Posts Tagged ‘new covenant’

Journey With Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive

by Julie Almanrode

Have you ever felt like you’ve ‘inherited lies’ in your faith? That something was missing and you needed more to grow in the grace as well as the knowledge of the Lord?  This is our family’s journey of how we ‘tore down’ those lies,  ‘replanted’ and built up a re-newed covenant walk of faith in the Messiah of Israel using scriptures in Jeremiah as our vision.  Journey With Jeremiah was written with reasoned and documented Biblical responses to questions we have been asked and challenged with over the past 30 years.  This book is a unique tool for those just learning about their Biblical heritage or needing a reference that explains to friends and family how you have not ‘fallen from grace’, but want to walk as Yeshua/Jesus taught and as the chosen, redeemed, holy nation of people of God should.

Part One explores many of the misunderstood doctrines in Christianity: the new covenant, the problem in Galatia, the law vs. the Law, Peter’s vision, and the timing of Jesus’ birth. Part Two brings the ancient shadows into the reality of Yeshua bringing prophetic insights into the unexplained ‘Jewish Festivals’ that leave holes in the pages of the New Testament. Part Three includes simple recipes, study guides, and crafts to incorporate into a walk of faith that celebrates the Biblical holy days.

We are not theologians, scholars or even affiliates with any ‘brand name’ ministry or teachers. We are  non-Jewish believers in Yeshua of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, who desired to know Him and our heavenly Father more deeply.  His Spirit was faithful to teach us.

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“What a refreshing drink from a deep well! This book answers so many questions those who are coming out from the church and into a true walk with the Messiah seem to have. Written in a personal, gentle way but covering every topic with such clarity and depth. You will be forever changed by reading this wonderful book. Highly recommend!” (Truth Unveiled)

“An eye opening read! I find myself going back time and again for reference. It’s a perfect companion for bible study, and a great starting point for exploring the Jewish context of the Bible and our Messiah. My life and walk with God has changed so much for the better since first opening for this book!” (SamanthaShirley)

Hebrews 8 – What is Aging and Obsolete?

“For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said,

“The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand  to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,  and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.”

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel  after that time, declares the Lord.  I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:7-13).

These are some of the most difficult verses in the new testament to understand.  They are often interpreted to mean there was an ‘old covenant of law’ that was replaced by a ‘new covenant of grace.’  However, these verses in Hebrews don’t mention ‘law’ or ‘grace,’ only ‘covenant.’

There were many covenants given by Elohim in the Scriptures.  There is the covenant with Noah to never destroy the earth by water; the covenant with Abraham to have many descendants and a land inheritance; the covenant with Aaron and the priesthood; the covenant with King David to have an eternal heir on his throne; the covenant with Isra’el which outlined Elohim’s instructions for living as His kingdom people; the covenant of salt; the covenant of peace; the covenant of mercy.  Which of these covenants could be considered ‘old and obsolete?’  Would the ‘new’ covenant replace Noah’s or David’s or Abraham’s or even Isra’el’? 

The Covenant of ‘Law’

If the covenant of law given to Isra’el needed to be replaced as has been suggested in reference to a new covenant of grace, how was it replaced?  The answer is found in Hebrews 8:7-8:

“For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.  But God found fault with the people….”

God found fault with the people.  He didn’t find fault with His laws or Torah.  They were the essence of how He desired His people to live in this world.  They were the rules by which those who joined the commonwealth were to live.  In fact, they are the instructions by which everyone who calls on the name of Yeshua are to live.

The problem was the people.    

In Exodus, Elohim writes out His commandments or instructions known as Torah.  Moshe presents the book of the Covenant, Elohim’s Torah, to the people.  This Covenant was a relationship covenant between two parties: Elohim and the people.  It was not one-sided and needed a response from the people of Isra’el.

“Then he (Moses) took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people.  They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey” (Exodus 24:7).

They responded that they would do everything Elohim commanded.  They would obey.  They accepted the relationship covenant.  Yet, only weeks later, these same people are being unfaithful and breaking the covenant relationship.   Because of their unfaithfulness, Elohim turned away from them.  He didn’t turn away from His Torah; He turned away from His people for being faithless to His teachings and instructions (Hebrews 8:9).

Elohim could not change His Torah for, according to Yeshua, it will exist until there is a new heavens and new (Matthew 5:17-19).   He could not change His holy, pure and righteous standard that defined sin (Romans 7:12).   He could, however,  change humanity because He is the potter and we are the clay.  Whatever change He made, it would have to enable those who loved Him to return to Him in faithfulness and obedience.  Whatever change He made would need to ‘renew’ the covenant relationship that had been broken.

The prophet Ezekiel describes what Elohim was going to do.  Instead of changing His Torah, He changed the people by giving them new hearts and a new spirit that would move them to keep His commands. 

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;  I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

He would also make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah.  In Hebrew, the word for ‘new’ is chodesh and literally means ‘renew.’  This covenant would not be like the one He made with the mixed-multitude that came out of Egypt.  It would be a covenant that could be kept faithfully.  By changing the hearts of the people, He could write His Torah on their hearts with His Spirit (Jeremiah 31:31).

Heart Condition of Humanity

Sha’ul (Paul) describes these two different heart conditions in Romans 7.  He explains that Torah is spiritual, but sinful men are unspiritual and hard hearted.   There will always be a battle between the carnal man and the spiritual Torah.  Carnal sinful people will never accept the ways of Elohim because they are spiritually understood (Romans 8:7-8).  There was never any way for the carnal Israelites to keep their promise of obedience.  Even Moshe told them to ‘circumcise their hearts’ – an impossible task for any human being.  Only through rebirth, becoming a new creation with a heart circumcised by Elohim could they ever have His instructions in their hearts.  A spiritual rebirth would change them from a carnal people into a spiritual people.  When this happened, the conflict between the spiritual Torah would no longer exist.  Faithfulness and obedience would be integrated into their new inner man.

Yeshua instituted the ‘renewed’ covenant with the people of Judah and Israel at Passover (Luke 22:20).  At Shavuot seven weeks later, Elohim poured out His Spirit to begin the process of the renewed covenant and the complete salvation of Isra’el.  However, the process is still ongoing.  All Isra’el is not saved, not all Jews are born again with new circumcised hearts.  Every man does not know Elohim from the least to the greatest and there are still those saying ‘know God.’  To say this ‘old has become obsolete’ isn’t true regarding the ‘new covenant’ and Isra’el and won’t be true until the ‘renewed’ covenant is fully realized as described by Jeremiah.

The Tabernacle and Priesthood

Some interpret the verses in Hebrews as meaning Aaronic priesthood is ‘old and obsolete’ and  was replaced with the ‘new’ royalpriesthood with Yeshua as High Priest.

They (the Levitical priesthood) serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.  This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Hebrews 8:4-6).

The Tabernacle in the wilderness was created as a shadow of the heavenly one.   This means the Tabernacle on earth and the heavenly Tabernacle exist together at the same time.  The sanctuary activities are simultaneous with the heavenly one casting its shadow on earth.  They are not linear; one happened, ended and the other began. 

The Levitical priesthood ministered in the shadow of the true heavenly Tabernacle.  The earthly Tabernacle was perfect for this present world and through Torah ordinances brought the worshipper closer to Elohim through gifts, offerings and sacrifices (Hebrews 10:1).

Yeshua’s sanctuary is not in this present world and never was.  His sanctuary is in the world to come and is the substance behind the shadow on earth.  As Yeshua walked in this present world, he prophesied about his coming Kingdom and how its shadow was represented by believers who followed him in this present age living out Kingdom principles.    

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his glorious light” (1 Peter 2:9).

These followers are a unique priesthood who have the renewed covenant heart through faith in King Messiah.  After their stoney, rebellious carnal heart was transformed into an obedient, loving spiritual heart of flesh, regardless of physical lineage, these men and women became part of a royal priesthood.   This royal priesthood will serve the High Priest in the Millennial Kingdom.

“We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man” (Hebrews 8:1).  

