The Arab People and End Times Prophecy

Joel C. Rosenberg and co-host Dr. Carl Moeller dig into the history and future of the Arab people. They discuss the importance of understanding the Arab people, our responsibility towards them, and also the current perception people have about the Arab people. Looking deeper, they also talk about the potential to see an increase in the number of treaties between Israel and other Arab countries.

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Transcript:

- [Carl] Coming up on this episode of "Inside the Epicenter."

- [Joel] We're seeing a lot of movement now, where does that fit prophetically? Well, there are specific verses that say in the last days after Israel is reborn and there's all this tension, then the Arabs are gonna make peace with Israel.

- [Carl] What does the Bible say about the future of the Arab people? Hi, and welcome to "Inside the Epicenter" with Joel Rosenberg, a podcast of the Joshua Fund, a ministry dedicated to blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. I'm Carl Mueller, executive director of the Joshua Fund. And today we're talking with Joel Rosenberg in Jerusalem to answer that very question. Joel, glad to have you on. Good to see you brother.

- [Joel] Good to see you as well, Carl. Glad to glad to be up and running for another episode here.

- [Carl] Yes, indeed. Well, as we record this, we've just come back from a very exciting delegation to countries that are in the Arabian Peninsula and Israel. We've come from Bahrain, UAE, and Israel, part of a delegation of evangelical leaders and media leaders to support the Abraham Accords. And Joel, I just found that to be one of the most fascinating trips that I've ever been on. Literally looking at whole cultures and the relationship between them becoming brand new in their appreciation for one another. So, I'm excited about what we're gonna talk about today.

- [Joel] Well, I am as well, and I appreciate, I'm so glad that you were able to come, and we had, it was a fascinating group. And I look forward to when we do some specific podcasts, including, Lord willing, with some of the video and interviews that we captured along the way. Captured is not the right word for the Middle East, but that we recorded anyway. For me, this is my seventh delegation of evangelical leaders that I have led, but the first six, as interesting as they were, were all before the Abraham Accords were even thought of much less signed, sealed, and delivered, much less being implemented. And of course I tell the story of those six delegations in the more recent non-fiction book, "Enemies and Allies." And in that case, we specifically talk about the time I was in the United Arab Emirates, and the leader of the UAE, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, known as MBZ, He told me and our delegation directly, "Joel, I am gonna be the next one in the Arab world to make peace with Israel." We were shocked. And we were like, "Really? Why? How did you get to that point? And how do you move forward and how how's this gonna work?" And it was a fastening conversation. So, now to be with his younger brother, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the foreign minister who helped negotiate the Abraham Accords and was on the White House lawn, signing those Accords, and to spend 90 minutes with him was absolutely fascinating. And it'll be a great future podcast, but also of course been spending time with former Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, now in the opposition, but another architect of the Accords, another of the three signers of the Accord. So, we met with two of the architects and signers and then many other people that were implementing it up to including this moment, that tourism, trade, investment, security, intelligence cooperation. And so I think it's important that Christians not only understand why are the Abraham Accords an answer to prayer, that's really not the focus of this one, but who are the Arab people, and what is our Christian understanding of them from the Bible? And what's our responsibility towards them? We spend so much time focusing on Israel and I'm glad for that, but they are our neighbors.

- [Carl] Yes.

- [Joel] And Jesus did tell us to love them.

- [Carl] Well, that's the that's case. being where you are in Jerusalem and in Israel, the history of the relationship, obviously, with Israel and the Arab peoples in the Middle East is very complex. And it's impossible for a small podcast like ours to kind of address that as a big picture, but give everybody just sort of a snapshot history of the Arab people in the Middle East, and how their narrative fits within Scripture and within the kind of prophetic narratives as well.

