Is the New Covenant only for Judah and Israel?
“Behold finding fault with them, He says: “Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” (Heb. 8:6). Quoting from Jer. 31:31, Paul affirms the fulfillment of this prophecy in the soon to be completed New Covenant and consummation of the Old. By virtue of the new, the Old Covenant was becoming obsolete. The time for its “vanishing away” drew near, (Heb. 8:13). It ended in 70 A.D., (Matthew 5:18; Lk. 21:20, 22, 32).
The backdrop of God’s promise to establish a new covenant with the houses of Israel and Judah, involved the cutting off of Israel (10 northern) tribes in 721 B.C. They committed idolatry under King Jeroboam. God cast them out of his sight,17:20-21, and prophesied through Hosea that they were not his people, (Lo-Ammi, Hos. 1:9).
Consequently, they were carried off into Assyrian captivity in 7:21 BC (Isa. 28:11-12) and “swallowed up” among the Gentiles, (Hos. 8:8). Yet God promised that in the latter days (last days) he would “remarry Israel” (an unfaithful wife whom He had divorced) by sowing Israel as seed into the earth and showing mercy upon her, restore her place as people of God. (Hos. 2:19-23; 3:5).
Peter, writing to the Diaspora (1 Pet. 1:1), confirms God’s promises to Israel, showing they were born again into the covenant of God (1:22), and that he in fact had shown them mercy, calling them his people, (2:9,10). Paul also cites Hosea’s prophecy. (Romans 9:24-26). Israel’s sins resulted in her separation and divorce, i.e. her spiritual death, (Hos. 13:1-2). The regathering in the last days amounts to her resurrection, (Rom. 11:15; 1 Cor. 15).
Ezekiel 37, prophesies both the resurrection and the regathering of Israel and Judah under a new king, David (the). At that time, God would restore them to the land, set his sanctuary among them and establish the everlasting covenant with them.
This along with the text in Hebrews leads some to conclude that God only made a covenant with Israel and Judah. They interpret those words to mean that the covenant is exclusive to Israel and that those outside of Israel and Judah are not subject to Israel’s covenant, i.e. to live under the terms of the New Covenant. We believe this position is in error.
Salvation is of the Jews, John 4:22
Some argue in support of the “New Covenant for Israel only” argument the words of Christ that salvation is of the Jews. Their aim? To demonstrate the “exclusivity of the New Covenant to the Jews.
In response, Jesus is not saying that salvation is only “for” the Jews. He is saying that salvation originated “out” of the Jewish nation. The word “ek” translated of, means point of origin. It is the same as saying the kingdom of heaven, namely the kingdom out of the heavens. That phrase does not mean that the kingdom is only for those in heaven and thus not for those who dwell on earth. It merely points to the source of origin.
Secondly, the blessings of the salvation of the covenant is “living water.” At the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus offered to the Jews the blessing of “living water.” “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38).
However, in the discussion with the Samaritan woman, a non-Jew, the Lord offered her the same blessings of the covenant, i.e. the “living water”, (John 4:10-15). If salvation were only for the Jews, why was this Samaritan woman, a non-Jew and with whom Jews would not associate be promised that very same salvation?
We are hearing this from some and the reasons vary from prophetic fulfillment to racism. The following is what in our view sufficiently refutes the idea of an exclusive covenant of salvation to Jews and Israelites, and especially so as an exclusive ethnic group. But, as shown below, neither can it be maintained based on the Bible text.
Egyptians (Africans) Blessed in the New Covenant
Egyptians, or the descendants of Ham (Mizraim), once enslaved Israel and from whom God delivered them through Moses. In the days of Hezekiah when Assyrian King Sennacherib’s attack on Judah, God commanded Israel not to go down by the way of Egypt, nor to trust in horses from Egypt. They were the enemies of God’s people, (Isa. 31:1).
Yet, in the latter days, God offers Egypt the invitation to participate in the Messianic Feast of Tabernacles, with dire consequences for refusal. Zechariah, citing the day of the Lord, says that Egypt must worship God from year to year, (meaning continually).
They are to worship the “King” i.e. (David, which is) by going up to Jerusalem. This not the literal and forsaken city of Jerusalem. (See on John 4:20-24). Rather it is the heavenly Jerusalem in the new heavenly city of God, (Rev. 21:1-3). Of Egypt it is said:
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain.
If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
In that day “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the blows before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 14:16-21).”
Not only would Egypt come up, but all nations were required to come. By no stretch of the imagination does Egypt (the nation) equate with Israel or Judah in this context. These of necessity are the terms of the new covenant God makes with Israel and Judah.
Note also that all those who participated would cook in the vessels of the Lord. For those outside of Israel’s Levitical priesthood to handle to the vessels of the sanctuary amounted to sacrilege. (See Dan. 5:1ff). Yet, there is no condemnation. This confirms the spiritual nature of this prophecy. It also testifies against a physical temple or service.
The Nations Walk In The Light Rev. 21:24-26
John writes that the nations walk in the light of the kingdom and bring their glory and honor into it. It’s gates are not shut day or night. This means there is no end to the continual inflow of the nations.
The Gentile Exclusion Argument
Now as we have noticed the Jewish exclusion argument, let us note the Gentile exclusion argument. Some who seek to distinguish the descendants of Ham on the basis of skin color argue that they are not included among the Gentiles citing Genesis 10:3 as proof.
The essence of the argument is that Hamites fall neither under Shem, thus are no part of Israel nor under Japheth excluding them from the Gentiles and the promises. In other words they reason that Noah’s sons are divided based on color or racial lines into Jews, Europeans and Asians and those of African descent. This clear contradicts genetic DNA science.
In other words, Shem is the father of Israel throughlineage. Some have argued unconvincingly that Gentiles are exclusively of Japheth, and exclude Ham and his descendants, 10:3. Such argument excludes Noah’s son’s through Ham. This means the people of Egypt (Mizraim), Ethiopia (Cush) Put (Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Cyrene) and .
However, we demonstrated that God called upon the Egyptians and all the nations to worship at the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14). Further, Simon a Cyrenian of Hamitic descent was compelled to carry Jesus’ cross. Later, members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen the Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), were found disputing with Stephen, (Acts 6:9).
Apparently some were converted. These Africans also travelled from Jerusalem after the persecution following the martyrdom of Stephen to Antioch and preached the gospel to the Hellenists (Grecian Jews). Their evangelistic mission proved quite successful, (Acts 11:19-21).
Therefore, the New Covenant embraced all the Sons of Noah, those of Shem, Ham and Japheth. Further, both Shemites and Hamites spoke semitic languages. Therefore, Ham’s descendants are Semitic people and thus, the modern use of Anti-Semitic as is used by Ashkenazi Jews of European descent is both misunderstood and misapplied.
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The New Covenant