“The Christian perspective on the Middle East is filled with hope. It’s hope that comes from the trustworthiness of God’s Word. It’s a hope that reminds us God is in control and that one day the jewel of the Middle East, Jerusalem, will truly be the center of all the world where Christ will reign on earth as He now reigns in heaven. “ Bryant Wright, Seeds of Turmoil (2011)
A few weeks ago, my dear friend Harriette and I were discussing the Middle East and the Holy Land. She goes to Johnson Ferry Baptist Church which planted Cedarcrest Church where our family attends. She and I were discussing world history, politics, current events, and the Christian’s role in sharing the gospel with Muslims and others that God might place in our path. My friend casually mentioned that she and her husband had picked up Bryant Wright’s book Seeds of Turmoil recently at church. Bryant is the senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. I had not heard of the book, but have always enjoyed Bryant’s preaching when he speaks at our church where his son, George Wright, is our senior pastor.
Bryant has a deep love for the Holy Land and it comes through clearly as he shows pictures and discusses the current state of the Middle East as an extension of the book of Genesis and the story of Abraham. As I write this review on Thanksgiving Day, I noticed through Bryant’s tweets that he is currently in Israel, a land that he deeply loves.
I knew I’d enjoy this book and I sure did! Even though I’m normally a very fast reader, this book took me several days to read as I was reading it alongside Genesis to watch the story of Abraham unfold. I’d recommend this book to anyone that would like to learn more about the real issues that are taking place in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in the Middle East. What we are seeing now is only the beginning of a path that will ultimately lead to Jesus returning to His throne in Jerusalem where peace will once and for all come to the Middle East.
I highlighted a ton of things while reading and have posted those notes below…
- The only way to understand the inevitable crisis in the Middle East is to go all the way back to Abraham, the father of three very influential faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Abraham is honored and even revered by many as a man of great faith. Yet as faithful as he was, Abraham was guilty of a huge mistake in not trusting God at a key moment in his life. At the time, it seemed like no big deal. Yet we see the consequences of Abraham’s sin almost daily in the Middle East. That’s what this book is about.
Abraham is where the seeds of turmoil began.
- Don’t think that Christ began with his birth in Bethlehem. He always is, was, and will be.
- Had Abraham waited on God, trusted God, and obeyed the will of God, there would not have been an Ishmael or the deep-rooted turmoil we see in the Middle East today. It all goes back to a single decision by one man.
- See, I have placed the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them. Deuteronomy 1:8
- Sometimes we simply have to trust that God’s Word is true even when it is difficult to understand.
- God keeps His word. His promises are true. It happened with Abraham and Sarah and it would happen with Hagar and Ishmael. Sometimes His timing is not the timing we would choose. We tend to become impatient and cynical and lose faith. But God’s timing is always perfect—He is always on time for His appointed time.
- For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. Genesis 4:22-23
- God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel. Genesis 35:10
- Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. Galatians 6:7
- God sometimes take us through what theologians call “the dark night of soul” so that when we see how sinful we are and see that God still loves us and offers us His forgiveness, in Christ we are forever changed.
- What happened to Nebuchadnezzar is reminder of what can happen to anyone puffed up with pride. God will humble us and remind us that He is God and we are not.
- Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn, so I said to you, “Let My son go that he may serve me”” Exodus 4:22-23
- There is a huge difference that Jews and Christians have over the Law. Jews see the Law as guidelines to holy and righteous living—a way of earning God’s favor. Christians see it as making us aware of how impossible it is to obey God in our own strength and thus convicting us of our need for a Savior who forgives us and transforms our hearts from within Then through the leading of the Holy Spirit and teaching of the Word, we have an inner desire to obey God’s law.
- God promised Abraham that He would build a great nation or people group from Ishmael. What He did not explain to Abraham was all the long-term turmoil that would result from God’s being merciful to Abraham despite his not waiting on God for a son.
- All this might seem like a crash course in world history, but to the biblical Jew and Christian, it is a reminder that God is orchestrating the events of history. It seems that a man’s political games and military victories determine the decisions, but God is in charge.
- The Christian Response:
- Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem
- Love Christ, and follow His teaching “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18
- Pray for Christ’s return
- The tension and hostility in the Middle East will continue between Jews and Arabs, between Jews and Muslims, between Israel and Muslim nations, between Muslims and Muslims until Jesus comes again to reign from his throne in Jerusalem over all the earth. then and only then will there be true peace with perfect justice in the Middle East and in all the world.
- The Christian perspective on the Middle East is filled with hope. It’s hope that comes from the trustworthiness of God’s Word. It’s a hope that reminds us God is in control and that one day the jewel of the Middle East, Jerusalem, will truly be the center of all the world where Christ will reign on earth as He now reigns in heaven.
- Everyone who receives His grace begins a transformation that changes a heart of bitterness and revenge into a heart of grace that forgives those who killed their brothers and loves those who are their enemies. For those who do this in the Middle East, the conflict ends—one life at a time. The seeds of turmoil are transformed into the seeds of love, forgiveness, and peace. Yet because most will not, the cycle of hatred and violence will never end until the Prince of Peace invades history in person once again.