And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord. And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.(Genesis 25:21-23)
In our last article we established the fact that though the Bible doesn’t mention the world religion of Islam by name, the revelation of God, given to the Hebrew prophets certainly anticipates it. The prophecies of the scripture revolve around three related subjects, Israel, the Messiah Jesus, and the Eschaton, (last things, end times).
Every other subject in prophecy is incidental to these things. Any people groups or events are prophesied to the extent that they are related to any or all of the above three subjects.
The first Biblical connection with the religion which would one day dominate one out of five people in the world and posture itself as the ultimate rival to the Judeo Christian civilization, is in the story of Abraham,Ishmael and Isaac.
The Muslim faith takes upon itself the offense and resentment of Hagar and Ishmael, who thought that they had been disenfranchised and their pre-eminent position as the fist born of Abraham usurped by Isaac, the actual child of God’s promise, having been born of barren and aged parents, Abram and Sarai.
In Islamic scripture Abraham and Ishmael build Mecca and visit the Kaaba there together. The Muslims have an annual feast to commemorate the sacrifice of Ishmael to Abraham’s God.In the Koranic account everything is told from Ishmael’s point of view.
The revelation of God to Moses in Genesis continues to anticipate the rise of Islam, in the story of Isaac’s twins, Jacob and Esau. Rebecca, Isaac’s wife had been having trouble in pregnancy, an unusual amount of movement in the womb. The answer from the LORD?
Two nations are struggling in your womb…
The surface answer would be that the prophecy is that of the future of the nations of Israel and of Edom. Edom, the firstborn, became a well established nation with a long line of Kings long before the sons of Jacob emerged from slavery in Egypt. Israel was forged into a nation through the Exodus and subsequent history. The two nations were bitter and constant rivals.
…Two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels…
I believe that this indicates something more than a mere repetition. This prophecy echoes the ‘seed of the woman prophecy’ of Genesis 3 in which there are two distinct ideas expressed.
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.(Genesis 3:15)
There is a corporate seed of the woman, ever at odds with a corporate seed of the serpent. Humanity would either be in an affinity with the serpent or with the (now believing) woman. Those in affinity with the serpent, who share in the unrepentant pride and God rejecting arrogance of the devil will ever persecute those who come to some kind of fear of God and faith in the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
There is also an individual seed of the woman, the Messiah, a virgin born Saviour, who has been appointed by God to crush the Serpent’s head , though not without pain and suffering (He shall bruise thy heel).Eventually the individual ‘seed of the serpent’ will emerge also, who is destined to lead the final rebellion, and to be destroyed at the apocalypse of our Saviour.
In the prophecy of Jacob and Esau we see the same double meaning. Two nations, Edom and Israel shall be rivals and at odds with each other.
But the prophecy to Rebecca maintains that two manner of people will emerge.
Subsequent history has confirmed this to be true.Currently about half of the population of the earth is Monotheistic, divided almost equally between Judeo Christianity, and Islam. Two manner of people, with two radically different worldviews.
The religion of Jacob, based upon the revelation of the God of the Bible, has developed into Judaism, and Christianity and thus God brought many nations into the Judeo Christian influence. There are more than a billion people today who consider themselves either Jewish or Christian.
Esau and Ishmael’s line intermarried, and religiously progressed from polytheistic paganism, into a stage of Jewish proselytism, and eventually many of the descendents of Esau became Christian. But ultimately Islam came to dominate the Middle East, and the Arab neighbors of Israel for the most part became Muslims. They in turn would spread Islam throughout the world by conquest.
Thus two powerful spiritual nations have emerged, the Ummah of Islam and Judeo Christian civilization. One would be stronger than the other, but Esau would ultimately be made to serve Jacob, either voluntarily by conversion, or involuntarily by subjugation of culture. This struggle would define the future course of history, until the very end of times.