Friday, February 4, 2011

James W. Goll: God and the Egyptian Crisis - a Redemptive Interpretation on the Descendents of Abraham

Abraham's wife Sarah lived almost forty years after the birth of Isaac. Genesis 23:1–2 says:

Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.

Abraham loved Sarah dearly and must have experienced much grief and pain at her loss. After finding an excellent wife for his son Isaac, Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. Genesis 25:2–4 says that Keturah:

bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishback and Shuah. Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim and Letushim and Leummim. The sons of Midian were Ephah and Epher and Hanoch and Abida and Eldaah. All these were the sons of Keturah.

Keturah bore more children by Abraham than did Sarah and Hagar combined. I think that is interesting.

Before Abraham died he gave gifts to the sons of Keturah and sent them far away from his son Isaac, to the land of the east (see Genesis 25:6). One of the sons of Keturah was Midian, the father of the Midianites. Some of the descendants of Keturah went to what was called Persia. Others were, apparently, scattered into Assyria. Genesis 25:7–8 records:

These are all the years of Abraham's life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life.

What a way to leave this Earth – as an old man satisfied with life, and with a lineage left behind!

Abraham's sons, Isaac and Ishmael, came together to bury their father in a cave. What a powerful statement! They came together – they united – to remember their father and put him to rest (see Genesis 25:9). I wonder if that could be a picture of things yet to come. Could it be that our Father will yet do such a work among the descendants of Abraham that they could come together in common purpose at some point and time in history?

Keturah's Descendants Will Praise the Lord

Isaiah prophesied about the descendants of Keturah, saying: "A multitude of camels will cover you [Israel], the young camels of Midian and Ephah" (Isaiah 60:6). Remember that Midian was a son of Keturah, and Ephah was her grandson. In the next part of this verse, Isaiah mentions yet another grandson of Keturah: Sheba. "All those from Sheba will come; they will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the Lord."

Where else have you heard of gold and frankincense together? They were two of the three gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus after His birth (see Matthew 2:1–12). I cannot confirm that the wise men were descendants of Keturah, but they did come from the east, where the descendants of Keturah had settled, and they certainly fit the description of Isaiah's prophecy.

Whether this prophecy was fulfilled literally at the birth of the Messiah or is a prophecy for the future yet to come, the minimum we can agree on is that there is prophetic destiny upon the children of Keturah. These people will rise up as people of wealth and will end up worshiping the one, true God. They will bring forth praise to the Lord!

Now let's go to the amazing prophecy of Isaiah, which has not yet been fulfilled. In this passage you will see the descendants of Hagar, Sarah and Keturah come together. As you read, keep in mind that Hagar was an Egyptian and that she returned to Egypt to find a wife for Ishmael, her half-Hebrew and half-Egyptian son. Remember, too, that the descendants of Keturah settled in Assyria and beyond. Isaiah 19:19-20, 23–25:

In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord near its border. It will become a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them...

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance."

God is going to humble Egypt eventually, and Egypt is going to lift a cry for help. The Arabs are going to cry out due to the severity of their oppressors, and the Lord will manifest Himself as their Savior and Champion. After much pressure, and the probability of an all-out war in the Middle East, God will make Himself known to the Arabic peoples and they will turn to Him. Isaiah described the length to which they will go: "They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the Lord and perform it" (Isaiah 19:21). This not only means that they will have a God encounter, but that they will become true disciples and will walk in obedience.

Notice that this move of God will also impact Assyria: Turkey, Iraq, Iran and other Middle Eastern territories. Keturah's children were scattered throughout the vast lands of Assyria! They still have an identity today, but it is obscured because Abraham sent them all eastward into Trans Jordan and beyond (see Genesis 25:6).

Imagine – the very area of Asia Minor, where the early Church of Jesus Christ once flourished, will rise again out of the ashes into genuine, vibrant worship. Lands that appear to be held captive to the devil through Islam will be delivered and cleansed of their impurity. After thousands of years of broken promises, hatred and enmity between Arabs and Jews, this will truly be a glorious day! A day in history when the curse is reversed and the blessing of the Lord emerges. What a day that will be! I can only imagine!

The Middle East is indeed a complex knot, but the Holy Spirit loves brooding over a mess of darkness. He is an expert at this task. Remember that the first mention of the Holy Spirit is that He hovered over the face of the deep. God loves bringing order out of chaos. The Holy Spirit is a Pro at creating change and making all things new!

There will be, according to Isaiah, a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and people will go freely back and forth – probably right through the middle of Israel – worshiping God together. I can only imagine!

All of Abraham's Seed Will Be Blessed

The end of Isaiah 19 is so powerful that I want you to read it again:

Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance." Isaiah 19:24–25

Blessed are the descendants of Hagar, God's people! Blessed are the descendants of Keturah, the work of God's hands! Blessed are the descendants of Sarah, God's inheritance!

God is the supreme multi-tasker. He can accomplish more than one thing at a time! Biblical prophecy indicates that alongside God's gathering of the outcasts of Israel to their homeland, He is setting the stage to do a great work among all the descendants of Abraham. Surprise us all, O Lord. Let it be so!

Praying for All the Peoples of the Middle East

Isn't this good? God has declared a prophetic blessing over all the peoples of the Middle East, because they all have come from Abraham's seed. The devil has arisen, however, to thwart God's blessing. A holy war – an unholy war, rather – has raged for thousands of years. The conflict continues to intensify and a massive, satanic battle is coming. But I am here to declare that the Lord is going to pierce the veil of Islam. A move of God is going to come from out of Persia, out of Iraq, out of Syria, out of Lebanon, out of Egypt and, of course, out of Israel.

Times of Darkness Precede Times of Great Light

Now just to set the record straight: From the angle that I presently read the Scriptures, I see a lot of intense bickering and warfare yet to occur before the fullness of Isaiah 19 comes to pass. I am not an ostrich, with my head buried in the sand! Isaiah 60:1–3 lays out a Scriptural principle that says a time of great darkness will precede the unveiling of a great light. Gentiles will come to the brightness of its shining, and even kings will bow to the brilliance of this great light. But first comes gross darkness.

Consider with me now Psalm 83:3–8, 16–18:

They make shrewd plans against Your people, and conspire together against Your treasured ones. They have said, "Come and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more." For they have conspired together with one mind; against You they make a covenant: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; they have become a help to the children of Lot...

Fill their faces with dishonor, that they may seek Your name, O Lord. Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever, and let them be humiliated and perish, that they may know that You alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

Many Bible teachers agree that this text has not yet been fulfilled. This particular group has not yet been brought into an alignment with this degree of hatred. The passage does not say "the peoples of the land of the north," nor does it say "Germany." In fact, even Egypt seems to be missing from this list! Who and what is this alliance that conspires together?

Psalm 83 describes vividly a troubling alignment set against a wearied Jewish state. Let's turn to the pen of Sandra Teplinsky for more details:

"Verses 5–8 tell how every nation in the neighborhood (except Egypt) unites against Israel: Edom and the Ishmaelites (southern Jordan and Saudi Arabia); Moab (central Jordan) and the Hagrites (Syria and Arabia); Gebal (southern Jordan); Ammon (central Jordan) and Amalek (Sinai desert); Philistia (Gaza Strip area); Tyre (southern Lebanon) and Assyria (Syria/Iraq). Verse 4 sounds their bellicose battle cry: "Come... let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more."

In some ways this is nothing new. As I laid out earlier the enemy has, from the inception of Israel's rebirth, been standing close by with a knife to cut her throat! How did God's prophetic psalmist respond to this threat? How should we respond when we see these things taking place? The psalmist calls for God to glorify Himself – to make His great name and His name alone known over all the Earth. God's goal in times of testing is to glorify Himself.

He will ultimately use the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict to do it. He wants both blood-drenched peoples to know that He alone is most High – not Allah, not Judaism without Jesus, not global secular humanism, not anything.

What if the eyes of the entire world were looking on at the moment of Israel's apparent, imminent destruction – the moment when God brings humiliation to the enemies of Israel for the purpose of releasing His grace upon them?

Light Will Overpower the Darkness

Darkness comes first, and then the light shines (see John 1:5). There has never been a contest between light and darkness. When you enter a house, you simply flip the switch and (if it is wired properly) the light always drives away the darkness. Darkness is a temporary state! I am here not to declare the revival of evil – there are plenty of top-selling authors who will do that for you. I am here to broaden our horizons and to help us peer into the redemptive purposes of God, even in the midst of the most stressful, difficult times of the ages. Light will overpower darkness; eventually, somehow – someday!

The Scriptures I have shared regarding God's promises to the descendants of Abraham are all for this purpose: to bring light and hope to the very dark situation in the Middle East. But if all we had was Joel's prophecy we would still be assured that, before this world comes to an end, God will pour out His Spirit on all people (see Joel 2:28–29).

Target Practice

Somehow we made it to our Target Practice and you are still with me! Whew! (I thought for a moment I might have lost you!) Now let's set our sights with more Scripture-based praying.

Scripture and Prayer from Isaiah 19:23–25:

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance."

Heavenly Father, thank You for the many promises that You have given to me and that You will fulfill each one. Thank You that You will also fulfill every promise You made to Abraham and his descendants. Hasten the day when all the descendants of Abraham through Hagar, Sarah and Keturah will worship You together in one accord. I agree with Your Word that says the descendants of Keturah are the work of Your hands and will be a blessing in the Earth. I ask specifically that You would bless the descendants of Keturah and lead them to Yourself. Reveal to them that Yeshua is their Messiah. I ask that Jesus would receive the reward of His sufferings through these descendants of Abraham, for the glory of Your holy and righteous name. Amen.

Scripture and Prayer from Isaiah 60:6:

The young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba will come; they will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the Lord.

Father God, I ask that the "young camels" and all the descendants of Keturah would come to You and turn favorably toward Israel. Bless them. Multiply them. Prosper them. I ask that You would inspire them to use their wealth to bless Israel and the Kingdom of God. I ask that they would be known in the Middle East and in the Earth as bearers of the Good News of praises to the Lord. Establish them as worshipers of the God of their father, Abraham, for Your great name's sake. Amen.

Scripture and Prayer from Matthew 9:36–38:

Seeing the people, He [Jesus] felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

Father God, Your compassion burned in the heart of Your Son, Jesus. Turn the distress of Abraham's descendants into gladness and blessing. I ask that their souls would not be downcast, but that they would put their hope in the God of their father, Abraham. Transform their misguided ways and lead them in Your paths of righteousness. Cause them to hunger and thirst after righteousness. Send out workers into this harvest field to bring Your living waters to a dry and weary land. I ask that Your workers would reap a bountiful harvest for Your Kingdom's sake. Amen.

Scripture and Prayer from John 10:14–16:

I am the Good Shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one Shepherd.

Jesus, Yeshua, Messiah, You are a Good Shepherd and You know all Your sheep. You have laid Your life down for all the descendants of Abraham through Hagar, Sarah and Keturah. Bring the descendants of Hagar and Keturah into Your fold. Quicken their ears to hear Your voice. I ask that they would join with the descendants of Israel so that all of Abraham's descendants will become one flock with You as their great Shepherd. You are a mighty God and You will bring Your word to pass for Your name's sake. Amen!

The Promised Son of Abraham

All three national families of Abraham have, by and large, failed to recognize the true Messiah, who is Yeshua, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Jews are still looking for their Messiah to appear, while the others do not even realize that they need one. Although most accept Mohammed and Jesus as prophets, they do not believe that a Messiah is necessary. Still the prophetic Scriptures predict that these descendants of Abraham will accept the true Messiah at a critical point in time.

I love the language of Isaiah 19:20: "He will send them a Savior and a Champion." A champion shall come. A messenger of the new covenant will be sent to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Yeshua, Jesus, the true Messiah, said it succinctly: "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one Shepherd" (John 10:16).

A great spiritual revival is on God's agenda, and it will encompass all the descendants of Abraham throughout the Middle East, from the Nile River to the Euphrates.

James W. Goll
Encounters Network • PrayerStorm • Compassion Acts


1 comment:

Ron McK said...

James Goll has done an excellent study. I hope he gets Christians praying more broadly.

He is confusing on one point. He implies that Egypt is a descendant of Keturah. I cannot see the link in the scriptures. Nevertheless, get praying!