There is a poem by the name The Tears of Allah that goes like this; Allah cries now and then to shed his tears on the doings of the misled people that live in his name and does atrocities in his name and religion which he cannot bear anymore which wells up as his tears and shed them.
A few years ago Osama Bin Laden claimed that he was working on a new form of liquid heroin that was so addictive and deadly that he could use it as a new weapon against the West. He dubbed his ill-fated concoction the Tears of Allah. I trust the irony is not lost here.
As Middle East continues to boil over with violence and unrest it is hard to know for sure what to make of it. The uprisings continue to spread from one Muslim nation to another. Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan and now Libya. Although on the surface it is about freedom and democracy I am not convinced. Most of the time these nations just swap one bad leader for another and there is nothing democratic about them. The Ayatollah Khomeini for the Shah of Iran was a lateral move at best.
The Arab world of today has a significant biblical root. It goes back to the days of Abraham when God had promised him a son. After 10 years with no results his wife Sarah suggested that perhaps he give it a go with their Egyptian maid Hagar. Being a ‘guy’ he didn’t need much persuasion and Hagar became pregnant. Sarah became embittered about the whole thing and Hagar was going to run away. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude… Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Gen 16:10-12) I would say that is a pretty apt description of the Arab world. It is generally accepted that the Arab people are the descendants of Ishmael. In fact the Koran claims that it was Ishmael not Isaac that Abraham was to sacrifice on Mt Moriah. There are of course millions of peace loving and gentle Muslim people. But the combination of some of the idiosyncrasies of their religion, their terrorism bent leaders and the close proximity to their historic enemies brings out the ‘wild man’.
Islam is not increasing by conversion but they are growing exponentially by birth rate. The average Arab family has 8 children. The political leaders in Europe are getting increasingly nervous since the Arab population is growing so rapidly in nations like France, Italy and Britian that some are warning that by 2050 Europe will be a Muslim state. This is probably alarmist but all one has to do is travel in these nations and you can feel the palpable ethnic tensions that already exist.
When it comes to advancing the gospel in the Arab world we are not doing very well. The math is against us. We have fewer missionaries in the Arab world than anywhere else. The Muslims number a billion strong and are sitting on the largest oil reserves on the planet giving them immense economic power. Add to that the fact that most of their political leaders are either Islamic fundamentalists, lunatic dictators or both. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya is the craziest of them all. He has used his oil money to sponsor global terrorism for decades. The Libyan dessert is littered with terrorist training camps. He will not go peacefully like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and has already stated he will gladly die a martyr for Allah. Also unlike Mubarak he has told the army to open fire on protesters and 100’s if not 1000’s have already been killed.
One has to wonder as to whether the Lord is somehow at work here to crack open the Arab world for the gospel. Twenty years ago we saw a similar situation in Eastern Europe where one nation after another rose up and discarded communism almost over night. We did not fully capitalize on the situation and it wasn’t long before the window for the gospel closed up on us. Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all nations and then the end will come”. I don’t believe the Lord would return without giving the Muslim world a clear opportunity to here the message of salvation. I cannot help but think that this time the Lord has His hand on the Middle East in setting up a scenario where the gospel will have a chance to succeed. I don’t know what it will look like but I have always thought that dropping bombs on Arab nations was a poor way to warm them up to our message. Maybe this crisis will precipitate an invitation to go in with the love and hope of the gospel of Jesus. That’s the outcome for which we should pray.