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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Abraham is a hero of Judaism and Christianity, admired by Jews and Christians alike for his faith and obedience to God. God’s own opinion of Abraham is totally complimentary, saying of him in Genesis 26:5 Abraham obeyed me keeping, my commands, my decrees and instructions.

But a reading of the Abrahamic narratives shows that Abraham made morally hazardous decisions as he learned and refined his outstanding faith. In this post I want to explore the moral decisions of Abraham and God’s reactions to them. A question that may be asked is Did Abraham Sin ? And if the answer to that question is Yes, Abraham sinned then on what basis is God justified in his opinion of Abraham that Abraham obeyed me, keeping my commands, my decrees and instructions.

Abram Fails To Acknowledge Sarai As His Wife In Egypt

The Abrahamic narratives get properly underway in Genesis 12 where in the first verses of that chapter God’s promises of covenental blessing, manifold descendants and a promised land are made. But quite soon after Abraham’s arrival in Canaan a famine besets the land and Abraham decides to take refuge in Egypt.

Before entering Egypt, Abram instructs Sarai to conceal their marriage relationship and to acknowledge only that she is his sister. This is a half-truth. Sarai is indeed Abram’s half-sister, but Abram instructs Sarai to conceal the full truth of their relationship, which is that they are also married. The motivation for Abraham’s instruction is that his life will be spared and that he will be treated well if Pharoah can be kept unaware that he is Sarai’s husband, since otherwise Pharoah will kill Sarai in order to take her as his own wife due to Sarai’s beauty. The record of this event is in Genesis 12:10-19

Abram conceals the true nature of his relationship with Sarai. Is this a sin ?

Pharoah duly hears about Sarai and his agents deliver Sarai to Pharoah who pays Abram an impressively Pharoah-sized bride price. God then punishes Pharoah afflicting his household house with serious diseases. (v.17) Abram on the other hand becomes massively enriched with Pharoah’s sheep, cattle, male and female donkeys and camels as well as being given numbers of male and female servants.

But why didn’t Abram get into trouble with God ? Did he actually do anything wrong by concealing the full truth about Sarai. If Abram did sin, why didn’t God say or do anything about it ? Does the Lord actually validate Abram’s deceitfulness  ?

Abram Fails To Acknowledge Sarai As His Wife Again. 

Some time after this, Abraham again fails to acknowledge the full truth of his relationship with Sarai, this time when dwelling in the region of Gerar, ruled by King Abimelek (See Genesis 20:6-18). Abram again comes out again massively enriched and the Pagan King again rebuked by God and his nation beset with diseases and infertility amongst the women.

Justifying Abraham

Since God blesses Abram and rebukes the pagan kings one might be led to  assume that Abram’s deceptiveness is morally acceptable to God. How then can we justify Abram ?

First, some have said that Abram’s lack of candour with Pharoah and Abimelek is a justifiable Survival Strategy. After all, to protect oneself against powerful despotic rulers such as Pharoah requires unusual lines of defence, even lying. This argumentsdoes not stand up to inspection. Abram reveals to Abimelek that he (Abram) devised this self-protective line of defence of having Sarai conceal their marriage well in advance of entering Egypt or even Canaan (Gen. 20:13) well before any theat from despotic kings emerged. In any case, Abram admits it was not just King Abimelek he was scared of, but the entire nation of Gerar, which he perceived as dangerous and godless (Gen. 20:11).

Secondly, some say that Abram was using a Righteous Lie which is to say, a lie which serves a greater truth, such as the lie that Rahab the prostitute employed to protect the lives of Moses’ spies against the police force of Jericho.

Thirdly some note that under the then ruling cultural system of Fratriarchy (same as  Laban, Rebekah’s Brother Gen 24:15, 28) the brother was recognised as head of family and so was empowered to negotiate a bride price. Perhaps Abram was justified in utilising a strategy of using bride-price negotiations as a mechanism so as to try and stall Abimelek and Pharoah and so buy time to make a get away ?  In this view Abram was just unlucky that Pharoah and Abimelek were determined to acquire Sarai and would not accept a protracted bride-price negotation.

Fourth, some note that Abram responsible for a household  of people, not just himself and Sarai. Abram had a whole household of people acquired in Harran en-route to Canaan. This household depended on Abram for survival, thus Abram was justified in using practically any means possible to keep himself alive and in a position to defend them, including deception.

Fifth, some note that God instructed Abimelek to ask Abram to pray (intercede) for the healing of Abimelek’s household and so assert that this proves that Abimelek had sinned and that therefore Abram had done nothing wrong.

Despite these apologetics for Abram, I think the Bible shows us that Abram sinned. To discover this, lets look at the record of Abram and the King Of Gerar, as this passage provides the most detail of the two Abram Abandons Sarai passages

Proof That Abram Sinned

Abram’s rationale for his deception of Abimelek, that he, Abram, was amongst a godless people is not supported by the text.  On the contrary, both Pharoah and Abimelech act honourably, displaying knowledge of right and wrong

In Genesis 20:9-10 Abimelek tells God that he is ‘innocent’ and  has a ‘clear conscience’. The Lord agrees with Abimelek, and tells Abimelek that he, the Lord, has acted in mercy to prevent Abimelek from sinning, this mercy taking the form of illness and fertility blighting his household in order to alert  Abimelek to  a situation in his household of whih the Lord disapproved. Abimelek tells Abram to his face that ‘You (Abram) have done things to me that should never be done’

Abram does not dispute Abimelek’s assessment. He just tries to rationalize his behavior.

Abram displays Blameshifting in recounting his rationale to Abimelek, implying its all God’s fault, apparently, that this has happened, not Abram’s: ‘God caused me to wander from my Father’s house’; 20:13

On releasing Sarai to Abram, Abimelech is drily scathing. He says  I have given your brother 1000 pieces of silver.i.e as compensation for wronging him and you. Pharoah was likewise blunt, dismissive and contemptuous of Abram. He is certain that he has been wronged and that Abram is at fault.

What Is The Real Point Of Abram and His Abandonment Of Sarai ?

Actually, Abraham’s sin or lack of it is not central to the narrative.

In fact, the most important person in these narrative is Sarai, not Abram at all. God has promised that He will make Abram into a great nation. But God is going to do that in a way that maximizes His own glory by doing it through miraculous birth. That’s why Sarai is the more important than Abram in the Abandonment narratives. Notice that Abram wants his life to be spared for Sarai’s sake 12:13, Pharaoh treats Abram well for Sarai’s sake 12:16; The Lord afflicts Pharoah for Sarai’s sake 12:17)

The barrenness of Sarai is linked to Messianic promises regarding the Messiah coming from the ‘Seed Of a Woman’, the promise of which God gave to Eve in Genesis 3:15 : The unusual phrase ‘seed of woman’ is a pointer to the miraculous Virgin Birth. Seed is usually associated with men, not women.

Sarai is barren. She is a type of Mary. The Son Of Promise comes through a miraculous birth.

More exactly, Abram and Sarai are the chosen vessels through whom the Messianic line will be propogated. God will insist on doing this miraculously through the barren Sarai. Abram is important only because God has chosen Him. This choice is not in any way because of any intrinsic qualities of Abram. God has simply chosen to love and bless Abram and has promised this blessing unconditionally. Therefore Abram and Sarai, no other couple, will produce the progeny.

Therefore God can allow no doubt as to the parentage of Sarai’s child. It cannot come through Pharoah or Gerar. The promised child must come through Sarai and by Abram so that God’s promises are proven to be fulfilled by God. This is a matter of God’s character and faithfulness. Not Abram’s.

Hence Sarai must be returned to Abram. This is what God engineers, protects, instigates and maintains.

