may live.

Galatians 3:6-9 (NASB)
Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.

The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you. So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

Romans 4:16 (NASB)
16 For this reason it is by faith,
in order that it may be in accordance with grace,
so that the promise will be guaranteed
to all the descendants,

not only to those who are of the Law,
but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham,
who is the father of us all

i.e. both Jews & Gentiles who put their faith in Jesus received by grace God’s promise.

Paul emphasised this further:

1 Cornithians 7:19(NASB)
Circumcision is nothing,
and uncircumcision is nothing,
but
what matters
is the keeping of the commandments of God.


he is a Jew who is one
inwardly; and circumcision
is that which is of the heart,
by the Spirit


In the New Covenant, decendants of Abraham are believers of Christ who have the circumcision of the heart by God’s Spirit.  Believers in Christ are sons of Abraham.

In the Old Testament, God speaks about circumcision of the heart in Dueteronomy 30:6, Deuteronomy 10:16, Jeremiah 4:4.  Hence, there is consistency between both Old Testament and New Testament, its not something added after the Old Covenant.

Interestingly, Paul mentioned that the gospel was preached to Abraham, that ALL nations will be blessed in Abraham.  Jesus confirmed this.

John 8:56 (NASB)
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day,
and he saw it and was glad.”

 Galatians 3:26-29 (NASB)
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free man,
there is neither male nor female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

29 And if you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s descendants,
heirs according to promise.

Let’s pause to summarise from the preceding verses,

Paul’s definition of children/descendants of Abraham
those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham,
those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

Paul’s definition of a Jew in the New Covenant,
he is a Jew who is one inwardly;
and circumcision is that which is of the heart,
by the Spirit, not by the letter;
and his praise is not from men, but from God

if you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham’s descendants,
heirs according to promise.

The inclusion of Gentiles as heirs to God’s promise was not an afterthought,
it was God’s original intention, right at the beginning,
The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith,
preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham

Further explanation on circumcision and faith in Romans 4 through a series of rhetoric questions.

Romans 4:3-13 (NASB)
For what does the Scripture say?

Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
But to the one who does not work,
but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly,
his faith is credited as righteousness
,

just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also?

For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.”

10 How then was it credited?

While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised?

Not while circumcised,
but
while uncircumcised;

11 and he received the sign of circumcision,
a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had
while uncircumcised,

so that he might be
the father of all who believe without being circumcised,
that righteousness might be credited to them,

12 and
the father of circumcision

to those who not only are of the circumcision,
but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.


those who are of faith
who are sons of Abraham


Abraham first believed God before he was circumcised (i.e. uncircumcised),
and he continued believing after he was circumcised.

Hence, Abraham is the father of both Jews (circumcised) and Gentiles (uncircumcised) who believe through the righteousness of faith in Jesus.  Both Jews and Gentiles are heirs of Abraham’s promise.

Hence, as in Hebrews 8:13, When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete, we no longer need to follow the outward ceremonial rituals and festivals of the old covenant, like outward circumcision to cut the covenant.  Thankfully Jesus blood is once and for all, he cut the covenant on our behalf. 

Romans 3:21-24, 29, 30
21 But now apart from the law
the righteousness of God has been made known,
to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

22 This righteousness is given through faith
in Jesus Christ to all who believe
.

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and
all are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

29 Or is God the God of Jews only?
Is he not the God of Gentiles too?

Yes, of Gentiles too,
30 since there is only one God,
who will
justify the circumcised by faith
and
the uncircumcised through
that same faith

Ephesians 2:11-22 (NASB)
11 Therefore remember that formerly

you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

13 But now

in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off
have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Both Jews and Gentiles,
made both groups into one
make the two into one new man,
reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross,
in one Spirit to the Father,

built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Jesus said,
14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold;
I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice;
and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

John 10:14-16 (NASB)

Thus, confirming what Paul wrote.

Through faith in  Jesus Christ, both Jews and Gentiles are reconciled in one body, have access in one Spirit to the Father, are fellow citizens of God’s household, built into the dwelling of God in the Spirit, the holy temple in the Lord.

God has a plan for both Jews and Gentiles as joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.  He does not reject the Jews nor the Gentiles.  God loves both Jews and Gentiles to come to Him through Jesus.

Ephesians 3:6, 10 (NASB)
to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs
and fellow members of the body,
and fellow partakers
of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
 

10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

God’s manifold wisdom is now made known through the church of reconciled Jews and Gentiles believers of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 7:19 (NASB)
19 Circumcision is nothing,
and uncircumcision is nothing,
but what matters is the
keeping of the commandments of God
.

John 14:15-17 (NKJV)
15 If you love Me, keep My commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth,

whom the world cannot receive,
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him;

but you know Him,
for He dwells with you and will be in you.

By obeying the Lord’s commands,
the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth abides with us.


No favoritism with God — everyone, every human being

Romans 1:16, 17;  2:6-11 (HCSB)
1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel,

because it is God’s power for salvation
to everyone who believes,
first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith,
just as it is written:
The righteous will live by faith.

2:6 He will repay each one according to his works:
eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality;
but wrath and indignation to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth but are obeying unrighteousness;

affliction and distress for every human being
who does evil,
first to the Jew, and also to the Greek;

10 but glory, honor, and peace for everyone
who does what is good,
first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

11 There is no favoritism with God.

God’s gift of eternal life through the Jesus to everyone who believes  — the righteous will live by faith.  There is no favoritism with God.


Jerusalem 

Jesus said to the Samaritan woman

John 4:21-24 (NASB)
21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Old Covenant – worship in Jerusalem
New Covenant – worship in spirit and truth

John 2:19-21 (NASB)
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.  22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Old Covenant – Temple in Jerusalem was historically destroyed in AD70.
New Covenant – Jesus his physical body, his temple was destroyed and three days later resurrected.

Galatians 3:22-26, 28, 31 (NASB)
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. 23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. 24 This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.
25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.

26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. 

28 And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. 

31 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.

The children of promise are the children of the New covenant, in the  Jerusalem that is above which is free.   This is the city Abraham was seeking by faith, along with those who were commended for their faith in Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11:10,16 (NASB)
for Abraham was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 12:22-24 (NASB)
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem,
and to myriads of angels,

23 to the general assembly and
church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,

and to God,
the Judge of all,
and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

24 and to Jesus,
the mediator of a new covenant,
and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

Hebrews 13:14 (NASB)
For here we do not have a lasting city,
but
we are seeking the city which is to come.

Believers of Jesus, through the righteousness by faith in Jesus, …  have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, because of the righteousness obtained by faith, and where Jesus reigns over His kingdom.

Psalm 2:6 (NASB)
“But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

Psalm 23:3,4 (NASB) (see also Psalm 15)
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood
And has not sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord

Micah 4:1,2 (NASB) (Isaiah 2:2,3)
And it will come about in the last days
That the mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established as the chief of the mountains.
It will be raised above the hills,
And the peoples will stream to it.
Many nations will come and say,
“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord
And to the house of the God of Jacob,
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For from Zion will go forth the law,
Even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Psalm 133 (NASB)
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.

(see also Isaiah 4)

Jesus said this is a city of light, illumined by Him.

Matthew 5:14 (NASB)
14 You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill

cannot be hidden;

Revelation 21:23 (NASB)
23 And the city
has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God has illumined it,
and its lamp
is the Lamb.

John saw the Holy city, the new Jerusalem in Revelation.

Revelation 21:1,2 (NASB)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

Revelation 3:12 (NASB)
12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

In this Jerusalem, there is no temple.

Revelations 12:22 (NASB)
22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

Before His crucifixion, when Jesus entered the physical city of  Jerusalem, his thoughts for the city are recorded in Luke 19: 41-44 (Matthew 23:23,38).


Fig Tree and all trees

Luke 21:29-31 (NASB)
 29Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees;
30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.

In Matthew and Mark, Jesus told the listeners to “behold the fig tree“,
in Luke He refers them to behold “the fig tree and all the trees“.
In all three accounts, he was saying when we see these things happening, recognize the kingdom of God is near, i.e. Jesus was referring to the things he said earlier in those passages about the end times.

Further accounts of fig tree,

Luke 13:6-8 (NIV)
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’

Luke 3:7-9 (NASB)
John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Mark 11:12-14 (NIV)
12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

One of the sure signs of the end is,

Matthew 24:14 (NASB)
14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.


On a final note,

how does God deal with nations?

Jeremiah 18:5-10 (NASB)
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord.
“Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!

The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom,
to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,
if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil,
I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.

And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom,
to build and to plant it,
10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice,
then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

God’s promises are not blank cheques,
it is conditional on our heart response.

God also look at our heart response when He announces judgments.
eg. Jonah and the repentance of the people of Nineveh, and God did not send judgment upon their city at that time.


Further reading:

Israel of God (click here)
Dr R Scott Clark, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California.

With God on our side (documentary)


Further notes:
Matthew 2:15 (NKJV)
and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
The prophecy which Jesus fulfilled is Hosea 11:1,2 (NKJV)
“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son
 
Jesus is also Israel
or fulfills Israel in this prophecy.
Galatians 3:16 (ESV)
16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

Christianese Guide | Stepping Stones

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
January 19, 2014
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License

 


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