Have you noticed how the terrible hatred between the Jews and Arabs keeps the Middle East in a seething, sizzling ferment all the time? Perhaps no two races on the face of the earth are so violent in their antagonism to each other. Other religious groups have fought and killed each other, such as the Hindus and Muslims in India, and also the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland; but no bitterness seems quite so deep and enduring as the withering hatred of these two peoples for each other. We're going to get a little background today on why this smoldering fuse box has never been successfully dampened or defused. It is very interesting, friends, that the only and oldest source of accurate information on this explosive piece of real estate is the Word of God. Over and over again the book, the Bible, has proven to be the most amazing manuscript on record.
Now just a word about the Arabs. As you will remember, they are the descendants of Abraham's son, Ishmael. Abraham had to send Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, away after Isaac was born, but he prayed that God would spare his life. In Genesis 16:11,12 God said to Abraham, ". . .Thou shalt call his name Ishmael, and he will be a wild man. . .and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren." And in Genesis 17:29 God promises, ". . .AND I WILL MAKE HIM A GREAT NATION‘."
Of the Arabs Dr. Thomas Newton says, "The great empires around them have all in their turns fallen to ruin, while they have continued the same from the beginning." Dissertations on the Prophecies, 2. These Arabs wander over the ruins of Ninevah, Babylon, Tyre, while not a single inhabitant of those cities remain. At one time these Arabs, known as the Saracens, made rapid conquests into the countries around them, and were indeed known as "a great nation."
Not only Babylon, but other Chaldean cities were to be in ruins. Not many years ago skeptics were telling us that no such places as Ur of the Chaldees ever existed, that the story of Abraham and Terah leaving the place was just folklore. But "the dust of ages is a good historian," and now the archaeologists have unearthed the ancient city of Ur. They have located the foundation of that mighty city, and tell us that the homes were. . .luxurious two-story buildings with thirteen or fourteen rooms. Ur was really a very sophisticated city with education and great wealth.
God wanted Abraham to leave Ur because of the great wickedness in that city. Here sun worship had been introduced from Babylon, and it became the very center of that Satanic form of worship. You can still see the Ziggurat where human sacrifice was offered to the moon goddess. They called her the queen of heaven, and Abraham no doubt watched the priests climb those very steps day after day with their screaming victims. It was a solid brick structure, but it has crumbled away so that not much remains today.
Now let us see what God says about the future of two great nations, the Edomites and the Israelites. When the twins, Jacob and Esau, were born to Isaac, God told him that each would become a great nation. So side by side they grew to become powerful and many. Now prophecy says that the land would become desolate, and that one of these nations, the descendants of Esau, or the Edomites, would perish from the earth, while the other, the Jews, and the descendants of Jacob, would remain a distinct living people scattered throughout the world.
Let us read these prophecies. Seven hundred years before Christ, the Edomites were a great nation. But in Obadiah 18 we are told, ". . .There shall not be ANY REMAINING of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it." De Hass says: "So far as is known, not an Edomite today is to be found in all the world." Buried Cities Recovered. Of the Israelite nation in Leviticus 26:33 we read: "And I will SCATTER YOU AMONG THE HEATHEN. . .and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste." How truly this has been fulfilled. Each nation on earth today has its Jewish population.
Not so long ago skeptics ridiculed the story of the Edomites. They insisted that if there had been Edomites at any time in this earth's history, you could surely find relics of them and their cities. No Christian was able to answer them. They had to accept the Bible by faith. There was no evidence that what the Bible said was true concerning the Edomites. Not even one city could be located. But today we know that the Bible record is true, for at least 3,000 palaces, dwellings and temples have been unearthed.
Now let me tell you how the Edomite ruins were discovered. While excavating Ninevah one tablet was found, and on this the king of Ninevah boasted that he had captured a certain city of the Edomites. So the British Archaeologist Society, in 1812, sent a Swiss explorer in to try to find the city. This Swiss mountaineer befriended some Arabs. One of them told him that through that narrow crevice in that mountain over there he would find some wonderful ruins. The Arab would not go, for he was terrified. But the Swiss disguised as an Arab, riding his little donkey, and leading a goat supposedly for an offering on Mount Hor, made his way through the narrow crevice one mile in the mountain wall.
Thus was discovered the wonderful city of Petra, the stronghold of the Edomites in the far distant past. This is what it says in Obadiah 4: ". . . Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down" A natural fortress, this was the only city that Alexander the Great did not conquer. As you enter this enclosure, the first thing you see is the beautiful temple carved out of the solid rock, which varies in color from rose to yellow, to purple. All around the enclosure are pillars left from that magnificent city which was entirely carved out of the solid mountainside. Those great edifices were surely built like eagle's nests as God said.
In Isaiah 34:11 we read, ". . .he shall stretch out upon it. . .the stones of emptiness." And in Jeremiah 49:13 it says, ". . .All the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes." Some have been wondering how people could live in such a wilderness. But just remember that it was not a wilderness back in the days of the Edomites, for there had to be about 6,000,000 people in that city at one time just to do the work that was required in erecting such a city. But God said that the place would come under a curse, and become a desolation. It is surely true. "Stones of emptiness" could not better describe these ruins.
In Obadiah 1:3,4 we read: "Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom. . . thou that dwelleth in the clefts of the rocks, whose habitation is on high;. . . thence will I bring thee down. . ." Petra was their most important city, known in the Bible as Selah, meaning rock. Petra is the Greek name for rock. These great palaces were carved out of the solid rock all around the small valley. The only entrance to the city was through the crack in the rocks, great cliffs towering up any where from 200 to 1200 feet in height. So well protected, why did the Edomites become extinct? Just because they had been so wicked, that God foretold this calamity would befall them.
Jesus said while here on earth: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." There were no reporters there to take down the words of Jesus, no daily papers to print His sermons. God has preserved His Word through twenty centuries, and it has not weakened it or lessened its power. Translated into over one thousand languages, spoken by over 15 million men and women, no other book has been so generally read, so greatly loved, and so widely distributed, so certain of its results and so powerful in its influence.
If the Bible is a forgery, could it accomplish what it does wherever it goes? A lying forgery has no power to transform human lives into the likeness of the Divine. Lying, lustful, murdering idolaters cannot be changed by the millions into honest, peaceable, virtuous men by telling them a great lie. Among all races it exercises its astonishing power. In all languages it is glorified. It is taken to savage, cannibal islands, and it converts head hunters into civilized nations, transforming barbarians into peaceful law-abiding citizens.
About forty men, in different lands and languages, wrote sixty-six books over a period of 1500 years in order to give us our Bible. Collusion and conspiracy were impossible. One writer was a leader of Israel, one an exile in Babylon, one a herdsman, one a cupbearer, one a shepherd boy who became a king, some were rulers, other subjects, some rich, others poor, some educated, others untaught. But their writings all agree in every particular. They wrote in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Arabic on every subject; history, biography, poetry, speeches, proverbs, predictions, parables, romances, tragedies. The Bible must be of superhuman origin to have been produced in this way.
The Bible is the only Book that has never been outdated or superseded. Some say that the Bible is an old Book, out of date, and that it was good for the Dark Ages, that there is some good history in it, but that it is not intended for the present time. You might as well say that the sun which has shone so long is now so old that it is out of date. Because we have electricity there is no need to put any windows in our houses today. That is surely a rather silly idea, but no more so than that the Bible is outmoded.
There are a few things in the Bible that I do not understand, but I believe the Bible just the same. I cannot possibly understand the light years they talk about in astronomy, but the light still travels 186,000 miles per second. Can you explain how the same kind of food turns into flesh, hair, fingernails, feathers, hoofs, according to who eats it? One man insisted that he never believed anything that he could not see. Now I would like to ask him, "Man, have you ever seen your brain?" Or maybe he hasn't got one.
Why is it that we are so slow to trust God. Why do we hesitate to believe and take His Word with all the positive proof we have.