We have been discussing recent events in the Arab world. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Jordan , Saudi Arabia, Dubai, among others are being shaken by massive, violent, popular demonstrations. Governments are falling, factions are being emboldened, and as in the late 1980’s in Eastern European Soviet ruled nations, fear of brutal leaders is dissolving.
There are two things these Middle Eastern nations have in commo; they are Arabic, and they are majority Muslim, and in the midst of a revival of fundamentalist Islam. That is why the so-called “democratic” aspect of these upheavals is meaningless. As we have seen reently in Egypt, Islamist candidates will win popular elections in those nations, for those who live there believe that their current governments aren’t sufficiently Islamic .
This underscores the fact that there is a profound spiritual dimension to these events. We must look to the Word of God to see these upheavels from a God centered perspective. God has much to say about the Arab people for the prophets of the Bible foretold in great detail, the origin and final end of the Arab people.
There is a mixture of hope and gloom in the prophetic scenario. The sons of Abraham, Ishmael and of Esau play a prominent role in the Last Days scenario, some are slated to survive and be blessed of God, and others are headed for total destruction, even into the thousand year reign of Christ.
We Start in Genesis, in the story of Abraham. God promised the patriarch that He would make him “the father of a multitude of nations”, and that of his seed, every family on earth would be blessed.
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: 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 12:2-3)
The problem with this promise is that Abraham was sterile and his wife was barren and the couple were in their seventies. When the God of the Bible wants to create a new nation to be his witnesses on the earth, He doesn’t select a young virile couple in their twenties. He instead chooses an old barren couple,”as good as dead”, so that in their fruitfulness, He alone gets the glory! God gives life to the dead, and calls those things that are not, as though they were.
But Abraham and Sarai his wife began to doubt the promise after many fruitless years. They began to reason as to how this promise could be fulfilled, til they came up with what seemed to be a legitimate way to make it work.
Abraham had acquired a handmaiden from the land of Egypt, named Hagar. She was young and fertile, and it was considered legal according to the laws of the land in those days to have a child by one’s handmaid, as an heir.
Abraham slept with Hagar, she conceived, and in her pregnancy she became haughty towards Sarai.This caused a lot of strife in the home, for Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar.
And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.(Genesis 16:3-6)
Late in her pregnancy, the harsh treatment became so unbearable for Hagar, she fled Abraham’s home, out into the wilderness. It was there in the howling wasteland, that Hagar encountered an Angel, who named the yet unborn child Ishmael,ie ”God has heard”, and sent Hagar back to Abraham’s camp, to bear Abraham’s first-born son.
That son, Ishmael, is the father of the Arab people. So significant is Ishmael, that like Jesus,Samson, and John the Baptist, he too was named by an Angel before he was even born.
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. 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 16:11-12)
The character of the Arab people is here prophetically described, in the first book of the Bible;
- The divinely assigned name, Ishmael – means either “God hears” or “He will hear God”. Not all Arabs are the direct physical descendants of Ishmael, but through Islam they are in spiritual affinity with Ishmael’s disenfranchisement from Abraham.
*A Wild Ass of a man – The literal rendering of KJV’s “Wild man”. This is not meant to be taken as an insult, for to a desert dwelling people, the wild ass represents toughness, virility, fierce independence, and unbrokenness. All of the qualities one would require to survive in a harsh and unforgiving environment.
- His hand will be against every man and every man’s against him – Ishmael would be warlike, he would not submit to others who try to dominate him, and he would seek to dominate others.
- He will dwell in the presence of his brothers – This is the prediction that Ishmael would not only be at war with all other nations, but that he would be unable to have peace even with his own brothers. This passage can be interpreted as “He will dwell in the face of his brothers”.
- Arab would be at war with Arab. To this day the prophecy holds true. Arabs, when not fighting outsiders, fight each other. “An enemy of my enemy is my friend, and a friend of my enemy is my enemy”, goes an Arab proverb. He shall ever live ‘in the face of his brothers’.
*The Arabs would be a powerful, populous people - The Angel who appeared to Hagar in the desert , prophesying Ishmael’s birth, also predicted that the Ishmaelites would be an exceedingly numerous people.
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.(Genesis 16:10)
History has proven this prophecy to be true, the Arabs are the independent, fierce, unbroken survivors that the Angel said they would be. They have also multiplied into a great nation, there are hundreds of millions of Arabs, there are 22 Arab nations in the middle east and North Africa, and through Islam, Arab culture is predominant in 57 nations of the world.
But it is also a truism that the Muslim/ Arabs have an inability to live in peace. Contrary to contemporary “wisdom” there is no place on earth where Islam has ever wrought any kind of peace, other than the peace of the dead! When the Arabs are not at war with the rest of the world, they are fighting among themselves. Arab against Arab, and Muslim against Muslim is the rule and not the exception.
And the Muslim/Arabs have a fierce, unyielding hatred for their younger brother Isaac (ie Israel).
The Muslim narrative of how the Arabs came to be and who exactly the promised one of God would be, takes the perspective of Ishmael. There is a Muslim feast called Eid Al Adha , which celebrates the sacrifice of Ishmael, for Islam claims Ishmael to be the chosen one. I recently heard that the word “Saracen” means, “emptied of Sara”, from Hagar’s complaint “Sara has sent us away empty”!
Islam is definitely of a spiritual affinity with Ishmael.
Ishmael was thirteen years old, the “seed of Abraham” and the firstborn , and heir to Abraham’s blessing, when the promise of God was fulfilled in truth, for Sarah did conceive and gave birth to Isaac, whose name means laughter, because his mother laughed at the prospect of conceiving him.
Ishmael and his mother Hagar teased and tormented little Isaac to the point that Abraham was instructed by God to kick Ishmael and his mother out of the house! The false heir had to make way for the true heir to the promise of God.
It is this disenfranchisement that is the source of the utter hatred and complete malice the Arab Muslim world harbors towards Israel. Islam nurtures the original grievance of Ishmael and Hagar his equally disenfranchised mother.
The scripture calls this hatred, “the perpetual hatred”, and predicts that this hatred of Ishmael for Isaac, and of Esau for Jacob, will be the catalyst for the final judgments to come down upon the whole world.
Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end:Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee.(Ezekiel 35:5-6)
We will look next at another development in the formation of the Arab people ,also recorded in Genesis, and pertaining to the future events unfolding now, in the prophesy concerning Esau.