remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.Ephesians 2:12(NASB)
There are many places in the Bible that tell us to remember. We are to remember the former things and we are to remember our Creator in the days of our youth. In our Christian faith, it is salutary to be reminded of what we are apart from God's grace and to recall what we used to be before we were saved by grace through faith in Christ. We are to remember what we used to be before our salvation, so that we are in a position to contrast it with His gracious gift of salvation, and the precious promises that are eternally ours, in Christ.
Israel is God's redeemed nation, just as the Church is the redeemed body of Christ. Israel was to remember the goodness of the Lord, and how He brought them out of slavery in Egypt, into the land of promise - and we are to remember Israel's foolish folly, and to call to mind their adulterous unbelief and apostasy so that we do not engage in similar waywardness.
Jesus told His disciples to remember the word of life, the light of Christ, the love of God, and the blessed hope we have in Him - which He taught them during His sojourn on earth. In like manner, Peter calls us to remember that no prophecy in Scripture, will be found to have come from the prophet's own creative thinking or intellectual promptings.
Paul instructed the Corinthians to remember that the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, while the person who sows generously will also reap generously, and here in his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul prompts all believers to remember.. that before our salvation we were, "separated from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope.. and without God in the world."
Today the Church is God's chosen tool to spread the Gospel of Grace to a world that is estranged from God, while prior to the crucifixion of Christ, it was Israel whom God used as His messenger of truth to the Gentile nations.
Today salvation is available to all when they hear and believe the truth. Men and women come into fellowship with God the Father, by believing on Christ the Son.. for the forgiveness of sins. However, in pre-Cross Israel, the only way men and women could discover the truth about God and hear about His plan of salvation was through the people of Israel. Gentiles were permitted to be brought into the camp of Israel and have fellowship with the God of Israel through the mediatory role of Israel, but they had to become proselytes - for the Word of God and the promised covenant was given to Israel alone - and received through Israel alone.
God called the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, out of the sea of humanity, to be his chosen instrument, to share the gospel of the coming kingdom of God with other nations. They were elected to be His covenanted people. Israel were to be God's light, to lighten the Gentile nations.
The nation of Israel was selected to be a peculiar people, a chosen nation, God's own adoptive son, whom He called out of the land of Egypt. Holy men of Israel alone were chosen to be the prophetic channel through whom the truth of God's written revelation to mankind was given - and Old Testament Scripture was recorded by Israel's prophets of God, who were moved by the Spirit of God.
Israel were the people through whom the promised SEED of the woman was to travel, until He was revealed to the world as the incarnate Son of the most High God - full of grace and truth. The Lord gave Israel a physical sign to remind them of their unique position and purpose in God's plan of redemption for humanity.
THEY were to be the nation through whom God revealed Himself to the rest of mankind, and THEY were a channel through whom the nations of the world were to be blessed. THEY were the people who received God's promises and prophecies and THEY were the ones through Whom the Messiah would be born - and circumcision was the outward sign of Israel's covenant with God, their holy responsibility, and their unique position among the nations.
Israel is still God's chosen people, but because of their unbelief by crucifying their prophesied Messiah, Israel was set aside as God's messengers for a season. The Church became God's chosen instrument, through whom He would continue to reveal Himself to the lost world. The Church was to preach the word - for a season. Because of this, Gentiles and believing Jews were formed into one new man in Christ, and became God's ministers of reconciliation to a lost and dying world. But we also have to beware, lest we follow Israel's foolish ways.
WE... who were born dead in trespasses and sins and at enmity with God, are instructed to REMEMBER, that at one time we were separated from the God of Israel, but now have been united with Christ and brought into fellowship with God the Father. We are to REMEMBER that we were once excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, but now have become inheritors of the kingdom, and joint-heirs with Christ.
We are to REMEMBER that we were once strangers to the covenants of promise, but now through Christ, we are the recipients of all God's promises, which are "Yes" and "Amen" in Christ Jesus our Lord. And we are to REMEMBER that before salvation we had no hope in the future and were without God in the world - but now, we have a blessed hope in Christ and have become children of God, who have the right to call Him, "Abba - Father."
Heavenly Father, I pray that You would keep in my remembrance, all the gifts and graces that have become mine, because of Your goodness and grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is that Seed of the woman, Who crushed the head of the serpent on Calvary's Cross. Thank You that I am no longer separated from You by sin, but have been positioned in Christ and clothed in His righteousness. Thank You that although I was excluded from being part of Your chosen nation, I have, by faith, been brought near to God and received a heavenly inheritance. Thank You that I am no longer a stranger to the New Covenant of promise, that was given to Israel and cut at Calvary, and thank You that Jesus is my Blessed Hope, gracious God and eternal Saviour, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.