Jesus (as)

The Prophet Promised Through Moses(as); Jesus(as) or Muhammad(sa)?

Chapter 18 of Deuteronomy, the 5th book of the Bible, mentions in very clear and concise words, a prophecy about the advent of a prophet after Moses(as). Moses(as) is reported to have revealed this prophecy to the assembly of Israel after his return from the Mount Horeb. He told them: ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; A c c o rding to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of assembly, saying, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.” And the Lord said unto me, “They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a P rophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that 1 command him. And it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that pro p h e t shall die.”’ (Deut. 18:15-21) The prophecy quoted above happens to be the most important and significant prophecy of the Bible. This is one prophecy which all the priests and prophets of Israel have been preaching and propagating among their people, right from the days of Moses (as) down to the days of J e s u s( a s ) and his disciples,. ‘F o r Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 54 The Review of Religions – February 2004 The Prophet Promised Through Moses(as); Jesus(as) or Muhammad(sa)? by Dr. A.R. Bhutta, published in The Truth, Nigeria, August 1986 An examination of the prophecy of prophet Moses(as) regarding the advent of a great future prophet. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.’ (Acts 3:22-24). In fact one main theme of the whole Bible in general and of the New Testament in particular, has been to emphasise the importance of this prophecy and to prepare the minds of the people for its forthcoming fulfilment. Little wonder then, that the whole Biblical era resounds with the praises sung for the prophet promised in that prophecy and all the people of Israel have been eagerly looking forward to his blessed advent. The long wait and watch for that prophet came to an end when that prophecy re- echoed in the Holy Qur’an with a happy note that it has been fulfilled in the person of Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam( s a ). This claim of the Holy Qur ’ a n , however, was deeply resented and rejected by most people of the Book, because they found it quite inconsistent with their own views and wishes. If the Jews failed to accept that long awaited prophet, it could be because they were still lost in the heavens looking for their Elijah to come, or because they were still confused and confounded by the appearance, and disappearance, of a Messiah who had eluded their death sentence and had vanished into thin air leaving an empty tomb. But for the Christians to reject that prophet was most unfortunate indeed. Since they could find no excuse for their refusal to accept that prophet they quickly retraced their steps back to the days of J e s u s( a s ), and came out with the explanation that this prophecy had already been fulfilled by the appearance of Jesus(as) Christ and that they never expected any other prophet after him. This theory of the Christians now accepted and preached by them today is merely an afterthought and has no basis at all. Little do they realise, that in their desperate bid to refute the Qur’anic version, they are actually renouncing the testimony of their own holy Book. In the light of their holy Book we examine that prophecy to ascertain who out of Jesus ( a s ) a n d M u h a m m a d( s a ) really fulfilled that prophecy of Moses(as). Before we take up the contents of the prophecy, we shall study its context first, because it can be grossly misleading to study any statement out of context, particularly when that statement is controversial and open to various interpretations. 55 The Prophet Promised Through Moses (as); Jesus(as) or Muhammad(sa) The Review of Religions – February 2004 Context Of The Prophecy Let us start with the background of the prophecy. 1. From the Bible we learn that before Moses(as) went up the Mount Horeb to receive the commandments, he ordered all the people of Israel to assemble near the mountain so that they could also see the glory of God and hear His voice. As these people stood at the foot of the mountain, thick clouds and darkness came over them and then they saw a big fire on the mountain and heard the voice of God coming out of that fire. They were scared to death at this sight and even feared that they might be burnt to death. All the heads of their tribes, therefore, went to Moses(as) and told him that they did not want to see the glory of God or hear His voice any more, lest they die. They told Moses(as) that he should go up the mountain and hear for them what God had to say. We are further told in the story that God was displeased at this impertinence of Israel and told Moses(as) that He had heard what his people had said. Then God went on to reveal that prophecy to Moses(as) in which the people of Israel were informed that according to their own desire, the next prophet like Moses(as) who shall receive His words, will be raised not from them but from their brethren. (Deut. 4:10-14; 5:23-28; 9:8,9; 18:15-18) Now with this background in mind, it is simply impossible to believe that the prophet mentioned in that prophecy could be raised from the nation of Israel, because it was the refusal of the children of Israel to hear the word of God again that had prompted God to reveal that prophecy to Moses(as). It is, therefore, clear that the prophet promised through Moses(as) could never be a prophet from Israel and that it could only be from the brethren. Now Jesus(as) was a prophet raised from the Israel. He was born and bred as a Jew. He was baptised as a Jew and he was sent only to the Jews. He preached and practised the Law of Jews and in fact he was sent to fulfil that Law of Jews. He, therefore, could never be the prophet mentioned in that prophecy of Moses(as). (Mat. 2:2- 6; 5:17-20; Mark 1:9; Luke 3:21) Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa), on the other hand, was a prophet raised not from Israel but from the Gentiles. He in fact is the only prophet who appeared from the Gentiles and who claimed at the same time that he had been sent according 56 The Prophet Promised Through Moses(as); Jesus(as) or Muhammad(sa) The Review of Religions – February 2004 to the prophecies of the Bible. As an immediate inference, therefore, we will have to believe that the prophecy of Moses ( a s ) was fulfilled in Muhammad(sa), the prophet from the Gentiles and not in Jesus ( a s ), the prophet from the Jews. It may be mentioned here rather sadly, that the children of Israel were a very rebellious people, and they were afraid of hearing the word of God and had told Moses(as) to go to his God and hear it for them. They were afraid of fighting for their promised land and had told Moses(as) that he and his God should go and fight for them. Consequently they lost both the next Law of their God and the Land of their promise; one permanently, the other temporarily. (Deut. 18: 15-20; 1:26-40). 2. The second context of this prophecy is provided by the Gospel of John. We are told in this Gospel that when John the Baptist started his m i n i s t r y, a delegation of Jews went to him to enquire from him, who he was. They asked him if he was Elijah; and he replied in the negative. Then he was asked if he was the Christ; and again he said he was not. Finally they asked him if he was ‘the prophet’. Then the delegates asked him if he was neither Elijah, nor the Christ, nor the Prophet, then why was he baptising the people. (John 1:19- 2 5 ) . Now this conversation between the Jews and John the Baptist( a s ) s h o w s clearly that at that time the people of Israel were looking forward to the advent of three prophets according to the prophecies of the Old Te s t a m e n t . They were expecting Elijah, the Christ and ‘the prophet’. All the reference books and the commentaries of the Bible agree that the prophet referred to in that conversation was the prophet promised in that prophecy of M o s e s( a s ). All these three prophets were expected to appear as three distinct personalities with different missions to perform. It is also clear from this conversation that three and only three prophets were expected to come at that time. No more, no less. No prophet other than these three was supposed to come and baptise the people; and no prophet out of these three could fail to come and disappoint the people. Now we know that Elijah came in the person of John the Baptist( a s ), and Christ came in the person of Jesus( a s ), but what about that prophet? It is, therefore, clear from the above mentioned context that the prophet 57 The Prophet Promised Through Moses (as); Jesus(as) or Muhammad(sa) The Review of Religions – February 2004 promised in the prophecy of Moses( a s ) who was still being expected at that time, had to appear apart from the Christ sometimes after the Christ; and that Jesus ( a s ) who appeared as the Christ could not be the ‘prophet’ mentioned in the prophecy of Moses. Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of I s l a m( s a ), therefore, turns out to be the only prophet who could have possibly fulfilled that prophecy of M o s e s( a s ). A Baseless Argument It is sometimes argued that the Pharisees and the Scribes of Jews might have misunderstood the prophecies about the advent of these prophets and might have been incorrect in expecting these prophets as three different personalities. It may be noted in this connection that the Pharisees and scribes of Jews knew their holy Books very well and could not have been preaching about the prophets they were not very sure and clear about. Even Jesus( a s ) h a d accepted and approved the authority of these Scribes and Pharisees as the teachers and preachers of the Law of M o s e s( a s ). Jesus( a s ) in fact had advised his disciples to do and observe what they preached and had condemned only their hypocrisy and evil practices (Mat. 23:1-15). The Jews, therefore, could not be mistaken in looking forward to the advent of these prophets. Moreover we know, and Jesus ( a s ) again confirmed, that the Jews were right in expecting the advents of Elijah(as) and the Christ; therefore if they were right in expecting the first and the second prophet, why could they not be right in expecting the third one? (Mat. 16:14; 17:11-13). The Jews, therefore, might have failed to accept and respect these prophets when they actually appeared, but they could not be wrong in expecting their appearance in the light of their Scriptures. This is particularly true of the prophet promised through Moses(as) because there is Biblical evidence to show that all the prophets who came from Moses(as) down to the days of Jesus(as), had been preaching and proclaiming the advent of that prophet (Acts 3: 20- 24). How could the Jews be confused and mistaken about a prophecy of prophets for more than a thousand years? How many more prophets did they need to understand the real importance of that prophecy? It is, therefore ridiculous to think that all the prophets and priests of Israel were confused about the advents of the Christ and that prophet and that the real truth dawned only upon 58 The Prophet Promised Through Moses(as); Jesus (as) or Muhammad(sa) The Review of Religions – February 2004 Christians; and that too after the advent of Muhammad(sa). 3. For the third context of this prophecy, let us see what we can learn from Jesus (as) on this issue. If all the prophets from Moses ( a s ) down to Jesus(as) had been talking about this prophecy, as Bible says they did, then Jesus(as) could not have been silent on such a hot issue of the Biblical era. In fact, Jesus(as) a prophet immediately before the advent of that prophet, had a primary duty to clear the air, if any, on this issue and prepare the ground for its forthcoming fulfilment; and Jesus(as) actually did that duty very well. There are many statements of Jesus(as) recorded in the Gospels that directly or indirectly refer to this prophecy and its fulfilment, but I shall confine myself to only two of them. (i) First and foremost, I refer to the statement of Jesus ( a s ) about the ‘Counsellor’ or a ‘Comforter’ that he said would come after him. This prophetic statement is very long and elaborate and again 1 shall refer to only a few important features of it. (a) Jesus(as) is reported to have said that when he is gone from this world, God would send another ‘Comforter’ into the world (John 14: 16). The term ‘another Comforter’ used by Jesus(as) shows that he too, considered himself to be a Comforter. Since Jesus came as a prophet, the coming of ‘another Comforter’ after J e s u s( a s ) can only mean the coming of another prophet after Jesus(as). (Mark 6:4,15). (b) We are told by Jesus(as) that the Comforter would come and ‘teach the people all things’ and ‘guide them into all the truth, (John 14:26; 16:7-13). This part of the statement clearly means that the world had not yet been ‘guided into all the truth’ and ‘taught all the things’ by J e s u s( a s ) and all the other prophets who came before him; and that the ‘whole truth’ the ‘perfect guidance’ was to be revealed through the Comforter. Now, we know that Jesus(as) and all the other prophets who came before him had been teaching and preaching the Law of Moses(as). Jesus(as), in fact, had been sent to fulfil the Law of M o s e s( a s ) (Matthew 5:17). All these prophets of God had done their best to teach and guide the people through that Law of God which Moses(as) gave them. 59 The Prophet Promised Through Moses (as); Jesus(as) or Muhammad(sa) The Review of Religions – February 2004 If teaching and preaching of the Law of Moses(as) by all these prophets could not guide the people into all the truth and teach them all the things, then, does it not automatically follow that the coming Comforter would have to bring something better than the Law of Moses(as) if he were to guide the people into ‘all the truth’, and teach them ‘all the things’? In fact, nothing less than a complete and perfect Law of God was required if he were to be such a perfect teacher as portrayed by Jesus(as). After all, if the other prophets could not do a perfect job, it was not because they were inefficient but because the Books they were supposed to teach were deficient. They were not supposed to go beyond the limits laid down by the Law of God. So we see that the ‘Comforter’ promised by Jesus(as), was not only a prophet but also a prophet with a Law, and that too a Law far better than the Law of Moses. (c) Then we are told that the Comforter ‘will not speak on his own authority but whatever he will hear he will speak’ (John 16:13). This feature of the Comforter is very important and significant. It makes it clear to us that the ‘ Word of God’ given to that Comforter will not be in the form of written tablets or any other form but in the form of words of God, not on his own authority, but under the control and command of God. Now if we can remember, this exactly is the feature of ‘that prophet’ mentioned in that prophecy of Moses ( a s ) (Deut.18:18). (d) Finally, Jesus(as) is reported to have said: ‘Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you’. (John 16:7) This again is a very significant aspect of the advent of that Comforter. We are told that the Comforter would not come as long as Jesus(as) was there in the world. For the Comforter to come, Jesus(as) had to go. But why? Two or more prophets have been preaching at the same time in the 60 The Prophet Promised Through Moses (as); Jesus(as) or Muhammad(sa) The Review of Religions – February 2004 past. Jesus ( a s ) and John the Baptist(as) have been preaching at the same time and to the same nation. Why then was Jesus(as) so incompatible with the Comforter? The reason is not far to seek. Two or more prophets can appear at the same time and even work together if they are teaching and preaching the same Law. But if they have different Laws, obviously they could not be preaching together at the same time and to the same people. We have already seen above that the Comforter expected to come after Jesus(as), was a prophet who was to come with a new Law, quite different from and far superior to, the Law of Moses(as). J e s u s( a s ) on his own part, was sent to preach and propagate the Law of M o s e s( a s ) which was meant only for the nation of Israel. Naturally, therefore, the two could not be working together preaching different Laws. Jesus( a s ) h a d to go, winding up the spiritual rule of Israel in this world and clearing the way for that Comforter so that he could come with his perfect Law and teach us ‘all the things’ and ‘guide us into all the truth’. This evidently was to the advantage of the whole world as J e s u s( a s ) rightly said. In the same vein we can see that the Comforter could not be a prophet from the Israel because he had to come and abrogate the Law meant for Israel and establish a universal Law for the whole w o r l d . A collective look at the various features of the Comforter makes it abundantly clear that the Comforter promised by Jesus( a s ) could be no other person than the ‘prophet’ promised by M o s e s( a s ); and the only prophet who appeared after Jesus( a s ) and who can answer the description of the C o m f o r t e r, in all its details, is the Holy Prophet of Islam( s a ). (ii) For the second testimony of J e s u s( a s ) on this issue, I refer to his parable of ‘Vineyard and wicked tenants’. This parable is very clear and convincing in its moral and message which Jesus( a s ) wanted the Jews to get; nevertheless, concluding his, parable, J e s u s( a s ) is reported to have told them rather candidly: ‘T h e re f o re I say unto you, that The Kingdom of God shall be taken fro m you and given to a nation bringing f o rth fruits there o f’ .. (Matthew 21:43). This declaration by Jesus(as), again is very significant. We are told that the 61 The Prophet Promised Through Moses (as); Jesus(as) or Muhammad(sa) The Review of Religions – February 2004 Kingdom of God was with the nation of Israel and that it was to be taken away from them and given to another nation. What was so special about that nation of Israel that they were considered to be a ruling nation in the Kingdom of God? The only answer is that on account of God’s covenant with Ibrahim, Israel was reckoned as a ‘chosen nation’ of God. The Kingdom of God was established among them when God raised from them a great prophet, Moses(as), and gave them His Law through Moses (as), so as to guide and govern their lives. Naturally, as long as that Law of Moses(as) was in force, the Kingdom of God was to stay with the nation of Israel. Now that we know the nature of the Kingdom of God and also how and why the people of Israel came to have it, we can understand the implication of that statement of Jesus ( a s ). When he declared that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from the Jews and given to another nation, he was simply trying to remind the Elders of the Jews that the time was near when the Law of Moses ( a s ) shall be abrogated, putting an end to their Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God will now be established afresh in another equally chosen people of God when a ‘new Moses’ with a new Law of God will be raised from that nation. Needless to say that this declaration by Jesus(as) was simply a brief and modified version of the same prophecy of Moses ( a s ) about that prophet; and it was fulfilled when Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa) was raised with a new Law from the other descendants of Abraham(as). 4. For the fourth and final context of that prophecy of Moses(as), let us go to the Acts of the Apostles and try to find out what the disciples of Jesus(as) thought about the fulfilment of this p r o p h e c y. The testimony of the disciples, in fact, may prove to be a deciding factor in this case because if the disciples are found to be still looking forward to the fulfilment of that prophecy even after the advent of Jesus Christ ( a s ), then it will immediately clinch the argument in favour of Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam(sa), and close that case against Jesus(as) as the possible contender for that particular post mentioned in the prophecy. In the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ we are told that one day Saint Peter, accompanied by Saint John, was preaching to a gathering of Jews. He 62 The Prophet Promised Through Moses (as); Jesus(as) or Muhammad(sa) The Review of Religions – February 2004 told them how Jesus Christ(as) came and suffered at their hands and then he went on to say: ‘And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance – But what God f o retold by the mouth of all the p rophets, that His Christ should s u f f e r, He thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again that your sins may be blotted out – and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. Moses said, ‘The Lord GOD will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up. You shall listen to him –’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came afterw a rds, also pro c l a i m e d these days.’ (Acts 3: 17-24) This short but comprehensive sermon of Saint Peter is very clear and hardly needs any comments. It emphasises two major issues which have been the focal point of all the predictions and preaching of the Biblical prophets. Firstly, we are mistakenly told that Christ came and suffered as was foretold by the various prophets; then he went back from where he came. Secondly, it is said that Christ had to remain in heaven and could not come for the second time until all that was foretold by all the previous prophets was fulfilled; and what remained to be fulfilled was that prophecy of Moses(as). Saint Peter not only referred to that prophecy but also repeated it to the hearing of the Jews, warning them that they have to repent and accept that prophet if they wanted to see the Christ in his ‘second coming’. This statement of Saint Peter proves beyond any shadow of doubt that even after the appearance of Jesus Christ(as), his disciples believed that the prophecy of Moses(as) about ‘that prophet’ had yet to be fulfilled and that it was to be fulfilled sometimes before the Second Advent of the Christ. One wonders how, in the presence of this testimony of Saint Peter, somebody can think, even remotely, of Jesus ( a s ) in that prophecy of M o s e s( a s ). Since Jesus( a s ) had been counted out of the race by his own disciples, that prophecy of Moses(as), therefore, was fulfilled by the advent of Muhammad (sa), and Muhammad(sa) alone. Continued next month 63 The Prophet Promised Through Moses (as); Jesus(as) or Muhammad(sa) The Review of Religions – February 2004 We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the magazine. The Review of Religions will continue to provide discussion on a wide range of subjects and welcomes any comments or suggestions from its readers. To ensure that you regularly receive this monthly publication, please fill in your details below and we will put you on our mailing list. The cost of one year’s subscription is £15 Sterling or US $30 for overseas readers (Please do not send cash). Payments by US residents should be by check payable to “AMI” (US dollars 30) and sent direct to ‘The Review of Religions’, Baitul Zafar, 86-71 PALO ALTO ST, HOLLISWOOD. NY 11423-1203 (USA). 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