Peace Between Arab and Jew
September 21st, 1975 @ 8:15 AM
PEACE BETWEEN JEW AND ARAB
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-21-75 8:15 a.m.
We welcome you who are listening on radio to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the message, an exposition of one of the most remarkable prophecies in all of the Word of God. And the title of the exposition is Peace Between Arab and Jew. The prophecy is in Isaiah, chapter 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 in Egypt
– called Awen, in Greek, Heliopolis –
shall be called the City of Destruction.
In that day, shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and an obelisk – 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 He shall send them a Savior, and a Mighty One, and He shall deliver them.
And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord and perform it.
And the Lord shall smite Egypt, He shall smite and heal it; and they shall return even unto 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 Egyptian shall serve God with the Assyrians.
In that day shall Israel be 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 must remember the states, the nations, the people, of whom the prophet is speaking. One, the state of Israel. This prophecy would have been unthinkable before 1948. For all the years and the centuries after 70 A.D., there was no Israel, no state of Israel. So the prophecy looks forward to a time in the far distant future. And it is beginning to come to pass before our very eyes. It concerns first, the state of Israel.
Second, it concerns Egypt. And that nation is most familiar to us, the people of the land of the Nile. And third, it concerns Assyria. That name is hardly used today. Assyria has been broken up into Iraq, and Syria, and Jordan, and Saudi Arabia; that is, the Arab world as you read about it in the daily newspaper.
And the prophecy concerns the enemies of Israel and the enemies of each other. For Assyria and Egypt in ancient days were bitter and implacable enemies. And Israel was the battlefield between them. And Israel lived in the merciless and ruthless invasions of both great empires; Assyria to the north and Egypt to the south.
Time and again was the land of Israel wasted by the armies of Egypt and by the armies of Assyria: Shishak from Egypt, Zerah, Tirhakah, Pharaoh-Neco – who slew good king Josiah – and finally, the Ptolemies, bitter, merciless and cruel enemies of Israel from the south.
But not only from the south, no less cruel and no less merciless from the north: Tiglath-Pileser, Shalmaneser, Sargon, Esarhaddon, Sennacherib, Asshurbanipal, and, finally, the Seleucidi, one of whom, Antiochus Epiphanes, gave rise to the Maccabean rebellion. Up there in that line, Shalmaneser and Sargon destroyed forever Samaria and the northern ten tribes of Israel. And one of the provinces Semitic of Assyria, little – at that time – Babylon, ruled over by a king that made it great: Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Judah and took the people into captivity. These are the nations that are the subjects of this prophecy from Isaiah.
Not only in the ancient day that I have referred to has Israel been oppressed and ravaged by these cruel nations, but the story continues in modern day. Little Israel, of less than three million Jews, is surrounded by over fifty million hostile Arabs. And her story is one of tears, and heartache, and bloodshed, agony and torment. Her state has known nothing other than a state of war since it’s been born in 1948.
There’s been the War of Independence in 1948 and ‘. There was the Sinaitic War in 1956. There was the Six-Day War in 1967. There was the War of Attrition in 1970. There was the Yom Kippur War in 1973. And the Secretary of State of America is desperately striving to avoid a war today. Poor, suffering, bleeding Israel! Whether the story is read in centuries past or whether the story is read in the daily newspapers of the hour, it is one of ravaging, heartache, tears, bloodshed, and war.
That is why this prophecy is so amazing. Look at it carefully: "There is coming," says the prophet, "a golden tomorrow, a Millennial kingdom, and a glorious Great One, "he calls Him. "A Savior," he calls Him. "And in that day – in that coming day – Egypt shall speak the language of Zion – the language of the worship of God – and shall swear to the Lord of Hosts," that is, shall pledge allegiance to the Lord God Almighty.
In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt and a great obelisk at the border
– between Egypt and Israel as a sign that both of the nations worship the true God together –
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 their oppressors, and God shall send them a great Savior, a Mighty One, and He shall deliver them.
And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord and shall do sacrifice, oblation
– one is victims that are slain; oblation, the meal offering –
they shall vow a vow to the Lord and keep it.
And the Lord shall smite Egypt
– whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth –
and the Lord shall smite Egypt that He might heal it, and that they might return to the Lord, and He shall be entreated of them.
And in that day there shall be a highway between Egypt and all the Arab worlds of the north.
And in that day Israel shall be a third in it.
– And that great tripartite and holy alliance there shall be Egypt, and there shall be Israel, and there shall be Assyria; the Arab world –
Whom the Lord shall bless saying, Blessed be Egypt my people. Blessed be Assyria whom I have used for the work of my hands. And blessed be Israel Mine inheritance.
Can you believe that such as a thing of that can ever come to pass? I want you show you why. You see, God does not forget. In the passing of the days, and the centuries, and sometimes the ages, it seems that God doesn’t remember; that He has changed; that He has forgotten His holy purposes and promises. Never, never, never! For you see, God made a covenant with Abraham about a boy, a son that came out of the loins of the great patriarch. The lad’s name – do you remember? – was, "God hears."
In the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, when Hagar the Egyptian saw that she was with child because Sarah’s womb was barren, when Hagar saw that she was with child, she despised her mistress Sarah. And Sarah had Abraham send her away. And as she wandered in the Negev in the southern desert, crying before God, an angel of the Lord said, "Go back and submit yourself to your mistress, for you’re with child. And the child that is to be born you are to call Ishmael, ‘God hears.’ And God will bless the child and make of him a wild people and a great nation." [Genesis 16: 9-11] And Hagar returned in chapter 16.
In chapter 17 God makes a covenant with Abraham and seals it by a sign of blood – circumcision – at the fountain of life. And God said to Abraham, "From Sarah you shall have a son, and my covenant will be with him." But Abraham cried, "O Lord, this 13-year-old boy, Ishmael, that he might live before thee, O God." [Genesis 17:21] And God said to Abraham when Ishmael was circumcised – also belongs to the family of God – God said to Abraham of Ishmael, "I will not forget him. I will bless him. And he shall be the father of twelve princes. And I will multiply his seed exceedingly and make of him a great people." [Genesis 17:20] And in that same chapter, when Isaac was born, Ishmael mocked the child. And Sarah saw him mocking and Sarah said to Abraham, "Send out this Egyptian bondwoman and her child, for he will not share with my son, Isaac."
It was grievous to Abraham, but God said to him, "Listen to her voice." And Abraham sent away Hagar the second time and Ishmael, her 13-year-old boy. As they wandered in the desert, she laid the boy under the shadow of a small desert plant that she might not see him die. And while Hagar cried before the Lord, God spoke to her and said, "Lift up your eyes." And there was a well of water. And God repeated the covenant promise, "I will make of him a great nation and a great people, and I will bless him." In the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Genesis, Ishmael is introduced to us. He is the father of twelve princes, twelve nations; the Arab world. The Scriptures universally refer to the descendants of Ishmael as Arabs. He’s the father of one daughter who married Esau. And Ishmael became a great people and a great nation. And God remembers His covenant with Ishmael.
In an airplane I was riding high along the Persian Gulf. And to my right was a wasteland – indescribable, burned, and seared, and blasted – as worthless as I ever looked upon, and as barren and as bleak.
I said to the steward, "Sir, what is this land?"
He said, "That is Saudi Arabia."
Later after a few years, upon another occasion, I was flying in a plane along the Red Sea. And to my left was a wasted land, as barren, as bleak as mind could imagine, and I said to the steward, "Sir, what is that land?"
He said, "That is Saudi Arabia."
The second greatest, richest, financially able nation in the world! Who put that oil underneath that barren sand? God Almighty did it. God placed it there. "For I have a covenant," says God, "with these, My children by Ishmael."
I was in Beirut buying a rug, and in the midst of the discussion of price, the merchantman stopped, picked up a little rolled rug, went outside the door. I thought, "This is the strangest thing, in the midst of trying to buy this rug, he leaves and walks out the door." I followed him out the door just to see what. This is what: he unrolled the rug – a little three-by-five rug – and facing Mecca he bowed down and prayed. Did you ever see a Christian do that? I never did. You see, "God says he’s My child by Ishmael, and I don’t forget. I don’t forget."
They also are in a covenant of the Lord, and they also are a people of God. Can you imagine therefore, the height of the glory of the day when those cousins – the children of Ishmael, the Arab world – and the Jew, the children of the promised seed of Isaac, when they are one in the Lord; when they raise a great obelisk at their borders as a sign that they both call upon the name of Jehovah? Can you think of anything more glorious than when they speak the same language, the language of Zion, and the language of worship? When they sing the same songs, when they bow down before the same God? And when the great deliverer, the great Savior, the "Mighty One" as the prophet calls Him, is the Lord and King over the Arab and over the Jew?
That’s why the psalmist said, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." There will be no peace in the world until peace comes to the holy city of God. And peace will not come to the holy city of God until there come first, the Savior, the great deliverer, the Mighty One. And may I just for the moment describe that ultimate and final and millennial day when God shall come down in glory and set up His golden and Millennial kingdom?
