Cursing and Robbing Israel
Israel - Middle East
Friday, November 04, 2016
It seems this world is forever cursing and robbing Israel in some way or other.
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Gen 12:3
Perhaps it's just me, but the King James language's authoritative tone captures this warning better than most translations.
While Gen 12:3 is a favorite of those who love Israel, it rubs non-premillennialists the wrong way. See my previous article Blessing and Cursing Israel. I'm re-addressing the topic and chosen a stronger title this time around. I believe the subject warrants it.
First of all I want to mention the UNESCO Jewish-history-denial farce. I searched for stronger words to use: charade, sham, travesty etc. Farce fits nicely. The United Nations Organization is knowingly robbing Israel of its history. There's a mountain of archeological and historical evidence supporting Jewish history and UNESCO is fully aware of it.
What motivates this flagrant denial, aside from kowtowing to Islam? At its root level, it is anti-Semitism. Mitch Glaser rounds up the driving force behind anti-Semitism very well:
Why has there been such widespread Jew hatred throughout history? And why have the Jewish people been singled out? The reason is theological. To put it simply, [anti-Semitism] is the most critical arena of spiritual warfare there is... [It] has one cause - Satan. Israel plays a crucial role in God’s redemptive plan for the world. Therefore, Satan seeks to thwart God’s plan by concentrating his efforts on destroying the Jewish people. (Emphases mine)
Ironically, UNESCO's activism is likely to provoke Israel to embrace the very history the UN wants to cover up. Could Jews also react by striving harder for a future Temple? I think we may be seeing indications of this already.
Returning to theology: there have been innovative approaches aimed at rejecting the notion that Gen 12:3 refers to Israel. It bothers supersessionists and doesn't sit well with pro-Palestinian anti-Zionist activism.
Objectors insist that Gen 12:3 points to Jesus Christ by citing Gal 3:16. They mention Deut 28, which contains warnings to Israel regarding disobedience. They stress that Israel's blessings are conditional. They'll cite Romans 2:11 noting there is no partiality with God. In other words, Israel blew it for all time by disobeying God and rejecting the Messiah.
I appreciate the deep Christology of our Reformed brothers. They capably defend the inerrancy of the Bible; the doctrine of the Trinity, God's sovereignty, election, grace and mercy. Yet they've dropped the ball when it comes to God's eternal promises to ethnic Israel. They've shut these inside a padlocked chest and labeled it "Fulfilled in Christ."
Progressive Covenantalist, Stephen Wellum claims the Abrahamic land promise finds fulfillment in Christ and in the new heaven and earth. A reformed pastor (who I greatly respect) remarked that there's nothing special about physical Jerusalem - probably because of the recent UNESCO debacle in the media.
They're both wrong.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you." Psalm 122:6
Physical Jerusalem is important to God. Forms of the word Jerusalem appear at least 773 times in the Bible, while Zion appears 160 times. You can't disassociate Israel from Jerusalem without doing injustice to the straightforward sense of Scripture.
It's true that the last portion of Gen 12:3 refers to the nations being blessed through Christ. However, the blessing and cursing portion applies to Abraham's physical descendants (Jacob-Israel). Genesis 27:29 is stark and unambiguous proof. Numbers 24:9 again affirms that Jacob is the recipient of the Gen 12:3 blessing.
In response to Deut 28 (above), dispensationalists note that Deut 30:1 speaks of the blessing and cursing of Israel. Supersessionists can't have it both ways. If there's a curse, there will also be a blessing. The rest of Deut 30 sets out how God will restore Israel when it repents (vv 1-8). Carefully note verse 7:
Also the LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.
Leviticus 26:27-33 warns Israel of desolation and discipline as a consequence of disobedience. Then in verses 44-45 God says that even when they are dispersed in the land of their enemies, He will not cast them away, or destroy them. God will remember His covenant with them for He is the Lord their God.
Our Reformed brethren champion the doctrines of election, grace and mercy. Why don't they consistently apply them to ethnic Israel?
Isaiah 43:1-7 affirms Jacob-Israel as a chosen nation, precious in God's sight. In Deut 7: 6-7 Israel is called a holy and chosen people loved by the Lord. They are called chosen in Isaiah 45:4 and 1 Chron 16:13. 2 Sam 7:23-24 confirms that Israel's status as an elect nation will be forever. Israel is also called chosen in Acts 3:12, 13-15, 25 and Rom 11:26-29
Space prevents an exhaustive study but here's just a smattering of verses from Psalms: Psalm 122 associates the blessing with Israel and Jerusalem (esp. v 6). He who keeps Israel shall not slumber or sleep (Psalm 121:4). In context to Israel, Psalm 136 uses the term "For His mercy endures forever" 25 times! Compare it with Jeremiah 33:25-26.
Psalm 135:4 calls Jacob-Israel chosen and God's special treasure. Psalm 105:6 connects Jacob to Abraham's seed and God's chosen ones. God remembers His covenant forever (v 8). The covenant made with Abraham was an oath to Isaac and confirmed to Jacob-Israel (vv 9-10). This same everlasting covenant gave Israel the land of Canaan (v 11). Psalm 106 continues with similar themes. God's mercy endures forever (v 1). He saves Israel for His name's sake because of His covenant promise (v 45).
There's much, much more to plumb (or spiritualize away), but we should be getting the picture by now.
An amillennial pastor recently noted that eschatology isn't reason to divide over. I agree. However, the tendency in reformed circles is to dismiss dispensationalism, prophecy and Israel. In fact many amillennialists, postmillennialists and preterists vigorously defend their eschatology. So should we.
In order to defend a predetermined theology, many have robbed Israel of its biblical eschatology. They've turned the interpretation of prophecy into a complex science out of the reach of the average reader. Dispensationalists believe God means what He says and that He expects us to understand His word.
It's a grave mistake to dismiss Israel's connection to Gen 12:3. The warning exists for a purpose. Ask yourself why the world has historically heaped curses upon Israel. And why is this still all the rage among the nations?
As a final warning, note the following promise:
This is what your Lord says - Yahweh, even your God, who defends His people [Israel] - "Look, I have removed the cup of staggering from your hand; that goblet, the cup of My fury. You will never drink it again. I will put it into the hands of your tormenters, who said to you: Lie down, so we can walk over you. You made your back like the ground, and like a street for those who walk on it. Isaiah 51:22-23
Are we comfortable re-interpreting these verses in the same fashion many spiritualize Zech 14:4?
God is disciplining Israel. But that isn't our role. For the sake of God's Word and our own sake, let's not curse or rob Israel of its blessings.
About Alf Cengia
Last article: A Rattling Church
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