Abraham

The people of Israel were a chosen nation. This calling goes back to God's promise to Abraham. God promised that Abraham's descendants would be a great nation, and a blessing to all the earth.

I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you (Gen 12:2-3).

The promise was repeated to Isaac and Jacob, and later to Moses and David.

God made Abraham great, but all the peoples of the earth have not yet been blessed through him. His descendants will have to be filled with the Spirit before this can happen.

God also promised Abraham that his descendants would be a huge multitude.

Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. So shall your descendants be (Gen 15:5).

This promise cannot be fulfilled by physical descendants. The total number of Jews is still well short of the stars in the sky. Under the new covenant, all who believe in Jesus are counted as children of Abraham. When the full number of those who will come to faith in Jesus is added to Abrahams physical descendants, this promise will easily be fulfilled. When billions have received the gospel, the children of Abraham will be as many as the stars in the sky.

God is faithful, so he will never break a covenant he has made with his people. God has not broken any of the covenants made in Old Testament times. His covenant with Abraham still stands.

Light to the World

God's intention was that Israel should be a light to the nations. He revealed himself to Israel, giving them his law to live by. He also intended Israel to pass that revelation on to the nations. Israel was meant to demonstrate God's laws to the nations, so they would copy God's law to obtain the blessing it brings. The covenant with Moses on Mount Sinai was the first opportunity for the descendants of Abraham to bless the world. God gave Moses a system of law and government that would have been the envy of the surrounding nations, if the Israelites had made it work. They could have spread great blessing to the world, by exporting it to the nations.

Israel was called to be a light to the world. They could not give spiritual peace to the world, because they did not have it themselves. The temple sacrifices were a sideshow that did not achieve anything. They pointed forward to Jesus perfect sacrifice, so they only worked for people with faith that God would bring a better solution for sin. Abraham understood this truth.

Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness (Rom 4:9).

Israel could not give spiritual peace to the nations, but they could be a light by demonstrating God's ideal system of government. This was their real calling.

God gave the law to Moses to enable the children of Israel to establish a peaceful society. Their role was to demonstrate how voluntary judges applying God's law allows a peaceful and prosperous society to emerge. The observance and implementation of God's law were meant to impress the nations.

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 all 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? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today (Deut 4:5-8).

Israel's main purpose was to demonstrate God's unique system of government. God's law applied by good judges, together with temporary military leaders can restrain the worst effects of sin and allow a safe, peaceful society to emerge, even in a sinful world. Many of the nations would have copied this model, but they never saw it demonstrated, because Israel never took this role seriously. God had given them a unique system of government with voluntary judges applying God's law, but instead of celebrating God's calling, they envied the surrounding nations and demanded a king.

Although they were choosing an inferior form of government, God eventually gave in and allowed Israel to have a king. They got one or two good ones, but most were duds. That was bad, but by copying a system of government from nations, they lost their distinctiveness and purpose. The Queen of Sheba saw Solomon's wisdom, but she did not see God's method of government. If she had, she would have been really amazed.

Israel failed its calling. Not only did it fail the mission to the nations, it also failed to live according to God's revelation. This failure is still affecting us. Because God's system of government was never seriously tried, most people do not take it seriously. Most Christians are still fascinated with worldly government systems and do not even know that God has revealed his ideal form of government.

Israel is unlikely to recover this role. The responsibility for demonstrating good government now rests upon Christians. Hopefully, some will take up this calling and be a light to the world for godly government.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit

Jesus came to earth and perfectly fulfilled the Mosaic covenant.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matt 5:17-18).

The Israelites never managed to fulfil their covenant with God, but fell into trusting their own efforts to obtain righteousness. Jesus achieved what they could not do, and fulfilled the law on behalf of all those united with him by faith.

The Jewish people will never be able to fulfil their covenant by their own strength. The animal sacrifices were only a temporary solution to human sin that pointed forward to Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. However, the destruction of the temple brought them to an end, so the spiritual protection these sacrifices provided is no longer available. Therefore, the Jews can only gain the blessings promised in their covenant by through faith in Jesus.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he poured out his Holy Spirit on all those who would believe in him. A few in Israel accepted this gift, but most rejected him.

Pentecost was the new covenant promised by Jeremiah.

"This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people" (Jer 31:33).

Jeremiah's prophecy pointed forward to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. When he dwells in human hearts, they will naturally do his will. This prophecy will not be fulfilled until he pours out his spirit on Israel at the end of the Times of the Gentiles.

I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zech 12:10).

When the children of Israel believe in Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit, they will be able to fulfil the Mosaic covenant.

Without the new covenant of Jesus, the covenant with Moses is valid, but deficient. Until they come to faith in Jesus, the Jews are stuck in a dilemma. They have a wonderful covenant, but cannot experience the blessings it promised, no matter how hard they try to fulfil it. Without the fullness of his Spirit, they cannot walk in the blessing of the covenant. As long as they reject Jesus, the Jews are trapped under its curse. This continual breaking of the covenant is building up a curse that will have to be worked out in the future.

The Mosaic covenant is still valid, but the people of Israel cannot fulfil it without the imputed righteousness of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Without the new covenant, the old covenant is deficient, while in Jesus, the blessings of the old covenant can be received in full.

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