Yeshua could never have been a High Priest in the Tabernacle or Temple in Jerusalem because he was from the tribe of Judah and not from Levi (Hebrews 8:5).  Descendants of Judah never served in the Tabernacle; they were the lineage of kings.   Yeshua’s service as High Priest was not according the covenant made with Aaron and his descendants.  Yeshua’s calling as High Priest was by Elohim, in the order of Melchizedek who had ‘no beginning nor end.’  Thus, the High Priesthood of Yeshua could not be something ‘new’ replacing something ‘old’ for it has existed for all time.

“No one takes this honor upon himself he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.  So Messiah also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest.  But God said to him, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.  And he says in another place, ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek’ (Hebrews 5:4-6).

The prophetic nature of the Millennial Kingdom refutes the idea of an ‘old priesthood’ being replaced by a ‘new’ one.    According to the prophet Ezekiel, during the Millennial Kingdom there will be another Temple in Jerusalem. As required by Torah the Levites will once again serve and minister in this Temple as the priesthood.  As the eternal promised covenant to Aaron, one of his descendants will be the high priest doing the Temple services.

However, something extraordinary will be occurring in the Millennial Kingdom.   Yeshua, as the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, will return to earth.  He will rule and reign as High Priest and King with an iron scepter.   His resurrected and glorified followers, his royal priesthood, will rule and reign with him with iron rods (Psalm 2:9, Revelation 2:27, 19:15).

For one thousand years, the mortal Aaronic priesthood and the immortal royal priesthood will serve together in the Millennial Kingdom.   The two realms of mortal and immortality will converge on earth at the same time in Jerusalem.  There is no linear ‘old’ and ‘new’ for the coming Kingdom will be on this same ‘old’ earth.

What is ‘Aging and Obsolete’?

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:20-22).

Sha’ul explains exactly what is aging and becoming obsolete: this present world, the fallen creation, the aging earth.   Since the fall of man in the Garden, the creation has been in bondage to death also waiting for its redemption.   Everything in this present world is aging and becoming obsolete.  Along with mankind who groans for complete salvation, the creation moans and cries out for deliverance.

Noah experienced a change in the heavens and the earth through the flood, but he didn’t receive a new heaven and earth.  Even though there were many physical differences and new regulations were given by Elohim,  it was still the same heavens and earth.  Noah was also given an eternal covenant promise in the rainbow that Elohim would never again judge the earth by water. The earth that Noah and his family repopulated continued to see death and decay which continues until this very day with the life span of humans dropping from 1000 years to 80. 

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).

According to the prophet Isaiah and the apostles Peter and John,  the old heaven and earth will disappear and there will be a new heaven and new earth.  The covenant that Elohim made with the earth regarding seedtime and harvest, summer and winter, will cease.  At some point in the future, this present heaven and earth will become old and obsolete and a new heaven and earth will replace it.

“But in keeping with his promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth…” (2 Peter 3:13).

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1).

While we live on this earth in this present age, there is an ‘old’ order of things that still exist.  The Levitical priesthood, the Temple in Jerusalem and its sanctuary services and the Torah are aging and becoming obsolete, but will continue until the new heavens and earth. As long as this present heaven and earth exists,  the law of sin and death will be in effect.  As long as the law of sin and death is in effect, mankind will cry out for salvation of their physical bodies.    When redemption for heaven, earth and mankind is complete, then and only then will “the old order of things have passed away” and there will be a new reality (Revelation 21:4).

“I did not see a temple in the city [New Jerusalem], because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple….  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life….  The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads…. And they will reign for ever and ever…”(Revelation 21: 22-27,  22:4-5).

Yahweh’s Kingdom will be in the new heavens and new earth.  His holy city, the New Jerusalem, will descend from the heaven and He will make His dwelling with mankind.  There will be no need for a Temple or priesthood for drawing near to Elohim.  The Torah will become obsolete because everyone will know Yahweh from the least to the greatest.  Wickedness and sin will have been completely removed from the kingdom.   Sin and death will be swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54).  A completely new heaven and earth will be established inhabited with glorified people, a restoration of the Garden of Eden.

©2011 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

The Heart of the New Covenant

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).

For many people, the new covenant is believed to be the 26 books of the Bible known as the New Testament.  For others, the new covenant replaces something ‘old’  they refer to as the ‘law’ for a something new they call ‘grace.’  This is taught as the old covenant was God’s law (Torah) and the new covenant is the removal of the Torah from a believer’s life so we have ‘freedom.’  What do the Scriptures actually teach about the new covenant?

The Original Covenant with Israel

A covenant, according to is an agreement, usually formal,  between two parties to do or not do something specified.   In the Bible, what was the ‘old, formal agreement’ that constituted the Old Covenant?  How was it made? Who were the two parties?  What were the formalities?

“Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the House of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.  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….  When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the LORD has said we will do” (Exodus 19:4-5,8).

With a positive affirmation from the people, Moses goes up onto the mountain.  God writes the specifics of the covenant with His own finger.  Moses comes down from the mountain with two stone tablets on which are written The Ten Commandments.  He reads all the words of the covenant that God made with his people.   

“Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words” (Exodus 24:3-8).

Covenants are sealed with blood and this unique covenant between God and Israel was no different.   Moses sacrificed bulls and sprinkled the blood on the altar and on the people.  Through the blood,  this original covenant with Israel was instituted and they entered into a covenant relationship with God.  A second time, the people respond that everything God commanded in the Book of the Covenant, they would do.

“He [Moses] got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar.  Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.”

Broken Covenant

Then, the worst happened.   Within a very short time,  these very same people who promised to obey God broke their part of the covenant by taking His name in vain and worshipping idols.  They made a golden calf, dedicated it to Him, and worshipped it as they would have in Egypt with drunkenness and immorality (Exodus 32). 

Angered by their faithlessness, God punished everyone who came out of Egypt and their offspring for an entire generation.   He forced the Israelites to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until a new generation was ready to enter the Promised Land.   At the end of the 40 years, Moses spoke the commandments of God to this new generation of Israelites.  He tells them to fear God, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him and circumcise their hearts.

“And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the  LORD’s  commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?  To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.  Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer” (Deuteronomy 10:12-16).

Imagine being one of these second generation Israelites.  After moving around in the wilderness and watching your parents and grandparents die as the penalty for disobedience, you now need to circumcise your heart?  What did that mean?  How did one do such a thing?  The task must have seemed confusing and unattainable. 

Moses gives them hope. He promises that God will circumcise their hearts which will cause them to love Him with their whole being.  In other words, he promises that God will not only hold up His side of the covenant, but make it possible for them to keep their ‘I will.’

“The LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love theYahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6).

Even though a whole new generation of Israelites had learned a lot of lessons while being refined in the desert, the covenant still had a problem.  The people consistently disobeyed.    It wasn’t God’s instructions that had the problem, it was the hearts of the people.

“For if there had been nothing wrong with that first [covenantal agreement]  no place would have been sought for another.  But the LORD  found fault with the people and declared I will make a new covenant ….”(Hebrews 8:8).

Because God found fault with the people, something had to be done.  He could not change His Torah, the standard for His holiness and the essence of Himself.  He could not remove the Torah because it will exist until there is a new heavens and new earth (Matthew 5:17-19).   He could, however, as Creator,  modify His creation.  After all, He is the potter and the people were His clay.  The change He made would enable His people to return to Him in faithfulness.  The change  He made would ‘renew’ the covenant relationship that had been broken.

Not Entirely New, Renewed

In Hebrew, the word ‘new’ is chadashah. A form of this word is used to describe the beginning of each new month, chodesh. To understand chadash, take a look at the moon or the new moon celebration, Rosh Chodesh. Does the earth actually receive an entirely new moon each month?  Does the old moon fall out of the sky and become replaced with a completely new one?  Of course not, and herein lies the meaning of the word ‘new’ in the Hebrew.  It means ‘renew.’  Every month as the moon goes through its lunar cycle from new to crescent to full back to new, it is understood as being ‘renewed.’

A derivation of the same word or chadashah is used for ‘new’ when referring to the new covenant or B’rit Chadashah.  It is not a completely ‘new’ covenant where something old is thrown away to be replaced by something completely new.  It is a ‘renewal’ or ‘refreshing’ of the covenant that would deal with the fault of the people.

