When God told Abraham that he would bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him, did that mean that God-fearing people would always side with Israel against their enemies? (Gen 12:1-2).
To avoid misquoting, or misapplying, the Bible, it’s important to make sure that we are drawing necessary implications rather than possible or even impossible implications from God’s words to Abraham.
Let me try to quickly show you how I’m trying to think this through.
According to Moses, and basic to the covenant he makes with the people of Israel, if the chosen people followed their God and lived by the laws of his kingdom, he would bless them and curse their enemies. But if they left him and did not keep his commandments then Moses clearly says that the Lord would send upon Israel “cursing, vexation, and rebuke” in all that they did until they were destroyed (Deut 28:20).
The rest of the Old Testament then shows us through the periods of patriarchs, judges, kings, and exile how prophets of God applied the principle of blessings and curses to Israel.
Finally we come to the new covenant that Jesus makes with people of all nations. He teaches his Jewish disciples how to interpret the spirit of the law. Without denying anything the prophets said about God’s last days plan for Israel, he shows the men and women who believe in him that he’s now building a new kind of international kingdom. He calls peacemakers blessed and encourages his followers to endure persecution for his name, and to love their enemies.
But what about the nation of God’s chosen people? How are we to think about them? The Apostle Paul helps us answer that question. As someone who loved both Jewish and gentile people, he explains to us how indebted gentile followers are to the nation of Israel. He, himself, says he’d be willing to be cursed by God if it could mean the salvation of the Jewish people that he loved so dearly (Romans 9:1-5). But then in his very next words he reminds us that, “They are not all Israel, which are of Israel (Rom 9:6).
Paul’s clarification is similar to what he said in the second chapter of the same letter where he wrote, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom 2:28-29).
From these and other texts of Scripture, here’s what I’m thinking and would like you to test. God fearing people who take the Bible seriously have every reason to pray for the good of Israel and never to desire her harm or destruction. The Scriptures are clear that when Israel finally is enlightened, has a change of heart, and turns back to her God, it will be for the good of the whole world.
But the rest of what I’ve referred to above also leads me to believe that blessing (invoking God’s favor) on Israel, America, or any other nation, is very different from offering undiscerning, unconditional support and approval of all that nation does. If we truly care about an individual, family, or nation we will hope and pray for their well being without approving of their wrongs.
In the meantime, I’m thinking that if we want to be good representatives of Christ we will adopt the impartiality of his love for individuals and families on both sides of any conflict. For now, seems to me that we “adorn the doctrine of Christ” by focusing on issues of justice and mercy, while waiting for God himself to determine how and when he is going to handle the land that he owns, and the nation that still bears his name– but not his heart.