The Nation of Israel: God’s Prophetic Sign

Since this past Wednesday when the U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a hoopla has erupted in both the traditional and new media. So far, there have been denunciations from various political and religious quarters. The Coptic Pope cancelled the meeting with Mike Pence over this issue whilst Arab nations are mounting a pressure on Trump to back down on his decision.

There have been clashes leading to the deaths of few persons. Many Palestinians have taken to the streets to protest at the US embassy in Lebanon. I saw a picture of protesting Muslims in Morocco and their visage was of pent-up rage. The hornet’s nest has been stirred up.

Our Muslim friends are now getting bent out of shape, throwing fits of rage, foaming at the mouth and attacking their keypads like a hungry bird pecking at a juicy worm.

Even the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) who have otherwise been insouciant about the murderous rampage of Fulani herdsmen and reports of Muslim Arabs enslaving Nigerians in Libya, suddenly found the voice to urge world leaders to reject Trump’s declaration over Jerusalem.

The chains of mental slavery that bind many African Muslims compel them to automatically support Arab politics – no matter how irrational – even though these Arab Muslims view them with pure disdain.

Pope Francis, a man who tries to project an image of a “revolutionary thinker” has also (like his predecessors) taken sides with the Palestinian Arabs against Trump’s decision. The Vatican Radio says “the Holy See reiterates its conviction that only a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians can lead to a stable and lasting peace and guarantee the peaceful coexistence of two states within internationally recognized borders.”

Some ask, “Why is this such a controversial issue? Does it really matter who occupies Jerusalem? Can’t the Jews just give up the land for the Arabs  for peace to reign?” To answer these questions, we need to take a brief look at the Biblical history of the nation of Israel.

In Isaiah 43:10, God declares the Jews as His witnesses to the world that He is God. The specific Bible prophecies interwoven into their history are irrefutable evidence of God’s existence, purpose for man and the authenticity of the Bible:

1. God promised a land of clearly defined boundaries to Abraham (Gen. 12:1). He renewed that promise to Isaac (Gen. 26:3-5), to his grandson Jacob (Gen. 28:13) and to their descendants forever (26:3-5, 28:13, Lev. 25:46). He fulfilled this promise by bringing these chosen people into this “Promised Land” through a series of miracles (Dt. 7:6). Note: God didn’t give Ishmael or his descendants any promised land.

2. When the Jewish people entered the Promised Land, God warned them that if they practiced the idolatry and depraved sexual sins of the land’s previous inhabitants whom He had destroyed, He would also cast them out as well (Dt. 28:63; 1 Kgs. 9:7). This was what precisely happened.

A scholar noted that: “During the reign of Jehohakim’s, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar first invaded Judah ([2 Kings] 24:1). The Lord sent other raiders – Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite – against Judah during his reign … just as the prophets had long ago foretold.” [1]

3. God declared that His people would be scattered “among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other” (Dt. 28:64) and they would become “a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples” (1 Kgs. 9:7). This happened just as foretold.

A reference work explains that: “God gave Zedekiah and the nation [of Israel] many warnings through Jeremiah and the other prophets, but they were all ignored. The judgment that came spelt death or exile for the whole nation. The exile lasted until the Persians took over the Babylonian Empire.” [2]

4. God warned that wherever the Jews wandered, they would be “an object of cursing … of scorn and reproach” (Jer. 29:18) “a thing of horror and an object of scorn and ridicule to all the nations” (Dt. 28:37). This has been true of the Jews down through history. They have been maligned, hated and treated as scum, not only by Muslims or anti-Semitic political figures, but also by those who claim to be Christians.

A historian recorded that: The [Catholic] “Council of Vienne (1311) forbade all intercourse between Christians and Jews. The Council of Zamora (1313) ruled that they must be kept in strict subjection and servitude. The Council of Basel (1431-33) renewed canonical decrees forbidding Christians to associate with Jews … and instructed secular authorities to confine the Jews in separate quarters [ghettos]…” [3]

Muslims have mistreated Jews far worse for a total of 1300 years.  In Morocco, for example, a historian writes that rape, looting, burning of synagogues, destruction of Torah scrolls and murder were “so frequent that it is impossible to list them.” [4]

5. In spite of being scattered throughout the world, God promised to preserve the Jews as an identifiable ethnic, national group (Lev. 20:26; Jer. 30:11; 31:35-37). The Jews had every reason to intermarry, change their names and hide their identity by any possible means in order to escape persecution.

There was no reason for them to have preserved their bloodline when they had no land of their own, when their race imposed cruel disadvantages on them and most of them didn’t really believe the Bible. Yet, they didn’t get absorbed into the nations because God’s promises stand sure.

6. God said through His prophets that He would bring the Jews back into their own land in the last days prior to the Messiah’s second coming (Jer. 31:8-12, Ezk. 11:17; 28:25). This prophecy was fulfilled after 19 centuries since Jerusalem was destroyed (in 70 A.D.) when the nation of Israel was reborn in 1948. This restoration of a nation after 25 centuries is a striking event unparalleled in the history of other peoples. It is beyond mere chance or natural means; only God could have done it.

7. God foretold that the Jews would have hostile nations surrounding them (Zech. 12:1-14) and that in the last days before Jesus’ second coming, Jerusalem would become “a cup of trembling” and “an immovable rock for all people” (Zech. 12:2-3). At the time Zechariah uttered this prophecy some 2,500 years ago, Jerusalem lay in ruins and was surrounded by wilderness and so it remained century after century.

This prophecy seemed absurd even after Israel’s rebirth in 1948, since Israel occupies about one-sixth of 1% of the land area the Arabs possess. Nothing could have indicated that the land of Israel would be a centre of worldwide concern, but today we see fulfillment of Bible prophecy as a terrible war over the city of Jerusalem looms on the world stage.

Today, Jerusalem has become a “burdensome stone” around the necks of all nations of the world who fear what would occur there. It’s the most perplexing problem the United Nation faces currently and it is a sign of the last days. These Biblical prophecies offer us sufficient proofs of God’s existence and the sign of the times we are in. God’s “sign” to the whole world is the land and people of Israel.

There are two main reasons why Muslims want the Jews to give up Jerusalem and their entire promised land.

(a) The Quran is an anti-Semitic book. It says that some Jews were turned into apes and swines by Allah (2:65; 7:166). The Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies says Jews “are people of the Sabbath, whose young people God turned into apes, and whose old people God turned to swine to punish them. As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews … while the swine are Christian infidels of the communion of Jesus.”

Speaking of the Jews, Sura 2:61 says: “And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they were visited with wrath from Allah.” Sura 98:6 says Jews and Christians are “the worst of creatures.”

The hadith says that the path of “those who earn your anger” in Sura fatiha Muslims recite daily, refers to Jews while “the path of those who go astray” refers to Christians (Bukhari 1:12:749).

Sura 5:64 says: “The Jews say: Allah’s hand is tied up. ‘Be their hands be tied up and be accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter … Amongst them we have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment.”

Muhammad said: “The last hour will not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or tree and a stone or tree would say: Muslim…there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him…” (Muslim 41:6985)

That’s why a Muslim scholar, Yusuf Qaradawi said: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler … This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be in the hands of the believers [i.e Muslims].” [5]

(b) Muslim leaders intend to maintain their hold on Jerusalem so as to sustain the mythical link Muhammad made up to tie his cult to Abraham. Muslims are told that Ishmael was the promised son who inherited Abraham’s covenant promise. But the Quran disproves this long-held theory.

Sura 11: 69-72 say Isaac was the promised son: “And his wife standing by, laughing when We gave her good tidings (of the birth) of Isaac, and after Isaac, of Jacob. She said: Oh woe is me! Shall I bear a child when I am an old woman, and this my husband is an old man?”

The Quran re-tells this story in Sura 37:101-108 where Abraham asked for a righteous son and: “Then when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said ‘O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice. Now see what is thy view. (The son) said ‘O my father! Do as thou art commanded. Thou will find me if Allah so wills…”

The Quran clearly says it was the same “righteous son” that Abraham asked for that God promised He would give, and God later demanded that the same son be sacrificed to Him. Nowhere in the Quran is the “promised land” given to anyone else other than the Jews, so the land of Jerusalem rightfully belongs to the Jews and they alone.

Notes

[1] John Sailhamer, NIV Compact Bible Commentary, Zondervan, 271-272.

