“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:2-3)
In the previous blog we saw that the covenant that God made with Israel was emphatically unconditional and therefore irrevocable. In spite of this, those who hold to Replacement theology would say that the Church has replaced the nation of Israel and therefore all the promises to national Israel were either conditional and forfeited by them upon rejecting their Messiah, or else they somehow became spiritually applicable to the Church only.
Some would say that the promise only applied to Abraham, since the Lord here simply says, “I will bless you.” However, the blessing he received requires that the promise include his descendants as well. In verse 7 the Lord extends it to his descendants when He said: “To your descendants I will give this land.” This promise must be fulfilled through his posterity since he did not himself possess it. In Genesis 17 the Lord reconfirms His covenant in a manner which clearly includes his descendants:
“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Gen 17:7-8)
So, we see that the covenant made to Abraham was also made to his descendants. It is important to note that it includes the permanent divine title-deed to the land of Israel which is presently being re-inhabited by the people of Israel in our day. The promise is that the land would be their everlasting (olam) possession. The land has always pertained to the Israelites from the moment God made His covenant promise to Abraham. It is theirs as a permanent possession - not so much because of the use of olam which simply means “indefinitely,” but because of the irrevocability of God’s unconditional promise to Abraham.
As a matter of fact, the nation of Israel has yet to come into possession of the Promised Land in its entirety. God specified the boundaries of the land which He gave to them:
“On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates — 19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” (Gen 15:18-21)
As one can see, the Israelites have yet to possess all of the land which the Lord has given them. The largest amount of the Promised Land they have possessed so far was during the time of Solomon’s reign but that falls far short of the promise, as we can see in the map below.
“You shall inherit it equally with one another; for I raised My hand in an oath to give it to your fathers, and this land shall fall to you as your inheritance.” (Ezek 47:14)
In spite of the irrevocability of God’s promise to give Israel the land, some today still deny that Israel’s presence in the land has any prophetic significance. It is nothing short of a miracle that after 2,000 years of dispersion and over 50 attempted genocides they not only continue as a people group, but the nation of Israel has been reestablished in their own territory with many practicing Jews who speak in their revived ancient Hebrew tongue. Furthermore, all attempts of the surrounding Arab nations to drive them into the Mediterranean have only resulted in Israeli victories of biblical proportions.
Can we reasonably say that this is all nothing more than coincidence? I don’t think so. The Lord said that they would be scattered among the nations and remain without a national identity until the latter days when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Lu 21:24; Ezek 38:8; Hos 3:4-5). If this isn’t a fulfillment of prophecy, then what are they doing back in their land? While most of them will continue in unbelief until they look upon Him whom they pierced when the Deliverer comes from Zion, they are being brought back into the land as in Ezekiel’s prophesy of the dry bones and from there they will be brought to life, just as was prophesied (Ezek 37:1-14).
It is understandable that many in the world who do not know God and are ignorant of His promises and the biblical history of Israel could say that the Land of Israel does not rightfully pertain to the Jews. But, how can we as Christians deny their inalienable right to the land which the Lord promised them with an oath? (Ex 13:5-7; Ex 32:13)
So, we have seen that the promise of the land was irrevocable and perpetual, extending beyond Abraham himself to include his posterity. What then about the promise to bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse him? Does this promise extend to his posterity as well? I think that both the Scriptures and history clearly indicate that such is indeed the case.
