Tag Archives: Abraham

Times of the Gentiles

And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. [Lk 21:24]

This week we wanted to expound on our previous post, Have You Replaced Abraham?, regarding the topic of so-called Replacement (or Supersessionist) Theology that the “church” has replaced Israel in God’s plan of redemption. A Catholic reader had this to say:

“Replacement Theology” is an inaccurate term. We believe that the promises given to Abraham and his children were fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus ChristThe Catholic Church is the New Israelthe New Jerusalem. Christ’s Kingdom is His Church – on earth and in heaven (and in purgatory). The children of Abraham are all of those who are united with the Messiah, Christ. This has nothing to do with racial heritage. In the Kingdom of Christ, there is no longer Jew or Greek as far as having privilege. So it depends on how you define “replacement theology”, but the Catholic Church is the continuation and fulfillment of the religion given by God to Moses, through the Prophets, through the Messiah. The covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them, but we are living under a New Covenant. “Replacement Theology” is a derogatory term made up by dispensationalists to label anyone who believes in Covenant Theology.

There is some truth (as we have underlined) in this reader’s comment, although we question the idea that the Catholic Church is the New Israel in light of the assertion that the Mosaic covenant is eternally valid. The covenant with Moses includes the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai, but we will assume that the reader does not mean to suggest that Jews can be saved by the Law. It is true that the promises given to Abraham and his children were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, wrote: Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ (Gal 3:16)Paul, here, is referencing this passage in Genesis: In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice (Ge 22:18).

We learn from the Galatian letter that the Law does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise (Gal 3:17-18). The Law, priesthood, temple sacrifice, and Feast Days all pointed to, or were a shadow of, spiritual promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ (the seed of Abraham).

Paul wrote to the Roman assembly that they be not uninformed of this mystery—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Rom 11:25). We see the similarity of this passage with the fullness spoken of by Christ in reference to the times of the Gentiles, although in a different context.

The Apostle goes on to say that God’s choice (the Jews) are beloved for the sake of the fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob); for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Ro 11:28).  He is talking here about the spiritual gifts of election and redemption, or as Peter writes:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. [1Pe 2:9-10]

In this passage Peter paraphrases the prophet Hosea (as does Paul in Ro 9:25), and applies the contextual reference of the Old Covenant to both Jew and Gentile (a chosen people under the New Covenant).

In Paul’s epistle to the Romans he quotes from Isaiah (Is 59:20-21) that God has a covenant to remove ungodliness from Jacob (Israel) and take away their sins, but this will not happen until they call upon the name of Messiah (Mt 23:39). It is our faith if Israel confessed Yeshua HaMashiach that He would return immediately in power and glory. Because they rejected Him our Lord prophesied that Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles, and her people led captiveIn the context of this discourse He was speaking of a cataclysmic event that was to take place in that generation (Lk 21:32).

[Editor’s Note: The phrase this generation will not pass away has been debated for over 1900 years. The word genea is used 17 times in the New Testament and always is translated generation. Some theologians will define genea as race in order to apply the phrase to an end time scenario. Their reasoning is that the Jews have been scattered, dispersed and exiled throughout history, and yet they still survive as a distinct race that will not pass away until all things have been fulfilled. Literally, the prophecy of Christ regarding the destruction of Jerusalem was fulfilled in the generation to whom He was speaking, and was probably witnessed by John the Apostle.]

We have been living in the times of the Gentiles since, at least, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The Romans killed 1.2 million Jews out of a population (according to Josephus) of 2.2 million. The Christian population was scattered, the city razed, the temple burned to the ground and close to 100,000 captives were dispersed into the provinces, or taken to Rome to build the Coliseum. Christians were lit as human torches to light the avenue leading to the Coliseum. People of God had to burn a pinch of incense in the palm of their hand and confess Caesar as Lord in order to receive a license to buy, or sell in the marketplace. Mark of the Beast? Well, we know that Beast was the Jewish code name for Caesar, six is the number of man and three 6’s signified ruler, or authority.

It was most certainly a time of Great Tribulation for that first century generation. It is critical that we understand the historical context of Bible prophecy. For example, to whom was the Book of Revelation written: Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Adventists, Mormons? No, it was written to the seven churches in Asia who uniquely understood the symbolism and prophetic language of John’s apocalyptic vision. (Without a doubt the seven churches could decipher the cryptic message of Rev 13:18.) When was it written: Before, or after 70 AD? If it was written after 70 AD why doesn’t John mention the most terrible of events, that is, the destruction of Jerusalem which he surely witnessed? It would be as if someone wrote about the War on Terror and did not mention the attack on 9/11.

And why would John write to the seven churches about things that had no relevance to them? Things that weren’t going to happen for thousands of years, and things that Christ makes very clear will happen soon (Rev 1:1).

Times of the Gentiles? End of the age? Our trust is in the last day (there is only one). Christ said, Whosoever believes on Me, I will raise him up on the last day (Jn 6:39Jn 6:40Jn 6:44Jn 6:54). Prophecy writers can debate about the rapture and tribulation and Millennial Kingdom and Second Coming…

We’re just persevering to the last day.

[Editor’s Note: Messiah Gate does not hold to either Dispensational, or Supersessionist doctrine. We have problems with both. A radio preacher we listen to was naming 14 things that must happen before Christ returns. Well, some of the things he mentioned have already happened which is why you will hear prophecy teachers speak about partial, or double-fulfillment of prophecy. One of the 14 items listed by this preacher was the abomination of desolation (Mt 24:15). We know that this desecration was to occur in the holy place, or temple of God. While there are plans to build and furnish a new Jewish temple the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently sits on the site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. No, this prophecy of Christ was fulfilled in 70 AD.]

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Have You Replaced Abraham?

From the Book of Romans:

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. [Rom 11:1]

There is an errant teaching within the body of Christ that the “church” has replaced Israel in God’s plan of salvation. It is taught that the LORD’s promises to Israel have been rescinded; that His covenant with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is null and void; that YHWH has transferred His blessings to the “church”, and that the physical state of Israel is no longer in the will of God.

Consider what this means. Israel, then, has no rightful claim to the ancient land of Judea nor the capital city of Jerusalem. How would this affect the politics of the Middle East if it were true that Israel had no legitimate right to exist? If the land was ceded to the Palestinians would there have been the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the greater war on terror, or even the attacks on 9/11?

Has the “church” replaced Israel, and is this what Replacement theologians teach?

Dispensationalists believe that Israel is front and center with regards to end times prophecy. They believe the “church” will be raptured before the Great Tribulation begins, and that God will turn His attention once again to the people, and land, of Israel. Jerusalem will be restored, and the temple rebuilt. The people will take possession of all the land promised to the physical seed of Abraham; and God will destroy Satan in one great battle of Armageddon.

As we’ve noted in previous articles the “church” did not teach dispensational theology until the 19th century when it was introduced by John Nelson Darby, an Anglo-Irish evangelist. The doctrine of imminent return (see our post, The Return of Christ) had worn thin after so many centuries had passed with no visible sign of Messiah’s return.

The MilleritesRussellitesAdventists and Jehovah’s Witnessess sought to revive the doctrine of imminent return by focusing their teaching on the Second Coming of Christ. Charles Taze Russell, for example, taught that Jesus had returned invisibly in 1874.

Understand that Dispensationalists similarly believe the Replacement view that the people of Israel and the “church” are two distinct groups, but dispensationalism teaches that God will fulfill His promises to Israel after the “church” is raptured. One of these promises is the land promise given to Isaac and Jacob through Abraham. YHWH had ceded Israel a great inheritance from Arabia to Syria, from the Euphrates to the Nile and from the Eastern Desert to the Mediterranean Sea.

Today, they possess only a slice of the land given to them by YHWH, and are under intense political pressure to surrender even more of their territory in exchange for peace.

Popular theology, taught by pastors such as John Hageesuggests that Israel, because of rebellion and captivity, never occupied their inheritance fully, but will do so in the end times. Thus, they see the birth of Israel (by U.N. proclamation in 1948) as a sign that God’s promise is coming to pass; and even take the following scripture out of context to prove their flawed eschatology:

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. [Mt 24:32-34]

Some believe that the countdown to the last day began in 1948, and that the generation (genea) spoken of by Christ are the people who were alive at the time Israel was restored. Because the Psalmist suggests that a generation is 70-80 years (Ps 90:10) this means that the last day could occur as early as 2018. Of course, this reasoning is flawed because Jesus was speaking precisely to His generation who lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem.

With regards to Israel possessing the land we read in the Tanakh that the children of God did, in fact, possess the land:

So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. [Jos 21:43]

It is true that they never possessed Tyre and Sidon, nor completely dispossessed the pagans who dwelt there, nor destroyed the molten images and altars of false gods as the LORD commanded Moses (Num 33:51-53). YHWH warned Moshe that the inhabitants left remaining would be as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live (Num 33:55). That is so true even to this day.

If a father promises to his son the family car upon the son’s graduation, but the son does not take possession of the car, it does not alter in any way the father’s promise. We must understand, as well, that God’s covenant with Israel was conditioned upon their obedience and faithfulness. Their rebellion led to Israel’s captivity under Assyria, and Judah’s captivity by the Babylonians.

Even so during the reign of David, and his son Solomon, the kingdom did expand from the Euphrates River even to the land of the Philistines (what is today the Palestinian territory of Gaza), and as far as the border of Egypt (2Chr 9:26).

The catch is if we don’t see the fulfillment of Matthew 24 in the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD) then we must project those things that were to happen in that generation (Mt 24:34) to a future generation much further out.

So the dispensationalists will look for signs of the resurrected earthly kingdom of Israel (1948), but ignore the very clear statement of our Lord that His kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36). Christ is sitting on the throne of David—not in Jerusalem—but in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

Paul asks a fundamental question, Did God reject His people? The Hebrew word used here means to cast off, or push away. The apostle reminded his readers of Elijah’s lament that he was the only man of God left alive:

He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” [1Ki 19:10]

The LORD reminded Elijah, as Paul reminds us, that He has always preserved a remnant of the seed of Abraham. In Elijah’s day they numbered only 7,000. If we consider that 100 billion people have been born since the beginning of time it is a wonder that any of us will be saved, but by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ we are born again.

Read and study Romans chapter 11 carefully and you will learn that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Rom 11:25). What does this mean? One Bible commentator said that it means until the abundance or the great multitude of the Gentiles shall be converted. We cannot even guesstimate what number that might be. The Pew Institute computes that there are 2.18 billion Christians in the world—about a third of the world’s 7 billion people. Does that number seem small? Yeshua said that only a few will walk the narrow path that leads to life:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. [Mt 7:13-14]

Sadly, not everyone sitting in a pew is going to heaven. Examine yourselves carefully for the train bound for glory can leave the station at any moment…in the twinkling of an eye (1Co 15:52).

The blindness of Israel has opened the door of redemption to the Gentiles who, by faith, are grafted into the olive tree which represents the spiritual, not physical, state of Israel. By their transgression, Paul writes, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make the descendants of Abraham jealous (Rom 11:11).

And who are the sons of Abraham?

Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham (Gal 3:7).

For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. [Ro 4:16]

Gentiles do not replace Abraham, but are his spiritual sons by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. But you who are grafted in must not boast, or be in any manner arrogant lest you, too, be broken off (Ro 11:17-21). This is a mystery, writes Paul, that by God’s grace all Israel (both Jew and Greek) will be saved.

To really understand this mystery we must disassociate the material promise of the Abrahamic covenant and recognize that God’s blessings were fulfilled in Jesus Christ so that Gentiles might receive the promise of the Spirit by faith (Gal 3:14).

Replacement theology is so-called by many dispensationalists who have popularly adopted a competing eschatology that was not even introduced until 18 centuries after Christ was crucified. The idea that the “church” has replaced Israel has somewhat anti-semitic overtones, and does not convey what is really upheld by Reformers, taught by Paul and confirmed by the Psalmist:

For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. But judgment shall return to righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it. [Ps 94:14-15]

We are the inheritance, but not by the law for then it would no longer be a promise (Gal 3:18). And we are the righteousness that is given in faith through Christ Jesus (Ro 3:22). For now there is no distinction—and certainly no replacement—for we are all one in Messiah (Ro 10:12).

The Messianic revival that we see in Israel, and around the world, is a clear sign that the veil is slowly being lifted from their eyes, and the fullness of the Gentiles is nearly complete. Christ said He would not return until the people of Israel proclaimed, Baruch HaShem Adonai! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! [Mt 23:39]

Bottom line: Christ will not return until Israel receives Him as Lord and Savior.

Editor’s Note: Dispensationalists would have us believe in not just a Second, but also a Third Coming of our Lord. One pastor said recently that Jesus will come to rapture the church, and come again with the saints to judge the world. Some believe He came in 70 AD to judge Israel which simply begs the question: How many times will Christ return before the last day? It might be another 2000 years before He comes, but the elect are commanded to be ready as if He might return today. Time is short and the harvest is ripe. Contemplate this parable of our Lord to better understand:

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” “No,” they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.” But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us!” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.” Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. [Mt 25:1-13]

Suggested Reading: Replacement Theology

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Waiting on the LORD

The Word of God:

Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I tell you (Ge 22:2).

When we talk about the sins of Abraham one might imagine that we are speaking of the incidents where he told the Egyptians (Ge 12:13) and King Abimelech (Ge 20:2) that Sarah, his wife, was his sister; but the sin we wish to discuss is Abraham’s far greater transgression of not waiting on the LORD for which the world suffers to this day.

In exercising our faith we should always inquire of the LORD, understanding that patience is a virtue well received by a merciful God who executes His will according to a sovereign timetable. Contrary to what the prosperity gospel teaches, His answer is sometimes “No”, but this is not a measure of our faith. It simply demonstrates that His will shall be done, and not always according to what we ask.

We can do nothing to speed up God’s timetable. Think of Moses who led God’s people to the Promised Land, but the LORD did not let them enter; and even withdrew His hand of favor. So the Jews wandered around the same mountain for forty years until a whole generation died out in the wilderness.

In the Book of Genesis (chapter 15) the LORD came to Abram in a vision promising that an heir of promise will come forth from his own body (Ge 15:4). The LORD told Abram that his descendants would be as many as the stars in heaven. The Bible says that Abram believed the promise of God, and it was counted to him as righteousness (Ge 15:6). On that day, the Bible says, the LORD made a covenant with Abram to give his descendants all of the land from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates (Ge 15:18).

Ten years had passed and Sarai, Abram’s wife, was unable to conceive so she told her husband to go in with her Egyptian maid Hagar to fulfill God’s promise of an heir (Ge 16:2). But neither Abram nor Sarai inquired of the LORD to do this thing, and it was that Hagar conceived and Sarai despised her (Ge 16:4) so Hagar fled into the wilderness.

The angel of the LORD appeared unto Hagar and commanded her to return and submit herself to Sarai’s authority (Ge 16:9). Hagar was told to name her son Ishmael (God hears) for the LORD heard the cries of her affliction (Ge 16:11); and that he will live to the east of his brothers, and be a defiant man at war with everyone (Ge 16:12).

When Abram was eighty-six years old Hagar bore him a son, and she called his name Ishmael according to the angel of the LORD (Ge 16:15-16).

The birth of Ishmael set up the conflict and strife that has plagued the Middle East these many centuries for the Muslims claim that the Abrahamic covenant passed through the Arabic descendants of Ishmael who was Abram’s first-born son.

The LORD appeared once more to Abram when he was ninety-nine years old (Ishmael was now thirteen years of age), and the LORD promised to make Abram the father of many nations (Ge 17:7). God established the covenant of circumcision to reaffirm His unconditional promise to the descendants of Abram (exalted father); and the LORD changed his name to Abraham (father of a multitude) to reflect this covenant relationship.

Abraham was ninety-nine years old and Ishmael was thirteen years of age when the household of Abraham were circumcised (Ge 17:23-27).

Then God told Abraham that Sarai, now called Sarah (princess), would give him a son. Abraham fell on his face laughing for he was one hundred years old, and Sarah was ninety. Abraham asked God that Ishmael might live before Him, but the LORD said that His everlasting covenant would be established with Sarah’s son who would be called Isaac (laughter) for Abraham and Sarah laughed at the thought of having a child so late in life.

To review, when Abram was seventy-six years old God promised him an heir. Ten years later, and impatient, he knew Hagar who bore him a son called Ishmael. Thirteen years after the birth of his first son God promised Abraham a son through his wife Sarah. God promised Abraham that Ishmael would be the father of twelve princes, and a great nation; but the everlasting covenant would be through Isaac and his descendants (Ge 17:19).

