It's time to put hate to sleep
"I know why you want to hate me! ...I know why you want to
hate me...because hate is all the world has seen a lot of lately" Limp Bizkit
Whoever believes in God...should do good to his neighbour
ordered the Muslim prophet Muhammad. " When a stranger sojourns with you in
your land" God commands the Israelites, "you shall do him no wrong...and you
shall love him as yourself.
Jews and Muslims are required by their faith to love and care
for their neighbours. Tragically the ongoing terrorist attacks in Israel;
military reprisals in the Palestinian settlements and the continued loss of life
give witness to a hate filled divide between the progeny of Abraham and the
abandonment of the fundamental tenets of their faith.
Israelis and Palestinians share a common heritage that is
biblically recorded and proven through DNA sampling. Sadly acceptance of that
heritage may not be enough to bridge the war torn gulf between the children of
Abraham. What will be required is an extreme act of faith from both sides. The
example that they should follow is the ultimate test of faith undertaken by the
father of their nations and the spiritual patriarch of the monotheistic faith
shared by Christians, Jews and Muslims. The story of Abraham is one of the
cornerstones of our faith and provides a strong message to the warring factions
of his family.
When at Beersheba God ordered Abraham to "Take now thy
son thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of
Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which
I will tell thee of" (Genesis 22:2). There is no biblical record of any
emotion shown by Abraham of this devastating decree. The child that he and Sarah
had patiently hoped for, the fulfilment of any parents dream, the most precious
of gifts, was now to be sacrificed to their God. As a testament of his
unwavering faith Abraham made the necessary preparations then set out on his
journey the following morning.
We know that when father and son went on foot to the altar
site, which is traditionally accepted as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Isaac
questioned his father on the whereabouts of the lamb that he thought was to be
the burnt offering. In response Abraham replied with those immortal words "
My son God will provide..." (Genesis 22:8).
It was not until all seemed lost and Abraham was about to
slay his son that Gods Angel, called out from the heaven "Lay not thine
hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him; for now I know that thou
fearest God...." (Genesis 22:12).
In the Koran, Muslims also learn of the test of Abraham's
faith. In chapter 37;102, 112 Abraham is recorded as stating " O my son! I
see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice." Neither the name of the son
nor the place of the sacrifice is noted. A further difference is that once
Abraham shows his willingness to complete Gods command, he is promised another
son Isaac " And we gave him good news of Isaac -– a prophet, - one of the
Righteous". As a consequence most Muslims believe that it was Isaacs
stepbrother Ishmael who was to be sacrificed and that the test occurred near
The differences do not detract from the principle that we
must always place our faith in God and be willing to give up the very thing that
we cherish. For if it is Gods will then he will provide. There is no divine
providence over the violence we are witnessing in the Middle East. The Israeli
-– Palestinian conflict is a self-serving dispute over land. The history of the
land over which they battle is a contradiction of holiness and violence.
Religious fervour mixed with aspirations of political sovereignty makes peaceful
resolution impossible without the intercession of faith. The obvious goal of
Sharon and Arafat is to secure a safe homeland for their people; we know that
this cannot be achieved through the genocide or subjugation of Palestinians or
Israelis. The answer is peaceful coexistence based on faith in our God the God
Wisdom dictates that both Israeli and Palestinians must move
beyond the cycle of violence that ensures incomparable harm and suffering to be
visited upon the innocent. No one can condone the suicide bombings of
Palestinian extremists but at the same time Ariel Sharon is inflicting
indiscriminate carnage and death amongst the guilty and the innocent. It takes
little imagination to see that Israel's armed response does nothing to assuage
the rage of extremist Palestinians and their supporters. Out of the rubble of
settlements such as Jenin, will come the hate fuelled terrorist attacks of the
The hate must stop and the "family" of Abraham must be
unified in the bonds of peace. We must pray for reconciliation, for we are
commanded to love our neighbour and do unto others, as we would have them do
unto ourselves. There is as always through the salvation of Christ hope and
there are reports of Jews and Palestinians wanting a peaceful reconciliation.
Gods love when manifest in his saints can extinguish hatred and bring about the
peace that surpasses all understanding. There has been enough suffering and it
is time for the violence to stop, as the Jewish poet Shin Shalom wrote "Ishmael,
my brother hear my plea; It was the angel who tied me to thee; ...Time is
running out put hatred to sleep; Shoulder to shoulder, lets gather our sheep"....
and God will always provide.
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