The Son of the Freewoman vs. the son of the bondwoman

Christian_islamHere is a comparison from the Holy Scriptures that deals with the age old problem why the Jihadists  engage in persecution, war and atrocities against Christian believers. This all started in the days of Genesis when Hagar the Egyptian, a handmaid (a servant girl) of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was given to her husband to bear a child to her mistress. This child to be born, named Ishmael, was not the child God had ordained for Abraham and Sarah to have by His promise, which child was to be Isaac. No, Ishmael was the result of a birth through the flesh, not by God’s promise, as most people in the world rely on the flesh to meet their own personal needs and not going to God Almighty in the Spirit and receiving from Him according to His good will and divine purpose.

We often hear that the reasons for these Islamic jihadist conflicts, that persist today in the 21st Century, came about as a result of the “Crusaders’ massacres of Muslims” – who are incorrectly branded “Christian warlords” – but this is not the truth. A starting point could be that a real search through history should be undertaken to find out the truth behind the crusades and to help here is an in-depth article that can go a long way towards dispelling the myths created by uninformed people believing lies – Setting the Record Straight About the Crusades by Dr. Peter Hammond (Frontline Fellowship).

The real place one should go is to God’s Holy Word as He has passed it down through the ages and we should read the accounts of Scripture for therein you will find the Truth. We can go back to the Torah – the writings of Moses as God met with him face-to-face and spoke to him, revealing all that had to be recorded for His Creation’s benefit. So, let us take up the Historical and True account from God Almighty, in the beginning … in Genesis.

We read in Genesis 15:1 to 6 that ~

… the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Now we see from the preceding Scriptures that God Almighty had told Abraham (Abram) that an heir would come forth out of his own bowels – in other words, be born from his loins, his seed. Abraham would father his own heir by the promise from God. Although God gave the promise, we then read that Sarah (Sarai) wanted a child, and as she bare no children to her husband, she got ahead of God’s ordained plan of promise as we read in Genesis 16:1-16 ~

Gen 16:1  Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
Gen 16:2  And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. Gen 16:3  And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
Gen 16:4  And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. Gen 16:5  And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee. Gen 16:6  But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face. Gen 16:7  And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. Gen 16:8  And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
Gen 16:9  And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. Gen 16:10  And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. Gen 16:11  And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. Gen 16:12  And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. Gen 16:13  And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? Gen 16:14  Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
Gen 16:15  And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. Gen 16:16  And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

We read that the child that was born to Abraham, at age 86, was through the doing of his wife Sarah and not through the promise of God. Therefore, the birth of Ishmael was not by promise, but by the will of the flesh – man’s fleshly desire. When Hagar the Egyptian conceived by Abraham, there already came about resentment as the bondwoman (handmaid, servant) despised the freewoman her mistress Sarah as we read in Genesis 16:4 and 5. We see that the freewoman (Judeo-Christianity) would be despised from that point by the bondwoman (Islam).

Hagar was in Sarah’s hand to do with her as she pleased. Sarah was the mistress, Hagar the handmaid, and so when Sarah dealt hardly with her servant, the handmaid fled from her. Later we read that the angel of the LORD finds Hagar and tells her that she must return to her mistress and submit herself under her (Sarah’s) hands. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, reads on this account: “Whither wilt thou go? Thou art running into sin; if Hagar return to Egypt, she will return to idol gods, and into danger in the wilderness through which she must travel. Recollecting who we are, would often teach us our duty. Inquiring whence we came, would show us our sin and folly. Considering whither we shall go, discovers our danger and misery. And those who leave their space and duty, must hasten their return, how mortifying soever it be. The declaration of the Angel, “I will,” shows this Angel was the eternal Word and Son of God. Hagar could not but admire the Lord’s mercy, and feel, Have I, who am so unworthy, been favoured with a gracious visit from the Lord? She was brought to a better temper, returned, and by her behaviour softened Sarai, and received more gentle treatment.” It is a case of flesh (world) versus spirit (heaven). We also learn the personality account of the child born of the flesh to Hagar the Egyptian where we read ~

Gen 16:11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. Gen 16:12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. [writer’s emphasis]

Today, this is truly a fulfilment of this prophesy. Ishmael (Islam) is a wild man as we see around the world how Islamists continue with much violence in Islamic countries, especially in the 10-40 window states. War, tyranny, persecution and martyrdom against Christians, terrorism and jihadist activities, including the enforcement of Sharia Law take place worldwide, and Islam’s hand is against every man and every man’s hand against him in self defence to uphold law and order. The last portion of Genesis 16:12 is also fulfilled as Mohammedans do live in the presence of all his brethren – children born both to Sarah (free) and to Hagar (bond) from Abraham. The Arab nations in and around Israel proves this point.

