Thursday, July 20, 2006

Israel And The Middle East.....The Rest Of The Story

The unrest in the Middle East with Israel and the rest of the Arab and Persian world goes all the way back to the Bible. The rest of this post is an excerpt of a previous post I had concerning the Biblical roots of Islam. I thought it was fitting to post this information again. Please pray for Israel.
Many trace the beginnings of Islam back to Muhammad (born in A.D. 570 in Mecca, in what is now Saudi Arabia). The roots of Islam actually start with Abraham in Ur of Chaldea (present day Iraq) in about 2000 B.C.The rest of this I am copying and pasting from

  • The Biblical Roots of Islam
  • If interested you can read it there in its entirety.
    This is very interesting because it opens your eyes to the spiritual battle that has gone on for many, many years between Christianity and Islam.

    The story begins with a man named Abram, son of Terah, a descendant of Shem, who lived in the city of Ur (near the Persian Gulf) but migrated to Haran (Gen. 11:10-32). Abram received a call from God to go to the land of Canaan (present-day Israel). God promised Abram the following (in what is sometimes called the Abrahamic Covenant):

    · I will make you a great nation
    · I will bless you, and make your name great
    · You will be a blessing
    · I will bless those who bless you, and curse the one who curses you
    · In you all families of the earth shall be blessed (Gen. 12:2,3)

    God told Abram (later his name would be changed to Abraham) that He would give his descendants the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:7; 13:16; 15:18-21; 17:), that Abraham’s descendants would be too numerous to count (Gen. 13:14,15,17;15:5; 22:17), that Abraham would be the father of many nations (Gen. 17:4,5), that in his seed all nations would be blessed (Gen. 22:18), and that the covenant would be an “everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:7). The covenant was reaffirmed to Isaac (Gen. 26:1-5) and Jacob (Gen. 28:3,4, 13-14; 35:10-12). A thousand years later David affirmed God’s covenant with Abraham (Psa. 105:8-11). The promised blessing, of course, came through God’s Messiah, Jesus the Christ (Acts 3:25,26; Gal. 3:14,16).

    God promised Abraham, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). The promise was repeated to Isaac (Gen. 26:4) and Jacob (Gen. 28:14). The apostle Paul makes it clear that the seed (singular) was Christ: “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).

    But Abraham had several sons, eight to be exact: Ishmael through Sarah’s Egyptian maid Hagar; Isaac through Sarah; and six others (Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Isbak, & Shuah) through Keturah, whom he married after the death of Sarah (Gen. 15:1-2). Which of the eight was the “son of promise?”

    Twice in Genesis 22 God tells Abraham that Isaac is “your son, your only son” (Gen. 22:2,16). God knew that Abraham had two sons at the time, but He reminded Abraham that Isaac, as far as The Promise was concerned, was his only son. Paul connects the dots from the son of promise to Isaac, and from Isaac to us – spiritual “children of promise” (Gal. 4:28).

    Although Abraham had been promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of heaven (Gen. 15:5), Sarah was not able to bear him a child. Sarah felt that God had obstructed her from having children, so she came up with the idea of making her maid, an Egyptian named Hagar, a “sexual surrogate” for her husband. Abraham, inexcusably, heeded his wife’s advice and had sexual relations with Hagar (Gen. 16:1-2). The world has paid dearly for this detour from God’s plan. Herbert Lockyer observes, “Little did Sarah know, when she persuaded Abraham to take Hagar, that she was originating a rivalry which has seen the keenest strife through the ages, and which oceans of blood have not stopped. Moslem Arabs claim descent from Ishmael…Arabian tribes springing from Ishmael are scattered throughout the Arabian peninsula. The wild hearts beat on in the bosoms of those who form the Arab world.”

    Once Hagar had conceived, she not only swelled with pregnancy but she also swelled with pride. Sarah, with Abraham’s approval, “dealt harshly” with Hagar, forcing her to flee into the wilderness. But God assured her that He would also multiply her descendants so that they could not be counted (Gen. 16:3-10). She was instructed to call her son Ishmael (“whom God hears”). Then came the prophecy that may have caused Hagar to shiver in spite of the heat in the desert:

    “He shall be a wild man;
    His hand shall be against every man,
    And every man’s hand against him,
    And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Gen. 16:12).

    The NIV reads, “He will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” Thomas Cahill writes, “Her son Yishmael (of Ishmael) shall be another Enkindu, ‘a wild-ass of a man, his hand against all, hand of all against him’ – father of the Arabs” (The Gifts of the Jews Doubleday, 1998). James L. Garlow observes, “The offspring of Abraham is the focal point of the current conflict. The ongoing struggle in the Middle East is a direct result of the animosity between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac. While there is no record of Ishmael and Isaac ever fighting each other, Genesis does record God’s prophecy regarding Ishmael; He will be against everyone, and everyone will be against him (Gen. 16:12 TEV). Today’s struggle is between those who call themselves the descendants of Ishmael and those who call themselves descendants of Isaac. The intense struggle in Israel and the surrounding Arab nations can only be understood historically as a struggle between the descendants of two brothers who lived four thousand years ago: Ishmael (modern-day Arabs) and Isaac (the Jews)” (A Christian’s Response to Islam, RiverOak Publishing, 2002).

