And who is like Your people Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people – to make for Yourself a name by great and awesome deeds, by driving out nations from before Your people whom You redeemed from Egypt?   For You have made Your people Israel Your very own people forever; and You, Lord, have become their God.                I Chronicles 17:21-22

The deeply-embedded seeds of the modern Israeli-Arab conflict has roots dating back to the man Abram. Abram of course was later renamed Abraham by God, (Genesis 17:5) and is a man greatly revered by both Jew and Arab, and Christians as well.  To ever begin to understand the present Middle East conflict, we need to understand the history of those in conflict—the Jews and the Arabs. Historians often note the “family” relationship between these two peoples; some even call them “cousins” because both trace their roots to the great patriarch Abraham. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all honor Abraham as one of their patriarchs. Calling him “Religion’s Superstar,” a Time magazine feature article recently stated this fact of Abraham: “He changed history by espousing just one God, and thus became sacred to Muslims, Jews and Christians”. Many theologists theorize that since Abraham is lionized by all three monotheistic religions, perhaps that common thread can be utilized to bring peace and harmony to the world. But a major part of this conflict has to do with the different teachings about Abraham and his sons, and therein lies the roots of this dynamic conflict. In essence, it is a conflict between the teachings of the Holy Bible and the Koran. Thus it is necessary to determine which written record is the record of truth, and which God is the one true God. Unfortunately, many people today think that the Allah and Jehovah are one and the same.

Abraham is indispensable to Christianity, but for a far different reason than he is to Judaism or Islam. Christians hold to the same historical account as the Jews; but Christianity makes a further-reaching conclusion. Christians view God’s interaction and covenant with Abraham as a Divine plan leading up to the first coming of Jesus Christ, an appearance that would see Him becoming the sacrificial Lamb of God to cover the sins of mankind. God’s love for His creation was so infinite that He determined to somehow bridge the immeasurable gap that man had made when he sinned. To this end God made the first covenant with Abraham which included the promise of a future Savior, Jesus, who would come through Abraham’s descendants, in the land of promise.

The Bible tells us Abraham was a Hebrew, who are Jews, He is the father of their nation. He is also called a Jew by Jesus, he is included in the detailed genealogical line of Israel. He is not a Muslim, he did not worship Allah and neither did Jesus worship Allah. For Jesus called himself God’s Son of which Allah has no son. If Abraham is a Muslim then why is all the fighting going on in Israel today? Then Muslims (or Arabs) should embrace Israel as their brothers. The fact is, they are related (Gen.14:13, 39:14 40:15).  The Bible tells us that Abraham was first neither a Jew, Muslim nor a Christian, but came from a pagan family and land called Ur which was in Babylon or modern Iraq (Genesis Genesis 12:1-20).  According to the bible Abraham and his father worshipped idols (Joshua 24:2), but those idols did not speak to him, he heard Yahweh speak and call him away from Ur to the land of Canaan.  When he arrived in Canaan he built an altar to Yahweh at Shechem (Genesis 12:7).    Abraham became a monotheist as God called him away from his family, and he started the Hebrew people according to the ancient revelation found in the Old Testament written by the prophet Moses.

The Bible tells us that Abraham was first neither a Jew, Muslim nor a Christian, but came from a pagan family and land. He became a monotheist as God called him away from his family, and he started the Hebrew people according to the ancient revelation found in the Old Testament written by the prophet Moses.   God speaking to Abraham in Gen. 17:5-7 says,

“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.  I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.  And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. ”

V:9 “And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants.”

This became the Hebrew people, a nomadic tribe that turned into 12 tribes through Jacob, the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham.  Moses said in Gen. 14:13. “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew.”

God had promised a Son to Abraham who would inherit the land which was part of the covenant He promised him in Gen.12. After Abraham had his first son Ishmael, we see Abraham in Gen. 17:18-21 “And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.  And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year,  Gen. 21:12-13 “, for in Isaac your seed shall be called.  Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.”  So God was gracious and gave His blessing to Ishmael who was Sarah’s plan, not God’s plan, Galatians 4:28-29; 4:22-23,  John 8:35-36.