From the following Scriptures we see God Almighty enters into a covenant with Abraham and as the Scriptures unfold you will see that the covenant comes through the seed of the freewoman and not the bondwoman. Let us read the Scriptures where God Almighty sets up an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his seed after him, in Genesis 17:1-7 ~

Gen 17:1  And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. Gen 17:2  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. Gen 17:3  And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, Gen 17:4  As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Gen 17:5  Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. Gen 17:6  And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. Gen 17:7  And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

Sarah, who was previously named Sarai, who never had any child and was barren, would now be called Sarah and God would “bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.” This is a definite promise from God Almighty, unlike the act of the flesh that preceded when Sarai herself gave her handmaid Hagar the Egyptian to her husband Abram to father her a child. Abraham and Sarah, both being “past the age” of child-bearing was now receiving the promise from God. Not only would Isaac be born to them, but an everlasting covenant with him would be established and that everlasting covenant would be with Isaac and not Ishmael. We read the account in God’s Holy Word in Genesis 17:15-22 ~

Gen 17:15  And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. Gen 17:16  And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. Gen 17:17  Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? Gen 17:18  And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! Gen 17:19  And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. Gen 17:20  And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. Gen 17:21  But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. Gen 17:22  And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.

In the succeeding Scripture portions we read of the promised child Isaac being born to his parents who were “both beyond years of childbearing” – so they thought at 100 and 90 years of age – but is was exactly as God Almighty promised! And an everlasting covenant by God was established with Isaac and his seed. We also read:

Gen 18:13  And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Gen 18:14  Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Gen 18:15  Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. Gen 18:16  And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. Gen 18:17  And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Gen 18:18  Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? Gen 18:19  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

We again pick up how the bondwoman’s child Ishmael mocks at the child of promise being Isaac. In today’s society we still see the scorn and mocking of the Seed of promise, our Lord Jesus Christ, by Islamists. Even in their Quran (Surah 10:68-70) they question “God has begotten a son!” and they mock saying that “No son did God beget, …” (Surah 23:91), a contradiction of what was revealed in God’s Holy Word more than 570 years before Mohammed was “supposed to have received a further revelation.”

The promised Seed (that would bruise Satan’s head – Genesis 3:15) came through this genealogy; as we read in Matthew 1 (shortened by writer) ~

Mat 1:1  The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Mat 1:2  Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; …
Mat 1:6  And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; … Mat 1:15  And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; Mat 1:16  And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Let us reiterate – Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; … And Jesse begat David the king; … And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Children of God Almighty are born-again through the promise – the seed of Abraham, the seed of David, the Seed of Jesus Christ! Not only did Ishmael mock the child of promise Isaac, the son of the bondwoman would not be heir with the son of promise, even Isaac, but the bondwoman Hagar the mother of Ishmael also took for him a wife out of Egypt – they still remained in bondage. Egypt is a type of the world, the fleshly system, one that remains bound and in bondage. The following account reads as follows in Genesis 21:1 through 21 ~

Gen 21:1  And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. Gen 21:2  For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. Gen 21:3  And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. Gen 21:4  And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
Gen 21:5  And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. Gen 21:6  And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. Gen 21:7  And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. Gen 21:8  And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. Gen 21:9  And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Gen 21:10  Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. Gen 21:11  And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. Gen 21:12  And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Gen 21:13  And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. Gen 21:14  And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. Gen 21:15  And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. Gen 21:16  And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. Gen 21:17  And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Gen 21:18  Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. Gen 21:19  And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. Gen 21:20  And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. Gen 21:21  And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

We now can see that the children of God are called through the promise of God. However, God can be merciful to whom He will be merciful, as God is not a respecter of persons (see Act 10:34). This portion of Scripture from the New Testament to the ekklesia at Galatia where the apostle Paul sums it all up perfectly what was passed down through the generations, confirms all that preceded in Genesis, as it is written ~

Gal 4:22  For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. Gal 4:23  But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Gal 4:24  Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. Gal 4:25  For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
Gal 4:26  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. Gal 4:27  For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Gal 4:28  Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. Gal 4:29  But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Gal 4:30  Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. Gal 4:31  So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

You see, one’s only hope of being free, and to be free indeed, is as our Lord Jesus Christ said: If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36). You need to be an heir of the Seed of the freewoman and that is to be born-again of the Spirit of God, to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan the Devil hates our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ and the children of God, the called and elected. In conclusion – you need to be a Christian – a Christ follower. That is your only hope! Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone and in Christ alone! We do pray for God to soften and open Muslim hearts that they too will come out of bondage, being the offspring of the bondmaid, and be found free as reconciled children of God through the seed of the freewoman. For salvation is of God alone to all that believeth.

SOLI DEO GLORIA

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Setting the Record Straight About the Crusades

The historical record of the Crusades is one that has not always been made known in its entirety and the Crusades’ story has often fallen seriously foul of political correctness and historical revisionism. This article by Dr. Peter Hammond (Frontline Fellowship) is an attempt to set the scholarly record straight concerning what really happened during the Crusades era almost 1000 years ago. Was the church of Jesus Christ really to blame for atrocities against Muslims?

Do you have a correct understanding of what really took place in history? To answer that question and many others, Dr. Hammond will take it from here:

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What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Crusades

At the same time that our mission station was being bombed by the National Islamic Front government in Sudan, fellow missionaries were organising “Reconciliation Walks” to the Middle East to apologise for “The Crusades”. As our church services and schools were under aerial and artillery bombardment by Jihadists, this seemed rather bizarre.

Some claim that the Crusaders were “The starting point of hostility between Islam and the West.” Disrupting “five centuries of peaceful coexistence”.

What Preceded the Crusades?

However the Crusades only started after five centuries of Islamic Jihad had conquered and annihilated, or forcibly converted, over two thirds of what had formerly been the Christian world. Shortly after the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem, in 638, Christian pilgrims were harassed, massacred, and crucified.

Muslim governors extorted ransom money from Pilgrims, and ransacked churches. In the 8th Century the Muslim rulers banned all displays of the Cross in Jerusalem. They also increased the penalty tax (Jizya) on Christians and forbade Christians to engage in any religious instruction, even of their own children! In 772, the Calipha al Mansur ordered the hands of all Christians and Jews in Jerusalem to be branded.

In 923, a new wave of destruction of churches was launched by the Muslim rulers. In 937, Muslims went on a rampage in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday plundering the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.

In 1004 the Calipha Al-Hakim unleashed a violent wave of church burning and destruction, confiscation of Christian property, and ferocious slaughter of both Christians and Jews. Over the next ten years, 30,000 churches were destroyed and vast numbers of believers were forcibly converted or killed.

In 1009, Al-Hakim ordered that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem be destroyed.

When the Seljuk Turks swept into Jerusalem in 1077 they murdered over three thousand people, including many Christians. It was at this point that the Christian Emperor of Byzantium, Alexius I, appealed for help to the Western churches.

Pope Urban II challenged the knights of Europe at the Council of Clermont in 1095: “The Turks and Arabs have attacked our brethren in the East. They have killed and captured many and have destroyed the churches. On this account I…persuade all people of whatever rank, foot soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians…”

Nowhere in the call for the launch of the Crusades was there talk about either conquest or conversion. They were merely to remove the Islamic invaders from the lands that had previously been Christian, to restore religious freedom to the Holy Lands.

Myths and Misconceptions

The myth that the Crusades were unprovoked, imperialist actions against the peaceful, indigenous Muslim population is simply not accurate.

Similarly, the characterization of the Crusaders as greedy for loot, only out for personal gain, is simply out of touch with reality. Those who participated in the Crusades saw it as an act of sacrifice rather than of profit. The Crusades were in fact prohibitively expensive. Many Crusaders had to sell their property to raise money for the long journey to the Holy Land and knew that their chances of returning alive were slight. Most who did manage to survive and return came back with nothing material to show for their efforts.

Similarly the modern myth that the Crusaders attempted to forcibly convert Muslims to Christianity is a politically motivated fantasy. Search as one might through the writings and records of the Crusaders, one will not find any mention of Crusaders seeking to convert the Saracens or the Turks. The Crusaders saw themselves as Pilgrims seeking to recapture and liberate Christian lands from vicious invaders.

The Myth of Saladin

The depiction of Saladin as merciful and magnanimous is a myth. When Saladin captured the crusaders at Hattim on 4 July 1187, he ordered the mass execution of all the Christians: “They should be beheaded in accordance with Quran 47:4 ‘When you meet the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike their necks’” Saladin’s secretary Imad reported, “With him were a whole band of scholars and Sufis and a certain number of devout men and aesthetics; each begged to be allowed to kill one of them and drew their swords and rolled back their sleeves. Saladin, his face joyful, was sitting on his dais; the unbelievers showed black despair.”

In 1148, the Muslim Commander Nur ed–Din ordered the slaughter of every Christian in Aleppo.

In 1268, when Mamluk Sultan Baybars seized Antioch, he ensured that all the men were slaughtered, the women sold into slavery, the crosses in every church smashed, the Bibles torn and burned, the graves of Christians desecrated. Every monk, priest and deacon was dragged to the altar and had their throats slit. The Church of Saint Paul and the Cathedral of Saint Peter were destroyed.

On 29 May 1453, the greatest city in the world of that time, Constantinople, was conquered by the Jihadists. The Muslims “slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the golden horn”. The Muslim soldiers even entered the Hagia Sophia, and slaughtered thousands of Christians worshipping in what was then the largest church in the world at that time.

A Clear and Present Danger

From the first century of Islam Muslim armies were invading Europe. Spain suffered under Islamic occupation for 8 centuries. In the 14th Century, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania and Croatia fell to Muslim invasions.

In 1426 the Egyptian Mukluks conquered Cyprus. In 1395 the Muslims conquered Nicopolis on the Danube River. In 1444 the Muslim armies seized Varna in Hungary. In 1456 the Turks besieged Belgrade, and even tried to conquer Rome, but were thrown back. The Muslims first attempted to seize Vienna in 1529. As late as 11 September 1683 Muslim armies besieged Vienna, but were routed by 30,000 Polish cavalrymen led by Poland’s King Jan Sobieski III.

Were the Crusades a Failure?

The constant depiction of the Crusades as a failure is not justified by the historical record. The Crusades bought Europe time. The Crusades succeeded in seizing the initiative, throwing the Muslim invaders onto the defensive, for the first time after five centuries of attack. The Crusaders bought Europe time – centuries in fact.

At a critical time, the Crusades united a divided Europe, and threw the Muslim invaders back, bringing a peace and security to Europe that had not been known for centuries. As a result of the tremendous sacrifices of the Crusaders, Christian Europe experienced Spiritual Revival and Biblical Reformation which inspired a great resurgence of learning, scientific experimentation, technological advancement, and movements that led to greater prosperity and freedoms than had ever been known in all of history.

For a picture of what Europe might be like today had Islam succeeded in conquering it, one can look at the previously Christian civilisations of Egypt and what is today called Turkey. The Copts in Egypt now make up just 10% of the total Egyptian population, and are severely oppressed. What is today called Turkey was once the vibrant Christian Byzantine Empire, the economic and military superpower of its day. Today the Christian civilization which had flourished there for a thousand years has all but been extinguished. The population of the last Christian city in Asia, Smyrna, was massacred by the Turkish Army in 1922.

A Reaction to Jihad

The crusaders were reacting to five centuries of relentless Islamic Jihad. The Middle East was the birthplace of the Christian Church. It was the Christians who had been conquered and oppressed by the Seljuk Turks. Many of the towns in the Middle East welcomed the crusaders as liberators.

Far from the crusaders being the aggressors, it was the Muslim armies which had spread Islam from Saudi Arabia across the whole of Christian North Africa into Spain and even France. Muslim armies sacked and slaughtered their way across some of the greatest Christian cities in the world, including Alexandria, Carthage, Antioch and Constantinople. These Muslim invaders destroyed over 3,200 Christian churches just in the first 100 years of Islam.

