The American Relationship with Modern Israel
On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved Resolution 181 to partition the land of Palestine between Arabs and Jews. Six months later, on May 14, 1948, the modern state of Israel declared independence. Soon after, the U.S. government added her to the recipients of U.S. tax dollars. As shown in Appendix A of this Congressional Research Service report issued April 14, 2014:
U.S. government assistance to Israel began in 1949 with a $100 million Export-Import Bank Loan. For the next two decades, U.S. aid to Israel was modest and was far less than in later years. [...] In 1962, Israel purchased its first advanced weapons system from the United States (Hawk antiaircraft missiles). In 1968, a year after Israel’s victory in the Six Day War, the Johnson Administration, with strong support from Congress, approved the sale of Phantom aircraft to Israel, establishing the precendent for U.S. support for what later came to be referred to as Israel’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors.
The report summarizes,
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel has received significant economic assistance. Strong congressional support for Israel has resulted in Israel receiving benefits not available to any other countries; for example, Israel can use some U.S. military assistance both for research and development in the United States and for military purchases from Israeli manufacturers. In addition, U.S. assistance earmarked for Israel is generally delivered in the first 30 days of the fiscal year, while most other recipients normally receive aid in installments, and Israel (as is also the case with Egypt) is permitted to use cash flow financing for its U.S. arms purchases. In addition to receiving U.S. State Department- administered foreign assistance, Israel also receives funds from annual defense appropriation bills for rocket and missile defense programs.
Many Christians Support This...But Why?
Many Christians in America approve this use of tax dollars, believing that this is “blessing Israel.” Their attitude mirrors this graphic.
The U.S. Constitution authorizes no lending or distributing of US tax dollars to any foreign governent. Therefore, it is not the law of the U.S. that prompts many of her Christians to prioritize “blessing Israel.” Rather, they base this upon their interpretation of some Scriptures, such as Genesis 12:2-3, when God says to Abram (having not yet changed his name to Abraham): “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Many seize the phrase, “And I will bless them that bless thee,” saying, “Look, if we don’t bless [redistribute tax dollars or military aid] to Israel [the government of Israel] we won’t be blessed of God.”
Does Scripture actually support this view of those verses?
Note: I don’t advocate the U.S. being a so-called “theocracy.” But since various Christians, wanting to bless Israel, use Scripture to rationalize distributing taxpayer funds or tax-funded military aid to modern Israel, let us exmaine Scripture to find if their reasoning is sound. (When I quote Scripture, I have emphasized the most relevant phrases.)
First, if “bless” in the beginning of Genesis 12:3 involves giving money or military aid, then why would not “blessed” in the ending of the verse involve the same? But the phrase ‘in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed’ hardly lends itself to meaning, “in thee shall all families of the earth receive money or military aid.”
Second, if a Christian gives his own money for a Christian cause, God can bless him for generosity, but if a Christian took money by force from his neighbor and re-distributed it for a Christian cause, how could God bless this man for taking someone else’s money? Taxes are taken by force. Even if one won’t acknowledge taxation as theft, one can’t define tax-funded programs as “gifts” but re-distributions of wealth.
Third, the “state (government and inhabitants) of Israel,” is not equal to the physical descendants of Jacob. (‘ Descendants of Jacob,’ for it is from Abraham’s grandson Jacob that the Israelites arose.) Not all of Jacob’s descendants live in modern Israel—e.g., some live in the U.S. Estimates of the Jewish population in America alone vary, depending on whether the term “Jewish” encompasses both those descended from Jacob and those who are religiously “Jew-ish.” For the record, when I use the term “Jews” I will not be including those who are only religiously Jewish.
So, whatever “blessing Israel” actually means in Scripture, one’s policies and attitude toward the state of Israel cannot be the fullness of blessing Israel, since many Jews live elsewhere. But, since modern Israel holds an appreciable percentage of Jacob’s descendants, let us see what further light other Scripture sheds on the meaning of “bless.”
Isaac blessed his sons Esau and Jacob (Gen. 27:28-29 & 39-40), and Jacob blessed his sons and grandsons (Gen. 48:9-20, 49:1-28). These blessings were verbal pronouncements, along with some prophecy, but neither Isaac nor Jacob distributed money or military aid amongst their sons. Hebrews (written to the Jews) says that Isaac and Jacob blessed their descendants by faith (Heb. 11:20-21).
