Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

HEAR O ISRAEL - A CALL TO ISLAM

Christians and Muslims claim to worship God. When asked by a Jewish teacher of the law which commandment, of all the commandments in the Jewish Scriptures, was the “most important”, Jesus [pbuh] uttered the sacred creed of the shema in Deut. 6:4, and he professed his personal faith: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” [Mark 12:29]. The teacher of the Law who asked Jesus [pbuh] this question, replied: “Well said, teacher…You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him” [Mark 12:32]. What was Jesus’ [pbuh] response to this man? “When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’” [Mark 12:33]. Thus, Jesus [pbuh] pointed the finger to heaven to indicate the oneness of God, his God, and the God of the Jews [John 20:17], and he affirmed the resonant profession of faith of the teacher of the Law by acknowledging that he answered “wisely” and declaring that he was not far from the kingdom of the God that they both professed in monotheistic faith.

This God is the one whom Jesus [pbuh] refers to as “…the God of Abraham, the God if Isaac, and the God of Jacob” [Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:26; Luk 20:37] – the one who is the “God of Israel” [Luk. 1:68], and the “God of the people of Israel” [Acts 13:17]. This was the same profession of faith that was on the lips of the Apostle Peter [Acts 3:13], showing a continuity of profession of faith between the OT and the NT, with Jesus [pbuh] being the most important figure in the NT who makes the profession himself [Mark 12:29]. That is, the God of the nation Israel whose profession of monotheistic faith in Deut. 6:4 is specifically introduced as “Hear, O Israel” is the God of Jesus [pbuh] who uses the phrase “the Lord our God” [Mark 12:29], to include himself as a believer and professor of faith in one God. Thus Ananias [Acts 22:14] and the Apostle Paul [Acts 24:14] spoke of “the God of our fathers”, the same God whom Jesus [pbuh] professed as his own God [Mark 12:29; John 17:3; John 20:17]. The God of Jesus [pbuh] is the God of the Jews. Jesus [pbuh] worships the God of the Jews.

Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 6:11, the Apostle Paul wrote about “our God”, which he does again in Galatians 1:4, Philippians 4:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 2:2, 3:9, 3:11, 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11, and 1:12. In discussion with the Jews, one day, Jesus [pbuh] referred to: “My Father, whom you claim as your God” [John 8:54]. So, Jesus [pbuh] professed his faith in “our God”, like the Apostle Paul did, and Jesus [pbuh] told the Jews that their God was his “father”. But, what did Jesus [pbuh] say was his relationship to this God whom the Jews claimed as their very personal God? Let Jesus [pbuh] answer the question himself. He told his disciples: “I am returning to “my father and your father” [John 20:17], thus making it clear that “the father” is the common “father” of Jesus [pbuh] and the Jews. He added: “…to my God and your God” [John 20:17], thus making it clear that “God” is the common God of Jesus [pbuh] and the Jews. The very God whom the Jews claimed to be their God [John 8:54], was the very God of Jesus [pbuh] [John 20:17]. Jesus [pbuh] worshipped the same God as the Jews, the God that is “one” [Deut. 6:4]. In fact, Jesus [pbuh] made it explicitly clear that eternal life and right-standing with God depended on a simple profession of faith: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the Only True God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” [John 17:3]. Thus the profession of faith was in the one God, and in his Prophet [pbuh]. Clearly, then, the Prophet is not God.

To a Muslim, this is identical to the shahadah, or profession of faith, that makes one a Muslim: I testify that there is no other god who is worthy of worship but Allah; and I profess that Mohammad is His Prophet. Obviously, in the era of the Messiah, it was obligatory for believers to make profession of faith that included reference to the Prophet of Allah, Jesus [pbuh], like Muslims do in the era of the Last Prophet [pbuh]. The God of Jesus [pbuh] is the “only true God”, and Jesus [pbuh] himself is not included in that “only true God”. Thus, when Jesus [pbuh] supposedly hangs on the cross, he cries out in agony: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” [Matt. 27:46]. Jesus [pbuh] had already taught his disciples that their God was his God too [John 20:17], so it comes as no surprise that a faithful Jewish Prophet should call out to “the only true God” [John 17:3]. Supposing the veracity of the Christian narrative for a moment, Jesus [pbuh] acknowledges this same personal faith in the one God even after his supposed resurrection, when he proclaims in faith: “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name” [Rev. 3:12]. No fewer than four times in one verse does Jesus [pbuh] take on his prophetic lips the profession of faith in his God, the God who is one [Deut. 6:4], the only true God [John 17:3].

It comes as no surprise, then, that the NT frequently refers to the God OF Jesus [pbuh] in passages such as:

- “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 11:31; Eph. 1:3; 1 pet. 1:3]
- “the God and Father of the Lord Jesus” [2 Cor. 11:31]
- “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Eph. 1:17]

In conclusion, the God whom the Jews claim to worship as their God [John 8:54], is also the God of Jesus [pbuh] [John 20:17]. Jesus [pbuh] made it clear that his message was a continuation of the monotheistic creed of the OT [Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29], that there was only one “true God” [John 17:3], and the Apostle Paul affirms this by boldly stating that “…there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” [1 Tim. 2:5].