To say that our world is divided in the present age is a tremendous understatement. Nations are falling and tyrants are rising in their place. Even our very own country, the United States of America, now finds itself completely engulfed in an inner turmoil like we have never before seen, and much of that turmoil revolves around the religion of Islam. A flashpoint of this turmoil is the key debate on how our nation should deal with refugees fleeing from the threat that many see coming from Islam. Is it a matter of national sovereignty, protection of our citizenry, or can it all be addressed through compassion and understanding alone? Is the solution only one of the aforementioned, or can it be all of the above?
To intelligently address this issue regarding Islam, one must first have an understanding of history. Without an understanding of history, any opinion shared is simply one spoken in complete ignorance. Historical fact cannot be allowed to bow to political pressure, ideological hope, or well versed campaign promises. Regardless of the insanity of political correctness, historical fact must be allowed a place on the world stage. Today, I’m not attempting to answer any questions about immigration, refugees, or what I think America should do regarding Middle-Eastern conflict. All I am doing today is examining the origins of that conflict and the birth and mindset behind the religion of Islam. I have given no consideration to the opinions of my congressman, no relevance to the Obama administration or their stance on the issue, and I have no concern for the feelings of those who may become offended when presented with historical accuracy. I’m only concerned with what Scripture has to say about our current situation. Upon removing our heads from the sand, we will find great insight in the reflections of history. So, with that said, let’s take a moment and speak some historical truth, and let’s take that truth from the Bible.
In the book of Genesis, Abraham is promised redemption (Genesis 12:1-3), a son (Genesis 15:3-5), and he is also promised the land of Israel (Genesis 15:18). The nation of Israel came through Isaac, Abraham’s promised son. This was God’s will. Consequently, Abraham fell prey to impatience, persuasion, and doubt concerning the realization of God’s promise of Isaac, and eventually, the promise of the land of Israel. In this haze of doubt, Abraham sinned. At the bidding of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, chapter 16 finds Abraham conceiving a child with Hagar, his wife’s servant (Genesis 16:1-2). And so, we now introduce the child Ishmael into the equation of world events. Conceived in sin, impatience, and distrust of God’s promises, Ishmael still causes tremendous problems for us to this very day. The nation of Israel, the Jewish peoples, and Christ Himself was brought about through Isaac. Ishmael is the father of the Arab peoples and Islam itself. Two children from the same father…forever at odds because of sin.
In Genesis 16, God reveals some promises to Hagar regarding her future, and here, God also defines the characteristics of what kind of man Ishmael will be…
‘The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”’ – Genesis 16:10-12 (ESV)
Even though Sarah encouraged Abraham to father Ishmael with her maidservant, she found immediate displeasure in her choice. Sarah mistreated Hagar. Fourteen year later, following the birth of the promised son Isaac, the mistreatment became so severe that Sarah and Hagar parted ways. It is this dissension and hatred between Sarah and Hagar that defines the troubles between their descendants to this very day. And that trouble is growing…and growing fast.
But where does the religion of Islam fit into this equation? How does Ishmael, Hagar and their departure from Abraham play into what we’re experiencing today?
For a very concise answer to this, let me refer you to the words of author, Joel Richardson, in his book, “The Return Is Near: Strategic Insights Into the Most Important Moment In History”…
“So now we have this story: Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael is a fourteen year old boy. He’s kicked out into the desert but the Lord is faithful. He preserves him. He promises to make him into a great nation. So we read these things and they’re interesting Bible stories but what I’m asking you to do is to put yourself in the position and recognize the fact that in history, in real time, this was a real boy… with real emotions, with a real life. This happened to a little kid named Ishmael. And so what we need to understand is you have this little boy and… he had a dad. He had a mother. He had a family. He had a life. He had an inheritance. And in one day he loses all of these things. He loses his dad. He loses his inheritance. He’s out in the desert. He’s on his own. And that brokenness, that woundedness, that rejection that took place in this little child, today, has been passed on into the religion of Islam.
What do I mean? … Mohammed, the founder of Islam… claims to be a direct descendant of Ishmael and Muslims, today, view themselves as both the physical and the spiritual descendants of Ishmael. And so here you have this story, this incredible event that took place in this child’s life. Two thousand six hundred years after these events took place, a direct descendant of Ishmael named Mohammed birthed forth a new religion into the world. And what does the religion teach? … It teaches God is not a father. God has no Son. And, thirdly, Ishmael, not Isaac, is the heir with regard to the promises of God to the earth. The very things that those issues of rejection and woundedness and brokenness that took place in Ishmael’s life were preserved in that line and two thousand six hundred years later, a man named Mohammed goes into a cave, has an incredibly dark encounter with some sort of spiritual being. It literally chokes the life out of him to where he feels as though he’s going to die, three times this presence comes over him and it demands of him to recite… On the third time, the words of the Qur’an begin to flow forth from his mouth….Mohammed, himself, literally believed that he was demon-possessed. He was suicidal. He was terrified.”
I don’t believe that it could be described any clearer than what is written above. This is the foundation of modern day Islam, a religion built on hurt, rejection and sin.
Islam is a religion demanding a different end result than the one God intends. Islam attempts to rewrite Biblical truth from the perspective of Ishmael, a child who was conceived in sin and cast away from his family. From a spiritual perspective, Islam can be defined as the broken, abandoned and bitter cry of Ishmael. And that cry can be heard quite clearly today.
No consequence of sin, apart from the sin of Adam, which brought about the necessity of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, is felt on a greater level than this sin of Abraham. Let’s be clear…Ishmael and Islam is the result of Abraham’s sin. That sounds like a statement made without compassion, but it is a statement of the truth of Scripture, and it cannot be ignored. The consequences of sin hold tremendous weight. History teaches us this lesson very clearly. It’s of particular interest to me how we arrive so easily at a place that clearly embraces the ignorance of history?
Today, it seems that we are taught to ignore history, specifically Biblical history, and we’re indoctrinated in the teaching that government powers can constrain the flow of hatred, violence and war. We think that if we enact enough legislation, we’re sure that this situation will get better. If we show more compassion, send more money, or maybe send more troops, then we can deescalate the tensions between Islam and the world. We’re offered temporary political solutions to eternally sinful problems. As the conflict between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael rages on, we must understand that the only resolution is found in the return of Christ.
Understanding the Biblical context of the story of Ishmael and Isaac should give us a key insight regarding the abysmal depth of the actual problem. This is not a problem and a conflict that we can ever repair, nor can we contain it. Moreover, please understand that it is a problem that will only get worse. It’s biblical, it’s here, and it’s here to stay until Christ returns to put an end to it. Problems of biblical proportions require solutions of Godly sovereignty. That solution is coming, and it’s coming soon.
Islam believes it is promised the the land of Israel. Muslims are convinced that they, the descendants of Ishmael, hold the rights of the promises of God to His land of promise. Muslims are currently waiting to fully occupy the land of Israel. They are waiting on their promised savior. They call him ‘Mahdi,’ or ‘Imam Mahdi.’ They await this savior, a man they believe will lead them in the conquering of Israel. From the eyes of the Muslim, extremist or not, their occupation of Israel will validate Islam as the true religion and Allah as the one true God.
An inscription called the ‘Shahada’ encircles the interior of the Islamic Dome of the Rock.
It simply says this: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.” The Dome of the Rock is the world symbol of Islam and it’s most holy and sacred place. It sits upon the site once occupied by the Jewish temple. Even more profound, it sits upon the very place where Abraham was prepared to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God. The depth of Biblical importance here is staggering, and it is again reflective of the true depth of the real problem.
Let me encourage you, as this Biblical drama unfolds before us in the very near future, to be aware that all of this is promised. Don’t live in the shadow of fear, but live in the light of truth. Don’t live in the mindless deception that any president or leader can repair this situation. The situation itself screams of the imminent return of Christ. Our focus should not be one of trying to resolve these unresolvable issues. Our focus should remain on our preparation to be raptured out of this world situation, because Jesus is coming…an quickly.
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!