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Holding my Breath

Ok, here’s the deal. I know that many of us sincerely believe that when God said to father Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you,” he once and for all determined who we should be siding with in the Middle East. But over time I’ve become convinced that many of us have misunderstood the promise. That’s why I posted “The Promise” yesterday.

But after I pushed the “go” button, my Middle East expert (who also asked me to post his picture here) told me that I reminded him of a longwinded caravan boss who once drove him to distraction.

I think he has a point– even though I really want you to read yesterday’s post. So I thought maybe I’d try to give you a short version here in hopes that you’ll go back and read the longer one.

(1) One reason our spiritual convictions might not be a basis for political favorites in the Middle East is that “our side” may not be what we think it is. According to the Apostle Paul “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom 9:6). Just as importantly, (2) even though Paul foresees a future for a restored Israel in the last days (Rom 11), he is just as clear that present day Jerusalem (at least in the first century) corresponds more to Ishmael than Isaac, the son of promise (Gal 4:25). So (3) if we want the blessing that God promised to Abraham, we need to bless any Jewish or Arab person who is “in the Messiah” (Gal 3:13-16) while praying that people of every nation would soon join their ranks.

I believe that, together, these points show why followers of Christ should be known for being peacemakers, who are concerned for justice and mercy on all sides of the Middle East conflict– while seeing both Jewish and Arab people as people for whom Christ died.

Now, I’m sure that this is going to be too short for those who really believe that God will bless those who bless Israel regardless of their spiritual condition. If so, I hope you’ll check out The Promise– at least for the pictures :-).

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3 Responses to “Holding my Breath”

  1. dep7547 says:

    I must admit that I have been away from the lord for quite awhile. It is not easy to admit; however, through the lessons I have learned, I can state the truth of his promise to never leave or forsake one of his children. The issue you have been discussing over the past several days is one of the reasons I departed–people do not take the time to evaluate God’s viewpoint–only what they want it to say. The very cause of the flood was due to widespread corruption and violence: Before he spoke with Noah he said “I repent that I have made them.” Now, I do not know about the rest of the world, but as for me, I certainly am filled with sorrow at the thought of such a wonderful creator and provider should ever be grievous because of my actions or thoughts.

    I may be at a loss for exact chapter and verse references, yet, having read through the bible a couple of times in the past, I seem to recall God saying that he takes no delight in punishing the wicked, but would rather that all would come to him. Abraham, the friend of God, before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, pleaded with our father to spare these cities on account of even a handful of people that may have believed as he did–would God stir up such emotions in a righteous man’s heart if he did not intend for mankind to express loving concern for each other?

    What about David? I seem to remember a verse in the psalms where he advises people to not laugh at their enemies while God is punishing them lest God be merciful to them and relent. I do not think that he intended that for selfish and vengeful purposes, but rather that those being punished would learn from their mistakes and turn to God. Surely, as the king of Israel, David must have also been speaking of national enemies!

    If this is Old Testament God, then, surely, the heavenly father which Jesus revealed to us “loves the whole world.” As Christians, we have an obligation not to take sides except against the extremists on both sides of this conflict. Our duty is to take God’s side and that can only be accomplished through prayer. I greatly appreciate the daily devotions in “Our Daily Bread” as they provide insight to so many issues that we need to be vigilant about. You have to live each day and let God seed your heart with his message. Certainly as we endure this conflict with our brothers and sisters in these countries we must let the Holy Spirit guide our prayers!

  2. Lalycairn says:

    While I agree with “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom 9:6) and “we need to bless any Jewish or Arab person who is “in the Messiah” I think it is equally important to look at the outcome God brought on the countries and peoples in the Old Testament that sided against Israel, even when God, Himself, was using them to punish Israel.

    I believe every human being, regardless of religion, or lack there of, is created in the image of the Almighty God. Thusly, they are all due a measure of respect and grace. However, I also believe that those who align themselves against Israel, both people individually, and countries, leave themselves in a very dangerous position.

    It’s a dangerous tightrope.

  3. Mart De Haan says:

    I agree. That’s why it is so important to see that just before the Apostle Paul made the point that “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel, ” he said, “My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters.* I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise!” (Rom 9:2-5).

    Paul’s love is what we need to reflect– rather than being like Israel’s enemies who wanted them destroyed– or the misleading prophets who gave false comfort and assurance to a nation who had turned their backs on their God.

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