__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 1


Contents List of chapters & sections Vocabulary notes

Introduction

viii x

1

TORAH Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy

7 32 41 43 45

PROPHETS Kings Psalms Isaiah Jeremiah Micah Malachi

47 55 60 104 108 110

GOSPEL Matthew & Luke John Paul Hebrews Clement

120 153 170 200 206

Appendices

210

Cited works Acknowledgments

222 222

vii


Introduction: Islam and the Christ Worldwide, the Muslim population is approaching a billion and a half. Through faith in the words of the Quran, Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah/Christ, born to a virgin (Mary), a Prophet, a Messenger, a Word and Spirit from/of God. They believe God sent him to Israel and then (uniquely) “raised him up (body and soul) unto himself” (Q. 4:158). They believe Jesus is “a known Sign of the Hour (the Resurrection)” (Q. 43:61). Most Muslims further believe that Jesus will descend and carry out God’s Judgment of (resurrected) humanity. Believers must then pass through the Judgment (and through the judge) to enter Paradise and come unto the countenance of God. Muslims expect Jesus to return at any time. If he calls to them, they will come running. [Jesus:] Everyone therefore who confesses me before people, I also will confess before my Father who is in Heaven. –Mt. 10:32 The word islam means submission (surrender) to God. By literal word contraction, a muslim is a person in islam (in submission to God). The Quran refers to all the Prophets, as well as the disciples of Jesus, as muslims. Followers of the Prophet/Messenger Muhammad have taken these words as proper names: they are the Muslims of Islam. In both Christianity and Islam, salvation is through the faith of Abraham (e.g. Q. 3:16). Both the Christian and Islamic ways (paths, sunnahs) enjoin righteous works, justice, mercy, faith and fear of God. Both Christians and Muslims believe in God’s Last Day, the Resurrection, the Judgment, Paradise and Hellfire. Both declare the coming Kingdom of God. Both teach love of God and love of neighbor. Both teach the repulsion of evil with good. Both advocate acts of mercy and kindness for parents, kinfolk, orphans, the poor, neighbors, strangers, comrades (co-workers), travelers and slaves. The Muslim greeting is ‘Peace’, as it was with Jesus. Muslims pronounce ‘Peace’ on the left and the right hand at the close of each of their five daily prayers. They are commanded to make peace among peoples (Q. 2:224) and enjoined to be obedient (dutiful) to God, truthful, patient, humble, charitable, observant of fasting, and chaste. They “remember God much with their hearts and tongues;” therefore, “God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward” (Q. 33:35). 1


Introduction

There is much more to say about Islam and Muslims, but given the facts already mentioned, how can Christians neglect the sign of such extensive agreements and complementary features? (The devil fosters this neglect by concealing the facts from Christians and distracting them with negative issues.) Further, there is the historical sign of Islam’s sustained worship of God for over fourteen centuries. Recall Gamaliel’s wise warning to his fellow Jews concerning the rise of Apostolic (Messianic Jewish) Christianity: [Gamaliel:] Refrain from these people and let them alone, for if this counsel or this work is of men, it will collapse; but if it is of God, you will not be able to tear it down. You may even be found opposing God! –Acts. 5:38b-39a Remember, Jonah was angry at God’s mercy toward people beyond Israel (in Assyria/Iraq). Jonah did not (yet) understand or approve. [Note: See appendices for additional information and discussion on the topics of: evaluating Islam, the Quran’s affirmations of the resurrection of Christ, and Christian doctrines of exclusivity.] Light, words, diversity and tests

In centuries past, God sent Messengers to every nation (Q. 16:36). Guiding lights of God’s teachings went out “through all the Earth, and their words to the end (extremes) of the world” (Ps. 19:4). God tailored each gift of words to a people’s cultural experiences and abilities to assimilate knowledge. Accordingly, the religion of God is like humanity itself: an evolving unity expressed through diversity. Diversity leads to the conceptual challenge of ‘us’ versus ‘not-us’ (‘them’). From colors of skin, eyes and hair, through languages, clothing and foods, diversity tests each group and refines them toward maturity. Likewise, God’s diverse gifts of words, which are ultimately accumulative, test and challenge each religious nation. There is a Godintended progression of development in which light and guidance are to be lovingly shared, not contested. Jews, Christians and Muslims, all having sprung from Abraham, ought to be brotherly/sisterly toward each other. Christians and Muslims, who share in recognition of Jesus as the Christ, ought to be “the nearest in love” (Q. 5:82). If this seems a challenge, God has spoken of that challenge: 2


Introduction

For each of you (Christians and Muslims) We have prescribed a Law and a clear Way. If God had willed, the One would have made you a single nation, but (this is) to test you in that which has been given to you. So compete in good deeds! The return of you (all) is to God. Then the One will inform you about that in which you used to differ. –Q. 5:48b God’s chosen peoples

Jews and Christians (who rely heavily on Jewish interpretations) tend to assume that the story of the Jews, given in the Books of the Jews, is the only story. But even the Hebrew scriptures contain clear indications that the Jews are not the only people who ‘count’. Abraham (who was not a Jew) is the “father of a multitude of nations” (Gen. 17:5). God called and chose many individuals prior to Moses’ day, when Israel became the first chosen nation. Israel is God’s “firstborn son” (Ex. 4:22). The Quran repeatedly confirms that God chose, even “preferred” the children of Israel over all others (Q. 2:47, 122; 44:32; 45:16). The Quran is a confirmer of the God of Israel, of Isaac, Jacob and the twelve tribes, of Moses, of the Torah and the Prophets, and of the kingdom of David and Solomon. Nonetheless, God’s selection of Israel never limited the grace, mercy, salvation, rewards or words of God. Israel is designated as “first” (rather than only) because other nations were to follow. God assured Abraham that all his seed would be “called” from within or through Isaac (Gen. 21:12). As God stated at that time, the calling was “surely” to include Abraham’s firstborn “seed,” Ismael (or Ishmael) (v. 13). National calls later went out from Isaac/Jerusalem to each nation of Abraham. Jeremiah refers to Jerusalem as “she who bore seven” (Jer. 15:9). These seven are not named, but likely candidates are known from such clues as land gifts (to Esau and the Children of Lot), priesthoods (Melchizedek, Midian, On), intermarriages (Rahab, Ruth), and the missions of Elijah and Elisha (to Phoenicia and Syria). Ultimately, there came two great calls of global broadcast that resulted in Christianity and Islam. The call and message of the Gospel went out to the world from Jerusalem to dispersed Jews and, through them, to all nations. Likewise, Arabia’s call came through Isaac, from Jerusalem. Islam began with explicit acknowledgments of the God of Israel and with Muslims facing toward Jerusalem in their daily prayers. As with the Gospel, Islam’s global message is to all the nations. 3


Isaiah

Isa. 63

Who is this that cometh from Edom?

Who is this, coming from Edom, wearing crimsoned garments from Bozrah (/Bostra): he who is self-shining (hadar) in his apparel and traveling in the greatness of his strength? “It is I (Muhammad), speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” -Isa. 63:1 from Edom. Jewish tradition assumes that the man is coming toward Jerusalem. But nothing in the chapter indicates Jerusalem, and verse 16 flatly states: “Israel does not acknowledge us.” Jerusalem had no road of entry “from Edom,” since no direct route existed through the extensive badlands that lay between the two. A traveler from Edom would either go north along the highway and then turn west at Jericho, or go west to Kadesh and then turn north on the road ‘from the Negeb’ (‘from the south’). In no case would an unknown traveler who was approaching Jerusalem be described as coming “from Edom” (even if approaching from the southeast). But Mecca had a road (caravan route) “from Edom” for a thousand years, including the day of the Prophet Isaiah. The prophetic vision given here is a viewpoint from Mecca. The questioner speaks as a (visionary) visitor might. He is viewing a man at the head of an army of ten thousand. They are approaching from the north, along the road “from Edom.” Bozrah/Bostra. Bozrah of Edom was located about 50 km NNE of Teman, not far from the southern end of the Salt Sea. Bozrah was the home of the father of king Jobab (of possible connection to the Prophet Job) (Gen. 36:33). Bozrah guarded the approach to Edom’s copper mines, located to the west, but was situated near the Kings’ Highway—which follows the eastern side of the Arabah rift valley—because the trade route from Mecca intersected the highway at this location. Thus, for centuries, the caravan route entering Mecca from the north was a caravan route “from Edom,” specifically from Bozrah-junction. Edom’s fluidic kingdom eventually collapsed. Their trade enterprises along the Kings’ Highway were taken over by the Nabatean Arabs, progeny of Nebaioth, son of Ismael. The trading post called Bozrah (Bots-rah) was replaced by another Bots-rah trading post, known as Bostra, in southeast Syria. The Meccan caravans still 96


Isaiah

journeyed to Edom but then went north to Syria. Thus, Isaiah’s old terminology still held true in Muhammad’s day: caravans returning from Bostra passed along the borders of ancient Bozrah, Edom, then passed through Medina, and then entered Mecca from the north. speaking in righteousness, mighty to save. This is the same man of God foretold in Isa. 59:16, whose “own arm saved him, and his righteousness upheld him.” He speaks the righteousness of God that was promised for the establishment of the people of Hagar (Isa. 54:14, 17). He speaks the words of the Quran. And though he marches in “the greatness of his strength,” his intention is to use his might “to save.” In mid-winter (January) of 630 CE (8 AH), after two decades of struggle, including six years of open warfare, the Prophet Muhammad entered Mecca unopposed. His show of strength took place the hour before, north of the city, where he arrayed his troops in all their splendor and rode in their midst. According to Lings, the troops were a mass of black, green and gleaming steel. The Prophet wore red. Muhammad knew the route all the way from Edom, even from Syria, for he had traveled it as a youth and as a caravan leader. Along many dimensions he came from Edom. His calling was from Jerusalem, which lay behind the mountains of Edom. For over a decade, he and his followers faced Jerusalem in prayer and, thus, by actual line of sight, looked to Edom. Jerusalem previously birthed seven (Jer. 15:9), but the Arabs were not then among her children, even though Hagar is the symbolic mother of them all (see Gal. 4 entry). Esau, the foundational figure of Edom, had married Mahalath, a daughter of Ismael and sister of Nebaioth (Gen. 28:9). Connections and exchanges between Edom and Arabia, starting with ties of kinship and culminating in Nabatean Edom, shaped the history of both regions— and likely shaped the female ancestry of Muhammad. Edom long represented the chief religious sibling and spiritual extension of Israel. Job and the Book of Job are representative of Edom. The call to the watchman of Dumah (son of Ismael) came from Edom (see Isa. 21). All of Arabia’s relevant connections were literally through Edom—by calling, by geography, by blood, by trade, by marriage, by bordering and blending, and by transmitted proclamation of the God of Jacob and Esau, the God of Isaac and Ismael. 97


Isaiah My Year of Redeeming

Why is your apparel red, and your garments like one who treads in the winepress? –Isa. 63:2 [Muhammad:] “I have trodden the (figurative) ‘winepress’ alone, for of the peoples (tribes/clans), none were with me. I trod on them in anger and trampled them in fury. Their permanent (‘grapevine’) stands (naytsach) (pagan cultural ‘stands’/standing institutions of false religion) sprinkled my garments and stained all my apparel. –Isa. 63:3 For the Day of (God’s) vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption/redeeming has come.” –Isa. 63:4 stands (vv.3,6). Naytsach is a rare word derived from nayts, which are the curved wing-like canes of new growth on a grapevine. Most reasonably, naytsach refers to permanent, supported ‘stands’ of grapevines. Figuratively, naytsach are ‘permanent stands’ or standing (perennial) institutions of cultural/religious practice. Arabia’s stands included the standing idols at the Kaaba as well as the rites, sacrifices and taboos associated with them. These ‘stands’ were in opposition to God’s permanent stand, the Kaaba Sanctuary, which the Quran calls, “a standing (permanent stand) for humanity,” along with it rites, its months, and the people’s garlanded offerings (Q. 5:97; see Luxenberg). All the pagan stands were brought down and trampled as acts of war. On this day of entry into Mecca, the Prophet physically toppled and then had removed the 360 or so idols around the Kaaba. Day of (God’s) vengeance (v.4). This Day is mentioned in Isa. 61:2. Speaking in the synagogue at Nazareth (Lk. 4), Jesus invoked fulfillment of the preceding verse (Isa. 61:1), along with the first part of v. 2. Then he stopped, just before reaching the announcement of the “Day of vengeance of our God” (v. 2b). For the Jews, this Day came forty years later (68-74 CE), though it was but a prefiguring of the coming day of the Messiah (Ps. 110) and God’s Last Day. In follow-up signification, Muhammad was not cut-off like John and Jesus but commanded to fight. God’s Day of vengeance was in his heart. His enemies all relented or came to their respective days of wrath. 98


Isaiah

year of my redemption/redeemed (v.4). The grammar grants ambiguity, and the fulfillments cover all angles. This verse (and the next) is tightly knit to the verses of Hagar’s redeemer (God) (Isa. 54:5, 8) and those of the redeemer who was to come from/to Zion (Isa. 59:20). Muhammad’s entry into Mecca was one of the most triumphant moments in human history, though the Prophet rode in with his head humbly bent to his camel’s neck. He had overcome two decades of rejection, ridicule, abuse, treachery, and a war of religious extermination waged against him by his own people, the Meccans. With his own arm, he had fought, struggled and prevailed. Now, upon the capitulation of Mecca, he declined to take vengeance and, instead, granted redemption to all of his enemies who would receive it. Muhammad, like Moses, brought redemption and, by this, may be called a redeemer. As indicted below (Isa. 63:16), God is the actual redeemer. In condensation of time, the prophecy highlights three phases: An early phase targets the abysmal religious conditions in Arabia and the Prophet’s solitary station of calling. This covers years of perseverance and patience in the face of hardship and oppression. Representing a middle phase are the years of warfare, directed more against the religious culture than merely its human adherents. Following is the time of victory and redemption, which is where the prophecy opened. These three phases cycle repeatedly in what follows and are mingled with remembrances of God’s glorious works in the days of Moses.

Again, the self-saving arm I looked, but (there was) no one to help. I was appalled that (there was) no one to uphold. My own arm saved/ rescued me, and my fury upheld me. I tread down the people in anger and made them drunk with (their own) fury. I brought their ‘permanent stands’ (naytsach) (standing institutions) down to the earth.” –Isa. 63:5-6 Verse 5 closely parallels Isa. 59:20, and both passages feature the same man of redemption: cloaked in zeal, fighting with his own arm, repaying enemies with fury, saving the faithful, and speaking righteous words given from God. He is also “the destroyer who requires a 99


Isaiah

pledge” (see Isa. 54). Going further back, this is the same “fugitive” who fled from war and took refuge at Medina oasis (Isa. 21). Ibn al-Hayyaban, the Syrian Jew who immigrated to Medina in expectation of a Prophet, was likely motivated by the foretold hijrah (emigration) event but may have further grasped that Isa. 63 features the same Prophet. Hayyaban reportedly said, “His hour is close upon you. Be the first to reach him, O Jews, for he will be sent to shed blood and to take captive the women and the children of those who oppose him. Let not that hold you back from him” (Lings, p. 230). Waraqah, the Christian cousin of Muhammad’s wife (see Ex. 23), also may have understood Isa. 63. Reportedly, he said to Muhammad, “Thou wilt be called a liar, and ill-treated, and they will cast thee out and make war upon thee” (Lings, p. 44). I will recall God’s mercies to Israel

[Muhammad:] I will remember (recount) the merciful kindnesses of Yahweh, the praises of Yahweh, according to all that Yahweh has bestowed on us, and (remember) the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has bestowed on them according to his mercies, according to his many merciful kindnesses. –Isa. 63:7 There is a distinction here between the speaker’s “us” and Israel’s “them,” yet also a unity in the praises of God and an equality in the acknowledgements of what God has given to each. The Quran, which calls itself the Reminder (see Mal. 3), has more reminders and confirmations of Israel than of any other historical topics. It mentions Moses more times than any other Prophet and speaks of what God has given to Israel and what God has given to the Muslims. It repeatedly commands Muslims to believe in the Books and Prophets of Israel. For the One said (of Israel), “Surely they are my (chosen) people, (adoptive) sons and daughters who will not deal falsely.” And he became their savior. –Isa. 63:8 In all their troubles, he was troubled (grieved); yet the Angel of his presence saved them. In love and compassion, 100


Isaiah

he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. –Isa. 63:9 But they rebelled and grieved his holy Spirit. Therefore he turned to be their enemy and fought against them.–Isa. 63:10 The description is of God, relative to Israel of the Exodus. However, it spiritually repeats in the birth of Islam, with Muhammad in harmonic alignment: He looked first to his own people, because they were his kin. But they dealt falsely. Even so, he saved the believers. In all their difficulties, he was afflicted with them. The Angel of God’s presence (Gabriel) saved them (with support and words of the Quran). God redeemed them. God lifted them up and carried them through the difficulties. Meanwhile, the Meccans continued to rebel against God and to grieve the Prophet’s spirit. So he fought against them.

