There is only one hope in resolving strife between Jews, Arabs and Christians. Discover the amazing truth.
[Gary Petty] One day he gets out of bed, just like you and me. He thinks about his proud mother, his brothers and sisters. He steps outside and feels the cool morning breeze on his face. Mingling with the jostling masses of people trying to get to work, he might even stop for a cup of coffee. But this man’s backpack carries something dangerously different than work papers or lunch. He steps into a public square, looks around and pushes the button. A suicide bomber.
Today, we’re going to discuss the core issues of the Middle East conflict, what motivates a suicide bomber and get the insight of a number of Christians who have actually lived in the Middle East.
On Beyond Today, we’re going to search for the answers to Solving the Israel-Arab Conflict.
The concept of a suicide bomber seems unfathomable to most people living in the cultures of the United States, Canada or Europe. I mean what motivates a man to strap explosives on his body, walk among a group of people he doesn’t even know, and detonate a bomb? Killing and mangling others while snuffing out his own life? Is it an act of madness? desperation? hatred? religious fervor?
Where do we go to understand the root cause? The reason why there is this terrible strife between Muslim, Jew and Christian?
Can the root cause of the strife in the Middle East be traced back to 1948, when the United Nations established the modern nation of Israel? In this rather simplistic view, the U.N. forced the indigenous population, the Palestinians, out of their homes and replaced them with Jews, who were survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. The displaced Palestinians are seen as the abused people who have been stripped of their lands and rights.
The reality is, is much more complicated. In fact a little later, in the program, we’re going to talk with some individuals who have lived in the Middle East. It will help you understand just how complicated it really is.
The cause of the suffering and strife in the Middle East started long before 1948.
So did all this trouble start when the European powers arbitrarily divided Arab lands after the fall of the Ottoman Empire? Can we trace the beginnings of modern conflicts between Islam and Christians to the medieval crusades? Is the blame to be laid on the Zionist movement which reflected centuries of Jewish desire to return to their homeland, after the Romans drove them out in the first and second centuries A.D.?
These are all important factors in understanding the long, bloody, complicated history of the conflicts between Arabs, Jews and Christians, but the roots of the conflict–of this conflict in the Middle East–predates the crusades. In fact, these roots predate the founding of Islam and Christianity. They predate Arab tribes supporting the ancient Babylonians against the nation of Judah. They predate Moses leading the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery.
The root causes of squalid Palestinian camps, suicide bombers, the Jewish desire for a homeland in Zion, the Christian belief that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah who will return to Jerusalem in power and glory, all have an ancient beginning. The root causes of Middle Eastern bloodshed originate in a story shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims–a story that happened around 4,000 years ago.
According to Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Scriptures, in a prominent city named Ur, along the Euphrates River located in what is now modern Iraq, a man who would be known throughout history as Abraham and his wife Sarah were called by God. God told them to leave their home and travel to a place where He would give them a rich land and through one of their descendants, He would bless all the nations of the earth.
Abraham and Sarah obeyed God and traveled from Ur to what is known as Canaan. Canaan is the geographically diverse strip of land, running along the eastern Mediterranean Sea, that is the center of the Israeli-Arab conflict today.
God promised Abraham and Sarah a child, but she was barren. And when she became advanced in age, they both knew that is was physically impossible for them to produce a child. The couple decided that they had the perfect solution to the problem.
Following a common ancient custom, Sarah gave an Egyptian servant girl to Abraham as a surrogate mother. The child of this union was named Ishmael. For many years Abraham thought Ishmael was the son of promise.
But Abraham and Sarah were about to learn a shocking lesson. God appeared to Abraham and claimed that Ishmael was not the son of promise! The son of promise would miraculously be produced from a union between Abraham and Sarah.
Abraham already had a son whom he dearly loved. He pleads to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” (Genesis 17:18 Genesis 17:18And Abraham said to God, O that Ishmael might live before you!
American King James Version×) You can almost hear in Abraham’s voice the agony of a man who is realizing the disappointment and betrayal his son is going to feel.
Abraham had believed for many years that Ishmael was the son of promise, but God informed him that the Sovereign Lord of history had other plans. It was always God’s plan for the son of promise to come from Abraham and Sarah. The use of the Egyptian Hagar as a surrogate was their devising, not God’s.
What an important lesson for all of us.
How many times do we make decisions based on our own idea of God’s will, while in reality He has a totally different plan for us? Abraham and Sarah tried to fulfill God’s promise by human reasoning on a human timetable. The consequences of their simple decision shaped the history of many generations.
According to Genesis, just as God had promised, Abraham and Sarah did have a son. His name was Isaac. Isaac became the father of the ancient Israelites, the forefathers of the Jewish people. The Jews trace their origins to what they call the fathers; Abraham, his son Isaac, and his son Jacob, who became known as Israel.
The story of Abraham, Sarah, Ishmael and Isaac is also foundational for Christians who see in Jesus of Nazareth the prophesied Jewish Messiah. It is through Jesus that God is fulfilling the promise He gave to Abraham to bless all nations, all peoples.
Let’s return to the Genesis account. In order to avoid strife between Ishmael and Isaac, the child who was now proclaimed the son of promise, the son of Abraham and Hagar, was driven from Abraham’s camp where he became the father of many tribes. According to Muslim tradition, the origins of the Arab peoples are traced through Abraham and Ishmael.
By understanding the two versions of this ancient story, we begin to understand why there is such strife between Judaism, Islam and Christianity who all trace their origins to God’s dealings with Abraham and Sarah.
In the Koran, it asks Jews and Christians “…wherefore do [you] argue respecting Abraham, asserting that he was of your religion, when the Pentateuch and Gospel [are] not sent down but after him a long time?” (Ali Imran 3:65 Qur’an)
Muslims believe that their religion is the true religion of Abraham and predates both Moses and Jesus. Jews believe that the promises given to Abraham were passed on through Isaac and Jacob. For them, when God on Mount Sinai gave the law to Moses, He was fulfilling those promises.
Christians believe that the promises God gave to Abraham were passed on through Isaac, Jacob and Moses and Jesus, as the prophesied Messiah and Son of God. The wars, the bloodshed, the hatreds, the misunderstandings are all human attempts to grasp and own the promises God made to Abraham. It is truly a 4,000 year old tragedy.
So how is this tragedy being played out in our world today?
Well we’re going to discuss this question with some Christians who have lived in the Middle East. But first, let me tell you how to get your free copy of The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.
You know the most important information you’ll ever receive in understanding the conflict between Jews and Arabs, finding an answer to why the terrorists hate us,and discovering the biblical solution to this 4,000 year old tragedy, is found in The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.
This booklet will guide you through the history of the son of Abraham, the rise and fall of ancient Israel, the formation of Islam, and what Bible prophecy says about the future of war and peace in the Middle East and its impact on your world.
You can receive a free copy by calling toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or you can read The Middle East in Bible Prophecy online at BeyondToday.tv. We also offer this important book in Arabic. Now all of our literature is provided free as a public service. And you can follow Beyond Today on Twitter and join us on Facebook where we welcome your comments and suggestions.
We’re going to take you to San Antonio, Texas where I had a fascinating discussion with three Christians; William and Jackie Stetter and Rod Foster, who have a unique perspective of the Middle East. All three lived in Jordan and because of their work in an international foundation, they were able to interact with all levels of Jordanian society from Bedouins and Palestinians, to government officials and even members of the royal family.
We discussed how the story of Abraham lies at the foundation of conflicts between Jews and Arabs.
Through Abraham, God gave certain promises that came through Isaac. The Jews believed that also. But the Arabs have quite a different viewpoint of how God blessed Abraham and where those blessings go to, correct?
Correct. Obviously they are coming from a different book. There’s a different story as far as the history of God’s promises and even the patriarchs of their faith. They see, instead of Isaac being on Mount Moriah for sacrificing by Abraham, they see Ishmael. They also know that Ishmael was also circumcised and that the story is reversed. There is an imposter and that imposter is Isaac.
It makes it completely incompatible. There’s, there’s no way that both of those stories can be compatible with each other. It’s either that one is right, and one is wrong, or neither one is correct. But there is no way for that, those two stories to mesh with each other because they are just absolutely opposite of each other. Even though it’s the same characters in the story.
I really want to make that point. Cause that’s a very, very important point. I have here a copy of the Jewish Scriptures, what we call the Old Testament. Here is the Bible, the Old and New Testament, what Christians use. Here’s a copy of the Koran. What we literally have, are people that are people of three books: the Koran, the Tanakh, and the Bible, the Old and New Testament combined.
So if you, if you were an Arab, and you believe that, and especially lets look at Palestinians, if you believe that that land was given to you by God, and you’re not able to have that land, how does that effect you?
I can give you one specific example, a grown man, much larger than me, who appeared not to have been born in that land, in the West Bank, parts of Israel, break down emotionally. I don’t mean in a violent way, but emotional as if he had lost a loved one because his ancestral land and the property, were gone. They were now occupied by the nation of Israel and he behaved as if he had lost a loved one just when I asked him, where does your family come from? And many times when I’d asked people, where do you come from? They won’t tell me the city or suburb they’re from. They’ll tell me the specific cities and areas within the West Bank and the Palestinian area in which their family came from and it’s a very emotional issue.
How does the Koran shape their world view?
Well, what was somewhat surprising to me was that they view our culture as being somewhat barbaric. We’re sort of the uneducated, unwashed, and we just got lucky or something. You know, we got the wealth and the power in the past century or so but, they’re really, their view of us is we’re pretty uneducated, uninformed people. I mean, we keep dogs in our house which to them is just absolutely filthy! The average Jordanian or Palestinian on the street is much more informed about, you know, the world politics and what is going on in the world than the average American is.
I think most Americans would find that very strange and surprising to say that they understand more about world politics than we do, as far as the average person.
Yeah you know the average American would. We view, we see images on the news of people in kefias covering their masks, throwing rocks, and that’s our image. But that’s not it at all! They’re very informed. They’re very community oriented. So they, they watch the news. They read the news and they sit around and discuss it and that is their life.
Now Jackie, what was it like being a Christian American woman in that culture and that society?
It was very different. And we come from a country where women have power. We have a lot of individual power. Away from our families, and over there it’s, the role of a woman is much more submissive. You’re much more in the background. Some of your more educated women, that have spent time in America, may still have some of that, that power and not so submissive but, but your main…
…Just average person…
…average person–the woman’s role is within the home. It’s as the wife and the mother and the caregiver for that family and it’s much more submissive role. And I know when I came back to the U.S. it took me a while to re-adapt to the U.S. culture and the fact that it was okay for me to go out, and to talk to a man, to shake hands when you meet someone. That the culture shock of coming to the U.S. again, was really something.
Are many of the Muslim women educated? Are they allowed to receive the same education as men?
The wealthier ones are allowed to have more education. They have an opportunity to some private schools. Your more middle of the road, your lower income, not so much because the kids are needed to help take care of the farms, the animals, that type. So there, especially for the girls, the education is cut off a little earlier.
You know we were talking about before hand, and one thing you were saying, all of you were saying, was that how passionate they are as a people. And we don’t understand, in the United States we don’t tend to be that emotional, but they are very passionate people aren’t they?
Definitely. There is, emotion is not held in check there. Obviously there is pros and cons to that but, you did not feel that there was a mask or a political correctness. If they felt a certain way, they told you that and you felt the heart was there. Whether it was politics, or a family, they were endearing people but they could easily, as much as rejoice, be very angry. And it was right in front and center.
Of course the down side to that, is that, that emotion became very volatile even violent very quickly.
You were talking about a riot you were witnessed, I guess at one time?
We didn’t witness it because we were in hiding. We heard it. What had happened is that, over in Israel proper, some Palestinian workers were coming in for their day’s work, into the country. And apparently an Israeli citizen, out of the blue, just murdered several of them. It sent the Palestinian refugees who were in Jordan into a massive riot, an immediate riot. It was an uproar. They hit the streets. Machine guns were firing through the air. We heard all of these, you know, terrible sounds. Helicopters were flying over. Jet planes were flying over.
We weren’t allowed to leave our apartments. If we had to leave we had to put full kafias over, not show the colors of our eyes, keep our eyes down. Never speak to anyone because even if we spoke in Arabic it would be obvious that we were Westerners. So we just had to stay in hiding.
But the amazing thing is, as fast as it erupted, it went away. Within, you know, a week, we were back at work. Things were a little chilly. A week later, it was as if it never happened. And that’s their passion. They’re passionate about everything, but they get over it.
Until leaders of the Western world understand how to deal with that, we will simply fuel that all the time. I want to go back to something that Rod was talking about. About they see people in the Western world as barbaric. I know they also see people in the Western world as immoral. How did that effect you as a woman over there? Were you treated different? How did you have to act?
We were treated differently and the group that we were with, the volunteer organization, we were admonished before going over to make sure that we always dressed modestly. You know if we wore a skirt, it must be a long skirt. Our shirts must cover us at least to the elbows. No, you know, deep necklines or anything like that. Always dress modestly because regardless of how we looked, their perception as what they usually saw on television, of American women, and so often it was a betrayal of loose, immoral women.
So that is their first impression and the Arab men would brush up against us in the market place. We generally would not go out alone. As women in our group we would not go alone. We always had to have at minimum two women and one male escort so that there was never any indication that there was anything improper. That we always, not necessarily protection but it was just an escort, someone to look out for us.
We’ll return to our discussion in a moment, but first let me tell you about today’s special offer. When you order your free copy of The Middle East in Bible Prophecy, we’ll also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine. This important magazine will help you make sense of world headlines, discover the secrets to successful living, and understand what the Bible is really all about.
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Well we still have a lot to cover in discussing the root causes of the Jewish, Islam, Christian conflict. First, let’s return to a question I asked Rod Foster that can help us understand the motivation of suicide bombers.
In your conversations with them, what did you find were, you know, they saw and discussions, differences between Islam and Christianity?