Numbers 22 describes how a Moabite king, Balak, tried to bribe Balaam to curse Israel, but God caused Balaam to bless Israel. Chapters 23–24 tell exactly how Balaam did so. He gave nothing material to them, no money nor military aid. Rather, he spoke the blessing which the Lord put into his mouth, such as, “Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” and “Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any diviniation against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!”
These examples of blessing lend little—if any—support to the idea that a “blessing” must involve money or military aid, but that a blessing can be merely spoken. The Apostle James, addressing the twelve tribes of Israel, wrote that “Therewith [the tongue] bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.”
Blessings Have Conditions: God Curses the Disobedient
What became of Balaam? Was he eternally blessed because he blessed Israel? Well, althought he spoke the words of blessing that God put in his mouth, he later led the Israelites into sin, for which he lost his life:
“Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.” Numbers 31:8c
So simply because a man has blessed Israel at some point doesn’t mean God showers blessings upon him for perpetuity.
When ten of the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land gave a frightening report of the land (Num. 13:27-33), almost every adult in Israel lost faith in God and wanted to return to Egypt (Num. 14:1-4). Only the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb, told them not to fear and that God was with them. For this, the congregation of Israel wanted to stone them.
The Israelites’ infidelity to God—God, Who had done many miracles for them—angered Him. He said to Moses that He would smite and disinherit them, and make of Moses a greater nation. Moses pleaded with God to pardon them (Num. 14:13-19). God replied that He would pardon, but that all those twenty years old and above wouldn’t see the Promised Land—their children would see it.
Thus, God does not bless those who distrust and disobey him. Deuteronomy 28:1-2 reiterates that if Israel would hearken diligently to God’s voice, to observe and do all His commandments, that He would set them on high above all nations of the earth, and all these blessings would come on them.
The next ten verses describe many blessings, including the “ fruit of the womb” or “fruit of the body”— which is to say, children—establishing that children are a blessing. Another blessing was, “[T]hou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.” This portion concludes, “And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: 14And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.” (vv. 13-14)
Verse 15 warns: “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day, that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee,” and over twenty-four following verses detail curses such as terrible weather, famines, pestilences, plagues, and so on. But the curse would include political problems also: “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.” (vv. 43-44)
Financial independence (thou shalt not borrow) was part of God’s blessing; financial dependence was part of God’s curse: “ He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him...”
After arrival in the Promised Land, the Israelites conquered various groups of inhabitants, as God had instructed them to do. But the next generation “forsook the LORD God of their fathers,” and followed other gods. (Judges 2:12-14) Thus God delivered them into the hand of their enemies, as He “had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of th ehand of those that spoiled them.”
For about 450 years Israel went through a cycle of disobeying God, then being oppressed by their enemies, then crying out to God, Who raised up judges to rescue them. Once the judge died, “they corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them...they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.”
Because Israel had transgressed His covenant which He had commanded their fathers, and hearkened not to His voice, God said He would not drive out any of the nations that Joshua left when Joshua died; that through those nations He would prove, or test, Israel, whether they would keep the Lord’s way to walk therein (Judges 2:20-23).
Thus, God used other nations to test Israel, and did not direct them to give Israel money or military aid. And again, He revoked political security and material prosperity from Israelites who disobyed Him. Let’s look at a few examples out of the many.
In Deut. 17, God predicted that the Israelites would ask for a king after they had possessed the Promised Land. He made some commands for the kingship, including: But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. (vv. 16-17) (Note well that when the Israelites asked for a king, God said to the judge Samuel, ‘They have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.’ 1 Sam. 8:7b Simply because God foresees an action doesn’t mean He approves it.)
The Amalekites were one of the wicked peoples remaining in the area. In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel told king Saul that the LORD remembered how Amalek laid wait for Israel in the way to the Promised Land, and so Saul was to “utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not” (1 Sam. 15:3).
Saul and the Israelites did as the Lord said—almost: they spared the king, Agag, and the best of the animals, and “all that was good,;” they destroyed what was “vile and refuse.”
Then God said to Samuel, “It repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following Me, and hath not performed My commandments.”
When Samuel confronted Saul, Saul claimed that he had obeyed the
Lord, but the people had saved the best of the animals, and all that was
good to sacrifice it to the Lord. Samuel—and God—weren’t
fooled. And Samuel said,
“Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings
and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than
sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of
witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast
rejected the word of the LORD, He hath also rejected thee from being king.
