The Arab/Israel conflict, or the Isaac/Ishmael conflict, goes back many centuries. It goes back to a family squabble between two half brothers, both of them son’s of Abraham. It is a fight over what is sometimes called the Holy Land or the Promised Land. It is called the land of Canaan in the Bible, and today some call it Palestine.
Our headlines are filled with this conflict, and the biggest issue is, to whom does the land belong? The rest of this week I want to shine the light on this conflict.
As Christians we are very familiar with Isaac. We have studied his lineage, and we know that the Jews are his descendants. Most of us don’t know too much about Ishmael. We do know some about his beginning and we fault Abraham for his lack of faith that resulted in Ishmael’s birth. We know that God promised a son to Abraham, and when the son did not come when Abraham expected him to come, Sarah came up with a plan to help God.
Let’s take a look at Ishmael and see who he is. He was the firstborn son of Abraham. In ancient culture, there are a lot of rights that go to the firstborn son. He was heir to the wealth of his father, and he got a double portion if the inheritance. The firstborn son was a very privileged person.
Isaac was not the firstborn son, but the promised blessing does not go to Ishael, it goes to Isaac, the son of Sarah. He was not the firstborn son, but he was the son of promise.
This gives us some insight to the conflict between these two sons of Abraham. We will see how this plays through in today’s society.
Ishmael’s father was Abraham, and his mother was an Egyptian, her name was Hagar. We find a description of Ishmael in Genesis Chapter 16.
And he will be a wild man; his hand [will be] against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. (Genesis 16:12)
He is described as a wild man. He is a man who’s hand is against every man, and every man’s hand is against him.
Ishmael is not the father of the religion of Islam, it didn’t start until 600 years after Jesus Christ. However, Muhammad is of the seed of Ishmael, and Islam comes from Muhammad. We find the same traits in Muhammad and the religion of Islam that we see in Ishmael.
Muslims have, for centuries, lived a nomadic lifestyle. They have been kind of wild and untamed. They are uncultured to some extent. Although some are trying to credit Islam with some discoveries and cultural advances, a true study of history shows that there is not much progress that can be attributed to this religion. The truth is, Islam has claimed the discoveries of the people they conquered as their own. It is claimed that Islam gave us algebra and higher mathematics when, in fact, Islam stole it from those it conquered. There is one of the arts that I believe we can contribute to Islam, and that is caligraphy. It can be shown that the beauty of this style of writing our letters does come from this people.
We are also told that Ishmael will dwell in the presence of his brethren. The meaning of the Hebrew word translated presence is, in the face of his brethren. We use the expression, “you’re in my face” to mean someone is invading our personal space in an antagonistic manner. The brethren of Ishmael are the descendants of his half brother, Isaac, the Jewish people.
There has been and antagonism between the Jews and the Arabs through the centuries. The Arab people are the descendants of Ishmael and the Jews are the descendants of Isaac.
Ishmael was around 13 years old when Isaac was born. We get the indication that this was the age of Ishmael when Isaac was born from Genesis 17:25.
And Ishmael his son [was] thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. (Genesis 17:25)
Something happened in Genesis Chapter 21. I am not going to get into all the details today, we have covered this in the past. When I first heard what I am going to allude to, I questioned it, but further study gives it some credence.
And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. (Genesis 21:9)
What Sarah saw was something that really upset her. It seems to be more than just making fun of Isaac.
The Hebrew word translated “mocking” is found 5 times in the Scriptures. The majority of the times it is used, there is a sexual connotation attached to it. The English word would be that he was “buggerizeing” Isaac. In America we would say he sodomized him.
Whether this is what is meant or not, whatever Sarah saw cause her to demand Abraham to put Hagar and Ishmael away from them. This is the second time that Hagar left with Ishmael. The first time she left of her own accord, but this time she was kicked out. The Lord provides for Hagar and Ishmael by showing them where there is a well.
This conflict between the Arabs and the Jews has to do with real estate, or land. In Genesis 12 we have the land that was promised to Abraham’s descendents. This is where the story of the relationship between God and Abraham starts. The theme that starts here, continues until the end of the Bible. It is called the Abrahamic Covenant.
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)
We see that the Abrahamic Covenant is rooted in this piece of real estate that God is going to give to him. This is very important because it is God’s covenant with Abraham. The theme of the Bible is the relationship between God and the family of Abraham, and the relationship between the rest of the world with this family. The land is central to this covenant.
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: (Genesis 12:2)
Verse 3 tells us why America’s foreign policy since the establishment of Israel has been to support this small nation. We have followed this policy until the last 8 years under the Obama administration.
And 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)
Although Abraham had other sons, Isaac and Ishmael have been the focus of our attention.
Tomorrow we are going to look at the three title deeds to the land of Israel. I hope you will be back to learn what they are, and what they say.
The Arab/Israel Conflict – Part 2
The Arab/Israel Conflict – Part 3
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