The Right of First Refusal 

Reading the New Covenant Scriptures in the light of the Hebrew Bible gives us a clear understanding of the priority of to whom we should first proclaim the Good News.  

In the Hebrew Bible, page after page tells us that God’s heart is for the poor, dispossessed, widow, orphan, disabled, and imprisoned.  We find this clearly in the ministry of Yeshua.  He proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom, first of all, to such people who were the most open to the Gospel.  In Luke 4:18, He quotes from Isaiah 61 which already summarized the priority of the pre-New Covenant prophets and looked forward to the coming of Yeshua.  He said, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor, deliverance to the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, and to proclaim the acceptable year of our Lord.”  The Isaiah 61 context is generally understood as having the Year of Jubilee in the background.  The intention of the Year of Jubilee was to give a reset to society, a new start for the population.  Debts were canceled and the land was returned to the original families of ownership.  Intergenerational wealth disparity was thus mitigated through land ownership and redistribution. The coming of Yeshua provided and provides a new start for the power of living in and from the Kingdom of God.  It provides a new opportunity and certainty of success for all who embrace it.  The Good News, as Dallas Willard explains, is again the “the invitation to live in and from the Kingdom of God.”  As such, by the power of the Spirit, God provides a good purpose and destiny now and forever for those who enter in through the death and resurrection of Yeshua, and who receive the Holy Spirit as God’s powerful presence within.  

Scholarship has also come to a much better understanding of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 (the plain in Luke 6).  The beatitudes (or those who blessed) are not a prescription of how we are to be blessed.  It is rather an announcement of a great reversal of conditions for the marginalized and mistreated.  Blessed are the poor, those who mourn, the meek, and the persecuted is the announcement that their difficult situation and marginalization is no longer determinative for their lives.  Those who are poor have Kingdom supernatural supply, those who mourn are delivered from mourning.  Mourning no longer dominates them for the comfort of the Kingdom has come.  So also, the meek are no longer trampled upon, but they have God’s power and inherit the earth.  This is very well laid out in Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy and in N. T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God. 

When the priority of the Church is according to the model of Yeshua, signs and wonders more readily follow to confirm the Gospel.   The pattern of Yeshua and the Disciples is repeated. As with Yeshua, some with wealth will also be reached as they see the power of the Gospel lifting, healing and restoring.  Yes, the Gospel will reach beyond the poor to the wealthy as it did in the ministry of Paul. 

The Bible presents us with a first right of refusal also for the Jewish people.  Romans 1:16 tells us that the “Gospel is the power of God first to the Jew and also to the Greek.”  The people of the covenants, therefore, have this very special right because they were and are God’s covenant people, who preserved the Covenants, the Scriptures, and have an irrevocable election and calling (Romans 11:29).  Therefore, we see Paul going first to the synagogue, not only because it was the easiest place for him to start in the Mediterranean world, but because of the first right of refusal.  “It was necessary for the Gospel to be spoken to you first (Acts 13:46). This continues throughout Paul’s ministry in Acts and is reaffirmed in Romans 1:16 and Romans 11:13, 14 where Paul charges the Gentiles to embrace their role in making Israel jealous since their reconciliation leads to living from the dead. (11:15)                                            

Was this right of refusal only for that generation?  Did that right end after the destruction of the Temple?  Or is it generation to generation until our day?  Yes, it continues, again since Israel is still chosen and elect and her salvation leads to the Second Coming of Yeshua.  The priority of the Gospel to the Jews must be embraced. 

If the Church had loved the Jewish people and given them their due and if she had given the Gospel first to the poor and downtrodden, the history of recent times would have been very different.  The Church would have more credibility today.  Let us restore credibility by restoring the priority for spreading the Gospel.