The New Covenant is Jewish

by Lonnie Lane 

 

 

One person in ministry wrote a rather disturbed email to me about an issue I agree is a serious one, that of whether or not to preach the Gospel to the Jews. Following is part of a longer email, but here’s the crux of the issue of concern: “We do see danger and I get angry when I see people distorting the truth and saying that the Jews are OK the way they are, because they have another covenant with God which was never broken. Therefore, we do not need to evangelize them, just love and support them financially and visit Israel. Some of my dearest friends, apostles even, are saying this…. To say that there is another way for the Jews or any other people (to obtain salvation) is a distortion and denial of the very gospel truth preached by Jesus and the apostles. If Paul and Peter would be among us today, I wonder if they would shake hands with (any preacher) who forbids praying in Jesus’ name when rabbis are present. I believe Paul would rebuke him harshly, more than he did Peter for his hypocrisy with the Greeks.” (See Galatians 2:11-13).

This person went on to quote something I said in a recent article, which was, “Christians are misinterpreting the new covenant, assuming that the old is done away with.…The old is no more, any one who comes, must come through the blood which is the basis of the new, for Jew or Gentile, that is what I read in the word of God.”

Our Christian sense of salvation is not entirely what Israel's was. They saw salvation as corporate, as national.

I think I need to do some clarifying here. Perhaps others of you have had the same concerns. I’m in complete agreement with this person that there is only one way to salvation – through the atoning blood of Yeshua. Yeshua Himself said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Is coming to the Father what He meant as salvation?  We interpret it as such. Our Christian sense of salvation is not entirely what Israel’s was. They saw salvation as corporate, as national. The nation was saved from disaster and their enemies. That is in part why they were looking for Yeshua to be a king who would “save” them from their enemies, meaning Rome. But Yeshua brought the idea of salvation to a much more personal level. To Him, salvation was equal to having a personal relationship with His Father. The only way to that relationship was to have sin entirely removed, not just forgiven. It meant restoring the person to a position of being without the sin nature that has separated mankind from God since the Fall of Adam and Eve.

Torah makes it clear that transgressions, e.g., sins, not only need to be forgiven (the God part) but restitution must be made (ordinarily the human part) so that what was lost through the transgression was restored. When Yeshua paid the price for our sin, He made the way for both forgiveness and restitution, in that we were not only forgiven but we were restored to the relationship with God that was lost in the Fall. That’s why Yeshua said, “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”(John 14:6), knowing His death would accomplish “the way” back to God.  

The whole point of the entire sacrificial system of Israel was a series of “rehearsals” (Moedim) pointing to the blood atonement of Yeshua as the ultimate atonement for all mankind. But here is the two-fold difference between the Old Covenant sacrifices and the New. (Pay attention now, this is important, folks.) The sacrifices of Israel brought forgiveness to Israel, but they did not restore Israel to intimate fellowship with God such as born again believers enjoy. Nor did the sacrifices remove the sin nature from Israel making them new creations. That only happens through Messiah Yeshua:  “…If anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creature; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). It’s the sin nature that has “passed away.” The “new” is all that comes to us through being restored to the Father which only happened when Messiah Yeshua inaugurated the New Covenant with His blood. Yeshua symbolized what was about to take place when He offered a cup of wine and said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20, my emphasis). 

Lest we view His words as simply the prototype of what we call the communion cup without being in touch with His experience, when Yeshua talked about “this cup which is poured out” He knew it meant great suffering for Him. That night, knowing He would be taken to be crucified, He cried out in desperation, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me.” We have no idea how much time or torment took place between that sentence and the next: “Yet not what I will, but what You will" (Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42). Thank God He was willing to pay that price to restore us to Abba!!

So to say that Israel has their own covenant with God apart from the New Covenant is to leave the Jewish people out of precious communion with the Father that only born again believers can experience. It may forgive individual sins, for that is what the Old Covenant sacrifices forgave, but it still leaves them in the sin nature that would mean eternal separation from God. Individual sins may no longer be counted against them through the sacrifices, but only sinlessness can be in, let alone remain, God’s presence and that is only accomplished by the atonement of Yeshua. I think we can all agree, with that information, that to say that Israel does not need the New Covenant is to be unaware or misinformed of a number of facts, including what was just explained.

Now, on the other hand, for those who think Israel has a covenant with God which was never broken, God Himself said that He gave Israel the New Covenant because they broke the old one: Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:31, 32;  my emphases.)

God did give a covenant to Abraham, with promises to him and to his descendents: “Now 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. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly." Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will 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 nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. God said further to Abraham, "Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations” (Genesis 17:1-9). 

The covenant God made with Abraham wasn't a conditional covenant.

But notice, all these promises are earth-bound. They have to do with things throughout generations and the land and nations. But they do not have to do with eternal things. They do not have any mention of sin, except to say, “Walk before me and be blameless.” The word blameless (perfect, KJV) in Hebrew is “tamiym” which means: Entirely (figuratively or morally), without blemish, complete, full, sincerely, sound, without spot, undefiled, upright, whole. It indicates constantly. In other words, as you go through your life, do so with the constant sense of being fully and entirely aware that you are walking before God, keeping yourself undefiled and upright, wholly God’s. We see this in Abraham’s life with the exception of when he had a lapse of faith and feared for his life over the issue of Sarah being wanted by a king. No other people group on the planet walked before God in this way, or at all, except Israel. My brother and his family call their daily family devotional time Tamiym Time. Might be worth considering those standard during our devotional times for our own lives.

