Monthly Archives: August 2008
Question: Aaron, is isaac somehow considered the father of christianity? or at least the head of the lineage? just trying to understand the whole isaac/ishmael xtianity/islam thing. any help would be great. thanks!
Answer: Thank you for the question. I’ll try to boil it down the best I can
since this is a very fundamental issue and it’s often misunderstood. Unfortunately, the question doesn’t lend itself to a short answer.
According to the Bible, God promised Abraham that he would have a son through his wife Sarah and that it would be through Sarah’s son that all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Between the time that God made this promise to Abraham and when the promise was actually fulfilled was about 22 years. During this period of waiting, Abraham got impatient and his wife Sarah suggested that he go into their maidservant Hagar. It was the result of Abraham’s union with Hagar that Ishmael was born. Ishmael was conceived through Hagar and was the firstborn, but Isaac was conceived through Sarah and became the child of promise.
Unfortunately there was friction between the two women, Sarah and Hagar, so eventually Sarah cast Hagar into the desert at
which point an angel had mercy on her and her son and promised that Ishmael would also father a great nation. Interestingly, Ishmael was actually promised a much larger piece of land than was promised Isaac. According to both Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Scriptures, Ishmael became the father of the Arab people. Isaac is the son of promise in that it was through his lineage that Jesus the Messiah was born, thus fulfilling the promise that it would be through Abraham’s seed that
all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
How does this relate to Christianity and Islam? In Galatians 4:21-31, the Apostle Paul allegorizes the story of Isaac and Ishmael to make the point that those who place their faith in Christ for salvation, regardless of their physical lineage, are the true children of promise and are therefore children of Isaac. Jews that don’t believe in Jesus, on the other hand, even though they are physical descendants of Isaac, spiritually speaking they are descendants of Hagar because they’re trusting in the works of the law to save them. Most Christians scholars, and I agree with this interpretation, would identify Muslims as spiritual children of Ishmael because there’s very little theological difference between the path of salvation in Islam
and the path of salvation in Judaism.
Two more points need to be made. In Genesis 22, there’s a story where God, in order to test Abraham’s faith, asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on an altar. Just as Abraham lifts up the knife to slay his
son, an angel intervenes, commends Abraham’s faith and then directs Abraham to a ram caught in a bush to take the place of Isaac. Christians see the ram as a type of Christ in this story. Muslims actually have the same story in the Koran, but according to Islamic tradition, they believe it was Ishmael that Abraham almost sacrificed on the altar, not Isaac, although in the Koran it simply says the firstborn.
Lastly, some say that the story of Isaac and Ishmael means that Jews and Arabs will always be at war with each other. They say that Ishmael was a wild man and persecuted Isaac, therefore the Arab race will always be antagonistic towards the Jews. I strongly disagree with this interpretation. The New Testament makes it clear that Christ has broken down the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14), and besides, Arabs were present at the day of Pentecost. Whether a person is Arab or Jew, it’s faith in Jesus that makes a person a child of Isaac, and Jesus calls His followers to be peacemakers!
I know that’s a mouthful, but it’s an enormous issue. Hope this helps.
Here’s a remarkable story I think you’ll enjoy.
The son of one of Hamas’s top leaders is now a follower of Jesus–and he gives Islam only 25 more years to survive as a global ideology. I think he’s on to something. The more intolerant Islam becomes, the more it drives away it’s own followers. Kind of reminds me of Romans 8:28. God causes all things to serve His purposes!
Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Things have been crazy lately. A few weeks back I was in Guatemala with a team of 36 people from my church South County Christian Center. Most of the group was college and career age, but there were a few minors mixed in as well. Because of the size of the group, we divided into two separate groups and I was asked to lead the group of 18 people that went to Joyabaj where we worked with a missionary named Bill Vasey to construct a school. I first met Bill back in April when Pastor Ryan Stoops and I took a survey trip to explore our options for ministry. There was something about Bill that caused us to know right away that he would be a great person to work with. It turns out we were right. Although our group worked hard while in Joyabaj, the experience was a positive one for everyone involved. A big Thank you to all who prayed for us!
Shortly after I returned from Guatemala, Rhiannon and I packed our bags and moved out of our house in Hillsboro and into my parents’ home in Arnold, Mo. The day after our move, a friend of ours from Bethlehem came to St. Louis to visit us. Fadi is a Palestinian Christian that I met in the West Bank last year when I was on a delegation with Christian Peacemaker Teams. Showing Fadi the great cultural sites in St. Louis. We went to the New Cathedral, the Ulysses S. Grant Museum at Grant’s Farm, took him to a Middle Eastern restaurant where he could have a Falafel (a staple dish in the West Bank), and to top it off we took him to a Cardinals game at the new Busch Stadium. All of us got a laugh when we taught Fadi how to yell, “Charge!!!!” after the organ plays duh duh duh dat tada! It was a pleasure sharing our culture with our Middle Eastern friend. We know that his family will also be sharing their culture with us when we make our move to Bethlehem next year.
There’s a lot that Rhiannon and I have to do before our move to Bethlehem next year. The day before I left for Guatemala, I landed a publisher for my new book. We don’t have an official title for it yet, but I think it’s going to be something along the lines of “Stuck in a Room with a Jihadist!” I couldn’t be happier that I’ve finally broken into the publishing world, though I know that this adds to the workload that we have to do before our move next year. As part of the publishing agreement, we had to buy 2,500 copies of the book at a 65% discount, and I’m going to want the vast majority of my personal copies sold before we move next year. Our plan is to hit the road for the first 3-4 months of ’09 to speak at churches, conferences, promote my book, and raise additional support for the ministry. Our plan is to donate as much of the profits as possible from the sale of the book to go towards the radio station project in Guinea Bissau. But before any of that, we have two more trips before the end of the year. In November Rhiannon and I will be going to Brazil for three straight weeks to do nothing but preach the gospel. And then within a week after we get back, we’ll be heading back to Senegal and Guinea Bissau to strengthen the work of the ministry that we started in ’03.
Lastly, I wrote to you several weeks ago about a Pakistani pastor that was being pursued by bad people in his country. Several of you gave toward the purchase of a plane ticket so you deserve to know (without going into too much detail) that there’s been some complications, but the ticket has been purchased and the individual in question will be going out on the next available flight. Thank you so much to those of you who gave. I pray that God will use us many more times in the future to help those in need.
While there is still time,
P.S. Last week our ministry printed hundreds of tracts in Nepal with your help. If you’d like to help our ministry bless native evangelists on the front lines of ministry, you can donate at http://www.greatcommissionsociety.com
Here’s another article by my friend Pastor Tim O Brien. I don’t necessarily agree with Pastor Tim’s view that seems to suggest that the Church is going to create a utopia before Jesus comes back, but I do appreciate his positive view that the earth will be renewed one day, therefore Christians shouldn’t succumb to an escapist mentality. Enjoy!
For an equally stimulating philosophical review of Batman, check out Greg Boyd’s article here!
The movie “The Dark Knight” highlights a contest of wills between Batman and the Joker. Both express their worldviews in poignant philosophical lines. The Joker’s worldview is that the world is given to chaos and anarchy with no redeemable value. Batman’s worldview is that the world has redeemable value and is destined for greatness.
What do the ancient Jewish prophets say about the destiny of the earth? What will become of this place? In all instances, the prophecies about the earth throughout the Scriptures point toward a positive ending. Habakkuk says, “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the earth.” Isaiah says, “over all the glory will be a canopy.” The psalmist says, “I will make the nations your inheritance.”
The Book of Revelation speaks of a new earth and the old earth passing away. This is typical Jewish prophetic language. It does not indicate total destruction of the old. It is about renewal. Jewish prophets prophesied many times about destruction coming to Israel, but renewal was always the end result, not total and complete destruction.
The way some Christians talk, you would think they agreed with the Joker. They have no hope for earth. They only hope to get out of here. But Jesus said to the Father, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world.” If we are supposed to stay here, there must be something worth staying for.
Batman’s worldview fits the declarations of the ancient Jewish prophets. The earth has an ultimate purpose that will be fulfilled. The bringing forth of these purposes ought to be the heartbeat of every believer.
Paul said the creation itself waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. The earth right under our feet is groaning “has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” The Word promises that “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
You may say that all this is supposed to happen after Jesus comes back. But the Bible is clear that the Church must fulfill all that she has been commanded to do before His return. Jesus also said that it would be better if He left and sent His Spirit. So, you see, it can’t get suddenly better if Jesus returns, because Jesus Himself said it would be better when He was gone. The Church is moving toward the “better” as she fulfills her great commission to make disciples of nations.
Check out how the Amplified Version words Philippians 1:6: “He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” That sounds like the Church is completed and perfected before Christ’s return.
[References: Hab 2:14, Isa 4:5, Ps 2:8, Jn 17:15, Rom 8:19-22, Rev 21:1]
By Pastor Tim O’Brien
Rock of Ages Ministries
For Daily Guide 8 Aug 08 edition
In honor of Hiroshima day, take a look at this 30 second video.
I found this link on Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship’s website. The founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream proposes an interesting solution to feed the world’s starving millions.
It’s time for the silent majority to speak up!