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Welcome to my blog! I hope to be a resource to help you in your walk with God. Now more than ever we need to get back to the basic fundamentals of moral living and take a stand for what is right and truthful with God as our ultimate authority. His Word is reliable and preserved and can be trusted, so that is the basis for my advice and teaching. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or topics you would like me to cover. I look forward to sharing what God has placed on my heart. See my website at http://www.dawnfoss.tateauthor.com and http://www.dawnfoss.com/ for books and music I have written that will enrich your life!

Ezekiel 22:30: "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none." Let's stand in the gap together!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Does God Love the Arabs?

Recently I was teaching my Sunday School class out of Genesis 16-21 about Abraham and Isaac, and how God had promised to make of Abraham a great nation. God made this promise years before Isaac was actually born. I can understand how Abraham and Sarah might have wondered how God was going to perform this, since Sarah his wife was barren, and now an old woman, well past child-bearing years. However, God had made a promise, and God keeps His promises.

Sarah took things into her own hands by stepping in for God, perhaps thinking she better do something to help Abraham get this promised son before she dies. Perhaps she wondered if God had forgotten them, or because God kept her barren she was not good enough or adequate. Maybe she was mad at God for not changing her situation, and it was so late in life for her now that the dream of bearing a child of her own was long gone. What bitter pain she may have been feeling, and maybe even feeling rejected by her husband.  Whatever the reason, she gave Abraham her Egyptian maid Hagar to marry, he slept with her and she indeed became pregnant. Sarah thought this child would be hers, because in Genesis 16:2 she said to Abraham her husband, "Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her."

However, this plan backfired, and she really regretted it. When Hagar conceived, it only made her feel worse that she could not give her husband a child, and Hagar despised Sarah, which made Sarah feel even worse. Sarah lashed back and dealt harshly with her, and Hagar fled from her in fear. Genesis 16:7-13 says, "And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's [that was the spelling at this time, was later changed to "Sarah"] maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his breathren. And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?" So yes, while he will be wild man of war, God still promised he was not forgotten; he and Hagar were not unseen.

In chapter 17 God again reinforced his promise to Abraham in vs. 1-2: "...I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly." He went on to say that Abraham would be the father of many nations. God also specified that this line would come through Sarah his wife. In vs. 16: "And I will bless her [Sarah], and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her." Abraham, however, was a little confused and laughed, thinking he was all done with impregnating anyone because he was 99 years old, and his barren wife was 90 years old! He asked God to just use Ishmael. Hey, the work was already done, he was a son of Abraham, so what's the harm? Can't God adjust His plan?

Abraham said to God, "O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him" (Genesis 17:18-19).  Isaac would be the promised son that the lineage of Jesus would be from, and would begin the birth of the Jewish nation.  However, God did not forget Abraham's other son Ishmael, even though this was not God's plan and Sarah made a hasty decision by giving her Egyptian maid to her husband. Polygamy was never God's design.

God made a special promise to Abraham regarding this other precious soul. "And 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. By my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year." That was that. The decision was made...by God Himself. It wasn't that Ishmael was a bad boy or not good enough. He was just not the promised child. This child had to be a miracle from God, born of a barren, postmenopausal woman, and Abraham's first wife, and that's it. It's not up to us to try to change God's plan; we are to obey. However, it is clear that Ishmael was also loved by God, and would become a great nation as well; just not the Jews. Abraham and Ishmael and all the men of the household were then circumcised, as God had said unto him.

Abraham was visited by angels who again reinforced the message from God that Abraham and Sarah would become reproductive again (for Sarah it would be the first time!), and Sarah would conceive a son. Sarah laughed over the situation, but God reminded them, "Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son" (Genesis 18:14).  She did indeed! In chapter 21 Isaac was born and circumcised. After he was weaned they had a great feast. Ishmael was a teenager by now. He was heard mocking Isaac, and that was not OK with Sarah. In vs. 10 she said to Abraham, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." The Bible goes on to say that this grieved Abraham, but God said in vs. 12: "And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called."

The story doesn't stop there, however. God continued: "And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed" (Genesis 21:13). This was promised before, and reiterated now. Abraham got supplies for Hagar and Ishmael, and they were sent away, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.  They ran out of water and were about to die. Hagar didn't want to see the death of her child, and lift up her voice and wept. "God heard the voice of the lad (he must have been praying): and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer" (Genesis 21:17-20). God intended for him to live and intervened to save his life. He married a woman from Egypt, and settled in Paran.

What is the point of this story? It is to point out the tenderness and love and deliverance of God for Ishmael. Yes, Abraham is Ishmael's father. Abraham is also Isaac's father. Isaac became the father of a great nation: Israel. Ishmael became the father of a great nation: Arabs.  Why is there so much war between them? I wonder if the Arabs feel like an illegitimate child. But Abraham married Hagar, and while Abraham had to send them away, it was not because he did not love them. He loved them very much, and it grieved him to send them away. However, he had a duty to obey God by hearkening unto the voice of his wife, and separating the two boys, just like he had to separate from his nephew Lot in order keep their workers from fighting all the time.  Both were loved by Abraham, and both were loved by God. Isaac was the chosen son, chosen by God for a special purpose: to be the lineage of Jesus, and be His chosen people.

I am a Gentile, so there have been times I have wished I were God's chosen Jew because I thought I might be more precious in His eyes. However, God loves Gentiles, too, and Jesus died to save the whole world, regardless of race. "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:12-13).  "Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith" (Romans 3:29-30). Praise the Lord, we are not left out! God has made room in His kingdom for us all!  Also, Ruth was in the lineage of Jesus, and she was a Gentile. Salvation is for the Jew and the Arab, for the Greek and the Italian. For the American and the Brazilian. For the European and the African, Asian, Australian, etc. You get the picture! "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). 

If you are an Arab, please know God loves you. Repent of your sin and come to Jesus by faith and ask Him to be your personal Lord and Savior. He died on the cross and rose again the third day. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He rose victorious over death and the grave, and like Him, we too will one day be resurrected in Christ and be with Him for eternity if we accept His gift of salvation.  "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:54-58).

He never intended Arabs to reject Him; Jehovah God is not the God of the Jews, but the God of the Arabs, too. Come to Him for your salvation and freedom from sin, and a promise of eternal life. Titus 1:2: "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."

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