The Death Struggle of Arab and Jew
February 4th, 1962 @ 10:50 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-04-62 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock message entitled The Death Struggle of the Arab and the Jew. In our preaching through the Word of God, we have come to the last book, the Apocalypse. And in preaching through the Apocalypse, we have come to the fourth chapter of the Revelation. These last several Sundays, taking verse 2 of chapter 4 as a basis, in that verse the throne of God is described, "and a rainbow around it" [Revelation 4:2-3]; the rainbow, a sign of our faithful covenant keeping Lord. I have been preaching these last several Sundays on the faithfulness of God to the great covenant that He made with Abraham [Genesis 12:1-3, 15:18-21]. For beginning at the fourth chapter of the Revelation, it has so much to do with God’s chosen family, the descendents of Abraham.
Now before we continue with the Revelation – and next Sunday morning, God willing, the sermon will be on the four and twenty elders [Revelation 4:4]; then we shall continue Sunday by Sunday through the book – but having spoken these last several Sundays on the purposes of grace for God’s elect and chosen people Israel, before we continue into and through the Apocalypse, I have paused for this one time and this one service to try to show us that God works not just two thousand years ago, nor just in the final consummation of the age, but that God works today. He moves in human history today.
His elective purposes are being worked out today just as much as they were when there was a prophet to write it down [Malachi 3:6], or an apostle to interpret it [Hebrews 13:8]: "God is the same yesterday, and today, and forever." And to those who have eyes to see and who will listen to the voice of the prophet of God, there can be read in the daily newspapers, you can see it discussed in our commentaries on the radio and in our magazines from the news rack, you can see, and hear, and watch God’s elective purposes of grace today.
Now that is why, just this one time I wanted to turn aside and deliver an address, a message, on God today. Just as He worked in the days of Abraham, or Joseph, or Hezekiah, or Isaiah, so God works today and we can see His hand in history now.
These things that pertain to what God is doing now can be read in any magazine, can be followed in any newspaper. I hold in my hand a very recent issue, in January, the latter part of January, I hold in my hands a copy of the Saturday Evening Post. And a big caption across the front page, "The Seething Arab World." And when I turn inside, the feature article is that, "The Seething Arab World." Then the headline, "The Arab’s hatred of the Jew remains unwavering." Then under the caption of a picture of an Arab, "The Arab of today is convinced that Americans and Jews have destroyed the unity of his lands and people." Then, in the article:
The Arab’s hatred of the Jew is implacable. The Arabs are equally convinced that the Western powers, now represented by the United States, have planted the state of Israel in the heart of the Arab world solely for the purpose of weakening and dividing the Arab states. One emotion all Arabs share alike is the conviction that Israel is an enemy who must be destroyed.
On the next page is a picture of a young Israeli girl and the caption, "Nearly all her life she has heard the clamor of war with the Arabs who believe that Israel must be destroyed." This is nothing unusual or peculiar, this is very typical. On the front of the magazine is a picture of two Arab soldiers. I hold in my hand a reprint of an article recently published in the Atlantic Monthly, entitled, "The Arabs of Palestine"; and is a discussion of their relationship with the state of Israel. Their motto is, "Revenge and return."
There is today before our eyes, the fulfilling of the prophecies by which God spake to His servants 2,500 years ago. God said, "These people who are scattered abroad and buried in the graves of the nations, My people will be regathered in the land I promised to their fathers" [Jeremiah 16:4-16]. For two thousand years there were no Jews in Palestine. Today – this minute, the state of Israel has a population of 2,500,000; small, but it increases and it increases as the Jewish people turn their faces to the homeland. In Jeremiah 30:10-11:
Therefore fear thou not, My servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel . . . Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest . . .
For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee.
Assyria may rise and be no more, and Babylon may come to glory and disappear, but there will always be before God, a people Israel and a nation called by His name. "Yea," says the Lord in Jeremiah 31:
I have loved thee with an everlasting love . . .
I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel . . .
Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria:
and the planters shall plant, and shall eat the things thereof as common ordinary things.
God’s hand is in the Middle East. God’s hand is in Israel; and God’s hand is working out an ultimate destiny for His people there. And in Israel, all the nations of the world are bound up, for God said to Abraham that "In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" [Genesis 12:3, 22:18]. Our blessings in faith, in Christ, in the Bible, in religion, in heaven, in our hope and destiny for all the eternity that is yet to come is centered around that people Israel.
When you read the Bible, you read about them. When the choir sings songs, we sing about them. Their names are the names we give to our holy habitation in heaven. They are inextricably bound up with the purposes of God, and if a man would read what God is doing in history, he must read what God does with the Jew. We are bound up in that inextricably whether we like it or no, whether we choose or not. The very life and existence of our people as a nation in America is bound up in that Holy Land, in that great stretch of country called the Fertile Crescent, that God spake of to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob [Genesis 15:18; Joshua 1:4].
Without the oil from those vast deserts, our NATO allies would perish overnight. There must be lubrication for their machines; there must be energy for their instruments of war. And it is the avowed dedication of America; we have no other choice but to see to it that those pipelines flow in that precious fuel, to the allies who help guard our ramparts on the other side of the seas. The destiny of that land is our destiny, and our hope for peace lies in our ability to make possible peace over there. I use that just as an illustration of how we are bound up in the destiny of those people.
Now by way of review, just as rapidly as I can; there was an illustrious and able Jewish leader by the name of Baron Theodor Von Herzl of Vienna, Austria who, in 1897, wrote a paper entitled "Der Judenstaat," "The Jewish State." And in 1897, two years later, there was convened in Basel, Switzerland, the first Zionist Congress, that looked forward to a homeland for the wandering Jew of the world in Palestine.
In World War l, there was a famous Jewish chemist by the name of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the inventor of [synthetic acetone for cordite] through whose ingenious chemical knowledge the Allies were enabled to win the war. And in that war and at its conclusion – when Palestine was mandated to the British Empire – the government of Britain produced a paper entitled "The Balfour Declaration." And out of appreciation for what the Jew had done in making possible Allied victory, the Balfour Declaration promised to the Jew a homeland in Palestine.
In 1921 the immigration of the Jew to Palestine began. For thousands of years there had been no Jewish people in that land, but in 1921 the Jew began to turn his face to the Holy Land. That’s in my lifetime; that’s in the lifetime of most of you who listen to me today. At first, when the Jew began to turn homeward, he bought little plots of land from the homeowners, and there was no particular trouble. But when the Jews began to buy the large landed estates from absentee owners who lived in Damascus, and in Cairo, and in Amman, those absentee Arab land owners said, "Give the peasant who has tilled the land a year before he’s forced to leave." So when the Jewish people bought those great landed areas, gave the peasant a year in which to leave, then when the Jew came to possess the property he had bought, the peasant replied, "My forefathers have lived here for two thousand years. This is my home. I will not move." That precipitated an awful and a calamitous conflict between the Jew who had bought the land and the Arab who refused to give it up.
The situation was made unbearable and intolerable when the Hitlerite persecution of the Jew began. When Hitler began to burn those people by the thousands and the hundred of thousands in incinerators and in gas ovens, the Jew, by the uncounted millions, began to turn his face to some kind of a refuge and escape. And naturally, they turned their faces to the homeland. On the seventeenth day of May in 1939 – the British government, because of the awful crisis between Jew and Arab in Palestine – on the seventeenth day of May in 1939 the British government issued the famous "White Paper" which first of all stopped the buying of land in Palestine. And second, it stopped all Jewish immigration. For five years from 1939 to 1944 the Jews were allowed immigrants to the number of seventy-five thousand a year for five years. And then it was to stop all together.
The tragedy of that day lay in the fact that at 1939 Hitler was at the height of his power, and his cruel and merciless hand was slaughtering the Jew by the thousands and the thousands. And as they sought escape into Palestine, the British government was forced – one of the men who is a subject to the British government came to me this morning after the eight-fifteen service and said, "Pastor, remember that the British government was in a great trial when that White Paper was issued." And by no means do I cast aspersion upon the British people or the British government, I’m just describing the tragedy of the situation that was forced upon the government of England. Because of the awful conflict in Palestine, the bloodletting, the war that never ceased, the British government interdicted the buying of any more land. And the British government interdicted the entrance of any more refugees except a little trickle of 75,000 a year for five years, in which date of 1944 it was to cease altogether.
That brought about those famous tragedies of history; such as when you go to the show and look at "The Exodus," which was the name of a ship that was seeking to land 2,500 refugees in Palestine who were seeking, who were forsaking the cruelties of the land of Nazi Germany. The war began to break, and the tragedy of Palestine increased. Finally before the United Nations, Great Britain said, "We can no longer, we can no longer see any solution to this tragic mandate of Palestine that is placed in our hands. And on the fourteenth day of May in 1948," said the British government, "we are turning the mandate back to the United Nations. We can no longer help"; nothing but tears, and blood, and tragedy. So on the fourteenth day of May, in 1948, the British government turned the mandate of Palestine to the United Nations, located in headquarters in our New York City.