For the name of God So he (Muhammad) remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people, (saying:) “Where he who brought them up out of the Sea with the shepherds of his flock? –Isa. 63:11 “Where is he who put holy wind-Spirit in the midst of it (all), whose splendorous arm went at the right hand of Moses, cleaving the water before them to make his name Age-enduring? –Isa. 63:12 “Who led them through the depths like (leading) a horse through a wilderness, lest they stumble-fall? –Isa. 63:13 “As an animal descends into a valley, the Spirit-wind of Yahweh settled (nuach) (across the seafloor). So (it was) you led-brought your people—to make for yourself a glorious name!” –Isa. 63:14 As in this remembrance of events from Moses’ day, glorification of the name of God (v. 14) occurs frequently in the Quran, where each Surah opens with the call, “In the name of the God.” Many verses extol the name: “So glorify the name of your Lord, the most great” (Q. 69:52; par. 73:8). Christ also came to declare the name of God (Jn. 17:6, 11, 12, 26). 101


Isaiah Israel does not acknowledge us

[Muhammad:] “Look down from Heaven and behold, from your habitation of holy splendor. Where are your zeal and your might? (For) the multitude of your heart’s mercies to us (seem to) have gone on by (aaphaq). –Isa. 63:15 “(Look and behold,) for you are our Father (also), though Abraham does not know of us (what has become of us), and Israel does not acknowledge us. You, Yahweh, are our father, our redeemer from of old is your name.” –Isa. 63:16 our Father (v. 16). Verse 8 previously described Israel as sons and daughters belonging to God (by adoption). God’s redemption of Israel as the ‘firstborn’ nation (Ex. 4) was actually a repeat and amplification of the pattern of Ismael, the firstborn of Abraham, to whom God became the adoptive, parenting ‘father’ (see Gen. 21). Abraham does not know of us. Abraham’s test entailed a sacrifice of all fatherly participation in raising Ismael or even having news of the child. When Abraham was finally allowed to return to Mecca, he found a young man of faith, whom he could recognize as such. But here in the prophecy, the unrecognized state of the Arabs (in the days of ignorance) is the opposite. If Abraham had looked upon the pagan Arabs, he would have said, “I do not know you.” They could not be mistaken for one of his nations. They could not be mistaken for the “Great Nation” foretold to come from Ismael. The true ‘seed’ of Abraham are those with the faith and religion of Abraham. God showed Abraham the day of Christ (Jn. 8:56) and gave him specific prophecies regarding his ‘becoming’ child Isaac, whom he reared, father-unto-son. But of the child Ismael, taken to live “before” God, Abraham did not know what would become of his people. Israel does not acknowledge us. What a sublime and pregnant statement! Little less than a book could comment on it, for Israel does not acknowledge anyone. Therein lies the test of being chosen first. our redeemer from of old is your name. God redeemed Hagar and her seed, as reiterated in Isa. 54:5, 8, and as legally detailed in God’s commands concerning firstborns and Levites (see Torah entries). 102


Isaiah We are yours (also)

“O Yahweh, why have we strayed from your ways and hardened our hearts that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your slaves: the tribes of your inheritance. –Isa. 63:17 tribes of your inheritance. When God blessed Ismael (Gen. 17), there were to be twelve chiefs (‘patriarchs’) to come from him. These are the tribes of the Arab nation. Though let loose to roam the desert like ‘wild’ donkeys, the firstborn belongs to God, just as surely as the tribe of Levi. They are slaves of God. “For a little while your people (of Ismael) possessed your holy place (the Kaaba), but now our adversaries (the idolaters) have trampled down your Sanctuary. –Isa. 63:18 For a little while. A holy people/nation inherited the Kaaba from Abraham and Ismael, but they possessed it only “for a little while.” trampled down your Sanctuary. Unlike Israel’s sanctuary, which was twice burned and destroyed, the sanctuary in Mecca was perpetually trampled by a host of idols and idolaters. “We (your worshippers among the Arabs) are yours from of old. You have not (ever) ruled over them (the pagans); they have not been called by your name.” –Isa. 63:19 We are yours. As in v. 17, all the tribes belong to God. However, the text here follows the division introduced by the “adversaries” in v. 18. The division is religious: monotheists versus polytheists. they have not been called by your name. The idolaters had no knowledge or authority. God had not called them and had never ruled over them. Regarding the Kaaba, “they are not its guardians” (Q. 8:34-35). This ending appeal to be “called by your name” anticipates the Islamic call, a call that became a religious divide that led to a war that produced the ‘conquest’ pictured in the opening verse, when Mecca submitted to God and God’s Messenger. It was a day of victory for redemption, salvation and religious unity. ● 103

Profile for Mennonite Press Inc

Christ the Caliph of Islam  

Christ the Caliph of Islam (232 pp.) is an exploration of Jewish and Christian scriptures that foretell the coming of Islam, its Prophet (Mu...

Christ the Caliph of Islam  

Christ the Caliph of Islam (232 pp.) is an exploration of Jewish and Christian scriptures that foretell the coming of Islam, its Prophet (Mu...

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded