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Ishmael and Esau: Part 1

Aug 22, 2006

I was originally going to entitle these latest studies "The Religious History of Violence," because that is how carnally-minded men believe the Kingdom of God must be established in the earth. It is rooted in the idea that God helps those who help themselves. In other words, violence is the way man makes up for God's deficiency, lack of action, or lack of sovereignty. At its root is a simple lack of faith that God can or will do anything to establish His own Kingdom.

In part, this is behind the angelic revelation to Hagar that is recorded in Gen. 16:12,

"And he [Ishmael] will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone's hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers."

In the historical allegory, Ishmael is presented in the Bible as a type of the religious, but carnal mind. This is certainly not limited to any particular religion but can be seen in all of them. The prime evidence is when violence and force is thought to be a legitimate and divinely-sanctioned method of establishing the Kingdom of God.

Another type of the carnal mind is Esau, called Edom. Isaac prophesied over him in Gen. 27:40, "And by your sword you shall live; and your brother you shall serve." The nickname Edom given to Esau is from the same name as Adam. Edom means red; Adam means ruddy. There are two Adams: the original Adam and Christ, "the last Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45). The first is natural, the last spiritual.

Thus, Esau represents the carnal, or natural, man from a different viewpoint. Ezekiel 35 uses his nickname, "Red," to identify him with his love for bloodshed in verse 6,

"Therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, I will give you over to bloodshed, and bloodshed will pursue you; since you have not hated bloodshed, therefore bloodshed will pursue you."

In other words, Esau was bloodthirsty. There is a law against being bloodthirsty in Lev. 17:10,

"And any man from the house of Israel or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people."

The ban on eating blood was one issue specifically affirmed in the New Testament in Acts 15:20. Yet abstaining from physical blood consumption is only a small part of the law. Paul tells us that the law is spiritual (Rom. 7:14), and the spiritual law set forth here is against bloodthirstiness. It is stated in another way as well in Lev. 19:18,

"You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord."

So we see that both Ishmael and Esau were to live by the sword. When Peter wanted to defend Jesus from death, he drew his sword and managed to cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. Matt. 26:52 says,

"Then Jesus said to him, Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take the sword shall perish by the sword."

The carnal mind would naturally justify violence to defend Jesus. Christians have been following Peter's example for many years, especially the Church that believes Peter to be its foundation. Unfortunately, they have followed the example of Peter, the carnal man, before he received the Holy Spirit.

The fact is, Jesus did not need anyone to defend Him or His honor. Jesus was fully capable of defending Himself, if He had wanted to do so. But He knew that it was His time to die for the sin of the world, and Peter's well-meaning defense only stood in the way. Peter obviously did not see the bigger picture.

This type of armed defense is also evident among the children of Ishmael and Esau. Both groups are quick to judge and quick to shed blood in defense of their God and holy men. Particularly with the people of Ishmael, defense of honor ranks supreme in their way of thinking. By contrast, Christianity is based, not upon honor, but upon humility and even shame--beginning with the shame of the cross. For this reason, Muslims are taught that Jesus was not really crucified. Their motive seems right, for their desire is to honor Jesus, but in the end, like Peter, they stand in the way of the divine plan of salvation for the world.

The main conflict in the Middle East today is not Jacob vs. Esau, nor Isaac vs. Ishmael, as has so often been presented by Christian teachers. In one sense, as we have already shown, it is between two factions of Ishmael: physical vs. legal Ishmaelites. But in the true prophetic sense, it is a conflict between Ishmael and Esau.

Esau's descendants were conquered and absorbed into Jewry in 126 B.C., and for this reason, the Jews--particularly the Zionists--represent the Edomite [Idumean] faction within world Jewry. The first-century historian, Josephus, tells us in Antiquities of the Jews, XIII, ix, 1,

"Hyrcanus took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would be circumcised, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision and the rest of the Jews' way of living; at which time, therefore, this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews."

This is affirmed by the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1925 edition, under "Edom," which says, "They were then incorporated with the Jewish nation. . ." and again, "From this time the Idumeans ceased to be a separate people." Again, it reads, "Edom is in modern Jewry."

Virtually any history book or encyclopedia will say the same. This fact cannot be and is not disputed. Yet most do not know the implications of this history. The Idumeans were forcibly converted to Judaism. Anyone forcibly converted to any religion is not a true believer. If they had been won by the demonstration of the Holy Spirit, these Edomites could have become true Jews as defined by Paul in Rom. 2:28, 29. But they were not.

And so, instead of becoming Jews, they remained Edomites in their hearts and in their character. It is the equivalent of Christians conquering pagans and forcing them to become Christians. This practice expanded Church membership in the religion, but it ultimately only paganized the Church.

Thus, in the Middle East conflict today, we see the same bloodthirsty spirit coming from the Israelis as from the Edomites in ancient times. Even in the most recent invasion of Lebanon, the Lebanese refugees are returning to their bombed-out villages only to find hundreds of unexploded cluster bombs all through the neighborhood. These cluster bombs that were rained upon Lebanese towns are now killing and maiming refugee children. This is not the work of a true Jew as Paul defines it. This is the work of Esau-Edom, the bloodthirsty one. And the prophecies against Esau-Edom-Idumea in the Bible are quite specific.

Malachi 1:1-4 tells us that Esau had a great desire to return to the old land. In other words, He was the original Zionist. And verse 4 makes it clear that Edom would indeed return, but later God would destroy what they have built. Because Edom is no longer a separate people apart from Jewry, they can only fulfill the Zionist dreams through Jewish Zionism.

Thus, prophetically speaking, this is a conflict between Ishmael and Esau. Both have some claim to the land, in the absence of Isaac and Jacob, whose descendants had first claim on the land.  Ishmael has a greater claim than Esau, because he was older. But Esau also has a legal claim because Jacob had swindled him. The plot thickens.

This is the first part of a series titled "Ishmael and Esau." To view all parts, click the link below.

Ishmael and Esau

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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones