I will bless those who bless you...

...and him who dishonors you I will curse..." (Genesis 12:1-3 ESV) As I'm studying the life of Abram and Sarai for the first book in The Wives of the Patriarchs, this verse has often come to mind. It strikes me as particularly significant in light of world events between Israel and the United States and Israel and the rest of the world. There is evidence throughout history of God blessing people and nations who bless the children of Abraham. I hope this trend continues here in the United States and pray for the peace of Jerusalem in days to come.

I am currently reading Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg, which talks much about Israel and prophecy, particularly those written in the book of Ezekiel. Near the end of this newest edition of the book, Joel talks about his visit to Israel and how the place felt instantly like home. Tears pricked my eyes as I read that because this is exactly how I felt when we looked out of our hotel window over the city of Jerusalem. I have traveled much during my life - to most of the continental United States and Hawaii, to Canada and as I said, Israel - and no other place on earth has affected me this way. While I love America, I love Israel too.

I know peace in the Middle East is an ongoing problem, and Israel has always had its enemies, but I hope and pray that the United States will always remain its ally. In days to come, it will be interesting to watch what happens and to see prophecies continue to unfold.

In the meantime, as I am studying Abram's life, I also realized that while God chose Isaac to be the bearer of His promises, He had a plan for Ishmael too. He showed his love to Hagar and called her by name and made a promise to her regarding her son, the first woman to whom He did so in Scripture. God's love for all people of all nations is hinted at here, which He later fulfilled in the gift of His Son to us.

But while God does love people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, Israel does hold a special place in His heart. And God's promise to Abram has not changed. People and nations who bless Abraham's offspring will be blessed. And people who dishonor them will be cursed.

King David expanded this thought in Psalm 122 when he said:

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!" For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, "Peace be within you!" For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good."

May we always seek Israel's good for the sake of God's promise and His blessing.