Al Kitab (The Bible) literally means ‘The Book’. The Bible was the first writing in history to be put in book form that we see today. The Bible is a world classic book that includes in its scope all peoples and nations on earth. As such, this great book has been translated into almost all languages on earth. The Bible has had a profound influence on many nations, and is the most widely read English book. But this book is also a long book, with a complex story. So many of us do not know or understand the theme of this book. This article will take one sentence from the book of the Bible to explain the story of this classic book – the work of the Prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH).
The Bible was given to address a real problem in our future. This problem is explained in Surah Al-Mujadila (Surah 58 – The Pleading Woman) in looking to the coming Day of Judgment
On the Day that God will raise them all up (again) and show them the Truth (and meaning) of their conduct. God has reckoned its (value), though they may have forgotten it, for God is Witness to all things.
Seest thou not that God doth know (all) that is in the heavens and on earth? There is not a secret consultation between three, but He makes the fourth among them, – Nor between five but He makes the sixth,- nor between fewer nor more, but He is in their midst, wheresoever they be: In the end will He tell them the truth of their conduct, on the Day of Judgment. For God has full knowledge of all things. (Surah al-Mujadila 58:6-7)
Surah al-Mujadila tells us that there is no secret that Allah does not know about us, and he will use this knowledge to Judge us.
Surah al-Qiyamah (Surah 75 – The Resurrection) calls this Day the ‘Resurrection Day’ and also warns how man will be brought forward to answer for his life.
That Day will Man say: “Where is the refuge?”
By no means! No place of safety!
Before thy Lord (alone), that Day will be the place of rest.
That Day will Man be told (all) that he put forward, and all that he put back.
Nay, man will be evidence against himself,
Even though he were to put up his excuses. (Surah al-Qiyamah 75:10-15)
So what do we do if there are intentions and actions in our lives for which we are ashamed? The Bible’s message is for those who carry this concern.
The Book’s Message
We examined the final week of the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH. The Injil records that he was crucified on Day 6 – Good Friday, and he was raised back to life the following Sunday. This was foreseen both in the Taurat and the Psalms and Prophets. But why did this happen and what does it mean for you and me today? Here we seek to understand what is offered by the Prophet Isa al Masih, and how we can receive mercy and forgiveness. This will help us even understand Surah al Fatihah (Surah 1 – The Opener) when it asks Allah to ‘show us the Straight Way’ as well as understanding why ‘Muslim’ means ‘one who submits’, and why religious observances like wudu, zakat and eating halal are good intentions but insufficient in themselves for the Day of Judgment.
Bad News – what the Prophets say of our relationship with Allah
The Taurat teaches that when Allah created mankind He
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
“Image” is not meant in a physical sense, but rather that we were made to reflect Him in the way we functioned emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. We were created to be in relationship with Him. We can visualize this relationship in the slide below. The Creator, as infinite ruler, is placed at the top while man and woman are placed at the bottom of the slide since we are finite creatures. The relationship is shown by the connecting arrow.
Created in His image, people were made to be in relationship with the Creator
Allah is perfect in character – He is Holy. Because of this the Zabur says
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. 5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong (Psalm 5: 4-5)
Adam committed one act of disobedience – only one- and the Holiness of God required Him to judge. The Taurat and Qur’an record that Allah made him mortal and expelled him His presence. The same situation exists for us. When we sin or disobey in any way we dishonor Allah since we do not act according to the image that we were made in. Our relationship is broken. This results in a barrier as solid as a rock wall that comes between us and our Creator.
Our sins create a solid barrier between us and Holy God
Piercing Sin’s barrier by Religious Merit
Many of us try to pierce this barrier between us and Allah by religious deeds or works that earn enough merit to break the barrier. Prayers, fasting, Hajj, going to mosque, zakat, alms to charity are the ways we seek to earn merit to pierce the barrier as illustrated next. The hope is that religious merit will cancel out some sin. If our many deeds earn enough merit we hope to cancel all our sins and receive mercy and forgiveness.
We try to pierce this barrier by doing good deeds to earn merit before Allah
But how much merit do we need to cancel sin? What is our assurance that our meritorious deeds will be sufficient to cancel the sin and pierce the barrier that has come between us and our Creator? Do we know if our efforts for good intentions will be sufficient? We have no assurance and so we try to do as much as we can and hope it will be sufficient on Judgment Day.
Along with deeds to gain merit, efforts for good intentions, many of us work hard to stay clean. We diligently perform wudu before prayers. We work hard to stay away from people, objects and food that make us unclean. But the prophet Isaiah revealed that:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
The prophet tells us that even if we avoid everything that make us unclean, our sins will make our ‘righteous acts’ as useless as ‘filthy rags’ in making us clean. That is bad news. But it gets worse.
The Injil summarizes this truth in the following way:
For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23)
“Death” literally means ‘separation’. When our soul separates from our body we die physically. Similarly we are even now separated from God spiritually and are dead and unclean in His sight.
This reveals the problem of our hope in earning merit to pay for sin. The problem is that our hard efforts, merits, good intentions, and deeds, though not wrong, are insufficient because the payment required (the ‘wages’) for our sins is ‘death’. Only death will pierce this wall because it satisfies God’s justice. Our efforts to gain merit are like trying to cure cancer (which results in death) by eating halal food. Eating halal is not bad, it is good – and one should eat halal – but it will not cure cancer. For cancer you need a totally different treatment that puts the cancerous cells to death.
So even in our efforts and good intentions to generate religious merit we are actually dead and unclean as a corpse in the sight of our Creator
Our sin results in death – We are like unclean dead bodies before Allah
Ibrahim was shown the Straight Path- He simply trusted God’s Promise and God Provided the payment of death for sin
The Quran speaks of this in Surah As-Saffat where it says:
And we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And we left (the blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times. “Peace and salutation to Ibrahim” (Surah As-Saffat 37:107-109)
Allah ‘ransomed’ (paid the price) and Ibrahim received the blessing, mercy and forgiveness, which included ‘peace’.
Good News: The work of Isa al Masih on our behalf
The example of the prophet is there to show us the Straight Path in accordance with the request of Surah Al-Fatihah
Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
It is You we worship and You we ask for help.
Guide us to the straight path –
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (Surah al-Fatihah 1:4-7)
The Injil explains that this was an illustration to show how Allah would pay for sin and provide a cure for death and uncleanness in a simple but powerful way.
For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)
Up until now, it has all been ‘bad news’. But ‘injil’ literally means ‘good news’ and in declaring that the sacrifice of Isa’s death is sufficient to pierce this barrier between us and God we can see why it is good news as shown.
The sacrifice of Isa al Masih – the lamb of God – makes the payment by death for sin on our behalf just like Ibrahim’s lamb had done.
The resurrection of Isa al Masih was ‘firstfruits’. We can be freed from death and receive the same resurrection life.
In his sacrifice and resurrection Isa al Masih became the gate through the barrier of sin that separates us from God. This is why the prophet said:
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.They will come in and go out, and find pasture.10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:9-10)
Isa al Masih is thus the Gate that breaks through the barrier of sin and death
Because of this gate, we now can re-gain the relationship we had with our Creator before our sin became a barrier and we can be assured of receiving mercy and the forgiveness of our sins.
With an open Gate we now are restored in Relationship with our Creator
As the Injil declares:
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
The Gift of God to you
The prophet ‘gave himself’ for ‘all people‘. So this must include you as well as me. Through his death and resurrection he has paid the price to be a ‘mediator’ and offers us life. How is this life given?
For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)
Notice how it is given to us. It is offered as a … ‘gift’. Think about gifts. No matter what the gift is, if it is really a gift it is something that you do not work for and do not earn by merit. If you earned it the gift would no longer be a gift – it would be a wage! In the same way you cannot merit or earn the sacrifice of Isa al Masih. It is given to you as a gift. It is that simple.
And what is the gift? It is ‘eternal life’. That means that the sin which brought you and me death is now paid up. God loves you and me that much. It is that powerful.
So how do you and I obtain eternal life? Again, think of gifts. If someone wants to give you a gift you must ‘receive’ it. Anytime a gift is offered there are only two alternatives. Either the gift is refused (“No thank you”) or it is received (“Thank you for your gift. I will take it”). So also this gift must be received. It cannot just be mentally believed in, studied or understood. To be of benefit, any gift offered to you must be ‘received’.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13)
In fact, the Injil says of God that
God our Savior,who wants all people to be saved … (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
He is a Saviour and His desire is that ‘all people’ receive his gift and be saved from sin and death. If this is His will, then to receive his gift would simply be submitting to His will – the very meaning of the word ‘Muslim’ – one who submits.
So how do we receive this gift? The Injil says that
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:12)
Notice that this promise is for ‘everyone’. Since he rose from the dead Isa al Masih is alive even now. So if you call on him he will hear and give his gift to you. You call out to him and ask him. Perhaps you have never done this. Below is a guide that can help you. It is not a magic chant. It is not the specific words that give power. It is the trust like Ibrahim had that we place in Isa al Masih to give us this gift. As we trust him He will hear us and answer. The Injil is powerful, and yet also so simple. Feel free to follow this guide if you find it helpful.
Dear Prophet and Lord Isa al Masih. I understand that with my sins I am separated from Allah my Creator. Though I can try hard, my efforts do not pierce this barrier. But I understand that your death was a sacrifice to wash away all my sins and make me clean. I know that you rose from the dead after your sacrifice so I believe that your sacrifice was sufficient and so I submit to you. I ask you to please cleanse me from my sins and mediate with my Creator so I can have eternal life. Thank you, Isa the Masih, for doing all this for me and would you even now continue to guide me in my life so I can follow you as my Lord.
In the name of Allah, Most Merciful
If you were to name great love stories you might suggest that between the prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and Khadija, or between the prophet (PBUH) and his favorite wife Aisha, or that of Ali and Fatima. In movies and literature you might think of: Romeo & Juliet, Beauty & the Beast, Ali and Jasmine in the Aladdin movie, or perhaps Cinderella & Prince Charming. In them, history, pop culture and romantic fiction come together in offering passionate love stories that captivate our hearts, emotions and imaginations.
Amazingly, the love that grew between Ruth & Boaz has proved far more enduring and noble than any of these love affairs, and in fact, still affects the lives of all the billions of us living today – more than three thousand years after these lovers met.
The story of Ruth and Boaz illustrate timeless principles from these Surahs. Boaz, with his small kindnesses to Ruth, was a man who is a perfect opposite of the evil man warned against in Surah al-Ma’un (Surah 107 – The Small Kindnesses)
Then such is the (man) who repulses the orphan (with harshness),And encourages not the feeding of the indigent. (Surah al-Ma’un 107:2-3)
But refuse (to supply) (even) neighbourly needs. (Surah al-Ma’un 107:7)
Ruth is a perfect example of the experiences described in Surah Ad-Duhaa (Surah 93 – The Morning Hours)
And He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance.
And He found thee in need, and made thee independent.
Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness,
Nor repulse the petitioner (unheard);
But the bounty of the Lord – rehearse and proclaim! (Surah Ad-Duhaa 93:7-11)
The experiences of Naomi, the mother-in-law in the story of Ruth is a clear depiction of the principles given in Surah Ash-Sharh (Surah 94 – The Relief)
Have We not expanded thee thy breast?-
And removed from thee thy burden
The which did gall thy back?-
And raised high the esteem (in which) thou (art held)?
So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief:
Verily, with every difficulty there is relief. (Surah Ash-Sharh 94:1-6)
The way in which Boaz examines the believing refugee Ruth is an example on applying Surah Al-Mumtahanah (Surah 60 – She that is to be examined)
O ye who believe! When there come to you believing women refugees, examine (and test) them: God knows best as to their Faith: if ye ascertain that they are Believers, then send them not back to the Unbelievers. They are not lawful (wives) for the Unbelievers, nor are the (Unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them. But pay the Unbelievers what they have spent (on their dower), and there will be no blame on you if ye marry them on payment of their dower to them. But hold not to the guardianship of unbelieving women: ask for what ye have spent on their dowers, and let the (Unbelievers) ask for what they have spent (on the dowers of women who come over to you). Such is the command of God: He judges (with justice) between you. And God is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom. (Surah Al-Mumtahanah 60:10)
Ruth & Boaz for today
Their romance is also a picture of a mystical and spiritual love offered to you and me by God. The story of Ruth and Boaz deals with cross-cultural & forbidden love, immigration and the relationship between a powerful man and a vulnerable woman – applicable in today’s #MeToo era. It deals with ancient Jewish-Arab relationships. It becomes a blueprint for us on how to establish a healthy marriage. By any of these measures the love story of Ruth & Boaz is worth knowing.
Their love is recorded in the Book of Ruth in the Bible/Kitab. It is a short book – only 2400 words long – and is well worth reading (here). It is set about 1150 BCE, making this the oldest of all recorded love stories. It has been made into several films.
Hollywood movie depicting the Ruth Love story
The Love Story of Ruth
Naomi and her husband, both Jews, with their two sons leave Israel to escape drought and settle in the nearby country of Moab (today’s Jordan). After marrying local women the two sons die, as does Naomi’s husband, leaving her alone with her two daughters-in-law. Naomi decides to return to her native Israel and one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, chooses to accompany her. After a long absence, Naomi is back in her native Bethlehem as a destitute widow accompanied by Ruth, a young and vulnerable Moabite (Arab) immigrant.
Ruth & Boaz meet
With no income, Ruth goes out to gather grain left behind by the local harvest crews in the fields. The Shariah Law of the Prophet Musa (PBUH) as a social safety net, had ordained harvesters to leave some grains behind in their fields so the impoverished could gather food. Randomly it would seem, Ruth finds herself picking grains in the fields of a wealthy landowner named Boaz. Boaz notices Ruth among the others working hard to gather up the grains left behind by his work crews. He instructs his foremen to leave extra grain behind in the field so that she could gather more. In doing so, Boaz gives the opposite illustration of the evil man in Surah al-Ma’un and Ruth has her needs met as Surah ad-Duhaa lays out.
Ruth & Boaz meet. Much art has been done depicting their meeting
Because she can gather plentifully in his fields, Ruth comes back to Boaz’s fields every day to gather left-over grain. Boaz, ever the protector, ensures that Ruth is not harassed or molested by any of his crews. Ruth and Boaz are interested in each other, but because of differences in age, social status, and nationality, neither makes a move. Here Naomi steps in as match-maker. She instructs Ruth to boldly lay down by Boaz’s side at night after he has celebrated the harvest gathering. Boaz understands this as a marriage proposal and decides to marry her.
But the situation is more complicated than simply love between them. Naomi is a relative of Boaz, and since Ruth is her daughter-in-law, Boaz and Ruth are kin/related by marriage. Boaz must marry her as a ‘kinsmen redeemer’. This meant that under the Law of Musa (PBUH) he would marry her ‘in the name’ of her first husband (Naomi’s son) and so provide for her. This would mean that Boaz purchase Naomi’s family fields. Though that would prove costly to Boaz it was not the biggest obstacle. There was another closer relative that had first rights to buy Naomi’s family’s fields (and also thus marry Ruth). So the marriage of Ruth to Boaz hung on whether another man wanted the responsibility to care for Naomi and Ruth. At a public meeting of the city elders this first-in-line declined the marriage since it put his own estate at risk. Boaz was thus free to purchase and redeem Naomi’s family estate and marry Ruth. Naomi, after many difficult years now finds relief, illustrating this principle in Surah Ash-Sharh
The chivalry and respect with which the rich and powerful Boaz treated Ruth, the destitute foreign woman, is a model contrasting the harassments and exploitations now common in our #MeToo day. The historical impact of the family line which this romance and marriage produced, reminding us every time we note the date on our devices, gives this love story an enduring legacy. But the Ruth & Boaz love story is also a picture of an even greater love – one you and I are invited into.
The Kitab/Bible describes us in a manner evoking Ruth when it says:
I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”(Hosea 2:23)
The Old Testament prophet Hosea (ca 750 BC) used the reconciliation in his own broken marriage to picture Allah/God reaching out to us with His love. Like Ruth who entered the land as one unloved, but then was shown love by Boaz, He desires to show His love even to those of us who feel far from His love. This is quoted in the Injil/New Testament (Romans 9:25) to show how Allah reaches wide to love those far from Him.
gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:14)
Just as Boaz was a ‘kinsman-redeemer’ who paid a price to redeem Ruth, Jesus is our ‘kinsman-redeemer’ who paid (with his life) to redeem us.
A Model for our marriages
The way Isa al Masih (and Boaz) paid to redeem and then win his bride models how we can build our marriages. The Kitab/Bible explains how we establish our marriages:
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word,27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33)
As Boaz and Ruth established their marriage on love and respect, and Isa’s care is a model for husbands to love their wives sacrificially, so we do well to build our marriages on these same values.
A Wedding Invitation for you and me
As in all good love stories, the Kitab/Bible closes with a wedding. Just as the price that Boaz paid to redeem Ruth paved the way for their wedding, the price that Isa al Masih PBUH paid has paved the way for our wedding. That wedding is not figurative but real, and those accepting his wedding invitation are called ‘The Bride of Christ’. As it says:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)
Those who receive Jesus’ offer of redemption become his ‘bride’. This heavenly wedding is offered to all of us. The Bible ends with this invitation for you and me to come to His wedding
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
The relationship between Ruth & Boaz is a model of love that is still making itself felt today. It is a picture of the heavenly love of Allah. He will marry as His Bride all who accept His marriage proposal. As with any marriage proposals, His offer should be weighed to see if you should accept it. Start here with the ‘plan’ laid out in the beginning with Hazrat Adam, here to see how Hazrat Ibrahim foresaw the plan, here how Nabi Musa/Moses showed how the Redeemer would pay the price, and here to see how it was predicted long beforehand so we can know it really is Allah/God’s Proposal.
Another adaptation of the Book of Ruth in film
Perhaps no part of the Injil (Gospel) arouses as much controversy and discussion as the title ‘Son of God’ which is used of the Prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) repeatedly through the Injil (Gospel). This term in the Injil (Gospel) is the main reason why many suspect that the Injil has been corrupted. The issue of the corruption of the Injil is examined from the Qur’an (here), the sunnah (here), as well as scientific textual criticism (here). The overwhelming conclusion is that the Injil (Gospel) is not corrupted. But then what do we make of this term ‘Son of God’ in the Injil?
Is it contrary to the Oneness of God as expressed in Surah Al-Ikhlas? (Surah 112 – The Sincerity)
Say: He is God, the One and Only;
God, the Eternal, Absolute;
He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
And there is none like unto Him. (Surah Al-Ikhlas 112)
As Surah Al-Ikhlas, the Taurat also asserts the Oneness of God when the Prophet Musa PBUH declared:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
So how to understand ‘Son of God’?
Sometimes just hearing a term, without trying to understand its meaning, can lead to an incorrect conclusion. For example, many in the West, react against the term ‘Jihad’ that appears so much in the media. They believe this term means ‘a crazy fighter’, ‘killing innocent people’, or something similar. In fact, those who take the time to understand the term will learn that it means ‘struggle’ or ‘effort’ and this can be a struggle against a wide variety of forces, including personal struggle with sin and temptation. But many do not know this.
We should not fall into the same error with the term ‘Son of God’. In this article we will look at this term, understanding where it comes from, what it means, and what it does not mean. We will then be in an informed position with which to respond to this term and to the Injil.
Where does ‘Son of God’ come from?
‘Son of God’ is a title and it does not originate in the Injil (Gospel). The writers of the gospel did not invent or start the term. Neither was it invented by Christians. We know this because it was first used in the Zabur, long before the disciples of Isa al Masih (PBUH) or Christians were alive, in the part inspired by the prophet Dawud (David – PBUH) around 1000 BC. Let us see where it first occurs.
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed (= Messiah = Christ), saying, 3 “Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them. 5 He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 “I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father. 8 Ask me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling. 12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction, (Psalm 2)
We see here a conversation between ‘the LORD’ and ‘his anointed’. In verse 7 we see that ‘the LORD’ (i.e. God/Allah) says to the Anointed that ‘… you are my Son; today I have become your father…’ This is repeated in verse 12 where it admonishes us to ‘Kiss his Son…’. Since God is speaking and calling him ‘my son’ this is where the title ‘Son of God’ originates. To whom is this title ‘Son’ given to? It is to ‘his anointed’. In other words, the title ‘Son’ is used interchangeably with the ‘anointed’ through the passage. We saw that Anointed =Messiah = Masih= Christ, and this Psalm is also where the title ‘Messiah’ originated. So the title ‘Son of God’ originates in the same passage where the term ‘Masih’ or ‘Christ’ has its origins – in the inspired writings of the Zabur written 1000 years before the arrival of the prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH).
Knowing this, allows us to understand the charges laid against Isa at his trial. Below is how the Jewish leaders questioned him at his trial.
Jesus Titles: The Logical Alternatives about ‘Son of God’
66 At dawn the elders of the people met together. These included the chief priests and the teachers of the law. Jesus was led to them. 67 “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me. 68 And if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
70 They all asked, “Are you the Son of God then?”
He replied, “You are right in saying that I am.”
71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more witnesses? We have heard it from his own lips.” (Luke 22:66-71)
The leaders first ask Jesus if he is ‘the Christ’ (v. 67). If I ask someone ‘Are you X?’ it means that I have the idea of X already in my mind. I am just trying to connect X with the person I am talking to. In the same way, the fact that the Jewish leaders say to Jesus ‘Are you the Christ?’ means that they had the concept of ‘Christ’ already in their mind. Their question was about associating the title of ‘Christ’ (or Masih) with the person of Isa. But then they re-phrase the question a few sentences later to ‘Are you the Son of God then?’ They are treating the titles ‘Christ’ and ‘Son of God’ as equivalent and interchangeable. These titles were two sides of the same coin. (Isa does reply in-between with ‘son of man’. This is another title coming from a passage in the book of Daniel explained e detail here). Where did the Jewish leaders get the idea to interchange ‘Christ’ and ‘Son of God’? They got it from Psalm 2 – inspired one thousand years prior to Jesus’ coming. It was and is logically possible for Jesus to not be the ‘Son of God’ if he was also not the ‘Christ’. This was the position that the Jewish leaders took as we see above.
It is also logically possible for Isa/Jesus to be both the ‘Christ and ‘the Son of God’. We see this in how Peter, a leading disciple of Isa (PBUH) answers when asked. It is written in the Gospel
13 [Jesus] asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. (Matthew 16:13-17)
Peter combines the title “Messiah” with ‘Son of God’ naturally, because it was so established when both titles originated in the Psalms (Zabur). Jesus accepts this as a revelation from God to Peter. Jesus is ‘Messiah’ and therefore is also ‘Son of God’.
But it is impossible, self-contradictory even, for Jesus to be ‘the Christ’ but not be the ‘Son of God’ because the two terms have the same source and mean the same thing. That would be the same as saying that a certain shape is a ‘circle’ but it is not ‘round’. A shape can be a square and thus not be a circle nor be round. But if it is a circle then it is also round. Roundness is part of what it means to be a circle, and to say that a certain shape is a circle but is not round is to be incoherent, or to misunderstand what a ‘circle’ and ‘roundness’ mean. It is the same with ‘Christ’ and ‘son of God’. Jesus is both ‘Messiah’ and ‘Son of God’ (the assertion of Peter) or he is neither (the view of the Jewish leaders of that day); but he cannot be one and not the other.
What does ‘Son of God’ mean?
So what does the title mean? A clue appears in how the New Testament introduces the person of Joseph, one of the earliest disciples (not the Joseph of Pharaoh) and how it uses ‘son of…’. It says
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36-37)
You will see that the nickname ‘Barnabas’ means ‘son of encouragement’. Is the Gospel saying that his literal father’s name was ‘Encouragement’ and this is the reason he is called ‘son of encouragement’? Of course not! ‘Encouragement’ is an abstract concept which is difficult to define but is easy to understand by seeing it lived out in an encouraging person. By looking at the life and person of Joseph someone could ‘see’ encouragement in action and thus understand what ‘encouragement’ means. In this way Joseph is the ‘son of encouragement’. He represented ‘encouragement’ in a living way.
“No one has ever seen God” (John 1:18). Therefore, it is hard for us to really understand the character and nature of God. What we need is to see God represented in a living way, but that is impossible since ‘God is Spirit’ and thus cannot be seen. The Gospel thus summarizes and explains the significance of the life and person of Isa al Masih by using both the title ‘Word of God’ and ‘Son of God’
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…
16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, (John 1:14-18)
How do we know the grace and truth of God? We see it lived out in the real flesh-and-blood life of Isa al Masih (PBUH). The disciples could understand the ‘grace and truth’ of God by seeing it in him. The Law, with its commands, could not give us that visual example.
The Son … coming directly from God
Another use of ‘son of God’ also helps us to understand better what it means in regard to Isa/Jesus (PBUH). The Gospel of Luke lists the genealogy (father to son) of Jesus going right back to Adam. We pick up the genealogy at the very end where it says
38 … the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3:38)
We see here that Adam is called ‘the son of God’. Why? Because Adam had no human father; he came directly from God. Jesus also had no human father; he was born of a virgin. As it says above in the Gospel of John he directly ‘came from the Father’.
A ‘son of …’ example from the Qur’an
The Qur’an uses the expression ‘son of …’ in a similar way as the Injil. Consider the following ayah
They ask thee what they should spend (In charity). Say: Whatever ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good, -God knoweth it well. (Surat al-Baqarah 2:215)
The word ‘wayfarers’ (or ‘travellers’) is literally written as ‘sons of the road’ in the original arabic (‘ibni sabil’ or ابن السبيل). Why? Because interpreters and translators have understood that the phrase does not literally referring to ‘sons’ of the road, but that it is an expression to denote a travellers – those who are strongly connected to and dependent on the road.
What ‘Son of God’ does not mean
It is the same with the Bible when it uses the term ‘son of God’. Nowhere in the Taurat, Zabur or Injil does the term ‘Son of God’ mean that God had sexual relations with a woman and had a literal and physical son as a result. This understanding was common in ancient Greek polytheism where gods had ‘wives’. But nowhere in the Bible (al kitab) is this stated. Certainly this would be impossible since it says that Jesus was born of a virgin – thus no relations.
We saw here that the Prophet Isaiah around 750 BC had prophesied that one day in his future a Sign directly from the LORD would come
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
By definition a son from a virgin would have no human father. We saw here that the angel Gabriel (Jibril) had declared to Mary that this would happen because ‘the power of the Most High will overshadow you (Mary)’. This would not come about by unholy relations between God and Mary – that would indeed by blasphemy (shirk). No, this son would be a ‘holy one’ in a very unique way, proceeding directly from God without human plan or effort. He would proceed directly from God as words proceed directly from us. In this sense the Messiah was the Son of God as well as the Word of God.
We saw in the history of the Israelites that in 70 AD they were expelled from the Promised Land to live as exiles and foreigners in all the nations of the world. For about 2000 years this was where and how the Israelites lived. As they lived in these different nations they periodically suffered great persecutions. This was particularly true in Christian Europe. From Spain, in Western Europe, to the pogroms in Russia the Israelites lived often in a precarious state. The words of Musa given in the Curse were fulfilled as it was written
… Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. (Deuteronomy 28:65)
The timeline below shows this 2000 year period which follows after the history of the Israelites from the time of the Bible. This period is shown in a long red bar.
A Historical Timeline of Jewish people from Musa until Today
You can see that the Israelites through their history went through two periods of exile but the second period of exile was much longer than the first period of exile (which was only from 600 – 530 BC).
The Jews kept their cultural Identity
What is fascinating to me is that though the Israelites never had a central place to put down cultural roots, and though they never grew very numerous (often because of deaths in persecution) they never lost their cultural identity over this 2000 year period. That is quite remarkable. Here in the Taurat is a list of nations that lived in the Promised Land at the time of Sign 1 of Musa (PBUH).
So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. (Exodus 3:8)
When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you (Deuteronomy 7:1)
Do any of these people still exist, retaining their cultural and linguistic identity? No they are long gone. We only know about ‘Girgashites’ from this ancient history. As the mighty Babylonian, Persian, Greek and then Roman empires conquered these nations they quickly lost their language and identity as they were absorbed into these large empires. As I live in Canada I see immigrants come here from all over the world. After the 3rd generation the culture and language of the country of immigration is long gone. I immigrated from Sweden to Canada when I was very young. My son does not speak Swedish. Neither do the children of my brother or sister. The Swedish identity of my forebears is disappearing in the Canadian cultural melting pot. And this is true of almost all immigrants whether they come from China, Japan, Korea, Iran, South America, Africa or the countries of Europe – within three generations it is lost.
So it is remarkable that the Israelites, living in such hostility, forced to flee here and there over the centuries, their global population never exceeding 15 million, never lost their identity – religious, cultural and language – even though this lasted for 2000 years.
Modern genocide of the Jews – The Holocaust
Then the persecutions and pogroms against the Jews reached their peak. Hitler in World War II, through Nazi Germany tried to exterminate all the Jews living in Europe. And he almost succeeded by creating a mechanized system of exterminating them in gas ovens. However he was defeated and a remnant of Jews survived.
Modern Re-birth of Israel
And then in 1948 the Jews, through the United Nations, had the remarkable re-birth of the modern state of Israel. It is remarkable just in the fact, as noted above, that there were people still around who identified themselves as ‘Jews’ after all these years. But for these words of Musa written down 3500 years ago to come true there had to remain a ‘you’ or a people that could receive the promise. So they remained a people even while in their long exile.
…then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. (Deuteronomy 30:3-4)
This is indeed a sign that Allah keeps His Word.