Well, I had a conversation with a man who was a graduate of Harvard Law School. He was the king’s political adviser and you know, at a minimum, I would say he was a brilliant man and he knew our culture, the American culture, very, very well. And he made an interesting comment one day at–we were having dinner at his house–and he told us that the main difference between the way the Western mind thinks and the way the Middle Eastern mind thinks is that in Christianity we think only on guilt or innocence. And that’s the way we determine our behavior; is based on whether it is guilty, if we’re guilty or innocent. And it’s not that way in the Middle East. The way they think is, does it bring shame or honor? In fact, the highest sin in Islam is “haram” which is shame of god. God being ashamed of you.
So, if you understand that point of view, we look at an action and we look at the action by law if it is guilty or innocent; if it’s right or wrong. They look at an action, does it bring honor or does it bring shame? So, we often times get confused, how could they do these horrible suicide bombings where they, basically they massacre women and children, little babies, and then they dance in the streets? Well to them its bringing honor. To them–even though I think it’s a terrible thing–you know, to them they were destroying the infidel and going to paradise and they’ve brought honor to their family.
We are people of two different books and they believe that Christians and Jews are stealing something that God has given to them. God has given and made some promises through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and those promises not only extend out to Christians, but they actually extend to those people also in the life, death and resurrection and work of Jesus Christ. That’s the message that we need to share. That’s the message we want to share. But we can’t until we first understand them and where they’re coming from.
I thank all of you for being with us today. Appreciate it.
Understanding the importance of honor and shame is vital in understanding what motivates suicide bombers.
The Stetters and Rod Foster repeatedly told me how much they learned to love the Jordanians and Palestinians they met. All three talked about the hospitality and affection the people of Jordan showed them. After William and Jackie returned to the United States, they were married and named their first daughter Jordan. They found a connection with those people, yet they were separated by the interpretation of the story of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael.
So what is the solution to the Jewish, Arab, Christian conflict?
Well we could conclude that we are all simply people of different books. The Jews, well they follow the Tanakh, what we call the Old Testament. Christians, well we tend to follow the Old and New Testaments, the Bible and see Jesus as the prophesied Jewish Messiah. The Muslims, well, they believe in the Koran.
But even that is a simplistic viewpoint because many Christians have different interpretations of the Bible. In October 2010, a Catholic Synod of Bishops for the Middle East claimed that it was inappropriate to use the Bible as support for the return of Jews to Israel.
Bishop Bustros of Boston issued this statement, “For us Christians, you can no longer speak of a land promised to the Jewish people.” For this group of Catholic leaders, the promises God made to Abraham’s physical descendants were negated by Jesus Christ.
There’s no denying that God wants to save all people. He wants everyone to become His child, regardless of race or nationality. Jesus Christ, who is the Messiah prophesied in the Tanakh, is God’s Messenger for everyone. The New Testament proclaims that anyone who responds to Jesus’ message becomes the spiritual descendant of Abraham.
But this doesn’t mean, as Bishop Bustros claims, that God no longer has any intention to carry out His promises made to the physical descendants of Abraham.
The apostle Paul wrote: “…who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came…” (Romans 9:4-5 Romans 9:4-5  Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×)
The Old Testament contains scores of promises from God that when the Messiah sets up His Kingdom on this earth, He will restore the physical descendants of Israel to the land God promised Abraham.
On Beyond Today we are people of a book–the Bible. We proclaim that there is a Messiah coming to this earth. Not the messiah of the Koran. Not a messiah who denies the promises God made to Abraham. This Messiah is prophesied in the Old Testament, came the first time, as the New Testament claims, as a Jewish itinerant preacher who died for the sins of all humanity and is returning to solve the world’s problems.
Jesus Christ is returning for all people: Jew, Arab, European, African, Asian, Latino. He is the only solution to the problems of the Middle East because He is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises made to Abraham, the Descendant through whom all nations will be blessed.
Now I want to remind you about today’s free offer: The Middle East in Bible Prophecy and The Good News magazine. To get your free copy call toll free: 1-888-886-8632. Or go to BeyondToday.tv where you can read the booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy and watch other Beyond Today programs.
You can follow Beyond Today on Twitter and join us on Facebook where we welcome your comments and suggestions.
The biblical solution to the conflicts of the Middle East, they’re as controversial as the problems. One Messiah for Jew, Arab and Christian. It is ironic that neither Jews nor Arabs recognize Jesus as the Messiah. It is also ironic that many Christians don’t know the real Jesus or what He actually taught. Many don’t even anticipate His return.
On Beyond Today we proclaim the biblical Messiah, the only hope for every Jew, Arab and Christian and the rest of humanity. Join us, right here, every week as we proclaim the coming Messiah and His Kingdom and what that means for your life right now and thanks for watching!