And Sarah saw the son of Hagar, Ishmael, which she had born unto Abraham. Mocking, she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, Isaac.
And the thing was grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. And God said to Abraham,
Let it not be grievous in thy sight; harken to her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called; of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation because he is thy seed." (Gen 21. 9 - 13).
You will recall the reason why Ishmael came into being. God had promised Abraham and Sarah an heir. Sarah was past the age of child bearing; to have a child would have been a miracle. They were impatient for that miracle to happen, perhaps even unbelieving. And so Hagar, the handmaiden of Sarah bore a child, the natural seed of Abraham, Ishmael. God was quick to point out, this was the natural child, but the child I’m going to give you is the child of promise, an unnatural child, a miraculous child. And when that promise was fulfilled and Isaac was born, Sarah, remembering the mocking of the Egyptian woman, wished for her son Ishmael to be put aside, which indeed he was. talking of Esau and Jacob in Genesis 25. 27. We read:
And these boys, Esau and Jacob grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he did eat of his venison; but Rebecca loved Jacob. And Jacob boiled pottage: and Esau came from the field and he was faint; and Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage(pottage is red bean soup); for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom
(Pay attention to that. Esau has altered his name; it’s Edom, which means red–maybe it means more than red.). Jacob said to Esau,
'Sell me this day thy birthright, and Esau said, "Behold, I am at the point to die, and what profit shall this birthright do to me?" And Jacob said, "Swear to me this day, and he swore unto him, and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils and he did eat and drink,and rose up and went his way." Thus Esau despised his birthright.
In Genesis 36 the first couple of verses–it’s easy to miss the significance here because what I want to point out is that it is just in the middle of a recitation of names. Starting at the first verse we read that these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan: Adah,, and Aholibamah and Bashemath, Ishmael’s daughter sister of Nebajoth." So Esau married his granduncle’s daughter, his grand uncle being Ishmael. And so Esau and Ishmael-- their lines came together-- and the descendants of Esau settled in what is now Jordan–southern Jordan– and if you’ll look on ancient Bible maps you’ll see that area described as Edom. Thus, Esau and Ishmael, coming together in one line, are the antecedents of the Arabs. The Arabs with the Jews you know are Semites, which is to say they are the descendants of Shem, (Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth), but more particularly they are descendants of Abraham, also a descendant of Shem. But unlike Isaac, the promised son of Abraham, Ishmael and Esau were the natural sons of Abraham. They were not the children of promise. The remarkable thing to me about all this is I’m not just making this up. Because the Arabs acknowledge their lineage, their heritage, and if you go into Arabian lands many Arab men are named Ishmael. The remarkable thing to me is that Jacob and Esau now for 4,000 years have retained their individual identity.
Another remarkable thing about it is they have managed not to wipe each other out despite the perpetual hatred. If you look at the 35th chapter of Ezekiel—this is a prophecy against Edom. Now we learn another synonym for Edom in the second verse of that chapter–it says, "Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir". Well, mount Seir is in Edom.
Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out my hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate. I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord. Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end:
If there’s any doubt of mount Seir , look over at the 15th verse of the 35th chapter of Ezekiel,
As thou did rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the Lord.
Just about the time I wound up these remarks yesterday afternoon, my eye fell upon an article , the lead article ,in this month Atlantic Monthly called, The Muslim Rage. It’s an article of 30 or 40 pages in length written by an outstanding Arab and Muslim scholar. And he remarks on the fact that the Arabs had had this perpetual hatred, he goes through all the reasons why he thinks that’s so--he says, not only towards Israel , but equally towards the United States. And he concludes that a tenet of the Muslims–he uses the terms of Arabs and Muslims interchangeably, that’s not strictly accurate, there are followers of Islam who are not Arabs, although virtually all the Arabs are Muslims–but they seem to interchange the terms themselves. In this article the principal reason he assigns the perpetual hatred of the Arabs towards the Jews, and latterly towards us is that the Islam followers believe that they are ruled by God; that their rulers are emissaries of God, that the United States, that virtue which we prize so highly, the virtue of being a secular state, a completely separate religion from the government of men is wrong. How can secular government have any aspect of morality if it doesn’t come from God? And they have a point, so to speak. We find now in this country the fruits of secularity of government. We did well in the first hundred years of our existence because although the constitution was secular, the founding fathers were religious, either religious in a conventional way or followers of natural theology as Thomas Jefferson was. But those religious underpinnings which caused them to form a secular government so that we could worship in peace have brought us to a point where we have a secular government where nobody worships. So that’s a principal reason for the hatred of the Arabs for the Jews and the United States. Well, one would say but Israel is a religious state, or it has religious underpinnings. But in fact it’s not so viewed by the Arabs. Indeed, it’s not so viewed by many of the Israelis. Arabs despise what they consider to be a secular, materialistic Jewish state.
