Biblical Backgrounds of the Troubled Middle East, Guy N. Woods
The recent events of September 11, 2001 will be etched in our memories for a long time to come. Some think that our country will never be the same and that the future of our children and society will be cloaked in fear because of this heinous act by Islamic terrorists. This writer does not subscribe to this pessimistic forecast. Men and women arose during a similar period of darkness to secure the blessings of freedom and prosperity for Americans after December 7, 1941. I am fully convinced that the same will happen here if America truly seeks God’s blessings rather than just requesting God’s blessing. It is one thing to say “God Bless America” but it is another matter to act in a way that God would bless America.
The conflict between Arabs and Jews is not new to most Americans; however, the background for this conflict is not understood by many. Some are surprised to realize that the conflict between Arabs and Jews goes back to Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. The conflict has been one of the longest running conflicts except for the conflict between good and evil. Jerusalem is a focal point for much of the conflict. The main reason for this is that this piece of land is sacred to three major competing religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. To appreciate the delicate and volatile relation of the Jews and Arabs, one only needs to know that the site of the Jewish Temple is now the location of an Islamic Mosque. So the Jews desire to rebuild the temple on the site ordained by King David that would require the destruction of an Islamic Mosque which is holy to the followers of Mohammed. This is only one aspect of the conflict.
Biblical Backgrounds of the Troubled Middle East traces the history of this conflict from the call of Abram in Ur of the Chaldees to the establishment of the nation of Israel. It traces the history of the nation of Israel through the division of the kingdom and the period between the testaments. It discusses the events of Jesus day and continues to the destruction of the Jewish nation by the Romans in 70 A.D. The book continues to explain historical events such as the establishment of Islam and its impact on the Arab world. The book explains the holocaust and the rise of Zionism, which led to the re-establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948. The Jews were allowed to take back the land that was once theirs but was now home to the Arabs of Palestine. Palestinians were driven from their homes because of the United Nations resolution permitting the Jews to take back land that they had once left. The book does a very concise but thorough treatment showing the complexity of this deep-rooted problem that will most likely never be resolved until Christ returns. The two groups will not live in peace with one another and both reject the one hope they have of reconciliation and peace—Jesus Christ and Christianity.
Gospel Advocate has recently reprinted this work by Guy N. Woods and is also making a cassette available on the same topic based on a Guy N. Woods teaching a bible class on the same subject. Considering the renewed interest in this subject, I would suggest getting both the book and the cassette. Your congregation may have members that will profit from listening to the cassette if they are unable to read the book.
Originally printed in West Virginia Christian, Vol. 9, No. 2, February 2002, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.