- [Joel] Sure. Well, you have to understand that the Arab people are, of course, people who live in Arabia, that's where the term come from, just as Jewish people come originally from the land of Judea. Now that's ironic because most of Judea geographically is now what's called the West Bank by most people in the world. And thus it's mostly the Palestinian authority, or large swath of it is, so most Americans or most people in general around the world don't even connect Jews with Judea. But I think we can generally say that we understand that Arabs come from Arabia, and they speak Arabic. Biblically, you actually have to go back before any particular tribe was called Arab, right? Because it's a tribal culture, it's a tribal region, but where do these tribes come from? It predates the term Arabia or Arab. And it comes from Ishmael. So, you had, Ishmael being the first born son of Abraham, because he didn't think that he could have children with his barren and quite elderly wife, Sarah. And they were promised a son, but they thought, Sarah thought, "It can't literally mean that I'm gonna have a son because that's crazy. I'm 90." Or little bit younger than I think at the time. But anyway, the point is she's like, "So, it must mean that you're supposed to sleep with my handmaiden and have a son with her." And culturally, that wasn't crazy. To us, that sounds a little bit like the wife saying, Why don't you just sleep with a maid or the housekeeper or, whatever, and that'll be good." They're like, no, that's not good. And it wasn't good, but Biblically Abraham and Sarah were wrong, but this did produce a son, and God did not curse that son. Incredibly important to stress because eventually of course they have the chosen son, the truly miraculous son from both of them. I mean, he was eventually a hundred and she was 90. So, at that point, the Bible literally says Abraham was good as dead. I think we can say. In terms of having children, I think when you get to hundred, you're probably as good as dead, at least when it comes to reproduction. So, Isaac, of course, is the son that whom God has chosen to have a specific blessing and a specific set of responsibilities. Abraham, Isaac, than Jacob, and so forth. We know that story. What we're less familiar with as evangelicals is the story of Ishmael and his mother Hagar, who was Egyptian almost certainly. I mean, she was a slave and almost certainly she was purchased by Abraham and Sarah when they were in Egypt. And they lived there for a while because there'd been a famine and slavery, unfortunately was common back then. So, they have this child. And so in Genesis 15 and then 16, even more, we get into the story, but I just wanna make it clear. And then you can pull on the thread if you wanna go deeper. But it's important for all of our listeners and viewers to understand God did not curse Ishmael because he wasn't the son whom God had specifically promised. But Abraham and Sarah had sinned. They had made a gross error in judgment. And in faith, it was a real lack of faith. They thought they would just take God's word to them, promise to them and just figure out how to do it themselves. That was a mistake, but it wasn't Ishmael's fault. And it wasn't Hagar's fault. And so we can look at the text if you want, but specifically God says, "This is not the son whom I've chosen, but I am going to bless him. He's gonna have trouble with his brothers. There's gonna be tension there. But I'm gonna bless this young man. And I'm going to make him the father of many tribes." And the Arab people emerge from these descendants of Ishmael.

- [Carl] So, let me take listeners back as well, to a conversation, several conversations we had in the Middle East on the delegation, where we reiterated that all three of the major religions in =this region, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, all point back to Abraham and this incident as a root for each one of them. So, for our listeners to remember that the Arabs and this entire trajectory of relationship between Jews and Arabs and Christians in the Middle East really starts at the incident that you're talking about here, that Hagar and Sarah and their children from Abraham lead this great tree forward. So, that's fundamental to understanding how the people in this region, The Arab people in particular, see themselves related to these kinds of things. Isn't it?

- [Joel] That's true. And it's important to note at that intersection, that Jews and Christians, those who believe in the Bible as Jews and Christians have the exact same view of who Abraham, Sarah, Isaac were. And the promise being passed along through Isaac, and then to Jacob, Jacob's sons. Jews and Christians see it exactly alike because we're reading them from the same text. We're reading from Genesis. But Muslims take a very different view. The prophet Mohamed, the man who's revered as the prophet inside Islam, he said, "No, no, no. Isaac was not the chosen son. Ishmael was the chosen son. And therefore the promises of God flow-

- [Carl] Through Ishmael.

- [Joel] All this covenant relationship flow through Ishmael and thus to the Arabic speaking people who live on Arabia. And then of course spread out, right? Like the Egyptians technically aren't Arabs, right? But they speak Arabic. So, now they, it depends on which Egyptian you're talking to. Some people think of themselves as Arabs. Some say, "No, no, we're Egyptians. We speak Arabic, but we're Egyptians." So, a lot of other tribes became known as Arabs because of the language. But that's because of the conquering of the region, Middle East and North Africa by Mohamed and his disciples and him telling them, "The blessings come through you." Again, to be clear, he wasn't entirely wrong, but he was fundamentally wrong. There were blessings that came from God in Genesis to the people of Ishmael. And this has become a problem historically for people who think God only loves Israel and the Jewish people, that we got the blessings and they got curses. Well, God did say prophetically, there's gonna be a lot of tension between these two brothers and their descendants. And I think God was right on that.

- [Carl] I think we could say that's true. Yes.

- [Joel] Whole career based on that tension. And God did bless in many significant ways Ishmael and his descendants, but there are significant differences between the Islamic view from the Quran and from the Bible.

- [Carl] Well, it is fascinating and it's so helpful to see that this is not a one side is blessed, the other side is not. And that the misunderstanding of this from the blessing side, going through Ishmael versus Isaac is one of the great pivot points of all of our history in the world. And I'm fascinated to see that Scripture doesn't back away from a very complex thing. So, Joel, maybe you can help us also understand, again, scripturally, where do Arabs see themselves in this narrative and how do they really see their fulfillment of God's plan in the world?

- [Joel] Great. Well, let's start with some Scriptures, then. In Genesis 17, we have this sort of this setup now. Ishmael is born. Isaac is going to be born. He's being promised. And we read in Genesis 17. God says that, about Sarah, "I will bless her. And indeed, I will give you a son by her," right? It's explicit. "'I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her. And she will be a mother of nations. Kings and peoples will come from her.' Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart, 'Will a child be born to a man a hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is 90 years old, bear a child?' And Abraham said to God, 'Oh, Ishmael might live before you.'" Abraham loved Ishmael. And he really did believe that this was the child of promise, cuz he just could not believe, right? This is Abraham. This is the father of the whole thing. But he couldn't get his head around the fact that God was saying he was gonna do something supernatural. Abraham couldn't see it. So, he is like, "Let Ishmael stand before you. And Lord, you're wrong." It's almost like a conversation between Moses and God, "Listen, I'm not doing it. You can't make me do it. I'm not up for it. You can't send me to Egypt to be your prophet." And Abraham's like, "Look, I'm not gonna have a son through Sarah. So, please use Ishmael." But God said, "No." Okay, that should be enough. But he goes on. "But Sarah, your wife, shall bare you a son and you shall call his name Isaac. And I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. As for Ishmael," this is the key then transition point. "As for Ishmael, I have heard you." Of course Ishmael itself means the God who hears because Hagar named him because God heard her cry when she felt so rejected and sad. It's a longer story. "But for Ishmael I have heard you," God says. "Behold, I will bless him and I will make him fruitful and I will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of 12 princes and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant, I will establish with Isaac whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year." And so that's the scriptural basis. It's always good when we talk about the Scriptures to then actually read the Scriptures, right?

- [Carl] That's very true.

- [Joel] You see the intersection and there you see the seeds being planted of the tension. I will just add one more thing. It's in the chapter before, in 16, when God prophesies, "You're gonna have a son named Ishmael, and the Lord has given he to your affliction." He's talking to Hagar, the mom. "He will be a wild donkey of a man," meaning he's gonna be a bit rebellious. He's gonna have some issues. Maybe in the kindergarten report, maybe he doesn't play well with other kids in the sandbox. Like he's gonna have some challenges cuz he's gonna be a bit stubborn, right? We think of donkeys as stubborn. God is not, he's not being mean. He's just describing a character trait that will become part of Ishmael. "His hand will be against everyone. And he will live to the east of his brothers. And then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her and she said, 'You are a God who sees,'" and goes on to...

- [Carl] Wow.

- I mean, continues as a God who hears and a God who sees. And so I just say that because it's true. The Arabs live to the east of Israel and the Arabs have had some issues. They're not the only people in the world that have had issues. But I'm just saying, if you match this against the Scriptures, there has been some stubbornness, but God has blessed them. They're the ones with the oil! They're the ones with the bazillion dollar, massive income in their countries where Israel, yes, okay, Israel's discovered natural gas in recent years and that's good. But many people in the Arab world, at least the Gulf Arab world, they don't even pay taxes. They don't have to work if they don't want to because they get money from the government, from all these natural resources, oil and natural gas.

- [Carl] Well, you've brought up something and, and we have to take a break here now, but I wanna come back and talk about, in addition to the scriptural history of the Arab people, we have a current history. We kind of have a place where we are now. And that was tremendously informative to go on that delegation trip for that purpose. But then we also want, before we close this podcast, we wanna talk about where this may be all going and where this lines up with prophecy as we go forward. Stay tuned. We'll be back in a second. The verse for today is Ephesians 4:32. "Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other just as God in Christ has also forgiven you." And our prayer requests today for this episode are to pray for the Arab people in the region, for peace to open up new opportunities for both Israel and her neighbors. And second, to pray for believers living in the Arab countries, that they would have the freedom to follow Christ without persecution. And third, pray for God to bring many in the Arab world into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Well, Joel, we're back. And I know we've looked into Scripture and we've seen where God has uniquely and divinely placed the Arab people in the Middle East and especially in relationship to Israel and the Jewish people. But we have a current history and there are certain geopolitical realities that are present in the Middle East right now. And maybe connecting these two dots. Maybe we could talk a little bit about where Israel and the Arab peoples are historically, in our understanding, and where they are now, maybe even past, since the Abraham Accords.

- [Joel] Sure. Well, we should make one major note. The word Arab is used a number of times in the Bible. But one specific time is that on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. there were Arabs who were there worshiping the God of Israel in the temple, in the city. When the Holy Spirit was poured out, we see in Acts 2 is giving a list of where all these people are from. And it talks about there were both Jews and proselytes, meaning people who had converted to Judaism, who were not born Jewish, but they came to believe in the God of Israel. And in doing so, some of them it says were Cretans and some were Arabs. So, it's interesting that ethnically, they were Arab and linguistically, they spoke Arabic, but they had had a desire to know the God of Israel. And then they just happened to be there on the day when the church was born. Lord Jesus had already died. He he'd risen again. He said his Holy Spirit would be poured out, and boom! On the day of Pentecost, just 50 days after for the crucifixion, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the city of Jerusalem. And we know that 3000 people came to faith in Jesus that day and Arabs were among them.

- [Carl] Specifically says Arabs. Yeah.

- [Joel] That's pretty cool. And it shows early on that God had this heart to bless the children of Ishmael. Let's go back to the central verse of the Joshua Fund, which is Genesis 12:1-3, but it talks about God's blessing on Abraham and his descendants. Now, we know that the line of that goes through Isaac, but we just read about the blessings to Ishmael. And God also promises that through the family of Abraham, all the families of the Earth will be blessed. Everyone will have an opportunity to hear and know the Lord. So, I think that brings us up at least to 2000 years ago in the beginning of the church. And that Arabs were there at the beginning, that's encouraging. And when we think about Jewish Arab Christian reconciliation through Christ, that's a key thing to know. When we get up more recently, of course, the Arab people by and large and overwhelmingly do not believe in the Biblical prophecies of the Old Testament or the New Testament that God has given this land, the Holy Land, to the Jewish people in a covenant relationship. And that even though Jewish people have been stubborn and resistant at at times in history, including arguably today, right? It's not even arguable. It's true. Resisting the Lord in many ways, but still God has this unconditional love and he's made a promise. He made it to Abraham and he's gonna keep it. It's an unconditional promise. Meaning it wasn't, "Abraham, if you do this, I," then God says, "I'll do that." God just says, "I'm gonna do this for you, Abraham." And then he repeats it. "Isaac, I'm gonna do this for you." And then to Jacob, "I'm gonna do this for you." And then the children of Jacob, "I'm gonna do this for you." And he is doing it. But Arab people live here. They lived here before 1948. They live here today and many of them have been deeply hurt, pained, saddened, angered, infuriated, and enraged by this idea that Jews are coming back to settle this land. And this whole notion of the prophetic rebirth of the nation, the sovereign nation state of Israel just seems insane to many of them and many have lost their homes and lost their lives in these wars. We have had multiple Arab Israeli wars in to the point where for many Christians in the West, but I think worldwide as well, they have heard the word Arab and they immediately think that's a group of people that are that hate Jews and are trying to crush and snuff out the nation of Israel and the Jewish people, right. Famously the leader of the Arab world when I was born in 1967 was the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, right. He famously said, "We're gonna throw the Jews into the sea," meaning we're gonna invade. We're gonna take over Israel. And any Jew that we haven't killed, we're gonna drown them. That's genocidal language. And this was the leader of the Arab world building an Alliance against Israel, 1967. Now didn't happen. Just the opposite happened. Israel won that war in six days and almost quadrupled their land and reunified Jerusalem and retook the Temple Mount, and then rested on the seventh day. That was not what the Arab nations or peoples or leaders thought was going to happen. So, that's created even more animosity and embitterment. There was another war in 1973 where the head of Egypt at that time, Anwar Sadat, invaded on our highest holy day here, Yom Kippur. So we've got this huge, long, bloody, traumatic history, comes right outta prophecy that the children of Isaac and the children of Ishmael are gonna be like this at each other. But we began to see with the Egyptian Israeli peace accords, the Camp David Accords in 1978, and then the full treaty signed in 1979, the beginning of a huge thought. And now it took till 1994 till the Jordanians. And by the way, I'm drinking from a Starbucks mug from Jordan. So, that's my there nod to the other side of the Holy Land. The Jordanians made peace with Israel in 1994. So, we went from 1979 to '94. That was a while. But then we didn't see any Arab Israeli peace treaties until 2020. And then we got four. United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, the two countries we visited, and then of course, Morocco and Sudan. And by the way, a fifth Muslim majority country, though it's not ethnically Arab, Kosovo. The deputy prime minister of a Kosovo was just here a couple days ago in her first visit. So, we're seeing a lot of movement. Now, where does that fit prophetically? Well, there are specific verses that say in the last days after Israel is reborn and there's all this tension, then the Arabs are gonna make peace with Israel. It doesn't say it quite as explicitly, however, and I'll make it brief, and then you take the time left.

- No, that's fine. But the Bible does, of course, say that Israel will be reborn in the last days. That's says Ezekiel 36-37, and numerous other passages in Isaiah and Jeremiah and so forth. So, we've seen those prophecies get set into motion, and we've seen the wars and rumors of wars that Jesus spoke of that would define much of the last days before he returns, right? Kingdom will rise against kingdom. Nation will rise against nation. Well, that's been the story of the Middle East for the last hundred years. War after war, after war, after war, between Arabs and Jews. So, we've seen the rebirth of Israel, check, Jews coming back to the land, check, rebuilding the ancient ruins, check, making the deserts bloom, check, the war and conflict between Jews and Arabs, just as Jesus told us, check. But this is a passage that very few people focus on, Ezekiel 38 and 39. Now faithful listeners and viewers of this podcast know "Well, didn't you talk about that a few podcasts ago about this prophetic war in which Russia and Iran were gonna get involved?" Yes we did. But let me now emphasize one of the things that we said, but you might have easily not clued in or keyed into it. It's significant. One of the prerequisites for the war of Gog and Magog to occur is Israel has to be reborn, right? Jews have to be back in the land. The ancient ruins have to be in the process of being rebuilt. They're making the deserts bloom, And then it says, but at this point, the next big prophetic eschatological war is about to start, what does the text say? It says that Israel is living securely in the land. Now you could argue, "Well, that just means it has a very strong military." Well, Israel certainly does, so check, but I think what we can say is, oh, look, the Lord meant there's gonna be a whole series of peace treaties and normalizations, that will make Israelis feel more secure than ever, even, and I'm now I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, but I'm just gonna say this: Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of the Arab world. Egypt was, and Egypt's the largest country in the Arab world, a hundred million people, but Saudi Arabia is the economic power. And it's the home of Mecca and Medina. So, it is the epicenter in the 21st century of the Arab world. Well, the name for the region we now know is Saudi Arabia. There were two names, Biblically. Sheba, and Dedan. Those two names are mentioned in Ezekiel 38. And it said, and they are not listed with the coalition countries that will join Russia and Iran against Israel, right? No, no. Sheba and Dedan are looking at the attack that's getting ready to come. And they're saying, "Why, what are you doing this for?" They're talking to the Russian Iranian leaders and saying, "Are you trying to take Israel's wealth? Are you trying to plunder Israel?" Why are you doing this? What are you doing?" I have written for the last 15 years and spoken about. And a lot of people thought I was crazy, so, okay. I'll just tip my hand. But I've said, I believe that we're gonna see a series of peace treaties between Israel and the Arab world. When I wrote my book "Epicenter" in 2006. here's a whole chapter that says, here's a headline you will read. Israel and the Arab world start making peace treaties. And now we're seeing it. And I believe that Saudi Arabia may very well be, I don't know about the next one, maybe, but one of the countries, or at least if not an actual formal treaty, they will not be thinking that we want to join the enemies of Israel like they would've 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 50 years ago, but they'll be part of this neutral or positive camp going, wait, Russia, Iran, why are you doing this? So, I know that's not a soundbite answer. But the Bible makes it clear that not only will Israel be reborn and have conflicts in the last days before Christ comes back, but before the war of Gog and Magog happens, the Arab world and Israel will start to have peace and security and normalization. And we are watching that happen, Carl. You and I got to see it up close in personal with the very architects, the Arab architects of this prophetic change.

- [Carl] We heard both the Israeli and Arab architects of the Arab Abraham Accords go into the exact conversation you said about peace and security and safety for all of those countries as a result. And Joel, you make an incredible connection and it's so important to remember that three things are operating here. We have Biblical history. We have current events and current, recent, relatively recent history. And we have what I call future history, which is the prophetic history that's also in Scripture. And I'm always amazed at your ability to draw the through line between all the three of those things. And for many of us, we stop dead in our tracks when it comes to current events and we throw up our hands and say, "Well, we don't know what the future holds," but in fact, Scripture doesn't treat it that way, does it? It's actually gone into quite some detail about the very nations that you mentioned and those kinds of things, so.

- [Joel] I'll say that, I understand that a lot of Christians are busy with their own lives and the ministry.

- [Carl] Oh, sure.

- [Joel] But it's certainly understandable that people haven't done exhaustive study-

- But it's exciting, yeah.

- About the prophecies. And much less Middle Eastern history, much less current events. I mean, each of those three things are enormously complicated.

- That's true.

- [Joel] And therefore trying to do all three and synthesize them is challenging. That's why we're doing this.

- [Carl] That's why I love you, Joel. What I like to say, one of my old seminary professors used to say, "You put the cookies on the bottom shelf." We all can get to this through this very clear exposition, but I would love to know more about this understanding of the Arab people in God's plan. I mean, even today we see Arabs in Israel. There's a very large population of Arabic speaking people and Arabs in Israel that live in peace and security.

- [Joel] 20% of the Israeli society, almost 22% is Arab. And most of those are Muslims, but there are many Christians within that community too. There's about 120,000 Christians in Israel. Most of those are Arab Christians. Although obviously there are Jewish believers in Jesus as well. But yeah, in fact, we just had an Arab Muslim appointed to the Supreme Court in Israel just this week. We reported it on "All Israel News." Like, people call us, "Oh, you're a horrible country, Israel! You're an apartheid country." Well, if we're in a apartheid country, how did an Arab Muslim not only get citizenship, okay, but get appointed to our Supreme Court to govern all Jews, Muslims and Christians. Like, that's not normal. You don't see Supreme Court justices who are Jewish or followers of Jesus in Saudi Arabia or in Arab countries. So, this is a big deal. But we're also seeing God's spirit move. We're seeing Arabs who are from a Muslim background and Muslim upbringing. We're seeing them listen to the Gospel through satellite television, radio, the internet, and personal Gospel discussions. We're also seeing more Arab Muslims coming to faith in Jesus than at any other time in the last 14 centuries. And not only Arab, I mean, the Persians like Iran, that's a whole separate ethnicity and language group, but they're coming to faith in Jesus, arguably faster than the Arabs. So, God is moving in the very people that most Israelis see as their enemies and whom most Christians, honestly, at least in the West have thought of as enemies. And I mean, they have been enemies at certain times, obviously we we've gone to a lot of war in the Middle East in the United States. And I think there's a lot of trauma because of that. But we have to look at this region from God's vantage point. And I often say, and I first said that in that book "Epicenter" 15, 17 years ago, if you only look at the world or the Middle East through geopolitical lenses and/or economic lenses, you're not gonna see in three dimensions. You have to also, it's not that you don't look at at the regions through geopolitical and economic lenses, but you also need to look at the region through what I call the third lens, through the Bible. Because when you put all those lenses together, it's like being at the eye doctor and they're like, does that, is that good or worse? What if I do this? What if I do this? You add those three lenses. It doesn't mean you're gonna always see perfectly clear into the future or the present, but it means you're gonna see clearer because you're looking through the eyes of God.

- [Carl] Yeah. Well, I'll tell you what, it's exciting to put on that lens and to look at the way God sees the Arab people, not the way we see them either socially or geopolitically, but to look at the way God has kind of given promises to the Arab people and given us the opportunity to interact with them, and to do that.

- [Carl] I just have to say you had the greatest line during our time. I won't say the country right now, but we were in a particular country and we were there during Ramadan. So, when, when the sun goes down and the fasting ends for the day for Muslims, they have what's called an Iftar feast, they're breaking the fast and they're having a meal with their family and their friends. Now we got invited to a very senior Arab Muslim leader's residence, and he put on an event, a dinner that was, was so dramatic, so special, more special than any of the seven delegations I've ever led. And you described it as the Arab version of Downton Abbey. With Downton Abby's movie releasing. I dunno, I'm probably already out by the time this runs. For people who are familiar with it, we had footman behind each one of us. And if you took a sip of orange juice, you didn't get to get to the bottom unless you like, chugged it. It you're like they were already serving you and refilling things. And I just say that because here is an Arab Muslim at one of the highest holy days of his year, Ramadan, inviting followers of Jesus Christ to come and not just break bread, to have a Downton Abby-esque sumptuous meal. And the first thing he said was, "I'd like to open us in prayer. And then, "Joel, would you pray?" Like, that's not normal historically. But God is creating these friendships. And we spent two hours with that very senior ranking Arab Muslim leader, getting to hear his heart, asking him all kinds of questions and him asking us questions. And I just think that is a, it's not always gonna happen. I'm not saying that everybody on this podcast is going to get to have a Downton Abbey experience in the Muslim world, but this is a little taste of what heaven's gonna be like, where people, okay. In heaven, everyone will believe in Jesus. I get that. But I'm just saying we will not be at war with each other. Don't misunderstand, what I'm saying. I didn't say it artfully. What I mean is we don't have to, as Jews, as Israelis, as Christians be at war with Arab Muslims. There are people who are people of good will. They don't see Jesus in the Bible the way we do. That's a conversation we need to keep having, but they want peace. And I think you've got to see what almost no other American or almost any other Evangelical would get to see was, "Is this real? Are they kidding? Are they just trying to lure us into a false sense of peace? Or is it legit?"

- [Carl] Yeah, I couldn't agree more with that assessment. I feel like it's really important to remember that we're gonna talk in a future podcast about how Muslims and Arab peoples see Jesus and what response we can have for them about their view of Jesus and of Christianity as well. But one of the things that I experienced with you on that trip that I've never quite experienced before at that level is Arab culture is a shame and honor culture. The important thing is to honor those people that you care about. And I don't know about you, Joel, but I felt that honor so deeply, so profoundly, and so authentically in our experience there that it really made me rethink some of our knee-jerk reactions to things and to our judgments about Arab people in the Middle East. I don't know if you wanna comment on that or just accept that. That was my observation, that we were honored in so many ways. And they certainly appreciated deeply our love for Jesus and our belief system. So, all of those things.

- [Joel] Yeah, absolutely. We definitely felt honored. They did honor us and they did so because they felt honored that we would come. Remember why they're asking. They're not asking us to come and preach the Gospel to them, or sign Bible translation contract, or whatever. They feel that Christians generally, Americans in particular have a fundamental misunderstanding of who they are in Bahrain, in the United Arab Emirates. And of course, other Arab countries too. But these two countries are like, "We have gotta work on explaining who we are. And we have made some serious mistakes in the past, but we are making huge reforms. We're making changes. And we want to invite people to come and get to know us and hear our story, ask us a bazillion questions and then go back, and tell other people." Listen, it's not as though Arab terrorism isn't an issue or radical Islam is not an issue. It is. We've talked about that on this podcast. I'll never stop talking about it because it's real and it's dangerous, but that's not the sum total of the Arab world. And there are such tectonic shifts going on in Arab culture where Arabs are starting to consider it a badge of honor to sit with a Jewish person, to sit within Israeli, to sit with an evangelical follower of Jesus saying, "Listen, we don't agree on everything, but we want there to be peace. And we wanna work together. And we want trade, and tourism, and foreign directed investment, and security cooperation. Like, we are happy to talk about our differences, but we wanna be friends and we wanna be allies." That's important. That's important. And I think most Christians don't see it, but that's understandable. That's our job to be a bridge. We got to see things most people will never get to see. But through this podcast, through "All Israel News," "All Arab News," through "Enemies and Allies," we can help tell the story to our brothers and sisters. Why? Because we're being watchmen on the walls. If you see a threat coming, we need to warn. But the Bible also says, Paul says it specifically, in Romans, "Give honor where honor's due." If something good is happening, you should celebrate it. Don't call evil good and good evil. Like don't just say, well, "Arab people are all terrorists. And they were before, and now." that's not really fair and it's not true and it's not helpful. And it's not Biblical.