The Prophets and the Renewed Covenant

After Moses’ prophecy in Exodus regarding a circumcised heart, God used other prophets, especially Jeremiah and Ezekiel, to elaborate on  the details of the new or renewed covenant.

“The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD.  This is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD.  I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

These verses in Jeremiah prophesy of the new or renewed covenant specific to the House of Israel and the House of Judah.  Renewing the original covenant with Israel became necessary because it was the Israelites as a nation who had broken the original covenant.  According to Jeremiah, in  God’s eyes, breaking the original covenant was the same as breaking a marriage contract between a Husband (Himself) and a wife (His people).

Even after all of Israel’s faithlessness and idolatries, God still desired that Israel be His treasured possession, His wife.  Because of His lovingkindness, mercy and grace, God promised to renew the covenant that His people had broken.  He promised to renew their ‘marriage contract.’

“I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations ….  I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.  Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  Moreover, I will give you a new (renewed) heart and put a new (renewed) spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:24-27).

The renewed covenant included more than just forgiving Israel’s wicked, lawless ways and forgetting the sins they committed.   God was going to gather His chosen people from the nations where He had dispersed them and bring them back to the Promised Land.  He was going to sprinkle clean water on them and cleanse them from their idolatries.  More importantly, He was going to change their hearts.  Instead of just having an outward flesh circumcision, the foreskins of their hearts would be cut and removed.

The Hebrew word for ‘cutting’ is b’rit.  It means to ‘seal a covenant through cutting.’  It is most familiar in the b’rit-milah, the terminology used for a baby boy’s circumcision when he is eight days old and his foreskin is cut.  At this time the baby enters into  the covenant of faith given to Abraham. B’rit is also used in the Hebrew rendering of the ‘new covenant’ or Brit Chadashah meaning the New Cutting or Renewed Circumcision.  The Renewed Circumcision would be done by God’s Spirit and change the stony heart of a rebellious person into a heart of flesh that brings obedience and life.

This prophecy was not just good news, it was great news.  Whenever God instituted the New Circumcision, the House of Judah and the House of Israel would no longer have to struggle to obey the commands.  God would cause them to walk in His ways and uphold their side of the marriage covenant through a circumcision of their hearts.

The Renewed Circumcision and Yeshua

In Luke chapter 22, Jesus celebrates a Passover seder with his disciples.  He lifts a cup of wine and says, “This cup is the new covenant [new circumcision] in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Can you imagine how these men would have received those words knowing the context in which they were spoken?  They were Jewish men waiting for the fulfillment of the prophecy in Ezekiel.   They were part of the Israelite nation wondering when the prophecy of Jeremiah would take place. 

In Greek the word ‘new’ is kainos. It means ‘unprecedented and unheard of.’  To have the Rabbi you have followed for three years lift a cup of Passover wine and proclaim it to be the cup of the new covenant was definitely unprecedented and unheard of!

The disciples understood mediation of covenants.  Moses had been the mediator of the original covenant with blood from animals.  Now Yeshua would be doing the same thing; however, there were  a few differences.  The blood would not be of bulls or calves, but the blood that flowed in his veins.  The blood would not be sprinkled, but poured out.  Yeshua, whose name means ‘salvation’ was becoming the promised Seed to bring redemption to Israel.  With his body and blood, he was renewing the broken covenant and bringing reconciliation between a Husband and His wife.

With Yeshua’s death on Passover,  followed by his resurrection three days later on Feast of Firstfruits, the new circumcision became a living hope in the disciples’ lives.  Forty days later at his ascension, Yeshua tells them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the promise.  They knew what the the promise was because Yeshua told them as the Passover seder: “If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15).  They obeyed, went to Jerusalem and waited.

Ten days later on the day of Pentecost, on the memorial day of the giving of the original covenant,  God poured out His Spirit on the House of Judah and the House of Israel.   As Jewish people from all over the world gathered in Jerusalem, a violent wind came from heaven and filled one of the areas in the Temple.   The disciples who were gathered saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  They were all filled with the Spirit of God and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2).   Through the flames of a refining fire, God transformed the hearts of 3000 Jews and Israelites on that day from stone to flesh.   Through the violent wind of His Spirit, God forgave their wickedness and forgot their generations of sinfulness.   The new covenant promised to Israel had become reality.  The new covenant of circumcision instituted by Yeshua had begun … with Israel.

Peter tells the crowd of gathered Israelites from every nation, “God has raised Yeshua to life, and we are all witnesses of it.  Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear” (Acts 2:32).

Those Who Are Far Away

On the day of Pentecost when Peter is speaking to the crowd in Jerusalem, he says,

“The promise (of the Holy Spirit) is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39).

Peter acknowledges two different types of people who would receive the Spirit of God: those Jews who were  standing there in Jerusalem and those Jews who made up the scattered tribes of Israel who didn’t trek all the way to Jerusalem. Those who were in the city, whose hearts had been transformed by the Spirit,  would take the message of redemption to all the Jewish people living in the surrounding nations. 

I don’t believe Peter was referring to the gentiles as far off.   I don’t believe he was thinking in that moment that the Spirit of God could move Philip from one place to another where there was an Ethiopian eunuch reading the book of Isaiah.  I don’t believe he was thinking about a Pharisee named Paul who would first persecute and murder Messianic Jews before becoming born again on the road to Damascus.  Peter’s understanding of far off had to do with proximity with the Land of Israel and the Jewish people in the surrounding nations. It wasn’t until many years later when he had the vision of  unclean animals in the sheet that he understood the message of salvation going to the gentiles. 

Far Away Another Perspective

There is a serious ramification for non-Jewish people if the renewed covenant spoken of by Jeremiah is only given to the House of Israel and the House Judah.  If you were not Jewish or did not know from which Tribe of Israel you hailed, then you were one of the nations, gentiles by birth.   The message of the new covenant that the Jewish people around you were excitedly talking  about was not for you.  It was not made with you, a non-Jew, or with the nations in which you lived, or even so-called Christians because there was no such group of people that existed.   

“Therefore, remember that … you who are gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands) – remember that … [you are] separate from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world…” (Ephesians 2:11-13).

What if those who were far away weren’t the Jews, they were the gentiles, the people of the nations who were uncircumcised in the flesh?   As gentiles, they were without the God of Israel.  They had no understanding of the covenants between God and Israel because they were foreigners to the promises and covenants.  Everything about Jewish life in Israel was strange in concept and action.  Being far away meant that they could only look at a distance at these chosen people who had a God that made promises and kept them.

Though gentiles may have wanted to have a relationship with the God of Israel and worship Him, there was one huge barrier.  In the Temple it was called the ‘wall of partition.’  They could not pass that wall and draw near to God unless they went through something called a ritual conversion of circumcision to become a legal Jew.  If they did not choose to become legally Jewish, they had no hope for receiving a renewed covenant because they never had an original covenant. 

That didn’t mean they didn’t break God’s commands and sin.  It didn’t mean they felt no guilt when they  wronged another person.  It didn’t mean they didn’t hope that their sacrifices to their gods, surrendering of their children to the fire,  would somehow appease their gods and set them free from a cycle of death.

Soon, a  Jewish man named Paul began traveling through their cities telling them that peace with the God of Israel was being offered to them.  This  peace would bring them near to all those things they desired, but didn’t know how to receive.  This peace would bring reconciliation between them and their Creator.  This peace would bring forgiveness and their guilt would go away.  The ‘wall of partition’  that separated them from the promises and covenants of Israel had been removed and they could worship the God of Israel with the Jewish people, like the Jewish people. The best part of this news of peace – it was not hostile, it did not require the ritual of cutting the foreskin of their flesh.  This peace came by faith. 

“He [Yeshua] came and preached peace to you who were far away [gentiles] and peace to those who were near [the Jews]” (Ephesians 2:17-18). 

Faith, Abraham and His Children

“For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law [ritual conversion through circumcision].  Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too,  since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised [Jews]  by faith and the uncircumcised [gentiles] through that same faith” (Romans 28-30). 

