“Now this is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maidservant, bore to Abraham. And these were the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names, by their towns and their settlements, twelve princes according to their nations. These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. (They dwelt from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt as you go toward Assyria.) He died in the presence of all his brethren” Genesis 25:12-18.
God promised Ishmael would be the father of twelve princes. They lived from Havilah (about where Kuwait is now) to Shur (West Sinai, near Egypt).
“Now this is the genealogy of Esau, who is Edom. Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite; Aholibamah the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebajoth. Now Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, and Basemath bore Reuel. And Aholibamah bore Jeush, Jaalam, and Korah. These were the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan. Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the persons of his household, his cattle and all his animals, and all his goods which he had gained in the land of Canaan, and went to a country away from the presence of his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together, and the land where they were strangers could not support them because of their livestock. So Esau dwelt in Mount Seir. Esau is Edom” Genesis 36:1-8.
“The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites” (Psalms 83:6). They are all mentioned together as enemies of Israel. The tabernacles of Edom and the Ishmaelites: Moab and the Hagarenes.
We read, therefore, from the Scriptures about an intermingling of the descendants of Ishmael and Esau which finds its expression in the enmity of these different peoples mentioned in Psalm 83 against Isaac, Jacob – Israel.
Over and above this intermingling is the fact that not only did the dwelling territory of Esau (Edom) and Ishmael overlap making intermarriage possible, but on top of this through Mohammed and the rise and conquest of Islam, the whole Middle East was overrun so that even Egypt lost its pure character and the whole Middle East became Arab speaking and Muslim oriented! We can, therefore, refer to the Arab peoples in general as being descendants of Ishmael.
The promise unto Ishmael
(Genesis 16:10) There are more than 100,000,000 Arabs today!
“And the Angel of the Lord said to her: Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction” (Genesis 16:11). Also, see Isaiah 19:20-22 when in their afflictions, the Arabs/Egyptians will finally call upon the name of the Lord and “shall be entreated by them”:
“And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. Then the Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the Lord and perform it. And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the Lord, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.”
“He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Genesis 16:12). It is amazing how this prophecy seems to be fulfilled in the Arabs, who continually are as wild men fighting one another and yet, in their policy, are always aware of living in one another’s presence and, therefore, always looking to what the other is going to do. An amazing combination of contrast and yet, so fulfilling this unique prophecy.
“And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” Then God said: “… And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation” (Genesis 17:20).
“These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names, by their towns and their settlements, twelve princes according to their nations” (Genesis 25:16).
Which nations? Could they be Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon?
The influence of Mohammed and Islam on the Arabs in history
Mohammed lived in Saudi Arabia and there Islam found its root and beginning. (Both Ishmael and Esau are said to have lived in this region). This land seems to be the leading power in the Arab-Muslim world and is one of the most closed countries to the gospel in our day.
Islam caused the Arab nations to become unified and intermingled. It posed a threat to the Christian world and, later, to restored Israel. This is the situation to this day. The wars against Israel originate more from and Islamic pan-Arabic motivation than a purely Palestinian political motivation. The problem of Palestine and Palestinians is being used for this greater objective – to purify the Arab-Islamic world from any foreign element – first the Jews (Israel) and then the Christians.
Mohammed was born in April 556 A.D. at Mecca, the city which contained the “Kaaba” or holy shrine of the Arabians. A vision was said to have been given him with the aid of “Gabriel”. He went through the different stages of heaven to the seventh level. After this appearance, says Mr. Macbride in “Mohammedan Religion Explained”, there is said to have been an intermission of two years during which he suffered hallucinations and several times contemplated self-destruction. His friends were alarmed and called in exorcists; Mohammed himself doubted the soundness of his own mind. Once he said to his wife, “I hear a sound and see a light: I am afraid I am a Kahin, that is a soothsayer possessed by Satan”. Hadijah replied among others, “You will be a prophet of your nation.” In this morbid state of feeling, he is said to have heard ‘Gabriel’ say he was a prophet of God.
An apt Scripture for this can be found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians when he warns: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Both Mohammed as well as Joseph Smith claimed to see an angel who gave a more final revelation with an additional “holy book”, the Koran and the book of Mormons, both allowing polygamy.
Islam spread over North Africa, Asia Minor, Persia (Iran) and into Spain (Charles Martel stopped them in southern France in Tours in 732 A.D.; in the seventh century, they were stopped at Vienna). From this time, the world’s history became more and more influenced from the West. Especially from the time of the reformation, the major influence came from the Western Christian world. However, with the birth of the state of Israel, the old, dormant enmity of the Islamic Arab world was revived.
The “jihad جهاد ” – spirit of holy war – got a new incentive and ever since, Arab rulers such as Nasser, Gadaffi, King Khaled and others have tried to unite the Arab world through this hatred against Israel for the cause of a purified Islamic pan-Arabic empire.
With the realization of their power through oil, the humiliation of the U.S. and the West through the Islamic revolution by Ayatollah Khomeini, there has come a new and dangerous consciousness of power to the Muslims. There is also a new worldwide missionary endeavor.
This power and principality that 1) enslaves and deceives the Muslim multitudes, 2) threatens with destruction the Jewish State of Israel and 3) endangers the support for Israel from the West through the powerful weapon of oil needs to be dealt with intercessory prayer.
God may have to use the sword of Israel to destroy this power of Islam that came by the sword and through the sword enslaved so many Arabs for whom Christ died, if only they would turn to Him. It is this breaking that is seen in Isaiah 19:1-25 as God’s way to prepare the Arab nations for a new day of blessing:
“And the land of Judah will be a terror to Egypt; everyone who makes mention of it will be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts which He has determined against it. … And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the Lord, and He will be entreated by them and heal them” (Isaiah 19:17, 22).
It is then that the real blessing of the God of Abraham will flow to both Ishmael and Isaac – the two children of Abraham – Arabs and Jews – when the Lord promises:
“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria … In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria–a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance”” (Isaiah 19:23-25)
Together they will be blessed, but as long as Ishmael tries to usurp Israel’s land, he will face judgment.
The wonderful promise, however, is that the Arabs, if they turn to God in repentance and faith, can become truly blessed children by faith of Abraham, Israelites of God through faith in the Messiah. For in Him there is neither Jew nor Arab. In Him both have the same access to God’s blessings.
Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director
International Christian Zionist Center
Republished with the kind permission of Author Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director of International Christian Zionist Center.
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