Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Incarnation:

Old Testament Objections Considered and Refuted

By Anthony Rogers

The New Testament teaching of the incarnation is deemed by many Muslims to be inconsistent with the teaching of the Old Testament. Several reasons are often put forward, each of which will be dealt with in turn.

God Is God
(He is Not a Man)

Since a handful of passages in the Old Testament say God is not a man that He should lie, repent or change His mind (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Hosea 11:9), many Muslims will argue that Jesus cannot be God incarnate. But this ignores several things:

1. The incarnation was still a future event from the perspective of OT saints (John 1:1-14; Galatians 4:4-5; Romans 1:1-3, 9:1-5; Hebrews 1:1-3), so statements to the effect that God is not a man that were made antecedent to the time when the Divine Word took on Himself a human nature are misdirected. 

2. The passages in question did not rule out the possibility that God could temporarily assume or appear in the form of a man during Old Testament times, something He did many times over (Genesis 18:1-33, 32:24-30; Exodus 15:3, 24:1-18; Numbers 12:5-8; Ezekiel 1-2; Amos 7:7; et al.). If God could temporarily assume a human form without ceasing to be God and without violating the import of this trio of passages, then the same would appear to hold true in the case of the incarnation, for which it may well be argued those earlier appearances during the OT served to prepare for.

3. The same OT that says God is not a man predicts the future coming of God as an actual human being (e.g. Job 19:25; Psalm 68:17-19; Isaiah 7:14, 9:1-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 12:10, 14:3-4; et al.). 

Since these verses in the Old Testament appear alongside verses that say God appeared many times as a man in the past and that He would actually become a human being in the future, it can’t be argued that the passages in question are being interpreted according to their original authorial intent when they are used to rule out the incarnation. In fact, the real thrust of these passages is to show that God is not a fallen or sinful human being; He never lies or goes back on His promises. As Old Testament commentators Keil and Delitzsch say on Numbers 23:

Balaam meets Balak's expectation that he will take back the blessing that he has uttered, with the declaration, that God does not alter His purposes like changeable and fickle men, but keeps His word unalterably, and carries it into execution. The unchangeableness of the divine purposes is a necessary consequence of the unchangeableness of the divine nature. With regard to His own counsels, God repents of nothing; but this does not prevent the repentance of God, understood as an anthropopathic expression, denoting the pain experienced by the love of God, on account of the destruction of its creatures (see at Gen 6:6, and Ex 32:14). (Source)

Since Jesus never lied/lies or failed/fails to keep His promises, as both the OT (e.g. Psalm 16:9-10; Isaiah 11:1-5, 42:1-9, 52:1-53:12; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Malachi 3:1-4) and NT (Luke 1:35; John 7:18, 8:29, 46; 1 Peter 2:22; et al.) affirm, the above verses when interpreted grammatically, historically, and in terms of their immediate and broader canonical context, are not prohibitive of the incarnation.  

For more on these points, see the following articles:

A Trinity of Abused Texts By a Tawheedist
How Can Jesus Be God When the Hebrew Bible Says God is Not a Man?
The Testimony of the Hebrew Bible Concerning God Becoming a Man

God is Immutable
(He Does Not Change)

Another argument often levied against the incarnation is the teaching of the Old Testament that God is immutable, i.e. He does not change. The locus classicus for this teaching is found in Malachi 3:6, which says in part: “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” Another prominent passage that teaches God’s immutability is found in the Psalms, which says of the Lord:

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain and your years will never end. (Psalm 102:25-27)

A common metaphor or word-picture employed in Scripture to communicate God’s immutability is seen in the oft-repeated statement that He is the Rock (1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:3, 32, 47, 23:3; Psalm 18:2, 31, 46, 19:14, 28:1, 31:2, 61:2, 62:2, 7, 71:3, 73:26, 89:26, 92:15, 94:22, 95:1, 144:1; Isaiah 17:10, 26:4, 30:29, 44:8; Habakkuk 1:12), a title first used for Him after He delivered His people from Egypt and when He accompanied and cared for them in the wilderness:

Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as the droplets on the fresh grass and as the showers on the herb. For I proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! THE ROCK! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He. They have acted corruptly toward Him, they are not His children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation. Do you thus repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you. Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, Your elders, and they will tell you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the LORD'S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. The LORD alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the field; and He made him suck honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock, curds of cows, and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs, and rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the finest of the wheat-- and of the blood of grapes you drank wine. (Deuteronomy 32:1-14; see also vv. 15, 18, 30, 31) 

Flowing from the fact that God is unchanging, the Scriptures teach that His word does not change or pass away.

Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89)

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8; cf. 1 Peter 1:23-25)

Muslims believe that all of this militates against the incarnation, but here, again, is another argument that does not apply to what the New Testament teaches or to what Christians believe. In the incarnation Christ did not cease to be God (John 8:58; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 2:8; Colossians 2:9; etc.), so no change to His essential divine nature or character took place; rather, He took on Himself an additional nature, a human nature (Philippians 2:5-10; Romans 9:5; et al.). These two natures are united in His one person without either nature ceasing to be what it was or becoming what it was not. This belief is clearly expressed in the Chalcedonian Creed:

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us. (Source)

Since the incarnation does not posit a change to Christ’s divine nature or character, the incarnation perfectly comports with the teaching of the Old Testament that God does not change. This is why it is not surprising to find not only that the same Old Testament that says God as God does not change and that His covenant faithfulness endures to all generations could appear in human form and would become a man, but the primary passage in the OT that conveys this truth also speaks of the Lord sending a herald ahead of Him to prepare the way for His coming and appearing at His temple, which is hardly what one would expect from a passage that is supposed to weigh in against the incarnation:

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. “Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts. “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’” (Malachi 3:1-7)

The coming one, whose way would be prepared by a messenger, is Himself referred to not only as “the messenger of the covenant,” as well as the one “whom you seek,” the one “in whom you delight,” and who is said to be “like a refiners fire and like fullers’ soap”; He is even referred to as “the Lord.” The phrase here in Hebrew is ha adon (הָאָד֣וֹן), which only refers to God in the Old Testament (Isaiah 1:24, 3:1, 10:16, 10:33 and 19:4 [cf. Joshua 3:11-13; Psalm 97:5; Micah 4:13; Zechariah 4:14 and 6:5]). That He is coming to “His temple” further underscores the divine identity of the coming one. The temple is clearly the temple that Yahweh refers to as “His temple” throughout the Old Testament (2 Samuel 22:7; Psalm 27:4, 29:9; Jeremiah 50:28, 51:11 [cf. Psalm 11:4, 48:9, 65:4, 68:29, 79:1, 138:2; Jonah 2:4, 7; Micah 1:2; Habakkuk 2:20]). 

The above passage in Malachi is closely related to the prophecy of Isaiah, which also teaches that God would clear the way for His coming through a forerunner, and that His glory would then be revealed and be seen by all flesh, i.e. frail humanity:

A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)

All of these passages, including the one from Malachi, are applied to Jesus by New Testament authors, a fact which certifies that they believed Christ is the immutable or unchanging Lord of the prophets: Malachi 3:1ff. (Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2); Isaiah 40:3ff. (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:2; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23). 

Another Old Testament text that was mentioned above (Psalm 102:25-27), and which is often cited to demonstrate that God does not change, is also applied to Jesus in the New Testament, thus showing again that the New Testament authors thought of Jesus was Yahweh, and that for them His becoming a man did not involve any change in His essential divine nature or character:


The book of Hebrews even ends on the same high note: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). 

Jesus is also identified in the NT as the Rock that followed Israel in the wilderness:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)

Likewise, since Jesus is the immutable Lord, the Rock of Israel, His words do not change or pass away:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:35; see also: Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33)

Muslims who appeal to the fact that God does not change to reject the incarnation show that they neither understand the point being made in these Old Testament passages, and that they do not understand the NT teaching about the incarnation, which has nothing to do with God ceasing to be God and has everything to do with God taking on a human nature precisely because He is the unchanging God who is faithful to keep His covenant promises. 

The following articles are of additional relevance to this subject:

Answering "Jesus isn’t God because God Doesn’t Change"
Did God Change at the Incarnation?

God Is Majestic
(He Doesn’t Humble Himself)

Another argument sometimes plied by Muslims to this end is by pointing out that for God to become a man is something that would be beneath him to do, for it would involve God lowering Himself in some way; it would be inconsistent with His exalted majesty. While appearing as a man or becoming a man certainly involves an act of condescension on the part of God, and while it may be the case that the teachings of Islam preclude such a possibility, once again the Old Testament Scriptures do not hesitate to say that God does so humble Himself. In fact, quite apart from the Old Testament teaching that God condescended to appear on occasion as a man and would further condescend by taking on the form of a servant and being born as a man, the very act of God, who is exalted above the heavens and who inhabits eternity, taking note of things in heaven and on earth, i.e. the act of being cognizant or mindful or taking thought of the creatures He has made, involves lowering Himself in some way. As it is written in the Psalms:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor ABOVE the heavens! … When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? (Psalm 8:1, 3-4)

The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. (Psalm 14:2; cf. 53:2 and 85:11)

For He looked down from His holy height; from heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to set free those who were doomed to death, that men may tell of the name of the Lord in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples are gathered together, And the kingdoms, to serve the Lord. (Psalm 102:19-22)

My eyes run down with streams of water Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people. My eyes pour down unceasingly, Without stopping, until the Lord looks down And sees from heaven. (Lamentations 3:48-50)

Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.’ (Deuteronomy 26:15)

And, for a final example:

The LORD is HIGH ABOVE all nations; His glory is ABOVE the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, who is enthroned ON HIGH, who HUMBLES Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth. (Psalm 113:4-6)

How appropriate to the latter portion of Scripture are the words of John Gill:

Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth. The persons the highest heavens, the angels whom he upholds in their beings, and admits into his presence; who always behold his face, and he beholds them, delights in their persons, and accepts their services; which, though pure and perfect, it is a condescension in him to do, since they are but creature services, and chargeable with folly and weakness; and who themselves are as nothing in comparison of him, and veil their faces before him; Job 4:18, also glorified saints are continually in his view, and favoured with intimate communion with him: and he humbles himself to look lower than this, and behold the things in the starry heavens, the sun, and moon, and stars; whom he preserves in their being, directs their courses, and continues their influence; brings out their host by number, calls them by their names, and because of his power not one fails: he looks lower still, and beholds the things in the airy heavens; there is not a meteor or cloud that flies, or a wind that blows, but he observes, guides, and directs it; nor a bird in the air but his eye is on it; he feeds the fowls of the air, and not so much as a sparrow falls to the ground without his knowledge and will: and he also humbles himself to behold persons and things on earth, even every beast of the forest, the cattle on a thousand hills, all the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field; and their eyes are on him, and he gives them their food in due season; he looks down from heaven and beholds all the children of men, and is the Saviour of them in a providential way; in an especial manner his eye, both of providence and grace, is on his own people, whom he beholds in Christ as fair and comely: and rejoices over them to do them good; and he has respect to their services for his sake, and condescends to dwell on earth with them. This may also be applied to Christ, who humbled himself to look upon the angels in heaven, and take them under his care and protection, be the head of them, and confirm them in that estate in which they were created: and who from all eternity vouchsafed to look with delight upon the sons of men, rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth, where he knew they would dwell; and in the fulness of time he humbled himself to come down on earth in human nature and dwell among men, and become very man in that nature; made himself of no reputation, and humbled himself so as to become obedient to death, the death of the cross, and be made sin and a curse for his people. This was an humiliation indeed! (Exposition of the Entire Bible by John Gill, Psalm 113)

As well, any revelation on the part of God – something Muslims believe their Allah deigned to do, a fact that turns out to be quite inconsistent given their view that God does not lower himself – is itself an act of condescension, an act whereby God necessarily stoops, as it were, to speak to creatures who are far beneath Him. For God to speak to His creatures necessarily involves an act of self-humbling. 

Finally, as John Calvin well pointed out, for the absolute and infinite God to speak to limited and finite creatures, whether to the angels in heaven or to man on earth, necessarily involves an accommodation of His knowledge to our finite capacity. So Calvin:

The doctrine of Scripture concerning the immensity and the spirituality of the essence of God, should have the effect not only of dissipating the wild dreams of the vulgar, but also of refuting the subtleties of a profane philosophy. One of the ancients thought he spake shrewdly when he said that everything we see and everything we do not see is God (Senec. Praef. lib. 1 Quaest. Nat.). In this way he fancied that the Divinity was transfused into every separate portion of the world. But although God, in order to keep us within the bounds of soberness, treats sparingly of his essence, still, by the two attributes which I have mentioned, he at once suppresses all gross imaginations, and checks the audacity of the human mind. His immensity surely ought to deter us from measuring him by our sense, while his spiritual nature forbids us to indulge in carnal or earthly speculation concerning him. With the same view he frequently represents heaven as his dwelling-place. It is true, indeed, that as he is incomprehensible, he fills the earth also, but knowing that our minds are heavy and grovel on the earth, he raises us above the worlds that he may shake off our sluggishness and inactivity. And here we have a refutation of the error of the Manichees, who, by adopting two first principles, made the devil almost the equal of God. This, assuredly, was both to destroy his unity and restrict his immensity. Their attempt to pervert certain passages of Scripture proved their shameful ignorance, as the very nature of the error did their monstrous infatuation.… For who is so devoid of intellect as not to understand that God, in so speaking, lisps with us as nurses are wont to do with little children? Such modes of expression, therefore, do not so much express what kind of a being God is, as accommodate the knowledge of him to our feebleness. In doing so, he must, of course, stoop far below his proper height. (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.13.1). 

If God necessarily condescends in the act of revealing Himself, then the greatest act of divine condescension would also be the greatest act of divine revelation, and vice versa. Such is what Christians have in the incarnation, for which reason we read that the living and incarnate Word perfectly exegetes and reveals God to us:

At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:25-27)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (John 1:14, 18, ESV)

If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? (John 14:7-10a)

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3)

God is Transcendent
(He Is Not Immanent)

In addition to the above attempt to argue against the incarnation Muslims also sometimes try to argue that God could not appear as a man or become a man because God cannot enter into time and space. While this may be true for Muhammad’s novel teachings about his deity – at least according to what some Muslims claim is taught in the Islamic sources – nevertheless it certainly isn’t the case for the true God who revealed Himself to and through the OT prophets. Not only do the salient facts already pointed out above equally inveigh against this argument, the very fact that God is said to be not only transcendent over all of creation (1 Kings 8:27, 2 Chronicles 2:6, 6:18, Psalm 8:1, 57:5 [cf. v. 11], 108:5, 113:4, 6, 123:1), thus surpassing spatio-temporal constraints and going beyond the created order, a conclusion that would also follow by necessary inference from the fact that God exists independently of creation and brought the spatio-temporal universe into existence (Nehemiah 9:6, Isaiah 40:12, 22, 42:25, 44:24, 45:12, 48:13, 51:13, 51:15), but is even said to be immanent, omnipresent and ubiquitous in creation (e.g. Genesis 28:15-16; Deuteronomy 4:39; Joshua 2:11; Psalm 139:7-12; Jeremiah 23:23-24), to dwell in heaven in the presence of created angels and redeemed human beings (Genesis 19:24, 24:7; Exodus 20:22; Deuteronomy 4:36, 26:15; 1 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 22:14; Nehemiah 9:13; 1 Kings 8:30, 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18, 30:27; Job 16:19, 22:12; Ecclesiasts 5:2; Psalm 2:7, 11:4, 14:2, 22:13, 53:2, 73:25; etc.), and to dwell in a special way in the midst of His people on earth (e.g. Exodus 29:45, 40:34-38; Leviticus 26:11-12; Haggai 2:7-9), additionally give the lie to this argument. 

