In the last piece, I threw the whole “Boomerang Effect” thing out there regarding the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Now we’re going to return to it.
See what I did there?
Say, do you want to hear a joke about a boomerang? Well, I can't remember it, but I'm sure it'll come back to me. (Nyuk-nyuk.)
Wait! One more! Here’s a fun fact: Boomerangs are Australia’s biggest export… and import. (Heh-heh. I got a million of ‘em. Well actually, about seven more. You’ll just have to wait.)
Anyway, we talked about how the Jewish people and the nation of Israel are like a boomerang in God’s hand. No matter how hard the world tries to get rid of them, they always come back. Why? Because God has an irrevocable covenant with the Jewish people (2 Samuel 7:24; Psalm 111:9; Jeremiah 31:35-36). No other people group on earth can claim that.
But there is another Boomerang Effect I want to focus on now. This one also relates to the Jewish people but begins with their founder – Abraham. We find it at the very moment God calls Abraham (Abram) to leave his land and people, strike out for a new land (Canaan), and become a new people group on earth (the future Israelites/Jews).
Not only that, but God is also going to make Abraham’s name great (he’ll be famous and highly esteemed) and cause him to be a blessing to the whole world. Did that happen? Yes! The three monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – all look to Abraham as their father, two by birth (Judaism, Islam) and one by following his example of trust in God (Christianity, see Romans 4:16).
As for Abraham’s blessing to the whole world, that’s realized in Jesus, Abraham’s offspring, who opened the way to salvation to all peoples – Jews and Gentiles.
Let’s face it, reconnecting with the Creator of the Universe on a first name basis forever is an awesome blessing!
Now comes the part I want you to focus on, Genesis 12:3. Why? Because how you respond to Israel and the Jewish people determines how God will respond to you – The Boomerang Effect.
The New American Standard Bible puts it this way, “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Do you see it? God Himself has declared how people treat Abraham (and his covenant offspring, because Abraham is the federal head of his descendants, the Jewish people) will be how He treats those people in return.
There you go. The Boomerang Effect.
Now let me break this down a bit for you. We’ll do some good ol’ fashioned Bible work here. Let’s start with the words themselves.
What does it mean to bless? That’s the Hebrew word, barak, meaning 1) “to bestow good of any kind upon, to honor as holy, to protect or guard from evil,” and 2) “the bestowal of divine favor on.”
What does it mean to curse? There are two words used here. The first is ‘arar, meaning 1) “to wish or invoke evil, calamity, injury, or destruction upon. To afflict with great evil,” and 2) “invoking harm or injury upon a person or people.”
The second is qalal, meaning 1) “to be slight, be trifling, be of little account, be light,” or 2) “to regard with contempt, distaste, disgust, or disdain; scorn; loathe. To dislike intensely.” It implies “to look down on.”
Now let’s look at how other Bible versions translate this to get the “feel” of the verse. Remember, it’s always good to find a range of different translations to ponder.
The Literal Interlinear says, “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one despising you I will curse and shall be blessed in you all the families of the earth.” (italics – author, and following.) Despise. Interesting.
The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) puts it this way, “I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed (or will find blessing) through you” or “will bless themselves by you.” Do you see how the “flavor” of the second curse changes by using contempt? Contempt and despise are more than just an action. It’s an attitude, right?
Finally, the Amplified Bible (AMP) expands the verse to this, “And I will bless those who bless you [who confer prosperity or happiness upon you] and curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed [and by you they will bless themselves].”
WOW! That last one’s a mouthful! Now, here’s my paraphrase based on the definitions and the other translations and commentaries I studied:
“I will bestow My divine favor on those who bestow good of any kind upon you, who honor you as holy, to protect or guard you from evil. I will invoke calamity, injury or destruction and even afflict with great evil upon those who slight you, trifle with you, regard you of little account, regard you with contempt, distaste, disgust or disdain, scorn or loathe you or even look down upon you.”
Pretty powerful, huh?
So, are you sure you want to mess with Abraham and his offspring? After all, when God executes a curse, you pretty much have nowhere to hide and no defense. Wouldn’t you rather be blessed by God?
According to Genesis 12:3, this reason for being blessed or cursed is in your hands.
