Islamic Philosophy of Jesus and Moses

QUESTION: Islamic Philosophy – Jesus and Moses

ANSWER:

Muslims contend that Jesus could not have fulfilled the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18 because He did not proclaim the law like Moses. However, the biblical account clearly shows that Jesus sought to restore the people of God to the purity of the law. This is seen most clearly in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7). Consider Jesus’ thesis statement in Matthew 5:17–20: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In proclaiming the endurance of the law, as well as the importance of obeying the law, Jesus surely sounds like Moses (see Deuteronomy 30:11–16). In addition, Jesus gave laws to His people. In John 14:34, Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Later New Testament authors even speak of “the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 9:21).

Islamic Philosophy – The Legacy of the Prophets
So, Jesus is a prophet and, like Moses, a proclaimer of the law, but Muslims do not agree that the phrase “from among their brothers” refers to an Israelite prophet. They believe the passage refers to non-Israelites, as it does in Deuteronomy 2:4 and 2:8, which refers to the descendants of Esau.

Yet within the context of Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 “brethren” cannot be taken to mean anything other than a reference to fellow Israelites. For example, Deuteronomy 17:15 provides the stipulation for the installment of a king over Israel. He was to be “from among your own brothers,” not “a foreigner” (and Muhammad definitely was a foreigner to Israel). The king was to write a copy of the law for himself and read it all the days of his life, so he will not “consider himself better than his brothers” (17:20). Deuteronomy 18:2 explains that the Levites would not be granted an allotment of the promised land, having “no inheritance among their brothers.” And as the Israelites prepare for the battles they will face as they enter the promised land, they are told that if one of them is fearful, “Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too” (20:8). Thus Jesus fulfills completely this aspect of the prophecy, for He (in contrast to Muhammad) was an Israelite (see the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3).

In addition to the evidence that Jesus, His disciples, and other New Testament authors agree that Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 was fulfilled in Jesus, John says that the words Jesus spoke were from God and that He proclaimed them to Israel: “Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from him [God] who sent me’” (John 7:16). “So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me’” (John 8:28). “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it” (John 12:49).

That Jesus proclaimed the Word of God to Israel is a truth evident in even a cursory reading of the New Testament gospels. The weight of the evidence supports the Christian conviction that the promise of Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 was fulfilled in Jesus, not in Muhammad. Thus Jesus’ challenge rings true, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (John 5:46).

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

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