Against All Odds

When we think about the Middle Ages, we inevitably view Europe in the light of what it became rather than what it was. The fact is that the superpower of the Medieval world was Islam, not Christendom. The crusades were a battle against all odds with impossibly long lines of supply and cripplingly inadequate logistics. It was a David against Goliath enterprise from the beginning. The chances of success for the first crusade were highly improbable. They had no leader, no chain of command, no supply lines and no detailed strategy. The first crusade consisted simply of thousands of dedicated warriors marching deep into enemy territory, thousands of kilometres from home. Many of them died of starvation, disease and wounds. It was a rough campaign that always was on the brink of disaster. Yet by 1098, the Crusaders had liberated Nicea and Antioch, and in July 1099 they re-conquered Jerusalem.

Professor Madden, the author of A Concise History of the Crusades, has observed: “From the safe distance of many centuries, it is easy enough to scowl in disgust at the crusades. Religion, after all, is nothing to fight wars over. But we should be mindful that our Medieval ancestors would have been equally disgusted by our infinitely more destructive wars fought in the names of political ideologies…Whether we admire the Crusaders or not, it is a fact that the world we know today would not exist without their efforts. The ancient faith of Christianity, with its respect for women and antipathy toward slavery, not only survived but flourished. Without the crusades, it might have followed Zoroastrianism, another of Islam’s rivals, into extinction.” But for the crusades Europe would have probably fallen to Islam and the USA and South Africa would never have come into existence.

Logistics and Economics

As the Christian History Institute has pointed out, the characterising of crusaders as only in it for the plunder and the loot betrays an ignorance of both geography and history. The vast majority of the crusaders were impoverished and financially ruined by the crusades. Crusaders, through great sacrifice and personal expense, left their homes and families to travel 3000km across treacherous and inhospitable terrain – and the shortest crusade lasted 4 years. Considering that only 10% of the crusaders had horses, and 90% were foot soldiers, the sheer fact of logistics is that the crusaders could not possibly have carried back enough loot to have made up for the loss of earnings and high expenses involved with these long crusades. Many crusaders lost their homes and farms to finance their involvement in the crusades.

There’s More to Life than Money

Perhaps self-seeking materialistic agnostics in the 21st Century cannot understand that some people could be motivated by something other than personal financial enrichment, but the fact is that many people make sacrifices for their religious convictions, and in order to help others. In the case of the crusaders, the historical record makes clear that amongst the motivations that led tens of thousands of volunteers to reclaim the Holy Land was a sense of Christian duty to help their fellow Christians in the East whose lands had been invaded and churches desecrated by Muslim armies, and a desire to secure access to the Holy Lands for pilgrims.

There was also a desire to fight for the honour of their Lord Jesus Christ, Whose churches had been destroyed and Whose Deity had been denied by the Mohammedan aggressors. In other words, to the crusaders this was a defensive war to reclaim Christian lands from Muslim invaders.

We may not share their convictions, or agree with their methods, but we ought to evaluate them in the light of the realities of the 11th and 12th centuries, and not anachronistically project our standards and politics back upon them.

Jihad vs. The Gospel

The word “crusade” does not appear in the Bible, nor is it commanded in Christianity. However, Jihad is the sixth pillar of Islam and the second greatest command of Muhammad. It is not only commended, but commanded in the Quran.

The crusades ended many centuries ago, however Islamic Jihad is carried out to this day. Millions of Christians have been slaughtered throughout the centuries by Islamic militants – such as the 1.5 million Armenians murdered in Turkey in 1915. Christians have continued to be slaughtered by Islamic militants in Indonesia, the Philippines, Sudan and Nigeria to the present day.

Therefore, before Christians fall over themselves to apologise for the crusades, which ended over 700 years ago, it would be wise to first learn from reliable sources what the crusades were all about, and study the Islamic teachings and track record of Jihad over the last 14 centuries. Those who do not know their past have no future.

Dr. Peter Hammond has been a pioneer missionary to Muslims in Sudan. He is the author of Slavery, Terrorism and Islam – The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat.

 

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