And on the next day, on the fifteenth day of May, 1948, the Jews declared the state of Israel, which was the United Nations’ attempt to solve the problem to divide the land. And on the left side, the western side, would be Israel. And on the right side of their line of demarcation would be the Trans-Jordanian Hashemite kingdom of the Jordan. But on that fifteenth day of May, in 1948 – when Israel elected Chaim Weizmann their first president and David Ben-Gurion their first prime minister – on that day, six Arab nations declared war against Israel; and they did it in the supposition that, within a matter of a few weeks, those six Arab armies would drive the little nation and the little people of Israel into the sea and destroy them forever.
In the war that followed between Arab and Jew, to the amazement of the world, Israel never lost a battle; they destroyed those Arab legions to the right, to the left, to the north, to the south, wherever they appeared. One Israeli soldier was more valiant and more victorious than a hundred Arab legionnaires. And instead of those Arab nations driving that little band of Jews into the sea, the Arab legions gave and were driven back, and back, and back, until finally – after the war had gone on for several months and a year – until finally, the United Nations was able to bring about an armistice and then drew another line of demarcation between the state of Israel on the left, and the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan on the right.
And that is the situation today; a state of war still exists. No Arab nation will make peace with Israel, and it is still their avowed and determined resolve that they will destroy those Jewish people and drive them into the sea. That’s the basis around which Nasser of Egypt, and Qasim of Iraq, and King Hussein of Jordan, and the present government of Syria and Saudi Arabia, and all of them – that’s the one binding thing that holds them together – their faces in revenge, and in hatred, and in war toward that little land of Israel.
What shall come of it? We shall read, we shall see; I think I know. As I turn the pages of the Book and read the great promises of God, I think I know. Now in the moment, I want to describe to you a facet of that situation in Palestine. Whenever you declare war, you must be prepared for the ultimate, and sometimes if you lose it, disastrous result. Whenever you go to war all diplomacy ceases, all council around the table is stopped. When you go to war the thing is to be resolved by force and by blood. Israel never started that war. Israel accepted the demarcation offered by the United Nations, they had no other choice. But it was the presumptuous Arab nations who thought, "Within a few days, we’ll send our armies and we’ll destroy that little place and push those Jews into the sea."
And they went to war, and the results of that war are among other things, there are now over a million refugees who fled out of Israel; they never had to flee, they got scared and they left. Now in war, what becomes of the refugee? Don’t ever think you will go to war and he not be there; a concomitant and a corollary of the cruelty of war is the homeless. At the turn of the century, a great statesman said, "The twentieth century will be the age of the common man." He would have been more correct had he said, "The twentieth century shall be the age of the refugee." But everywhere in this world that war has touched and you see the refugee, what has happened? The people who have received the refugees incorporate them into the fabric of the life of the nation. For example, West Germany has received millions, and millions, and millions of refugees. And West Germany has built a great economy and a stronger nation by using the genius, and the devotion, and the work, and the labor of those millions of refugees. On the other side of the world in Hong Kong – one city – there are thousands and hundreds of thousands of those refugees out of Communist China that have descended upon Hong Kong. They are making Hong Kong even a greater and a glorious nation. It’s true all over the world except in the Arab world.
The Arab nations have looked upon those refugees as though they were lepers; their own brothers, their own kin, their own people. And rather than accept them, and incorporate them into the life of the nation, and to build a nation greater and stronger, they keep those refugees a corrupting mass, a corrupting sore so that when you go over there they can embitter your heart against the state of Israel by looking at the tragic lot of those poor and emaciated people. Actually, their lot is better even though it’s miserable, than it was in Palestine. For under the Arab, the desert remains a desert for thousands and thousands of years. It is the Jew – that’s the reason I had you read Isaiah 35:1 – it is the Jew that has made the desert blossom like the rose, which is their national motto.
But the reason the refugee is there is because the Arab nations went to war. They went to war, and the reason the refugee is there is because they lost the war. And the reason the refugee is there is because the Arab people keep those refugees as a political pawn to keep it before the eyes of the world, to engender hatred against the state of Israel. To me that is one of the most inhuman and inexcusable of all of the things I have ever seen in the earth, and that I have ever read about in human history.
Now the Jewish people, as they go to Palestine – and I haven’t time to mention these things – as they go to Palestine, the Jew becomes an agriculturalist; he becomes a farmer. Everywhere else in the world they are professional people living in cities, but in Palestine he is a farmer. They have taken that dry, and dreary, and desert land and they are making it blossom like the rose [Isaiah 35:1].