When Isaac blessed Jacob (Israel) he made it clear that the blessing of Abraham was passed on to him and then to his sons who made up the 12 tribes of Israel. The blessing clearly extends beyond Jacob to include all his descendants:
“Let peoples serve you, (Jacob Israel) and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!” (Gen 27:29)
In what sense could it be said of Jacob that peoples and nations served him and bowed down to him? In what sense did his brethren bow to him and serve him during his lifetime? He had only one brother, Esau. However, his brother had descendants who have always been enemies of the Israelites. To spite his mother, Esau married the daughter of Ismael. Most of the Arab nations who have opposed Israel’s descendants to this day are the descendants of Jacob’s brother, Esau. The majority of those who call themselves Palestinians today are in reality not descended from the Philistines as claimed, but are largely the descendants of Ismael and Esau or the brethren of Jacob. At any rate, the promise given to Jacob clearly extends to his posterity since its fulfillment requires descendants. While Esau’s descendants may refuse to serve Israel in this age, we see that all the nations will serve them when the Millennial kingdom is established from Jerusalem:
“For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined.” (Isa 60:12)
Later, when the Israelites approached the Promised Land, Balak asked Balaam to curse Israel so that he could defeat them. However, the Lord told Balaam that he was only to speak the words He gave him to say concerning Israel. Each time he sought to pronounce a curse against Israel he prophesied blessings instead. In his third attempt to curse Israel the word of the Lord that came from his mouth was:
“How lovely are your tents, O Jacob! Your dwellings, O Israel!.. 8 "God brings him out of Egypt; He has strength like a wild ox; He shall consume the nations, his enemies; He shall break their bones and pierce them with his arrows. 9 He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? 9 Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.” (Num 24:5,8-9)
So, here we see that not even the Mosaic covenant, which was conditional and came four-hundred years after the promise made to Abraham, invalidated His unconditional promise to the house of Israel. When Israel sinned against God, He judged them as His people. Indeed, Israel has been under God’s judgment since the Diaspora. However, even in His judgments He curses the very nations He uses to judge them. He made a full end of the nations of Babylon and Assyria for what they did to Israel even though they ultimately carried out His purposes in the judgment of His people (Jer 20:12; 30:11; 46:28).
To me, God’s judgment of His people is comparable to a father who out of love punishes his child for correction. Imagine if someone were to misinterpret your punishment of your child for hatred and decided to do you a favor and beat-up-on your child. Wouldn’t you become indignant of their attitude and actions against your child? The Lord reassured Israel and Judah in the midst of His judgments against them that He would always be with them and will take vengeance against their enemies saying:
“I have chosen you and have not cast you away: 10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. 11 Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish. 12 You shall seek them and not find them — Those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing.” (Isa 41:9-12, cf. Isa 49:25-26)
Later the Psalmist pronounces blessings of peace and prosperity upon those who love Jerusalem but the curse of ruin and destruction upon those who hate Zion:
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces. For the sake of my brethren and companions… Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back. Let them be as the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up.” (Ps 122:6-8; 129:5-6)
I would ask the reader: “Do you pray for the nation of Israel and for the peace of Jerusalem?” “Do you love Jerusalem for the sake of our brethren, the Israelites?” I can assure you that if you have hatred and contempt in your heart for Israel you do not have the Lord’s heart for His chosen people. Some would say that they are no longer His people, but Paul still referred to the Israelites as the people of God whom He foreknew or foreloved even in their blinded state. Paul said:
“I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not!... God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew (foreloved)… Concerning the election THEY ARE BELOVED for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:1-2,28-29)
Should we not fear lest we find ourselves hating those whom God loves? God loves all mankind but seeing from eternity His heart goes out in a particular way to the small despised and oppressed nation of Israel. As the nations in their pride and sin did not want to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to the desires of their sinful hearts, but of Israel He said:
“You only have I known (intimately) of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2)
As His own, He disciplines them and scourges them when necessary as any good father, but woe to those nations who curse her or rise up against her. Look at history and you will see that the nations or individuals who bless the little nation of Israel are blessed, whereas those who curse her are under a divine curse.
Living in Colombia, bordering with Venezuela, I was grieved upon hearing Venezuela’s dictator Hugo Chavez publicly curse Israel saying: “I seize this opportunity to once again condemn the state of Israel from the depth of my soul and from my very bowels. Accursed be the state of Israel! Be accursed, terrorist and assassin!” A few months later he announced that he had cancer in the pelvic region. On March 5, 2012, less than two years after cursing Israel, he died. Today, what was just a few years ago the most prosperous nation of South America, is in a state of total collapse. One might argue that it is just a coincidence. However, history shows that God is the avenger of those who come against His people Israel. As Zechariah says of those who come against God’s people, the daughter of Zion, “he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.” (Zech 2:8). This was said of His people in a time when they were under His judgments. We should not presume that we are at liberty to curse and abuse the apple of His eye simply because they are presently in unbelief and under God’s disciplinary judgments.
We, as the wild olive branches who were grafted in against nature should not boast as if we were chosen in the place of Israel, but rather we should have a reverent fear, recognizing that God has not permanently rejected the natural branches (Rom 11:19-25). They will be grafted in again and ultimately all Israel will be saved because God has sworn with an oath to bless Israel and as pertains to His promises to Israel, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent” (Num 23:19).