When we look at what has been going on in Syria since the beginning
of 2011 and when we look at what is going on in Iraq at present, we surely cannot help but be horrified by all the seemingly senseless killing going on: faction against faction, each wanting to be in absolute control. We know that religiously all the combatants essentially follow the same faith, although we know they have split into two main groups, Sunni and Shia, and mostly they also have the same ethnic heritage; the majority of Syrians referring to themselves as Arabs while Iraq’s dominant ethnic group are regarded as the Iraqi Arabs.
This is not about who is right or who is wrong in the conflicts taking place there at present, nor is it about the involvement of the US, Russia, Britain or Europe, whether directly or from behind the scenes, but it is an attempt to try to get some understanding of the root causes of the whole situation there.
As Christians we cannot help but be reminded of Ishmael and Esau from whom the Arabs are descended. At this point it will be meaningful to look at a few scriptures regarding these two “patriarch’s” of the Arab people.
Firstly, and importantly, we learn that through “the angel of the Lord” God granted a special blessing to Ishmael. Speaking to Hagar, who was then pregnant with Ishmael, “the angel of the Lord” said:
“I will so increase your descendents that they will be too numerous to count”. (Gen. 16:10.)
Later in Genesis 17:20, God reaffirms this promise to Ishmael.
However, in Genesis 16:12 the angel of the Lord also announced to Hagar that her son, Ishmael,
“will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers”. (Gen 16:12.)
As for Esau, we learn that included in Isaac’s blessing to him, were the words that he was destined to “live by the sword”. (Gen 27:40.)
In both these scriptures, without being too simplistic, we seem to find a fitting and vivid description of the incessant feuding that goes on between the Arabs themselves, their neighbours and others: a situation that has been going on since those words were spoken by God and by Isaac and one which we surely are witnessing going on now in Syria and Iraq?
In time to come we will see this happen again; but on this occasion it will be a much larger conflict than any the world has witnessed to date. It will also be a conflict in which God Himself gets directly involved on Israel’s behalf. At that time God will intervene and through His intervention he will magnify His Name. As a result both Israel and the nations will know that He is the Lord; that it was He who defeated Israel’s enemies.
Here we refer to the war described by Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39 of his book, when he tells of a vast army led by Gog of Magog which comes against Israel: most commentators interpret this army as being a coalition of Arabic nations led by Russia.
God uses a number of supernatural events to all but wipe out this vast army. However, one interesting method God uses is found in Ezekiel 38:21 where He says: “I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother.” Not only will God use a number of supernatural means to defeat the coalition led by Gog, but the coalition of Israel’s enemies will turn on itself!
It will surely be a repeat of what we are witnessing now and what has been foretold in God’s Word and, in view of what we see going on at present as well as noting who the parties are that are now involved, dare we ask whether we are even now seeing the build up to this terrible war?
Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.
(Note: All quotes are from the NIV Bible.)