This is what I call the Boomerang Effect. What’s dished out on Abraham, God Himself will dish back. Abraham and his offspring apparently don’t have to lift a finger. God will lift His hand on Abe’s behalf.
Here’s a great question to ponder. Did God fulfill His “great nation/descendants” and “bless you, Abraham” and “great name” and “be a blessing to the nations” promises to Abraham? Now answer this carefully because if God fulfilled these promises to Abe, He most certainly will fulfill His Boomerang Effect promised to him as well.
Spoiler alert! The answer to all of the above is a resounding, “Yes!”
Great nation/descendants. God gave Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac. Abraham’s family line eventually expanded to millions over millennia. And as of 2021, Israel’s Jewish population of nearly 7 million has zoomed past the number of Jews lost in the Holocaust almost 80 years ago! The total Jewish population worldwide is just over 15 million according to jewishvirtuallibrary.org.
To a land that I will show you. God gave Abraham a land that is inhabited by his descendants to this very day!
I will bless you. God blessed Abraham with His approval (Genesis 15:6), His presence (15:1, 21:22), His protection (15:1, 12:17 and 20:3ff), offspring (13:16, 17:2, 21:1-2), long life – 175 years old (25:7), wealth and respect” (Gen. 24:34-35a).
I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. God has made Abraham’s name great, as I pointed out above, and God has brought great blessing to the whole world through Jesus, Abraham’s preeminent progeny. On a more secular note, of the over 800 individuals receiving the Nobel prize, 20% are Jews although they comprise only .2% of the world’s population. Israeli innovation is world-renowned and has made Tel Aviv the “Start-up Capital of the World.” The technological blessings alone from Israel have blessed the world.
Yeah. God kept His promises despite all the world has dished out on the Jews!
So, I ask again, if God fulfilled His promises to Abe, will He most certainly fulfill His Boomerang Effect blessing-curse promise as well? Bible history documents it.
Jacob was treated poorly by Laban, who tried to cheat Jacob out of his rightful earnings. God caused Jacob to prosper while simultaneously striking Laban economically (Genesis 30:41-43, 31:6-9). Boomerang!
Pharaoh killed the firstborn boys of Israel by drowning them in water, the Nile (Exodus 1:22). God killed Pharaoh’s and all of Egypt’s firstborn sons and drowned his army in water, the Red Sea (Exodus 12:29, 14:28). Boomerang!
The Assyrian empire brought war to Jerusalem’s gates (2 Kings 18:13-35). The Lord struck down the Assyrian army in one night and Assyria’s king is assassinated soon after (2 Kings 19:35-37). Boomerang!
The book of Esther records the classic example. Haman, King Ahasuerus’ vice-regent sought to kill the Jews across the Medo-Persian empire (Esther 3:8-11). And yet, God turned the tables in one night. Haman and his sons died on the same device Haman had planned to use for Esther’s Uncle Mordecai, and the attacked Jews became the attackers and survived (Esther 7-9).
But the epitome of the Boomerang Effect fell like a hammer stroke on Satan and his kingdom’s brow! Yes, Jesus died for all humanity, but He was also Abraham’s descendant. Let’s review God’s promise, shall we?
“…I will invoke calamity, injury or destruction and even afflict with great evil upon those who slight you, trifle with you, regard you of little account, regard you with contempt, distaste, disgust or disdain, scorn or loathe you or even look down upon you.” Does this not describe Satan’s treatment of Jesus? Don’t you think the Boomerang Effect was operating as well during Jesus’ crucifixion?
Satan threw all the death he had at Jesus thinking he had triumphed. Satan thought he had won.
And then, it hit him.
Paul says this about Jesus’ death, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him.” (Colossians 2:15). And this, “On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).
What Satan threw at Jesus is exactly what he’ll get in the end – death. “The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
The Bible is full of examples of how God’s blessing-curse Boomerang Effect worked. And it’s still at work today. In the next and final part of this series, I’ll give you some vivid examples from the last one hundred years that caution us to be careful how we treat Israel and the Jewish people. Until then…
A boomerang walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Hey, I thought I threw you out of here!"
I’ll see myself out.
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts