Covenants of Israel

Introduction

God began His plan to establish the nation of Israel with the call of Abraham and the making of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Abrahamic covenant is the foundation for all subsequent covenants that God made with Israel. God’s goal in making the covenants was for Israel to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19.5-6). While the nation has failed to achieve this goal it will be achieved in a future day for God is sovereign and keeps His promises. Everything God promised the nation through the covenants will be fulfilled when the Lord returns to set up His kingdom on earth and rule as “David’s greater Son” (Luke 1.31-33, 20.41-44; Matthew 6.10).

God revealed in the Abrahamic Covenant that Gentile blessing would henceforth be mediated through Israel (Isaiah 42.1, 60.1-3; Zechariah 8.22-23). This blessing assumed the obedience of national Israel. Blessings to Israel would ultimately come through the Messiah and blessing to Gentiles through Israel. But how could Gentiles be blessed in the face of Israel’s disobedience, i.e., rejection of their Messiah? The answer was that they couldn’t. God had no covenantal provision, no plan to bless Gentiles apart from Israel’s national obedience.

But God is tricky. Being sovereign and omniscient, He knew Israel would reject the Messiah and had a plan to bless Gentiles in spite of Israel’s failure. Instead of moving forward with the prophetic plan of the Day of the Lord, God expressed His love and grace to mankind by the call and conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Through Paul, God created the Church, the body of Christ, not on the basis of covenant (Ephesians 2.11-14) but through Paul, “the apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11.13). God created the body of Christ by grace alone (Ephesians 2.5, 8-9). This new creation, the body of Christ, was a “secret” (μυστήριον) until the ascended, resurrected Lord revealed it to Paul. Ultimately, God’s plans cannot be thwarted, even by the disobedience of man. He blessed Gentiles through the creation of the Church in the face of Israel’s fall (Romans 11.25). Yet a future day remains for national Israel. In that day, Israel will become obedient and fulfill their role as a blessing to the nations (Matthew 23.39; Romans 11.15). God is sovereign!

The Covenants

God structured His relationship with Israel around covenants. A covenant normally is defined as an agreement or contract between two parties. An examination of the covenants God made with Israel reveals they were decidedly one-sided. Put another way they were sovereign declarations. Even the Mosaic Covenant, which is viewed as conditional, in the final analysis, turns out to be unconditional, i.e., sovereignly established, because its provisions will be fulfilled through the New Covenant. Therefore, the best way to view these covenants is as promises.

God made six covenants with Israel. They are the following:

The Scriptures teach these covenants were given to Israel alone (cf. Romans 9.1-5, Ephesians 2.11-12). The Scriptures declare national Israel will exist forever and God will never forsake the nation (Isaiah 14.1; 59.20-21; 61.8-9; Jeremiah 31.35-37; Ezekiel 16.59-63; Hosea 2.16-23). God established a relationship with Abraham and that relationship began a new period of time in how God would deal with the human race. Gentiles would be blessed by being united to Israel (e.g. proselytes) and through abiding by the Abrahamic Covenant (i.e. Genesis 12.3). Examples of such blessing were the Jews in Egypt under Joseph, Nineveh (Jonah), Babylon and Persia (Daniel), etc. God has not structured His relationship with the Church, the body of Christ, through covenants. God’s relationship with the Church, His body, is structured on grace. It is a new creation, a secret God revealed to and through the apostle Paul. The finished work of Christ (His death and resurrection) is the basis of God’s relationship to the Church. The finished work of Christ also the basis of His relationship with Israel for it was Christ’s work that restored man’s broken relationship with God through Adam’s sin.

As noted, the foundational covenant for Israel’s relationship with God was the Abrahamic Covenant. It formed the groundwork for the promises that would be revealed in the other covenants. The below chart outlines the covenants. Notice that the Mosaic Covenant is replaced by the New Covenant and that all the covenants will be fulfilled when Jesus reigns as King in the Messianic Kingdom (Jeremiah 23.5; Zechariah 14.9).

<td↑ Sabbatic Covenant Israel is ruled by the Messiah, Who provides blessings to the nations.

Jesus the Messiah-King Fulfills Israel’s Covenants
During the Messianic Kingdom

New Covenant
(Spiritual Empowerment)
Davidic Covenant
(Kingship)

Land Covenant
(Kingdom)

↑ Mosaic Covenant↑ Sabbatic CovenantIsrael is ruled by the Messiah, Who provides blessings to the nations.

 Abrahamic Covenant
“in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12.3).

Abrahamic Covenant

God established the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12.1-3 and confirmed it in Genesis 13.14-17; 15.1-21; 17.1-27; 22.17-18; 26.1-5; 28.10-17; 32.12; 48.3-4; 50.24. It was reiterated many times throughout the Old Testament (cf. Exodus 2.23-25; 3.6-8, 17; 6.4; 12.25; 13.5, 11;  Judges 2.1; 1 Chronicles 16.13-18; 2 Chronicles 20.7; Psalm 105.6-11; Jeremiah 24.6; 31.35-37; 32.40-41; Amos 9.15; Isaiah 60.21). This covenant was a sovereign promise God made with Abraham. Its validity and fulfillment depend wholly upon God’s sovereign faithfulness.

The elements of the Covenant were that God would make Abraham great, that he and his seed would be a blessing to all mankind, that God would bless those who blessed them and curse him that cursed him, that Abraham would have innumerable offspring (physical and spiritual), and that God would give Abraham and his offspring land–“from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” Below are specific provisions of the Covenant:

Abrahamic Covenant Promises and Provisions Based Upon the Character and Sovereignty of GodScripture
God will make Abraham a great nationGenesis 12.2
God will bless AbrahamGenesis 12.2; 22.17
God will make Abraham’s name greatGenesis 12.2
God will make Abraham a blessing to the whole worldGenesis 12.2, 3; 22.18
God will bless those who bless Abraham and his descendants 1Genesis 12.3
God will curse the one who curses Abraham and his descendantsGenesis 12.3
Eternal land grant from the river of Egypt to the EuphratesGenesis 12.6-7; 13.14-15, 15.7, 17.7-8
God will give Abraham innumerable descendantsGenesis 15.5; 13.16; 17.2; 22.17
God will make Abraham a father of many nationsGenesis 17.4-6
God will establish this covenant foreverGenesis 17.7
Circumcision was the sign of the covenantGenesis 17.10-14
Established through the line of Isaac/Jacob, not IshmaelGenesis 17.19-21; cf. Romans 9.7
Abraham’s seed will overcome its enemiesGenesis 22.17

When God told Abram that he would give (נָתַן) him the land (v. 7) Abram asked God how he could know this for certain. This Hebrew verb is the one used in Genesis 12, 17, etc. for God’s “making” the covenant with Abraham. The word means “give”, “grant”, “bestow.” In Genesis 15.18, we have a different Hebrew word for God’s “making a covenant” with Abraham and is used for the ratification of the covenant. This Hebrew word is to “cut” כָּרַת a covenant. We have remnants of this idea even today. The military still uses the expression to “cut orders.” In the ancient Near East during the time of Abraham covenants were confirmed by each party of an agreement passing between pieces of animals cut apart. In the Biblical account, Abram brought God animals and cut them in two. Highly significant in the ratification of the covenant, the deeding of the land, is the fact that God alone passed through the pieces. He did not permit Abram to participate in the ceremony. God put Abraham to sleep and performed alone the ceremony of passing between the pieces of the animals. This action God demonstrated God was the sovereign and responsible party to fulfill the covenant, specifically, that Abraham and his offspring through Isaac/Jacob would have the designated land forever. Despite the failure of Abram’s descendants, God would not fail. He will keep His promise.

God told Abram that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt for 400 years but that they would return to the land that he had given to Abram (Genesis 15.13-14)–a land which extended from the river of Egypt (מִנְּהַר מִצְרַיִם) to the Euphrates. This was the first time the boundaries were given for the title-deed (v. 18, cf. Exodus 23.31) “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you”). At present, right to the land is in conflict. Most Arabs refuse to recognize Israel’s right to the land or even to exist in the Middle East. God is not concerned with what man thinks about such matters. God promised that in a future day He will fulfill His covenant with Abraham and establish Israel’s borders from Egypt to the Euphrates River. The new boundaries will be much more extensive than Israel’s current borders and may include the lands from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, western Iraq, and northern Saudi Arabia. If the entire river is meant for the northeastern boundary, then Israel’s land will extend across most of the Mideast unto ancient Babylon.

In the Genesis 17 passage, we read that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah and the sign of the covenant, circumcision, was established. God gave this sign as a reminder of His promise. In verse 7, God stated that he would “establish” this covenant and the Hebrew word is קוּם rather than נָתַן or כָּרַת. This word means “stand”. The modern sense of meaning is that this covenant will, idiomatically, “have legs.” God meant “it will happen” for he will make it happen. God stated explicitly that the land He promised Abraham and his descendants was an everlasting possession (v. 8). God also stated the line of promise went through Isaac (v. 21) not Ishmael. While some Arab peoples are descended from Abraham through Ishmael (Ishmael had twelve sons, Genesis 17.20), they were not in the line of promise, i.e., the line of Isaac and Jacob. Therefore, the Arab peoples have no Scriptural claim to the land promised to Abraham and his seed.

The Abrahamic Covenant was, therefore, sovereignly established and eternal. God did all the promising. Throughout the passages above, i.e., Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17, 22 God repeatedly declared, “I will”. God promised that he would sovereignly accomplish the provisions of His covenant. Since God has stated it was an everlasting covenant, it is impossible, unless God’s sovereignty is abrogated, for it to be nullified or fail. Some maintain the Abrahamic Covenant was conditional. Such a conclusion can be reached only by denying God is sovereign.

Mosaic Covenant

God’s purpose for Israel was that they should be a holy nation composed of a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19.4-6). With the call of Abraham, Israel became “special” in God’s sight and in His dealings (cf. Deuteronomy 7.6, 14.2, 26.19, 28.9; 1 Peter 2.5, 9; Revelation 1.6, 5.10; 20.6). Israel promised to do all the Mosaic Law (Exodus 19.8) but has failed. Despite their historic failure, the nation will one day keep the Law and God will fulfill His purpose for them: a nation of priests.

Unlike other covenants God gave to Israel, which are sovereignly established and eternal, the Mosaic Covenant was temporal and conditional. It required obedience. God knew Israel would not, indeed, could not keep it–even though the people promised they would (Exodus 19.8). In anticipation, God promised Israel a New Covenant to replace the Mosaic Covenant. Jesus inaugurated this New Covenant (Matthew 26.28), but its fulfillment remains future (see below).

Under the Mosaic Covenant, the Law was given. The Law’s purpose was not to save but to reveal and condemn sin (cf. Romans 3.20; 1 Timothy 1.8-11). Most people think of the Mosaic Law as the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20.1-17). This is known as the moral law. Beyond this were civil and ceremonial laws which governed Israel’s daily life, priestly activities, and rules regarding behavior when sin occurred. Under the Mosaic Law, mercy and a temporary cleansing from sin existed through the Levitical sacrifices. The animal sacrifices provided a means whereby sin was temporarily “atoned for by offering a substitute” (כָּפַר). Most of the usages of the word involve the priest “making an atonement” for the individual. For example, in Leviticus alone there are 49 instances of this usage with no other meaning. The verb (always in the Piel stem, i.e., intensive action) is always used in connection with the removal of sin or defilement, except for Genesis 32.20; Proverbs 16.14; Isaiah 28.18 where the related meaning of “appease by a gift” is used. In other words, the life of the sacrificial animal symbolized by its blood was required in exchange for the life of the individual. It was a symbol of innocent life given or sacrificed for guilty life. Such symbolism was emphasized by the worshiper placing his hands upon the head of the animal, confessing his sin, and killing the animal (Leviticus 1.3-9). These sacrifices were extensive and covered priest, rulers, the congregation in sins of ignorance (Leviticus 4). On the Day of Atonement, the priest chose two goats. One was offered as a sacrifice and the other was taken into the wilderness. This “scapegoat” (Leviticus 16), i.e., the “escape goat” symbolized the removal of sin from the congregation. These sacrifices were temporary measures and prefigured Christ’s sacrifice which truly and permanently atoned for sin.

No Jew understood this until after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, cf. Luke 18.34. More precisely, no Jew understood the significance of the sacrifices and the death/resurrection of Christ until Paul revealed its meaning. Luke’s record of Pentecost in Acts 2 reveals Peter had no understanding of the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection other than the fact that He was alive and could establish Israel’s earthly kingdom. In the future, Israel will enjoy the New Covenant whereby the Law, instead of being written on tablets of stone, will be “written on the heart” (Jeremiah 31.33; Ezekiel 36.22-32). Much remains uncertain regarding life in the Messianic Kingdom, but Israel, under the New Covenant, will offer animal sacrifices (Ezekiel 45.15-25; cf. 43.18-27; 46.4-24).

The significance of these sacrifices has been debated. Hebrews teaches Christ’s death satisfied the justice of God and His sacrifice paid for man’s sin once for all (Hebrews 9.26, 10.10). But Ezekiel wrote animal sacrifices continue to “cover” (כָּפַר) Israel (Ezekiel 45.15, 17, 20) in the Millennial kingdom. Noteworthy is the fact that under the Old Covenant animal sacrifices only “covered” sin. They could never satisfy the justice of God. The animal sacrifices under the Old Covenant also served as indicators of faith. This may be their primary role under the New Covenant in the kingdom to keep the Law and be a nation of priests (Deuteronomy 30.8-16; Exodus 19.4-6).

Historically, since Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), the Mosaic Law has been divided into three main categories–leges morales, ceremoniales, and judiciales–the moral law (usually the Decalogue, Exodus 20.1-26), the civil law, and the ceremonial law (Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy). But the Jews never divided the Law in this way. For them it was a unified whole. Aquinas most likely made these divisions to help to categorize and understand the Law due to its length and complexity.

When Moses presented Israel with the requirements of the Covenant the people agreed to keep them. Exodus 19.8 reads, “The people all responded together, ‘We will do everything the LORD has said.'” While the nation agreed to keep the covenant, it failed. Therefore, God promised another covenant, the New Covenant, for Israel. Under this covenant, Israel will succeed in becoming a holy nation of priests (Exodus 19.6) and the Law, previously written on tablets of stone will be written on their hearts (Jeremiah 31.33).

The following scriptures explain the purpose of the Law and how it has been superseded by Christ. Paul’s epistles and the epistle to the Hebrews explain this clearly and fully. From them we learn the following:

  1. The Mosaic Law was not for Gentiles (cf. Romans 2.14-15, 9.3-5; 1 Corinthians 9.20-21).
  2. The Mosaic Law’s purpose was to reveal sin, not to justify (cf. Romans 3.19-20, 7.7; Galatians 3.19-22; 1 Timothy 1.8-11; Hebrews 7.11-19).
  3. The Mosaic Law is not for the Church, the body of Christ, i.e., Christians are not under the authority of the Mosaic Law (cf. Romans 6.14-15, 7.1-6, 10.4; Galatians 3.23-26, 4.21-31, 5.1-4, 18, etc.).2 Christians are under grace, not Law (Romans 6.14; Galatians 5.18) and called to liberty (Galatians 5.1, 13). Love is to be operative motivation for the believer (Galatians 5.13-14) and the believer is to conduct his life under the control of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8.4; Galatians 5.16). These elements combined to form what Paul called the “law of Christ” (Galatians 6.2) and the “law of God” (Romans 7.22, 25, 8.7)

Sabbatic Covenant

God established the Sabbatic Covenant with Israel (Exodus 31.12-18 cf. Leviticus 24.8, 25.1-55 (land sabbath); Ezekiel 44.24, 45.17, 46.1, 3-4, 12). The Sabbatic covenant has the following provisions:

  1. A sign between God and the nation Israel (v. 13)
  2. Eternal in length (v. 13, 16-17)
  3. Purpose is for Israel to know that it is the LORD who sanctifies them (v. 13)
  4. Israel is to observe the sabbath for it is holy to them (v. 14-15)

The Sabbath was only for the nation of Israel. Neither Gentiles nor the Church have any part of it. The covenant is eternal (cf. Ezekiel 44.24, 45.17, 46.1, 3-4, 12) and sovereignly established. God set forth no conditions with regard to its validity and it cannot be broken because it depends on God’s sovereignty. Since it is only for Israel and is eternal it is yet another proof that the nation of Israel will exist forever. God explicitly declared that the nation of Israel would last forever to Jeremiah,

35 Thus says the LORDWho 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: 36 “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.” 37 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).

Some teach God has ended His dealings with national Israel and that the Church has replaced Israel. Such teaching rejects God’s veracity and trustworthiness and impugns His sovereignty. The root of such teaching is unbelief.

The Palestinian or Land Covenant

Royal Land Grant to Abraham (Clarence Larkin)

The Palestinian3 or Land covenant (Deuteronomy 9.1-29, 10.11, 11.8-12, 22-25, 29-31, 12.1, 10-12, 20, 29, 30.1-10) amplified the land aspect of the Abrahamic covenant and was sovereignly established and eternal. God promised to the nation of Israel the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates river (Genesis 15.18). God had made this promise to Abraham. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, the “river of Egypt” is the Nile or its eastern branch (see River of Egypt and Exodus 23.31). So, the land that God has promised Israel stretches from the vicinity of the Nile to the Euphrates (see map).

Moses spoke prophetically of Israel’s disobedience and dispersion throughout the world. The nation was disobedient throughout its relationship with God and God disciplined it. For example, the nation broke the Law by refusing to keep the land sabbaths (Exodus 23.10-11; Leviticus 25.2-7, 18-22). God judged Israel for this lapse by bringing in the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. The nation had disregarded the land sabbaths for 490 years. God declared that he would have His sabbaths and brought the nation into captivity for 70 years (2 Chronicles 36.16-21; Jeremiah 25.9-12, 26.6-7, 29.10). Moses prophesied this would happen (Leviticus 26.32-35; cf. Jeremiah 25.11-13; Daniel 9.2-20; Nehemiah 1.8). During this time, the land lay fallow and was desolate (Nehemiah 1.3, 2.13-17). Both the Bible and history record that when Israel is out of the land, it becomes desolate. After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the desolation was recorded by Dio Cassius.4 Many observations have been made throughout history that have confirmed that when the Jews are outside of their land it was desolate.5

Israel’s greatest disobedience was the rejection of its Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus presented himself officially to the nation as the Messiah (cf. Matthew 21.1-9; Mark 11.1-10; Luke 19.28-44; John 12.12-19). While some Jews believed in him as the Messiah, the leaders of Israel rejected His Messiahship and conspired with the Roman authorities to have him crucified. After Jesus’ resurrection, national Israel was given other opportunities to repent and accept their Messiah and His kingdom (Acts 2-3; Acts 13; 18; 28). Indeed, this is the theme of the book of Acts. The purpose of Acts is to give us an understanding of the temporary fall of Israel in God’s plan. The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. marked the end of national Israel (until 1948 when it was again re-established) and its destruction was judgment for rejection of the Messiah. Jesus had foretold this destruction (cf. Matthew 24.1-2).

In the Palestinian or Land covenant, God promised that Israel would return to him and that he would restore them to the land. Once there, they would become more prosperous than they had ever been before (Deuteronomy 30.1-5). Second, God promised to regenerate the Israelites by circumcising their hearts so that they would love Him. (Deuteronomy 30.6). This will be fulfilled under the New Covenant. Third, God promised to judge Israel’s enemies (Deuteronomy 30.7). Lastly, Israel will obey God and God will prosper them in their obedience (Deuteronomy 30.8-9). Numerous passages indicate that God will bring Israel back into the land where they will be faithful to Him (Jeremiah 32.37-41).

Davidic Covenant

In the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7.4-29 cf. 23.5; 2 Chronicles 21.7; Psalm 89.3-4; 19-37; Isaiah 9.6-7; Jeremiah 33.19-26; Luke 1.31-33), God promised to establish the throne of David forever. It too was a sovereignly established covenant and amplified the “seed” aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant. The land of Israel (promised in the Abrahamic covenant) is also mentioned in verse 10 of 2 Samuel 7 in which God promised to “plant” Israel permanently in the land (cf. Jeremiah 24.6; 32.36-41; Amos 9.15).

The Davidic Covenant was intimated in Jacob’s blessings of his son before his death. David was not identified but his tribe was. Jacob recognized that rulership came from Judah. The text reads:

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you. “Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? 10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. 11 “He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes. 12 “His eyes are dull from wine, and his teeth white from milk (Genesis 49.8-12).

God promised to preserve David’s throne forever. The king of Israel had to be a firstborn from the bloodline of David. There was a problem, however. God had a “blood curse” on Coniah or Jeconiah, one of the kings in David’s line because of his wickedness (Jeremiah 22.24-30 cf. 2 Kings 24.5-15). Joseph, Mary’s husband, was from this Solomonic line. If Jesus had been the biological offspring of Joseph, he would not have been qualified for kingship since God had cursed this line. How did God solve this problem? David had another son, Nathan. This line ended in Heli (Luke 3.23). Heli had no sons. He had three daughters. One was named Mary. Could daughters have inheritance rights? The answer is not normally. But, Mary was eligible due to a case brought by the daughters of Zelophehad to Moses. In this case, Moses allowed the daughters inheritance rights if there were no sons and the daughter married within her tribe (Numbers 26.33; 27.1-11; 36.2-12; Joshua 17.3-6; 1 Chronicles 7.15). Mary, as it happened, fit the requirements perfectly. She was a daughter, had no brothers, and married Joseph, a man from the same tribe as she–the tribe of Judah. Joseph legally adopted Jesus, which meant he had the royal right of the firstborn. Mary, because of her uncursed bloodline gave Jesus the legal blood right to the throne. The virgin birth of our Lord was essential to the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant for Jesus himself will fulfill the promise of the covenant as he reigns as king upon the earth (Zechariah 14.9).

New Covenant

The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31.27-34 cf. Ezekiel 11.16-20; 36.24-38) was a sovereign covenant which guarantees national Israel a converted heart. It replaced the Old or Mosaic Covenant which Israel failed to keep. Instead of the Law being written on tablets of stone (as the Mosaic Law), the Law will be written on the hearts of the people.

When will this covenant be fulfilled? It will be fulfilled when all the sovereignly established covenants will be fulfilled–in the Millennial or Messianic kingdom. Jesus initiated the new covenant in the upper room on the evening prior to His arrest and crucifixion (Matthew 26.28). While Jesus initiated the New Covenant its fulfillment remains unrealized. The generation of Jews to whom Jesus ministered rejected him as Messiah and King and delayed the fulfillment of the covenant. A future generation of Jews will repent and experience its fulfillment. This future generation (Romans 11.26-29) will experience the fulfillment of all the other covenants: Abrahamic, Sabbatic, Palestinian, and Davidic covenants in the Messianic Kingdom.

If the New Covenant is made with Israel, does the Church, i.e., the Body of Christ, have a relationship to it? The answer is, yes. But we must understand the context of the Church’s relationship to the New Covenant. The following are references to the New Covenant in the New Testament:6 Matthew 26.28, Mark 14.24, Luke 22.20, 1 Corinthians 11.25 (cf. 1 Corinthians 10.16-17), 2 Corinthians 3.6, Hebrews 8.8-13, 9.15, 12.24.

The passages in Jeremiah and the passages in the New Testament state the New Covenant was made with national Israel. The term “Israel” always refers to national Israel (i.e., Jews). Since the old (Mosaic) covenant was made with Israel alone it makes sense that the new covenant is made with Israel alone. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians that the covenants were to and for Israel alone (Ephesians 2.11-12). Gentiles had no part of them.

The Scriptures teach the Church was a “secret” entity. God kept it a secret until He revealed it to and through the apostle Paul. Therefore, the Church (the body of Christ) did not exist during Christ’s earthly ministry or prior to the salvation and commissioning of Paul as “apostle to the Gentiles.” Jesus stated that his ministry was to Israel, i.e., Jew only (cf. Matthew 10.5; Matthew 15.22-24; cf. Romans 15.8). He came to the nation of Israel to present himself as King and announce the kingdom of God (Matthew 3.1-3; Mark 1.14-15). Had the nation repented and accepted him, the Messianic Kingdom would have been established.7

The Church was a new creation which began with the apostle Paul just as Israel was a new creation God revealed through Abraham. Each entity–Israel and the Church–has its own destiny and purpose. Most of Christendom has been taught that God’s purpose for national Israel has ended. But this idea not found in the Bible. The Scriptures declare that Israel’s purpose continues according to God’s sovereign plan. Israel has a past history and a future destiny distinct from the Church (the body of Christ) based upon God’s promises from His sovereignly established covenants. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the foundation and the basis of blessings for both Israel and the Church. While Israel and the Church are distinct and unique creations by God, we do well to remember there was a time when neither existed. Jesus’ death, His payment for sin, provided for all mankind. This includes all who believed in YHVH before Israel or the Church were created. The death of Christ was the watershed event of history. In God’s plan, it was the redemptive event towards which all history was working. In military terms, the death and resurrection of Christ was God’s strategic victory in His campaign against sin, death, and evil. God is now engaged in tactical warfare to complete His eternal plan. As members of the body of Christ, we have the privilege to engage in this warfare (Ephesians 6.10-18).

In this age, God is taking out a people for himself as the body of Christ (the Church). After this work is complete, God will remove it from the earth and will pour out His long-delayed wrath upon a rebellious, Christ-rejecting earth. He will save a repentant Israel and initiate the long-awaited kingdom which Jesus proclaimed to Israel but was rejected by His generation (Romans 15.8). When God ushers in His Kingdom, it will be to a repentant Israeli nation which has accepted Jesus as Messiah. The death and resurrection of Christ form the basis of blessings for the Church as well as the covenantal blessings promised to Israel. In Ephesians 2.11-22, Paul stated that Gentiles were separated from the covenants God make with Israel. Christ’s death ended the conditional covenant, the Mosaic Law. Sin, which separated man from God, typified by the veil in the Holy of Holies, was removed.

At the present time, the Church enjoys the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant based on Christ’s victory over sin and death. Paul related the New Covenant to the Church in these words to the Corinthians,

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11.23-26).

We notice a couple of things in these verses. One is that Paul had a direct revelation from Jesus regarding the events of the last supper. Paul said, “I received from the Lord….” Notice that Paul did not receive this information from Peter or the other apostles. He received it from the resurrected and ascended Christ. The other thing to note is that through Paul we have additional information about the Lord’s Supper to what Jesus spoke: a memorial to the Lord’s death and a proclamation of His return.

What else do we learn from Paul regarding the New Covenant as it relates to the Church? In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul related the spiritual blessing of the New Covenant to these believers. He said,

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 3.5-6).

Paul went on to say that although the old covenant (the Mosaic) was a covenant of condemnation and death it was nevertheless glorious. The New Covenant is more glorious in that it brings righteousness, life, and liberty. In a future day, national Israel will enjoy both spiritual and physical blessings of the New Covenant in the Messianic Kingdom or Millennium. The spiritual benefits include a new heart on which the Law is written, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins, and full knowledge of the Lord. The physical benefits of the covenants God made with Israel will begin with the repentance of the nation (Matthew 23.39). The land will stretch from the Nile to the Euphrates river (Genesis 15.18). This is much more land than Israel secured under Solomon in the height of its glory. Jerusalem will be the capital city of the world (Deuteronomy 28.13) and Jesus will reign as King as David’s greater son (Zechariah 14.9). Therefore, while the New Covenant was made with Israel, the Church (the Body of Christ) enjoys its spiritual aspects due to the death and resurrection of Christ.

1 While Abraham is the father of both Jews and Arabs, the heirs of the covenant are Jews. God stated this in Genesis 17.20-21: “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac (father of Jacob, who became Israel), whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.” Ishmael had twelve sons and became the father of many Arab peoples. Note that God made this promise before Isaac had been born.
Luther, in his sermon, “How Christians Should Regard Moses” (August 27, 1525) wrote the following: “First of all to the First Commandment: ‘The text testifies to that and constrains us in that it says: ‘I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Exodus 20.2).’ This is quite true and sufficiently clear,” he goes on to say, “that we Gentiles were not led by God out of Egypt, but only the Jewish people, Israel. Therefore, Moses is applying the Ten Commandments exclusively to the people, which have been led by God out of Egypt.'”
This covenant has been traditionally called the “Palestinian Covenant. The Jews never referred to it this way, however. They called the land they occupied Israel or Judea. Since the covenant applies to Israel and the Jews never called their land “Palestine” it makes little sense to call this covenant the “Palestinian Covenant.” More accurate terminology would be to call it the “Land Covenant” or “Restoration Covenant” since in it God promised to return the people to the land and give it to them forever. It expands the land promise of the Abrahamic Covenant. The name Palestine refers to a region of the eastern Mediterranean coast from the sea to the Jordan valley and from the southern Negev desert to the Galilee lake region in the north. The word itself derives from “Plesheth”, a name that appears frequently in the Bible and has come into English as “Philistine”. Plesheth, (root palash, פָּלַשׁ) was a general term meaning rolling or migratory. This referred to the Philistine’s invasion and conquest of the coast from the sea. The Philistines were not Arabs nor even Semites. They were most closely related to the Greeks originating from Asia Minor and Greek localities. They did not speak Arabic. They had no connection, ethnic, linguistic or historical with Arabia or Arabs. The Philistines reached the southern coast of Israel in several waves. One group arrived in the pre-patriarchal period and settled south of Beersheba in Gerar where they came into conflict with Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael. Another group, coming from Crete after being repulsed from an attempted invasion of Egypt by Rameses III in 1194 BC, seized the southern coastal area, where they founded five settlements (Gaza, Ascalon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gat). In the Persian and Greek periods, foreign settlers–chiefly from the Mediterranean islands–overran the Philistine districts. From the fifth century BC, following the historian Herodotus, Greeks called the eastern coast of the Mediterranean “the Philistine Syria” using the Greek language form of the name. In AD 135, after putting down the Bar Kochba revolt, the second major Jewish revolt against Rome, the Emperor Hadrian wanted to blot out the name of the Roman “Provincia Judaea” and so renamed it “Provincia Syria Palaestina”, the Latin version of the Greek name and the first use of the name as an administrative unit. The name “Provincia Syria Palaestina” was later shortened to Palaestina, from which the modern, anglicized “Palestine” is derived. See Origin of the Name Palestine.
Dio Cassius, History of the Romans, lxix, 12-14.
For example: In 1835, the French poet Alphonse de Lamartine wrote:

“Outside the gates of Jerusalem we saw indeed no living object, heard no living sound. We found the same void, the same silence, as we should have found before the entombed gates of Pompeii or Herculaneum. … A complete, eternal silence reigns in the town, in the highways, in the country … the tomb of a whole people.”

In 1867, Mark Twain wrote in Innocents Abroad (chapter 56) the following:

“Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists–over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead–about whose borders nothing grows but weeds, and scattering tufts of cane, and that treacherous fruit that promises refreshment to parching lips, but turns to ashes at the touch. Nazareth is forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the accursed, lies a moldering ruin, to-day, even as Joshua’s miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Saviour’s presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, good will to men, is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye. Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel, is gone, and the Ottoman crescent is lifted above the spot where, on that most memorable day in the annals of the world, they reared the Holy Cross. The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the Saviour sailed in their ships, was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the “desert places” round about them where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour’s voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes. Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land? Palestine is no more of this work-day world. It is sacred to poetry and tradition–it is dream-land.”

The Pauline passages are the only references that do not apply directly to national Israel. The New Testament (New Covenant) technically does not include the Gospels for the New Covenant was not inaugurated until the Last Supper (Matthew 26.28). When Paul mentioned the New Covenant it was to emphasize its spiritual character.
When the Scriptures refer to “Israel”, they always refer to racial Jews–the physical offspring of Jacob. Thus, Israel in Scripture is a technical term for the physical offspring of Jacob, i.e., Israel. No Scriptural basis exists to support a theology that states that the Church is the new Israel or that the Church has supplanted or replaced Israel in God’s plan.

©2002 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.

Updated, 2015-11-09


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97 Responses to Covenants of Israel

  1. Tom Allan says:

    The “Jews” were never in Egypt under Joseph. Judah was not referred to as Jews until 2. 2 kings:16. At that time the nation of Israel had been split and they were at war with
    each other. Bible teachers should study thier bibles and know the facts, with the Word rightly divided.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Tom,

      The first instance of the word “Jew” יְהוּדִי is found in 2 Kings 16.6 (KJV). The Jews are Israel which is Jacob and his sons. They all came into Egypt under Joseph according to Genesis 45.16-46.7.

      • John Calkins says:

        In the Bible, Judah and Israel are not always the same group of people. For over 200 years Judah and Israel were separate countries, with different kings. [ex. 2 Kings 14:12 (NIV) Judah was routed by Israel…]
        God had always considered them, and known that, Israel and Judah would become separate nations, though they were physically together for hundreds of years. Ezekiel let us know this in Ezekiel 23. God told Ezekiel he married two sisters who became prostitutes while they were in Egypt, before the exodus, Oholah [Samaria], and Oholibah [Jerusalem]. God does not physically separate them until 1 Kings 12, he describes who they are in Ezekiel 37:16, and God does not re-unite them until Hosea 1:11.
        In 1 Kings 12 when Israel rebelled and separated from Judah, God confirmed he authorized this separation, for when Rehoboam tried to re-unite the kingdom, Shemaiah the man of God said to him in 1 Kings 12:24 [NIV] This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’ From this time forward the name, “house of Israel” and many times “Israel”, belongs to the tribes who rebelled, especially when mentioned with “the house of Judah” or with “Judah” in the Old Testament.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          John,
          The nation was divided and divorced. God has promised to heal that division. See Ezekiel 37.16-28. Hosea 1.9-11. James addressed all 12 tribes (James 1.1), Peter addressed the whole house of Israel (Acts 2.36), and Paul stated ALL Israel would be saved (Romans 11.26). Every Jew who is alive, from all 12 tribes (Revelation 7.1-8), will be saved when the Lord returns.

  2. doctrine doctrine says:

    Kiko,
    Your comment is without Biblical support. God promised He would bring Abraham’s descendants (the Jews) into the land forever (Genesis 17.7-8, 19). Jesus promised the Twelve they would rule over the 12 tribes of Israel (Matthew 19.28), not the Church. While Israel broke God’s covenants and failed, God declared He would fulfill His promises to the nation (Ezekiel 36.22-37). Paul declared ALL Israel would be saved (Romans 11.26). God promised His Son will reign over Israel as King in the land which He gave to the nation as an eternal possession (Zechariah 13, 14.9; Luke 1.29-33, 46-56, 67-80). If your comment is correct, man is superior to and sovereign over God. God declared He will fulfill His promises in spite of Israel’s failures. He has declared Israel will repent and become a nation of priests (Exodus 19.4-6). Jesus declared He would not, indeed, could not return to earth until the Jews repented (Matthew 23.37-39). As for Galatians 4, the point Paul was making to the Galatians in the figure of Hagar and Sarah has nothing to do with “Israel after the flesh.” Paul’s point was that the Galatians, i.e., the Church, were not under the Mosaic Law. Believers in Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) have nothing to do with the Law. This is the whole point of Galatians.

  3. Lynda says:

    I am looking for some information on Matthew 5:13 about “the salt of the earth”. My study has just begun but I have found that salt was used in covenants. Is there anything you could do to direct me?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Lynda,
      We don’t have much Biblical information. It is mentioned three times. The following article was in ISBE: COVENANT OF SALT

      solt (berith melach; halas, classical Greek hals): As salt was regarded as a necessary ingredient of the daily food, and so of all sacrifices offered to Yahweh (Leviticus 2:13), it became an easy step to the very close connection between salt and covenant-making. When men ate together they became friends. Compare the Arabic expression, “There is salt between us”; “He has eaten of my salt,” which means partaking of hospitality which cemented friendship; compare “eat the salt of the palace” (Ezra 4:14). Covenants were generally confirmed by sacrificial meals and salt was always present. Since, too, salt is a preservative, it would easily become symbolic of an enduring covenant. So offerings to Yahweh were to be by a statute forever, “a covenant of salt for ever before Yahweh” (Numbers 18:19). David received his kingdom forever from Yahweh by a “covenant of salt” (2 Chronicles 13:5). In the light of these conceptions the remark of our Lord becomes the more significant: “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another” (Mark 9:50).

      Edward Bagby Pollard

      Salt adds flavor to foods and is a preservative. It promotes healing and is essential to regulate blood pressure and volume. Muscles and nerves need it to work properly. God has given animals a desire for it, e.g., salt licks. It enhances but is undesirable eaten by itself.

  4. Joe says:

    Does New Testament and New Covenant mean the same thing? I’ve seen a lot of hair splitting with this. I’ve heard one requires blood and one does not.

    Since we are on Covenants…Noah has one. Does the promise not to destroy the earth again with water imply Noah’s flood wasn’t the first world wide flood? I’ve always wondered about that. Thanks, you write so clearly and to the point.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      Yes, they are the same. On the flood–perhaps, even probably. Genesis 1.2 is a hint that the earth was covered in water.

  5. Platt says:

    what would happen to the Ishmael line/ The Arabs? Does God has a plan to unify us , since we are all sons of Abraham?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Platt,
      God has blessed the Arabs. God spoke to Abraham about this in Genesis 17.19-20. The Arabs are Gentiles and can be blessed today by believing Paul’s gospel. The Abrahamic covenant is still operational so that all who bless Jews God will bless. Finally, in the future, Arabs will be blessed as all the Gentile nations will be blessed through Israel in the kingdom (Zechariah 8.20-23).

      • John Higgins says:

        “Believing in Paul’s gospel??? Oh, you must be talking about the zealous persecutor and murderer (Saul of Tarsus), who claimed to have encountered a brilliant light on the road to Damascus (not unlike the brilliant light allegedly seen by Joseph Smith, Jr.) that claimed to be the risen Christ, from which, Saul received secret messages and revelations known only to him.

        And, from his alleged encounter with the risen Christ, “Paul” used His authority to build his own foundation (apart from Christ) and peddled his own gospel, though he was never mentioned by YHWH, chosen by Yeshua during His earthly ministry, or was known by the Twelve. Christ told the Twelve to be on guard against ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing, coming in His name, but Yeshua never told the Twelve about a new gospel, new foundation, a new apostle or a major change in direction.

        Saul of Tarsus is the ravenous wolf Yeshua talked about in Matthew 7. If YHWH told us about the coming of the Flood, the coming of Moses, the coming of Nebuchadnezzar, the coming of Cyrus the Great, the coming of Alexander the Great and the coming of His Son, the Messiah…why was He totally silent about the coming of Saul of Tarsus? Father YHWH was very good at telling His people about things to come, but are we to believe He totally dropped the ball, when it came to telling His people and the nations about a new hope and new messiah – Saul of Tarsus!.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          John,
          I take it from your comments you reject the testimonies of Peter, James, Timothy, Luke, Silas, Baranabas, etc. All these supported and trusted Paul. Peter’s final words were that Paul’s writings were Scripture and warned that those who opposed him were on the road to destruction (2 Peter 3.14-16). As to the gospel, Peter declared in Acts 15.11 that from that time forward all had to be saved according to Paul’s gospel, not the gospel of the kingdom. There is no salvation apart from believing Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead–Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4).

        • King T says:

          The testimony of Saul who later became Paul is written by LUKE, not Paul himself. So your strange dissatisfaction with Paul’s conversion and work for Christ is unfounded.

          Even the demons recognized Paul as genuine:
          Acts 19 : 15 “One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?”

        • Truthfirst says:

          Are you a Christian, John? Do you believe that the Bible is God’s Word? If you do, you know that the Resurrected Christ elected his biggest enemy to perform the greatest work for the Church. He was deemed worthy enough by God to be shown heaven and hell. When it comes to credentials, Paul is probably topping the list. If you doubt God’s divine blessing of the work and writings of Paul, you might as well do away with the entire Bible.

  6. Jim says:

    You say, ” Through Paul, God created the Church, the body of Christ, not on the basis of covenant (Ephesians 2.11-14)”. But when I partake of the Lord’s Supper, am I not reminded that the cup is the blood of the new covenant? And doesn’t Paul use the past tense (‘were’) in Eph.2:12 to refer to a prior alienation from God and His covenants (and now they are brought near)? And can anyone be rightly related to God unless in a covenant? Is Christ ‘the mediator of a new covenant’ (Heb.9:15) only with Israel? And aren’t Gentiles also members of the body of Christ through faith (Eph.2:16; cf. 4:4). Your thoughts please…

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jim,
      Yes. We are beneficiaries of the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3). It was established through the death and resurrection of Christ and we have been given the indwelling Holy Spirit. However, the New Covenant was known (Jeremiah 31.31; Ezekiel 36.26-27) and made with Israel. Paul wrote that the Church, the body of Christ, was unknown. It was a secret, unrevealed organism until God revealed it to him (Ephesians 3.4-7). If one examines the whole body of Paul’s writings we find he placed much greater emphasis on faith and grace than on covenant. He wrote continually that we are brought into relationship with God by faith.

  7. Kevin says:

    Can you help me to better understand Matthew 16 15-20 because Jesus uses both the kingdom of heaven and the church. Thanks and God Bless

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Kevin,
      Jesus ministered to Jews (Romans 15.8). He taught that the long-anticipated earthly kingdom of the prophets was near (Matthew 6.10). The “church” of Matthew 16 comprised Jews who believed Jesus was the promised Messiah–true Israel. This group would enter the kingdom of heaven. The word ἐκκλησία “church” simply means an assembly of people. Its meaning must be determined by context. The Church, which is His body, is composed mainly of Gentiles and did not exist until Paul. They are two distinct groups. See my article, The Church (the body of Christ) for more.

  8. Becky says:

    Hi Don, I’m trying to find 1) at what point it was first mentioned that Israel was told of a coming King and Messiah. Also, 2) in reference to Mark 12:35, is there mention in the Scriptures somewhere that the scribes believed the Messiah would come from the line/house of David? Thanks so much!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      The revelation of the Messiah-King began with the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7.8-17).

      • becky says:

        Thank you, I’ll check it out. In my time with the Lord this morning, it hit me (again!) how the promise of the coming King for the Jews is absolute proof that there has to be more than one gospel/good news since the Gentiles were not “hoping” for the appearance of their “king.” Again, thank you.

    • King T says:

      I understand that this question is asking about the Messiah specifically but would like to add that the Gospel starts right in Genesis 3 where the promise of the seed is made. Also the promise of a prophet just like Moses is made in Deutoronomy 18:15 already. So while those references are not to a King or Messiah, they are definitely to the One who was to come.

      • doctrine doctrine says:

        King,
        Yes, the promise of redemption, of salvation, begins in Genesis 3.15. Man’s side of salvation was to believe God and offer an animal sacrifice. This is why Cain was rejected.

  9. Reynold says:

    Very helpful article; thanks. Regarding the Mosaic Covenant, is it still in effect for Israel, or was it annulled? And if so, are there any laws/commandments that believing Israelites are to keep prior to Christ’s return, aside from keeping the Sabbath?

    Thanks!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Reynold,
      Thank you. Salvation today for Jew and Gentile is by believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). The believer then comes under the administration of grace, not Law (Romans 6.14). Once the Church is removed, Israel will go back under the Mosaic Law (Matthew 24.20). The Temple will be rebuilt and they will again offer animal sacrifices. So it is likely the Law will be fully operational. When Israel repents and accepts her Messiah, the nation will be established in the earthly kingdom (Matthew 6.10; Zechariah 14.9) and be under the New Covenant. In that arrangement, the Law will be written on the heart (Jeremiah 31; Ezekiel 36).

  10. Chuck Wehrheim says:

    Don,

    I really appreciate your writings. I have read all of them many times.
    I want to internalize fundamental principles in order to facilitate my understanding of the scriptures.

    Did God sovereignly covenant, declare, Gentiles would be blessed via Israel or conditionally by requiring Israel’s obedience? Is Salvation by Grace a significant blessing to Gentiles? If the answer is yes then did Israel have any role in the blessing? Did Israel’s rejection of the Messiah play any role? Was Jesus a Jew? Was the Apostle Paul a Jew? Did Christ establish a New Covenant? Was the Church, the body of Christ, founded on the basis of covenant?

    First, I believe Gentiles were blessed via Israel’s rejection of the Messiah and via Christ and the Apostle Paul. I believe the Church, the Body of Christ, was founded on the basis of covenant, the New Covenant. The Church, the Body of Christ, is a new creation, a secret God revealed to and through the apostle Paul. The Church’s relationship to God is through grace obtained by faith, specifically faith, or dependency on, the finished work of Christ (The New Covenant — His death and resurrection). Therefore I believe the Gentile blessings were based on the New Covenant.

    Thanks,
    Chuck

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Chuck,
      When God established the Abrahamic covenant He set in motion a plan whereby all divine blessing would come through the Jews–Israel. The primary agent of these blessings was Christ. When the Jews rejected their Messiah, no provision existed for God to bless Gentiles. But God chose Paul as anticipatory of redeemed Israel so as to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant. He commissioned Paul as the apostle of the Gentiles and created the Church, the body of Christ through him. The Church is a creation of grace, not of covenant. Covenants belong to Israel. The Church does share in the blessings of the New covenant, however, for its blessings are spiritual.

  11. John Duryea says:

    Don,
    Thank you for your work on the covenants of Israel.
    I appreciate the manner in which you write about all this history – it is concise and relevant.
    I have a question about your statement regarding ongoing animal sacrifices in the Messianic Kingdom. You said, “Much remains uncertain regarding life in the Messianic Kingdom, but Israel, under the New Covenant, will offer animal sacrifices that will ‘atone’ for sin as they did when Israel was under the Mosaic Law” (with references to Ezekiel).
    As I read Hebrews 9:12 (He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place “once for all” by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.), and 9:26 (But now he has appeared “once for all” at the end of the age to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.), and 10:10 (And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ “once for all”.).

    I have noticed that “once for all” is mentioned in each of these three verses as it pertains to the Lord’s sacrifice. I would think that “all” includes all people, even those in the Messianic Kingdom.

    Therefore, reading that animal sacrifices to atone for sin will continue in the Messianic Kingdom seems to contradict the verses in Hebrews and is difficult (and puzzling) for me to understand.

    Was Ezekiel’s sacrifice requirements meant for the future kingdom?

    Any insight is appreciated and thanks again for all you do.
    John

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      John,
      Thank you. I did a little work on the article. The OT sacrifices only “covered” sin. This seems to be their role in the Millennium for Israel. They will keep the Law and become a nation of priests. The sacrifices will reveal faith as keeping them will be an act of obedience.

  12. Marc Heckman says:

    Question: Are the Jews according to the revelation given to Paul, part of the body of Christ, as defined by Paul.

  13. David Kamps says:

    This doctrine of the covenant is incredibly unbiblical! What a disaster of a job done on the truth of the covenant. As Ephesians 4:1 says that there is one Spirit, there is one God, one baptism, there is also only one covenant. Not all of Israel are of Israel (Romans 9:6).

    Anyone that is interested in a real understanding, let them go to
    http://www.amazingfacts.org/media-library/book/e/49/t/spiritual-israel.aspx

    That explains the truth of the covenant and a biblical understanding that you can properly apply to the rest of scripture.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      David,
      The entire human race was under the Noahic covenant. Beyond that, only Israel was under covenants. The Church has NO covenants. The Church is under the administration of grace, not covenants. Israel is Jews. There are no exceptions. See my article, “Israel” as a Technical Term. Israel always and only refers to Jews. “Spiritual Israel” is believing Jews. This is what Paul meant when he wrote “not all Israel is Israel.” The Church is not Israel. Not a single Scripture supports the view that the Church is Israel. Unless one understands that Israel and the Church are totally different programs one’s theology is mortally wounded. Furthermore, to have such a view destroys all hope understanding Paul.

      • GraceReceiver says:

        David, says Sir Robert Anderson:
        “If God had pledged Himself by covenant to grant justification, there would be no room for grace.”

  14. Bruno says:

    Don,

    Is it true that the sabbath could not be kept outside of the land of Israel? I heard someone saying that and it would be amazing to figure out how to come to this conclusion!

    Thanks brother!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bruno,
      This is not a subject I’ve examined carefully but I would think keeping the Sabbath would have been extremely difficult for captives. The primary purpose of the Sabbath was a day of rest. God gave the Sabbatic covenant in Exodus 32.12-17. A good article on the Sabbath is at http://www.letusreason.org/7thAd13.htm. Perhaps other readers could provide more insight?

  15. Bruno says:

    Don,

    Thanks for your answer! I really appreciate that! The article was very helpful!
    If someone else could share more insight about this issue, it would be great! I’ll keep on searching! I also want to find/make a “list” of prohibited things during the Sabbath, because I have some sabbatarian friends who think they are keeping the Sabbath 100% correctly, not to mention the fact that they think that they must keep the Sabbath!

  16. Kitsune says:

    Don, I gave been reading your articles for a few months and I have to tell you that they have been incredibly useful for me and I have a much clearer understanding of scripture as a result. Understanding Jesus’ earthly ministry to Israel only is hard for many Christians to accept, but it also clarifies Jesus’ ministry a lot when we stop trying to pretend that it was the same as Paul’s ministry.

    One of the questions that intrigues me greatly is whether the Jews are under a covenant now and what covenant that is. You indicate that you believe they find righteousness through the gospel of grace that Christ revealed to Paul. But I still wonder whether that means that the covenant based on Torah observance has really been revoked? Jews are certainly welcome to join the body of Christ by recognizing Christ as Messiah, but if Jews are expected to be repentant and even return to Torah, would it not be possible that Torah observance continues to be a path to righteousness for Jews? I guess I struggle with the notion that the offering of grace to Gentiles requires the revocation of Torah for Jews. Your comments on this would be appreciated.

    My last question: what are your thoughts on the establishment of modern Israel and the very concrete ingathering of Jews it represents? Do you believe this is a development that will lead to Israel’s eventual repentance when Christ returns? Do you see it as fulfillment of God’s promises in the Hebrew scriptures? Both? My humble thought: God is still very much active in the destiny of his people Israel which demonstrates abiding covenant.

    Thanks again for your illuminating work!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Kitsune,
      Thank you. The prophetic, covenant program is on hold. That status will continue as long as the Church, the body of Christ, is on the earth. When it is removed, the way will will be open for the return of the prophetic, covenant program God established with Israel. Today, all, Jew and Gentile are under God’s grace program, the heart of which is the gospel of grace (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). The modern state of Israel is stage-setting, a preview of things to come. God keeps His promises and at the end of the events of Revelation 19 will establish His kingdom and fulfill the covenant promises to Israel (Matthew 6.10; Deuteronomy 28.1, 13).

  17. Rob Klein says:

    Don,

    Footnote 5 is listed under the Palestinian Covenant, at the end of the second paragraph, and it is linked to footnote 5 at the end of the article. (that is okay)

    But under the New Covenant, at the end of the third paragraph there is another footnote 5 (which should probably be changed to a 6). That 5 is linked to footnote 6 at the end of the article. Minor details, I know, but I just realized it while reading and reviewing the New Covenant section this morning.

    Thanks again for the wealth of information you provide and your diligence to study the Word of God.

    In Christ,

  18. Tom says:

    Don, Thanks for your website here – I love that it challenges me to investigate Scripture more deeply as I know that God calls us to be diligent as well as to study… (so to be) rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2Tim2:15) rather than just accept.

    My question is from where do you garner information on the lineage of Heli (or Eli as some versions use) Mary’s father?

  19. George says:

    Hi bro Don,
    I understand that Christ has forgiven our sins past present and future, but when we sin after we get saved when we sin , do we lose fellowship with God? Does Jesus expect us to confess, own up to the sin and say sorry?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      Paul taught believers can “quench” the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5.19) and “grieve” Him (Ephesians 4.30). He taught believers to repent when we sin (2 Corinthians 7.9-10, 12.21; 2 Timothy 2.25). Implicit is acknowledgement of sin but Paul did not use the word “confess.”

  20. Elvie Manrique says:

    Don, thanks for this article. I am really learning. During Messianic Kingdom, are there Gentiles be saved?

  21. Joe says:

    In the story where Ishmael ‘mocks’ Issac (Ishmael was 18 more or less and Issac was 5) does the Hebrew in any-way suggest Ishmael may have been involved in some type of pedophilia?

    I heard a Jewish man suggest this on a local Christian radio broadcast.

    thank you for your time and sharing you knowledge.

  22. Bruno says:

    Don,

    How do you think Jesus will fulfill the so called “Feast of Trumpets”? I mean, as Pentecost has nothing to do with the church, the “Feast of Trumpets” has nothing to do with the Church either.

    A lot of people insist that Christ will fulfill it with the Rapture of the Church. This breaks the pattern.

    The first four feasts are connected by meaning and by time. Regarding the last three feasts the same is true. The three are in the seventh month… And they are all Feasts of Israel, not the Church!

    I read that “Feast of Trumpets” is not even the real name of it, and that we don’t have much information about it.

    Please, give me your thoughts on it. Send me a link… anything! I just want to understand it better!

    Thanks and regards from Brazil!

  23. Bruno says:

    Thanks brother!

    One last thing: regarding Ezekiel 43, do you think that both God the Father and God the Son will be present at the Millennial Kingdom?

    If the presence of just one of them in glory could explain the necessity of the reinstitution of sacrifices – to cleans the temple area due Ezekiel 43:12 – imagine the presence of both!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bruno,
      God the Father is largely hidden. God the Son is the visible member of the Godhead. So, no, I do not think the Father will be visible in the Messianic kingdom.

  24. jen says:

    I have been reaearching God’s covenant with the Isrealites. Iam a little confussed as there are many programs aimed at helping to relocate displaced Jews but how do we know specifically where the jews are and who they are. In Duet. 28 it mentions curses for Isreal’s disobedience and how they would be carried off on ships to be slaves in a new Egypt, they would plant vineyards and not enjoy them, build houses and not live in them, have children that would be taken from them, etc. Reading this it seems to point to the slaves brought to America and other places around the world. I just would like some clarification regarding Duet. 28 and the curses and Jewish people. Thanks.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jen,
      The curses of Deuteronomy 28 have taken place through military defeats of Israel. These culminated in the defeat of the northern kingdom to the Assyrians and the fall of the southern kingdom to the Babylonians. The Jews have been under the heel of Gentile powers since then. God reestablished Israel as a nation in 1948 and Jews have been returning to the land. But the prophetic promise of Deuteronomy 28.1, 13 will not be fulfilled until Israel repents. When this occurs, the Lord will return (Matthew 23.37-39), establish them in the land, and rule as King.

      • Rob Klein says:

        Don,
        In your reply to Jen, you are saying, when Israel (as a nation) repents, the promises of Deuteronomy 28:1,13 will be fulfilled & the Lord will return. But I see this as fulfillment of Ezekiel 36:26 (and its context) where God will cause Israel’s repentance by all the things He will do for them. I do not see any free will of man (in this case, Israel) in these verses.

        So I would pose the question: Is God waiting for Israel’s national repentance, or is Israel “waiting” for God to intervene on their behalf, nationally? Maybe God taking away the partial blindness Paul spoke of in the context of Rom. 11:25.

        I’d be pleased to hear your thoughts and teaching on this.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Rob,
          Human and divine wills work in tandem. In the Tribulation the gospel of the kingdom will revive (Matthew 24.14). The essence of this gospel was repentance–“repent for the kingdom of God is near.” God is waiting for Israel to repent and Jesus said He would not return until they did (Matthew 23.37-39). Every Jew must repent for Him to return (Acts 2.36-38).

  25. Vanessa says:

    Hi Don, Over the last few months more and more “Born Again”?? Christians have begun believing they are the real Jews. Nonsense of course as James says to the 12 tribes scattered abroad. But my concern is this one. Are the majority of the Jews in Israel from the line of the Askanaszi Jews or are they the real Jew. We know from the word that only a remnant escape during the 7 year tribulation and I assume these are the real Jews. It appears that the Jews run and control the world in all financial areas (Seat of satan) and these are those Jews who call themselves Jews but are not. We are not anti Israel at all but have wondered about those who call themselves Jews but are not. Askanzis, Edomites, etc. It appears to us that way back in Jesus days the enemy began this and much of the Jews we see in Israel are not real Jews. It is these Jews that started the Hebrew roots and now we see much of so call Christendom wishing to learn and understand their Hebrew Roots. Another form of apostasy. What is your take on this.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa,
      Paul stated there were Jews, Gentiles, and Church (1 Corinthians 10.32). When one believes Paul’s gospel one becomes “Church,” a member of the body of Christ, not Jew, not Gentile. Functional differences remain, of course, i.e., male, female, etc. When a Jew believes, he becomes a member of the body of Christ. When a Gentile believes, he becomes a member of the body of Christ. Christians are not Jews. God knows who the Jews are even if they don’t. I suspect that 99.9% of the those in Israel are true Jews. I think Revelation 3.9 means the same as what Paul wrote in Romans 9.6. There is a lot of deception regards Israel. I have responded many times to the claim that Jews are only Judah. This is false doctrine. In the prophetic plan, the plan in which God deals with Israel and the nations, Satan’s main effort is to confuse and destroy Israel. God warned of this when He gave the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 12.1-3). Notice Genesis 12.3 is not parallel. God switches from “them” to “him.” Who is “him?” Satan. Hebrew Roots is deception. If believers would stick with Paul, all would be clear. Deviate from him and you can be deceived.

  26. Sue says:

    did you mean
    ‘ I suspect that 99.9% of those in Israel are NOT true Jews ‘ ?

  27. Bruno says:

    Brother Don,

    How do you see the issue of the ten commandments being first mentioned on Exodus 34 in regarding to the mainly accept ten commandments of Exodus 20?

    I mean, it’s clear to me that if something is called “the ten commandments”, it’s found in Exodus 34. But what about Exodus 20? The so called “ten commandments” are different than the ones in Exodus 34. Should I assume that “the ten commandments” are Exodus 20 + Exodus 34, for example?

    In Exodus 32.15 we read that the tablets of the covenant were written on both sides, front and back. Could it be that on one side there was Exodus 20 and on the other side Exodus 34?

    The ten commandments covenant with Israel in Exodus 34 is so much more Jewish, and makes much more sense to me rather than assume that in Exodus 20 God is screaming his covenant with Israel from the top of Mt Sinai (Exodus 21.1).

    I’m wondering about that because some members of my family are SDA and they could even die holding fast to the ten commendments without letting it go away… They make that non-biblical separation between moral law, cerimonial law and civil law, and argue that the moral law could never fade away, once it’s the reflect of God’s character and etc… You know, all that stuff, spiritual Israel, sabbath keeping… Far away from the truth… So I thought it would be helpful if I could show them that the ten commandments are found in Exodus 34, not in Exodus 20, and if they want to keep them, fine, but don’t use the excuse of Exodus 20 anymore, and keep the feasts and all that we read in Exodus 34.

    Thanks brother!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bruno,
      Note who wrote Exodus 34.1 (cf. Exodus 24.12) and Exodus 34.27. The first contained the commandments of Exodus 20 cf. Deuteronomy 5.6-21. The second contained new commandments God gave Moses. They dealt more with ritual than ethics.

  28. Chris Eden says:

    Thank you for your very useful articles. I am puzzled by the use of the description of the Land covenant as the “Palestinian” covenant. The other covenants seem to be named in the context of the promise that they make or the person involved. At the time that this covenant was made by the Almighty, as far as I can ascertain, the use of Palestine/Palestinian had not commenced.

  29. Jon says:

    The true Jesus did not call Paul. Paul was a self proclaimed apostle, an admitted lier who was never taught by or met the real Jesus.

    Who in there right mind, hears a voice proclaiming they are somesomeone are not.

    And this man, blinded by a light, unable to see whose hes talking with; this man never saw the real Jesus in the flash, nor was he taught by true Jesus and never even consulted with those who did see and was taught by the true Jesus.

    Now we’re supposed to believe someone, a killer who met someone he could not prove was the real thing or no and never even thought to test (try) that disembodied person talking with h him.

    Truly blind faith, if ever I saw it.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Jon,
      Your statement indicates you reject the testimonies of Peter, Silas, Luke, Barnabas, James, and Luke. Apparently, you believe these men were false witnesses. If you are correct, there is no Christianity, no Church, and no New Testament.

      • Vanessa says:

        You couldn’t have said it better. If Paul is false then God is a liar which we know God is not. Romans 3 verse 4. God has and will preserve his word.

  30. Greg Wilson says:

    In the beginning paragraph 2 You said: “This blessing assumed the obedience of national Israel. “. The Abrahamic covenant placed no performance obligations on Israel. It was unconditional and based on God’s oath (Gen 22:16). The Gentile blessing comes through Christ alone.

    New Covenant: Does not the New Covenant have dual application: spiritual and physical. ? Christ’s Own, the spiritual seed of Abraham, who have been born again, are under the spiritual aspect of the New Covenant. Whereas, physical Israel, will experience the New Covenant commencing with Christ’s second advent throughout the Millennial Kingdom.

    When the Temple veil was torn, Jewish and Gentile access to God was made available by the Blood of Jesus. The blessing came through Jesus, not Paul.

    Paul and the Church began with Paul statement: The scriptures suggest the Church body existed prior to Paul’s conversion: Acts 8:3, 1 Cor 15:9, Gal 1:13. Is not the seminal event the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit which defines the Age.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Greg,
      Are you saying that blessings of the Abrahamic covenant assumed disobedience? It was unconditional but will not be fulfilled until national Israel repents. This is what the Gospels are all about. Jesus’ death tore the veil but this access was revealed by Paul. No one knew the significance of the torn veil until Paul. For example, Peter did not proclaim it at Pentecost. The “church” of Acts 3 and Paul’s comments about its persecution was composed of Jews who believed the gospel of the kingdom. It was Jew only, not Jew and Gentile. Peter addressed only Jews at Pentecost. The Church, the body of Christ, was a Pauline revelation according to Ephesians 3. Paul declared is was “not known.” See my article, Paul’s “Mystery”.

