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Can We Understand Osama?

  • R. E. Knodel, Jr.
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Osama bin Laden's main complaint about the U.S. is that we're trespassing/desecrating the holy ground of Saudi Arabia. His ire has been kindled mainly since the Gulf War when our military camps were established there. He simply wants us to get out! And that would be "easy," except for the fact that if we left, the Saudi regime might topple, and that might leave the world's oil supply in uncertain, even radical, hands. This angers Bin Laden too, because he says, "That's our oil and land, not yours!" So he interprets it as a commercial and political trespass as well as a religious one! But his basic complaint is simply that we're desecrating holy ground. Simple and yet so complex. We have been told this by neither our media nor government.

Bin Laden hates the Royal Saudi family almost as much as the U.S.! After all, they opened the door to the desecration! And they represent to the poorer Muslims a totalitarian and repressive regime. They are very strict Muslims, but don't seem to care about the common people - who are going bankrupt despite the nation's "oil money." Bin Laden is more of an idealist, a man of the people - despite his enormously wealthy background. His citizenship now, amazingly enough, is simply one of "world Islam;" the Saudis having revoked his Saudi citizenship on 4/9/94! He is a "man without a country"!

Bin Laden was also jealous (personally and religiously) of the U.S. because he saw himself as a modern day prophet who wanted to defend Saudi Arabia against Saddam Hussein himself. He had made a rather famous (in the Middle East!) prophecy - a year prior to the reality - that Hussein would invade Saudi Arabia. When it happened, bin Laden was perceived to be a prophet.

But the Saudi Royal Family would not let him lead the defense of their land. He was poised to bring a mujahedeen army from Afghanistan to defend Saudi Arabia. But instead, the royal family invited the infidels (read USA) in to defend them. The Saudis did this because they didn't trust Osama with that power - bringing a zealot army across the proverbial Rubicon River, as the imperial city of Rome would have seen it - within the borders of Saudi Arabia. They knew of the contempt in which the mujahedeen held them, and trusted the infidels more than their Islamic brothers!

Our government's greatest mistake is trying to solve this problem in an atheistic, secular manner. Whatever force is now needed, the ultimate solution will come through reassessing our approach! Bin Laden himself admits that Islam's problem with the Jews goes "way back."

It is grounded in the fraternal jealousy of Ishmael (Abraham's son of faithlessness through his slave Hagar who became the father of the Arabic tribes and nations!) for Isaac (Abraham's son of faith, through his wife Sarah, and ultimately the father of the twelve tribes of Israel through his son Jacob!).

Because modern America sees little relevancy in the God of the Bible, it tries to solve its problems "scientifically." Thus the science of politics, seen as religiously antiseptic, proceeds along the lines of our modern State Department. But in this manner, America appears even more obnoxious to the world of Islam. We appear as atheists and infidels, people without any religious sophistication whatsoever. They may hate those of Isaac/Jacob, but at least they are distant "brothers." Secularism isn't even on the historical charts!

Our anti-Christian prejudice has hence gotten us into an even "stickier wicket." Our approach ought to be: (1) Showing respect for their faith, even if we disagree with it as Christians. Don't treat them as "towel-heads" and "camel-jockeys," but rather as a great people (the Scriptural position! - Gen.17:20) The Ishmaelites ultimately supplanted the original Canaanite tribes, so that today we literally have the Isaac/Jacobites living as an Island amongst a sea of Ishmaelites! How can we disdain this insight and hope to go forward? (2) Exhorting them along Biblical lines: Their "problem" is basically a family problem that has gotten "out of hand!" The jealousy of two brothers of different mothers! And by reminding them that, despite their royal heritage as biological sons of Abraham, they must ultimately swallow their pride in order to remain spiritual sons of Abraham.

While they hold Abraham dear, they must come to grips with the fact that their father's blessing went to Isaac, and was ultimately perfected in Abraham's unique "seed," even Jesus Christ. (Gal. 3:29). "[I]f you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs, according to the promise (of God to Abraham).

Debating "justice" with the world of Islam, from the position of secularism, goes nowhere. But even the modern Ishmaelite can understand the father's right to bless the son of his own choosing. They may not like it, but in God's grace, they may - in time - come to accept Abraham's/God's sovereign decision. It is at least "speaking their language."

All men, not just the Ishmaelites, must bow their knee to God's ordinations. The wants/passions of men are not God. Our foreign policy then would be one of evangelism, albeit from an informed and affectionate position.

If Americans have never known any Arabic people, they should know that the latter can be wonderfully warm and affectionate! Can we not speak to them in this way, even if we also speak to them from a dogmatic, Biblical perspective? In other words, we must be firm, but loving. Really loving!

Until our State Department admits that it cannot solve this riddle without themselves first repenting, we will be throwing good money and lives after bad! Can the reader not see how God has trapped us, as Americans, into an insolvable labyrinth - as long as we disdain the Bible?

In a sense, the Bible ought to discourage each of the parties, as they would deviate from it. It says that the sons of Ishmael will never be able to overcome the sons of Isaac, speaking of latter-day blessing for the Jews. (Rom. 11:1ff). And it teaches the Jews that no Zionistic, secular/national approach will ever bring true peace (Mt. 23:39). Similarly, the secular West will not be able to force the Ishmaelites to accept their atheistic secularism, in as much as God has given a certain glory to the Sons of Ishmael.

In a sense, it is the God of the Bible versus the state departments of the world. In America's case, our's is indeed located in Foggy Bottom. It is hopelessly confused here. It is like the blind leading the blind! Until our State Department regurgitates it's own secular contempt for the God of the Bible, they will be just like the Jews and the Arabs: Trying to solve the insolvable!

The Bible declares that all the prophecies of world peace are fulfilled in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). Jesus is the key to lasting political peace, despite modern political man's aversion to Him!

In our present climate, secular Jews (Zionists), Atheistic Americans, and covenant-rejecting Ishmaelites have all cast themselves in a life-and-death desert struggle - without any life-giving water.

God yanked the land deed from the Ishmaelites in the Book of Joshua. He did the same to the Jews in A.D. 70, having plainly prophesied of His nation-covenant-cessation-curse in Matthew 23:38 (which quotes from the imprecatory Psalm 69:25). This curse was pronounced by the Great Prophet, even Jesus Christ. He says He leaves them their house "desolate!" Any and all old claimants to this land are today simply "squatters." They hold no legal deed from God.

Yet He holds out the hope and invitation in the very next verse of Matthew (23:39) that the Jew (and implicitly all His enemies, read Ishmaelites and Americans!) will be engrafted into a new covenant when they humble themselves before the Lord of that covenant - Jesus Christ. When they call Him "blessed," so will they be!

The Middle East Crisis is simply one of Biblical dimensions. Secularists, doubters, and fleshly men will never solve it. The names of our State Department gurus will pass away, but the Bible's definition and prescription for peace will stand.

It matters not, one's nationality, Jew, Arab, or American: all who throw themselves against that Rock will be crushed! All who accept it will be blessed together - as brothers - in the new messianic (Jesus) kingdom of God.


  • R. E. Knodel, Jr.
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