Covenental Promises Made To Abraham

The actions of God in these Sarai Abandoned narratives demonstrate His faithfulness to those promises, not His validation of any supposed sinlessness of Abram

God promised Abraham that I will Bless You (12:2) and Your name will be great (12:3)

In Genesis 20:7 God tells Abimelek that Abraham will pray for you and you will live for he is a prophet.  That intercession is not due to any sin of Abimelek, but is the action of God uplifting Abraham in the sight of the Kings of the region, naming him as a Prophet and so making Abram’s name great. God defends Abram, effectively  telling the Kings of the region. You don’t mess with Abram. He is my man, my chosen instrument. Wealth, military might and skill,  spiritual power, The Hand Of God is on Abram.

Most importantly these Sarai Abandonment narratives show that the fulfillment of God’s promises does not depend on man’s effort or skill  or goodness, but solely on God’s Goodness, Faithfulness and Character.

Whether or not Abram has commits any sin is not germane to the success of God’s mission or to validate his choice of this or that person to bring about His plans. God chooses to be personally faithful in bringing His own promises to pass.

Harmony With Other Patriarchal Narratives

God sovereignly and providentially acts through misguided, ethically perilous acts of humanity even in His chosen family to realize His promises. We see this repeatedly in the Patriarchal narratives. Isaac,  Jacob and Judah all provide examples of how God works his will through tragically flawed and imperfect human vessels.

God makes His promises, His people imperil them, but the Lord rescues them and us.

Even the great Abraham is imperfect.

God is the hero of every story in scripture and of all our own personal stories.

My Personal Favourite Is Isaac

Isaac ignored what He knew to be God’s will to pass the Covenental Blessings of Yahwah to Jacob. Isaac planned to pass those blessings to Esau in defiance of the prophecy given to Rebekah regarding Jacob when he was born ‘the older will serve the younger’ (Gen 26:23).

Jacob lies to Isaac and says ‘I am Esau your firstborn’ (Genesis 27:19), Isaac delivers the blessing saying  ‘Be Lord over your brothers’ and then to his great shock the real Esau comes into his tent. The Hebrew charad means to shudder with terror’. Scripture says Isaac trembled violently ‘Who was that, then ?’ .

God was in that very room living and active and Isaac was caught red-handed trying to monkey around with the Lord’s promises. The Lord had personally acted to defend his covenant.

As for Judah, well he breaks his vow to Tamar, and has no compunction about sleeping with shrine prostitutes and plotting murder, and yet the line of the Messiah goes through him.

In view of the above, Does the Lord tolerate sin: No – Moses (Would have killed him), Jacob, Judah

Finally, not that it matters since The Koran is not among the true Holy Books of God, I would like to note that even The Koran acknowledges that Abraham sinned.

See Bukhari 4:55:578 and 4:55:591 – Doubt about Allah giving life to Dead. Also Koran 21:51 and 26:82 where Abraham’s history as a polytheist who worshipped the Sun, Moon and Stars is recorded.

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Shia Muslims are fond of claiming that Jesus did not die on the cross, but rather that a Look-Alike was substituted into Jesus place by God and it was this Look-Alike who actually died on the cross. By this means, Shia reject the basic message of Biblical Salvation Jesus Died On The Cross For Your Sins.

Shia go as far as to say that the Look-Alike substitution theory is taught in The Bible. This article will refute that claim.

  1. The Look Alike Of Jesus

 

The website of the Shia sect ‘Ansar’  has an article called The Look Alike Of Jesus.

The Ansar hold to orthodox Shia teaching with the important exception that they believe the  Shia saviour, The Mehdi, has already returned to earth to commence the events leading to Armageddon. For this reason the Ansar are rejected as heretic by orthodox Shia. But in all other respects the Ansar hold to Orthodox Shia teaching. Hence I will use the Ansar article, linked above, as representative of Shia teaching on The Look-Alike of Jesus.

The Ansar article says that a young man replaced Jesus on the cross and that this young man is a vice-regent (Caliph) from the family of Mohammed whose appearance was changed so that he looked like Jesus.

The twelfth man who came, or say descended from heavens, is the vice-regent from the family of Muhammad (PBUH), who was crucified and killed, after he was made to look like Jesus (PBUH)

The Ansar article contradicts the Bible.

The Bible says that Jesus died on the cross, not a substitute, and does not mention any Look- Alike. According to the Bible, Jesus Himself was crucified and later resurrected. According to the Bible Jesus appeared to many hundreds of his followers after being raised from the dead and was recognised by his friends and companions. John 21:14 is a representative scripture. This scripture says:

 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

So, the Bible is clear that it is Jesus who died on the cross and was raised from the dead, not any substitute or Look-Alike.

It is thus ridiculous for the Ansar, or anyone for that matter, to claim that The Bible teaches that a Look-Alike was substituted for Jesus on The Cross. The Bible clearly and plainly teaches that it was Jesus who went to The Cross, died, and was resurrected.

2. Ansar Details Of Events Completely Different To Bible

 

The Ansar article says the twelve were meeting in a house at the time Jesus was arrested.

The Bible says the twelve were not meeting in a house, they were meeting in a garden (John 18:1)

The Ansar article says that Jesus had water dripping from his hair when he spoke to the others

The Bible says that Jesus was sweating drops of blood, not merely dripping water from his hair. (Luke 22:44)

The Ansar article gives an incorrect translation of Jesus’s words on the cross  Eli, Eli, lema sabachtani, saying they are a call to Imam Ali.

Jesus was calling out to God using his first language which is Aramaic. They are correctly translated in the Bible as ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me ?’ (Matthew 27:46). The Ansar deliberately mistranslate the Aramaic of Jesus in order to make their case for a Shi’a substitution theory. This is a gross corruption of God’s Holy Book, The Injeel, by The Ansar, of which they should be greatly ashamed.

Furthermore it is ridiculous to state that Jesus was calling out to Imam Ali for assistance on the cross. Imam Ali was not even born until  600 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. How could Ali possibly be available to assist anyone six centuries before his birth ?

Finally, it would be blasphemous for Jesus to pray to Imam Ali. The Bible is clear that prayer must only be directed to God. The Ansar thus implicate Jesus in a blasphemous act of Shirk, associating Imam Ali with God and praying to Imam Ali. Jesus would never do such a thing.

Question: Why do The Ansar deliberately mistranslate the words of Jesus ?.

  1. Jesus Asks For A Volunteer

 The Ansar article says Jesus asked for a volunteer to replace him on the cross

 ‘then [Jesus] said, verily Allah is raising me to him this hour, and He is my purifier from the Jews, so who among you is to have my ghost thrown upon him that he may be killed and crucified and be with me in my status/level? So a young man from them said, I am, O spirit of Allah, so he said, so you are he”.

The Bible says that Jesus Himself went to the cross and never asked for a volunteer to replace Him. There is no record in the Bible of any Look-Alike, any request for a Look-Alike or of any conversation with a Look-Alike.

Question: The Ansar give a false report that Jesus asked His Disciples to volunteer to take His place on The Cross and that a Look-Alike  embedded in their midst by Allah volunteered to be that substitute on The Cross and that the Disciples of Jesus knew about this substitution.  If Disciples knew of the Look Alike and his substitution for Jesus, why didn’t they tell everybody about it instead of transmitting an untrue story that Jesus had been crucified ?

  1. The Reason For The Crucifixion

The Ansar article says that the Look Alike was killed for various reasons relation to the Mahdi including  for the resurrection of Imam Al Mahdi.

The Bible says that Jesus was crucified as a sacrifice of payment to pay for the sins of mankind. (Matthew 26:28; Matthew 20:28)

Once again we see the Ansar reports in contradiction to The Bible. Far from supporting The Ansar substitution theory, The Bible directly contradicts it.

