In article <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org (Misha'al Al-Kadhi) writes: | The question is simple: | | "Does the Bible *EXPLICITLY* say *ANYWHERE*, from cover to cover, that | Allah is *THREE* or that Allah is a *TRINITY*, or that Allah is three | gods merged into one God, etc.? Further, did prophet Jesus (peace be | upon him) *EVER*, even *ONCE* in the whole Bible ever *EXPLICITLY* say | 'I am God' or 'Worship me'?" Several Christians [including myself] have already confirmed that these "exact words" do not appear in the Bible. So, after "lowering the standard" as you call it, I do want to present to you claims that are pretty near to "explicit" and were understood by the Jews as such. Sadly my question here on the newsgroup about the meaning or status of the Kaaba didn't turn up as much insight as I hoped. So I am still not sure if the Kaaba has a similar meaning to Muslims as the Temple in Jerusalem to the Jews. But would I be completely mistaken with the following impression: Imagine during Hajj next year, somebody would stand in front of the Kaaba in Mekka and shout audibly to the crowd of pilgrims in the `House of God' "I am greater than the Kaaba". Is my guess completely wrong that this person would be dead in less than five minutes? Wouldn't the crowd of pilgrims make an end to this blasphemy rather quickly? [And I am not talking at all about violence and whether it is justified or not - the question is whether in Muslim understanding such a person would deserve to die or not.] What would it mean, if somebody should declare himself to be holier than the most holy place of Islam? -- Try to think about this for a minute before you read further -- Let us now look at the meaning of the Temple according to the Jewish holy scriptures. Exodus 25: 1 The Lord said to Moses: ... [several preparation instructions] ... 8 Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I WILL DWELL AMONG THEM. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Exodus 29: 42 For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the LORD. THERE I WILL MEET YOU AND SPEAK TO YOU; 43 there also I WILL MEET WITH THE ISRAELITES, and the place will be consecrated by my glory. 44 So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. 45 Then I WILL DWELL AMONG THE ISRAELITES and be their God. 46 They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I MIGHT DWELL AMONG THEM. I am the LORD their God. It is the clear promise of the Lord, that HE will be present among them at this very special place [which had to be built exactly according to God's instruction - these things have a lot of symbolic meanings], the tabernacle is the place of God's promised special presence on earth, and the place where humankind in a special way can meet God and hear from God. And King David in one of his Psalms of praise to God says in Psalm 26: 8 I love the house where you live, O LORD, the place where your glory dwells. Later on, King David has the desire to build a temple for the Lord to replace the tabernacle [tent of meeting], but God tells David that he will not be allowed to do so because David is a man of war. But his son Solomon will build the Temple of the Lord. 1 Kings 6: 11 The word of the LORD came to Solomon: 12 "As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, carry out my regulations and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. 13 And I WILL LIVE AMONG the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel." 14 So Solomon built the temple and completed it. And this presence was not only to be "believed". God made it very clear indeed that He is actually, really there. The pillar of cloud and fire - the visible sign of God's presence among them - that went before the children of Israel when though were led out of Egypt by God, appears here again. But read for yourself. 1 Kings 8: 6 The priests then brought the ark of the LORD's covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. 10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. 11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. It is worth reading the whole chapter and Solomon's blessing and prayer of dedication. But for the sake of brevity I will leave that to those interested enough to look it up for themselves [verses 22-66]. Only short excerpts: 22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven 23 and said: "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below--you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 24 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it--as it is today. ... 27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, `My Name shall be there,' so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive. ... 41 "As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name-- 42 for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm--when he comes and prays toward this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. [Tell about Israel's religion was not meant for all mankind!] So Salomon is very aware that this magnificent temple he had built can not contain the splendor of the Almighty God, but nevertheless God in his grace and mercy has declared that this will be his "dwelling place" and has confirmed it by "visibly moving in" [10-11]. And in chapter 9 we read: 1 When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, 2 the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 The LORD said to him: "I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. Okay now, let those passages be enough. Let us move to the New Testament. In order to fully understand the context, I urge you to read all of chapter 12 in the Gospel of Matthew. But in here Jesus clashes with the religious authorities who question his and his disciples behaviour. And in this confrontation Jesus makes the following statements. 6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. That must have hit the Jews like a ton of bricks. Jesus claims that he is more than the temple, the place of the very presence of God among them. And we will see that this is a recurring issue. But that is not all. Jesus has a few more claims in store. Just in case that was still not "explicit" enough for the Jews [and for Mishaal] he goes on to say 8 For the Son of Man [ = Jesus ] is Lord of the Sabbath. In this whole incident before and after these words Jesus was explaining that the Jewish authorities had a wrong understanding of the Sabbath command of God. He was redefining one of God's most holy commands to the Jews. We have to understand that the Sabbath was not just "any command" but the Sabbath was THE sign of the covenant of God with his people Israel. BUT not Jesus does not merely say - as a mere prophet might have done - that they have misunderstood the true meaning of the Sabbath command, ... No, Jesus doesn't just claim to have a new interpretation of how to obey the Sabbath command best, Jesus claims to be ABOVE the Sabbath. Jesus claims to be LORD of the Sabbath, the day singled out for devotion to God, the day sanctified for the Lord God alone, the day spent in worship to God. Can anybody fail to see that this is ton of bricks number two? The Sabbath is "the LORD's Sabbath" and Jesus claims to be "the Lord of the Sabbath". 9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, [and Jesus there does a healing miracle - again defying the religious authorities ... and the consequence is:] 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Is anybody surprised by now that the reaction of the Pharisees is their plan to kill Jesus? Is their reaction any different from what a true Muslim would do to somebody making similar claims? And then after some more healing and confrontation, Jesus makes a few more claims in the same chapter: 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. I won't go into these exact claims here. I only want to point out that Jesus [contrary to common Muslim claims] is definitely not stressing to be human, or to be "just another prophet" like the other prophets God has sent before. I won't go further into the "Lord of the Sabbath" claim either, though this is absolutely explicit a claim. In this article I want to focus on this "greater than the Temple" statement. This verse 6 above is not the only instance where Jesus compares himself with the Temple. In the prolog of the Gospel according to John we read John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word ... and the Word was God. ... 14 And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Remarks: 1) The Word is a title for Jesus - and it is a title for Jesus even in the Qur'an. And "The Word IS God". 2) This Greek verb in "made his dwelling among us" is from the same root as the word for tent/tabernacle - the place of God's presence among Israel, so that some have even translated it as "and he tabernacled among us". 3) As God's glory filled the Tabernacle and the Temple, so it is said, that we [the disciples] have seen his [Jesus - the Word's] glory, which IS the glory of the One and Only [i.e. God]. 4) A thought that just comes to mind - I have never heard it before in an exposition, but it seems very consistent with the other Biblical message -: It is "tabernacled" rather than "templed" among us, because Jesus did not come in great glory and splendor for all to see, but in humility and lowliness. Yes, his glory was seen by the disciples on several occasions [especially on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the appearances of the risen Christ after his mission was fulfilled] but for most of the time, the disciples saw a "normal man" just as everybody else. Now, that is not a word from Jesus himself, but by John [although a strict monotheistic Jew!], and many Muslims do not like that, so let's go on to Jesus own words again. But this is in the prolog of the Gospel because this is a theme that will be recurring throughout as basically everything mentioned in the prolog. The next event happens at the very beginning of Jesus public ministry. John 2: 11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him... ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me." 18 Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" 19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." 20 The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. 23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. Remarks: 1) Jesus has a pretty exclusive understanding of God. The Temple, the house of God is "MY Father's house". 2) Though Jesus is talking pretty cryptic here [as he does many times to those who are in opposition to him and resist him], he basically talks about the exact same and only sign that he will give those who oppose him, the resurrection. In Matthew 12, Jesus calls it 'the Sign of Jonah'. Here again we have the 'raising in/after three days'. He was raised from the DEAD, let's not miss this remark in verse 22. 3) But most important, and that is why I brought this passage up, Jesus himself compares his body with the Temple. What is the Temple? It is "God's dwelling place on earth". It is the "place where I will meet with the Israelites and speak to them". But this, at the very beginning of his ministry, is not the last or only place Jesus claims to be "the temple of God", i.e. the presence of God on earth. Shortly before his crucifixion in a long conversation with his disciples we read the following. John 14: 6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Jesus is not - and in this regard he is fundamentally unlike all other founders of religions, including Muhammad - saying: I know the truth and I have told it to you. Also, he did not say: Follow my words, because if you do you will find life. Jesus claimed: I AM the Truth, I AM the Life. And time and again - contary to all Jewish custom of the religious teachers - he says: "Follow me" not "follow my teachings". 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." Is that some statement of identity, or what? Seeing me you have seen God. But Philip is a little dense and still doesn't get it. 8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." 9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ [God's presence among them] 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. Is this explicit or not? Only inference? Ambiguous? I don't think so. Maybe I would concede that this might have some other meaning if it were the only place that could be understood that way. But it is just too frequent and actually there is hardly a page where Jesus does not claim divinity in one way or another. Now, we have seen Jesus claim to be greater than the Temple in the Gospel according to Matthew, we have seen him to be the "tabernacle" and temple of God in the prolog of John's Gospel and also Jesus own words in two places in John's Gospel [the second disciple testifying to it]. But even Paul does speak about it in clearest terms in Colossians 1: 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 2: [in case you missed it the first time] 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, ... Jesus is the redeemer [=saviour] (verse 14), the image of the invisible God [God among us] (verse 15), the creator (verse 16), the sustainer (verse 17), risen from the dead (verse 18), has supremacy in everthing (verse 18), the dwelling place of God in all his fullness [i.e. not just a little bit of God - all of God] (verse 19 and again 2:9), and the most miraculous of all, making reconciliation of God with man through the shedding his blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sin (verse 14 & 20). Can there be any clearer expression of Jesus Christ's deity? Muslims don't like Paul very much, so I wanted to bring this one last. But it is yet another passage confirming the same claim by Jesus himself, to be God's presence among men, and in view of the words of Jesus and other gospel references given above, it is very clear that, far from perverting the original Injil, Paul's writings are very much in keeping with the message Jesus and his apostles brought. And please remember that Paul for some years has been persecuting and killing Christians for this very reason of blasphemy -- before Jesus appeared to him and called him to be his disciple and Apostle. Paul was not an easy person to convince. And as much as he inflicted suffering on the Christians earlier on, as much he was going to suffer for this faith in Christ later on. Why? Can there be any explanation other than that he was convinced and convicted by the truth and the power of God? Let's conclude with this exploration on the Temple with pointing out that this claim of Jesus (at the very beginning of his ministry) was not forgotten easily and actually surfaced again at his trial where Jesus was finally condemned to death for blasphemy. Matthew 26: 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, "This fellow said, `I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.'" 62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." 64 "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?" "He is worthy of death," they answered. 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists.... and Jesus is tortured, crucified [dead] and buried. After three days he rises again from the dead as he has promised his disciples time and again [though they didn't believe him before they met him as the risen Lord]. Romans 1: 1 ... the gospel of God -- 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
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