Reformed Dogmatician Herman Bavinck well summarizes the Biblical teaching here:

God is the Creator; he is and remains the absolute Possessor of all things. He is the Lord, the possessor of heaven and earth, Gen. 14:19, 22; Deut. 10:14; and he is exalted above every creature and above all space. Heaven and earth cannot contain him, how much less an earthly temple! Cf. I Kings 8:27; II Chron. 2:6; Is. 66:1; Acts 7:48. Nevertheless, this does not mean that God is excluded from space. On the contrary, he fills heaven and earth; no one can be hid from his presence; he is a God at hand, and also afar off, Jer. 23:23, 24: Ps. 139:7-10; Act 17:27; “in him we live and move, and have our being,” Acts 17:28. Moreover, he is not present in the same degree and manner everywhere. Scripture everywhere teaches that heaven, though also created, has been God’s dwelling and throne ever since it was called into being, Deut. 26:15; II Sam. 22:7; I Kings 8:32; Ps. 11:4; 33:13; 115:3, 16; Is. 63:15; Matt. 5:34; 6:9; John 14:2; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 4:1 ff., etc. But from heaven God descends, Gen. 11:5, 7; 18:21; Ex. 3:8; walks in the garden, Gen. 3:8; appears often and at various places, Gen. 12, 15, 18, 19; etc.; and in a special sense comes down to his people on Mt. Sinai, Ex. 19:9, 11, 18, 20; Deut. 33:2; Judg. 5:4. While he suffers the nations to walk in their own way, Acts 14:16; he dwells in a special sense in the midst of his people Israel, Ex. 19:6; 25:8; Deut. 7:6; 14:2; 26:19; Jer. 11:4; Ezek. 11:20; 37:27; in the land of Canaan, Judg. 11:24; I Sam. 26:19; II Sam. 14:16; II Kings 1:3, 16; 5:17; in Jerusalem, Ex. 20:24; Deut. 12:11; 14:23, etc.; II Kings 21:7; I Chron. 23:25; II Chron. 6:6; Ez. 1:3; 5:16; 7:15; Ps. 135:21; Is. 24:23; Jer. 3:17; Joel 3:16; etc.; Matt. 5:34; Rev. 21:10; in the tabernacle and in Zion’s temple, called his house, Ex. 40:34, 35; I Kings 8:10; 11:2; II Chron. 5:14; Ps. 9:12; Is. 8:18; Matt. 23:21; above the ark between the Cherubim, I Sam. 4:4; II Sam. 6:2; II Kings 19:15; I Chron. 13:6; Ps. 80:1; 99:1; Is. 37:16. But again and again the prophets protest against the people’s trust in this dwelling of God in the midst of Israel, Is. 48:1, 2; Jer. 3:16 7:4, 14; 27:16; for the Lord is far removed from the wicked, Ps. 11:5; 35:10 ff.; 50:15 ff.; 145:20; but the upright shall behold his face, Ps. 11:7. He dwells with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit, Is. 57:15; Ps. 51:19. When the Israelites forsake him, he returns to them in Christ, in whom all the fullness of the godhead dwelleth bodily, Col. 2:9. Through Christ and through the Spirit sent by him he dwells in the church as in his temple, John 14:23; Rom. 8:9, 11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Eph. 2:21; 3:17; until he will dwell with his people, and will be all in all, 1 Cor. 15:28; Rev. 21:3. (Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, [1951], 1991, p. 157-158)

As all of the foregoing demonstrates, God did in fact dwell and appear in time and space during the Old Covenant age, which is proof positive that there is nothing about the New Testament teaching that is not congenial to previous revelation. All attempts by Muslims to pit the OT against the NT in this regard must therefore be seen as abortive efforts. Muslims should learn from all of this not to impose their understanding on the OT or pretend that Christians are in the same boat as they are when Muslims deny or contradict previous revelation. The New Testament is consistent with the Old Testament. The Qur’an is inconsistent with both.