Last week, I had a man who goes by the moniker “RiversofEden” as my guest on Miano Gone Wild. “RiversofEden” holds to a fulfilled perspective that limits all the implications of the New Covenant to “Israel of the Flesh”. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here:
Now let’s unpack some things before I get to the ‘meat and potatoes’ of what I am looking to say in this blog post. I hold to what is called “Full Preterism” which means that I believe the entirety of Bible prophecy is in the past. This is simply because of the time statements and the context of what was being prophesied in the New Testament- i.e. the fulfillment of the “hope of Israel”. This is where “RiversofEden” and I stand in agreement. Where we differ is how we come at the context of what is occurring. As I made public yesterday, I think the depth of the view I hold is best summarized as “Covenant Eschatology” which would show that in the New Testament a “covenant” was coming to an end (thus “eschatology” meaning “last things”). “RiversofEden” and I contrast at this point, since he is very adamant about the fact that the promise of the “New Covenant” in Jeremiah chapter 31 was only made to the houses of Israel and Judah, and therefore had no “ongoing effect” for any other people. While I agree that the promise was to the “houses of Israel and Judah”, I completely disagree that this wasn’t intended to have an effect on “other nations”, i.e., “strangers” or “gentiles”. Allow me to explain.
“In the beginning”, God takes man (adam) and places him in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). The ‘garden of Eden’ is used as metaphor for land of blessing and promise (Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 36:35; Joel 2:3). Through Adam who violated the law given to him, he was removed from the garden and covered by God with animal skins, and given “curses and blessings” (Genesis 3:12-24). Type and shadow of God doing exactly that with Israel? Some have said so. Through Adam comes Cain, Abel, and Seth. After the death of Abel and the driving away of Cain, we only hear the lineage through Seth. Through Seth, Noah would eventually be born. Everyone knows the story of the flood, but oddly many assume this to be a world-wide flood, why? Yeah, something to consider for another time, eh? Noah’s family survives the flood and through his son, Shem, eventually will come Abram (who comes to be known as Abraham).
Abraham is called by the Lord and given blessings (Genesis chapter 12). Abraham has his ups and downs and eventually God establishes a covenant with Abraham (Genesis chapter 15 and chapter 17). The “natural” covenant that God made with Abraham was that his people would possess the land and many nations would come of them, circumcision would “seal the deal” (pun intended). When God said that all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed (Genesis 22:17-18), it is important to remember that many nations were already in existence (Genesis chapters 10 and 17).
Through Isaac, who as given by the grace and promise of God, his seed would be reckoned (Genesis 21:12 although we know that this is truly done in and through Jesus Christ, Galatians chapter 3). Isaac would give birth to Esau and Jacob, and the blessings would fall into the hands of Jacob (Genesis chapter 27). Jacob is later named “Israel” and it is through him that the 12 tribes of Israel would come into being.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
So God calls Israel to Himself as He utilizes Moses to lead them out of Egypt, creates a covenant with them, establishes a covering called The Law, and says this:
“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:4-6)”.
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6)”.
So…why did God set apart a nation for Himself? Did this have an effect on the other nations?
“May God be gracious to US (Israel) and bless US and make His face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations (Psalm 67:1-2)”.
“See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will SHOW your wisdom and understanding TO THE NATIONS, who will hear about these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people”. What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-7)”
It is my contention that God chose Israel and set them apart as a people unto Himself to demonstrate (show) His will for the nations-a set apart kingdom of wisdom and understanding! God’s presence was known to Israel, His judgments were demonstrated on and through Israel, and His blessing was upon Israel. Matter of fact this is what Paul says in Romans chapter 9:
“…the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ…(Romans 9:4-5)”.
“He has revealed His word to Jacob, His laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know His laws. Praise the Lord (Psalm 147:19-20)”.
I call this “Hebrew Exclusivity”, since that is what we read about in the Old Testament. God has chosen Israel and throughout the Old Testament He is dealing with them. Could others share in this?
“Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you… For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, INCLUDING THOSE BORN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD OR BOUGHT WITH YOUR MONEY, THEY MUST BE CIRCUMCISED. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people, he has broken my covenant (Genesis 17:9-14)”.
Did you catch that? Even the “strangers” had to be circumcised because they would share in the blessings of Abraham’s people. The Sabbath regulations also were mandated for those in the household (Exodus 20:10).
So when Israel went into slavery in Egypt for 400 years and then God was about to demonstrate His will for Israel, wouldn’t you imagine that this had an impact on Egyptians? Well sure enough when Moses was leading Israel out of bondage it is said that some of the Egyptians left as well.
“Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock and herds (Exodus 12:38)”.
“The Lord said these are the regulations for the Passover: NO FOREIGNOR IS TO EAT OF IT. Any slave you have brought MAY EAT OF IT AFTER YOU HAVE CIRCUMCISED HIM, but a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat if it (Exodus 12:43-45)”.
Well folks, that about sums it up, doesn’t it? No foreigner may eat of it. If they are circumcised they are allowed. Why? Because they have come into covenant as God had proposed to Abraham and was incorporated into the Law of Moses. (This nullifies the argument “RiversofEden” tries to use when citing verses such as Nehemiah 13:3; Ezra 10:11, 43). When a “foreigner is circumcised he is brought into the covenant relationship of Israel (after all, Passover was a thing for Israel, right?).
God fulfilled the exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land and we see that this had an effect on some of those in Egypt who left with the Israelites. They were then circumcised and could participate in the Passover blessings. Interestingly, in the book of Revelation chapter 11 verse 8, the “great city” is “figuratively called Sodom and Egypt”. When compared with Galatians 4:21-31, one can see the parallel of the literal story of Israel leaving Egypt, also the New Jerusalem being persecuted by the physical Jerusalem, but glory to God, Christ is the Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).
So, I agree that what is written in the Old Testament and the New Testament were promises to Israel. After all, in Acts chapters 24, 26, and 28, the apostle Paul makes it very clear that all he has spoken about what “the hope of Israel”. That was/is the gospel. “RiversofEden” makes it a point to constantly point out that Jeremiah chapter 31 (which speaks of the New Covenant) was a promise made to the houses of Israel and Judah, and was a part of prophecy. This would therefore mean that under the construct of “ALL BIBLE PROPHECY FULFILLED” and Matthew 5:16-18, Jeremiah chapter 31 must be fulfilled.
Is anyone arguing against that? Nope! Heaven and Earth would not pass away until ALL was fulfilled. Sure enough, in Revelation chapter 20, the “heavens and earth” flee when the books of judgment are opened. What do we see happening in Revelation chapter 21? A “new heaven and a new earth” come down from heaven.
I do believe that the “hope of Israel” was entirely fulfilled in AD 70. “The old order passed away”- remember the “order” when Israel constantly had to be atoned for causing tears), or would be judged and displaced (the mourning that occurred), the sin and death under the Law? Do you remember these things? When is the last time you did them? You don’t! Why? Read Jeremiah 3:15-25.
Just as God chose Israel and made a covenant with her (“heaven and earth”), demonstrated His loving kindness to her in judgment and restoration, which served as an example to the nations- for example, those who followed Israel out of Egypt. The would also happen when God fulfilled all prophecy to natural Israel, the passing of “heaven and earth”, and demonstrated his judgment and restoration- this time in Spirit, at the establishment of the “new heavens and new earth”. Philippians chapter 3 gives a great illustration of the old contrasted to the new. Say goodbye to circumcision of the flesh! A temple made with hands. The “body” of sin and death.
Today, what is called “Covenant Eschatology” espouses these truths that come under constant attack. We believe in the fulfilled prophecies of “Israel of the flesh” and through God demonstrating Himself through judgment and resurrection, i.e, “the hope of Israel”. We can now “put on Jesus Christ”, or better said the “robes of righteousness (Revelation 22:14; Matthew 22:1-14; Isaiah 61:10 ) and “come into covenant with God” (Revelation 22:17).
Blessings in Christ,
For more “good reading” dealing with this subject, check out these links: