1. ISHMAEL IN THE BIBLE
Ishmael, the first son of Abraham (through Sarah's handmaid, Hagar), is the progenitor of the Arab peoples. He's often sidelined as a minor character but the Bible tells us otherwise. Let's take a look --
A. God (speaking through His angel) named him before he was born
- “You (Hagar)are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery" (Genesis 16:11)
That makes him one of the only 8 people in the Bible who were named by God before their birth.
B. God promised to multiply him & make him fruitful.
We read of this in TWO different places --
- "I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly" (Genesis 17:20, said to Abraham)
- “I will increase your descendants* so much that they will be too numerous to count.” (Genesis 16:10, said to Hagar)
C. God promised to make him a nation / a great nation.
We read of this in THREE different places --
- I will make him into a great nation. (Genesis 17:20)
- But I will also make a nation of the slave woman's son, because he is your offspring." (Genesis 21:13)
- Get up, lift up the boy, and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation." (Genesis 21:18)
In other words, Ishmael received the same blessings as great people like Abraham and Jacob! I've seen some argue that Ishmael's blessing to become a "great nation" was fulfilled when the Arabs struck oil and became prosperous and powerful. But "great nation" means a nation that's great in the eyes of God. This point will be elaborated in a later section.
D. He was prophesied to have 12 sons, who in all probability went on to become 12 tribes
- He will be the father of twelve rulers...(Genesis 17:20)
Just like Jacob who also had 12 sons who turned into 12 tribes of the Israelites.
E. He was actually part of God's covenant with Abraham.
The reason is that he had the "sign of the covenant" -- circumcision, which is specified in detail in Genesis 17:9-14. Interestingly, that practice remained part of Ishmaelite tradition, even after they turned polytheistic and idolatrous.
F. God saved him from dying of thirst
- God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there... Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. (Genesis 21:17-19)
G. God was with Ishmael even after he was sent away.
- God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer.(Genesis 21:20)
God being "with" him means God watched over and protected him. A similar verse appears in Genesis 39 in connection with Joseph -- "the LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man" (Genesis 39:2)
2. WHAT CAME OF THE PROMISES TO ISHMAEL?
As we have seen, Ishmael is presented in the Bible as an important figure meant for great things, but after Genesis, he disappears and is never mentioned again. So what became of the "great nation" that was to emerge from Ishmael? What mark did it leave on history? Is the Ishmaelite nation even relevant today?
Answer: Approximately 2500 years after Ishmael, the Ishmaelites united under the banner of a new Monotheistic religion -- Islam. They become a mighty conquering force that rapidly took over ALL of the Middle East and North Africa and established one of the largest empires in history.
This is incredibly significant because much of the territory the Ishmaelites conquered during their first century used to be CHRISTIAN. The Ishmaelites did not merely conquer territory, but completely uprooted all previous religions and cultures and replaced it with their own! They did this to such an extent that -- with the exception of Spain -- all territories under Ishmaelite rule hold on to the Ishmaelite religion & way of life to this day!
- Map of Ishmaelite conquests between 7th to 9th century
- Map of countries with the Ishmaelite religion
In other words, the Ishmaelites undid 6 centuries of work by Christian preachers dating back to the time of the apostles.
3. WHY DID GOD ALLOW THE ISHMAELITES TO SUCCEED?
Why did god allow it? And that too after Jesus was given "all authority in heaven and earth"? And AFTER Jesus commanded his followers to preach the gospel to every nation?
It can't be that the Ishmaelite nation conquered Christian lands against God's will. So the only logocal answer is that -- for whatever reason -- God willed it.
- He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. (Daniel 2:21)
Surely, a religious kingdom that replaced Christianity is surely a huge matter. So does the Bible say anything about it? I believe it does.
In Daniel 2, we read that God will set up a mighty warlike kingdom DURING the time of the kingdom of "iron & clay" -- which has the strength of the previous "iron" empire. Most scholars identify the iron empire as pagan Rome. So the iron & clay kingdom has to be the Christian Roman empire -- it had the "iron" of pagan Rome as well as another element -- clay -- which represents Christianity.
- "...the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever" (Daniel 2:44)
Many say that the kingdom set up by God refers to Christianity, but the text says it's a kingdom that emerged AFTER a Christian empire was established. I have provided a more detailed explanation of the Daniel 2 prophecy in a comment below.
Then, in Isaiah 54, we read of a nation that will "spread out to the left and right and take over entire nations!
- Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. (Isaiah 54:2-3)
Thus, the "great nation" promised to Ishmael was a religious empire.
4) THE ISHMAELITE RELIGION
So what of the religion that was spread by the Ishmaelites? It means different things to different people. But peel away all it's outer layers and it's core, it is a religion that --
- is centered around the worship the God of Abraham.
- reveres the prophets of the Bible.
- acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah.
- teaches of the coming of a Jewish antichrist.
- teaches the second coming of Jesus.
- teaches that Christ slays antichrist (near Tel Aviv!)
- teaches that Christ will rule the world.
Note: While there are differences over the exact nature of Christ, it's nothing that cannot be reconciled with Unitarian Christianity (not to be confused with Unitarian Universalism).
It's NOT a random coincidence that the Ishmaelite religion has so many parallels with Christianity.
There's also the fact that the Ishmaelite religion is the only religion that implements the Laws of the Bible -- severely punish blasphemers, adulterers, homosexuals etc. It's like a sign from God saying "look! If the Ishmaelites can do it, why can't you?".
It is for the above reasons that I have come to believe the Ishmaelite religion is a branch of the tree of the Abrahamic faith system.
I believe the Ishmaelite religion, Islam, was set up by God as a COUNTERWEIGHT against the antichrist world order. That's the only way to explain how the Ishmaelite nations successfully resist the poisonous fruits of godless modernity.
Thank you for reading.