The Death Struggle of Arab and Jew
January 27th, 1991 @ 10:50 AM
THE DEATH STRUGGLE OF ARAB AND JEW
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-27-91 10:50 a.m.
e welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio and on television. You are now a worshipful part of our precious First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Death Struggle of Arab and Jew.
Something like two thousand six hundred years ago, Jerusalem was destroyed [2 Chronicles 36:19], and the people were carried away captive into a country that we know today as Iraq. Something like two thousand four hundred forty-five years ago, the people returned with Nehemiah and began to rebuild their Holy City. And I read from Nehemiah chapter 6, and a few chapters thereafter. First, in chapter 2: “When Sanballat and Geshem the Arab heard of the rebuilding of the city, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? Then I answered and said, The God of heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build” [Nehemiah 2:19-20]. And again, in chapter 4: “It came to pass, that when Sanballat and the Arabs heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, that the breaches began to be stopped, they were very wroth, and conspired against all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it” [Nehemiah 4:7-8]. And once again, in chapter 6: “Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach therein…they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands” [Nehemiah 6:1, 9;]; the death struggle of Arab and Jew.
Two thousand four hundred years later, the city and the state were destroyed, this time by the Romans; and they were scattered abroad throughout the civilized world [1 Peter 1:1]. And after the passing of something like two thousand more years, there arose a movement in the Jewish world that we call Zionism: a loving, and a planning, and a praying, and a hoping to return back to their Promised Land. In 1895, Baron Theodor Herzl of Vienna, Austria, the father of that modern movement, Der Judenstadt, his bones were carried back to Palestine and to Israel when the state of Israel was created. He had died in 1904, and David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of Israel, said, “He is the second great Jew whose bones have been carried back to the Promised Land. The first was Joseph, whose bones were brought back by Moses [Genesis 50:25, Exodus 13:19, Joshua 24:32]; and then Baron Herzl, the second.” In 1897, the first Zionist congress was convened in Basil, Switzerland. And in 1918, the British government and the British Empire published what is called the Balfour Declaration; namely, “We view with favor a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine.”
In 1921, modern immigration began, and the Jews first bought small land owners; and there was no problem. Then the Jews began to buy large tracts of land from land owners who lived in Cairo and in Damascus. A contract was made that the peasants, the Arabs who lived on the land, could stay there for a year; but after the passing of the year they must be removed. And when the year was done, they refused; and trouble, trouble, trouble ensued. In May 17, 1939, was published the British White Paper; namely, it prohibited the purchase of land, and it prohibited the immigration of any other Jews, outside of a few. And the terrible plight of the Jew in the world, at that time under Hitler, and in other states like Russia, brought on them an incalculable and indescribable peril. There was unending trouble in Israel and in Palestine.
On the fourteenth day of May, in 1948, the British, in despair, gave up their mandate; and the next day, the fifteenth of May in 1948, the state of Israel was created, declared. Aged Chaim Weizmann was named president; he was a chemist in London, invented TNT. And David Ben-Gurion was named prime minister. And the war began between Arab and Jew. In 1949, the United Nations declared a demarcation in the land: on this side, the West, would be given to the state and the nation of Israel; and on that side, the East, to the Arab.
I was there just right after that demarcation. Our Southern Baptist missionaries in Galilee and in Judea were thrust into the Jewish section. And as I listened to them and spent days with them, I made the prediction: they cannot remain together. Even though they were Christian missionaries from our Southern Baptist Zion, the Arab missionaries were so pro-Arab, and the Jewish missionaries were so pro-Jewish, they could not even witness to the saving grace of the Lord together. And that prediction I made came to pass: they separated; they couldn’t work together.
I was a guest in Baraka Hospital; Dr. Lambie, a Jewish devotee, had built that beautiful and spacious hospital near Hebron, in the Valley of Baraka. In that demarcation, it happened to be placed in the Arab section. It was one of the saddest visits I’ve ever made in my life. That was the first time I heard the song—Mrs. Lambie, the widow, and the few personnel there who were ministering then to the Arabs, sang that song: “I have decided to follow Jesus, though no one go with me,” they never had a convert, “I still will follow.”
In those days after the demarcation, I made the friendship of David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of the newly created state and nation of Israel. I saw him three times. The first time was as he led a dedicated group of families, following the caskets of thirty Israeli soldiers who had been killed in that war. The caskets were on flatbed trucks; and the families were in old, beat up buses; and David Ben-Gurion was leading the mourners, the families. The second time I was with the prime minister was in the King David Hotel. He had married a woman from Brooklyn, New York; and she heard that I was there, and sent for me. And at the dinner table, for a good hour and a half, I sat down and talked to them. They were so interested in things in America, and especially was she. And the third time I was with David Ben-Gurion was one of the most unusual providences I ever shared in my life. Newsweek magazine came out with a big picture, clear across the page, the article above it and the article below it and the page in the center with that big picture, and David Ben-Gurion is saying something to me, and I’m dying laughing. Well, I was asked a thousand times, “What was it that Ben-Gurion said to you that was so funny?” Well, I said it was this: in the city of Jerusalem and its civic center, and its big, big auditorium, there was called together a world conference on science and religion. And there were three of us speaking that night. There was a scientist, and there was the prime minister, Ben-Gurion, and there was I. And Ben-Gurion and I are seated together there on the platform, listening to that scientist. And that scientist said something, the first time I ever heard of such a thing: he was up there saying, “The day is coming when we’re going to conceive children in a test tube.” I never heard anything like that! As you know, it’s come to pass, and you have a lot of children today that have been conceived in a test tube, a female ovum and a male spermatozoon; but that was the first time I ever heard it, “We’re going to conceive children in a test tube,” that scientist said. Well, when he said that, David Ben-Gurion seated here, punched me, and he said, “Preacher, did you hear that?” I said, “Yes, Mr. Prime Minister.” Then he repeated it, “That scientist says the day is coming when we’re going to conceive children in a test tube.” I said, “Yes, I heard him say that.” Well, he went back with his head, and came back and punched me, and he said, “But I’m telling you, preacher, the old way is better.” That’s why I was laughing!
The unceasing and unending need of that world is for peace. Psalm 122, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…for my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee” [Psalm 122:6, 8]. As I have many times, going around with the leaders of Israel—even with the Prime Minister Shamir, I spent about forty minutes one time with him, last time I was over there, November of last year—as I listen to leaders of Israel, they cry, “O God, for peace.” It’s the cry of the troubled nations and peoples of the Middle East: “O God, for peace.” As you know, the motto of Israel is Isaiah 35:1: “The desert shall rejoice, and blossom like a rose.” And those men of Israel will say, “O God, for peace.” The desert is to be irrigated, the hills and the mountains denuded are to be reforested, the land is to be made plentiful, and the refugees, so many thousands of them now, are to be repatriated. “O God, for peace.”
I was in Egypt, and a guest of some of the men of government; and they cried, saying, “O God, for peace.” They said, “There are more than thirty million poverty-stricken in Egypt. And the number is growing a million a year. And the great burden of military expenditures is more than we can bear. O God,” those Egyptian leaders said, “O God, for peace.” And I was in Lebanon—absolutely at one time one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and Beirut one of the most beautiful cities—and torn apart and destroyed, and those businessmen with whom I would eat dinner, would say, “O God, for peace.” And in Damascus, at one time the merchandising center of all of that part of the world, and those merchants so destroyed, losing billions of dollars every year, as I would speak to those merchants they would cry, saying, “O God, for peace.”
Why not peace in the Middle East? Because of the implacable hatred of the Arab for the Jew. “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which had been born unto Abraham, mocking,” sticking out his tongue. “Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing very grievous to Abraham” [Genesis 21:9-11]; but Ishmael was cast out [Genesis 21:14], and from that day until this, the indescribable hatred of the Arab for the Jew.
I was seated on a stand, having my shoes shined in Tripoli, in Libya, and while that Libyan was shining my shoes, a Jew went by. And the shoe-shine Libyan said, “See him? See him? If he no go,” the shoe-shine Libyan said, and he made a gesture to cut his throat.
The Palestinian problem: after the Second World War, I was preaching in Munich. The sermon I preached that particular night had to be translated into four different languages: a ten minute sermon, forty minutes long. The refugees were there by the thousands and the thousands and the thousands, all Western Europe was flooded with refugees. Then in Hong Kong, in that one city, a million refugees. Western Europe received them, housed them, opened the door for them, took them in. Hong Kong did the same thing. All over the world the refugees have been received and settled and cared for; all except in the Arab world. I looked at those Palestinian refugees in the deserts: they were living between rocks with some kind of a covering overhead; festering, “Why did not those vast Arab nations of the world receive their refugees, like our people in Western Europe did, or those over there in the Orient did, or other places in the world?” They wanted to use them as a pawn of hatred. And there they are to this day, the Palestinian problem.
I was over there in the deserts of Amman, and to my amazement, under the direction of a military sergeant, there were teenage boys, teenagers, and they were marching and drilling as to war; had no uniform, had no gun, they had a stick for a weapon—the hatred for the Jew.
Is there not some better way? When I was down there in the Amazon jungle, with Kimo, the Auca Indian, and the head of his tribe there, they had destroyed, slain, five Wycliffe missionaries. And the downriver Aucas and the upriver Aucas were constantly at war and in murder. And Kimo said to me, “Pastor, isn’t there some better way?”
On Lookout Mountain, there walking among the memorials to the fallen dead of the War Between the States, on one of those monuments:
No more shall the war cry sever,
Or the winding river run red,
We banish our anger forever,
When we laurel the graves of the dead.
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the Judgment day
Love and tears for the Blue,
Tears and love for the Gray.
[“The Blue and The Gray,” Francis Miles Finch]
Isn’t there some better way?
Going from Egypt to Israel, no plane allowed from any Arab country; has to go to Cypress, a neutral, then change. Landing in Cypress, there where those officers were in Nicosia, that sign, big sign, “Just one thing needed: a passport to peace.”
And that is the promise of God to the peoples of this warring world. First to the nations of the Middle East: Isaiah 19:
In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt, to Assyria—
and the Iraqis shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Iraqi, and the Egyptians shall serve God with the Iraqi.
In that day Israel shall be the third with Egypt and with Iraqi, even a blessing in the midst of the land:
Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt, My people, and Iraqi the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance.
Can you believe such a thing? The day is coming in the promise of God when the Arab and the Israeli and all of those people of the Middle East will bless the name of the Lord. And Israel, in Zechariah:
I will pour out upon the house of Israel, upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication: they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn as one mourneth for his only son.
In that day shall there be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
And in that day His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east…
It shall be one day known to the Lord…
And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord, and His name one.
Beautiful Israel—and the same promise to the nations of the world.
Our Lord shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. And we, we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.
There’s a greater day coming: the Lord Messiah will personally reign over the nations of the world, and we shall be His people, and He will be our Savior and our God [Zechariah 14:9]. O Lord, hasten that day. Instead of giving our lives and our wealth and our energies to war, and to slaughter, and to combat, and to hatred, Lord, may we give our lives and energies as a people of the world to the colonization of all God’s heavens, and to the building of those precious ministries that make life rich and endearing and heavenly. This is the promise of God our Savior [Romans 10:15].
And to you who have listened on television, if you want to give your heart to thus a beautiful hope in our Savior, there’s a telephone [number] on the screen, call the number. There’ll be a consecrated man or woman to answer. If you don’t know how to accept Christ as your Savior, it’ll be a joy to guide you into the way, and I’ll meet you in heaven someday. And in the great press of people in this sanctuary, in the balcony round, down one of these stairways, in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and I am dedicating my life to Him; and here I stand” [Romans 10:9-10]. On the first note of the first stanza, come, and welcome, while we stand and while we sing.