- [Carl] Well, Joel, I gotta tell you, we're gonna do a future episode on the real hope for the Arab people in the Middle East and the way in which we can be part of this great story. What you've just described is, an incredible story that needs to be told more and wider, but maybe you could just talk about as we recognize the needs, there are needs in this part of the world, that there are... We still have the opportunity to love and support and minister to Arab people. What can listeners do to practically support and love and minister to Arab people?

- [Joel] Well, what I love about the Joshua Fund is that God had a plan for this ministry from the beginning, not to focus only on one side or the other, right. We've talked about from that from the beginning. And because it goes back to the Abrahamic covenant and God said, "Yeah, I have a plan for Abraham" Abraham wasn't Jewish. Jewishness didn't come up until Jacob had a son named Judah, right? So, just to be clear, Abraham was a Hebrew and then there was Isaac and then there's Jacob. And then there was the 12 tribes. So, anyway, God does love Jewish people. And he does love the nation of Israel. And he chose the nation of Israel. And he has a plan for the nation of Israel and for the last 18 months or so we've been unpacking that plan, but we're also comparing it against real life, right? What's really happening. And I love that, but I think I have gotten a lot of pushback over the years for leaning into trying to build friendships, relationships with Arabs, with Muslims more generally. And I understand, in a world after 9-11 and in the ISIS genocidal era and the rise of the Iranian Persian bomb, people are nervous that they get scared or they're angry. And there are reasons for that. But as followers of Jesus Christ, we need to understand both sides and we need to love both sides. And I think that Joshua Fund does a great job and I would encourage people, I'm not usually the one that says this, but I would encourage people to financially give as well as to pray. First of all, help us educate the church through this podcast and through other events and things, trips to Israel, trips to the region we still haven't done yet. The prayer and vision trip to the neighbor's side, but we want to, as things are getting more peaceful and secure, I think those are coming. So, I just put those in a seed in people's minds, but also I would encourage people to invest financially in the Joshua Fund because we are strengthening, encouraging pastors in the Arab world, in Iraq, in Egypt, in Jordan, in Syria, in Lebanon, in the past, and in authorities. We're strengthening pastors, we're doing humanitarian relief. We're mobilizing people to pray. And a number of other things we probably shouldn't get into cuz some of them are sensitive, but the point is God loves Arabs. And he is not content with a church that misunderstands who Arabs are theologically and thinks he's cursed them when the text is crystal clear that he has blessed them. Now, there are challenges, right? Okay. But we have to work our way through those. And that most Christians don't realize that there were Arab followers of the God of Israel at Pentecost, at the beginning of the church. And if we got, if we had time, we'd get into Revelation and see that there are people from every tribe, nation, and tongue will be in heaven. There will be people from all countries in the Arab and Muslim world who come to faith in Jesus. And I don't think every Arab and every Muslim is gonna come to faith in Jesus. I hope so, but they at least need to hear because many of them will come to faith. So, all those are the reasons to be involved in the Joshua Fund. And if you say, "Yeah, but my heart is really Israel." Then I would say, well, "If you're praying for the peace of Israel, the piece of Jerusalem, you should pray that more Muslims come to faith in Jesus. Because a Muslim who's come to faith in Jesus is gonna be a friend of Israel, not an enemy."

- [Carl] Amen. Well, Joel, thank you. This has been incredibly interesting and incredibly informative. And I would just like to say thank you on behalf of the whole Joshua Fund for that really clear both and view of blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. So, and to our listeners, I'd say if you'd like to learn more about the Joshua Fund, you can visit our website, JoshuaFund.com. And there you can learn about what we're doing in the Middle East to bless Israel and her neighbors, including the Arab neighbors, in the name of Jesus, and how you can participate in this healing work we're doing in this critical region. On behalf of Joel Rosenberg and the whole Joshua Fund team, thanks for listening to this episode of "Inside the Epicenter" with Joel Rosenberg.

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