Abraham was promised by God in Genesis that all nations would be blessed through him.  What was so special about Abraham that God would bless in in such a powerful way?   He had faith in God and God’s promises.

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law [circumcised] but also to those who have the faith of Abraham [uncircumcised]. He is the father of us all.   As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.   He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not” (Romans 14:16-17). 

“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” (Galatians 3:7-9).

A gentile enters the new covenant the same way as Abraham, by putting their faith in God and his plan of salvation demonstrated on Mount Moriah.  They have to believe that Yeshua is the promised Seed, the One who became a substitute sacrifice for us like the ram that took the place of Isaac.  Like Abraham they have to  believe that God is the giver of life and can resurrect people from the dead as He did Yeshua and ‘figuratively’ did with Isaac.  Like Abraham and his physical descendants through Isaac and Jacob, they have to put their faith in the blood of the one called the ‘Lamb of God.’  They have to believe Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel and that salvation to the nations comes through the Jews (John 4:22).

Two Covenants or One?

“For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people…” (Hebrew 8:7).

This verse is often ignored when the new covenant from Jeremiah is reiterated in Hebrews.  The reason for a new covenant had nothing to do with abolishing an old one, especially when ‘the old one’  is considered God’s teachings and instructions.  This is a gross misunderstanding of prophetic Scripture and the new covenant itself.  The problem of sin was not God’s Torah, the problem of sin was in the hearts of mankind.  Stony rebellious hearts kept them from obeying God’s original covenant.

Paul says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”  Everyone, whether Jew or gentile, needs a new heart in order to leave their rebellious ways and idolatrous lifestyle contrary to God’s commands.   Just like Israel, when gentiles enter into the new covenant by faith in Yeshua, they receive the Spirit of God which transforms their hearts from stone to flesh.   It is on these new hearts that the God of Israel writes His laws, the same laws found in the Torah He gave to Israel. 

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

One of the most over-looked aspects regarding gentiles coming to faith in the Messiah of Israel is their becoming members of God’s household and part of the commonwealth of Israel.   Faith brings more to the life of a gentile than just ‘being saved’ from the ‘law of sin and death;’ it brings a whole new identity within a holy nation that is united by a Sovereign King and His commandments.  Through faith in Yeshua, gentiles are grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel and receive the same life nourishing sap from its roots as do the Jews (Romans 11:17).

According to Romans 11,  if the gentile branches which are grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel by faith become arrogant over the Jewish branches, as has been the case for most of church history, they will be cut off, lose their nourishment and die. Gentile believers in Yeshua must always make sure that they have not become arrogant over the natural branches because a holy root supports them both.

Gentiles need to accept their Biblical heritage within the Hebrew Scriptures and be at peace with Yeshua’s Jewish brothers and sisters.  They are not to put up a new covenant wall of partition that excludes God’s chosen people by abolishing that which establishes them as God’s covenanted people.  Gentiles must remember that adoption into God’s family as children was given to Israel first.  God revealed His glory to Israel first.  All of the covenants, the Torah, the Temple services,  the priesthood, and the promises of a world to come were given to Israel first.   Through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and King David is traced the human ancestry of our salvation, Messiah Yeshua (Romans 9:4).

When gentiles understand that the new covenant is not a set of 26 books found in the backs of their Bibles, it is not a new religion called Christianity started by a man named Jesus, and it doesn’t just contain one verse from the gospel of John, they will come into their fullness as citizens in the commonwealth of Israel.  When gentiles understand that God wants to write His Torah filled with His promises, covenants, and outline for living a set apart life for Him, there will finally be peace in God’s household.    When gentiles understand the all-inclusiveness of the renewed covenant instituted by Yeshua’s blood on the cross, they will finally put to death the hostility between these two religious systems and become the one new covenant man as they are supposed to be.

“For he himself [Yeshua] is our peace, who has made the two groups [Jew and gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility [in Temple worship],by setting aside in his flesh the law [of ritual conversion] with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,  and in one body to reconcile both of them  [Jew and gentile] to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility [their religious differences]” (Ephesians 2:11-16).

©2010 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.