There’s no question God has a unique covenant with the people of Israel.
I know there are some who don’t believe it. They think it’s a fairy tale, a myth, an ancient legend.
There are others who, while they say they believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, mistakenly think He has somehow abrogated His eternal promises to Israel.
And there are still more who are unaware of specific covenants God has made with others – including with Israel’s neighbors in the Middle East, namely the Arabs.
While the leaders of this world search in vain for a peace plan for the turbulent Middle East, the good news is God already has one.
I write extensively about this peace plan in my book “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age,” but let me short-hand several components of it for you here.
It starts in Genesis – as most things do.
We all know the story of Abraham and Hagar. Abraham and his wife, Sarah, didn’t believe she could have children. She was aged. She hadn’t been able to conceive. Yet God promised they would have a son. Abraham and Sarah were people of great faith, but they decided to take matters into their own hands – to “help” God fulfill His promise to them.
They decided Abraham should father a child with Hagar, an Egyptian handmaiden to Sarah. That son was Ishmael. But, though he was not the son of promise, God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17:20: “And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.”
He made a similar covenant with Hagar in Genesis 21:18: “Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.”
Ishmael became one of the fathers of the people we know today as Arabs. The question is whether they have yet become a great nation. As an Arab-American, I do not believe that promise has yet been fulfilled, any more than God’s covenant with Israel has been fully realized.
I believe the complete fulfillment will come at what Peter called in Acts 3 “the restitution of all things,” what Christians should recognize as Jesus’ return to Earth as King of Israel, where He will rule and reign from Jerusalem over the entire world.
But there is an overlooked specific promise to two great future Arab nations in Isaiah 19 that reveals how this will unfold. It comes in the last three verses of that chapter: “In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.”
Here God, speaking through Isaiah, refers to His Middle East peace plan in which he remarkably refers to Egypt as His blessed people and to Assyria as the work of His hands. We see these two great Arab nations plainly living in peace with Israel, His inheritance.
But that’s hardly the end of the story.
Because God has a peace plan for the entire world, one for all the nations, all the “gentiles.” It is revealed explicitly in the prophets – especially in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Malachi.
- Isaiah 11:10: “And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.”
- Isaiah 42:6: “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;”
- Isaiah 49:6: “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”
- Isaiah 49:22: “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.”
- Isaiah 54:3: “For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.”
- Isaiah 60:3: “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”
- Isaiah 60:5: “Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.”
- Isaiah 60:11: “Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.”
- Isaiah 66:19: “And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.”
- Jeremiah 16:19: “O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.”
- Malachi 1:11: “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Many of these prophecies were reiterated by Jesus in the gospels – in Matthew 12:17-21 and Luke 2:32.
Anyway, there’s very good news ahead for those of us who long for peace in the Middle East and throughout the world. It will come. It’s promised by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. There’s a happy-ever-after ending for the whole world – a promise not only of peace, but justice, mercy, blessing, righteousness and, indeed, an Edenic-style paradise on Earth for those who seek Him.
That’s a promise, too, to everyone – Arab, Jew, gentile alike: “If thou seek him, he will be found of thee” (1 Chronicles 28:9).