Justice and peace are major aspects of the character of YHWH–the God of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob.
In the Tanak (Old Testament), YHWH implemented Divine Discipline among all nations:
- blessings to those who obey God’s justice and peace;
- curses to those who violated God’s justice and peace, including Israel.
We believe in the YHWH-statement in Genesis 12:1-3: “And I will bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you. And in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.” When taken in its immediate context, this includes all the offspring of Abraham. That blessing includes not just the descendants of Isaac and Jacob (Israel), but also the descendants of Ishmael (Arabs), the first born of Abraham.
God’s justice is impartial. Deuteronomy 1:17 says, “Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.” That phrase, “I will hear it,” tells us that the God of Abraham is a listening God.
The meaning of Ishmael is worth noting. It means, “YHWH hears.” The promise of blessings to Abraham was explicitly given also to Ishmael, although the Messianic Covenant was specifically assigned to Isaac:
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year”
Genesis 17:20-22 NIV
In Christian theology, the blessings to Abraham was meant to be a blessings to all the nations–no exception, no discrimination.
God listens to the prayers of the Arabs as well as to the prayers of all humanity, including the Israelis.
We will not allow biblical verses like Genesis 12:1-3 to be taken out of context and be misused as a propaganda material either by the present State of Israel or by any group claiming to be a “New Israel” — and misuse it to oppress other groups of people.
As followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, let us look through the lenses of YHWH’s character as we get informed about, and as we pray for, what’s happening in Israel and Palestine these days.
May we all experience God’s just-peace within us and around us!