In the brief summary of Abraham’s death, recorded in Genesis 25:5–10, it is stated that both Isaac and Ishmael were present at the funeral (v9). Yet the record specifically states, “And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac”. It is quite evident that Abraham loved both his sons but he respected and upheld the word of God who had said, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Gen 21:12). This was not human choice but the election of God, as the apostle Paul later reasoned in Romans 9:7.

In an emphatic confirmation of this, Yahweh appeared unto Isaac, as recorded in the very next chapter, and repeated to him all the major blessings that he had spoken to his father Abraham. From Ishmael came the Arab people, but the blessings of the Abrahamic promises would go through Isaac and Jacob, and not through Ishmael’s seed.

It was truly promised, however, that the seed of Ishmael would be exceedingly multiplied, though of a wild disposition, given to faction and fratricidal strife! (Gen 16:12,16). Such was the amazing foreknowledge of God.

The focal personality in the present crisis is Osama bin Laden. He is of Arabic race, his father arising from Yemen, as a building labourer, expanding his fortune in Saudi Arabia during the phenomenal growth of the 1960’s and 70’s, when his construction company became responsible for a large percentage of the major building projects initiated by the Saudi royal family. Osama was the only child of his father’s tenth wife; there were fifty other children. Despite reports of a quite lascivious youth, Osama bin Laden has become the spokesperson for the extreme voice of Islam, calling on all fellow Arabs and Muslims to adopt a very strict code of legal enactments, especially upon their women, and demanding that Saudi Arabia dismiss the ‘infidel’ American forces from the holy land of Arabia. In keeping with these concepts he and his fanatical followers are determined that no compromise arrangements will be made with ‘infidel’ Israel and that no deal concerning Jerusalem be entertained.

In the Islamic mind Arabia is the “holy land” and Palestine is part of that: Mecca is the “holy city”, not Jerusalem but Jerusalem is to be a totally Islamic city, ranked as third to Mecca and Medina in terms of holiness.

At the centre of the Islamic religion is the book of Koran. It is ‘the bible’ of Islam. This book of some 500 pages consists of 114 chapters with very short, concise headings. Mohammed, who rose to prominence among the nomadic peoples of Arabia in the early part of the 7th century, claimed that the Koran was given to him by divine revelation, that it was the evidence of the authority of God upon him as the last and most important of the prophets.

The book of Koran is full of similar stories to the Bible, and in fact, frequently there are whole phrases taken straight out of the Bible. Yet to anyone acquainted with the Holy Scriptures it becomes quickly apparent that all of the stories are distorted, the facts mistaken and the lessons bent to the writer’s own ends. It is in fact a cheap parody of the Bible. The obvious intention was to give to the children of Ishmael a Bible of their own, revealed from a prophet of their own. Whilst there is an apparent recognition of the prophets, of Christ and the apostles, in fact the whole teaching of the Holy Scriptures is warped and distorted. The Arabian people are the chosen people, Arabia the “holy land” and Mecca the centre of faith. In the Koran the ‘infidel’ is continually committed to a violent death, hell fire and eternal torments. Osama bin Laden is a product of this teaching.

The Covenants of Promise

Behold, then, the roots of our faith and understanding. It was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who promised the land to the Jewish people, the Seed of Abraham, as we have known from our Sunday School days. Jerusalem is to be “the city of the great king”because Yahweh swore in truth unto David and will not turn from it! The land and the city are the focal matters of bin Laden’s vehement terrorist practices. He has sworn there will be no peace for America until there is security for Palestinians in their own land. Jerusalem lies at the core of that determination.

So in a strange and remarkable way, we see these new apostles of terror setting themselves against the promises of God. They will certainly fail. Not because of the righteousness of the Jewish people (we never hear a word of Abraham or David from any of their leaders any more!) but because they have lifted up their voices against the God of heaven. They are sadly ignorant of His purposes because their ‘bible’ is a human concoction to answer a familial jealousy, 4000 years old.

In this present hour of violence and fear, let us rest our hopes on the promises of God. Therein is hope, and ultimately for all people, Jew, Arab, and Gentile alike. Let us sing with Zechariah of old, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life” (Luke 1:68–75).