The LORD is making it clear to us that even as we learn to love Israel just as He loves her, He exhorts us not to forget Ishmael. Ishmael, even in Muslim tradition, is the father of the Arabs and ancestor of Mohammed. What we too often overlook is that God four times says that Ishmael is blessed. His name means “God hears.” God still hears Ishmael crying in the wilderness and longs to reconcile with him and bring him back into the camp.
Last November, the United Nations voted 138-9 to declare Palestine a (nonmember observer) state with East Jerusalem as its capital. If you are a Bible-believer, you MUST come to terms with the truth that Israel is God’s land and he gave it to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac. While the Land has been divided throughout history under various circumstances, we have a unique situation that begs our attention. The world has voted to divide Jerusalem. God is clear. There are consequences for dividing the Land and for exploiting and persecuting the Jews.
Tuesday at sunset begins the Jewish Festival of Weeks, called Shavuot in Hebrew. Many of us know it by its Greek name, Pentecost. Pentecost is not an exclusive “Christian” event. Firstly, Pentecost is what the Greek-speaking Jews of the first century called Shavuot. Secondly, the 120 who were the first to experience the comforting Spirit of Truth that Yeshua promised in John 14 were all practicing Jews. So were the 300 baptized after Peter’s sermon that day.
On June 7, 1967 — 19 years after the nation of Israel had been reborn — Israel regained ancient Jerusalem and reunited it with modern Jerusalem. And so the ancient capital of Israel was made whole and under Israeli control for the first time since the Maccabees, 1,900 years since the Romans destroyed the Temple. Why does this matter? Because the re-formation of Israel as a nation is a fulfillment of prophesy.
We in the United States were reminded of life’s fragility this week. The explosions in Boston and outside Waco literally blew people down like grass. Lives dried and faded like flowers. Let us look toward eternity, when the true King will finally be revealed to all and will rule in power, truth, justice and compassion.
After his resurrection, Jesus met two men on the road to Emmaus, and he expected them to already understand through the Scriptures that Christ was meant to suffer and die. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” We would all have loved to be there on the road to Emmaus that day, walking with the resurrected Jesus himself as he detailed the different prophecies that concerned his death and resurrection. Still, the New Testament writers do a good job of filling us in.
“It is high time the English-speaking church recovers the long-lost letter of Jacob. For 500 years, we have wrongly called this the letter of James, despite the fact that the Greek does not say James, but rather Jacob (as in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), and despite the fact that in every other language, the letter of Jacob is rightly identified as such,” says author Michael L. Brown.
In June I had the privilege of speaking at Siloam Baptist in Cardiff. I have dear friends in the congregation, and it’s always a joy to visit them.
The LORD had me share on Ishmael out of Genesis. For those of us who are called to defend Israel, we can struggle loving her enemies. And for those who are called to minister among the Arabs and Muslims, it can be hard to love Israel.
In God’s eyes, we’re all family and must be reconciled to one another. God has made promises to Ishmael, too.
On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Ashur. Ashur will come to Egypt and Egypt to Ashur, and Egypt will worship with Ashur.
On that day Isra’el will be a third partner with Egypt and Ashur, a blessing here on earth; for Adonai-Tzva’ot has blessed him: “Blessed be Egypt my people, Ashur the work of my hands and Isra’el my heritage.” — Isaiah 19