A Land, A People/Nation, A Blessing

Rev. Willem J.J. Glashouwer - 3 November 2016

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through [or: in] you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)


These are well-known scriptural verses. We know these verses so well that one sometimes thinks that no new discoveries can be made in these verses. And yet, something new caught my eye: The Lord is about to speak in an audible voice. Think of Samuel’s experience in 1 Samuel 3:1-10. The Tower of Babel/Babylon is history (Genesis 11) and the nations are going their own way and being dispersed over all the earth, led by the light of their own religion(s). A religion developed in Babylon by Nimrod, who hunted people down that were not willing to follow his ultimate dictatorship and political power – nor wanted to accept his new religion executed by a new priesthood, worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. After  that, in Genesis 12, God called a man by the name of Abraham, who served these other, strange gods (Joshua 24:2-3) in Ur of the Chaldeans, Ur of the Babylonians. Babylon represents the city of man whereas Jerusalem stands for the city of God.


What will the Almighty God, the invisible Creator of heaven and earth, be going to share with Abraham with an audible voice? Is He about to instruct Abraham about ‘true religion’? Will He teach him how to serve the Almighty and Eternal God while Abraham remains living in ‘Babylon’- in the city of Ur – amongst the pagan gods? No. If that would have been the case, there would not have been a reason for him to move. Abraham could easily have remained in Ur while establishing and propagating the true religion among his fellow-citizens and his Babylonian culture. No, almost the Lord’s first words are: LAND! Leave your land (‘Babylon’) and go to another land – another country – that I will show you. To my knowledge, not any other person, philosopher or religious leader inaugurating a new religion or a new way of life ever instructed his followers to pack up their bags and move to another country – even before telling them what brilliant new ideas he had got!


What is so important about a piece of land? The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, according to Psalm 24:1: 50:12; 89:12; 96:7-13; 98:4-9. What then, makes such a small piece of land – smaller than The Netherlands – in the Middle East, so important? These first words spoken, by the Eternal One, evidently have a deeper meaning. When the Almighty starts His plan of salvation for man, mankind and nations,  and ultimately also for creation itself, He starts doing so by calling and then directing one man to another piece of land, to another country! Why? Apparently because this piece of land in the Middle East has an unique role to play in God’s plan of salvation. The land and the people of Israel have a distinguishable historic significance for the plan of redemption of God. As well as the city of Jerusalem in that small country in the centre of the earth. A purpose of redemption, salvation and renewal that He was going the realize in history: in the past, present and future. Immediately ‘land’, ‘earth’, physical existence, the universe, our bodies, etc., are included in God’s plan of salvation

A land, a nation/people, and ultimately a blessing for the whole world.


For many centuries, during the last 2000 years, both the land and people of Israel, had no meaning for the Christian Church whatsoever. We, Christianity, cut the root and stole the fruit. The Church emerged as the new chosen people: the new Israel, they called themselves. The Promised Land became Heaven and the earthly Jerusalem became the heavenly Jerusalem, in the eyes of the Church. The centre of Christianity was not to be Jerusalem in Israel, but Rome, Constantinople, Canterbury, Moscow or Genève – depending on what Church you were talking about. But Jerusalem…? Maybe some holy places of interest (once upon a time conquered by the Christian Crusaders, after having massacred thousands of Muslims and Jews), but without any deeper theological meaning for this land of Israel, this people/nation of Jews, and this city of Jerusalem.


And yet the Almighty said: a land, a people/nation, and a blessing. And He meant this seriously and literally. So this is how it is and will be. The land, the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem are being restored right before our very eyes. The Kingdom is coming, regardless of what kind of terrible end-times events are going to take place first. His plan of salvation for mankind and mother earth will be realized – and who knows how very soon already… His shalom will be world-wide. What a glorious future we are looking for! God has started to move the history of this world towards His goals: the coming of the Kingdom, and the coming of the King of the Kingdom! And then from Israel and Jerusalem peace will fill the earth, and the nations will train for war no more.


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