Ok friends, we’re getting back on track with our study, Why Israel Matters: Rightly Relating to Our Jewish Roots. We spent a few days considering God’s love story for the world, through the Jewish people. Then, we jumped into God’s 3-fold call upon Israel, which includes a birthing call, a suffering call and a priestly call. So far, we have illustrated the birthing call (here and here). Today, we’ll examine the suffering call God placed upon Israel.
To understand the suffering call, we need to review what preceded the actual covenant ceremony between God and Abraham. Please take a moment to read Genesis 15:7-12. Notice that God instructed Abram (Abraham) to prepare the covenant pieces in a very specific way, and ultimately sent a deep sleep upon Abram.
Verse 11 mentions that Abram shooed off some birds. Rather benign-sounding, but let’s think about that. Those birds were huge vultures that were known to attack lions! With 10′ wingspans, talons like spikes and a beak like a steak knife, these were no usual birds! They would have seen not only the slain animals, but also Abram, as potential dinner! He likely had a significant fight on his hands!
So, what is the significance of that? Could those vultures represent evil, demonic forces? Genesis 12:3 tells us that all the families of the world will be blessed through Abraham and his descendants. God was about to initiate a covenant that would usher in the vehicle of world redemption. The enemy would not stand for that and, since the beginning, has tried to thwart God’s plan by liquidating the Jewish people. So, could it be that the vultures represent all that has come against Israel in the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan?
Another clue lies in verse 12 of Genesis 15:
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.
Why would God have put Abram to sleep, only to give him horrible nightmares? We know that Abraham trusted God, and that God spoke to him regularly. (Study Genesis 12-22 and Hebrews 11:8-10) Could it be that God opened wide a curtain that allowed Abram to see the conflict of darkness that Israel would endure in the future? In great darkness, perhaps Abram saw these dreadful things:
- Israel’s rebellion
- Idol worship, including sacrificing babies on the altar of Molech
- The divided kingdom and ultimate exile to Assyria and Babylon
- The destruction of Jerusalem and dispersion of the Jews
- The slaughter of Jews in the crusades and the holocaust
Indeed, darkness has befallen Israel throughout history, yet they have endured. Why? Because God has a specific plan…a plan for world redemption…and vultures hate that plan! Perhaps God was giving Abraham a glimpse of what would occur prior to the end game.
Through Abraham and to the Jewish people, God birthed His redemptive plan. But it would not come without suffering. A birthing call and a suffering call.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the third call: the priestly call.