Friday, August 1, 2014

Explaining the History of the Jews

Jesus’ words:  “You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews.”  John 4:22.

“Israel does not belong in the Middle East. All the countries around it are Muslim. This is why there are problems. They don’t belong there. They never were there as a nation(pause)….right?” Hussein stated and then ended with what sounded like half a question. I answered, “No, they were there long before Muslims were there, Hussein. Many Muslims don’t know the history of the Jewish people. If Muslims would read the Torah they would understand the history better.” That sparked his curiosity that there was something he might not know. It was important for him to realize we were talking about history not so much theology or politics right then. I started the “history lesson” with a prophecy that one day God would bring the scattered Jewish people back to their homeland which came to pass in 1948. For the next half hour I explained how God called Ibrahim(Abraham) out of his land and promised him a land for his descendants. Point by point I went from Abraham, to Jacob, Isaac, Joseph, the Hebrew slaves, Moses, the desert wanderings, conquering Canaan, dispersion of Jews around the world, and the return of scattered people back to Israel. He found it interesting and did not know what to make of all that information given in historical order. An explanation of Abram and Sarai, Abram and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac were also relayed.

These are challenging times as we minister among Muslims because of what is happening politically in the Middle East. Unfortunately, there is not much knowledge of the history of the Jewish or Hebrew people and without knowing history ignorance breeds confusion and pain. Often I find myself clarifying confusion and ignorance. “Would you like to know the history of the Jews?” I ask. Many Christians witness Muslims’ antagonism towards the Jews(and vice versa) but they don’t understand that Muslims are often uninformed about the long history, and in reality have gotten facts mixed up or even stated wrong.

Recently a Muslim woman, after listening to me explain the history of the Jewish people, asked me if there was something with more information. She already had a Bible in her language but I knew she was not interested in reading, especially the Old Testament, but needs a visual resource given in brief panoramic form. I plan to give her 'The Hope' dvd (click & watch on-line) which is an excellent resource on the history of the Jewish people. It will need to be explained to a Muslim that Jews were first called Hebrews('Ibrani people') since that title is what is used in the dvd.

When Muslims don’t want to accept a Bible I urge them to at least read it for the purpose of gaining historical knowledge. It is a great exercise to be able to verbally and briefly describe the history of the Jews to a Muslim. By doing so the seeds for relaying the Good News found in Jesus are planted. They do go together. It is history – or 'His Story'.

Dear heavenly Father, please help me to be patient and perceptive in teaching my Muslim friends Your story.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.