Peace Between Arab and Jew
September 21st, 1975 @ 10:50 AM
PEACE BETWEEN ARAB AND JEW
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-21-75 10:50 a.m.
In our preaching through the Book of Isaiah, we have come to chapter 19. And the message this morning is an exposition of verses 18 to the end of the chapter. The sermon is entitled, the exposition is entitled Peace Between Arab and Jew. I read now one of the most remarkable, and astonishing, and unbelievable prophecies in the Word of God; Isaiah 19, beginning at verse 18:
In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of hosts; and the city of idolatry shall be called the City of Destruction.
In that day there shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord.
It shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and God shall send them a Savior, a Mighty One, and He shall deliver them.
And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptian shall be known to the Lord in that day, and they shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow before the Lord, and perform it.
And the Lord shall smite Egypt: He shall smite and heal it: they shall return even to the Lord, and He shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them.
In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve God with the Assyrians.
In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:
Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance.
First, we look at the people – the nations that concern this golden prophecy – Israel, Israel as a state and as a nation. Had this prophecy been read a few years ago, a critic could have said, "It is folly wide the mark. It is impossible a realization, for there is no state of Israel, nor has there been for centuries and centuries." But God says, "The people will return to the land. And there will be a nation in Palestine called Israel" [Ezekiel 34:13]. And in our very lifetime, we have seen that prophecy of God come to pass.
So the prophecy concerns the state of Israel. It concerns the bitter enemies of Israel, and the enemies of each other. It concerns Egypt, the people of the Nile, and it concerns Assyria [Isaiah 19:18-25]. Today we don’t know Assyria by that name because the great empire has been broken up. Today we would say Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia; or as the newspapers lump them together, the Arab world.
The prophecy concerns the bitter enemies, merciless and cruel, of Israel. For to the north of the state of Israel was Assyria, the Arab world, and to the south of Israel was Egypt. And between those two great empires, in the ancient day, Israel was a common battlefield. She was invaded, and ravaged and destroyed, and taken captive by first one, and then the other.
The story of the ancient empires of the world is a story of the merciless, ruthless, ravaging of the people of God. From the South, from Egypt, from the pharaohs there was Shishak, and Zerah, and Taharqa, and Pharaoh Necho, who slew good King Josiah, and finally, the Ptolemies.
From the North, from Assyria, there was Tiglath-Pileser, and Shalmaneser, and Sargon, and Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal, and finally, the Seleucidae, one of which was Antiochus Epiphanes, who laid the foundation in desperation of the Maccabean Revolt. The ancient story has been nothing other than the cruel and merciless ravaging of the state of Israel. Nor has the modern prophecy of the state been any different. Our Lord said, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate" [Matthew 23:38].
And the modern story of Israel has been the same record of tears, and agony, and torment. There has been no moment in the state when they did not face either the prospect of war, or were engaged in conflict: in 1948 and , the War of Independence; in 1956, the Sinai-Edict War; in 1967, the Six-Day War; in 1970, the War of Attrition; and in 1973, the Yom-Kippur War. And even now, the secretary of state of the United States is seeking, by might and main, and by day and night, to avoid another tragic and disastrous conflict in the Middle East.
The story, from ancient day to modern day, throughout the centuries, and the millennia, has been one of bloodshed, and of misery, and of agony, and of torment. Israel, surrounded by fifty million hostile Arabs, and they, a tiny country of less than three million Jews; can you imagine therefore, it is hard to realize the pertinency of this prophecy that such a thing should ever come to pass [Isaiah 19:18-25].