The covenant God made with Abraham wasn’t a conditional covenant. Lord knows that if it was, Israel would not be in the Land today, nor would any Jews have survived the onslaughts intended to destroy them over the centuries again and again. That the Jews survive is a testimony to God’s unbreakable covenant with them: 

Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: If this fixed order departs from before Me," declares the LORD, then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done," declares the LORD (Jeremiah 31:35-37). 

As long as the sun is shining, and the moon and stars watch over the nights, as long as there are waves on the sea, the Jewish people will remain a people. They cannot be destroyed by either man’s or satan’s attempts, despite intentions to do so. So when Israel’s neighbors declare they will drive Israel off the map so they are no more, it may get messy for a while, but despite their boasting, the Jews will survive, though the nations who come against her may not.  

So as for the above statement that, “The Jews are OK the way they are, because they have another covenant with God which was never broken” it is true there is this covenant cannot be broken because God alone will keep it, but it is not a covenant which will bring to Israel all that being born again will. That requires the New Covenant, though it does not invalidate or override God’s covenant with Abraham and his physical descendents. However, here’s where the misinterpretation come in. Those who subscribe to a “dispensationalist” doctrine see Israel’s covenant as having to do with the Land, while the New Covenant has to do with Christians and heaven. They see the Jews as inheriting the land on the earth, while New Covenant believers’ inheritance is spiritual. I suspect this doctrine is where the thinking that the Jews have “another covenant” that doesn’t require that the Gospel be preached to them comes from.

Only through Yeshua can we know our God personally and intimately.

This comes from a further misunderstanding that somehow the New Covenant is a “church thing” and doesn’t recognize that it was God’s covenant to Israel first, way before any non-Hebrew people were included. To see it ‘dispensationally’ is to see from man’s perspective, not God’s. God set apart a people unto Himself. Mostly it included Israel but was always open to Gentiles who wished to live with Israel and who would abide by His ways. The New Covenant threw open the doors to any Gentiles who wished to receive God’s offering of forgiveness through Yeshua’s atonement AND live in such a way as to abide by His ways – to live according to a tamiym walk before Him without having to live with or under Israel’s covering. But always, Old Covenant or New, God required holiness and righteousness from His people, be they Jews or Gentiles. In this sense, the essence of the Old Covenant maintains in the New and has not changed. To make the covenant with the Jews primarily about Land and not relationship with God is to miss the whole point of God’s heart toward them altogether.   

The New Covenant, which God made with Israel (to make the point yet again), is this: "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…. for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:32, 34). The first Jewish disciples knew they were living in the fulfillment of this covenantal promise. History records that the Gentiles soon saw themselves as the custodians of this New Covenant. Gentiles have preached it to Gentiles for millennia. However, God is moving again among the Jewish people to bring them once again into a New Covenant relationship with Himself, ever since the Jews have been back in the Land He promised to them. Yes, the covenant promise of the Land is being fulfilled (despite opposition), but Jews still need salvation to be restored to fellowship with God that only the New Covenant and a born again experience with Yeshua can bring about. So yes, we do need to preach the Gospel to the Jewish people. We do need to pray that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).

As a Jewish woman who was active in synagogue, who counted my rabbi as a close friend with whom I had many talks about our Judaism, I can tell you unequivocally that no matter how aware I was of being one of the chosen people, or that somehow God’s promises to Abraham were mine, no matter how Zionistic I was knowing that the Land of Israel was ours, no matter how many times I recited the prayers or remembered how we were saved by God out of Egypt, or went to Israel, or never ate pork or shrimp, I had no personal relationship with God. None whatsoever. I could say prayers from the prayer book, or occasionally ask God for something, but I had no real adoration for Him, no sense of gratefulness to Him, no sense of His nearness nor was I aware of His protection or covering. He was in heaven, I was down here. How could He even understand my weak human plight?

It was not until I met Yeshua, until He introduced Himself to me (I would have no idea of how to find Him had He not reached out to me), not until I was born again did I have any relationship with my God. The difference was the difference between existing and LIFE, between murky shadows and brilliant sunlight…. I could go on and give examples but they are wholly inadequate. Suffice it to say, I and every Jewish believer will tell you, Israel needs to have the Gospel preached to them. Only those who “call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Only through Yeshua can we know our God personally and intimately. And to know Him is to love Him. We might love Him by afar, but Yeshua gives us His Spirit and enables us to draw near to God who is Spirit. 

But how will Israel know if they are not presented with the message of their own New Covenant? How can they believe if they are not told? As Paul said, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?(Romans 10:14). He wasn’t talking about sending missionaries to a mission field far away. He was talking about the Jews, the ones who live near you, to the ones you know or meet. Please. Hear God’s heart in this. Share the Gospel with your Jewish neighbors in a way they can hear it. Tell them how grateful you are to have come to know their Messiah. Tell them the New Covenant is theirs. Tell them what it means to you to have come to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob so personally through Yeshua. Sow those seeds of faith. Water them with prayer. “Speak kindly to Jerusalem”(Isaiah 40:2), no matter what the world says about and to them. You are not of the world. You are of God, and He loves the Jewish people. He’s counted as one of them! 

 

 Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2010. 

 
  

 

Lonnie Lane

For Lonnie's other articles, check out our Exclusive Articles and Resources, especially the section on One New Man.

Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif.  All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

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