Are Christians Part of Israel, God’s Covenant People?
Let’s look at it this way. When a person comes to saving faith in Yeshua, it is like being adopted into another family:
John 1:12 – “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Romans 8:14-16 – “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.”
Keeping that mindset, adopted children are obviously not part of the natural bloodline; however, they are still accepted, loved and treated as if they were. As such, they share in both the blessings and requirements of the natural children in the family. It may take time to learn what’s expected of them, so they begin with the basics and work from there.
As adopted children in the family of Israel, non-Jewish believers share in the blessings, expectations and covenants that God has made with the “natural born” children. Because of that, it is essential that we become familiar with our Father’s instructions. Now that we are part of His family, we are responsible to learn the house rules so our fellowship with Him—not to mention the rest of our siblings—grows stronger and more intimate. It is the key way we demonstrate our love for Him (John 14:15, 21).
However, this lesson isn’t intended to teach all 613 commandments from the Hebrew Scriptures (many of which can’t be kept today), or the 1,050 commandments from the Apostolic Scriptures. The focus here is the fact that we are now part of God’s family and are treated as one with Israel. Let the Scriptures speak for themselves:
Leviticus 19:33-34 – “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Leviticus 24:22 – “You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God.”
Numbers 15:15-16 – “For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.”
Deuteronomy 31:11-12 – “[W]hen all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law.”
Isaiah 56:3, 6-8 – “Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will surely separate me from his people’”… “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, everyone 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.” The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”
Romans 11:17-18, 24 – “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches…. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.”
Galatians 3:29 – “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Ephesians 2:12-13 – “[R]emember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Ephesians 3:4-6 – “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
1 Peter 2:9-10 – “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
As we can see from these passages, we are blessed to be co-inheritors of the same promises that were made to Israel, but we are expected to keep the same commandments they were given as well. Like the Bereans, we need to search the Scriptures for ourselves and see what our Father truly wants us to do (Acts 17:11). For us to reflect His character and produce the fruit of our salvation in Him, we are responsible to know His standards for holy living and live them out as our Messiah did (John 13:15, 1 John 2:6, Ephesians 5:1-2, 1 Corinthians 11:1). After all, the “Great Commission” isn’t only about making disciples, but also teaching those disciples to obey all the commands God has given us (Matthew 28:18-20).
Following God’s instructions—His Torah—does not minimize grace or put a person under the penalty of the law. In fact, it is God’s grace that has already forgiven the times that we make mistakes, slip, and fall as we walk that path of obedience. His grace, mercy, and undying love is what provided the once-and-for-all sacrifice—Yeshua—to pay the penalty that we all deserve for violating His commandments (1 John 3:4). When we accept that atoning gift and the deliverance it brings, we love our Father back by obeying His house rules, which we can joyfully do with impunity!