Peace Between Arab and Jew
November 14th, 1982 @ 8:15 AM
PEACE BETWEEN ARAB AND JEW
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-14-82 8:15 a.m.
We welcome the great throngs of you who are listening to this hour on radio on the Sonshine station of KCBI. One of the most unusual of the all of the providences through which I have ever worked as a pastor has been the preparation of these five messages on Israel. They were outlined several years ago. You are most aware that through these present days and now years, the pastor is preaching on "The Great Doctrines of the Bible." And the great series has been divided into fifteen sections, and the section in which we are now involved is one that I have named berithology: a study, a presentation, of the great covenants God made with His chosen people. And it is just one of those providences of life that at a time when so much of the attention of the world has been focused upon the Middle East, at this very time, I have been delivering those five messages on berithology; on God’s covenants with Israel.
The first one was entitled Has God Cast Away His People; the second one, The Problem of Israel’s Unbelief; the third one, Israel in the Remembrance of God; and today, the tremendous and all-inclusive prophecy of Isaiah, which I have entitled Peace Between Arab and Jew. There is no more beautiful or promising prophecy of God in all of His Word than the last verses of Isaiah chapter 19, beginning in verse 18. 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 before the Lord of hosts; one 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 at the border thereof to the Lord.
And 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 Great 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 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 the Lord 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.
I have read that text forty dozen times, and I am still as amazed and astonished at it this forty dozenth time as I was the first time I ever looked upon it. I cannot imagine any such thing as this prophet has presented as shall happen in these days that lie ahead. The people of the prophecy are first Israel, God’s anointed. Now, did it occur to you as I read the passage, it has been only in our time that such a prophecy could begin to come to pass, that it be true? There hasn’t been a nation Israel. From 70 AD until May of 1948, there wasn’t any nation Israel. There had to be a nation Israel before the prophecy could begin to be realized, and yet the prophet speaks of it as though it were real; three, the first of which is Israel [Isaiah 19:24]. Isn’t that unusual, God’s clock and ours? Our clock goes minute at a time, minute at a time, minute at a time. If you have a second hand, second at a time, second at a time. But God’s clock goes like this: click, one thousand years; click, thousand years; click, thousand years; click, thousand years. Sometimes we fall into despair because of the bleak and desperate and despairing outlook of the future. Not God; He never loses heart. Click, thousand years; click, thousand years; but He says Israel, the nation Israel – and as I repeat – it’s just now in our time that such a prophecy could even begin to come to pass.
The second nation is Egypt, the people of the Nile, and the third one is Assyria [Isaiah 19:24]. We know Assyria today as the Arabic people. We know them as the children of Ishmael [Genesis 16:15-16]. We know Assyria today as Iraq, and Syria, and Lebanon, and Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. So the prophet is talking about Israel and Egypt and the Arabic world, those three [Isaiah 19:18-25].
In the prophecy, he is speaking of the nations, the great empires, that then and today torments and decimates Israel. One is the Assyrian empire, the Babylonian empire, the Arabic nations. And the other is Egypt, who also is a part of the Arabic empire. And in the middle is Israel, in the Fertile Crescent, they call it, beginning in the Mesopotamian Valley at Bozrah, the great city of Iraq, and going clear around in a great crescent down through the Nile Valley. In that Fertile Crescent, with Assyria on this side, the Mesopotamian Valley on this side, and the Nile Valley on this side, in the middle is Israel. And she has been invaded, and decimated, and spoiled, made a prey of, tormented by both of those empires; in the ancient day, Assyria and Egypt and both of them, the great empires, the ancient empires of the Mesopotamian Valley, both of them pressing and crowding and destroying Israel. The Pharaohs Shishaq, and Zerah, and Tirhakah, and Necho, Pharaoh Necho who slew Josiah, good King Josiah [2 Kings 23:29]; and after the fall of the pharaohs, then the Ptolemies, who were Greeks. When Alexander the Great conquered the world, the Ptolemies, Greek rulers, no less afflicted Israel. The Mesopotamian Valley, the Assyrian Tiglath-Pileser, who was the first tremendous conqueror that came into Palestine; then Shalmaneser and Sargon, who in 722 BC destroyed the northern ten tribes [2 Kings 17:18]; then Sennacherib, who held Jerusalem as in a vise – when Hezekiah prayed [2 Kings 19:14-19], an angel passed over his conquering army and a hundred eighty-five thousand of his soldiers died that night [2 Kings 19:35]. Esarhaddon [Ezra 4:2], and Ashurbanipal [Ezra 4:10]; then Nebuchanezzar from the south conquering Nineveh [Nahum 1:1, 2:8-13]; and finally, after Alexander the Great, the Seleucidi, Seleucus and Antiochus, of which the most infamous was Antiochus Epiphanes, the story of whom is told in 1 and 2 Maccabees: these are the great empires that on either side of Israel has tormented and persecuted and decimated the little kingdom in between.
Today, the story continues. It doesn’t abate: in 1948 to 19, the War of Independence; in 1956, the Sinaitic War; in 1967, the Six Day War; in 1970, the War of Attrition; in 1973, the Yom Kippur War, and in 1982, the PLO War in Lebanon. As far as the eye can see, in the back of the history of the nations and in the forward, in the future, it follows that same inevitable heart-breaking pattern.
Now the present time; the conflict is not so much due to the animosity that arises out of these ancient conflicts as the problem in the Middle East arises out of the oppressions from other nations and other peoples. You could almost call it a problem of refugees; displacement. When you read history, you will learn that for these centuries past, many, many centuries past, the Jew and the Arab shared the same traits and the same traditions, enjoying the same places of acceptance. For example, in Europe the Jew was in a ghetto. That’s the story of Europe; the ghetto. That’s where the word comes from; from Polish Warsaw, a ghetto. I have stood there in the ghetto. Every Jew now is gone, slain, gassed, burned up; but there is a vast monument there in the middle of the ghetto. In Europe the Jew was in the ghetto, but in the Arab world, the Jew was a physician, and a philosopher, and a scholar, and a finance minister, and a government official.
Look at it again, in those dark ages of the medieval Europe, centuries that we call the Dark Ages; in the days of the Dark Ages, the Arabic world was in its greatest glory and cultural and scientific advancement, in mathematics, in architecture, in literature, in science, in scholarship; for example, don’t you use Arabic numerals all the time, 1, 2, 3, 4 – where did you get that? They are Arabic. Do you ever use a zero? That’s an Arabic word. They invented the zero. The greatest mathematical invention in the mind and history of man is a zero. All of that is Arabic, and in that world of Arabic culture, the Jew had a worthy part.
For example, Moses Maimonides, Moses Maimonides, one of the greatest philosophers and physicians and scholars of all time: he was a Jew. And he was the personal physician of Saladin, who headed the Arabic world, whose capital was at Cairo in Egypt; Maimonides. In all of the Arabic world, you would find Jews with the unusual title, the Turkish title of honor of Bey, B-e-y, or Pasha.
In the last generation, the minister of finance under King Thuhad in Egypt was a Jew named Catawi Pasha. They lived together, sharing the same traditions and the same culture and the same traits. Well, what has happened today? I repeat, it is a matter of refugees. The Jew living in the ghettos of Europe, after centuries of persecution, finally in desperation sought a way of escape. And that gave birth to Zionism, the father of whom was Theodor Herzl, who in 1897 built the dream of a homeland for the oppressed Jew. And when Hitler came and began to murder five million, six million of the Jewish people, they desperately sought an escape. The United States didn’t want them. Our government closed the door of America against them. So Zionism came to a white-hot hope, and they began to turn their faces toward Palestine, Israel, just as the Bible prophesied, and they began to find hope, and freedom, and life, and existence in the home of their fathers.
It’s a story of the refugee, seeking some way to find life. The other is also a story of refugees. At first, the Zionist, the Israeli, who came into Palestine, bought the land; bought a place for his family, bought a place for his home. And things went along beautifully, as they had for centuries before. But because of evil influences in the world, that program began to be vigorously resisted; one of whom back is the evil hand of Russia. Wherever you find trouble in the world, you’ll find the evil hand of Russia, whether it’s El Salvador or Honduras or the Middle East or anywhere else in the world; they thrive on evil. Communism is a curse out of hell itself, invented in the mind of Satan. So, it began to be resisted and finally ensued in the war of 1948 and ‘. And here again you come into that same problem of refugees; the Jew who came to Palestine seeking hope and life, a refugee out of the ghettos of the world – and now, as a result of that war, there are a million Palestinians who are outside their native homeland. And the refugees now face one another in an awesome, awesome confrontation.
Well, what of the future, and is there any hope? That is this prophecy.
The prophecy of Isaiah concerns that. These ancient peoples and their animosities, and the history of war and violence among them; he says in the prophecy: "In this coming day five cities in the land" – now I think that is typical of all the cities in the land, like seven churches in Asia represent all the churches of all time in the Revelation [Revelation 2:1-3:22] – five cities here represents all of the cities, and they shall speak the language of Zion" [Isaiah 19:18]; they are going to speak the language of worship, the language of the Lord. And they are going to do their vows before the Lord. And one of those cities shall be called the City of Destruction [Isaiah 19:18]; that’s a play on Hebrew words. They are going to burn their idols and destroy all of their idolatrous worship. For now, they are going to worship the Lord, and in that day, there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land, and an obelisk, an Egyptian obelisk at the border between Israel and Egypt. And it will be raised to the Lord [Isaiah 19:21]. It shall be a sign for a witness to the Lord of hosts. And – and Egypt, in their hour of distress, some great oppression that is coming, shall cry, and God will send them a great Savior, and He shall deliver them [Isaiah 19:20]. And the Lord shall be known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians shall be known to the Lord, and the Egyptians shall worship before the Lord [Isaiah 19:21]. And in that awesome day of "whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth" [Hebrews 12:6] – in that day when God shall smite Egypt, they will turn and repent and be entreated to the Lord, and the Lord shall heal them [Isaiah 19:22]. And then, he says, there shall be a great highway from Egypt to Assyria, and from Assyria to Egypt, and the Assyrians, the Arabic world of Iraq, and Lebanon, and Syria, and Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Egyptians, they shall serve together the great Lord in heaven [Isaiah 19:23]. And Israel shall be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land [Isaiah 19:24], whom the Lord of hosts shall bless saying, "Blessed be Egypt My people, and blessed be Assyria, the Arabic world, the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance" [Isaiah 19:25]. As God our Savior had three close friends, Peter, James, and John [Matthew 26:37; Mark 5:37, 9:2; Luke 9:28], so the Lord in this coming day shall have three nations especially precious to him: Assyria, Egypt, and Israel "Mine inheritance," My firstborn [Isaiah 19:25].
God never forgets His covenants; never. We may forget, and we may think that time has destroyed them and God has forgotten them; He doesn’t. In Genesis 17:20, God said to Abraham, "As for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly: twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation." God never made that covenant and promise to Abraham, and then He forgets it. "I will bless Ishmael, and I will make of him a great nation." Mohammed said that he was a descendant of Ishmael. All of the Arabic world looks upon itself as descendants of Ishmael, and the Bible always looks upon the Arab as a descendant of Ishmael. God said, "I will make of Ishmael a great nation." That’s what God said, and look at the Arabic world; there are fifty million of them. God also said, "I will bless him" [Genesis 17:20].
I was flying along in these days past. I was flying along the Persian Arabian Gulf, and over here to my right was one of the most devastated wastelands, desert lands I ever saw. And I said, "What is that?" They said, "That is Saudi Arabia." I was flying along, at another time, the Red Sea, and to my left was a wasteland, as desert and barren as you can imagine. I said, "What is that?" "That is Saudi Arabia." That is a part of the Arabic world of Iraq, and Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. God says, "I will bless them" [Genesis 17:20]. Who put that oil there? Did a geologist? Did you? Did I? Who put that oil there? God put it there! God did that. God said, "I will make of him a great nation, and I will bless him" [Genesis 17:20]. These things are not peripheral. They are dynamic and central. These things God does, and we just look at them, and they unfold before our eyes.
Let me hastily conclude. God says that the Jew is going to be saved. The day is coming when Israel will look to Jesus, their Messiah, and be saved. And these have been those sermons in days past. Paul writes in Romans 11:26, "And so all Israel shall be saved." And Zechariah chapter 12, verse 10 through chapter 13, verse 1: "They shall look on Him whom they pierced, and they shall mourn for Him [Zechariah 12:10]. And a fountain shall be opened in Jerusalem for cleansing, for salvation" [Zechariah 13:1]. The Jew will be saved [Isaiah 19:25]. The Assyrian is going to be saved. In that day shall there be a highway from Egypt to Assyria to the Arabic world, and the Egyptian and the Assyrian shall serve together the Lord [Isaiah 19:23]. And in that day, the Lord of hosts shall say, "Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria, the work of My hands" [Isaiah 19:25]. The Assyrian, the Arabic world, is to be saved, coming into the kingdom of our Lord. Can we be saved? Can I be saved? In Isaiah :6, to Israel: "I will give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth." We can be saved.
The Arab, he can be saved, and will be. The Jew, he can be saved, and someday will be. And I, we, who are Gentiles, we are not Semitic; we can be saved.
· The black Ethiopian eunuch said to Phillip the evangelist, "I am an emasculated man. I am a dry and a withered branch, and my skin is black. Can I be saved?" And the evangelist replied, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." He can be saved [Acts 9:35-39].
· Cornelius said to the angel, "I am an officer in a hated and despised conquering army; can I be saved?" And the angel replied, "Send for one Simon Peter, who will come and tell thee words whereby thou and thy house may be saved" [Acts 10:5-6].
· And Lydia, a business, professional woman; a merchant woman out of Thyatira, now in Philippi selling her wares, cries to the apostle, "Can I be saved?" And that day, salvation came to the heart and to the house of Lydia, the business and professional woman [Acts 16:14-15].
· And the Philippian jailer, down on his knees, cries in repentance, "Paul and Silas, I have been cruel beyond duty. I have beat the emissaries of heaven, put them in stocks and chains and in the innermost part of this dark dungeon [Acts 16:23-24]; can I be saved?" [Acts 16:30]. They said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" [Acts 16:31].
· And Onesimus, a runaway slave from Philemon in Colosse; Onesimus, who did violence to his master and robbed him and ran away; he cries to the apostle, "Can I be saved?" And the apostle sends Onesimus back to Philemon saying, "Receive him not as a slave, but as a brother beloved. And if he hath wronged thee or oweth thee aught, put it to mine account. I, Paul, signed it with my own hand, I will redeem" [Philemon 1:15-19].
My brother, the whole world cries, "Can I be saved? Can we be saved?" And the Bible closes with the greatest invitation of all time; "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth repeat the glad refrain, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will," thelō, "whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" [Revelation 22:17]. This is God’s open invitation to the whole world and to us, "Come, come, come."
And in this moment when we sing our song of appeal, a family, all of you, mother, father, children; a couple; or just one somebody you: "This day, pastor, we have decided for God, and we are on the way." May the angels attend you as down one of those stairways, as down one of these aisles, you respond with your life. Do it. The greatest blessing the heart could imagine is ours for the taking; come, while we stand and while we sing, welcome.
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)