Appreciating The New Covenant
Imagine a going-away party for your friends is coming up, and then, people start begging off from what they were asked to do. Nobody wants to bring food, bring dessert, make a video or participate in the games. That would be sad, but, would that mean the whole thing is cancelled? No, you would just go and find other people who appreciated them enough to help make the day a success.
Thousands of years ago, God faced a far more serious issue that involved the fate of the world. Right away He started a plan of action. Along the way, he befriended imperfect humans and made covenants to assure them of His ultimate intent to solve all problems. For example, he promised Abraham that by means of his offspring, all the nations would blessed. Of course, humans don't always stay loyal. Abraham's descendants, the nation of Israel, ended up breaking their agreement with Jehovah so many times and so brazenly, that He could no longer forgive them. But that doesn't mean God's purpose was finished. Let's read Jeremiah chapter 31, starting in verse 31:
"Look! The days are coming,” declares Jehovah, “when I will make with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenant. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their forefathers on the day I took hold of their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, ‘my covenant that they broke, although I was their true master,’ declares Jehovah. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares Jehovah. “I will put my law within them, and in their heart I will write it. And I will become their God, and they will become my people."
Just like with the party analogy, it isn't the guests of honor's fault if some people don't care enough. And so too with God. All humans wouldn't be judged on the actions of the unfaithful, but everyone as an individual would be given a chance. Would God still keep his promise to Abraham and Israel? Yes. But the terms would have to be altered. No longer would your blood play a part in having this special role. But actions and thoughts do.
For instance, Jesus told the Pharisees that they were from their father the Devil. Now, from an earthly perspective, they were as Israelite as you can get. Their dress and grooming was spot on, and they knew all the religious protocol and dogma. But, their practices of self-exaltation and even murderousness made them demonic to the core. On the other hand, Paul wrote to the Galatians and said "it is those who adhere to faith who are sons of Abraham", and along that same line, "neither is circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation is. As for all those who walk orderly by this rule of conduct, peace and mercy be upon them, yes, upon the Israel of God".
Notice the word "conduct" and the qualifier Israel "of God". Of course this doesn't mean that all those Israelites by nationality were cut off, it just was that the "firstfruits" chosen from the Earth were no longer exclusive. There were many faithful Jews in Jesus' day who accepted the Messiah, some before his death and others after. Due to influence from the religious leaders of the day, sadly, some of them looked down on those from other nations. This would have to be unlearned. On the other hand, perhaps some of these foreigners likewise looked down on the Jews for having lost exclusivity. So in his letter to the Romans, Paul used an illustration that not only encouraged humility and thankfulness on the part of all, but also demonstrated the basic concept of non-Israelites being "grafted in", so to speak. In chapter 11, starting in verse 17, he said:
"if some of the branches were broken off and you, although being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became a sharer of the richness of the olive’s root, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If, though, you are arrogant toward them, remember that you do not bear the root, but the root bears you. You will say, then: “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true! For their lack of faith, they were broken off, but you are standing by faith. Do not be haughty, but be in fear."
This covenant between spiritual Israel and God, who becomes their Father, has at its' center the sacrifice of Jesus' perfect life, which was typified by the animal sacrifices leading up to the Messiah. This is the very reason prayers are said in Jesus' name as He is the only mediator until that time when everyone is made perfect. In the meantime, these Christians need to stay faithful until death, and always acknowledge Jesus Christ as having the foremost role. Then, they can share in bringing eternal blessings to countless others. As Romans 5:1 says:
"Therefore, now that we have been declared righteous as a result of faith, let us enjoy peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ".