Taking the Kingdom by Force--Part 3
Jun 24, 2010
The spirit of Ishmael takes many forms, but all have one thing in common. If Ishmael does not get his way, he always feels it necessary to resort to force (unless he is physically incapable of it). He believes he is right and is sure that God will always back his carnal efforts to help God to fulfill His will.
The inevitable result of this carnal thinking is that the stronger this spirit operates, the more that violence and war is perpetuated in a never-ending cycle of death and destruction.
The spirit of Ishmael is seen in the entire Muslim world, because Islam has roots going back to Ishmael. Secondly, as Paul informs us in Galatians 4, Judaism is also an Ishmaelite religion, mostly because of their attachment to Jerusalem-Hagar, their "mother." Paul tells us in Gal. 4:25 that Jerusalem is "Mount Sinai in Arabia." Arabia is the inheritance that God gave to Ishmael. Thus, when the temple leaders violently rejected the Mediator of the New Covenant and made the decision to remain under the Old, they placed Jerusalem under the legal jurisdiction of Mount Sinai, the inheritance of Ishmael.
One might argue that Jerusalem was always under Ishmael, and this would be correct. Jerusalem had been under the Old Covenant always. The difference is that the fullness of time had come to move on from fleshly types and shadows into the spiritual reality that those types represented. The Old Covenant City made works necessary for God's blessing (justification). "If you will obey My voice indeed," was the conditional agreement of the Old Covenant (Ex. 19:5).
Although this was certainly the revelation of God at that time, it was not meant to succeed, nor could such a vow result in salvation. "All have sinned," Paul says (Rom. 3:23). "There is none who does good, there is not even one," he says, quoting the Psalms. The only reason that Moses, David, and others were justified in the Old Testament time period is because of their FAITH. Hence, the prophet Habakkuk says, "The just shall live by faith" (2:4).
So in the broader view, those in the Old Testament period who thought they were justified by their own righteous works were not justified at all. Those who lived by faith were justified. No one has ever been justified by means of the Old Covenant. Not in Moses' day, nor today.
Both Islam and Judaism recognize Faith as important to their religions. But neither has faith in the only thing that will bring them justification. It must be faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ who died for the sin of the world and who rose again for our justification (Rom. 4:25). A general "faith in God" will save no one, for even the "demons" have that level of faith. James 2:19 says, "the demons also believe, and shudder."
The Greek word for "believe" is pisteoo. It is the verb form of pistis, "faith." Since our English word faith cannot be used as a verb, the translators had to resort to a different word, "believe." Demons have faith, but not justifying faith.
Ishmael attempted to kill Isaac, and this is what brought the inheritance controversy to a head. Ishmael was given five years (from the birth of Isaac) to accept the divine verdict that Isaac was to be the inheritor of the promises. Ishmael could not accept this and decided to take matters into his own hand. The flesh always determines what God ought to do and then gives God a helping hand.
The Conflict between Jacob and Esau
In turning to the story of Jacob and Esau, we learn an additional piece of information. Here Jacob was prophetically designated as the chosen one even before the twins were born (Gen. 25:23). Esau did not accept this, of course. Jacob was a believer, having faith in God, but yet he did not really know God very well until later in life.
In his early life, Jacob knew the will of God but took this as a mandate to fight Esau for the Birthright. He said to himself, "It is the will of God that I be given the Birthright, so God expects me to fight for it. If I allow Esau to obtain it, then the will of God will be thwarted."
So he helped God accomplish His will, not realizing that God needed no help from the flesh. Jacob did not realize that because Esau was the firstborn, he had to be given the first opportunity to prove himself worthy or unworthy. The law clearly protects the firstborn, even if he is hated (Deut. 21:15-17), but Jacob lived many centuries before Moses. Thus, the law was probably still unclear to Jacob. Even so, Jacob ought to have had faith in the sovereignty of God and His ability to accomplish what He had promised.
It was not until Jacob wrestled with the angel that he came into a position of REST, where he understood the sovereignty of God by revelation. He then received the new name, Israel, as a testimony that "God rules." This made him an overcomer and truly worthy of the Birthright which he had fought so hard to obtain by the arm of flesh.
The story of Jacob is a primary type of Christian believer today. Christians are the inheritors of the promise, "like Isaac," Paul tells us in Gal. 4:28. Yet more specifically, Christians are also like Jacob and Israel. It is a two-step process. Christians are justified by faith in Jesus Christ's first work on earth, but they are made overcomers by faith in Him and His second work on earth. The story of Jacob shows us a detail that is not revealed in the earlier story of Isaac and Ishmael.
In essence, Jacob is the carnal stage Christians go through prior to becoming an overcomer. In that way, Jacob correlates with Ishmael, whereas Israel correlates with Isaac.
Understanding this simple correlation shows us that immature, carnal Christianity functions by the spirit of Ishmael, rather than Isaac. Hence, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity each function by the spirit of Ishmael in one way or another, depending on its level of carnality. Though all are distinctly different, they all have one thing in common--they have "faith" but they believe that where God fails to do what we think He ought to do, He needs carnal supplementation to accomplish His will.
The more religious Ishmael is, the more violent he tends to be in his zeal to establish the kingdom by force.
Conversely, the more we resemble Isaac or Israel, the more we enter into God's Rest, for we understand the sovereignty of God and that nothing on earth can thwart the divine plan. All opposition to the divine plan is raised up by God, including Pharaoh (Rom. 9:17). God raises up His own opposition in order to DELAY the divine plan, putting the brakes upon it, so that it will be fulfilled at the appointed time--and not a moment before then.
Immature Christians (like Jacob) see the delays and worry about the opposition. They worry about God's ability to accomplish His will unassisted by human flesh. Ishmaelites desire to do away with the competition and leave God with only one choice. Then there are the Edomites from Esau, who are in full-blown rebellion against God and are zealous enough to pursue their goal even if it kills them.
We will have more to say about Esau next time.
This is the third part of a series titled "Taking the Kingdom by Force." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones