As I sit looking out over the Old City of Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock where Abraham offered up Isaac, I have a few thoughts I would like to share about the people here and the existence of God.
Though a small fraction of the world's population, and though they've had no land of their own for 2,000 years, the Jews continue to exert a vastly disproportionate influence on the world. Abraham believed and obeyed God so God blessed him. Isaac was the son of that blessing. God said to Abraham, "Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him" (Gen 17:19).
God made promises to Abraham, to Isaac and to Isaac's son Jacob, and to their ancestors after them, and it seems the blessings are still in effect. I don't know that I could possibly articulate the details, but it certainly seems so to the observant eye. And in my mind, having spent so much time in this land, the Jews' continued existence and blessing here and around the world, is a huge argument for the existence of God. What an amazing thing that a people persecuted and scattered around the world would still exist and have such influence today even without the benefits of their own land for 2,000 years. God existence can certainly be seen in their existence.
The other son of Abraham, Ishmael by the servant Hagar, has also flourished. God also blessed Ishmael: "As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac" (Gen 17:20-21). The sons of Sarah and the sons of Hagar, both from the loins of Abraham, were both blessed and became great peoples – the Jews and the Arabs. And these brothers still struggle on the same land 3,800 years later.
But you will search in vain for Ammorites, Jebusites or Hittites. The blessing of YHWH never resided with them.
We have just arrived again on the holy ground of our fathers in the faith — the land where God Himself walked in sandaled feet. God walking in sandaled feet, how can that be?
Ah yes, here in Jerusalem where the Great Scandal took place, the ultimate fulfilment of the promises to Abraham: God became man through the line of Abraham. But how can the invisible, omnipotent, infinite God become man? And worse yet, how can God who took on flesh be executed like a common criminal? How could such a thing be?
This is great foolishness to most people, especially the Jews and the Muslims. But I relate profoundly with the remaining .08% of the people in Israel (or as they call it "Palestine") who still embrace the Great Scandal of the Incarnation and the Cross. I come to encourage and support them as my brothers and sisters in Christ. The Christians in the Holy Land — once many, now few — are mostly Palestinians. They are doubly blessed: by the blessing of God through the promise to Abraham regarding Ishmael, and by the blessing of God through the ultimate Son of Promise, Jesus Christ.
But I also can't help but see the special blessing that resides upon the children of Israel through the first son of promise — Isaac. This land is fraught with tension and competing religions and cultures yet both of God's blessings remain. I will join the Jews in the celebration of JHWH, but I will also rejoice with the Christians in His Son Jesus Christ, God Incarnation. And I will pray for Jew and Arab alike that as children of Abraham they will all come to believe in the One promised to Abraham — his seed — Jesus Christ (Gal 3:16).
I will also wonder at the marvel of God's promises that are irrevocable. God exists and you can see it here in the streets of the Holy City of Jerusalem.