Number one, the Jew will be saved. The Jew will be saved. I do not know of a promise in the Bible that is more difficult to fit into the chronology of the world than the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans, the theme of which, "And so all Israel shall be saved." In the prophet Zechariah, chapters 12, 13, and 14, the prophet describes that ultimate and final appearing of the Lord to His people. They’re at home in the land, they’ve all been gathered back into the Holy Land.
And in the midst of their woes, and their troubles, their sorrows, their tears, and their wars – in the midst of it – the Lord appears to His brethren and He shows them His hands and His feet. And they ask Him, "Where did you get those wounds in Your hands and in Your feet?" And He describes what Israel did to their own Son. Then the prophet says, "There shall be a mourning such as was at Hadad-rimmon, in Megiddo," when good king Josiah was slain by Pharaoh Neco: "And every man shall mourn. And every house shall mourn. And they shall look upon Him whom they pierced." [Zechariah 12:10] And a nation shall be born in a day.
Can you think of that? Could it be? Could such a thing be! The whole people, in tears and in repentance, receiving Christ their king? Think of it! Think of it! But there is more. "And in that day," says the prophet: "Egypt shall cry unto the Lord, and the Lord shall hear their cry and shall send them a Savior, the Mighty One; and He shall deliver them." [Isaiah 19:20] Egypt and the Arab world, Assyria, shall be brought into the holy purposes and design of God. And the whole world will follow into the Millennial glory of that golden tomorrow – the Arab in Syria, and the Jew in Israel and the Egyptian from the Nile – all of them worshiping and following the Lord together.
In that golden kingdom do we also have a part? What about us? Can we also look forward to a part, an assignment, in that kingdom that shall glorify God forever? Listen to the prophet Isaiah:
Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and His Holy One, I will give thee for a light to the Gentiles
– that is we –
I will give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be My salvation to the ends of the earth.
Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because the Lord is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel has chosen thee.
Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee and in the day of salvation have I succored thee.
And Paul quotes it in 2 Corinthians 6:1 and 2, "I beseech you therefore, My people, receive not the grace of God in vain, for He hath said, ‘In an acceptable time I’ve heard you and in a day of salvation have I succored thee.’ Behold," says the apostle to us who are Gentiles, "now is the acceptable time for us, and now is the day of salvation for us." Ah, the mercy and the glory of the designs and purposes of God for His people! We also can be saved.
I think of that eunuch from Ethiopia, "Sir, I am a dry, and emasculated, and a withered branch. Can I be saved? Water, could I be baptized?" And the evangelist says, "Sir, sir, if you believe with all your heart, you may – outside of the covenant as you are, a dead, emasculated branch, dried and withered a eunuch as you are." And they went down into the water and he was baptized, a child of God, a Gentile.
And the Roman centurion says, "Can I be saved? I have the army of occupation. Is there room in God’s kingdom for me?" And at the assignment of the Lord God Almighty, Simon Peter replies, "To him give all the prophets witness, that whosoever shall believe in His name shall receive remission of sins."
And the household of Cornelius, the army centurion was added to the kingdom of God. The Gentiles are saved. And the Philippian jailor, cruel beyond the assignment of duty, falls down before Paul and Silas and cries, "Sir, is it possible that I could be saved?" And the same glorious gospel, "Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." And another Gentile was added to the kingdom.
And in far-away Rome, Onesimus, a slave of Philemon, who had stolen from his master and had escaped across the breadth of the Roman Empire, found the Lord – a slave that by Roman law was to be executed by crucifixion, found the Lord. And Paul sends him back to his master in Colossae in a far-away Roman province of Asia, in far-away Asia, and he carries with him a little letter called "Philemon." And in the letter Paul says, "Philemon, receive him as a brother beloved."
What an incomparable prophecy, the golden tomorrow when the Jew and the Arab are at peace, worshiping God, and when the Gentiles shall arise and praise the name of the Lord! Oh, glorious tomorrow! Oh, golden kingdom that is yet to come!
And this is our prayer and appeal to you to belong to the Lord, to accept the Savior as your Savior, to be numbered among the people of God, to come into the fellowship of His kingdom, to be a member of His church. As the Lord shall press the appeal to your heart, as the Spirit shall lead in the way, make the decision now. And in a moment when we stand to sing, stand, walking down that stairway, coming down this aisle, "Hear I am pastor. I make it now." Do it, come, a family, a couple or just you while we stand and while we sing.