Israel? Abraham's Seed? What's The Deal Here?
Some time later, Abram's name was changed to Abraham .. inserting the breath sound into his name, just as Sarai became Sarah.
I find even that to be interesting.
Park that thought over in the corner of your mind .. those promises were made to Abram.
Some time later, after the Sodom & Gomorrah display of God's willingness to spare the cities where righteousness is found, but his willingness to righteously destroy where it's not, and Abram's encounter with Melchizidek, God specifically promised to be Abram's shield, promised his reward would be great, and that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.
That, incidentally, is the point at which the Bible says "Abram believed the Lord, and He (God) credited it to him as righteousness".
Now, Abram wanted some assurance in all this, so God said to set up the trappings of a sacrifice .. you can read it all in Genesis 15 .. 8-12 & following .. and in the end, God put Abram into a deep sleep, after which God alone passed between the halves of the slain animals.
God alone ratified the covenant! It seems, therefore, that neither Abram, his descendants, nor any other human, could break the covenant made and affirmed solely by God Himself.
Park that thought over in the corner with that prior one, too. We'll need it in a second.
Now .. Abraham begat Isaac (and some other folks), and Isaac begat Jacob (and some other folks); Jacob, of course, became Israel and was the father of the nation of the same name. And that's the nation to which is now ascribed the quality of being a blessing (via God) to those who bless them, and a curse (via God) to those who curse them. Had I really been into this stuff in the early 1940's, I'd have wondered how blessed they were when Hitler we doing his best to wipe them off the face of the earth, and seeing that they didn't even have a land, things looked pretty bleak for Israel, nationally.
In view of the plight of Israel in, say, 1946, and what's happened to them since, I must believe that God does have something special in mind for them, nationally, for them to have been restored as a nation, even to the restoring to their possession of the site of the temple, Golgotha, the Mount of Olives, and all the places which so may people deem necessary in a conventional view of the second coming, Armageddon, etc.
Points I ponder when I don't have anything better to do (which is normally....):
- The promise was made to Abraham (Abram). Why wasn't the promise to Jacob/Israel? And if the promise was to make Abraham a mighty nation, how about all Abraham's other descendants?
- Does anybody believe that, if some giant cataclysmic event killed everybody today, that all Israel would go to heaven? I think not, especially among Christendom. That wouldn't seem to be "chosen" as of today, to me....
- If the prior point is valid, then I'd expect something's in the offing for Israel .. either some miraculous Spiritual awakening, or some sort of accelerated move of the conventional church in that direction. If that's the case, I'd think they'd best get on with it.
- Wade Burleson put up an interesting, thought-provoking post, here, which raises the possibility that Israel may have lost that "Most Favored Nation Status" when they rejected, and were responsible for the death of, the Savior Himself. Who was, indeed, the only apparent vehicle by which the nation could be a blessing to all the nations of the earth.
"So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise". (Galatians 3:27-29, NIV)
Don't get me wrong .. I still hold to the special nature of Israel .. it's necessity in God's plan .. the crucial importance of supporting them as a nation, today .. so I have not changed my opinion of Israel at all. But what if we apply the same promises of blessing-cursing to the church .. the ekklesia ... the Body of Christ .. today. Would you "get" the importance of being devoted to the work of the Lord here and now? Would you have a different view of a casual attitude toward using your gifts and abilities in building up the local body? Would you have new sympathy toward those who are scornful of the church and its attempts to fulfill its mission, and the fact that they just don't know what they're letting themselves in for?
How many celebrities can you think of whose performance on television people enjoy, but who fit that category?
If we really believed we were here to be a blessing to those around us, and not as agents of condemnation of sin, how would that affect our ministry?
Think about it. If you're a believer, you're Abraham's seed. And what a birthright you have, and oh, the promise with which you've been favored.
All courtesy of a Man who lived and died 2000 years ago. And yet lives today.
Think it over...