[2] The Lion Handbook to the Bible, 1983, eds. David and Pat Alexander, London, 303.

[3] Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, 1950, IV, 729.

[4] Andre Chouraqi, Between East and West: A History of North Africa, PA, 1968, 51.

[5] MEMRI, Feb. 3, 2009

Was Muhammad the Promised Prophet?

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A Christian friend recently asked me if it’s true that Muhammad was predicted in Deuteronomy 18:18 as Muslims claim.

Several Christian apologists like John Gilchrist, Sam Shamoun etc. have done a good job in refuting the “Muhammad in the Bible” fantasies. This is one claim that illustrates the shallow and inconsistent arguments Muslims resort to in a bid to “prove” that Muhammad is a prophet of God.

On the one hand, they tell us that the Bible is “corrupt” and false, but when they are cornered with evidence against Muhammad, they start to appeal to the authority and credibility of the Bible to validate their guru. It’s a cognitive dissonance that is quite amusing and at the same time, sad.

In Deuteronomy 18:18, God says to Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.”

Because this promised Prophet would be like Moses, some Muslims have tried to link Muhammad with Moses by pointing at some “similarities” – none of which confers any prophetic identity. The Bible indicates 3 unique features that distinguish Moses as Israel’s first prophet:

1. He was the mediator of a covenant.

When God manifested Himself to the children of Israel, He promised to send them a prophet like Moses “as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly” (Dt. 18:16).

Moses mediated the old covenant between God and the Israelites. Through him, God gave the Israelites His law and requirements. As a token of this covenant, Moses sprinkled blood of calves on the people (Heb. 9:20). But Muhammad was no mediator of any covenant.

2. Moses knew God face-to-face.

He had such a unique relationship with God that for 40 years, God manifested and frequently spoke directly to him in a way that He didn’t do with others (Exo. 33:11).

The Quran confirms this in Sura 4:164 “And to Moses Allah spoke directly.” Allah didn’t speak to Muhammad face-to-face as he did to Musa. Instead he (allegedly) received his messages through Jubril.

3. Moses performed great signs and wonders.

God used him to bring plagues on Egypt, divide the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass, bring manna from heaven and water from a rock.

On the other hand, Muhammad had no miracle or sign. Even when his critics demanded for some supernatural signs, he admitted he couldn’t work any miracle. Certainly, Muhammad wasn’t the promised prophet.

Like a drowning man – whether by hook or by crook – Muslims latch on to the phrase “from among your brothers” in Deut. 18:18 arguing that Arabs are the brothers of Israelites, therefore, the promised prophet must be an Arab and he was Muhammad. This claim doesn’t hold any water.

Looking at the whole of Deuteronomy we see that the term “among their brothers” was exclusively used for only the tribes of Israel.

In Dt. 18:2, it was used for the Levites and other tribes in Israel. In each instance the term “their brothers” occurs in the Old Testament, it always refers to the tribes of Israelites, not to non-Israelites:

“… The LORD your God has given you this land to take possession of it. But all your able-bodied men, armed for battle, must cross ahead of your BROTHER Israelites” (Dt. 3:18)

If there is a poor man AMONG YOUR BROTHERS in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted… (Dt. 15:7)

Be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from AMONG YOUR BROTHERS. Do not place a foreigner over you, one WHO IS NOT A BROTHER Israelite” (Dt. 17:15)

Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is A BROTHER ISRAELITE or an alien living in one of your towns” (Dt. 24:14)

Some may argue that Isaac and Ishmael were half-brothers. But no valid connection exists between Ishmael and Muhammad or even the southern Arabs.

In fact, no prophet was to be expected from the lineage of Ishmael because God’s covenant was with Isaac. Even the Quran agrees that prophethood was to come from the Israelites:

“And We gave to Him Isaac and Jacob and placed in his descendants prophethood and scripture…” (Sura 29:27).

Therefore, the promised Prophet was to come out of Israel and He is Jesus Christ. He is the “Prophet” (Mt. 13:57) and “the Son of the God” (Jn. 10:36). Like Moses:

1. He is the Mediator of a covenant.

Through Jesus, God instituted a new covenant replacing that of Moses (Jer. 31:31-34). Under this new covenant, His laws would be written on His people’s hearts. This covenant was effected through blood (1 Cor. 11:25).

2. Jesus knew God face-to-face. He declared this in John 7:29 and 6:46.

3. Jesus performed great miracles. Like Moses, He also exercised power over the sea (Mk. 4:39).

Muhammad deceived his followers to believe that he was mentioned as God’s prophet in the Bible. This is why today Muslims are forced to jump through different hoops to “find” him within its pages. Let’s examine these two claims in the Quran:

Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet whom they (Israelites) will find mentioned in their own (Scriptures) – in the Law and the Gospel – for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil … He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them…” (Q 7:157)

This statement was attributed to Moses. But this leads to three major problems:

One, there’s no way the Israelites could have known of any prophecy of an apostle of Allah to come within the pages of the Gospel because the Gospel had not yet been revealed in their time.

The Gospel was penned by Jesus’ apostles – and the Judaists didn’t believe the gospel – so how could Allah be telling them to consult a book that didn’t exist until 1,500 years later?

Two, if Muhammad was unlettered or illiterate (as Muslims claim) how could he have certainly known that his coming was predicted in the Law and Gospel?

Three, Moses says the coming prophet would uphold justice, fairness and free the Jews from their yokes, but Muhammad was a great enemy to the Jews. He hated them; cursed them; enslaved them, assaulted them and unjustly murdered hundreds of them in one single day. Ibn Umar reported Muhammad as saying:

“You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say ‘Muslim, there is a Jew (hiding himself behind me), kill him’.” (Muslim 7:41:6981)

Are we to believe that God who called Israel “the apple of [His] eye” (Zech. 2:8) and loved them “with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3) would then send them an apostle “like Moses” to rape, oppress, banish and slaughter them? Far from it!

In the second claim, the Jesus of the Quran is quoted saying:

O children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah unto you, confirming the Taurat (Torah) which came before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad. they said: this is obvious sorcery!” (Q 61:6).

This statement lacks an eye witness account and like many fictional speeches Muhammad imputed onto Bible characters, it is invalid.

Here was a man who lived for 40 years as a good ol’pagan, going on caravan journeys, sitting around night fires with Jewish, Christian and Sabean traders listening to their stories and … boom, he suddenly wakes up one morning to realize that his name is “Ahmad” and he was announced as Jesus’ successor in the Gospels! Megalomania much?

Maybe, Muhammad forgot he had earlier recited that prophethood was reserved only for the Israelites:

“And We [Allah] did certainly give the Children of Israel the Scripture and judgement and prophethood, and We provided them with good things…” (Sura 45:16)

The textual validity of Sura 61:6 is also questionable. The manuscript of Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab (one of the 4 earliest memorisers of the Quran), though destroyed by Uthman, survives in quotations and it reads differently from the common version:

“O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of God to you And I announce to you a prophet (nabiy) whose community (umma) will be the last community and by which God will put a seal on prophets (nabiyun) and messengers (rusul), they said: this is obvious sorcery!”

The part appearing in bold says nothing about an “Ahmad” promised by Jesus. It was obviously a later interpolation. Both variants may have been smuggled into the text to support an agenda.

The cheap labours of Muslim apologists to legitimize Muhammad from the Bible notwithstanding, in the light of scriptural evidence, they simply have no ground to stand on.

The Ishmael Connection?

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Some of us will be amazed to know that the popular idea that Ishmael was a Muslim and the ancestor of Muhammad is based on speculation. The only “proof” Muslims present is the Biblical account of how Abraham sent Hagar away with her son Ishmael.

During this journey, there was no more water, and while Hagar wept, an angel of God beckoned to her, showing her a well from which she gave Ishmael a drink. God also promised her that his race would be a great nation (Gen. 21:5, 8-19).

Most Christians have assumed a link between Ishmael and Islam and therefore needlessly blame him and Abraham for the menace of Islam in the Middle East today. This is why we all need to be better informed.

Like several other Bible stories, the Quran and Hadiths altered the scenery of the Hagar and Ishmael story from Israel to Mecca.

While the Bible says Hagar “wandered in the desert of Beersheba,” the hadith claims Abraham left Hagar and Ishmael near the Kaaba in Mecca under a tree.

Abraham is even said to pray to Allah at the Kaaba before returning home! It claims that Hagar ran up and down the hills of Mecca – Safa and Marwa – seven times, seeking water for Ishmael before an angel showed her the well of Zamzam where she got some water.

Islamic records however admit that the Kaaba, the two hills and the Zamzam well were pagan “holy” sites where pre-Islamic Arab pagans worshipped their deities including Allah. Abraham was never a stone-worshipper.

1. Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael were never in Mecca. Ishmael lived “in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt” (Gen. 21:21).

Hagar herself was an Egyptian, not an Arabian (“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar” – Genesis 16:1).

Is Paran located in Mecca? No. The Israelites travelled from the desert of Sinai to rest “in the desert of Paran” (Num. 10:13) “and encamped in the desert of Paran” (Num. 12:16). In fact, “Moses sent them out from the desert of Paran” (13:3).

If Paran is in Mecca, that means the Israelites travelled from Sinai to Mecca to and fro for 40 years! Of course, that would be absurd.

2. Abraham lived in Hebron and died there (Gen. 25:9). If he had lived in Mecca as Muslims fondly imagine, that means Ishmael had to travel about 1,200 km from his home in Paran to Mecca to bury his father with Isaac.

Bear in mind also that Ishmael’s descendants “settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go towards Asshur…” (Gen. 25:18). They lived near Egypt, thousands of miles away from Mecca.

3. Perhaps seeing the geographical impossibility of Abraham living in Mecca, a Muslim biographer invented the idea of Ishmael using a “flying camel” to travel whenever he wanted to visit Abraham (Tarikh al-Tabari 1:165).

Islam has been fabricating stories right from its inception, so this is not new.

4. There is a wide gap of 2,670 years between Ishmael and Muhammad. If we take the average lifespan of an Arab – based on Islamic traditions – as 70, it would take about 133 generations to produce a genealogical link between Ishmael and Muhammad.

Muslim biographer, Ibn Ishaq, attempted to fabricate a genealogy for Muhammad, but he could only come up with 40 generations. What about the 93 “missing links?”

Even the names he made up were all 8th century Islamic names not related to any ancient documentation. Yet, his work is the major “proof” Muslims present to forge a link between Muhammad and Ishmael or Abraham.

Islamic scholar, Alfred Guillaume, agrees that “there is no historical evidence for the assertion that Abraham or Ishmael was ever in Mecca and if there have been such a tradition, it would have to be explained how all the memory of the old Semitic name Ishmael (which was not true Arabian form in Arabian inscription…) came to be lost” (Islam, 1956, pp. 61-62).

5. Some of Ishmael’s descendants may have migrated to Arab nations, but some historians argue that Mecca probably didn’t exist until the Yemenite immigrants colonized it in 4th century AD.

According to a reference work:

“There is a prevalent notion that the Arabs, both of the south and north, are descended from Ishmael; and the passage in Gen. xvi.12, “he (Ishmael) shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren,” is often cited as if it were a prediction of that national independence which, upon the whole, the Arabs have maintained more than any other people. But this supposition is founded on a misconception of the original Hebrew, which runs literally, “he shall before the faces of all his brethren,” i.e., (according to the idiom above explained, in which “before the face” denotes the east), the habitation of his posterity shall be “to the east” of the settlements of Abraham’s’ other descendants

“The idea of the southern Arabs being of the posterity of Ishmael is entirely without foundation, and seems to have originated in the tradition invented by Arab vanity that they, as well as the Jews, are of the seed of Abraham – a vanity which, besides disfiguring and falsifying the whole history of the patriarch and his son has transferred the scene of it from Palestine to Mecca … The vast tracts of country known to us under the name of Arabia gradually became peopled by a variety of tribes of different lineage” (McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature Vol. 1:339).

The Akkadians, Assyrians or Hittites who weren’t Abraham’s descendants, could have been the progenitors of the Arabs. Even the Encyclopedia of Islam traces the Arabs to non-Abrahamic origins (1:543-547).

The Dictionary of Islam also questions the whole idea that the Arabs are Ishmael’s descendants (page 18).

The Abrahamic or Ishmaelite link with Islam is not tenable. This is no surprise, however, for the Quran and Hadiths are fraudulent and dubious as far as history of Bible characters are concerned.