For the prophet lifts up his eyes to the golden tomorrow, to the day of the millennial kingdom of our Savior; and thus, does he write: in that marvelous, golden tomorrow, "the land of Egypt shall speak the language of Canaan" [Isaiah 19:18], that is, the language of Zion, the language of the people of God. "And they shall swear to the Lord of hosts" [Isaiah 19:18], that is, they shall pledge alliance to the great God of the universe. "And in that day, there shall be an altar to the Lord in the land of Egypt, and a pillar," that is, the Egyptian obelisk, "and a pillar at the border,and it shall be for a sign and a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt" [Isaiah 19:19-20]. That is the great obelisk – erected at the border, between Egypt to the south and Israel to the north – is to be a great sign and a witness that both nations and both people worship the great God Jehovah:
For Egypt shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and God shall send them a Savior, a Mighty One –
even the Lord Christ –
and He shall deliver them. And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptian shall know the Lord in that day. They shall bow down to the Lord, and perform it. And the Lord shall smite Egypt.
"Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son that belongs to Him" [Hebrews 12:6]. Egypt shall be smitten because of her transgressions. God shall smite it; "but He shall heal it,and they shall return even to the Lord, and He shall be entreated of them [Isaiah 19:22],.and in that day," those two bitter enemies of the ancient day and the merciless, cruel oppressors of Israel:
In that day there shall be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian shall go into Assyria, and the Egyptian shall serve God with the Assyrian. And in that day, Israel shall be third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the world.
Not a cause of friction or of war, or of nuclear confrontation, but a blessing in the midst of the earth.
Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying; Blessed
be Egypt My people, and blessed be Assyria the instrument
in My hands, and blessed be Israel Mine inheritance.
Israel, as belonging especially and particularly unto God, as the leader of the devoted, praiseworthy life of the nations and peoples of the world; can you imagine such a thing as that; that the time would ever come when there shall be peace, and tranquility, and comradeship, and communion between Israel and those bitter enemies who seek the destruction of her state and of her life? Yet this is the golden prophecy of the golden millennial tomorrow. What is this that God is promising to the Arab world? Ah! We have a persuasion that somehow God forgets His covenants, for you see, the years pass and the centuries pass, and the promises are not fulfilled.
Do you remember in 2 Peter, in the [third] chapter, the prophet says, the apostle says, that there shall come in the last days, scoffers, walking after their own unbeliefs, saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning" [2 Peter 3:3-4].
I don’t see any clouds rolling by. I don’t see any descending shekinah glory. I don’t see the sky roll back like a scroll [Revelation 6:14]. And I don’t see Christ, descending in power with His holy angels from heaven [Matthew 25:31]. And because the years pass, and the centuries pass, and sometimes millennia pass, therefore, we think God forgets His holy covenant. No. No, it may be time, and times, and half a time; but He never forgets. And this prophecy concerns a covenant that God made with Abraham for his son, Ishmael. You see, all of the Arab world looks to Ishmael as their patriarch and father. They follow Mohammed, the prophet, in that. They look upon themselves as the descendants of Ishmael, as the Jews look upon themselves as the descendants of Isaac and Israel. And in the Scriptures, always the Arab is looked upon and is referred to as a descendant of Ishmael.
What is this covenant and this holy promise that God made with the Arab world? We read it plainly and extensively in the Book of Genesis. In the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis: Sarai, who was barren, brought to the bosom of her husband Abraham, her Egyptian maid named Hagar and asked that by Hagar she might have a son. Abraham harkened to the voice of his wife and became the father of a child in the womb of Hagar [Genesis 16:1-4].
And when Hagar saw that she had conceived and was heavy with child, Sarai was envious of her and jealous of her. And Hagar looked with superiority and distain upon her mistress [Genesis 16:5]. So Abraham and Sarai sent Hagar away. And as she wandered in the Negev, in the south of the desert, the Angel of the Lord spake to her and said, "Hagar, heavy with child, you are to call his name Ishmael, ‘God hears’ [Genesis 16:6-11]. And God promises to make of the boy a great nation and to multiply his seed, exceedingly [Genesis 16:10]. But go back and submit yourself to your mistress that the child might be brought up in the home of Abraham" [Genesis 16:9]. So Hagar returned, in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis [Genesis 16:15-16].
