Posted by: Terry | March 25, 2009

Today’s conflict in the Mid-east is no surprise

“You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael.” (Gen 16.11 NIV)

“Top UN official calls for cease-fire between Israel, Hamas in Gaza” this is a headline in today’s Jerusalem Post. For as long as any of us can remember there has been conflict in the Middle East; any cease-fire will be temporary.

The fight over the land of Palestine/Israel began 4,000 years ago when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael. For the first 13 years of his life he was an only child, legally and practically Abraham’s heir. Then God touched Sarah, Abraham’s wife, and she gave birth to Isaac; Ishmael was the oldest but his position as heir was taken from him and given to Isaac.

Ishmael, the child of the slave woman, became the patriarch of conflict. After they were banished his mother found him an Egyptian wife; they had twelve sons. He is the primary progenitor of the Arabs. Mohamed, the founder of Islam, is a descendant of his son Kedar. Ishmael’s daughter Malalath married Esau, Isaac’s son, who also lost his inheritance and blessing to the family of Isaac; the two disgruntled families unite and the scene is set for the conflict we see today. The family feud has never ended.

The Bible is as relevant as today’s news, for the events that take place today are scripted in the eternal plans of our Sovereign God who, “Works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1.11 NIV)

Over the centuries many have pondered and debated as to how the end of all things will work out; they seek to order the events, understand the place of Israel and other countries in the final act of history. Yet after all these years we have as many questions as we started with.

Here is what I know:

  1. The conflict we see in the Mid-east was prophesied and began with the birth of Ishmael and Isaac, which is recorded in Genesis.
  2. Christ promised to return for those who believe in him, that they may be with him in heaven.
  3. At his return he will judge all who have lived, those who have believed in him will receive eternal life, and those who do not believe will not receive eternal life.
  4. He will set up a heavenly kingdom that will last for eternity, free from sin and evil, void of pain and suffering.

The ideas of Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHaye, Joel Rosenberg, David Jeremiah, and many others are fascinating to consider, but I have learned to be cautious about dogmatically echoing any of their views.

  • Jesus will return, we will be caught up with him, and then we will be with him forever. (1 Thessalonians 4.16-17)
  • We do not know when it will happen. (1 Thessalonians 5.1-3)
  • We are to “be alert and self-controlled;” living a life that is honoring to him, serving others, and spreading the Gospel, “while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13 NIV)

I expect that we will all be a bit surprised at how it all actually works out; God has a record of doing things differently than we anticipate. “Amen, come Lord Jesus.”

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Responses

  1. Very interesting reading, Terry. I’ve printed-out several of your blogs (if that’s what they’re called) and will send them to my sister who, at the present time, is no longer able to fellowship with other Christians do to her illness.

    Thanks for your efforts, Terry. You and Trish are appreciated more than you know.


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