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Cursing Abraham

August 4, 2014

As my wife, Ana, and I were watching the news about the Palestinians firing thousands of rockets into Israel, she made one of her insightful comments. “I’ll bet the Israeli Jews are cursing Abraham and Sarah right now.” To understand why that is probably true, you have to listen to a story.
We usually hear only good things about Abraham. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it has been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” (Romans 4:18)
Genesis 18:11 tells us, “Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.” In other words, she was well past child-bearing age.
Romans 18:19 continues the story: “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old –and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.”
Abraham sounds like a great man – and he was. He believed God for the miracle that had been promised to him – that his children and his children’s children would be uncountable. Even though all the evidence, everything in the natural, said that his faith was futile, he believed. And God answered him because of his faith.
“He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” (Romans 18:20)
When he was 100 years old his wife, Sarah, became pregnant. We don’t know how old she was, but the Bible says her womb was dead. We assume she was close to Abraham’s age, yet a miracle baby was growing in that supposedly dead womb. And Isaac was born.
But there is a back story to all of this. Like us, Abraham was not perfect, nor was Sarah. Their faith was not always strong. They knew what the promise was, but were not willing to wait for God to fulfill it. So they decided to help God out.
Not smart.
Sarah came to Abraham with a really dumb idea. Abraham was 86, and she told him that his only chance to bear a son would be to sleep with her servant, Hagar. Neither of them was willing to wait for God to fulfill his promise. Because of their impatience, Ishmael was born. The same Ishmael, who would father the Arab nations that would try to destroy Israel.
Worse, Ishmael is the father of Islam. He is considered a prophet of Islam and is spoken of in the Koran. He is also Muhammad’s ancestor.
Although Abraham loved Ishmael, he was born in sin. When Isaac was born he became Abraham’s heir because he was lawfully born of his father and mother. Ishmael, who was born of a sinful union, hated Isaac and was jealous of him because he was their father’s rightful heir.
It is interesting that even though Ishmael was born due to his father’s sin, Abraham prayed that God would bless him. As a result of that prayer, in Genesis 17:20 God told Abraham, “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.”
Through sin that nation became the nation of Islam. The twelve princes were the twelve oil-rich Arab nations of the Middle East. If Ishmael and his descendants had chosen to follow God, who had given them such blessings, they would have prospered and been blessed. Instead, they chose to follow a false God, the demonic Allah. And even though they have great riches, they are benighted, ignorant people.
By contrast, Israel had little oil and very few natural resources. But because they had God’s blessings upon them, they created what the world knows as the “Miracle in the Desert.” By hard work and ingenuity, they irrigated the desert land and made it among the bountiful on earth. Israelis are known worldwide for their intelligence and inventions. Israel is one of the most technologically advanced nations on earth,
Back to our story: At Sarah’s insistence Abraham banished Hagar and Ishmael to the valley of Bakka. This later became the city of Mecca, which of course is the seat of Islam. Genesis 16:12 describes what the Angel of the Lord told Hagar: “This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.” You can see this today in the hatred between the various different sects of Islam.
Thus began the enmity between the Jews (and eventually Christians) and the Arabs (and eventually Muslims). Enmity is a strong word. It does not just mean opposition or dislike. It includes hostility, animosity, antagonism, antipathy, acrimony, bitterness, rancor, resentment, aversion, and hatred. This is not just a family feud between two Semitic peoples. This is strong enmity that has existed for thousands of years and strengthens by the day.
This is why I get frustrated when I see foolish but well-meaning people trying to force Israel to negotiate with terrorists. I’m not just talking about the Hamas terrorists who now run the Palestinian Authority. I'm talking about all the Arab nations and the Muslim-run countries - descendants of Ishmael - that hate Israel so much that they will not stop until every Jew is dead.
You cannot negotiate with someone whose only irrational goal is to see you dead.
The only thing these thugs, these children of Ishmael, understand is strength. Strength is something Israel has today, and not afraid to display it.
One of the first things Hitler did when he decided to exterminate every Jew was to disarm them. Then he took away their businesses and professions so that they had no money to buy weapons to defend themselves. The result was 6 million slaughtered Jews.
Since then the Israeli Jews have vowed, "Never again." And now they are strong enough, both militarily and financially, to back that up.
The Jewish nation was born the same year I was born. I'm sure that is part of the reason why I feel a special connection to Israel. But the most important connection with Israel, one that is felt by Christians everywhere, is biblical. In Genesis 12:3 God declares to Israel, “I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you.”
How can we as a nation bless Israel? We can start by telling our president to stop talking out of both sides of his mouth. When he speaks to Jewish or Christian groups he talks about what a great friend he is to Israel. Yet his actions and his so-called foreign policy are in direct opposition to the safety and survival of Israel.
We can also elect Christians and conservatives who understand that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East and that if we want God to continue to bless America, we need to support Israel.
Even though Arabs and Muslims have gone to war against Israel many times, even though Israel is hugely outnumbered, and even though every nation around it has pledged at one time or another to "drive them into the sea," Israel has never asked us to send troops to assist them. All they have ever asked is that we use the moral leadership of the US to protect them from the lies of the Arab League and the United Nations. Under Obama, we have not even done that.
Israel may well be the hammer that crushes Iranian nuclear capability before it can finish developing that capability that they can in turn use to attack us. Yet Obama has told Israel not to act.
Hamas, which has been designated by the US and almost every other civilized nation as a terrorist organization hurls missiles into Israel every day. The policy of the United States has been to never negotiate with terrorists. Yet our cowardly Secretary of State, John Kerry has threatened to withdraw US support for Israel if they don’t negotiate with Hamas.
If Mexico were lobbing missiles into Texas or Arizona, we would immediately send F-16s to bomb the source of the missiles into oblivion. And I doubt very seriously that we would do as Israel has done by warning the civilians close by to evacuate the area.
So where do we get off telling Israel to “show restraint” and not respond when their nation is being bombarded daily? The US needs to stop acting like the biggest hypocrite in history, and start acting like the great world power we were before 2008.
As we contemplate all this turmoil, it makes me think of how much better this world would be if Abraham and Sarah had been patient and waited for the promise of the Lord. Would we have the world terrorist threat posed by militant Islamists that strikes fear into the hearts of people all over the world? We will never know what would have happened if Ishmael had never been born.
I will give former Governor Mike Huckabee the final word: “What defenders of the murderers and terrorists of Hamas fail to get is that the same people who hate Israel also hate America, and are merely practicing on Israel what they hope to do to us.”

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Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

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