A Muslim friend recently told me that the coming of Islam is prophesied in the Bible, specifically in Deuteronomy 33:2
And Moses said, “The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.”
My friend told me that the three mountains in this verse represent three revelations: that Mt. Sinai represents the law given to Moses, Mt. Seir the Gospel given to Jesus and that Mt. Paran represents Islam because Mt. Paran is located near Mecca.
My friend is incorrect in his thesis for a number of reasons. The first of these is that Mt. Seir does not represent the Gospel or Jesus. For my friend’s chronological prophetic interpretation of this verse to be correct, and for Mt. Paran to represent Islam, then Mt Seir must represent Jesus or His Gospel. If Mt. Seir does not represent Jesus, then the chronology is broken and Mt. Paran cannot represent Islam.
Mt. Seir Does Not Represent Jesus Or The Gospel.
While it is true that Mt. Sinai represents the Mosaic covenant, Mt. Seir does not represent the Gospel. Biblically, Mt. Seir represents the nation of Edom. The Edomites are the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob. Jacob’s descendants became the nation of Israel.
The Biblical data that ties Seir to Edom is immense, straightforward and incontrovertible. The first mention of Seir states that Seir is place where Esau and his descendants went to dwell after Esau parted from Jacob.
Esau dwelt in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom. These are the descendants of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. (Genesis 36:8)
Mt Seir represents Edom. It does not represent Jesus.
Edomites,The Enemies Of God, Cannot Possibly Represent Jesus, The Son Of God
The Edomites on the other hand are continuously described in the Old Testament as being the enemies of God’s people and of God Himself. There is an enormous amount of scripture which describes how Edom is opposed to God, His people and His purposes, how God is opposed to Edom and how Edom will certainly be destroyed by the judgement of God.
Jesus cannot oppose or destroy himself.
Jesus cannot be represented by His enemies.
Hence Mt. Seir cannot represent Jesus.
(See ‘Edom, The Enemies Of God’, below, for more detail on Edom)
Paran Does Not Represent Islam Or Mecca
In the Bible, Mt. Paran is associated with Teman, which is a region within Edom. Paran is not associated with Mecca.
The Book of Habbakuk associates Mt.Paran with Teman. The Books of Jeremiah and Obadiah associate Teman with Edom. Hence Paran is located in Edom, not Mecca.
God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran
– Habbakuk 3:3
That Teman is a region with Edom is seen from Jeremiah 49:1. Jeremiah uses Teman as a synonym for the nation of Edom, the part representing the whole. The prophet Obadiah does the same (see Obadiah 1:9).
Concerning Edom. Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Is there no more wisdom in Teman,
has counsel perished from the prudent,
is their wisdom gone?
– Jeremiah 49:1
Since The Bible locates Paran in Edom, Paran cannot be associated with Mecca and therefore does not represent Islam.
For the record, Edom was located on the southern borders of Judah (southern Israel), the Dead Sea and Southern Jordan (ancient Moab). It also extended into the Negev. Edom is nowhere near Mecca.
Further Reasons Why Deuteronomy 33:2 Does Not Refer To Islam
The above discussion shows conclusively that Deuteronomy 33:2 does not refer to Islam. The interpretation relies on a chronology which associates Jesus with Seir and Islam with Paran. But the Bible does not associate Jesus with Seir. The chronology and therefore the interpretation thus fails. Apart from this, The Bible associates Paran with Edom, not Mecca.
In the following section I will present some further reasons why Deuteronomy 33:2 does not refer to Islam.
First, the time reference of Deuteronomy 33:2 is the past, not the future.
For the Muslim interpretation of Deut. 33:2 to be correct, it must refer to the future. But it does not. The verse looks back to an event in the past, namely The Lord giving the law to Moses at Sinai. The Muslim interpretation of Deut. 33:2 is thus flatly illogical. It cannot refer to Islam.
Secondly, the immediate context of the verse is historical and not the future. Muslims and Christians alike hold to the principle of interpretation of scripture within context. To understand a single verse within Deuteronomy it is necessary in the first instance to read the verses immediately around it and then the entire chapter in which the verse is situated.
So it is that the verses immediately following verse 2 describe the subject matter of verse 2. The covenant describes in v.2 is the law that Moses gave us (v.4) (not any other covenant or covenants) and the people blessed by the covenant are the assembly of Jacob (v.4), otherwise known as the tribes of Israel (v.5)
Thus the plain and obvious context of Deuteronomy 33:2 is Moses, Israel and the Jews; not Mohammed, Mecca and the Muslims.
Edom, The Enemies Of God
This section provides some more detail about how the Bible presents Edom as the enemies of God.
The Bible continuously describes how Edom opposes both God and His people, Israel, how Edom opposes God’s plans and attempts to hinder His work, and states that Edom hates and rejects God Himself.
Edom’s hostility to Israel is first seen on Israel’s journey to the Promised Land after God delivers the Israelites from Egypt. .Israel seek passage through the land of Edom to Canaan, but Edom deny them, presenting an armed force in doing so, thus forcing Israel into a circuitous route around their borders (Numbers 20:14-21).
The Lord’s anger against Edom here is not merely that they inconvenienced Israel but that they denied Israel the rights of family. Since Edom is descended from Esau, Jacob’s brother, and Israel is descended from Jacob, then Israel and Edom were brothers in the sight of God and all Middle Easterners. So Edom should have, and was obliged to, provide support for Israel instead of opposition. This is a serious family insult and very sinful by the standards of Middle Eastern culture.
The motive for Edom’s opposition to Israel was resentment and jealousy because Esau, the older brother of Jacob, had been bypassed by God who delivered Esau’s rights as firstborn son, as well as ownership of God’s covenental promises to Abraham, to Jacob. In jealousy, Edom now sought revenge on Israel by attempting to deny them the fulfillment of those promises, specifically the promise of land given by God to Abraham. In short, Edom was attempting to hinder God’s work and purposes by opposing Israel’s pilgrimage to the promised land of Canaan.
Edom, in opposing God’s purposes, made himself the enemy of God.
Edom’s jealousy of Israel continued even after Israel was established in the land of Canaan. When Israel was attacked, Edom allowed his brother nation to be plundered, indeed, went down to plunder Israel himself and cheered on the enemies of Israel as they destroyed his brother in bloody warfare. Edom hoped to gain from the destruction of Israel by becoming the eventual possessor of the Promised Land for himself.
“Because you said, `These two nations [the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel] and these two countries shall be mine, and we will take possession of them ,’—although the LORD was there—therefore, as I live, says the Lord GOD, I will deal with you according to the anger and envy which you showed because of your hatred against them. (Ezekiel 35:10-11)
It is sad to discover that Edom’s hatred of Israel became a hatred of The Lord Himself. Edom came to hate God because God had favoured Jacob over Esau.
And you magnified yourselves against me with your mouth, and multiplied your words against me; I heard it. Thus says the Lord GOD: (Ezekiel 35:13)
Edom has made himself an enemy of God’s people and of God Himself. Consequently Edom will be judged
As you rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so I will deal with you; you shall be desolate, Mount Seir, and all Edom, all of it. (Ezekiel 35:15)
Edom is quite simply the nation with which the Lord is angry for ever. Edom’s judgement is certain and irrevocable.:
If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins, the LORD of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, till they are called the wicked country, the people with whom the LORD is angry for ever (Malachi 1:4)
Seir does not represent Jesus or His Gospel
Seir is the home of the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, who are enemies of God, His purposes and His people, and who stand under God’s decree of judgement.