And in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, the lad is thirteen years of age [Genesis 17:25], and God makes with Abraham a holy covenant, an "Abrahamic covenant" [Genesis 17:7-14]. And in that covenant, God says, "Sarai, your sterile and barren wife – though she is ninety years of age [Genesis 17:17] – shall give birth to a child. And in his seed shall the great Messiah be born" [Genesis 17:15-19]. But Abraham waits before the Lord, and he says, "O God, that Ishmael might live in Thy sight that the covenant might be in Ishmael" [Genesis 17:18]. And God replies, "No, it will be of a child born in Sarai. But I have heard thee regarding Ishmael, and I will bless him. And I will make of him a great nation and a great people and I will multiply him exceedingly. And he shall be the father of twelve princes of twelve nations" [Genesis 17:20].
Then, in that same seventeenth chapter, Isaac is to be born, "Laughter," a miracle of God; Abraham, a hundred years old, and Sarai, ninety years old. And they laughed when God said they would have a child, so they called the name of the lad, "Laughter," Isaac [Genesis 17:15-19].
And the little boy, Ishmael, thirteen years of age [Genesis 17:25], mocked Isaac and ridiculed him, and made fun of him. And the mother, Sarai, said, "This child shall not inherit in my home. Cast her out with her son" [Genesis 21:9-10]. So the second time Hagar was cast out, this time with a lad thirteen years of age. And wandering in the desert of the south, she laid the boy under the shade of a desert plant and hid her face that she might not see the boy die [Genesis 21:14-16]. And while Hagar wept and cried before the Lord, God visited her a second time. And God repeated that covenant that He made with Abraham regarding Ishmael, "He will be a great man. And he will be the father of many people. And I will bless him, exceedingly" [Genesis 17:20, 21:16-18].
And in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Genesis, Ishmael and Isaac are together burying their father Abraham [Genesis 25:7-10], and in that chapter is recounted the greatness of Ishmael. He is the father of twelve sons, as Jacob-Israel was the father of the twelve patriarchs [Genesis 25:12-16]. And he is the father of one daughter who married Esau [Genesis 36:3]. And thus was laid the foundation for the great Arab community, as we know it today. And God is remembering His covenant promise to Ishmael. "He also," God said, "will be greatly blessed" [Genesis 17:20]. And I and you are beginning to see the favor and blessing of God upon the descendants and the children of Ishmael.
I was in a plane, flying along the coast of the Persian Gulf. To my right was the most wasted of desert lands. I said to the steward, "What country is that?" And he replied, "That is Saudi Arabia, desolate and barren, the home of the Arab." Later I was in a great jet, following the coast of the Red Sea. And to my left, was the most desolate and wasted of all desert lands. I have flown across the Sahara, from one side to the other, twice. I have never seen a land more desolate than this, to my right, to my left, following the Red Sea. And I said to the steward, "What land is that?" And he replied, "That is the country of Saudi Arabia, the second richest nation in the world." Next to the might of industrial United States of America is Saudi Arabia, a wasted and a desert land, the home of the children of Ishmael. Who put that oil there – billions, and billions, and billions of barrels of it? God put it there; the Lord God in heaven placed it there. It is a part of the covenant that God made with the children of Ishmael: "They, also, shall be greatly blessed."
Those people have a way that is astonishing to me, being from the West. In Beirut, we were buying a rug from an Arab. And in the middle of the much talking, he stopped, walked away, and out the front door of the great warehouse over which he presides. Just out of curiosity, I followed him. Strangest thing; in the middle of a discussion of a price for a rug, a Persian rug, just walk out. I followed him out. He went outside, He unrolled a little rug about three by five, and he pointed it toward Mecca. And bowing down, this child of Ishmael, prayed at the stated hour in the morning. I haven’t seen any Christian do that. There is something about those people that kind of makes you think of the worship of God. This prophecy is a calling to remembrance. And what we see in the world today is a calling to remembrance of the sacred covenants of the Lord God Almighty.
Will it always be that those cousins, the Jew and the Arab, hate each other, and war against each other, and fight against each other, and seek the destruction of each other? Will it always be like that? And will it always be that the western and eastern Gentile worlds will be caught in the maelstrom and face annihilation in some kind of atomic confrontation? Is that the way, we are to live forever and ever – no peace, no quiet, no future, except one of blood, and horror, and suffering, and agony, and torment, and death? Is that the tomorrow?
The prophet lifts up his voice and he prophesies of the glorious millennial kingdom of our Savior. Who will be in it? The Jew will be in it; he will be first. He will lead the nations as the priests of God, in the spiritual service of the great Almighty. You have his conversion described in Zechariah, chapters 12, 13 and 14. If we had hours, we’d look at these things. They are so pertinent; they belong to us this hour [Zechariah 12-14].
The prophet says that there is coming a time when the Lord Christ Messiah Jehovah shall appear to the nation of Israel [Zechariah 14:9]. You see, they are back in the land; they’re back in the land. They are gathered from the east and the west; they are back in the land, and God says that the Lord Jehovah Christ Messiah will appear to His own brethren. And they will ask, "Where did You get those scars in Your hands and in Your feet?" And He will reply, "From My own people" [Zechariah 13:6]. "I came into My own; and My own received Me not" [John 1:11].
And the prophet says that seeing Him whom they have pierced, they will wail because of Him [Zechariah 12:10]. They will cry in repentance. And there will be a great mourning, as the mourning at Hadad-rimmon; that is, at Megiddon, when the nation cried and wept over the slaying of good King Josiah by pharaoh Necho [Zechariah 12:11]. It will be a mourning like that, when every soul in Israel cries before God and repents of his sin, and receives the Lord Jesus as Savior [Romans 11:26].
Then shall come to pass, one of the strangest verses in the Bible, in Roman 11:26, "And so all Israel shall be saved." Think of that! A whole nation born in a day [Isaiah 66:8], when the covenant of God with the children of Isaac is faithfully remembered, and God turns away unbelief from Jacob [Romans 11:26]. And the people come in trust, and in reception, and in belief before the Lord Messiah Christ. "For the gifts and calling of God," says the apostle, "are without repentance" [Romans 11:29], that is, without change. God never forgets His promise, and He has a promise to the Jew. He will be saved, and he will be the leader of the spiritual worship of the nations of the earth in that great and millennial day. But there are others also who are saved. Look at the prophecy:
For Egypt shall cry unto the Lord in the day of their oppression. And God shall hear them. And God shall send them a Savior, the Mighty One, and He shall deliver them.
What a glorious prophecy! Christ, in His millennial kingdom shall include in it also the children of Ishmael – the Arab world – the whole Arab community. And they will repent, and they will trust in the Lord, and they will be saved! "They shall bow down unto the Lord, and keep it" [Isaiah 19:21-22], they shall pledge alliance to the great King who is coming. Think of it!
For the love of God is greater than the measure of man’s mind.
And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
["There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy"; Frederick Faber, 1866]
God has a purpose, and a program, and a design for the Arab as well as the Jew. And in time He shall bring to a consummation that glorious tomorrow.
But what of us? I am not a child of Ishmael, I am not an Arab; I am not a child of the covenant. I’m not a child of Isaac, or of Israel; what about us, who are Gentiles? Would you listen, just once again, to the prophecy of Isaiah? Look:
Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and His
Holy One –
the Lord Christ –
I will give Thee for a light to the Gentiles –
that they may be saved –
Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful, and because of the Holy One –
the Christ of Israel –
Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I succored thee.
And that is the great text of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians, chapter 6, verses 1 and 2. He extends His hands and His arms, outstretched in the name of God to the Gentiles, to us. And He says, "Thus saith the Lord, in a time acceptable have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee" [2 Corinthians 6:1-2].
Then the apostle pleads, "Behold, now is the accepted time for us; behold, now is the accepted day for us" [2 Corinthians 6:2]. We who are Gentiles, the covenant of the Lord is extended wide to us; we also can be saved. We can belong to the covenant children of God by faith in the great Redeemer and Savior, Christ Jesus: "A light to the Gentiles," even to us [Isaiah :6].
So the black man, an eunuch – the treasurer of Ethiopia – stands in the presence of the evangelist of the gospel of the Son of God. And he asks him, "I am black. My skin is black. I am a dry and a dead branch, I am an emasculated man; can I be saved? Could I be baptized into the family of God?" And Philip answered and said, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest" [Acts 8:37]. And he was baptized into the family of God, with his black skin, and his dead, emasculated body [Acts 8:38].
And the centurion says to the apostle Peter, "I am the leader of an occupation army, hated and despised; could I be saved?" And in his message to the household of Cornelius, Simon Peter replies, "To Him give all the prophets witness ,that whosoever believes in His name should receive remission of sins" [Acts 10:43]. And the household of Cornelius is added to the kingdom of God – Gentiles! [Acts 10:44-48].
And the Philippian jailer, cruel beyond duty or assignment, falls down before Paul and Silas and cries saying, "Is it possible? Could I be saved?" And they replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" [Acts 16:31]. And Lydia, the merchant woman, bowing before the apostles and emissaries of Christ says, "Could it be that a woman could be saved and added to the kingdom of God? Could I be worthy that you come under my roof and stay in my house?" And the apostle replies, "This day is salvation come to the household of Lydia, the merchant woman" [Acts 16:14-15].
And in faraway Rome there is an escaped slave, the penalty for which is crucifixion. The Romans invented it for that purpose, the cruelest death man has ever devised. In faraway Rome, there is a runaway slave who escaped from his master, and took his master’s possessions, robbed his master and fled across the Roman Empire to the eternal, imperial city [Philemon 1:10-17].
And in that city Onesimus, the runaway slave, found Christ as his Savior as Paul won him to the faith of Jesus. And Paul lays in the hands of Onesimus, the runaway slave, a letter to his master in Colosse – in the Roman province of Asia – his master, named Philemon.
And when Philemon opened the letter, delivered to him by a repentant and believing Onesimus, he reads on the page, "If he has wronged or oweth thee aught, I, Paul will repay it. I sign it with my own hand" [Philemon 1:18-19]. And Philemon, receive him now, not as an escapee, not as a runaway slave, but receive him as a brother beloved," added, "in his slavery, to the kingdom of God" [Philemon 1:15-17].
Oh! Did you ever hear such things? Did you ever realize such things? Oh! The golden tomorrows that God hath reserved for those who trust in Him; isn’t that the spirit of the Book? Always, there is a greater day coming, there is a golden millennium coming, there is a visible, personal, return of our absent King. The kingdom is coming, and He taught us to pray that prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be –
glorious be, sanctified be –
Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven.
When the Assyrian shall join hands with the Egyptian, and when the two shall join hands with the Jew, "Whom the Lord shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the instrument of My hands, and Israel, My firstborn" [Isaiah 19:25], and the isles of the sea and the ends of the earth to the Gentile world, when we come to the shining of the glory of the brightness of His coming; wonderful day, glorious day, triumphant day, that God has in store for the nations and peoples of the earth!
We stand in a moment to sing our invitation hymn. And thus, trusting in the goodness of God that reaches down even to us, giving heart and soul in loving acceptance of the blessed and Holy Redeemer, make the decision now in your heart. In a moment when we stand to sing, stand answering with your life. Down one of these stairways on either side, down one of these aisles, "Here I am, pastor. I make it now. I have decided and here I come." A family you, a couple you, or just one somebody you, decide in your heart now, and when you stand up, stand up coming down that aisle, "Here I am, pastor. I make it now," while we stand and while we sing.
PEACE BETWEEN ARAB AND JEW
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The people of the prophecy
II. Prophecy concerns the enemies of Israel
A. In ancient days
B. In modern days
III. The present struggle
A. Through recent centuries, they shared cultural traits
B. Problem of the refugee
1. Jews escaping Europe
2. Palestinian Arab
IV. The millennial promise
A. Amazing prophecy (Isaiah 19:18-25)
B. God does not forget His covenant (Genesis 17:20)
C. Millennial kingdom
1. Jew saved (Romans 11:26, Zechariah 12:10, 13:1)
2. Arab saved (Isaiah 19:20)