I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. – Genesis 12:3
I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. – Isaiah 57:19
As God called Abraham to leave his homeland and his family and start a new life, God made a promise to Abraham. This was a spectacular promise considering the magnitude of its results. Not only would God bless Abraham, but God would bless the rest of the world through Abraham. There would be no limit to the distance the blessing would reach. There was no people group remote enough to be untouched by the promise that the Omniscient and Omnipotent One had made. The blessing was coming to Abraham, and through him, the rest of the world would be blessed.
In Isaiah, we find a prophecy that God has given regarding the days to come. With a prescient eye, it was clear that the future held a time when there would be peace for all. There was coming a day when those who were “far off” and those that were “near” both could be joined together in peace and unity. There would exist a division for some time, and there would seem to be a wall that separated those who were near from those who were far off. In this prophecy to the Jewish people, it would have been understood that those who were near were Jews, and those who were far off were Gentiles. Now, what may not have been clear to them, however, was how that those who were near and those who were far off would ever be joined together as one.
In Ephesians 2, Paul explains clearly how that is possible. The world-pervading, culture-penetrating promise made to Abraham was that all the families in the earth would be drawn together in blessing. Now, in Christ there is peace and blessing has come to the two groups. Those who were “far off” and those that are “nigh” have received the message of peace. (v.17) There was always a wall, and the tension of ethnicity and culture had always divided, but now in Christ, the distinctions of culture do not separate. What believers have in common supersedes any other difference that may be in them. In the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Jesus, God brought Jews who believed into peace with himself. In the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Jesus, God brought Gentiles who believed into peace with himself. Now, those who are Jewish and at peace with God should find no quarrel with those who are Gentile and at peace with God.
In Christ the divisions have melted. There are no longer distinct bloodlines. As believers we don’t look to our family or national heritage as our defining characteristic. Instead, we look to the blood of Jesus Christ, and the peace that we have with God through Him. Those who would claim Christianity but hang onto any vestige of racism or ethno-centrism fail to see the peace-bringing, wall-demolishing nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Galatians 3:28, Paul writes clearly “there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”
What a great promise God made to Abraham, that through him all the nations would be blessed together. What a delightful prophecy that the day would come when those near and those far off would be able to join. And what a splendid reality that now in Christ, all of this has been fulfilled. Now, we who were far off can rejoice and love, and strive to exist in the unity that Christ has accomplished. May we not ever call “enemy” the one whom God calls “friend.”
Reflect: How do you think that the peace that we have with God should influence the peace and unity we should have with one another? In Ephesians 2:14-18, what brings about this dual-natured peace?