      • Greg Wilson says:

        Don: The concept of Israel’s performance,(obedience/disobedience) in regard to the Abrahamic covenant, is not relevant. This covenant was a sovereign unilateral declaratory promise wholly dependent upon God’s character. The Abrahamic covenant was given to Abraham and his seed. His seed is Christ in the context of the Pauline epistles. (Galatians 3:16). Abraham also has a physical seed in the Gospels. There are two kingdoms: kingdom of heaven (earthly) and kingdom of God (heavenly). If we belong to Christ, then we are Abraham’s seed. (Galatians 3:29). Jesus gave away the kingdom of God to a people who would produce fruit. My point is that the Abrahamic promises are dual in nature speaking to a heavenly (spiritual) seed (Christ’s own) and an earthly physical seed (Israel). The Lord’s promises to Abraham’s heavenly seed are presently being fulfilled as God calls individuals to the saving faith in Jesus. The Lord’s promises to Abraham’s physical seed have been suspended, pending the “fullness of the Gentiles. (Romans 11:25). Then, at this fullness, Christ will remove His own (1 Cor 15:23,52) and then the Lord will activate His plans moving Israel toward the Kingdom, as He refines the remnant as silver through the Tribulation with a view toward the deliverance. The physical aspect of the Abrahamic covenant will see fulfillment in the Millennial Kingdom.

        The Church was indeed a Pauline revelation. The timing of his revelation had no bearing on its appearance. A mystery unknown has no bearing on the reality of its truth. Paul’s understanding of the veil did not affect the operation of God which was a sign of access to the holy of Holies through Jesus. It pre-existed Paul’s revelation. Granted there appear to be transistional types of salvation in Acts. It’s complicated. There appears to be a transitional form of salvation in Revelation too, when compared to Jeremiah 31:34. (Rev 12:17;14:12) However, this age is all about the mystery of Christ indwelt. It is the age of Pentecost, the new creation in Christ. God did envision the “body of Christ”, the Church” in Genesis 2:22. I agree, God’s plans to address the rebel Angels involved man and more specifically, the “new creation”.

        The gospels are fully Jewish, as are Hebrews and the following epistles through Revelation. They are doctrinally written to the Jew. Surely they benefit Christians in correction, rebuke and training in righteousness, but I believe God has prepared them doctrinally for the Jew, principally, during the time of Jacob’s Trouble.

        The Galatians 3 speaks to Paul’s audience about the Abrahamic promises and the Law. Paul teaches that Christ fulfilled the Law, but that this did not affect God’s promises to Abraham and physical Israel. The audience, probably Jews, were afraid that Jesus’s fulfillment of the Law did away with the Abahamic promises to Israel. Paul assures them that this was not the case.

        I very much appreciate your depth of doctrinal understanding and aspire to know the word of God as well as you !

        Warm regards, Greg

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Greg,
          Thank you and I agree. But we must be careful. The Abrahamic covenant of Genesis 12 dealt with blessing and progeny, physical and spiritual. However, in its expanded sense, e.g., the kingdom promises revealed in Genesis 15, and the subsequent covenant promises built on the Abrahamic covenant cannot be fulfilled until Israel repents. They were sovereign, unconditional covenants but they require Israel’s obedience before God will/can fulfill them (Matthew 23.37-39). If this were not the case, they would have been fulfilled in Jesus’ first advent, for that is why He came (Romans 15.8). I fail to understand, “The timing of his revelation had no bearing on its appearance. A mystery unknown has no bearing on the reality of its truth.” Had God not revealed the secret of the Church to Paul, it would have remained unknown. Had God not revealed the significance of Christ’s work on the cross to Paul, it would have remained unknown. Salvation by faith alone would not have been known. The rent veil signified God had removed the barrier between Himself and man and that Christ had defeated sin and death. But no one would have known this had God had not revealed it to Paul. Grace and peace.

  31. Greg Wilson says:

    The kingdom promises of Genesis 15 appear as unconditional. In fact the land promise of verse 15 was accomplished. God said “I have given”. It is done. It will be fulfilled in the Millennium.

    I agree that Israel will repent. It is the goodness of God which will be associated with this repentance. (Romans 2:4) I simply do not see their repentance as a conditional element of God’s promise.

    In the book of Revelation, true Israel (1) have the faith and testimony of Jesus, and (2) keep the commandments of God. These people will have repented. Much of Israel’s problem in this Age is blindness (Romans 11) as the result of rejecting Messiah. God will remove that blindness, soon. Then, their hearts will soften and the remnant will respond to God’s call.

    You had said: “Through Paul, God created the Church, the body of Christ, not on the basis of covenant…” I disagreed. Perhaps it is syntax, but for me, I believe the scriptures say that God revealed the church mystery to Paul. The church is the body of Christ. It is a mystery disclosed to Paul by Jesus.

    The Church was not created on the basis of a covenant. I agree. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the sign of the Church, is the free gift based on faith alone. Gifts are not associated with obligations (covenant obligations).

    I said: “The timing of his revelation had no bearing on its appearance. A mystery unknown has no bearing on the reality of its truth.” When God tore the veil, access was immediate. Access to the Holy of Holies by way of the blood of Jesus was available. Its availability was not subject to Paul’s later revelation. Between the time of tearing until years later, believers could approach God, through Christ in prayer. Jesus was intercessing before Paul knew the mystery. It was effective prayer. Yes, Paul explained it, but the truth of God was available before Paul’s revelation.

    I am reminded of 1 Kings 19:18 and Romans 11:4. Isaiah thought he was all alone in Israel as one who had not bowed a knee to Baal. He was not alone, as God had reserved 7,000 others. You and I agree that God is able to act independently and accomplish his plans in spite of our knowledge. God calls. People respond. We are surely grateful to Paul for Jesus’ revelations ! I would rather give the glory to Jesus than Paul in regard to Church creation.
    In Christ,

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Greg,
      I think you are confusing Godward and manward sides of the issue. The covenant was unconditional in the sense God alone made it. He declared it would happen. However, it could not happen until Israel repented. The Abrahamic covenant has only partially been completed. Why? Israel has not repented. The same is true about the veil. It does no good for something to be if it is unknown. Peter did not preach that the barrier between God and man was removed. He did not preach to Gentiles at Pentecost. He knew nothing of the significance of the rent veil. God knew Israel would not repent and planned to create the Church through Paul. But God kept this secret. Had Israel repented the story would be entirely different. You might want to read Paul: Chief of Sinners? to understand the significance of Paul and the Church. Your comment, “I would rather give the glory to Jesus than Paul in regard to Church” is a false choice. Christ gets the glory period. God gave the Law through Moses. Moses dispensed it to Israel. What is Moses’ glory? Moses’ glory is he obeyed God. God formed the Church through Paul and gave him that revelation. Paul was obedient to his commission as Moses was to his. Paul’s glory was in obeying Christ. As there would have been no Law apart from Moses, there would have been no Church apart from Paul. Grace and peace.

  32. Greg Wilson says:

    Don:

    In Genesis 15:18, in regard to the land grant, God said: “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” God used the past tense, “have given this land”. You say, “he declared it would happen”. You use the future tense. The literal reading is not future, but past. NO conditions. This is your Godward side. You want to add “manward” conditions, particularly Israel’s repentance.

    You understand the contractual concepts of bilateral and unilateral contracts. As an old lawyer, I am intimately familiar with the law and its interpretation. I am attempting to understand God’s truth, and it free from error, mine and others. Your articles provide great doctrinal insights. I very much appreciate your immense efforts. I am having difficulty reconciling some of your statements and conclusions.

    The Abrahamic covenant is a unilateral contract. Under contract law a unilateral contract only requires the performance of one party, the maker. Conditions to contracts may occur before or after the unilateral performance becomes contractually obligated. These are known as conditions precedent and subsequent to contract (covenant) formation. The scriptures do not describe any precedent or subsequent conditions to God’s Abrahamic promises.

    When you say the “covenant was unconditional in the sense God made it alone”, you necessarily imply that performance conditions exist which limit God’s performance obligations. In your case, you add a condition subsequent to God’s unilateral performance obligation to Israel. You say they must repent as a condition of God’s performance. Show me the conditions in the OT.

    I agree that Israel will repent in the future and following that repentance, God will act on His promises. However, Israel’s repentance is not a condition of the Abrahamic promises. They will repent when God removes their blindness. (Romans 11:25-27) Because of unbelief, God judged Israel and temporarily broken off the olive branch. (Romans 11:16-20)

    I agree the Abrahamic covenant has been (is being) partially fulfilled. Romans 11 is very clear why Israel did not and has not repented yet. Israel’s temporary blindness has, in God’s wisdom, brought salvation to the Gentiles.

    I have read your article titled, “Paul: Chief of Sinners”. I have studied the 1 Timothy 1. I am concerned about your doctrinal statement: “Paul declared he was “first” as a “pattern” (ὑποτύπωσις) for those who would believe on Christ for eternal life.” You have altered the meaning of the verse by omission. You infer a church formation event from the use of the word “first”.

    You paraphrase 1 Timothy 1:16 omitting materially important content. You omitted “Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering” (KJV). I fear that you have crafted a private interpretation. The verse says: “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” The long suffering is the pattern, not [Paul] as “first” as the pattern. Paul was first in the sense of beginning the pattern of suffering for Christ.

    Jesus Christ was going to (and had shown) Paul’s suffering, his longsuffering, as a pattern. You imply Paul as “first” as “first in the church of God”. It was his longsuffering for the burden of the word of God as a pattern. Jesus said anyone who testifies of Him would suffer. The scriptures confirm this fact: Acts 9:16, Philippians 3:10, Colossians 1:24-25.

    Study the Colossians verse 24-25: “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;” The context is 1 Timothy 1:12,16. Suffering, long suffering is the pattern for those who are saved. 1 Peter 2:21 confirms this fact: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” Peter confirms verse 16 in the context of suffering, but certainly not in the context of the church formation.

    Questions: If, as you assert, the Church was founded at Paul’s conversion, how do you explain the following verses which contradict the proposition ?

    Acts 3:8: As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

    1 Corinthians 15:9: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

    Galatians 1:13: For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

    Each of these verses, if taken literally, say the church pre-existed Paul’s conversion.