    Abraham pleaded Ishmael’s case before God, but was told that the everlasting covenant would be with Isaac and his descendants (Gen. 17:19). However, He promised Abraham that He would bless Ishmael and make him fruitful. Ishmael would beget 12 princes and would be made into a great nation (Gen. 17:20) – the Arab nation. Today there are nearly 300 million Arabs constituting a great nation. The Arab League of Nations consists of 22 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. They literally surround the tiny nation of Israel (8,000 square miles). Three hundred million Arab Muslims surrounding 5 million Jews. They control 99.9 percent of the Middle East whereas Israel represents one-tenth of one percent of the landmass. Arabs occupy 5.3 million square miles of oil rich land but are unable to get along with themselves, let alone others. Witness the conflict Iraq and Iran. The Iranians, though Muslim, are Persians. Note: Not every Muslim is an Arab. The most populous Muslim nation on earth is Indonesia. Indonesians are Malays, not Arabs.

    When Ishmael was 16 years old, Sarah caught him mocking Isaac. Once again she made Abraham cast out Hagar and Ishmael, this time for good (Gen. 21:8-14). (Muslims believe they wound up in Mecca where Abraham visited them. He and Ishmael built a shrine, the Ka’bah.) Again God reaffirmed his promise to Hagar that He would make of Ishmael a great nation (Gen. 21:18). Ishmael became a skilled archer and eventually married an Egyptian woman (Gen. 21:20,21). Ishmael became the father of 12 sons (Gen. 25:13-16) and these tribes became known as the Ishmaelites (sometimes called Midianites, Gen. 37:25-28). Isaac had two sons: Jacob (later called Israel) and Esau. Although Esau (like Ishmael) was the first-born, God chose Jacob to receive The Promise (land, name, blessings). Esau, embittered and filled with hatred, linked up with Ishmael, and married Ishmael’s daughter (Gen. 28:9). Jim Gerrish notes, “Like Ishmael, Esau moved into the desert in the area of Mt. Seir, or Edom, to the east of the Dead Sea. There he became the progenitor of multitudes of other Arab peoples. These Arabs were joined by the children of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, in making up many of the inhabitants of today’s Jordan, as well as other parts of the Arab world (Gen. 19:37,38). The bitter rivalry between all these desert peoples and Israel is recorded throughout the Old Testament. Time and time again they came in fury and bitter hatred to destroy Israel. Bible history is replete with the attacks of the Edomites, Ammonites, Ishmaelites, Moabites and hordes of other Arabs against the seed of Isaac and Jacob” (“Islam, Religion of the Other Brother”). The descendants of the six sons of Abraham by Keturah became tribes of people living in what is now Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and other North African nations.

    Psalm 83:4-8 spells out the “clear and present danger” to Israel from the Arab coalition: “They say, ‘Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!’ For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant – the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites…they are the strong arm of the children of Lot.” The Edomites participated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., earning themselves God’s eternal wrath (Obadiah 10-14). Arabs strongly resisted the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:19). They harbor a “perpetual hatred” for the people of Israel (Ezek. 35:5).The stated purpose of vengeful Arab nations has not changed to this day. They are still committed to driving the Jews into the Mediterrean Sea and obliterating the very name of Israel (indeed, one cannot find the name “Israel” on maps made by Arabs today). Yasser Arafat continues to call for jihad against Jerusalem. Palestinian terrorists train young Arab children to be “suicide bombers” and to die as “martyrs” for the cause.

    Arabs, who claim Ishmael as their father, have laid claim to God’s promises to Isaac, saying Ishmael was the son of promise – the one Abraham sacrificed. (The Koran, which came 600 years after the Bible, says the sacrifice took place in Mecca whereas the Bible has Abraham sacrificing Isaac on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem). Why this deliberate and desperate twisting of the Scripture? Why this outright rebellion against God’s Word? Because Arabs are convinced that they are the true heirs of the land God promised to Abraham’s descendants. But the Bible, as we have seen, clearly indicates otherwise (Gen. 13:15; 15:18; 17:7; 26:3,4; 28:13,14; Jer. 31:35,36 et al). Bob Russell writes, “…the Christian faith and the Islamic faith contradict each other at key points. Remember that there is an axiom from logic called the law of non-contradiction. Two statements that contradict each other can’t both be true. Either one or both must be false” (Christian Standard, Sept. 1, 2002).

    Twelve times in Scripture God refers to Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” – never “the God of Ishmael.” Two hundred and three times God is called “the God of Israel” – never “the God of Ishmael.” The nation of Israel is mentioned 2,565 times in 2,293 verses. The Arabians are mentioned a mere ten times. Israel became a nation in 1312 B.C.E., 2000 years before the rise of Islam. “Palestine,” a corruption of “Philistine,” the arch-enemies of Israel, is never mentioned in the Bible. (Herodotus in the 5th century B.C. called it “that part of Syria which is called Palaistine.” Hadrian made it official in the 2nd century B.C.)

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