You are: A Reconciled Humanity
O.T. LESSON Jeremiah 31:31-34
N.T. LESSON Hebrews 3:1-14
The Gates of Heaven are opened to the Gentiles
The early church was primarily Jewish. Jesus was a Jew [John 1:12], the disciples were Jews. The disciples were sent to “The lost sheep of Israel” [Matt 10:6]. Jesus said “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” [Matt15:24]. However, before Jesus left this world he said that the Good News of Salvation should be dispensed to everyone [Matt 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15,16a- Go to all the world preaching and making disciples of all nations].
And in Acts 2:5,11 that’s what began to happen- People from every language group in the ‘then known world’ heard the Message. It moved to the rest of the country , Judea and Samaria, in Acts 8:4,5,14-17,25. Then God prepared Peter to consider going to the Gentiles in Acts 10 [ see vv 9-23,44-48]. A council met in Jerusalem a number of years later,[see Acts 15:5,6;12-15;19-21]The Apostles and significant leaders set an official policy of approach to Gentiles. Paul describes the relationship that came out of that in Ephesians 2:11-22.
Let’s note the Key Phrases-
- ‘formerly called ‘uncircumcision’ ‘ v.11
- ‘excluded from citizenship in Israel’ v.12
- ‘he himself has destroyed the barrier’ v.14
- ‘reconcile both’ v.16
- ‘fellow citizens’ v.19
- ‘built on the foundation’ v.20
- ‘Jesus- the chief cornerstone’ v.20
- ‘a dwelling in which God dwells’ v.22
Despite the fact that originally God had chosen a particular race of people- the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to demonstrate who He was, what his purposes were and His ways, he was now making the relationship open to all who would believe and trust in the name of Jesus the Christ.
Paul goes on to show that the ministry of reconciliation [see IICor 5:14-6:2] based on the sacrifice of Christ for us puts both, Jews and non-Jews, insiders and outsiders, together. Whether slave of free, male or female, young or old, all are invited to an intimate relationship with the creator of the universe.
The old ceremonial law that was designed to separate Jews from Gentiles is completed and set aside by the finished work of Christ. He fulfilled all of the symbolism and modelling. –Note the moral law is common to man’s conscience, and was not set aside.[ the code of Hammurabi for example operated on the main principle that “the strong shall not injure the weak’. It set up a social order based on the rights of the individual and was backed by the authority of the Babylonian gods and the state. (“Hammurabi” World Book Encyclopedia.1980) ]
Jesus quoted Isa 56:7 when he said “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”, when he ‘cleansed the temple’ [Mark 11:17]. Isaiah had said “foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him to love the name of the Lord and to worship him…will I bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer…The Sovereign Lord declares– he who gathers the exiles of Israel; ‘I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered”. [Isa.56:6-8].
God initiated the process of bringing us back into a relationship with him that is real and personal, and as a result we can also have meaningful whole relationships with other believers, both Jew and Gentile, with our family members and neighbours. Paul writes ‘now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.’ Today is the day to bind yourself to the Lord. Recognize what he has done on the cross, and acknowledge that without him we are hopelessly lost. He is waiting for us to respond to his love and grace, so that we ‘all may be one'[John 17:21] and so that the whole world will believe.
2000 D. H. Friesen