” (1 Sam. 15:23-24)
King Solomon disobeyed the rules in Deut. 17, that a king shall not multiply wives to himself, greatly multiply silver and gold, nor multiply horses, neither bring them from Egypt.
1 Kings 10:14 & 27-28 tell us that in one year the gold that came to Solomon was 666 talents of gold, and he made silver to be in Jerusalem “as stones.” (How much was a talent? The answer varies, but one estimate is 75.5 lbs, or 34.3 kgs.) Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt. 1 Kings 4:26 records that Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen.
1 Kings 11 says that King Solomon loved many “strange women”: women of the nations of which the Lord told the Israelites, “Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and they turned away his heart; he burnt incense and sacrificed to other gods. And God was angry with Solomon for breaking His commandments.
1 Kings 11:11-3: Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, “Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. 12 Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. 13 Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”
God also “stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite,” (v. 14) and another adversary, “Rezon the son of Eliadah,” (v.23) who was an adversary to Israel “all the days of Solomon...and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria” (v.25) Last but not least, God told one of Solomon’s servants, Jeroboam, that He would give ten tribes to him (leaving one tribe to the descendants of David), because they had forsaken God, worshipped false gods, and did not keep God’s statutes and judgments (vv. 31-35). God reiterated His conditions of blessing to Jeroboam:
If thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in My ways, and do that is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as David My servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee. (v. 35)
Some may point to the kings who brought presents to Solomon, or Hiram’s league with Solomon, or the queen of Sheba’s visit as Scriptural precedence for the relationship between the U.S. and modern Israel today. But how much does modern Israel have in common with Solomon, and the U.S. with Hiram, or the queen of Sheba, or the other kings? First, why did Solomon have any riches at all? Because he had not asked for them, but for wisdom from God. God said to Solomon that because he had not asked riches, wealth or honor, nor the life of his enemies, [a “national security” issue] neither for long life, but had asked wisdom and knowledge, that God would grant wisdom and knowledge to him, as well as riches, wealth, and honor, “such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.” 2 Chron. 1:11
As to king Hiram, he provided supplies for building and furnishing the temple of God, and a house for Solomon. Moreover, Solomon reciprocated Hiram’s generosity, giving Hiram 20,000 measures of wheat to his household, and 20 measures of pure oil, “thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.” 1 Kings 5:11
And when was the last time that the government of today’s Israel gave something to the U.S. taxpayers for what their money has provided for their country? Note: I do not think that today’s Israel needs to give the U.S. anything; my point is that the relationship between Hiram and Solomon does not parallel that between the U.S. and Israel.
Why did the kings, or the queen of Sheba, seek Solomon? And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. —1 Kings 10:1 And all the kings of the earth sought the presences of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart.—1 Kings 9:23 How many rulers go to modern Israel to seek their rulers to hear the wisdom God has put in their heart?
King Ahaz of Judah made idols, burnt incense to false gods, and burnt his children in the fire (2 Chron. 28:1-4). What did God do? Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter. (v. 5)
God’s ability and authority to revoke power is no surprise, because all power and authority is His. The Israelites would not have existed if God hadn’t worked a miracle with the promised birth of Isaac to the elderly, barren Sarah (Gen. 21:1-5). The Old Testament over and over again shows that it was through God that the Israelites ever had any independence and power.
- He plagued Egypt ten times (Ex. 7:17 - 12:30)
- He parted the Red Sea (Ex. 14:21-30)
- He fed them with manna, for forty years (Ex. 16:11-15 & 35)
- He parted the Jordan River (Josh. 3:14-17, 4:11-18)
Those who triumphed over physical enemies acknowledged and proclaimed God’s role in giving military victory.
- Before Joshua died, he called for all Israel, and for all their political officials (elders, heads, judges, & officers) and said: “I am old and stricken in age: And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God is He that hath fought for you.” Joshua 23:3
- When Jonathan intended to fight the Philistines, he said to his armor-bearer: “Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” 1 Sam. 14:6
- Before David fought Goliath, he said: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.” 1 Sam. 17:45-47
- Psalm 44:1-3 emphasizes again God’s role: “1We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work Thou didst in their days, in the times of old. 2 How Thou didst drive out the heathen with Thy hand, and plantedst them; how Thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. 3 For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favor unto them.”
God rebuked, warned, and punished the Israelites when they trusted not in Him, but in other gods and nations:
- 2 Kings 1:2-4: And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber
that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, “Go,
inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.”
3 But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go
up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, ‘Is it not
because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?
4 Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which
thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.’ ” And Elijah departed.
- Isaiah 31:1&3: Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust
in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look
not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD! 3 Now the Egyptians are
men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out
His hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is helped shall fall down, and they
all shall fail together.
- Jeremiah 17:5-8: 5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
Would modern Israel receive a blessing from God?
Since 1995, the state of Israel has taken charge of health care, requiring all to register with one of four approved health insurance companies. Nowhere in the Old (or New) Testament did God authorize a political leader to take charge of the health of his subjects. He commanded individuals to help the poor and needy, but He gave no one authority to enforce the individual mandate to help the poor and needy—no one, that is, but Himself.
The government of Israel requires service in the millitary, the Israel Defense Forces: service is mandatory for men ages 18-25 and women ages 17-20. In the Old Testament, God exempted even men in specific circumstances (and not on basis of age) from military service. And neither of the Testaments give any ground for allowing women in the military, much less requiring it of them.
(What about Deborah, or Jael? Well, Deborah was a prophetess, not a military officer, whom Barak asked to accompany the Israelites in their fight against a Canaanite king. And all that Scripture says explicitly is: “And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.” It does not indicate that she herself took up arms and fought in the battle. And again, her profession was not in the military, not even as a nurse. Deborah described herself as “a mother in Israel.” Jael was not in a military at all. Rather, she was in her tent, her home, when the enemy Sisera came to her tent, and she killed him there, not on the battlefield—Judges 4:17-20.)
The government subsidizes abortions for women in the military. Worse, beginning in 2014, Israel expanded her subsidy, paying for abortions for women aged 20 to 33 regardless of circumstance. God is the One Who opens and closes the womb. Children, the “fruit of the womb,” are a blessing from God. He had even told the Israelites, “Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.” God punished ancient Israelites for sacrificing their children; sadly, modern Israelites still sacrifice their children to their idols of self-gratification and convenience.
Since 1993, homosexuals have been allowed to serve openly in Israel’s military. The Hague Center for Strategic Studies (HCSS) in the Netherlands published a LGBT Military Index in Feb. 2014. On a 100-point scale, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) earned 92 points, making #8 on the list. Joshua Polchard, an analyst with the HCSS, wrote to Haaretz, the oldest newspaper of modern Israel, “The IDF’s decision to photograph two men holding hands for its Facebook page has great symbolic value.”
Participants in the Tel Aviv 2014 Pride Parade. Photo source: www.yourmiddleeast.com
Nicknamed “Tel Francisco,” Tel Aviv boasts a yearly pride parade. According to Shai Doitsch of the pro-sodomy group The Aguda, its population is 20 percent homosexual. Haaretz lists ten “ hotspots” for LGBT persons to visit in Israel.
In both the Old and New Testaments, homosexuality is described as rebelling against God’s design for males and females. And contrary to popular lies, Jesus Himself did speak against it.
God commanded ancient Israel, “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.” If a man lay ‘with mankind, as he lieth with a woman,’ both of them ‘shall surely be put to death.’ (Note: God required the testimony of at least two eye-witnesses before someone accused of a crime worthy of death could be put to death. This means that sodomy—and, for the record, adultery—would have to occur in sight of at least two other non-participants before the death penalty could be enacted. And if one commits sodomy or adultery before others, one isn’t sinning privately.)
Paul wrote in Romans 1, ‘[F]or even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves the recompense of their error which was meet.’ Paul did not know terms such as ‘syphilis’ or ‘HIV,’ but he knew that diseases abound when men commit perversion.
In May 2014, Israel’s ‘Health Ministry” lowered the age for so-called “sex change surgery”—the government already uses tax money to pay for this procedure of mutilation. Using one’s body against God’s design for its use is one level of rebellion. Rejecting the very body God has given to one and mutilating it is a deeper level of rebellion. “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” Romans 9:20
We haven&rsuo;t probed that far into modern Israel’s (im)moral state—haven’t examined the appreciable percentage of athetists in Israel— how she has prevented Messianic, or Christian, Jews from obtaining citizenship—and it’s clear she would not receive blessings from God for her disobedience.
What New Testament Scriptures Say
God is a spirit (John 4:24). His blessing is first and foremost spiritual. In the Old Testament, God promised an earthly inheritance to Abraham’s descendants, and the Promised Land was a symbol of the heavenly inheritance to Abraham’s spiritual descendants (whether they were physically his descendants or not).
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. [...] That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:8-9 & 14
Chapter 11 of the letter to the Hebrews (Jews) says that Abraham sojourned in the land of promise, looking for a city with foundations, whose builder and maker is God; that he, along with Abel, Enoch, and Noah (who were not Jews!), “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (v. 13)
The land promised was not the fullness of the blessing for Abraham. Part of that blessing was that God’s only begotten Son, Jesus, was made flesh as a Jew—as one of Abraham’s descendants.
And that blessing involved turning away sinners from their iniquities: Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. Acts 3:26
Many who followed Jesus mistakenly thought that the Messiah would redeem Israel in the carnal, the temporal, sense. This shows in the reaction of the Jews after Jesus fed five thousand with five loaves and two fishes:
Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, ‘This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.’ When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone. (John 6:14-15)
Even after the resurrection, the disciples on the road to Emmaus misunderstood: “But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” Luke 24:21a
Jesus had already redeemed Israel and they didn’t see it because they were viewing the promise of a redeemer through an earthly, temporal lens. Hence Jesus rejoined, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” Luke 24:25b-26
There is a spiritual Israel and a physical Israel. They overlap to some degree, but lamentably not much, as many physical descendants of Abraham are not spiritual descendants. When Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews, “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed,” (John 8:37a) and “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day,” (8:56a) He recognized their physical ancestry. But when He said to the same Jews, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham,” (8:39b) and “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do,” (8:44a) He was referring to their spiritual ancestry.
Paul expounded on the difference between physical and spiritual Israel in Rom. 4:13 & 16, and Rom. 9:6-8:
13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Therefore it [the promise] is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of all. 6 For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Later, Paul compared the redeemed Gentiles to a wild olive tree grafted into the good olive tree of Israel, partaking of its root and fatness, and writing that these Gentiles do not bear the root, but the root bears them. “Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.” He went on, “And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.”
The New Testament instructs all, Gentiles and Jews alike, to seek the kingdom of heaven.
John the Baptist, who prepared the way of the Lord, proclaimed, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2) And after the devil tempted Jesus, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17) When sending forth His disciples to the lost sheep of Israel, He said, “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 10:7) Before His crucifixion, Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world. Before He ascended to Heaven, He instructed “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
In Hebrews we read, “Wherefore we [believing Hebrews] receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Heb. 12:28)
It is carnality for a Christian to focus more on securing an earthly kingdom or kingdoms—whether for the Jews, or the Americans, or any people—than to focus on leading others to the kingdom of Heaven. The apostles and the authors of the New Testament focussed on laying up treasure in Heaven. Jesus Himself asked, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
Thinking “bless” in Gen. 12:3 requires “redistributing money or military aid” to a government that kills its most innocent unborn inhabitants, and a military that accepts abomination, is an error like the Jews’ error centuries ago, who thought their Messiah would be a carnal Messiah with a carnal kingdom.
So how should a Christian, a member of spiritual Israel, bless physical Israel?
Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, wrote that “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Rom. 9:2-3)
Paul was not naive. His kinsmen of the flesh had whipped him, stoned him, and jailed him for preaching the gospel. Still, he loved them with true love, so that he had “great heaviness and continual sorrow,” that he could wish he were “accursed from Christ for their sake.” He magnified his office as apostle to the Gentiles so “If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” (Rom. 11:14)
The very existence of the Jews is miraculous, an example of God’s power that we should proclaim when we witness to Jews or to Gentiles. Isaac himself was a miracle child. And then his wife Rebekah was barren for twenty years, so Isaac prayed to God, and God opened her womb.
Furthermore, God selected Jews to record much of His word. To quote Paul again, “[T]hat unto them were committed the oracles of God.” (Rom. 3:2b)
Paul also wrote, “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.”
Even considering the lost, or anti-Christian, Jews in the world as spiritual enemies, a Christian can still bless them. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Jesus, Matt. 5:44 (And “bless them that curse you” didn’t mean “re-distribute money or military aid to them that curse you.”)
To bless Israel, a Christian should share Paul’s desire for them to know Christ, and pray for salvation for the Jews, wherever they live. (If Christians prayed more for salvation for the Jews, and witnessed more to them, perhaps fewer Jews would abide in unbelief and the nation of modern Israel would be less pagan.) When a Christian crosses paths with unsaved Jews, he should witness to them; if he wishes to use finances in his blessing of the Jews, he can give (and not re-distribute) to oranizations such as Jews for Jesus which proclaim the Messiahship of Jesus to the Jews, and that lead Jews to their King of kings.