    The scriptures of truth do not support your interpretation that “God formed the Church through Paul”. God disclosed the church to Paul, but the scriptures say that the church of God existed before Paul’s conversion.

    I am perplexed with the disputes over the timing of church formation. Those believers at Pentecost were indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon their transforming belief and that has continued since Pentecost (before Paul’s conversion) to the present. Regardless of the differences in the details of apparent differing salvation methods, which are noted throughout Acts, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is shared event.

    Personally, I think the analogy of Paul as the Moses of the NT is an interesting thought. I just cannot reconcile your method of church formation analogy based on 1 Timothy 1:16.

    In conclusion, you often refer to Peter preaching the Kingdom of Heaven (and not church) in support of your Paul church formation position as a proof. The doctrinal teaching of Peter is doctrinally applicable to the Jew principally in the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. God did write a substantial portion of the NT for Tribulation Jews. That is the doctrinal focus of the gospels and Hebrews through Revelation. This is the reason you cannot find anything on the Church with Peter.

    You know that the church of God is not in the seven year period known as Time of Jacob’s Trouble. The church’s trouble is now and Paul was the first to suffer, as a pattern, for the all which, after Paul, should believe on Jesus to life everlasting.

    Respectfully and In Christ,

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Greg,
      I have stated the Abrahamic covenant was unconditional, unilateral. The question becomes if it has been completely fulfilled, and if not, why not. The Scriptural reason it has not is Israel has not repented. Jesus made this clear in Matthew 23.37-39. Peter made it clear in Acts 2.36-38. Genesis 15.18 is a Qal perfect but the LXX reads, “I will give.” Sometimes, God speaks in the prophetic past. For example, in Luke 10.18, the Lord said He saw Satan fall from heaven. But we know this is future, according to Revelation 12.7-10. With regard to 1 Timothy, Paul is the pattern, not longsuffering. Paul stated he was “first.” First is first. I recommend you reread the article because you apparently missed the companion passage, 1 Corinthians 3.10-11 in which Paul stated he was the architect of the Church, the master builder. The word ἐκκλησία simply means a group of people. Context determines its meaning. Thus, when Paul wrote he wasted the “church” he did not mean the body of Christ, he meant the Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah. The Ephesians 3 passage is extremely clear that the Church, the body of Christ, was unknown before Paul. We KNOW the Church did not exist at Pentecost. Peter addressed only Jews. Even as late as Acts 11.19, the Jewish believers were evangelizing Jews only. The definition of the Church according to Paul is the organism in which Jew and Gentile are equal in Christ. Peter had no interest in Gentile evangelism. He addressed Jews only. The indwelling Holy Spirit was a promise related to God’s prophetic program to Israel. The promise of the Church does not exist in the OT or Gospels. Read Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36. You might want to read my article, The Church (the Body of Christ), where I discuss these issues. Grace and peace.

  33. Greg Wilson says:

    Don:

    It is clear that you and I cannot agree on the literal words or proper context of 1 Timothy 1:16. You have omitted some words and changed the plain meaning of others. This is akin to litigating a controversy based on the law of two differing jurisdictions without a judge. There is no possible judicial result which carries any meaningful value.

    God’s truth is all that matters. Freedom from error is paramount. Error chills rhema revelation. Teachers are held to a higher standard of care. The matter will be resolved at the Bema seat.

    I have enjoyed the conversation. Thanks for your comments.

    In Christ, Greg

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Greg,
      I have no wish to argue but that I have omitted words or changed the meaning is a false charge. As a lawyer, you should know better. You apparently do not know basic grammar. The subject of 1 Timothy 1.16 is “I” (Paul) not “longsuffering.” It was Paul for whom the Lord extended mercy and long suffering. In the previous verse, Paul wrote “I am first”; in the next verse “me first”, “I am the pattern.” These clauses are parallel. This is straightforward, simple, exegesis. You have chosen not to address 1 Corinthians 3.10-11, “I (Paul) laid the foundation” in light of 1 Timothy 1.16-17, the meaning of ἐκκλησία, and the other evidence I wrote regarding the Abrahamic covenant. So be it. I can lead the horse. I can’t make him drink. I am quite aware of the higher standard God holds for teachers. For that reason, I am careful. When I become aware of error, I correct it. I will say in all frankness that unless one understands God began something new with the apostle Paul and revealed to him secrets the Lord had not disclosed through the prophets and in His earthly ministry, the understanding of many Scriptures will remain veiled. My purpose is to remove the veil. Grace and peace.

  34. courtney says:

    Don, outstanding article. The foot motes on 4,5, &6 were well done and greatly appreciated. Mark Twain is the pen name of Samuel clements. Thank you much.
    Peace and Grace

  35. I have just come accross this site and I cannot get enough of it. Thank you so very much.

  36. Vanessa says:

    Jean I have no connection to Doctrine but as a believer seeing how another believer gets excited about Gods word make some so happy. This site helped us so much when we set out directed by God to search the scriptures. Take care.

  37. Rob Klein says:

    Don, After the chart on the elements of the Abrahamic Covenant, the second paragraph starts out, “God told Abram that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt for 400 years…” The next line has “(vv.13-14)”. Please add “Genesis 15” to that reference. It was not clear what chapter those verses come from, though I was able to figure it out.

    Also, I just finished re-reading your preceding article on Covenant Theology. You quote Gal. 3:15-18. Contained in vs 17 is “…the Law, which came 430 years later…” I have a couple of comments here. I just finished reading Bullinger’s Numbers in Scripture and Bullinger says the 430 years is from the call of Abram to the Exodus. The 400 year number was from the birth of Issac to the Exodus. I am okay with that. But taking this a step further, from my own study of Scripture, I see that Moses’ mother – Jochabed – was a daughter of (patriarch) Levi, the third son of Leah. Jochabed – born in Egypt (Num. 26:59) married her brother Kohath’s son, Amram. Levi lived 137 year, the early years in Canaan. Kohath lived 133 years, and Amram lived 137 years. So as I see it, the Israelites could not have been in Egypt for 430 or even 400 years. Yet Gen. 15:13, Exo. 12:40 use those two numbers as Israel’s years in Egypt, though the Genesis passage could be referring to the sojourn of Israel in Canaan and Egypt together. Your thoughts?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Rob,
      Henry Ainsworth, an English theologian in the late 1500s, early 1600s stated Israel’s “affliction” (Genesis 15.13; Acts 7.6) began when Isaac was five years old when Ishmael mocked him (Genesis 21.9; Galatians 4.29). This means “they” must refer to non-covenant peoples.

  38. Rob Klein says:

    Don,

    FYI…

    Under the “Mosaic Covenant”, the third paragraph down, about 2/3 of the way through, there are repeated words… placing his hands upon the head of the animal… “the head of” is repeated.

  39. Rob Klein says:

    Don,
    I looked this Royal Grant map up in Larkin’s book on Dispensation Truth so I could read the fine print (I read that book years ago, and refer to it from time to time). In your article, you mention the Sea of Galilee as the northern border. Larkin uses Ezekiel 48 to establish the northern border, an east-west line through Hamath. I do not necessarily disagree, but the prophet is talking about a tract of land for the tribe of Dan – I believe Dan had a land assignment along the border with the Philistines as well. But Larkin has generously given Israel much of Syria – including her capital Damascus – and a whole lot more territory to the north. Maybe we can not be emphatic about that northern border. I’d appreciate your thoughts.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Rob,
      The borders of the land grant are the Nile, Med, and Euphrates, which comprises the northern border. This means the land grant takes in most of what is Syria and half of Iraq.

  40. James Snyder says:

    It appears that there are some thoughts and concepts missing in your expression of the Covenants.

    You state: “The Scriptures teach these covenants were given to Israel alone. ”
    This is highly questionable! It seems to me that The Abrahamic Covenant is more comprehensive than your information here would suggest. How can your above statement be true when Israel did not even exist when God made Covenant with Abraham? This in itself negates the statement.

    You indicate (as do most of mainline Christianity) that the Covenant of Abraham is unilateral. How can this be when the scriptures clearly state, “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.” (Geneisi 17:14). If there is only one party, only one party can break the covenant. The Blood Covenant between God and Abraham required blood shed from both parties, God (in substitute until Jesus shed His blood on the cross) and Abraham (and his male descendants) via circumcision in the flesh (until Christ shed His blood on the cross). In addition, Jesus is the mediator (the go between) of the Covenant. “Now a mediator is not a mediator of ONE but God is ONE.” Gal 3 20. If the covenant is unilateral, how can there be a mediator of the covenant? No the covenant is between The Father God and men, with Jesus as the Mediator. It is not just a promese, but a promise in fulfillment of a covenant. This Abrahamic covenant, confirmed in the blood of Jesus, is the reason Galatians says, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Gal 3:29

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      James,
      God made it clear in Genesis 17.19 that covenant line was through Isaac and then Jacob. Jacob fathered all Jews. The covenant was unilateral because it was a promise. Galatians 3.29 deals with the Mosaic Law. Paul’s point was that one was a “seed” of Abraham because Abraham believed God. Believers of Paul’s gospel are of the seed of Abraham because the promise was established on the basis of faith, not Law. God’ promise to bless Gentiles was to come through Israel. The promise of God’s blessing Israel was to come through the Messiah. But Israel rejected the Messiah. How could God bless Gentiles if Israel rejected the Messiah? The OT answer was He couldn’t. God had revealed no program by which he could bless Gentiles apart from Israel. But God in His grace created a new program by which He could do this. He saved Paul, created the Church through him, and Paul became the apostle of the Gentiles. Paul became proxy Israel, believing Israel, and this is why he stated he was “untimely born” (1 Corinthians 15.8). His salvation preceeded and anticipated the salvation of all Israel (Romans 11.26).

  41. Adam says:

    Don,
    Can you address (in this chat thread) the significance of Rom 2:29 “But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” How does this still keep the Gentile separate from the Jew in God’s plan of redemption?

    Also, can you explain what Jesus meant by telling Peter in Matt 16:18 “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    Many thanks for your studies. Love,
    Adam

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Adam,
      On one level, a Jew was a descendant of Jacob. But on the spiritual level, a Jew was a descendant of Jacob who exercised faith. This is what Paul meant by Romans 9.6. According to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10.32 there are Jews, Gentiles, and Church. When one believes Paul’s gospel he becomes “church,” a member of the body of Christ, not Jew or Gentile. Throughout Scripture, Christ is the Rock. Thus, what Jesus was telling Peter that on Himself would he build a believing community of Jews. See my article, On This Rock.

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