OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
Beneath the three major world religions (Christianity, Islam, & Judaism) is the apocalyptic premise that the world is rushing headlong towards a global showdown of epic proportions. Each of these religions advocates being the true representation of God’s will for the future. Such differences seem to be irreconcilable.
There are contradictions between these religions that leave the causal observer bewildered. Judaism has long taught that a heroic, perhaps even divine King would come and restore Israel to a place of prominence. Islam disagrees with Judaism as through whom God’s blessings and promises followed. Judaism teaches that Abraham’s faith was tested when he almost sacrificed his first-born son Isaac (by his real wife Sarah). Whereas Islam teaches that Abraham attempted to sacrifice Ishmael, Abraham’s first-born son by his wife’s servant, Hagar. This contradiction between Judaism & Islam is the starkest and leaves adherents of both systems diametrically opposed as they are today.
The difference and the remarkable fact is that Christianity teaches that neither of these distinctions matters. Whether Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac or Ishmael is really beside the point. (Obviously Christianity would follow the Judaic teaching about Isaac, but it is still beside the point) For, it is in the teachings of Christ that we can have reconciliation between these apparent contradictions.
It is then interesting to see what John the Baptist had to say to those who relied on being descendants of Abraham:
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. – Mt 3:9
Further, Jesus said:
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. – John 8:58
And add to that, the words of Paul:
And add to that, the words of Paul:
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. – Gal 3:14
So you can see, it is beside the point really by whom you have descended physically and genetically, but rather if you display the type of faith displayed by Abraham you then show yourself approved.
Why was it important that we took a moment to speak about the differences between the Abrahamic stories of each religion? A clear understanding of these differences will allow us to understand why the three major world religions are heading for a cataclysmic showdown.
But does it have to end up in a showdown? The secular world may wonder why all the different religions can’t just agree to disagree and get along. Well, the problem doesn’t end simply at which son Abraham’s lineage follows or even if people can become “sons of Abraham” spiritually. The ultimate problem comes with each religions’ teaching on the so-called “end times”.
Each religion seems to paint a scenario where there will be a great battle between good and evil, and that finally goodness and justice will prevail. The rub comes from each religions’ depiction of who the “good” are and who the “evil” are – or at least the adherents understanding of these distinctions.
In Judaism it seems all non-Jews are ultimately the evil, whereas in Islam all non-Muslims are evil and in Christianity it may be seen that all non-Christians are evil. Thus, with this kind of arrangement the world is bound to be at militaristic odds even if NONE of these religions are correct. Perhaps this is one reason religious ecumenicalists make the attempt to paint all the religions as simply different expressions of the same God. But any god that contradicts itself between different people groups is hardly a god to be trusted.
So, how do we disarm Armageddon before it occurs? Maybe some people (I’m sure some from each of the religions) would say Armageddon is certain as it is part of the plan, so don’t even try to stop it. In fact, some people are even trying to hasten it. For instance, there are Christian organizations that are specifically assisting in transporting people to Israel because these organizations believe that once the appropriate amount of people populate Israel, then Jesus will return – these organizations neglect to tell the people they help transport that in their understanding of biblical future, most of these people in Israel will be destroyed by the so-called Armageddon. Next you have adherents of Judaism that are in the process of rebuilding a central temple where they believe the Messiah will come and rule (even some Christians believe this). And then you have the Muslims, such as the likes of Osama Bin Laden that are attempting to bring about a scenario where the “Mahdi” (an end times “messiah”) and Jesus come to finish off all the unbelievers.
Again we come to Christianity and its so-called end times’ scenario. Now, most Christians would say Jesus will come back at the end of time but a closer reading of the Bible shows that Jesus and His disciples never taught such a scenario, but rather that Jesus would return at the end of the age. Perhaps someone will ask, “What is the difference?” But we should note that an “age” is a specifically defined time period such as even in science they define ages in terms like: “Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age”. To what age were Jesus and His disciples referring? Any Christian should know that Jesus and His disciples spoke often of the “end of the old covenant age” and the “coming of the new covenant age”. So, the question for any Christian would be, which age are we in now? Some Christian teachers try to slip in a parenthetical or gap age they like to call the “Church Age”. But the Bible speaks of no such age and it would do injustice to Jesus’ and His disciples’ constant teaching of the nearness of that coming age, for they used phrases like soon, about to be, at hand, shortly, and within this generation.
It may feel as if we have gotten off on another side note here but we have not. It is just as important to understand the true biblical teaching about the so-called end times, as it is to understand the teaching about who are Abraham’s true sons – sons by and of faith.
If we are to really disarm Armageddon we must continue to point out first to Christians that the Bible doesn’t teach a future end times but rather Jesus and His disciples spoke of an end of the age which did indeed come soon after Jesus left and then returned to earth as eternal King. The next step in dialogue with adherents of Judaism and Islam may be that neither Isaac nor Ishmael was in focus when it comes to the true sons of Abraham. Perhaps in this way, enough of them will end their centuries-long family feud so as to keep them from artificially bringing about an Armageddon that the Bible never intended to be played out as they assume.
originally posted: http://thekingdomcome.com/disarming_armageddon