Living in the new covenant given by God in Jesus Christ, we also affirm God's continuing faithfulness to the covenant with the Jewish people.
For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says the Lord,so shall your descendants and your name remain.
- Isaiah 66:22
While most Lutherans think of our relationship with God in terms of faith, forgiveness, and salvation, we also know this relationship to be one of covenant. Indeed, the apostolic witness to Jesus Christ comes to us in the scriptures known as the "New Testament" or "New Covenant." Likewise, Jesus comes to us in the Lord's Supper with the words of promise, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood." Guaranteed by God’s faithfulness, a covenant brings a promise that helps to define the life of God’s people. In this it goes far beyond any mere legal contract.
From ancient Israel to our own day, Jews have lived in covenant with God as well. This is seen not only in the circumcision of Abraham and his offspring, but also, for example, in the kingship of David, the gift of the Torah at Sinai, and the appearance of the rainbow in the heavens. Israel's prophets were the ones who proclaimed God’s faithful intent to establish a new covenant with the people, a living covenant "written on their hearts" (Jer. 31:33), even embodied in a "new heart" (Ezek. 36:26). This would not have to supersede the existing covenant understandings, but in continuity with them it would renew and extend Israel's hope and confidence in God's loving commitment.
Encountering Jesus, some Jews of the first century saw in him the power and presence of God renewing the world and including Gentiles among the people of God. They proclaimed that the promised new covenant had come into being. It was the witness of Paul that this new covenant now brought Gentiles and Jews into one people, so that in and through Christ, Gentiles too can now become "Abraham's offspring" (Gal. 3:29).
I ask then, has God rejected his people? By no means!
- Romans 11:1
Questions for Discussion
"Talking Points" is a set of eight leaflets issued by the ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations to set forth propositions for discussion and debate on topics in Christian-Jewish relations. These Talking Points are not intended as position papers, but as discussion starters, with the hope of eliciting a broad range of responses to the point as stated in the box above. See below for information on how to offer feedback.
Prepared by the Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations of the ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations.
Your ideas about these topics are very welcome and will be considered by the Panel in its further work. To submit personal reflections or the results of a group discussion, please use the accompanying Response and Evaluation form or simply send a letter to the Department for Ecumenical Affairs at the address below, or send an e-mail to email@example.com
Read further information on Jewish-Christian relations. See also the comprehensive set of resources on the ecumenical Web site http://www.jcrelations.net
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