So Sarah conceived according to the word of the LORD, and she bore Abraham a son; and Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born according to all that God had spoken (Ge 21:2).

As Isaac grew so did the tension between Sarah and Hagar, and God said to Abraham:

Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named (Ge 21:12).

And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant (Ge 21:13).

So Abraham sent Hagar and the boy away, and he lived in the wilderness of Paran (Arabia) in the NE section of the Sinai. The Bible tells us that God promised Hagar to make Ishmael a great nation, and God was with the lad as he grew (Ge 21:18, Ge 21:20).

We noted earlier that Islam contends the covenant promise passed through the first-born son Ishmael; but this is contradictory to what the Bible teaches. The sensitive question, then, is whether the Bible is wrong, or the Qu’ran (for this has profound implications regarding the messianic lineage). Does the Messiah come through the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or is He a descendant of Ishmael?

A flash point of this controversy is Ge 22:1-2 where God commands Abraham to offer his only son as a sacrifice:

Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” God said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I tell you.”

[We believe that Moriah is also the location of the Temple Mount, and the place where Christ was crucified.]

Islam teaches that the only son whom you love can be none other than Ishmael for he was (before Isaac) the only son of Abraham. Muslims insist that the Bible is corrupt, or the Jews lied about whom Abraham offered upon the altar.

Whereas the Bible teaches that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac the Qu’ran teaches that Abraham simply had a dream:

…and when he was old enough to go about and work with him, (one day) Abraham said to him: “My son, I see in my dream that I am slaughtering you (Surah 37:102).

The son, who is not named, consents to the will of Allah until the angel intervenes to halt the sacrifice. Later, the messengers of God give the good news to Abraham about the birth of Isaac (Surah 37:112).

So we see, then, that in the Qu’ran Abraham sacrifices his unnamed son before Isaac is even born though a number of Muhammad’s companions identified Isaac as the son Abraham placed upon the altar thus adding confusion to a multitude of discrepancies.

It is problematic that the Qu’ran is consistently out of step with the Bible. In the Genesis account the angel of the LORD appears to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre to reveal that Sarah will have a son, and the Bible says that Sarah laughed to herself upon hearing the news (Ge 18:12) thus her son was to be called Isaac (laughter).

In the Qu’ran, Sarah laughs upon hearing the news of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; and only afterwards is told of the birth of Isaac.

There are hundreds of factual errors and historical inconsistencies in the Qu’ran, but its most egregious is its denial of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Muslims do not believe in the atonement of blood sacrifice).

Indeed, it’s as if Islam shuffled the Biblical accounts of both the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) to produce a counterfeit copy of Holy Scripture which denies essential Judeo-Christian doctrine.

Even more alarming is that Islam teaches the messiah will come from the lineage of Abraham’s son Ishmael. The 12th Imam, or Mahdi will come at the end of the age to correct the errors of Judaism and Christianity; proclaim Islam as the one true religion; and destroy all those who refuse to submit.

The servant of Allah who will announce the coming of the Mahdi will be, they say, the prophet Jesus.

All of this is unfolding because Abraham did not wait on the LORD to fulfill His promise of an expectant heir. What causes Muslims, and we dare say most sects, cults and even the Jehovah’s Witnesses, to stumble is their misunderstanding of Bible terms such as begotten, and only son, or yachiyd in Hebrew which means unique or special.

The story of Abraham and his son Isaac was an archetypical revelation of the relationship between YHWH and His son Jesus Christ. We have two sons uniquely begotten. Isaac was a type of Christ, and legal heir to the Abrahamic covenant, who pointed to HaMashiach Yeshua the only begotten Son of God.

Of course, the Qu’ran rejects the Biblical plan of redemption and salvation claiming that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Jesus were Muslim prophets of Allah which begs the question: Which came first, the Bible or the Qu’ran?

Islam teaches that the “Book” was given to Moses and the ancient prophets (even to Jesus), and was delivered verbally to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel from 610-632 AD. It was passed on through recitation and memorization (Qu’ran means recite) until Muhammad’s death. Muslims believe the text is uncorrupted.

The Bible established the testimony of two or three witnesses to confirm what is true (2 Cor 13:1, Mt 18:16, Dt 17:6, Dt 19:15). We have defended the Biblical account of Abraham and Isaac from the pages of Genesis, but there is yet another testimony from scripture that corroborates what we read in the Torah, and that is from the writer of Hebrews in the B’rit Chadasha:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son, it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called” (He 11:17-18).

We need to tread carefully at this point, or we may find ourselves seeking refuge with Salman Rushdie; but Satan is the father of all lies. He lied to Eve, and has been deceiving the world ever since the expulsion.

It is frightening that the Mahdi and his prophet (Jesus?) sound very much like the beast and the dragon in the Book of Revelation who deceive many with false signs and wonders. Could it be that the end time Antichrist is actually the Islamic messiah?

Is the Dome of the Rock atop the Temple Mount the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet and Jesus Christ?

Could it be that the restoration of the Roman Empire refers not to the papacy, but to the Eastern (Constantine) Empire which is today very much Islamic?

Finally, are you waiting on God—for anything? Don’t be impatient like Abraham, but meditate on the words of Isaiah the prophet:

The LORD longs to be gracious to you … Blessed are all who wait for Him (Is 30:18).

Selah.

Video Series: The Sons of Promise

Next: Has God Forsaken Us?

Was Abraham Saved By the Law?

The short answer to this question posed by a reader is, no. The Law had not yet been given. Moses delivered the Law to the children of Israel 430 years after Jehovah made His promise to Abram. 

In Abram’s day there were no Jews or Israelites. Abram was both a Semite (descended from Noah’s son Shem), and a Hebrew (descended from Shem’s son Eber). Jehovah extended His promise to Abram’s son Isaac; and again to Isaac’s son Jacob whom the LORD renamed Israel. [Jews descended from Judah, one of Israel’s twelve sons.]

If Abram could not be saved by the Law, how then was he justified? The Apostle Paul teaches very clearly that no one can be saved by works lest any man should boast; but many people have told us that they believe God will save them simply because they are a good person. If this were true then:  

The grace of God is nullified, and Christ’s death on the cross was meaningless.

We read in Genesis (chapter 15) that God told a mystified Abram his reward would be great. Abram replied that he had no children for an inheritance so the LORD took him outside and said:

Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them. So shall your descendants be (Ge 15:5).

The Bible says that Abram believed the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. Abram was 85 years old. It wasn’t until Abram was 99 years old that the LORD commanded him to be circumcised.

We read that the LORD declared to Abram:

I am God Almighty…I will establish My covenant between Me and you…No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham (or father of many nations). And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you (Ge 17:1-5, 11).

We have seen that Abraham was already deemed righteous by God apart from the Law, and that circumcision was a sign of that covenantal relationship much like baptism is today.

Some readers see a division between the Apostle Paul and James  (half-brother of Yeshua) regarding the faith of Abraham. Both New Testament writers point to the Genesis account that Abram’s belief was counted as righteousness, but James adds that by his works Abraham’s faith was justified.

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (Jas 2:18).
  
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and he was called a friend of God (Jas 2:21-23).

The offering of Isaac is an interesting study of faith. It’s a common misconception that Isaac was but a lad when Abraham offered him to the LORD. The Hebrew word for lad—used also to describe the accompanying servants—can also be translated young man.

Also, Abraham instructed Isaac to carry the stock of wood up the mountain to burn at the altar; a difficult task for a little boy, but not so for a grown man. Additionally, the historical references in Genesis suggest that some time had passed before Jehovah had commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son whom some historians determine was in the range of 20-33 years of age.

More important to consider is that human sacrifice is an abomination to the LORD; and killing Isaac would effectively dissolve the covenant Jehovah made to Abraham. Abraham had faith that the LORD would either provide a substitutionary atonement, or that He would raise Isaac from the dead. It was a test of faith that Abraham stretched out his hand to slay his son when the Angel of the LORD (pre-incarnate Christ) called out:

Abraham!, Abraham! Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, for now I know that you fear God since you have not withheld your only son from Me (Gen 22:12).

A reader with faithful discernment will see that the offering of Abraham’s son pre-figures the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son—the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.

Next: Did James Contradict Paul?