Why should this tiny country in the Middle East matter so much to us?
Does it even matter what we do or think concerning Israel?
This is where Bible history touches modern times! The Old Testament holds the answers to these questions…
First of all, why does Israel matter to us?
Let’s look back in time to a couple named Abram and Sarai, later renamed Abraham and Sarah. God called Abram out of his father’s homeland to a new land. God promised childless Abram that he would not only have a son, but that he would be the father a great nation. God promised him more descendants than he could count. Here, God laid the foundation for the nation we know as Israel:
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.
The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. –Genesis 12:1-8 NIV
And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” –Genesis 17:18-21 NIV
Isaac later had two sons of his own: Esau and Jacob. God chose Jacob as the next generation of the covenant, renaming him, Israel. Jacob/Israel was the namesake for the nation we know today.
God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel. ” So he named him Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty ; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” –Genesis 35:10-12 NIV
So, long before the rise of other modern religions, the nation of Israel had a historical claim to the land they occupy today.
Now, how does Israel affect us today?
Back in Genesis 12, God promised to bless those that bless Abraham’s descendants. To receive God’s blesssing, we must bless and support Israel. They are God’s chosen nation. As Gentile Christians, we are simply wild branches grafted into the olive tree of Israel.
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. –Romans 11:17-21 NIV
We cannot always control what our government does or doesn’t do regarding Israel. However we CAN control what we do individually regarding Israel. Let’s not curse Israel with our indifference. Let’s be active in supporting her.
Let’s pray for the protection of Israel. May Psalm 22:15 (NIV) be our prayer:
“Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!”
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