Arabs and the Bible

There are over 160 million Arabs living in the Middle East and North Africa. Most of them are Muslims, but some belong to Christian sects. The Arabs are among the most important people in the world today. This is not simply because the price of their oil affects the living standards of all the industrial nations; more important, it is because the Arabs are part of God’s plan for the future of the world. They are “Semetic” peoples (ie. from Shem) and they trace their history from Abraham, alongside the Jews. Their holy book is called the Koran.

arab.jpgThe Bible has a great deal to say about the Arabs.

Consider the following questions.

  • Why is there always conflict in the Middle East?
  • Why do Arabs dislike the State of Israel?
  • Why do Muslims, Jews and Christians all look to Jerusalm as a holy city?
  • Why do Arabs, Jews and many Christians all claim to be “children of Abraham”?

You cannot answer these questions from the Koran.

When Mohammed founded the Islamic faith in Arabia in the 7th century A.D. and encouraged pagan Arabs to worship Allah, he took many of his ideas from Jewish and Christian teachings, and then added “revelations” which he claimed to have received from the angel Gabriel. Mohammed knew that Abraham was the father of the Arabs, and he believed in many of the great Bible characters. He taught that Jesus was a prophet who went to heaven, and who would one day come back to earth. But the Koran gives us no explanation of how Abraham, the Jews and the Arabs all fit into the divine plan for the Middle East and the world.

Only the Bible can do that. It explains why Abraham and David are very important names in its pages. Jesus, the Son of God, was descended from them on the human side. The first verse of the New Testament is: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham”. Abraham was important because God led him to Palestine, where he became the ancestor of the Jews and the Arabs. The Jews are descended from him through Isaac and Jacob and were promised a permanent home in Palestine. The Arabs, descended from Ishmael and other branches of Abraham’s family were, God promised, to become a people living east and south of Palestine. King David was important because he was the first to make Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State and to extend Israel’s borders into northern Syria and Lebanon and down through Palestine so far as the borders of Egypt, as God had promised to Abraham.

Jesus Christ is the most important of all, Before his birth the angel Gabriel promised: “He will be great and will become the son of the Highest. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:32-33).

Much of the Old Testament is concerned with the sad story of enmity between the two families of Abraham – the Jews and the Arabs. The Bible explains why the Jews were scattered from their land 2,000 years ago, leaving Palestine to the Romans, followed by the Saracens and Turks. But that is not the end of the story. The Bible also forecasts that: The Jews would return to set up the new State of Israel “in the latter years”:

“I will take the children of Israel from among the nations… and will bring them to their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all” (Ezekiel 37:21-22).

Israel will again extend its boundaries into Lebanon, Syria and Jordan:

“To your descendents I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18).

There will be much bloodshed in the Middle East, culminating in the final battle for Jerusalem:

“I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle… Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations” (Zechariah 14:2-3).

Jerusalem will be a holy city for everyone throughout the world:

“Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3)

The Middle East will become fertile and prosperous:

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom” (Isaiah 35:1).

There is a great future for the Arab countries that accept Jesus and for the reorganized State of Israel. There will be peace in the Middle East:

“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt and Assyria… in that day Israel will be a third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth” (Isaiah 19:23-34).

The Bible is a book for people of all nations – that includes Arabs and Jews. Jesus Christ is a descendant of Abraham; but he is also the founder of the Christian relgion and “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Arabs, like other Gentiles, and Israelis, too, can all become the true children of Abraham by believing the Bible and being baptized into the family of Jesus.

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ…. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27-29).

Will YOU decide to become associated with Christ and become a true child of Abraham?

Please think about it NOW. With things as they are in the Middle East there may not be much time left!

– S.G. Owen

(All quotations are from the RSV)

 

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