The election between brothers made the covenant easy to trace; Isaac, and not Ishmael; Jacob, and not Esau. For the distribution therein to be spread amongst the sons and tribes of Israel made things manageable; any Gentile participation required full conversion to Judaism and adherence to the Mosaic Law.[1] Children of the covenant were identifiable by even visible means, accountable by culture, and qualified by birthright.

Scripture and history are rife with stories of men and women who loved the promises made by the God of Israel without actually loving the God of Israel—Israelites and Israelis included. The Apostle Paul lived and died with a holy jealousy for all the promises of God concerning the covenant,[2] but so was Jonah. The two men could hardly be more different.[3] One knew and cherished a holy Zionism which affirms the authority of Scripture and exalts the Name of God’s Son; the other rejected covenant righteousness and clung to distorted nationalism and defiled Zionism.

It is easy, then, to understand why the early disciples and apostles, numbered so few as they were, were slow to suggest the Gospel of the Kingdom[4] should perhaps travel beyond the boundaries of Judea and Samaria.[5] Gentiles never quite looked the part. Gentiles didn’t live the Law. Most importantly, Gentiles were disqualified by birth. It is easy to understand, sure—and, too easy. We dismiss the early offense and jealous hoarding of the covenant—generations of Jonahs—as selfish and Scripturally ignorant. We dismiss modern Jewish resentment of that Man from Nazareth and all His deceived disciples as arrogant. It’s an unfair dismissal; just as Jacob’s sons must reckon with the God of their fathers grafting a bunch of crass, formerly pagan and lawbreaking non-Jews into this holy covenant of particularity, so must we former pagans stumble over and reckon with Jewish offense at Gentile inclusion. If we ignore it, we fail to see a beautiful thing:

The audacity of Gentile hope in the Jewish Messiah.

When the Syrophoenician woman confronted the Christ and begged for deliverance, she was herself confronted with this undeniable truth: that deliverance was never actually promised to her. The check written to the children of Israel could be cashed freely by the children of Israel by virtue of the One who wrote it. But her name was never written on it, and she had to right to the account. It was audacious for her to even think to ask, and the disciples knew it. That’s why they were punks about it.[6]

The scandal of peculiarity found in the fusion of wondrous grace and specific election turns itself on its head within its very foundations—“through [Abraham], all nations of the earth will be blessed.”[7] Through a chosen nation, many would be chosen from the nations. Here’s why this has caused so many to stumble (read: get hot and bothered and offended) on either side of the Jew-Gentile ethnic line: If this is primarily about Israel proper, every Jew has a right to get offended at the proposed inclusion of bloody-handed non-Jews into this covenant made and given with and to Jews. If this is primarily about Gentiles getting grafted into what began as a Jew-specific covenant, every Gentile has a right to get offended at any Jew selfishly white-knuckling this grandiose thing that was meant for anybody and everybody.

But the Everlasting Covenant wasn’t and isn’t primarily about Jew or Gentile, and thus neither Jew nor Gentile have a right to get protective about or offended over anything to do with their covenantal “rights.”

This is fundamentally about the God who made and keeps said covenant, who owns salvation and does as He pleases.[8] About the God who said from the beginning He had purpose for all nations, that the “knowledge of the glory of [Him] would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea,”[9] such that on the distant shores of faraway coastlands, those born without any access to any knowledge of the God of covenant which is always given within covenant will have heard a declaration of His Name effectively producing due worship and exaltation of His precious Name[10]—certainly not because the nations deserve to hear or deserve the privilege to speak and sing of the Holy One, but simply because the Holy One of Israel Himself deserves all the praise, honor and glory that could ever be given from otherwise pagan tongues and idolatrous minds. He deserves to be known and worshipped in Papua New Guinea. He deserves to be known and worshipped in Canada. He deserves to be known and worshipped in Nepal. He deserves to be known and worshipped in Saudi Arabia.

And He will be.






[1]  Ruth, Rahab and Uriah the Hittite are all Old Testament examples of Gentiles who yoked themselves to the God of Israel
[2]  See Romans 9:1-24
[3]  See “Whales, Enemies & Mercy: What We Need to Learn from Jonah's Tantrum.”
[4]  See Matthew 24:14
[5]  See Acts 1:8
[6]  See Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:25-30
[7]  Genesis 12:3; 26:4
[8]  Psalm 115:3; 135:6
[9]  Habakkuk 2:14
[10] See Isaiah 24:14-16; Philippians 2:9