07 June 2017

Revelations From Above & Revelations From Below: Part 3

Matthew 7: 15-20

...continued from Part 2 (link to Part 1).

The previous parts of this article have shown how to qualify a prophetic revelation (or someone claiming to speak on God's behalf).

The qualifier is whether or not the prediction / message comes to pass.

Regarding future events, only God knows the future.

No one else in His creation, whether angels of the light or the fallen, nor human beings, know what tomorrow will bring unless God allows them insight.
You know when I sit and when I rise; 
   You perceive my thoughts from afar. 
You discern my going out and my lying down; 
   You are familiar with all my ways. 
Before a word is on my tongue 
   You, Lord, know it completely... 
Your eyes saw my unformed body; 
   all the days ordained for me were written in Your book 
before one of them came to be. 
- Psalm 139 2-4, 16
Miracles do not qualify a prophet if their message disobeys or contradicts the Word of God.

This is why the warning in Deuteronomy 18 speaks about not pursuing spiritual methods beyond what God has established.

That warning is to be heeded, since disobedience is outright rebellion.

Obedience to God's Word is paramount to realizing God's will, God's order and God's prophetic message.

The continuity of God's message, from the beginning until Today, has already been revealed and made known in Christ.

In which specific manner does God reveal the future?

By His Spirit.
But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. 
- John 16: 13
The Spirit of Truth will guide you into all the truth...will speak only what He hears...will tell you what is yet to come.

Some religious people claim that a prophet appeared after Christ; a man born in Arabia about 500 years after Christ rose to heaven.

This man, named Muhammad, claimed to be the final prophet according to the line of prophets of God...the God of Israel.

Muhammad claimed to have perfected religion for all mankind and claimed no other prophet(s) would appear after him.

Part 2 of this article shows these claims to be false.

Muhammad's various claims are found in the Quran; a collection of Arabic poetry replete with Jewish and Christian biblical reflections, and ancient and contemporary legends, written through an Arabian-centric ideology.

What is missing from the Quran is acknowledgment of the fulfillment of the Old Covenant, among many other issues related to salvation.

There is nothing regarding the New Covenant established by the blood of Christ, which is the cornerstone of the New Age and the foundation of salvation.

What is mentioned by Muhammad is a so-called return to a primordial covenant that God had established with Adam and his progeny (see this article about Islam's Covenant Perspective).

Muhammad claimed to have been a prophet of the God of Israel, yet we have already seen the criteria the God of Israel established regarding those who would make such claims.

What does the historical and spiritual record show?

The followers of Muhammad have mentioned many prophetic messages of his having come to pass.

But when looking closely at these, we can see great efforts to bridge vague poetic cadence to meet and marry modern human developments.

Notice how the Word of God, in contrast, is not vague but very detailed.

Details in the Bible express many specific messages, whether talking about future events, instructions for righteous living, the requirements of the law, plans to build certain structures, etc..

With details, one can distinguish between what is vague and what is explicit and specific, not needing interpretation when the message is intended to be understood literally.

Let us take a look at some of the more popular prophetic claims of Muhammad as found in the Quran (Islam's religious book).

One prediction from the Quran was that the Persian army would be removed from Jerusalem by the Roman army within a certain period of time.

The Quran's al-Room (chapter 30) verses 2-4 make this prediction.

Reading to verse 4, notice the varied interpretations of the timeframe are “a few years”, “ten years”, “nine years” and “three to nine years”, among others.

The historical record shows the Persians occupied Jerusalem from 614 to 629 (second to last paragraph of that section; notice also the citation).

That is 15 years, not the 3-10 year guess mentioned in the Quran.

Aside from the hopeful tone in the Quran's narrative regarding a victory in favor of the Romans (a Christian empire at the time), it is questionable how this prediction incorporates the Islamic perspective.

I mention questioning the Islamic perspective because only six years after Muhammad died in 632, Jerusalem was sacked by Muslims in 638.

Looking at the dates regarding the prediction, it possible Muhammad was aware the Romans were preparing to recapture the city.

[ancient battles were typically fought initially near borders and outer garrison posts before - if making it past the exterior - arriving at the interior and attempting entry into a walled-in city]

When the fact of historical dates are compared to the vague mention of a timeframe regarding the reconquest, the prediction didn't work out.

A single mistaken prediction should be sufficient, but let us grant the benefit of doubt and overlook this one.

A second popular prediction is that Muhammad and company would return to Mecca and enter the Kaaba safely and without worry (the Kaaba is the cube-shaped building worshippers walk around seven times).

When reading al-Fath (chapter 48) verse 27, notice the key words “God willing”, which is a familiar phrase when someone plans to do something and is hopeful God will allow it to happen, but they do not know for certain.

I'm sure it can be interpreted in another fashion, but why implore God to will something if it has already been granted?...but let's ignore this question for the moment.

The conquest of Mecca was factually not without incident as commonly believed among Muslims of today, nor was it peaceful or a welcomed homecoming for Muhammad.

According to Islamic historical records, there was resistance at one entrance to the city (read this link and the previous page please), with casualties realized on both sides.

Muhammad marched onto the city with over 10,000 fighting men against resistance of over 300 fighting men in Mecca.

He returned to Mecca as a warrior with an occupying army prepared to fight, arguably not as a religious pilgrim seeking to peacefully worship at the Kaaba as the prediction suggests.

Reading the Islamic historical accounts, Muhammad's conquest of Mecca is actually viewed as a military conquest, religiously interpreted as a sign that God supported Muhammad's efforts.

[read a narration of the event according to Islamic historical accounts]

Looking for the safe entrance and a no-worry entry into the Kaaba, let us continue.

Islamic historical reports show Muhammad commanded his followers not to kill anyone taken captive.

Prior to entering the city, Muhammad had declared safety to people who stayed in their homes or inside the Kaaba.

However, up to ten people were sought and killed at Muhammad's command after the city capitulated, with orders that even if these certain people were holding onto the curtains covering the Kaaba, they were to be slain. (read last paragraph at this page)

Those killed included some women who sang a song ridiculing him, apostates (left the religion) and others who had openly opposed him.

So there was an order to not kill anyone, and then a manhunt was issued to kill certain persons after the city was secured.

One of the men on the hit-list was a former Muslim who would write down Muhammad's inspirations (the Quran). (read some of that account here)

Muhammad claims his dream told him of “security”, but one could ask why the need to kill certain people, especially after absolute power was realized in the city and over all the people.

Perhaps a message had to be sent to would-be rebels who dared defy his authority.

What was Muhammad's sense of security when needing to kill women who sang an annoying song about him and eliminate some people who walked away from the religion?

The idea of entering the Kaaba with peace and security is most likely justified when these killings were done before Muhammad enter the cubed building.

Reading histories of pre-Islamic and post-Islamic societies, killing people for religiously 'justifiable' reasons is a commonplace occurrence deeply imbedded into the psyche of the cultural ideology.

Some Muslims claim and quote the Quran where it says there is no compulsion in their religion, yet people who had left that religion have historically met violence from relatives and friends, death being the final result in most cases.

[earliest Hadith (reports) after the Quran about dealing with apostates - scroll down to Volume 9, Book 84, #57]

Death is still the verdict for leaving the religion Today in countries where Islam is the overarching cultural identity.

Before moving on, let's look again at that 'predicting' verse.

Notice the verse is actually written in past tense.

The way it is found in the Quran, it is actually not a prediction itself, but a recalling of a story that speaks of a prediction...and the outcome having happened.

Does this qualify as an actual prophetic revelation?

In the manner it is written, it could arguably be compared to Agabus (part 2 of the article), but does it compare to what God told Abraham and the many other people throughout the Bible?

In both the Old and New Covenants, the individual books within that collection of books were written at different times.

Predictions are read in one book and either realized in that same book, or another book some time later, whether several years, decades or centuries later.

The Quran is a single recorded compilation over a period of 23 years.

That book is not in chronological order like most of the Bible is, but instead the largest chapters come before the shorter chapters for an unspecified reason.

Let us look at another claim of prophethood regarding Muhammad.

Muhammad claimed to be descended from Ishmael, the son of Hagar, whom we read about in a previous part of this article.

Ishmael was included in the covenant of circumcision commanded through Abraham.

When looking closer at Genesis 17, we see again detail and specificity.

Ishmael and Isaac were half-brothers (Abraham being the father through two different mothers).

The covenant of circumcision covered the two sons (and those in Abraham's household, including purchased servants), with the subsequent promises of a more covenant was made through Isaac, not with Ishmael, as the testimony clearly states.

Unfortunately, there is no record of a specific covenant made with Ishmael, aside from Ishmael receiving the sign of the covenant of circumcision already mentioned.

There is no extra-biblical evidence regarding Ishmael, no oral or written testimony aside from what appears in Arabia with Muhammad in the 6th century.

It is quite an expanse of time, void of testimony since the patriarchal era, without anything substantial clarifying these matters that may legitimize Muhammad's claims.

Another miraculous claim from Islamic tradition is that the Quran itself is a miracle, and is Muhammad's greatest miracle.

Reading it, one can acknowledge the manner it poetically rhymes while swaying back and forth between a variety of subjects and thoughts, marching to a cadence all its own.

The Quran is believed to have been expressed by an inspiration from an angel, preserved free from error by Muhammad's perfect memorization and perfect recitation to his listening followers, who also perfectly memorized it and then perfectly wrote it down.

However, this manuscript found in Sana'a, Yemen, reveals a very different reality.

The Sana'a manuscript shows an earlier version of the Quran with dialectic markings very different from the official Uthman copy (the Quran of today) compiled 20 years after Muhammad's death.

Islamic legend claims Muhammad was an illiterate (unable to read or write), so the claim is strong that he personally didn't write the Quran since he was uneducated.

Hearing the Quran's recitation in Arabic reveals its poetry, styling, and why it could be considered an extraordinary work of the supernatural.

To be a poet in 6th century Arabia was a noble affair, expressing class, status and eloquence.

It can be quite an emotional experience hearing the Quran being sung out loud in Arabic.

The idea that the message is miraculous can be somewhat understandable when considering the idea that God is speaking through or to a human being.

Surely it is a phenomenal thing for the Creator of all things, both known and unknown, to speak to and through someone.

But if such an occurrence or a supernatural experience was to [have] happen[ed], in the case of a supernatural voice or entity speaking to a human being, would such a phenomenon be a qualifier signifying that person as a prophet?

Would such an occasion simply make 'true' a person's supposed prophetic revelation, or claims to such, according to God's Word?

We already read the manner God established such qualifications, and what manners one is not to pursue.

We thus see the answer, according to God's Word and His commands, is an eternal no.

Christ warned of miracles coming from impostors, warning that there would be false prophets after He rose into heaven.

This isn't about denying good works or miracles, but to be aware if the messages are complementing the Gospel's teaching (which established the current Covenant), or contradicting it.

If the miracle worker or claimant of prophethood was not obedient to what had been previously revealed, they are a false prophet.

The key, as already repeated, is obedience to God's Word and whether or not the prophetic revelation came to pass, not a focus on miracles or spiritual phenomena.

Regarding whether or not the Quran is a miracle or not, we have already seen its content as being false in their claims of prediction.

Instead of attempting to argue whether or not the Quran itself is a miracle, which is an odd claim since no such boast is made about the many revelations through the ages found in the Bible, pursuing such a claim is then a moot point.

We should instead continue to address the criteria of deciphering the truth from a lie, for this is sensible.

Let us then look at Muhammad's first supernatural experiences in order to get an idea of what may have happened to him.

In an-Najm (chapter 53) verses 1-18, we read the initial encounter Muhammad claims to have had with someone “superior in power”, and then the mention of another encounter, where Muhammad sees a “sign”.

The phrase “one superior in power” is translated in a variety of ways, some Islamic legend says it was God, elsewhere it says it was an angel, later named the angel Gabriel.

If we take the Arabic as without issue, the phrase “one superior in power” is how it is messaged in Arabic.

Notice that no specific detail is mentioned regarding what the sign was.

Also, no communication is quoted between Muhammad and whatever/whomever he saw in that first encounter.

It is very well possible that Muhammad did have the experience as he claimed, so let us assist the claim in taking the testimony as valid and coming from a man who had no motive to produce a false story.

Notice the entity does not introduce themselves; they do not mention their name, nor does Muhammad ask for their name.

Another traditional early encounter between the unnamed entity and Muhammad is when the entity demands that Muhammad read, and then mentions how man was created from a blood clot.

Remember, Muhammad doesn't know how to read...so it is interesting the entity demands this of Muhammad.

The blood clot teaching is contrary to the Genesis account of man's creation, and also different from other narratives in the Quran that say man was made from clay.

That encounter then states that God has taught mankind by the pen (written Scriptures, I assume), which sounds acceptable since this is the manner the earliest testimonies were kept, memorized and thus learned throughout the ages.

Muhammad returns from the cave where the encounter took place, in fear, and after telling his wife and her comforting him, she takes him to see her uncle, a man who calls himself a Christian.

Something needs to be clarified; there were many varying Christian groups in the Arabian peninsula at the time of Muhammad, one notable group being the Collyridians who worshipped Mary as a goddess.

A variety of groups in the Arabian desert were considered heretical by the Orthodox, Coptic and Catholic groups save for a few.

Each group had their similarities (that Yeshua was called Messiah and rose from the dead with salvation being found in Him), yet their interpretations of Christology developed differently according to their cultural, ethnic and language differences, with some ideas becoming quite divisive or difficult to resolve between themselves.

It is this backdrop of confusion that Muhammad most likely encountered from the several contemporary Christians.

Looking at the interaction between Muhammad, his wife and her uncle, the uncle is the one who convinces Muhammad that the encounter was a calling from God and the entity must have been the angel Gabriel.

Read the encyclopedic entry of that encounter.

We don't read in the Quran the entity claiming itself to be the angel Gabriel.

This is very remarkable and needs to be noted.

In later chapters and verses in the Quran we read Gabriel's name mentioned, but this is after the initial meeting, yet still no clear declaration of who the entity is.

From the manner Muhammad claims to have been inspired, we see this method to be quite distinct and different from all of the prophetic accounts found in the Old and New Testament.

Interestingly, when Muhammad begins to publicly recite the poetry of the Quran, his listeners consider his words to be inspired not from God, but from demons.

From what we've read in the Old and New Testaments, it makes obvious sense why a religious or faithful Jew, or Christian, would have such a response...if they knew and understood their writings, that is.

There were Jews, different Christian groups, pagans and other religious groups living in Mecca.

In the previous parts of this article, we learned that God's Spirit is who speaks through an individual, and this is not the individual's effort; the individual is filled with the Spirit and thus speaks what the Spirit speaks.

The Spirit speaks through them.

We see no such account in the Quran, and no such explanation regarding Muhammad's inspirations as being similar to this, yet this is the order found and repeated throughout the Bible.

Instead we see a pattern of an entity / angel speaking to Muhammad, then Muhammad repeating the teaching or inspiration to his listeners.

Two of the strongest contradictions found in the Quran, regarding the Messiah, need to be mentioned.

One is a mistranslation, the other is a misunderstanding and hostile polemic (insulting argument).

The mistranslation is the death of Christ on the cross, the misunderstanding is Christ being called the Son of God, and how both of these messages are expressed in the Quran.

The interpretation of one verse in the Quran regarding Jesus' death on the cross seems to contradict three other Quranic verses that mention Christ having died and having predicted His own death.

Denying Christ to be the Son of God is, I think, a grave misinterpretation of what that title and declaration from God means.

Some Islamic traditions have translated and perceived Son of God as God having procreated with a female human being (like a regular man and woman procreate), which is quite a blasphemous thought.

This is not what the Gospel has proclaimed nor what learned Christians have preached.

The challenge is understanding, theologically, the Mystery of God in Christ (and in the believer).

In the Quran's defense, it does clarify that it was the Holy Spirit which enacted the conception of the virgin Mary...yet how a physical interpretation has been promoted throughout an entire religious culture is quite sad and reveals a gap of ignorance between laity and clergy.

The manner a spiritual teaching falls on deaf ears and produces a ridiculous misunderstanding is not surprising considering all things mentioned in this article series, and how the truth isn't easily perceived according to human arguments, but God's allowance of faith.

The New Testament clarifies why Yeshua is called the Son of God, while the Quran continues a polemic discourse against the title, always arguing towards what seems to be a pagan's interpretation of God having children.

Paganism was prevalent in the Arabian peninsula, and the tribe Muhammad came from was the Quraysh who were polytheists (pagans).

Regarding spiritual meanings, being called children of God has always been a spiritual definition from Jewish and Christian theology that was never interpreted in a physical manner.

Scholars consider the attitude against the phrase Son of God stemming from an attitude against pagans in 6th century Arabia who claimed God had several daughters in the form of certain angels, again attributing God procreating with either celestial beings or physical humans.

The idea was either a gross misunderstanding on Muhammad's part, or perhaps the entity conveying the message was not clear enough in conveying the message, or perhaps it was something else.

Let us look at what clarifies these matters.

It seems the rope that tied the earliest testimony from Adam, to Christ, to Today's believer, was severed (the rope is an Islamic-centered covenant idea).

The earliest warnings against false teachings accompanied by supernatural experiences were mentioned to believers in the 1st century as read in the following verses, but also foretold about what seems to have happened in the 6th century now looking at Muhammad's message (and the unnamed and unidentified entity)...and such warnings still speak Today:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! 
- Galatians 1: 6-9

As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. 
- 2 Corinthians 11: 10-15
No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 
As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what He promised us—eternal life. 
I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in Him. 
- 1 John 2: 23-27
I'd like to mention something quite striking and overwhelmingly evident from the Old Testament, and what came of Muhammad and his offspring.

The Quran continues with the Old Covenant's manners and method of eye-for-eye responses to violence/opposition, and a salvation according to works (which is not salvation when considering what Christ accomplished).

In Semitic tribes, including Arabic and Jewish, male heirs establish a father's name, house, heritage, priesthood (if any) and kinship (if any).

The manner God establishes a man's name and house is by his male heirs so they can carry on the name and legacy.

A man's name and house is not established through daughters, for women take upon the identity and name of their husbands.

A man's house is not only the abode he resides in, but his family, name and progeny.

Looking at Muhammad's family tree, notice that Muhammad's direct male lineage was cut off; there was no male offspring to carry on his name nor continue his house.

All of Muhammad's male children died very young, never marrying nor furthering their seed.

Muhammad claimed to be a descendent of Ishmael and Islamic theology has made claims to the covenant established through Isaac.

Since Muhammad claimed to follow the lineage of prophetic revelation after Christ, while also claiming to be following in the footsteps of all the prophets before Christ, then by the Word of God as revealed in those Covenants shall such claims be measured and judged.
And he said to me, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. The Lord Almighty declares, ‘I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of anyone who swears falsely by My Name. It will remain in that house and destroy it completely, both its timbers and its stones.’ ” 
- Zechariah 5: 3-4
In fulfillment of a warning against pretenders acting under the law, Muhammad's house was destroyed completely.

Link to Part 2, link to Part 1.

No comments: