Summary: What is God’s perspective on the current Middle East Crisis?
Good morning, I’m so glad that you could be here today. I’ve entitled the message “A Biblical Perspective on the Middle East Crisis.” Everybody I know wants to be loved. Even the most independent, monastic hermit wants to know that he or she, at the very least, is not hated. Since 9/11, we have become blatantly aware that there are an endless number of fanatical, Islamic, fascist groups that hate us for the two things we treasure most; our citizenship in heaven and our citizenship as Americans.
Paul Marshall, a Senior Fellow at The Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C. said that there is a hate list. First and foremost on the list is Israel. In fact, the official name of Al Qaeda is the “World Islamic Front for Holy War against Jews and Crusaders.” During the middle Ages, terrible things, atrocities, were committed in the name of Jesus Christ. The perpetrators called themselves, “Crusaders.” So the Islamic mind has associated Christianity with mid-evil Crusaders. More recently, the United States has been hated because of our support for Israel. We are seen as Israel’s body guard.
Now to get a better understanding of what is going on in the Middle East, we need to know the root cause of the problem. The problem with all Middle East peace making is that it doesn’t really address the real issue. Over the past few days we have heard the Lebanese Foreign Minister say, “We’ve done nothing wrong, we are the victims of Israeli brutality. Israel responds with “Hezbollah kidnapped our soldiers and Lebanon supports Hezbollah.” And so it goes—back and forth, just like when we were kids and you would call out to your mother, “Johnny’s hit me, make him stop.” Then Johnny would defend himself by claiming, “She hit me first.” Well the question to be answered is, “Who hit who first?”
The hatred between Middle Eastern nations and Israel predates this current crisis. It even predates the beginning of Islam. In fact, it goes all the way back to Genesis Chapter 12 verse one when God said to Abraham, “Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 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 through you.
We recognize this as the Abrahamic Covenant between God and Abraham. God was saying, “I have chosen to choose you, and you are going to become a blessing to the rest of the world.” And subsequently the world would be blessed through one who would come through the nation of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ. God also told Abraham, “I’m going to give you some real estate”. That real estate was the land of Canaan—today we call it Israel. Then He said, “I’m also going to give you an heir and through the heir this nation will come.” Abraham understood that what God was saying was “I’m going to give you a son”. Well, of course, we know that Sarah was well beyond child-bearing years but still God said “I’m going to give you a son”.
Over time the promise was not yet fulfilled and Sarah became impatient. She suggested to Abraham that he take her handmaiden, Hagar, and through her he could father a child. And Abraham said, “Well, that sounds like God’s will to me— that’ll be okay.” Abraham slept with Hagar, he committed adultery with Hagar, and she conceived and bore him a son and named him Ishmael. Ishmael is the father of all non-Jewish Arab nations.
Later, just as God had promised, Sarah did become pregnant and she bore Abraham a son and named him, Isaac. Therein you have the problem. The people of Israel are descendent from Isaac, the son of Sarah. The people from Middle Eastern nations are descended from Ishmael, the son of Hagar. You imagine the competition, the rivalry in Abraham’s home. It still exists today. The problem in the Middle East is not a problem of who shot who first or who kidnapped whose soldier, or who has shot missiles or who won’t give up property rights. The problem in the Middle East is a theological issue— the descendants of Ishmael have always believed the descendants of Isaac stole their birthright.
Now, as I previously said, Islam has not always been present. It has not always been a Muslim—Jewish problem. Before Islam, a few Arab nations were Christianized, but most were idolatrous or paganistic. In the 7th century, Mohammed established the Islamic faith.
What are the basic beliefs of the Islamic faith? First, Islam does acknowledge Jesus, Moses and David as prophets. But they believe Mohammed is the latest and greatest prophet of God. They believe that the Septuagint, Torah, Psalms and the four Gospels are to be revered as sacred writings. But they believe that the Quran is the absolute and final word of God because it was revealed to the latest and greatest prophet Mohammad through the angel Jibraeel.