Summary: Can a Old Testament Covenant promise of God made specifically to Israel be claimed by Christians?
There are many promises of God in the Bible. Some are given to specific individuals, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Solomon. There are also many promises given to entire groups of people and even nations. God would seal His promises by making a covenant, which is a conditional contract, with them.
I am one of those who believes that the Bible is not written to us but is for us. People often fall into the trap of what is known as eisegesis, which is reading words in the Bible and applying them to their own circumstances and surroundings without looking at the grammatical and historical context, which is known as exegesis. I was once told that the three major rules of studying the Bible are context, context, and context.
The word "covenant" (Heb:berith) means alliance, a divine ordinance with signs or pledges between God and humanity and first appears in Genesis 6. The word is used with reference to God's creative and providential activity where He showed Himself to be completely faithful (Jer 33:20,25; Gen 8:22).
The standard Hebrew phrase (ka·ra berith) is used of God's covenant with humanity (Gen 15:18; Ex 24:8; Deut 4:23; 5:2; 2 Kings 17:15; Jer 11:10; Ezek 34:25), but the emphasis is laid on the initiative of God by the use of the verbs "establish" in Gen 6:18; 9:11; 17:7; etc., "grant" in Gen 9:12; 17:2; Num 25:12, "set down" in 2 Sam 23:5, "command" in Josh 7:11; 23:16; 1 Kings 11:11.
All these verbs at times have as their objects the noun berith. In addition, there are numerous references to GOD having "commanded" and given only Israel a "law," "statutes," "commandments," "judgments," etc. Israel alone was expected to "obey" God's word of command, to "keep" His covenant, to "remember" it, to "do" it, and to "walk in" it. However, the Bible shows that Israel "forgot" the covenant, "broke" it, "sinned against" it, "rejected" it, "transgressed" it, and "profaned" it, and as a result, experienced the curses of the broken covenant in the form of natural calamities, war, sickness, exile, and death. Had Israel kept the covenant, it might have enjoyed the blessings of the covenant instead (Lev 26; Deut 27-28).
God made covenants with individuals such as Noah that affected the entire Earth. God was so pleased with Noah that He said in His heart "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the Earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease."
God blessed Noah and his sons and said only to them,
"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the Earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image." (Gen 9:7-17 ESV)
It was God who took the initiative to make a covenant with Noah. God's single promise to Noah was that there would never again be a rainstorm causing a FLOOD that would cover the entire Earth, and He signed His promise with a rainbow.
God also made a single covenant with Abraham where He promised a land and descendants to him and was commanded to "keep" the covenant (Gen 15:8-18, 17:1-14). When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, God said to Him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless," so that He would make a covenant with Abraham that would multiply him greatly." Abraham fell on his face before God, who then said to him that His covenant was with him alone, and that he would be the father of many offspring and give him all the land he traveled, including all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession, and that he would be their God.
God also told Abraham that he and his offspring must keep His everlasting covenant by having every male be circumcised when they are eight days and if they are not throughout the generations they shall be cut off from his people because they broke the covenant. The obedience of Abraham was not a condition of the covenant but rather his response inside a religious relationship. There could be no blessings and no fellowship without obedience.