  1. King Of The Jews

The Ansar article says that Jesus was evasive when asked ‘Are you King Of The Jews’, answering ‘You say that I am’. The Ansar article explains this evasion by stating that the Look Alike gave this evasive answer to avoid stating clearly that he was not Jesus.

The explanation of Jesus’s words given by the Ansar article is not correct. When Jesus says ‘You Have Said So’ he means ‘Yes’.

For example in Luke 22:70 The High Priest asks Jesus ‘Are You The Son Of God’, Jesus answers ‘You say that I am’ The Priests say ‘We have heard it from His own lips’

This can be further seen from other passages where the same expression is used:

“‘The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.’ Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, ‘Surely it is not I, Rabbi?’ He answered, ‘You have said so.’” Matthew 26:24-25 NAB

It is obvious that Jesus was not denying that Judas was his betrayer, but was rather confirming that Judas had answered his own question.

“Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charge against him, saying, ‘We found this man misleading our people; he opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king.’ Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He said to him in reply, ‘You say so.’” Luke 23:1-3 NAB

That Jesus’ reply was taken as an affirmation can be seen in the charges posted above his cross:

“Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, ‘If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription that read, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’” Luke 23:37-38 NAB

In fact, Christ’s enemies started mocking him for claiming to be God’s Son obviously due to his confession before the Sanhedrin:

“And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said“I am the Son of God.”’” Matthew 27:39-43 RSV

From the above discussion we can plainly see that when we read the full context of scripture that Jesus’ answer to the question about Him being King Of The Jews is plainly ‘Yes, I am’.

Finally, look at Jesus answer to The High Priest in Mark 14. The High Priest asks Jesus “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”. Jesus answered him ‘I am’ (Mark 14:61-62)

In Mark 14, Jesus answer is very direct. This is because Mark has translated the meaning of Jesus’ answer, whereas Matthew and Luke record Jesus’ exact words.

Question: Why does the Ansar website use Jesus words from Luke 22 and Matthew 26 and not from Mark 14 Why do the Ansar ignore scripture that proves that Jesus answer ‘You say that I am’ means ‘Yes’?

  1. Descended From Heaven

The Ansar article says that the Look Alike came from Heaven. It quotes John 18:37 as Jesus saying that he came into the world from heaven and ascribes this to the Look Alike.

The Bible tells us that Jesus said many times that Jesus came from Heaven. There are many scriptures which say this before the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.

For example in John 6:38 Jesus says “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”

In John 3:13 Jesus says of Himself

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.

Jesus said He came from Heaven. This is a true statement made many times by Him. And Jesus said this many times before His trial and crucifixion, which means he said it before the Ansar claim there was a Look Alike.

Quite obviously the one descended from Heaven is Jesus Himself. No Look-Alike is ever mentioned.

7. Jesus Asked The Father That He Should Not Go To The Cross

The Ansar article quotes Matthew 26:42-43 to say that Jesus prayed that he would not go to the cross and that therefore Allah answered this prayer so that Jesus was not crucified.

And pay attention that Jesus is a sent prophet and he had asked from Allah swt to be healed and to push the crucifixion and the torture and the killing away from him, and Allah swt does not return back a du’a of a sent prophet.

The Ansar article is incorrect in its understanding of Jesus prayer and The Father’s response. Jesus does say that he would wish there was an alternative path for Him other than the cross  but Jesus also knows that it is The Father’s will for Jesus to endure the cross and be killed there. Jesus knows there is no other way for Him. So he submits to the father’s will. He says ‘not my will, but yours be done’ (Matt. 26:39).

There is no mention of a Look Alike in this conversation between Jesus and the Father. In fact the text makes it plain that there is no other way for Jesus than to submit to the Father’s will and die on the cross. Jesus willingly allows Himself to be captured and stops Peter from trying to defend him (Matt 26:52). Jesus knows that the cross is necessary to fulfill prophecy of scripture and the Will of God (Matt 26:52-54).

