Even though imperfect, Israel is the eternal apple of God’s eye. And God himself has promised to bless you for blessing them. So find ways to bless Israel. How? Pray for the nation regularly. Support Christian ministries that serve them on Christ’s behalf. Go there if and when you can—tourism is a great boon to their economy and an emotional lift to their national psyche. And speak out on their behalf when they are being unfairly criticized. No matter how much the world hates Israel, it is best to be on God’s side on this one!
Going Deep // Focus: Numbers 24:9-10
“May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!” Then Balak’s anger burned against Balaam.
It is popular to bash Israel these days. For that matter, hatred for the Hebrew people disguised as righteous indignation has been the case from time immemorial. But hatred for the Jew and the Jewish state is particularly noxious these days, especially in the media and in the academe. These institutions are not shy about intimidating those who do business with Israel, or have invested in anything related. In fact, there is a growing movement known as BDS—Boycott, Divestment Sanctions—whose stated purpose is to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.”
But let the hater beware! Balaam’s words are as true today as they were thousands of years before Christ: May God bless those who bless Israel and may God curse those who curse Israel. There will either be blessings or cursings, depending on what posture one takes toward the people of God.
Of course, those who don’t accept the Bible as the Word of God don’t give a fig about the above quote, but this Divine blessing/curse is still in play. And at the end of the day, the Balak’s of this world will find that they are not fighting against Israel and their perceived mistreatment of the Palestinians (by and large, a red herring, in my opinion), they have been displaying their hatred for none other than God himself. And that is never a good thing!
Now this doesn’t mean that Israel can do no wrong. There are many Christians who seem to unthinkingly take that posture in their efforts to support the Jewish nation. The danger in treating Israel with kid gloves is actually something that even God didn’t do with his chosen people. When they were out of line, he called them out. When they abandoned obedience to his Word, God punished them. When they persisted in rebellion and idolatry, he sent them into exile. He even allowed the temple they built to house his glorious presence to be destroyed—twice.
As I have pointed out at previous times, God’s faithful love for Israel can never be separated from his fierce expectations of holiness from them. When Israel disobeyed, God sent punishment. So let’s be very careful in our love for God’s people that we don’t develop a wrong-headed kind of love for them. Blind Israelphile is no answer to anti-Semitism.
Likewise, we must never allow love for Israel to mean we turn a blind eye to the desperate needs of the Palestinians. They are human beings. They love their children as much as we do. They have hopes and dreams for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, too. And for the most part, they have been living under the oppressive and corrupt rule of their own leaders—and the results have been shameful. So when we have opportunity, all Christians should speak and act on the behalf of these oppressed. To do so, no matter who the oppressed are, brings a blessing similar to those who bless Israel,
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. (Isaiah 58:9-10)
But never at the expense of Israel. Even though imperfect, they are the eternal apple of God’s eye. And God himself has promised to bless you for blessing them. Of course, there are those who will reinterpret the blessing as now applicable to all who are God’s people by faith in Jesus Christ, but I would remind you that “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28-29), a verse that is clearly referring to God’s sovereign election of Israel.
So find ways to bless Israel. How? Pray for the nation regularly. Support Christian ministries that serve that nation and seek to build relational bridges to them on Christ’s behalf. Go there if and when you can—tourism is a great boon to their economy and an emotional lift to their national psyche. And speak out on their behalf when they are being unfairly criticized (fair warning: that won’t be a popular thing for you to do).
God’s eternal posture is one of uncommon favor toward Israel. Keep that in mind; it is best to be on God’s side on this one!