Just a couple of days ago two Palestinians coming from the West Bank disguised themselves as orthodox Jews and opened fire in a popular place in Tel Aviv. Four people were killed and another five injured. Over the last six months there have been some 75 stabbings by Palestinians on Israelis.
This is actually down from what was happening in Israel. About 16 years ago we had what is called the Second Intifada. This was a rising of up the Palestinians against the Jews. Between 2000 and 2003 73 suicide bombings were carried out from the West Bank. The West Bank is Israeli land that was given to the Palestinians in exchange for peace. Israel gave he Arabs what they wanted in exchange for peace, but the peace did not come. The Palestinians did not carry out their part of the bargain.
Because of these continuous attacks, they built a wall to separate Israel from the West Bank. Those who want to pass into Israel have to go through a security checkpoint. In the next three years from August 2003 to the end of 2006, only 12 attacks were carried out. This is a significant decrease from the previous three years. We learn from this that walls do work. A wall doesn’t stop everything, but it does greatly reduce those crossing the border.
Why does this problem exist? Why does this fighting exist between the Jews and the Arabs? Let’s start by seeing what the Bible has to say on the issue. We will see that it is a family feud. I call it the Ishmael/Isaac family feud. These are the first two sons of Abraham. Ishmael was the first born son. God had promised Abraham a son, but delayed giving him to Abraham. Sarah came up with the idea for Abraham to have a son by her handmaid, Hagar. They tried to help God out and the result was a big problem.
As an interesting sidelight, Abram means father of many. This must have been quite a joke among his servants. Then God changed his name to Abraham, which means the father of a multitude. Think of how this must have been received.
You know the story, he had a son by Hagar and is name was Ishmael. The promise to Abraham was not only that he would have a son, it was that he would have a son by Sarah.
The family feud between the Ishmaelites, the Arabs, and the children of Isaac, the Jews, is a fight over the land because it is part of the covenant that God made with Abraham. The Bible tells us to whom the land belongs. There is no ambiguity in the Scriptures, but the Arabs don’t accept it.
In Genesis 12 we have the Abrahamic covenant, and there is a piece of land attached to it.
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: (Genesis 12:1)
I call this the first title deed. The title deed establishes legal ownership and the boundaries. It is found in Genesis Chapter 15. In this chapter the Lord performs a ceremony. I don’t know if this was an existing practice, or if the custom was established because of what the Lord did here. This is how people would make a contract. They would sacrifice an animal and divide it into two parts. The two people would then walk between the two parts of the animal and this would seal the contract.
It starts in Genesis 15:9 and goes through verse 17. The interesting part is the God causes Abraham to go to sleep and only God passes between the parts of the sacrifice. This is not a bilateral agreement, it is a unilateral covenant. It is up to God to perform the terms and there is no obligation on the part of Abraham.
In Verse 17 and 18 we find something interesting:
And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (Genesis 15:17-18)
The land is given to the seed of Abraham and the boundaries are given. They are from the river of Egypt, the Nile, unto the great river, the river Euphrates. The Euphrates runs through parts of Iraq and Syria. It runs in a north/south direction.
Now lets go to chapter 17 to get a better idea where this land is located.
And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:8)
Now we have a very clear description of where the land is located. Lebanon is to the north, the wilderness is to the south, the Mediterranean on the west, and the Euphrates on the east.
This land is for Abraham and his children. This leaves us with an important question. Abraham has two sons Ishmael and Isaac. The question is, does Ishmael also have a right to this land? God answers that question in this same chapter.
And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. (Genesis 17:18-21)
There is no doubt that Abraham loved his first born son, Ishmael. This passage makes it clear that even though Ismael is the first born son, the covenant is through Isaac. This goes against the normal rules of inheritance of the day where the first born son gets the lion’s share of the inheritance. God’s promise, from the beginning, was to the son born to Sarah.
The Lord answers Abraham’s request for Ismael by promising to bless him and to make of him a great nation also. God, in His grace, promised blessings to both sons, but the covenant was, and is, through Isaac, the son of Sarah.
What is the problem? Don’t the Arabs know and understand this? Yes they know, and understand, but there is a problem. The Qur’an, which comes 600 years after the completion of the Bible, and much later that\n the time of the promise, tells the story differently. The Qur’an makes the promise through Ishmael. It teaches that Ishmael was the one God asked Abraham to sacrificed in order to test his faith.
Because of this distortion in the Qur’an, the Arabs say that the land belongs to them, and the Jews are trying to steal it. This is why they fight.
God has promised the land to Israel, not to the Arabs. Muhammad was an Ishmaelite, and the Arabs are trying to take the land from Israel. As Christians, we should support Israel because Israel is the nation of the covenant.
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