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Archive for End Times

Another Divine Antagonist (Edom)

October 13, 2012

In a series of articles, we are answering the question, “What could cause an entire generation of both atheistic and religious Jews to finally believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and their promised Messiah?” (Romans 11:26-27)

God is the great genius. Centuries ago He amazingly brought into existence a group of divine antagonists to pressure His chosen people to come to grips with the truth of their Messiah and to cry out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”  In the last blog, we discovered that the Ishmaelite Arabs are such a group.

The Edomite Arabs became another group of antagonists. You remember the story of Isaac and Rebekah’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau. These sons are said to have struggled in Rebekah’s womb. God explained this phenomenon, saying that two nations were in her womb. As the boys were removed from the womb, Jacob was observed gripping Esau’s heel.  They were struggling in the womb, and the struggle continued after birth. Jacob became a nation called Israel, and Esau became the nation of Edom (Genesis 25:21-23).

No two sons could have been more different. Jacob was somewhat of a momma’s boy, and Esau was the macho outdoors type. More importantly Jacob, though deceitful, was sensitive to spiritual things (the family blessing) while Esau could care less. This became glaringly evident when Esau sold his spiritual heritage to Jacob for a bowl of soup.

This ongoing Jewish-Edomite conflict ribbons its way throughout the Old Testament:

  • Esau married into the Canaanite line and had many children (Genesis 36:1-5).
  • The marriages were not with the blessing of Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 26:35).
  • The Edomite Arabs refused to allow the Jews to pass through their land during the Exodus (Numbers 20:8-21).
  • King Saul fought against the Edomites (1 Samuel 14:7).
  • David defeated Edom and annihilated most of their male population (1 Kings 11:15-17).
  • Edom constantly took revenge against the Jews (Ezekiel 25:12-14; 1 Kings 11:17-25; 2 Chronicle 21:8-10).
  • Amaziah, king of Judah, was successful in battle against the Edomites (2 Kings 14:7).
  • The Jews were never able to successfully subjugate the Edomite Arabs (2 Chronicles 28:16-17).

A pivotal time in Jewish history was when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem in 586 b.c. and carried Judah into the Babylonian captivity.  The Edomite Arabs joined Nebuchnezzar in the slaughter of the Jews. They cried out to this Babylonian king to destroy completely the city of Jerusalem. The Psalmist reminds us that God does not forget.

“Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom, the day of Jerusalem, who said, “Raze it, (destroy it) raze it, to its very foundation!”  (Psalms 137:7).

Because of this hatred of Israel, the Edomites are prophesied against throughout Old Testament history (Jeremiah 49:17-18; Lamentations 4:21; Ezekiel 25:13-14; Amos 1:11-12; Obadiah 1:8-21).

The conflict continued in New Testament times. As a reward for helping him, King Nebuchadnezzar gave the Edomite Arabs all the land of Judah from Egypt to the Northern part of the land. Esau’s children at one time had all the land. For 400 years, the Edomite Arabs continued to possess the land until a Jewish family by the name of Macabees subdued them and forced them into Judaism. The Edomites changed their name to Idumeans.  However, this was conversion by coercion, and that has never worked. The Edomite Arabs have never forgotten.

Two Arabs who marked the time of Jesus Christ were Herod the Great (an Edomite) and Antipas.  Herod became third in command in the Roman Empire behind Augustus and Agrippa. It was Herod who slaughtered all the male children just prior to the birth of the Lord Jesus.

Just before the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 a.d., twenty thousand Edomite Arabs appeared to ally themselves with the Jews.  But just as the earlier siege by Nebuchadnezzar, as soon as they got inside the walls of the city they began to rape and pillage, rob and murder. They killed thousands of Jews before Titus destroyed the city. This antagonism remains and it will peak just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Notice carefully these words that mark the return of Jesus Christ.

“Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength?— “I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come” (Isaiah 63:1-4).

Who is this One coming from Edom? He is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. His white robes are stained red, saturated with blood. Bozrah is the capital of Edom. This great Battle of Armageddon marks the final judgmental battle of the ages.

So what’s the big idea? Jacob and Esau’s prenatal struggle will continue generation after generation and only intensify until Jesus Christ returns to rescue His people. Both the Palestinians and the Edomites will continue to antagonize the Jews until the Jews, in utter desperation, cry out for their Messiah to come. And come He will, and that tiny nation will be born again in a single day.

Divine Antagonists

September 19, 2012

As an introduction to this blog, read the article, “The Isaac Connection,” on our Glimpses of Grace webpage.

Many unbelievers want to know, “Why does a loving God seemingly allow bad things to happen to good people?” My go-to passage for this is Genesis 50:20. Joseph asserted, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Joseph’s life was enveloped in the extraordinary. He was the object of jealous revenge from his brothers; his parents misunderstood him; he was kidnapped and sold into slavery and taken far from his home. He was then lied about to his grieving father; his employer falsely accused him; and he was cast into prison for years for something he did not do. If there had been anyone who had the absolute right to question the works of a loving God, it was Joseph. How did Joseph respond? He summed it all up with the words “you sold . . . God sent.” These words shout to me, proclaiming God’s amazing plan to use events that appear bad to us in order to bring about our ultimate good and to fulfill His ultimate purpose (Romans 8:28).

Israel’s leaders rejected Jesus as their king. Our Lord’s response?  He clearly told them that they would not see Him again until the time comes when they would say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13:35). What will God use to move an entire generation of unbelieving Jews to finally accept Him?  A more pointed question might be, “What could cause an entire generation of Jewish people to be born again in a day?” (Romans 11:26-27). Centuries ago God amazingly brought in a group of divine antagonists to pressure His chosen people through intimidation to finally come to grips with the truth that the Carpenter from Nazareth is indeed their promised Messiah.

God blessed Abraham and Sarah by giving them the desire of their heart – Isaac. He was their miracle child, born as the result of God’s promise. Sarah and Abraham had mudded the waters by trying to help God help them. Sarah suggested that Abraham have a son by her handmaid, Hagar. The result was an apparent disaster! Ishmael was born to Abraham and Hagar. Sarah soon became very uneasy with the outcome.  She noticed that Ishmael, the older, would pick on Isaac, the younger. The text simply reads, “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing” (Genesis 21:9). This was no ordinary horseplay between two brothers; it was hazing with a divine purpose. Ishmael and his biological mother realized that they were not a highly regarded part of Abraham’s family.  Ishmael evidently took vengeance upon Isaac at every private opportunity. In this case, he was busted!

Sarah insisted that Abraham cast out the bondwoman and her son. The reason? They will have no part in our family’s future (Genesis 21:10).  What a cruel thing to do! Abraham was understandably upset. He loved Ishmael as any father would love a son from his own flesh. God instructed Abraham to listen to his wife! “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That was all the explanation God deemed necessary. He promised Abraham that He would make Ishmael’s family into a great nation.

Paul alludes to the Ishmael-Isaac hazing scene in his letter to the Galatians. “He who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? ‘Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.’” (Galatians 4:29-30)

That little phrase “even so it is now” jumps out at me. Catch this glimpse. Paul recognized that during his day God was in the process of fulfilling his promise to Abraham to make Ishmael’s line into a great nation of people – the Arabs. And the same persecution exhibited by young Ishmael toward his younger brother was being multiplied through his family line toward the entire Jewish family.  This persecution has increased in intensity through the centuries and is stronger than ever today. One day it will peak and, along with other factors, be used by God in an amazing way to help motivate the Jews to cry out for their Messiah to return. He will return to perform the greatest rescue mission in human history.

God always has a reason for everything that He ordains, no matter how awkward it may appear to us. The Arabs mean their intimidation for malice, but God will use it in order to accomplish His ultimate good. God, you are amazing!

We will discuss more divine antagonists in the next blog!