When you believe that your kingdom is ruled by God, and you’re fighting the forces of evil, hatred is perpetual. The only thing that unites the Arabs is their hatred of the Jews and the U.S. Sadaam Hussein is a case in point, and his two ambassadors, the one in the United Nations and the one to the United States. On a number of occasions they’ve all said ‘I don’t understand what the Unites States is up to here.’ This is not–it cannot be a battle about oil–because we have to sell oil to survive. It cannot be a battle about something as insignificant as Kuwait, a tribal sheikdom established in 1964, with very little in the way of historic roots. We’re not going to attack Saudi Arabia . What national interest is the United States serving in bringing these masses of many munitions to the Middle East? And his conclusion is the only reason that we are there is that we must be serving the expansionist hopes of Zionism. The word Zionism recurs in all of his speeches. Who knows? Who knows what the motives are at the moment for why this country is there. And whether he’s right this time, he’s right when he sees Israel as the implacable foe. I personally don’t ascribe to Zionism an expansionist motive. I think they’re happy with the territory that they have, if only they had it. But he knows what Israel believes about the West Bank and the sacredness of Jerusalem.
Look at the 137th Psalm. I’ll just read part of it starting at the 4th verse, speaking now of the children of Israel:
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, rase it, rase it (tear it down, tear it down) even to the foundation thereof. O Daughter of Babylon (interesting word) who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewards thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
That’s what Israel thinks of the Arabs. Happy is the man who takes our babies and dashes them against the stones. So Sadaam Hussein is right when he knows in his heart that Israel will never give up the West Bank, that Israel will never internationalize the city of Jerusalem. They see, they have a constant reminder of the Mosque of Omar, the Dome of the Rock, this magnificent Muslim temple sitting where Solomon’s temple sat in Jerusalem. It’s an abomination to the Jews. And yet Jerusalem I read is the third most holy city to the Moslems behind Mecca and Medina.
How does this come out? What’s gonna happen. The 34th chapter of Isaiah tells us what’s gonna happen: the 34th chapter, so often, when you read the Old Testament prophets and you read something here, the argument is made, well the prophet is talking about an event peculiar to the history of his time, and his prophecy was short sighted and has no relevance to what’s going on today. But the 34th chapter of Isaiah is recognized by Bible scholars, critical and otherwise, as being eschatological, which is to say, about end times-- the last days. And the writer –I won’t read all of it, I’ll start with the 5th verse and read through the 8th verse :
For my sword shall be bathed in heaven", speaking now of Israel’s sword, it shall come down upon Edom , upon the people of my curse,
(Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated–and I would suggest to you that that’s not arbitrary on God’s part for Esau despised his birthright), So here we have a repetition of the fact that Edom was going to be defeated, and they are the people of my curse.
The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah (that was the capitol of Edom), and a great slaughter in the land of Edom. And the wild oxen shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls: and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion--.
Still a controversy 3,000 years later after the time that Isaiah wrote these words. You’ll notice–forgive this language–that Israel is no piker. We read when it comes to descriptive language of destruction, we’re all offended when we read in the paper that Sadaam Hussein has threatened to cut off the arms of the invaders at the shoulder and to pluck out their eyes and that the line of dead persons will be endless if there’s an attack on Iraq. Well, that’s near east terminology, not peculiar only to the Arabs. Notice in the 34th chapter of Isaiah, if you read it all, you’ll see that it is eschatological–has to do with the last times–that the enemy described here is Edom. There’s a description of this last battle, this destruction of Edom, in other places in the Bible, a notable place is in the 3rd chapter of Joel. In the third chapter of Joel–if you look at some verses there–we see a broadening of the description of the enemies of Israel to beyond just Edom or Jordan, if you will, but describes other enemies, other Arab enemies, the second verse,
God will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Jehoshaphat is a word that means ‘the Lord judges’, the valley where the Lord judges), and will judge them for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. And they have cast lots for my people: and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink. Yea, and what have you to do with me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coasts of Philistia, (Palestine in the KJV)? Will ye render me a recompense? And if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompense upon your own head?
--A description there of Lebanon–skip to the 9th verse,
Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles: Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up; beat your ploughshares into swords, your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, I am strong. (16th verse) The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people and the strength of the children of Israel. (19th verse); description of the enemies once more–"Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah.
It’s interesting that this same event is also described in the 14th chapter of Zechariah (I believe it to be a description of the same battle). We won’t look at that now except to say that in that particular chapter that although the description of the war and the retribution to be imposed on the enemies of God is similar to that in the 34th of Isaiah and the 3rd of Joel it’s different in that the enemies are described as ‘the nations’. There’s no particular identification of Edom or Tyre, or Sidon, or Egypt–it’s the ‘nations’. Don’t know exactly what to make of that, but I will engage in this flight of literary fancy with you, if you indulge me, and understand that it’s an uninspired prophet speaking. And that is that the word Edom E-D-O-M, I’m told by linguists, is from the same root word as Adam. Edom, red earth, Adam, earth. That’s why he’s named Adam: out of the earth. So can it be that the 34th chapter of Isaiah and the 3rd chapter of Joel use the word Edom to describe the sons of Adam? And therefore be ‘the kingdoms of men’? There are so many details unclear about what’s going on. The air is so full of political dust that you can’t get a clear vision, and the symbolism in the Bible is difficult and obscure. But there’s enough there, we see enough here, to excite us. I mean, here we are at a climax in the affairs of men, a climax of this hatred between Arab and Israel solvable only by the hand of God.