I stayed for a while in the home of [Walter] Clay Lowdermilk who was a conservationist, a soil conservationist of our American government. And when they sent him around the world to see how soil conservation plans were working in other countries, when he came to little Israel, he had married the daughter of a Methodist missionary. He stayed in Haifa and he had plans in detail – that engineers had said would work – whereby he would take the water out of the Mediterranean and let it run down the 1,297 feet below sea level into the Dead Sea. And from the enormous drop of that water from the Mediterranean level down to the Dead Sea level, there could be generated enough electricity to make Palestine a paradise and enough energy to lift up the pure, sweet, clear waters of the Jordan River and to irrigate that whole land and to make it literally a garden of Eden to support millions and millions of people.
Why isn’t that done? Because of the political hatred of the Arab nations; were it not for that, Palestine today would be turning into one of the garden spots of the earth. But handicapped as they are with the little water that they’re able to posses, those Jewish people are making a jewel in the Levant. One of the most astonishing things you will see in your traveling over this earth is the vast illimitable difference when you step out of the deserts of Egypt, and out of the deserts of Amman, and out of the deserts of Syria, and out of the deserts of Saudi Arabia, and step into the glorious jewel that is the little country Israel today. But the remarks that I have to make mostly, concern the Jew, as he means through God, the Lord’s ultimate blessing to us.
We could never forget that the hope we have, and the Lord we worship, the Bible we read, and the Savior we adore, all of them come through faithful Jewish hands.
Scattered by God’s avenging hand,
Afflicted and forlorn,
Sad wanderers from their pleasant land,
Do Judah’s children mourn;
And e’en in Christian countries, few
Breath thoughts of pity for the Jew.
Yet listen, Gentile – do you love
The Bible’s precious page?
Then let your heart with kindness move
To Israel’s heritage; –
Who traced those lines of love for you?
Each sacred writer was a Jew.
And then as years and ages passed,
And nations rose and fell,
Tho’ clouds and darkness oft were cast
O’er captive Israel,
The oracles of God for you
Were kept in safety by the Jew.
And when the great Redeemer came
For guilty man to bleed,
He did not take an angel’s name; –
No, born of Abraham’s seed,
Jesus, who gave His life for you,
The gentle Saviour was a Jew!
And tho’ his own received him not,
And turned in pride away,
Whence is the Gentile’s happier lot?
Are you more just than they?
No – God in pity turned to you –
Have you no pity for the Jew?
Go then, and bend your knee to pray
For Israel’s ancient race;
Ask the dear Savior every day
To call them by his grace;
Go – for a debt of love is due
From Christian Gentiles to the Jew!
["Zion, Whom No Man Seeketh After [Jeremiah 30:17]," E.M.I., March 14, 1844]]
One thing: we owe a debt of gratitude to that nation and to those people that forever and forever we would be unable to repay. The second thing: for my heart, I can never forget that the promises of God to Israel, unconditional and everlastingly if God is faithful, will be faithfully performed.
And God said to Abram, I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and between Me and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant . . .
And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, this land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.
And the close of the prophet Amos:
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David . . .
I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel . . .
I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of the land which I have given them, saith the Lord God.
And just once again:
Thus saith the Lord, Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is His name:
If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord
These ordinances of the day and the night, that there is no more day and night:
then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever.
Thus saith the Lord, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off the seed of Israel forever, for what they have done, saith the Lord.
As long as there’s a day and a night, and as long as there are stars in the sky, "So long," says God, "there will be a nation called Israel before Me."
And it would be impossible to describe the longing and the love of God’s chosen people for that homeland in Palestine. If you have ever been in Hyde Park, the second palace near the gate belonged to Lord Rothschild, at that time the richest man in the world; the beautiful marble columns and the cornices above, but one of them incomplete. And you could ask, "Did the richest man in the world not have the affluence and the wealth to finish the marble house that he built?" And the answer is plain. He is an Orthodox Jew, and he left unfinished his house in London that he might be reminded and that it might be a witness to the world that he was a pilgrim and a stranger in the British Isles. His homeland is in Canaan.
I say it is impossible to describe the love of the Jew for Palestine. These are copied out of the Talmud. I quote, "He that lives in the Holy Land is as though he were without sin." Again, "A Jew who lives in the Holy Land is one who lives with God. And he who lives outside, even though the majority in that city are religious, it is as though he were worshiping strange gods." Again, "He that inhabits the city one hour," the city of Jerusalem – of Zion, "one hour and dies there, is sure of the world to come."