Question: If The Father sent a Look Alike for Jesus, why is it not mentioned in the Injeel ? In particular, why is the Look Alike not mentioned in the very passage where Jesus supposedly requests from The Father that Jesus be spared The Cross ?

Plainly there is no Look Alike and it is Jesus who went to The Cross.

  1. Silent Before The Shearers

The Ansar website says that Jesus went to the cross without opening his mouth, without teaching, reproving or correcting his listeners. The reason the Shi’a assert this is to assert that they wish to say that because the Look-Alike assumed Jesus identity in the Garden Of Gethsemane then Jesus’ teaching came to an end at this point, so the Look-Alike renained silent.

In fact Jesus taught continuously while he was on the cross and while he was on his way to the cross (supposedly the time when the Look Alike had taken over His appearance and identity). Here are some examples of Jesus teaching after The Garden Of Gethsemene, during and after His trial, on His way to the cross and and while He was on the cross

Mark 14:47 – Teaches that the cross is predicted by the Holy Books

Mark 14:60 – Teaches High Priest that he is Messiah and Son Of God.

Matthew 27:46 – On the cross Jesus quotes from Psalm 22 teaching everyone that His death is predicted by the Holy Books

Luke 22:45 – Teaches that prayer prevents temptation

Luke 22:51 – Heals a man and prevents violence teaching violence is not the straight path

Luke 22:61 – Teaches Peter that cowardice is wrong.

Luke 22:68-70 – Teaches Jewish scholars that He is Son Of God

Luke 23:28-31 – Teaches that disaster will soon come to Jerusalem

Luke 23:33 – Teaches forgiveness

Luke 23:43 – Teaches about paradise

Jesus stayed silent only before his accusers. The reason that Jesus stayed silent before His accusers was to fulfill prediction of scripture. In Isaiah 53:7 it is written

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)

So, Jesus stays silent to fulfill the prediction that he will be silent before his death in the face of the oppressors. He will behave like a lamb. As Yahyia said, Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29), who by His sacrifice, brings peace between God and man by the forgiveness of sins.

8. Fulfillment Of Prophecy

The Tawrat, Injeel and Zaboor all teach us that al-Masih will be crucified as a ransom for the sins of mankind.

This means it is impossible that anyone should replace Jesus on the cross, because it is the mission of Jesus Messiah to go to the cross. No-one else is qualified to take His place.

The earliest prophecy of Al-Masih being crucified is in Tawrat Genesis 3:15 and 21.

The most magnificent prophecy of Al-Masih being crucified is in Tawrat Genesis 22 where Hazrat Ibrihim offers his loved son for sacrifice, but the son is replaced by a ram.

Moses, Daoud and all prophets sacrificed. Why  is sacrifice so important ?

Yahyia said Al-Masih is The Lamb Of God

Jesus said His purpose was to give his life as a ransom for many, Matthew 20:28. See also Surah as-Saffat 37:107 where the Allah provides a Ram as a ransom for Abraham’s son.

Jesus says he is the fulfillment of prophecy of the sacrificial lamb. So He is the one sacrificed. There is no replacement for Him

See Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 for Old Testament prophecies that the Messiah must be crucified.

Of course, Jesus Himself taught that it was His mission to die on The Cross.Here is Matthew 16:21 as a representative scripture. Many more could be added.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Since The Word Of God says that The Messiah must be crucified it is not possible that a Look-Alike could be permitted by God to take the place of The Messiah on The Cross. By doing this God would invalidate the mission of The Messiah and falsify His own Holy Books.

Conclusion

The Ansar case for a Look Alike substituting for Jesus Messiah on The Cross is complete rubbish from beginning to end. Far from The Bible supporting such a theory, The Bible and Jesus Messiah directly contradict it. For this reason The Ansar and similar groups even resort to falsifying scripture by deliberate mistranslation and constructing a forged history of Jesus Messiah.

 

May God forgive them their blasphemies and lead them to repentance.