Tag Archives: Israel

“Those who are of faith are blessed”

History hinges on Genesis 12:1-3. Prior to this we have seen God working on the world as a whole. At least in what we have recorded, God did not significantly select one nation over the others until Genesis 12, when He calls Abraham. Here, the call becomes exclusive. God chooses Abraham. He tells Abraham that he will become a great nation. From here onward, Scripture records the history of Israel, not the history of Babylon, England, China, the United States, or any other nation.

In fact, God promises here to fight for the descendents of Abraham:

“I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” -Genesis 12:3 (ESV)

This is what we see throughout the Old Testament. God fights for Israel. He fights for them against foreign nations, but He also fights for them against their own sin and corruption. When Israel becomes corrupted, God brings Assyria and Babylon to crush them, leaving only a remnant of faithful people who will again establish the nation of Israel as it was meant to be.

Repeatedly, God chooses one thing, but not another. He chooses one nation, and not another nation. God encourages one kind of behavior, and he condemns another. Here in Genesis 12, God has chosen Israel.

The call was not one-sided. I’m sure that, if Abraham had chosen not to obey the Lord, then God would not have blessed him or fought for him. But Abraham “went, as the Lord had told him.” Just like throughout all of Israel’s history, Abraham’s obedience was a sign that he accepted God. By doing “as the Lord had told him,” Abraham was signalling to God that he would allow God to bless him and his offspring.

History hinges on Genesis 12:1-3 because in choosing Abraham, God chose you. God’s intent in exclusively choosing Abraham was that “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” In Galatians 3:9, God tells us, in the words of Paul, that “those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”

Abraham demonstrated that he accepted God by going where God told him to go. Through Abraham’s faith, everyone in the world can be blessed. Through Abraham’s┬ádescendants, God raised up a nation that understood Him, a nation that would be prepared for the coming of Jesus, a nation that called Jesus their Messiah, their expected One, the One who would redeem them. And through Jesus, God calls each of us. The symbol of Abraham’s faith was obedience, and the symbol of our faith is identification with Jesus–believing in Him.

But still, God’s call is exclusive. God hates evil, suffering, greed, and everything that’s wrong with the world. God blesses “those who are of faith”, but He curses evil, and if a person does not choose God, they choose evil. There are only two choices: God, or not-God. God is calling you, just as He called Abraham. Are you “of faith”? If so, Scripture is not just Israel’s history, but also your history.

“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.” –Galatians 3:7 (ESV)

I will put a new spirit within you, but not for your sake

These are the themes in Ezekiel 36:22-38.

  1. In order to glorify Himself, God would restore Israel. Israel did not deserve to be restored, but by restoring Israel, He would demonstrate the holiness of His name. “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned.” (vs. 22)
  2. God would make Israel clean again. He would change their hearts, bending their thoughts, desires, and inclinations to do His work. God’s Spirit would come to dwell within His people, and He would restore them inwardly. “I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you…And I will put my Spirit within you.” (vss. 25-27)
  3. All the nations would see God’s restoration of Israel, and they would know that God is God. “Then the nations that are left around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” (vs. 36)