The Arabs in Bible prophecy
The Arab nations are descended from Ishmael, the son of Abraham, who lived about four thousand years ago in the Middle East. The Jews are descended from Isaac, another son of Abraham. Thus these two peoples, Arab and Jew, so often at loggerheads, have Abraham as their common ancestor.
Also reckoned among the Arab nations are those who occupy Jordan, Syria and Iraq. These nations are descended from Lot, Abraham's nephew, and from Esau Abraham's grandson. Esau was the brother of Jacob, who was the father of the twelve tribes (the nation) of Israel. There was bitter hostility between Esau and Jacob and this has persisted among their descendants down to the present day.
Ishmael's mother was an Egyptian called Hagar and an angel spoke to her about the character of her son before he was born. It was the first prophecy about the Arabs. He said:
Wildness and inter-tribal conflict have characterised the Arabs throughout their history. Many of them, like the Bedouins, have lived nomadic lives. Attempts to unite the Arab world have always been frustrated by their own fiercely independent behaviour and their propensity to engage in long and bloody feuds.
The Rise of Islam
Disunity, however, has not prevented the Arabs from making their impact on the world. Islam has changed the course of history and its rise was prophesied in the Bible.
The last book of the Bible, The Revelation, is a book of symbol in which the conflict between two spiritual cities, Rome and Jerusalem, is portrayed. Rome, the Catholic system, was to grow very powerful in the earth but its growth was to be checked by various agencies raised up by God for the purpose.
Mahomet, the founder of Islam, was one such agent whose rise to prominence was foreseen as,
The following verses gives us further information.
The prophecy shows that the power to torment and hurt their enemies would be limited to a certain time. Thus the power of the Caliphs was limited to 300 years between about 630 AD and 930 AD. During this period Arab domination grew. Within fifty years of Mahomet's death they had spread to Constantinople and Gibraltar, annexing the countries in their path and compelling their peoples to accept Mahomet as a prophet and the Koran as their guide. Passing over the straits of Gibraltar, the Saracens overran much of Spain and were only stopped from taking France by the successful opposition of Charles Martel, the king of the Franks, at Poitier in 732 AD. Their influence was strongly anti-Catholic and served to allow freedom of thought and to lay the foundation for an education system which in later centuries was to facilitate the translation and study of the scriptures by the common people. This was the hand of God and the Arabs were his agents.
Opposition to Israel
However, the Bible shows that the Arab nations, though disunited, see a common enemy in Israel and plot for her downfall. This is clearly seen in Psalm 83.
The Arab nations have consistently sought to "cut Israel off from being a nation". Going back a few years, President Nassar of Egypt, speaking as head of the United Arab Republic vowed to "drive Israel into the sea". More recently, Iran has declared its determination to destroy the State of Israel, as have Hamas and Hezbollah. However, Nassar is now no more, but Israel is still there, and the other nations will fail. This is because God purposes to establish "His people" and to make her enemies like "the stubble before the wind" (Psalm 83:13).
Although God plans to completely crush Israel's enemies, there is envisaged a time when Arab and Jew will co-exist peaceably - but the conditions are given in Isaiah:
This is the condition for all nations to enjoy peace and prosperity in the new order to be established in the earth when Jesus, Israel's Messiah returns to the earth to establish God's kingdom in Israel.