“And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, every one who keeps the sabbath, and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant — these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:6-7, RSV).
Jeremiah states that the new covenant is to be made with “the house of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:33). Does this mean, then, that only the literal seed of Abraham, Jews by blood and birth, are to receive the covenant promises?
No! In fact, that was not even true in Old Testament times. That the Hebrew nation, as a whole, had been given the covenant promises is, of course, correct. Yet, it was not done in exclusion to anyone else. On the contrary, all, Jew or Gentile, were invited to partake of the promises, but they had to agree to enter into that covenant. It is certainly no different today.
Read the above texts in Isaiah. What conditions do they place on those who want to serve the Lord? Is there really any difference in what God asked them and what He asks of us today? Explain your answer.
Though the new covenant is called “better” (see Wednesday’s study), there really is no difference in the basic elements that make up both the old and new covenant. It is the same God, who offers salvation the same way, by grace (Exodus 34:6, Romans 3:24); it is the same God who seeks a people who will by faith claim His promises of forgiveness (Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:12); it is the same God who seeks to write the law into the hearts of those who will follow Him in a faith relationship (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10), whether they be Jew or Gentile.
In the New Testament, the Jews, responding to the election of grace, received Jesus Christ and His gospel. For a time they were the heart of the church, the “remnant, chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5, RSV) in contrast to those who were “hardened” (Romans 11:7, RSV). At the same time, the Gentiles, who formerly did not believe, accepted the gospel and were grafted into God’s true people, made up of believers, no matter to which people or race they belonged (Romans 11:13-24). So the Gentiles “at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12, RSV) were brought near in the blood of Christ. Christ is mediating the “new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15, RSV) for all believers, regardless of nationality or race.