Disclaimer: The views and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the position of The Compass Magazine.
On Sabbath, October 15, 2016, Pastor Doug Batchelor of Amazing Facts and the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church began a new sermon series covering the topic of Islam and Bible prophecy. Pastor Batchelor introduced the series by examining the origins of the Arab people and the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East that still exists today.
A Growing Rival
According to Pastor Batchelor, Islam is growing much faster than Christianity. Though Christianity remains the largest world religion currently, by the year 2050 the adherents of Islam will become the dominant religious group in the world with estimates pointing to an approximate 2.8 billion Muslims. Pastor Batchelor also explained that Islam was not contained geographically to only the Middle East nor are its practitioners contained ethnically to those of Arab descent. Batchelor cited the fact that the largest Muslim country in the world is in fact not in the Middle East but is actually, Indonesia located in the South Pacific. Pastor Batchelor also mentioned Islam’s presence in North Africa, Pakistan, and northern India. He also cautioned the congregation about other assumptions often made about Islam in that “Most Arabs are Muslim, but must Muslims are not Arabs.”
Terrorism and the Arab Israeli-Conflict
In addition to commenting on the expected rapid growth of Islam, Pastor Batchelor also pointed out that a great deal of terrorism originates from majority Muslim countries and cited that the majority of terrorist attacks are perpetrated by individuals from a Muslim background. He cited that 70% of terrorists attacks are motivated by Islam and in 2015, out of 452 suicide bombings, 450 (99%) were conducted by Muslim extremists. However, Pastor Batchelor was careful to caution the congregation that most Muslims are kind, peaceable, lovely people, though it cannot be denied the majority of terrorism in the world springs from Islam’s religious foundations.
Pastor Batchelor then raised the issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict and concluded that peace in the Middle East could not and will never be achieved due the nature of the conflict being rooted in religious issues. Pastor Batchelor asserted that as long as Jews, Christians, and Muslims base their belief systems on different books there will not, and never will be peace in the Middle East.
Laying the Foundation
Before getting into the main part of his message, Pastor Batchelor expressed, that considering that the two largest religions in the world are Christianity and Islam, it would be reckless to think that Islam does not play a major role in end-time events.
With that introduction, he began to expound on the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict by tying it to their primordial conflict between Hagar and Sarah (the wives of Abraham) which extended to their offspring, Ishmael and Isaac respectively. Pastor Batchelor’s main passages came from the book of Genesis starting with Abraham, then transitioning to the promises given to Abraham to become a great nation (as in producing many descendants). He then points out the conflict between Sarah (Abraham’s first wife) and Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian slave and surrogate. Pastor Batchelor pointed out that after Abraham and Sarah were not able to produce a child that Sarah proposed that Abraham have a child by Hagar, her slave. However, once Hagar began to show the first signs of pregnancy the Bible says that Hagar despised Sarah (Genesis 16:4). Pastor Batchelor then explained that the animosity went both ways in that Sarah possibly had Hagar beaten (Genesis 16:6) causing Hagar to flee Abraham’s household.
However, through divine intervention Hagar returned, gave birth to a son called Ishmael, and according to Pastor Batchelor probably assumed that she had elevated her status in Abraham’s household to at least the level of a concubine. He then related the story of Genesis 21, by which time, Isaac was born. At the celebration of Isaac’s weaning, the Bible relates that Ishmael, a teenager, had probably considered himself a prince in his father’s household but now realized that he would be in 2nd in position to his younger half-brother, Isaac. Pastor Batchelor then explained that the Bible records Ishmael mocking and persecuting (see Galatians 4) Isaac and then subsequently being thrown out of the household with his mother, at the instigation of Sarah, and interestingly with God’s approval. Pastor Batchelor then explained that Isaac would go on to be the father of the Israelites, the Jewish people, and by extension the father of Christianity, while Ishmael would become the father of the Arab people and in a sense the father of Islam.
Parallels, Contrasts, and Ironies
After relating the inspired historical sketches of Ishmael’s life, Pastor Batchelor began to make comparisons between what he identified as two distinct lines that would give rise to Christianity and Judaism through Isaac and Jacob and Islam though Ishmael.
- Both Isaac (though it was actually Jacob) and Ishmael had 12 sons and at least one daughter with 12 representing a church or religion. (Genesis 17:20; 25:16; 28:9; 35)
- Both Isaac and Ishmael were promised by God to be made into a “great nation” or multiply their descendants. (Genesis 22:15-17; 17:20; 21:17-18; 26:3-4; 46:3)
- Isaac comes into the world by faith (spiritual seed) while Ishmael comes into the world by works (carnal seed) (see Galatians 4).
- Both Isaac (in the Bible) and Ishmael (hinted in the Koran but supported by Muslim tradition) are said to have been “sacrificed” by their father Abraham at God’s command. (Genesis 22)
- Both Isaac and Ishmael died surrounded by their families. (Genesis 25:17-18; 35:29)
- Isaac is a farmer and shepherd while Ishmael is a hunter.(Genesis 21:20; 26:12)
- Ishmael went to the west (Egypt) to acquire a wife chosen by his mother, while Isaac “went” to the east (Mesopotamia) to acquire a wife chosen by his father. (Genesis 21:21; 24:4)
Commenting on the parallels and contrasting elements of Isaac’s and Ishmael’s lives, Pastor Batchelor took time to especially note that though God clearly states that he would make a great nation out of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Ishmael, He does not however promise Ishmael that his seed would be a blessing to the world (as the conduit of the Messiah) but rather he would be in conflict with “his brethren” signaling an abundance of strife and a lack of assimilation by Ishmael’s descendants (Genesis 16:12). Pastor Batchelor also asserted that Genesis 25 is a clue to understanding end-time events in that it highlights two distinct pillars of Abraham’s family tree that will be in continual conflict towards the end of time, with Isaac (representing Israel and Christianity) and Ishmael (representing Islam). In addition, Pastor Batchelor was emphatic that a person cannot believe both the Koran and the Bible, as they differ on key important element in regards to the history of Abraham’s ultimate test of faith, the sacrifice of his son.
Pastor Batchelor then moved to Galatians 4 highlighting Paul’s commentary on the history of Sarah (the true church) and Hagar (the rival to the true church) as an allegory. He then asserted that no one is saved under the bondage of Hagar and that Islam was born in Arabia, Arabia being alluded to in the passage.
Pastor Batchelor ended his sermon with these remarks:
“What does [all] this mean? Well in our day and age, as we near the end of time, I think you’re going to see an increasing polarization in the world between these two great ideas, these two great families. Now if you’re a Christian your faith springs from Isaac and Jacob. If you’re an Arab [Muslim] your faith is springing…it has its roots in Ishmael and Muhammed. And you can see in the world today that these are the two principal religions that are being very aggressive about sharing their faith. And I believe things are going to reach critical mass in the end of time and its going to result in the final events.”
At the close of the sermon, Pastor Batchelor plugged the the topics he would cover later in the series including: the origins of Islam, Muhammed, the Koran, and Islam’s role in Daniel 11.
Check The Compass Magazine Regularly over the next few weeks for more updates on this sermon series. Also you can view the video recording of Pastor Batchelor’s sermon here. The sermon begins at the 1 hour 2 minute mark.