It was also remarkable in that this state was founded in the teeth of opposition. Most of the nations in that region waged war against Israel in 1948 … in 1956 … in 1967 and again in 1973. Israel, a very small nation, often found itself at war with five nations at the same time. Yet not only did they survive, but their territories increased. In the war of 1967 the Jews regained Jerusalem, their historic capital city that Dawood (David) had founded.
Why did Allah allow the re-birth of Israel
To this day, all these modern developments are very controversial. Almost no other modern happening arouses so much controversy as the re-birth of Israel and the return of the Israelites – happening almost daily now – from these nations all over the world where they had lived for thousands of years in exile. And perhaps as you read this you yourself are filled with anger. It is certainly not that the Jews today are religious – most are very secular or atheistic because of what happened with Hitler’s almost successful genocide. And it is not that they are necessarily correct. But the remarkable fact is that what Musa wrote down in the end of the Curses has occurred and is still occurring before our eyes. Why? What does this mean? And how could this happen when they still reject the Masih? These are important questions. Answers can be found to all these questions in the Taurat and Zabur. Maybe you are angry with what I have just written, perhaps bitter. But perhaps we can hold off final judgment until we understand some of what the prophets wrote down about this remarkable event. They wrote them down for our benefit – because this will all lead to Judgment – for the Jews and the rest of all alike. Let us at least be informed of what these prophets wrote so that we can form our judgments from all writings. We continue with the Zabur to ask why the Jews rejected the Masih.
To make the history of the Israelites easier to follow I am going to build a series of timelines describing their history. We start the history of the Israelites by placing the most recognized prophets of the Bible to the time of Isa al Masih (PBUH) in a timeline.
The Most Recognized Prophets of the Bible
This timeline uses the Western calendar (and remember this is all BC or BCE dating). The width of the bars shows how long that particular prophet lived. Ibrahim and Musa (PBUT) are important for their Signs which we have looked at already. Dawood (or David – PBUH) is recognized because he started the Zaboor and he was the first King of a dynasty that ruled from Jerusalem. Isa al Masih (PBUH) is important because he is central to the Injil.
Living in Egypt as slaves of Pharaoh
We see in the green period that the Israelites had been living as slaves in Egypt.
Living in the Land – but no King in Jerusalem
Көп нәрсе бар Ысмайылға не болғанын түсінбеу. Мұса пайғамбардың (ғ.с.) 3500 жыл бұрын жазған «Тәурат» кітабы осыны түсіндіруге көмектеседі. Алла Тағала Ибраһимге (ғ.с.) оны жарылқайтынын және оның ұрпақтарын теңіз жағасындағы құмдай көп ететінін уәде еткен (қараңыз). Мұнда). Ибраһим (ғ.с.) ақыры қолына алды екі оның екі әйелінен ұлдары болды, бірақ олардың арасындағы бақталастық оны Ажар мен Ысмайылды жіберуге мәжбүр етті. Бұл бәсеке екі кезеңде өтті. Бірінші кезең Ысмайыл туылғаннан кейін және Ысқақ туылғанға дейін болды. Міне, бұл бақталастық туралы Тәурат не дейді және Алла Тағала Ажарды қалай қорғап, оған көрініп, Ысмайылға (ғ.с.) батасын берді.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”
6 “Your slave is in your hands, ” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers. ”
13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me, ” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
We see that Hagar was a prophetess since she spoke with the LORD. He that told her the name of her son was to be Ishmael and gave her a promise that Ishmael would become ‘too numerous to count’. So with this encounter and promise she returned to her mistress and the rivalry paused.
The Rivalry Grows
But when Isaac was born to Sarai 14 years later the rivalry started again. We read in the Taurat how this happened.
8 The child [i.e. Isaac] grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation. ”
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.
We see that Sarah (her name had been changed from Sarai) could not live in the same household with Hagar and demanded that she be sent away. Though Ibrahim (PBUH) was reluctant, Allah promised that he would bless Hagar and Ishmael (PBUH). Indeed He spoke to her again, opened her eyes to see water in the desert and promised that Ishmael (PBUH) would become a ‘great nation’.
The Taurat continues showing how this nation started in its development. We read about Ishmael (PBUH) at the time of the death of Ibrahim (PBUH).
8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.
12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham.
13 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17 Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. 18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Ashur. And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.
Ishmael lived a very long time indeed and that his sons became 12 tribal rulers. Allah had blessed him as He had promised. Arabs to this day trace their ancestry to Ibrahim through Ishmael.