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Answering Tough Questions
Summary: I'm in discussions with a Muslim man who is using the Bible to justify certain of his beliefs.
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Q: I'm in discussions with a Muslim man who is using the Bible to justify certain of his beliefs. I'll mention a few. Deuteronomy 18:18-19. He says this verse is the Bible testifying of Mohammad as the descriptions fit no one else. What I would like to know is WHO exactly was that prophecy referring to? Also, Muslims believe it wasn't Jesus on the cross, but someone who took his place. They suggest two possibilities: Simon of Cyrene or Judas, who they say Jesus made to look like him. What I would like to know here is when did Simon of Cyrene hand the cross back to Jesus? They say that they are the people referred to in Deuteronomy, chapter 33. They say that of the three manifestations, the third (Mount of Paran) refers to the prophethood of Mohammad because the Mount of Paran was situated in the country of Hijaz, the country in which Mohammad was born and lived. They also use Matthew 21:42-44 as a basis to say that only the Quran claims to be ONLY the word of God and not of man. One last verse is Genesis 17:20-21. They say that this applies to Islam because Mohammad and the Arabs are descendants of Ishmael. Is this true?
Here are some answers to each of his points:
Q: Deuteronomy 18:18-19. He says this verse is the Bible testifying of Mohammad as the descriptions fit no one else. What I would like to know is WHO exactly was that prophecy referring to?
A: ". . . Moses had pointed Israel forward to Christ as that Prophet whom they were to hear; how all the prophets had testified of Him as God's great remedy for sin, the guiltless One who was to bear the sins of the guilty." Acts of the Apostles, 451. The Prophet of whom Moses spoke was the "seed" that was to crush the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15), who would come from the lineage of Abraham, through the son of the promise (meaning via Isaac, not Ishmael). So Deut. 18:18-19 does not refer to Mohammed, nor is Mohammed ever referred to in the Bible. The Bible's focus is the Savior—no one else. Salvation comes through no one but Him.
Q: Also, Muslims believe it wasn't Jesus on the cross, but someone who took his place. They suggest two possibilities: Simon of Cyrene or Judas, who they say Jesus made to look like him. What I would like to know here is when did Simon of Cyrene hand the cross back to Jesus?
A: The Bible does not record when the soldiers took the cross from Simon in order to nail Jesus to it. That detail is not necessary. It is evident that it was Jesus on that cross, for He had prophesied of His death on that very day, and it is He who addressed His Father, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." Only He could say, with prophetic meaning, "It is finished." The Son of man had accomplished what He had come to do—die a sinless sacrifice for a sinful race. No other being could have taken His place, and certainly not a sinful human!
Q: They say that they are the people referred to in Deuteronomy, 33. They say that of the three manifestations, the third (Mount of Paran) refers to the prophethood of Mohammad because the Mount of Paran was situated in the country of Hijaz, the country in which Mohammad was born and lived.
A: Deut. 33 records the blessings of Moses upon the individual tribes of Israel before his death. They are named specifically. And the chapter ends with an overall blessing on the nation of Israel. There is no basis for misinterpreting this clear passage.
Q: They also use Matthew 21:42-44 as a basis to say that only the Quran claims to be ONLY the word of God and not of man.
A: We do not see any basis for that claim, nor do we believe any part of the Scriptures is uninspired. Regarding Matthew 21:42-44, it is true that the Jews lost their position as God's chosen people to whom the "oracles of God" were committed. They had proven false to their trust, and for that reason, Jesus established His church (Mat 16:18), of which He said, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The church referred to is the Christian church. It is not without its faults, as the history of the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 will attest, but it is the only church through whom our Lord works today, because they are the only ones who present Christ as Savior of the world from their sins. The Christian's only safety is in the Word of God, not in the traditions of men.
Q: One last verse is Genesis 17:20-21. They say that this applies to Islam because Mohammad and the Arabs are descendants of Ishmael. Is this true?
A: Yes, this claim of your friend is true. God had promised Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, that He would "multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude." (Gen 16:10). Chapter sixteen goes on to describe Ishmael and his descendants: "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" (verse 12). The names of the twelve sons of Ishmael are given in Gen. 25:12-16, yet notwithstanding that, Isaac was the son of the covenant, the "son of the promise." Isaac's descendants, also twelve tribes, became numerous enough to possess the land of Canaan. "The later history of the two sons fully justifies God's selection of the one and the rejection of the other" (Bible Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 324).
Final comment: We are not yet aware of specific resources to help you deal with every argument or claim your Muslim acquaintance might raise, because misunderstandings are so multiplied. If possible, avail yourself of an Ellen G. White Comprehensive CD-Rom (only $20 or so—available at most Adventist book stores). It not only has the KJV Bible on it (by inserting chapter and verse or by key words), but also almost all of her writings, organized by key words, topics and Scripture reference so you can see what she wrote regarding specific passages or topics. You will find it most helpful. An SDA Bible commentary is also helpful. May God give you wisdom, patience, common sense, and love for all people.
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