Do you know anyone of Jewish or Arabic descent? How do you treat them? Do you give them special treatment? Do you mistreat them? Do you seek them out or do you avoid them? Does it matter?
Do you know anything about Middle Eastern politics? Do you know how your country treats Middle Eastern nations? Does this matter?
The Bible contains many instructions on how to treat other people. Amongst these instructions are some specific statements about how to treat Abram. Does this have an impact on the Middle East of today? Let’s take a look.
Genesis 12 starts off with some direction from Yahweh to Abram.
Gen. 12:1 ¶ Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;
This command caused Abram to move from Haran to Canaan. Next, Yahweh made some promises. Keep in mind that Abram was old and childless when these promises were made.
Gen. 12:2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;
These promises were fulfilled. Abram eventually had children and his descendants became the Arabs and the Jews, making him a great nation. Abram’s name became great: many people living today know who Abram was even though he died 4,000 years ago. And Abram is a blessing because one of his descendants is Jesus Christ who has blessed all of us. Now pay attention to the next two promises.
Gen. 12:3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse.”
In our culture, a blessing is often a vague hope that something good will happen to someone; whereas, in Biblical culture, a blessing was a specific gift. The gift may have been intangible, but it was specific. Also, in our culture, cursing usually means to use swear words; however, in Biblical times, cursing meant you were causing something bad to happen to someone and being cursed had real impact on your destiny. Yahweh was very clear that He would treat people the same way they treated Abram. If people did good things to Abram, then Yahweh would do good things to them. If people mistreated Abram, then Yahweh would mistreat them.
Do these promises still apply today? Do those of us living in the 21st century need to be careful how we treat Abram? Is it possible for us to bless or curse someone who has been dead for 4,000 years?
Think of it this way. Yahweh made Abram into a great nation. If someone blesses a member of that nation, is that the same as blessing Abram himself? If someone curses a member of that nation, is that the same as cursing Abram himself? Even though we don’t define blessings and curses the way they did in Bible times, if we do good or bad to Abram’s descendants, is that the same as blessing or cursing Abram?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then consider the following. We have neighbors, friends, and business associates in our culture who are Jewish or Arabic. As a culture and a nation, we have Jewish and Arabic residents amongst us and we deal with cultures and nations around the globe who are Jewish and Arabic. We have many opportunities as individuals and as a nation to do good or harm to Abram’s descendants. This means that there is a risk that we will bring God’s curses upon us and our nation if we mistreat Abram’s descendants. It also means that we have a great opportunity. We have an opportunity to bring God’s blessings upon ourselves by choosing to do good to Abram’s descendants.
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