Welcome back, dear friends! I can hardly wait to share today’s lesson with you. When I first heard this teaching in late-2010 my mindset was definitely challenged. The God I follow is the God of the Bible, and my Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16).
My Bible also tells me that I am to love my enemies (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27, 35). “Wow, Lord! You’re asking me to love those who seem to hate You and Your people. I don’t even know how to do that! Besides, I don’t understand Muslim people or the holy book they study. Where do they get their crazy theology anyway? And how in the world can anyone believe it is right to hate and to kill your chosen people?”
Just being honest here! But let me ask you….do you have similar thoughts? Okay, I realize I’ve “gone from preaching to meddling,” and I may be stepping on toes, but stay with me! I want you to see something amazing from Scripture regarding our “enemies.”
Turn in your Bible to Genesis 16 and read that chapter. This passage may be somewhat familiar to you. This is Abram and Sarai’s attempt to “help God out!” Though God had promised a son to Abram through Sarai, they were both up in years and it didn’t appear to them that Sarai would actually conceive the son of promise. Thus, Sarai’s handmaiden, Hagar, was sent to lie with Abram and she conceived.
Look closely at verses 7-11. In verse 7, who found Hagar by a spring and spoke to her? How many times in those 5 verses does it allude to the angel of the Lord speaking to Hagar?
Let’s back up a chapter. Who spoke directly to Abram in Genesis 15:1, 4, 7, 9, 18?
Genesis 16:6 indicates that Hagar fled from the presence of Abram and Sarai after she conceived. At a spring of water she was met by the angel of the Lord. Who is this angel? Is this a different God than the one who spoke to Abram?
Brothers and sisters, this was the God of Abram that Hagar now sought! She gave birth to Ishmael, who was not the son of promise. However, just as Hagar sought the God of Abram, Ishmael’s line is still in search of the God of Abram (Abraham)!
In John 4:1-25, we find another outcast calling upon the God of Abraham. This is the account of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at the well. She was there to draw water, when Jesus presented Himself to her as Living Water! She was a Samaritan, not a Jew! An outcast…seeking to find the God of Abraham!
Throughout history, and even today, people are desperate to find the God of Abraham! They may be confused as to which god that is, but they are seeking! The Jewish people “possess” the True God of Abraham, through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, Ishmael’s line, as well as we Gentiles, were left out of the inheritance until the Messiah…God of Abraham, coming in flesh…made a way for us to be grafted in! That was accomplished when Jesus took our sin upon Himself and invited us to take on His righteousness! Hallelujah!
Now, let’s turn our attention to Pentecost, the birth of the church. Follow me to Acts 2 and let’s walk through a portion of that chapter together. Read verses 1-5. According to the last phrase of verse 5, what nations were present at Pentecost?
Now read verses 6-13. Let’s identify some of the people groups named in verses 9-11, represented at Pentecost.
- Parthians: These are Persian people…or part of modern-day Iran. Bible students perhaps remember that Esther was Persian. These people were at Pentecost, and are still calling out to the God of Abraham today! They just haven’t met Him yet. They think His name is Allah.
- Medes: Yep! Them too! The Kurds of northern Iraq…sons of Abraham. They were at Pentecost! Perhaps the most identifiable city within the Midianite empire is Nineveh…modern day Mosul, Iraq!
- Elamites: Elam was a land in modern-day Southern Iraq (extending, perhaps into Iran). This would include the city of Ur, from which God called Abram. Modern-day cities of Basra and Baghdad lie in this region. And they were present at Pentecost!
- Mesopotamia: The land between the great Tigress and Euphrates Rivers in modern-day Iraq was known at the time of Pentecost as Mesopotamia. Present and accounted for at Pentecost!
- Judea: Today the West Bank lies in what was then known as Judea. The Palestinians control this area today, and wish to make it a Palestinian state. Yes, you read correctly…represented at Pentecost!
- Cappadocia, Pontus, Phrygia and Pamphylia: All these people groups answered “present” at the Pentecost roll call! These areas were likely situated in modern-day Turkey. The Apostle Paul was from Tarsus, a part of this region.
- Asia: It is thought that Asia refers to the west coast province of Asia Minor. On the roster at Pentecost!
- Egypt: Egypt! ..the Egyptians were also present at Pentecost! Interestingly, the Christian church in Egypt is one of the fastest growing in the Middle East. You’ll get a glimpse why in a future lesson!
- Libya: Yes, the country of the late Muammar al-Gaddafi was represented at Pentecost! Amazing, isn’t it!
All these people groups were present at Pentecost…when thousands became Christians! Yet, today, we would classify them all as Muslim nations. Yet, no mention of Jews or Christians is made until further down in the passage! Why are they listed? Why are they identified as participants at Pentecost? Seems to me that Jews and Christians do not have a corner on the market when it comes to God’s love! By His own inspiration, God named these as participants at one of the world’s most important events…Pentecost (the sending of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian church)!
So, we have to deeply consider these questions: Does God love Muslims? Does He love Arabs? Does He love Palestinians? Does He love those involved in terror? Does He love the radicals? How can we reach any other conclusion than “Absolutely, yes!” Dear friends, we must separate the people from their false religion and their acts of violence.
Many are calling out to the God of Abraham, yet they don’t know who He is! They certainly got a glimpse at Pentecost, but they either never recognized or have lost the identity of the One True God of Abraham. Still, it doesn’t negate the fact they are passionately seeking the God of Abraham. Islam, a false religion, has come along and clouded the view. They have been sold a bill of goods, namely, that the God of Abraham descended from Ishmael’s line. Thus they fail to recognize Jesus Christ. But, dear believers, their search is legitimate…and passionate. The fields are literally white for harvest because they are passionately seeking!
God has sent Godly men and women into some of the most dangerous countries in the world to share His love, grace and forgiveness. Some of those workers occasionally return to America to share the miracles that God is doing among Muslim people, and I have enjoyed the privilege of hearing their testimonies first hand. It is clear in listening to them that they have literally seen God work miracles in the Middle East!
The prophet Joel (2:28) predicted that in the last days God will pour out His spirit and that sons and daughters will prophesy. He went on to predict that old men will dream dreams and young men will see visions. This prophecy was repeated in our passage in Acts 2. Read Acts 2:17-21.
Today, that passage is being fulfilled as God is revealing Himself through dreams and visions to multitudes of Muslim people and they are calling on the name of the Lord! They are recognizing the True God of Abraham! Those who come and testify of what is happening in Muslim countries say that, if believers in those places were able to freely, outwardly express their belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, the numbers would be in the millions! The church was birthed at Pentecost and Ishmael’s descendents were invited! Today, followers of Jesus Christ are multiplying unbelievably amidst the people groups present at Pentecost!
If you are like me, your mindset may have just taken a jolt. I’m not asking you to agree or disagree at this point, but I am asking you to consider what God’s attitude is toward Muslim people. Then, I ask you to consider Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 2:5. What are your thoughts?
Dear believers, you have been so faithful this week! Much was required, but hopefully blessings were worth it! I pray that, as you look for the Blessed Hope your faith is being strengthened and your heart is being encouraged. Please pray for the peace of Jerusalem…and for those passionately seeking the God of Abraham!