The news these days is replete with reports on the Middle East conflict, all of which confirm the truth of the old adage: History repeats itself. History tomes are chock-full of evidence that the conflict between the Arabs and Jews is anything but new. In actuality, this conflict stems back to sibling rivalry between two half-brothers, Ishmael and Isaac, Abraham’s two sons from different mothers. For 4,000 years, this family feud has been on display for all to see and, I would propose, to even learn from.
The Bible once again proves to be as current as today’s breaking news. Genesis 21:9-10 states: “Sarah (Isaac’s mother) saw that the son (Ishmael) whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, ‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son (Ishmael), for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac’” (brackets added).
For history not to repeat itself, students of history must intentionally learn from the mistakes of others. There are at least two major life lessons to learn from this 4,000-year-old family feud. First, grudges are often inherited from our parents. Read Genesis Chapters 13-21, and you will find the sibling rivalry between Ishmael and Isaac actually originated as a family feud between two mothers, Hagar and Sarah.
Second, regardless of one’s history, hurts and inherited grudges, family feuds can die if we choose to starve them.
Instead of mocking others, why not bless them? Jesus said it best: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45). Here, Jesus clearly delineates between two choices: We can either feed or starve our grudges. Our choice will determine whether a better future will be scripted or a bitter history will be repeated, so let’s choose wisely.