The problem begins here as Muslims do not believe the Bibles testimony that was given by God over 2,000 years before their religion began with Mohammad.  Sura 2:125 “and we covenanted with Abraham and Isma’il,” 2:140 “Or do ye say that Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes were Jews or Christians? Say: Do ye know better than God?”                       Almost each time Isaac is mention Ishmael is given equal prominence as well, and they challenge the Bibles revelation.

The Qur’an teaches it was Ishmael not Isaac that was sacrificed and that Ishmael was the promise, the messenger and prophet “Also mention in the Book (the story of) Isma’il: He was (strictly) true to what he promised, and he was an apostle (and) a prophet. (19:55).  So when they had both submitted their wills (to God), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), Sura 37:103.

“Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!” – thus indeed do we reward those who do right?  For this was obviously a trial, Sura 37:105-106.

This God of Scripture becomes known as the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, Ishmael is not included in this because he was not part of the promise, although God did bless him as part of the family. The Bible records that Isaac was Abraham’s “only son” three times, Gen. 22:2, 12, 16, Gen. 32:9.  “Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the LORD who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you”.

Abraham’s role in Islam is different from that which he plays in either Christianity or Judaism. Arab Muslims trace their lineage back to Abraham through Ishmael. The Koran teaches that Ishmael was the one through whom God’s covenant would be fulfilled.  The Qur’an tells us that Abraham was Muslim, Sura 2:128, 2:131, 2:133.   In the Qur’an it rhetorically states, Sura 2:140 “Or do ye say that Abraham, Ismail,  Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes were Jews or Christians?”  Say: Do ye know better than God?”

Almost each time Isaac is mention Ishmael is given equal prominence as well, and they challenge the Bibles revelation.  ThisB   comes from Abrahams decision to send Hagar and Ishmael away from the family to avoid further conflict.  Prayer is the most powerful weapon against these strongholds of Islam.  Abraham’s story in the Koran is not as extensive as that of the Hebrew account. The Koranic account of Abraham dwells mostly on a struggle going on between Abraham and his father over Abraham’s father’s idol worship. The Koranic Abraham tries to convince his father not to worship these things that cannot see, hear, feel, taste, or smell, so he leaves his father to become a true Allah worshipper and in return for his faithfulness Allah gives Abraham two sons Jacob and Ishmael, with Ishmael being the one that Abraham offered on the altar to Allah.  Interestingly it was the very reason that Abraham could not sense the idols that he chose to follow the voice of Yahweh.

The Commentaries on the Koran indicate that before Ishmael was weaned, Abraham took the child and his mother to Mecca and left them there assuming that Allah would take care of them. Abraham then has a dream that tells him to sacrifice his only son, Ishmael, but before he can do so, God stops him. Later Abraham takes various trips back to Mecca to find out how Ishmael is doing and he builds, with Ishmael’s help, a “House a pilgrimage for men” devoted to Allah.  The Islamic holiday, Qurbani Id (or Id Al-Adha), is known as the “Sacrifice Festival.” Muslims celebrate this “great feast of sacrifice” on the tenth day of the last month of the Muslim year. According to their doctrinal scheme, this day celebrates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son by Hagar, Ishmael, and not Isaac as the Holy Bible records.

This issue is fundamental in understanding the Middle East Conflict and in rightfully examining the story of Abraham. The question is really this: Which book (Bible or Koran) is the revelation of God? Both volumes claim inspiration, but obviously both cannot be inspired. The difference of “Isaac versus Ishmael” is just one of hundreds of discrepancies between the Bible and the Koran. And many of these differences concern crucial themes (the nature of God, the identity of Christ, and God’s plan of salvation). Before one commits to a system of religion, it is necessary to inquire into the source of that religion. If the Bible is from heaven, then Christianity is the true religion. If the Koran is from God, then Islam is the genuine system. Unlike the Koran, the Holy Bible, is made up of a sort of “DNA code,” a set of traits that identifies it as being from God, through self-revelation, from the great I AM Himself. There are a number of identifying characteristics that reveal the Bible’s divine origin. The Scriptures, although recorded by approximately forty human writers, over a period of some 1500 years, contain an amazing unity of purpose and doctrine. This includes many prophecies, and detailed predictions, that are later fulfilled perfectly. Although challenged by the most renowned skeptics, the Bible has been found to be without error, and it keeps proving its own credibility over and over as time passes. Men are ever trying to “catch up” with the Scriptures, as we turn to it for archeological expeditions, and we turn to it to find out what is going to happen in the future.

In studying the story of Abraham and his descendants, we are availed two books. One is flawless and divine. It is the Bible. The other, the Koran, is error-ridden, the product of a self-styled prophet, who was no prophet at all. One encourages us to love our enemies; the other promotes conversion by force and Jihad – “holy war.”   The Bible records that Abraham was willing to offer Isaac. The Koran implies that Abraham was willing to offer Ishmael. The issue is: Which volume is God’s? God’s book is perfect, with a high moral tone. It is filled with marks of divine inspiration that are beyond the possibility of human production. That book is the Holy Bible.

The fanatical cry of the Islamic Jihadists today is, “Ala hu Akbar,” which is not a reference to the greatness of god, but is a direct challenge to the God of Scripture, claiming that the god of Islam (Ilyah or Allah) is greater than Jehovah. The Jihadists believe that by annihilating the descendants of Jacob, (and Christians) that they are hastening the day of the Allah, and the return of the Mahdi ( Islams “messiah”).  While the Bible confirms the blessing of Abraham through his son Isaac, and Jacob, the Bible also offers a promise to the descendents of Ishmael.   Jehovah has promised to bless Ishmael’s descendants and make them a great nation too. Ironically, true to the nature of Allah, the Koran offers no such promises to the descendants of Isaac and Jacob. To the contrary, Allah requires that the seed of Abraham descended from Isaac and Jacob be killed.

Genesis 17:20 “ And as for Ishmael, I (Jehovah) have heard you: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I (Jehovah—not Allah) will make him a great nation. (this is a pledge from the Lord, Jehovah God)”

God has faithfully kept His promise to the descendants of Ishmael. Today there are 21 Arab states with a combined population of 175 million Arabs. The Arab states contain 5.3 million square miles of oil rich land. Sadly, because of their perpetual hatred for Israel, the Arabs have greatly squandered their blessing. But Bible Prophecy conveys that the day will come when Jehovah will turn the hearts of Ishmael’s descendants toward receiving their brother Jacob, and find eternal blessing in the King of Israel. But, before that day comes, Ishmael’s descendants will need to put away their false god Allah. And only Jesus Christ can accomplish such a startling miracle between the Arab and the Jew!

Zechariah 8:23  “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

Understanding Bible prophecy about the Middle East can bring us hope and comfort even as we watch the crisis over the Promised Land escalate, and its underlying geo-political and religious tentacles spread around the whole world. The Bible is full of information that can help us see the current Middle East conflict in the light of God’s plan for end-time world events. It explains many details unknown to the world’s politicians and policymakers. As we will see, it reveals what the ancient rivalry between Abraham’s sons, Isaac and Ishmael, and his grandsons Jacob and Esau means for the Middle East conflict today.

The embattled Promised Land was formerly once known as Canaan’s Land. It is centered in a narrow strip of land that links together three continents. (Asia, Europe, and Africa). It has been the world’s battle zone between competing empires for centuries with historians telling us more blood has been in this land than upon any other place on the face of the earth. At the heart of its conflicts is the struggle of three monotheistic religions that today claim holy places within its narrow borders. It is also the focal point of the supernatural battle between the forces of good and evil, and that fact is the essence of its true significance today. Yet, to ever understand the nature of this conflict one must focus upon both the biblical roots of the conflict and also upon the prophetic setting of today’s conflict. The biblical roots of the conflict center around the promises God made concerning the land, and that story begins with a man called Abraham.   Isaiah chapter 60 is God’s rhema word to me for His land and for His people in these last days.   Please join me in declaring this prophecy so that God’s promises and purposes will be fulfilled.  Jesus died because He loves everyone, Arabs, Jews and Gentiles and His plans and purposes in Israel will be fulfilled according to Ephesians 2:11-18, because His word does not return to Him empty when we declare it, but it accomplishes the purposes for which it was sent.

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