President Trump and his administration facilitated an historic, world-changing peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The “Abraham Accord” is the first peace treaty since the Israel-Jordan treaty signed 26 years ago. This was a stroke of diplomatic genius and I applaud the hard work of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the countless others.
I remember Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat’s courageous visit to Israel in 1977 and the resulting peace between the two countries. I was nearly 30 at the time, and even though I had left Egypt many years earlier, I was thrilled at the fact that a week before Sadat’s visit to Israel, I was invited back to Egypt for the first time in many years by President Sadat himself. I looked back with pride at the country where I grew up as it formalized peace with its ancient adversary.
Peace—albeit slowly—is on the move in the Middle East. First Egypt in 1977, then Jordan in 1994 and now the Abraham Accord between Israel and the UAE in 2020. Israel, with the guidance and help of the United States, is emanating peace throughout the historically war-torn region.
The Abraham Accord is fittingly named. As we all know, names in the Bible have great importance because they often record characteristics of the one named, reflect relationships and reveal God’s intentions with the person. Let’s talk about Abraham, father of the three monotheistic traditions and for whom the Abraham Accord was named.
Abraham was named Abram, meaning “exalted father,” at birth, but when God made a covenant—the first covenant between God and man—with him, God changed his name to Abraham, meaning “father of multitude.” But Abraham’s name was not the only thing that changed. Joshua 24:2 tells us that Abraham grew up in a polytheistic tradition which was the ruling culture at the time. In the ancient world, people worshipped family gods, tribal gods, city gods, state gods...the idea of a single, almighty Creator was preposterous to them. It was radical.
Courageous, faithful Abraham led an ideological and theological revolution with his acceptance of the one true God. His radical—and rightful—practice of monotheism led to such precious things as the Christian faith and, in a roundabout way, the United States of America, which was founded on Judeo-Christian values. With the transformation of his name and the transformation of his life and worldview, Abraham became the patriarch. “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). And indeed, Abraham is looked upon as father by the world’s three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
For Jews, Abraham’s relationship to God represents their own relationship to Him. Abraham is the prototype and exemplar of how Jews should relate to God. Christians believe they are the spiritual descendants of Abraham who is the model of salvation by faith alone. For Muslims, Abraham is a prophet who links Adam, the first man and first prophet, to Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. For all three monothesitic religions, Abraham is the father of faith, the first believer and patriarch of practitioners.
The Abrahamic Accord, like Abraham the patriarch, is shared between three nations: the Jewish state of Israel, the Muslim country of UAE and the Christian United States of America. The multitude of nations should look to the Accord as a radiant example of peace.
As Abraham totally transformed his worldview and way of life upon God’s revelation, so too the Abraham accord will transform the Middle East. UAE is the first country in the Arabian Peninsula to formalize full diplomatic relations with Israel. This is what UAE president Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said during UAE’s foundingin 1971:
“Israel’s policy of expansion and racist plans of Zionism are directed against all Arab countries, and in particular those which are rich in natural resources. No Arab country is safe from the perils of the battle with Zionism unless it plays its role and bears its responsibilities in confronting the Israeli enemy.”
Look how far they have come as a nation! To grow from declaring Israel an evil empire to proclaiming it a diplomatic partner in less than 50 years is miraculous. If the UAE can make this transformation, why not other nations that have longed declared Israel an embittered enemy?
The Abraham Accord is a peace treaty signed without violence, without the white flag of surrender. The peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan both were signed after brutal battles—the Six-Day War of 1967 and the perpetual state of war between Israel and Jordan after Israel’s establishment in 1948.
May the diplomatic genius of the Abraham Accord initiate a radical transformation of the Middle East, just as Abraham the man initiated a transformation in lifestyle and worldview for the world. Jews, Christians and Muslims look to Abraham as a patriarch and leader, a courageous, peaceful and—most importantly—faithful revolutionary. May all of the nations in the Middle East follow in Abraham and the UAE’s example.
Michael Youssef, PhD, is the founder and president of Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef and senior pastor of Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Youssef was born in Egypt and lived in Lebanon and Australia before moving to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1984. He has a keen understanding of the Middle East, sociological trends in the Western world and Christian worldview issues. He has authored more than 40 books, includingThe Third Jihad,The Leadership Style of Jesus, and his latest book,Saving Christianity?: The Danger in Undermining Our Faith -- and What You Can Do about It is available wherever books are sold. Facebook: Michael A. Youssef. Twitter:@MichaelAYoussef