Addressing Bias in the Israeli-Arab conflict

The present conflict in the Middle East over Abrahamic material blessings does not reflect a stereotype sustained in biblical history and prophecy. It does not even reflect the pattern of Arab-Jewish relationships in post-biblical history. On the contrary, it reveals a crisis in interpretation of history and theology. When the Lord called Abraham, whom both sides claim to be their physical ancestor, to go to the Promised Land, the patriarch sojourned in the land of Palestine as a foreigner, becoming blessing to his neighbors, because his heart was set on the heavenly city engineered by God (Heb. 11:8-10).

Since the Abrahamic promises are appropriated by faith in Christ only this should create among Christians a desperate burden to refrain from political agendas and invest in the spiritual awakening predicted among both the Arabs and Jews. (Gal. 3:6-9Eph. 3:6)

Creative Commons - Jörg Peter
Creative Commons – Jörg Peter

In the Old Testament, blessings and discipline were mutually transferable between Isaac’s and Ishmael’s lines. The fact that both groups stem from the same Abrahamic root makes this unavoidable. The failure of Israel as a nation to submit to the Lordship of Jesus largely affected its closest theological kin, the Arabs. Nevertheless, as in Israel, Arabia witnessed many individual conversions to Christ. Organized churches sprouted in several areas of the Peninsula before Islam appeared.

Is it possible that the typological pattern witnessed in the preparation of God’s anointed ones in the Old Testament would be partially reproduced during the Tribulation period, also? Does Revelation 12 teach that Arabia will be a place of shelter for the Jewish believers persecuted by the false Messiah and the Beast during the Tribulation (Rev. 12:6-14)?

If that is the case, then the protection of the believing remnant by Arabs in the Tribulation implies a mass conversion among the Arabs too. Scriptures make this the natural implication of hosting the elect (Matt. 10:40-4225:41-46). A future (or perhaps currently-evolving?) mass conversion to the Messiah from among Arabs would be consistent with the cause-effect theological link between Israel and its Ishmaelite kin witnessed in earlier biblical history.

Removing unwarranted biases against Arabs, which neither the Bible nor history sustains, would play a healing role in the Middle East conflict.

It would also create a better attitude for dialogue between the antagonists. Meanwhile, prioritizing the redemptive mandate over the political agenda harmonizes well with the heartbeat of Christ in the Middle East equation (Acts 1:7-8).

Eventually, only the impartation of the gospel can bring lasting peace among these Abrahamic cousins and in this privileged geographical area of the world.

This article is an excerpt from Arabs in the Shadow of Israel by Tony Maalouf. To continue reading, order your copy of Arabs in the Shadow of Israel today.

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About Tony Maalouf

Dr. Tony Maalouf is a professor of World Christianity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and serves as an adjunct or visiting professor at numerous other institutions across the globe. His areas of interest in teaching include Arabs in biblical history and Muslim/Christian relations. Dr. Maalouf has written extensively on Ishmael, including a book titled "Arabs in the Shadow of Israel" about God's plan for the line of Ishmael.

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