These extravagancies that you can copy out of the Talmud are but echoes of the indescribable love and devotion of the Jew for the land of Canaan. Time would fail me to speak of Joseph when he died. "Remember," and he made the sons of Jacob swear, "Remember, remember, when God visits you, you will carry my bones back to Canaan" [Genesis 50:24-25]. The one hundred thirty-seventh Psalm:
By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For they that wasted us required of us mirth, and they that carried us captive required of us a song, saying, Sing unto us one of the songs of Zion.
How can 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 remember not thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
The heartthrob, the teardrop, you can feel just in reading the psalm, "and thrice every day did the prophet Daniel kneel with his windows open toward Jerusalem" [Daniel 6:10]. And in every Jewish home you will find a little mezuzah in which little piece is a Scripture and always turned toward the holy city of Jerusalem. And I can never forget, in reading the Word of the Lord in the New Testament, that God hath promised to them a conversion. I have said – and with this I close this series – I have said, to me there would be no greater tragedy thinkable, imaginable, than for God’s people to be cast away.
I illustrated it with the Lord’s family; He grew up with James, with Simon, with Joseph, with Judah. They were his brothers by the mother Mary, but they didn’t believe in Him [John 7:5]; they thought He was an imposter. And when our Lord was raised from the dead – before He ascended back to glory – the first thing He did was to see those brethren personally, appeared to them personally, and won them to a faith in Himself [1 Corinthians 15:7]; took the veil from their hearts, and the blindness from their eyes, and they looked upon their Lord and were saved. It was so with Saul of Damascus with the veil over his heart and the blindness over his eyes, uttering imprecations, and curses, and persecutions against Christ and the people that belonged to Jesus [Acts 9:1-2]. And the Lord appeared to him personally:
"Saul, Saul, why?""
"Who art Thou, Lord?"
"I am Jesus of Nazareth."
And Saul accepted his Lord and his Savior [Acts 9:3-18, 22:6-16].
It shall be that same way with the people of God, who now are in rejection and in unbelief. "I say then," said Paul, "Hath God cast away His people?" [Romans 11:1]. Are they no more? Is there no purpose, no plan, except that they continue forever in disobedience and rejection?
I say then, hath God cast away His people? God forbid! [Romans 11:1].
For there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer [Romans 11:26].
His feet in that day shall rest upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem [Zechariah 14:4].
There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
This is My covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins.
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes [Romans 11:26-28].
The leadership of this great, spiritual kingdom of Christ is now in our hands. But someday, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time return the leadership of the kingdom to Israel?" No, not now, but someday. "It is not for us to know the times or the seasons" [Acts 1:6-7]. "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes" [Romans 11:28]. It is our day of plērōma, of fullness and blessing to the Gentiles.
"But as touching the election," God hasn’t forgotten the promise He made to Abraham, and to Isaac, and to Jacob [Genesis 17:7], "But as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance" [Romans 11:28-29]. And someday, and someday, as our Lord appeared to his brother James [1 Corinthians 15:7], Simeon, and Judah, and Joseph and took the veil from their eyes [2 Corinthians 3:14-16], and they looked upon Him and were saved and as our Lord appeared to Saul of Tarsus and he fell down blinded by that glorious light, but the veil of his understanding was taken away from his heart and he looked in belief [Acts 9:1-18], so someday God in Christ shall appear to His regathered people in Israel [Romans 11:25-33]. In that great and final day, when the world shall see its greatest tide of antisemitism, and they turn homeward by the millions; in that day, gathered in rejection and unbelief, our Lord shall appear to them [Zechariah 12:10], as He did to Saul, to James, and a nation will be born in a day [Isaiah 66:8].
And the spiritual leadership, by which the families of all the earth are blessed, shall once again include His own people, the descendents of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; the despised and outcast Jew, elect of God [Romans 11:26-28]. And He is faithful that promised [Hebrews 10:23]. And if the Lord doesn’t keep His promise here, when I turn the page and read of a promise to me, how would I know He would keep it to me if God breaks it here? But I see the hand of God in destiny now. And I know the same Lord will keep inviolate His promise to me.
Now while we sing our song of appeal, somebody you, in faith and in trust coming to our Savior the Lord Jesus, somebody you, putting your life with us in the fellowship of this precious congregation, on the first note of this first stanza, would you come? "Here I am, pastor. Here I come." A family you, "Pastor, this is my wife, these are our children, we are all coming." A couple you, a child, a youth, one somebody, as God shall say the word and make the appeal, come today. If you are in the balcony, even on that last row, there is time and to spare. Down one of these stairways and to the front, on this lower floor, into the aisle, and, "Here I am, pastor, here I come. Here we come." Make it today, while we stand and while we sing.