Why is there so much turmoil in the Middle East? What are the beginnings of the troubles? Many people look for political reasons, military conquests, broken treaties, and other reasons. American Presidents continually seek to broker a peace treaty between the parties. We need to find the answer to the beginning of the problems.
The Bible has the answer.
Read the following chapter from Genesis to see the beginnings of the Middle East troubles. Then take a look at the questions that follow.
Genesis 16:1-16 (HCSB)
1 Abram’s wife Sarai had not borne any children for him, but she owned an Egyptian slave named Hagar. 2 Sarai said to Abram, “Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family.” And Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar, her Egyptian slave, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife for him. ⌊This happened⌋ after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan 10 years. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. When she realized that she was pregnant, she treated her mistress with contempt. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for my suffering! I put my slave in your arms, and ever since she saw that she was pregnant, she has treated me with contempt. May the Lord judge between me and you.”
6 Abram replied to Sarai, “Here, your slave is in your hands; do whatever you want with her.” Then Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away from her.
7 The Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.” 9 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, “You must go back to your mistress and submit to her mistreatment.” 10 The Angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.” 11 Then the Angel of the Lord said to her: “You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your ⌊cry of⌋ affliction. 12 This man will be ⌊like⌋ a wild donkey. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will live at odds with all his brothers.”
13 So she called the Lord who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the One who sees me?” 14 That is why she named the spring, “A Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.” It is ⌊located⌋ between Kadesh and Bered. 15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son Hagar had. 16 Abram was 86 years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.
- What happened when Abram and Sarai try to solve their problem (no children) by their own idea?
- What people were affected, and in what ways?
- Are there any parts of this story that particularly are unsettling to you?
- Where do you see GOD in this story? What does He say? How do you see that He is the hero of this story?
- How does this story help you to understand the beginnings of the Middle East troubles?
- What would have been different in the world if Abram and Sarai would have simply waited on God’s promise (for a child!) to come to pass, rather than devising a plan of their own?
- How does Jesus, the Prince of Peace, offer THE solution to peace in the Middle East?