Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Messiah is God Indeed!

A Response to a Muslim Dawagandist Pt. 3

Sam Shamoun

We now come to the final part of our rebuttal (1, 2).

Zaatari “addresses” my citation from Isaiah 52:13-15 where the Messianic Servant is highly exalted and in so doing completely distorts and ignores what I had actually said. He even manages to attack a straw man in the process!

Indeed, the Messiah shall be exalted and shall be high, that's why he's the Messiah, that's why is he is a very special man! Now having said that, high and privileged as the Messiah is, he is not as high or as exalted to the level of God, because again, the Bible makes it clear that God had given these things to Jesus, and that Jesus is under God, and God not under Jesus.

Zaatari’s comments lead me to suspect that he didn’t even bother to read what I actually wrote. I clearly demonstrated that Isaiah describes the Servant’s exaltation in the same way that the prophet describes Yahweh’s enthronement over all creation (cf. 52:13; 5:15-16; 6:1; 33:5; 57:15). In fact, Isaiah expressly says that Yahweh alone will be exalted with all others being humbled:

“The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD ALONE will be exalted in that day. The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the LORD ALONE will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear.” Isaiah 2:11-18

However, since the Servant is also exalted to the same heights of Yahweh and his throne this means that he shares in the unique sovereign rule of Yahweh over all creation:

  1. Yahweh’s throne is high and lofty and he alone is exalted.
  2. The Servant shall be very high and lofty.
  3. Therefore, the Messianic Servant shares in Yahweh’s unique rule and status.

Noted Christian scholar Richard M. Bauckham does a wonderful job of explaining this.

“Isaiah 52:13 states, with emphasis, the exaltation of the Servant, presumably following the humiliation and death described in the following passage. There are two points to notice about it: (1) The words ‘exalted’ and ‘lifted up’ (‘my Servant shall be exalted and lifted up’) occur also in Isaiah 6:1, introducing Isaiah’s vision of God on his throne (where the throne is described as ‘exalted and lifted up’), and in Isaiah 57:15, which describes God, dwelling in the heights of heaven, as himself ‘exalted and lifted up’. The combination of the two Hebrew roots rum (‘to be high’, ‘to be exalted’) and nasa (‘to lift up’) is rare in the Hebrew Bible, and the verbal coincidence between these three verses is striking. Modern Old Testament scholars think the two later passages, Isaiah 52:13 and 57:15, must be dependent on Isaiah 6:1… So, in the light of the connections with Isaiah 6:1 and 57:15, the meaning of Isaiah 52:13 is that the Servant is exalted to the heavenly throne of God. This is why, in John 12:38-41, Isaiah 53 and 6 are brought together, and Isaiah is said to have seen Jesus’ glory, that is, when he saw the glory of the Lord in his vision in chapter 6 of his prophecy. (2) If Isaiah 52:13 means the Servant was exalted to share the heavenly throne from which God rules the universe, then it is readily connected with Psalm 110:1, which was, as we have seen in section 2, the central Old Testament text for the early Christian inclusion of Jesus in the identity of God. Therefore two New Testament references to the exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of God combine allusion to Psalm 110:1 with allusion to Isaiah 52:13 (Acts 2:33; 5:31) and combines allusion to Psalm 110:1 with allusion to Isaiah 57:15 (Heb. 1:3).

“The Servant, in both his humiliation and his exaltation, is therefore not merely a human figure distinguished from God, but, in both his humiliation and his exaltation, belongs to the identity of the unique God. This God is not only the high and lofty one who reigns from his throne in the high and holy place; he also abases himself to the condition of the crushed and lowly (Isa 57:15). And when the nations acknowledge his unique deity and turn to him for salvation, it is the Servant, humiliated and now exalted to sovereignty on the divine throne, whom they acknowledge.” (Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel – God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI/ Cambridge, U.K. 2008], 3.2. Christological monotheism: The early Christian reading of Isaiah 40 - 55, pp. 36-37; bold emphasis ours)

Zaatari then claims that Psalm 110:1 actually proves that the Messiah is not as highly exalted as the Lord since he is said to be seated at Jehovah’s right hand. Zaatari takes this to mean that the Messiah is subject to and under the command of God, which proves that the Messiah is not exalted to God’s level!

In the first place, being seated at someone’s right hand doesn’t always signify subordination in rank or status just as the following example shows:

“When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king's mother, and she sat down at his right hand.” 1 Kings 2:19

Even though Solomon was king and had his mother seated on a throne at his right hand this didn’t make her subordinate to him. In fact, Solomon was required by the Law of Yahweh to honor his mother by being subject and respectful to her (cf. Exodus 20:18; 21:15, 17; Leviticus 19:3; 20:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21; 27:16). This explains why Solomon bowed before his mother since he was giving her the honor which the Law of God required all good and righteous children to render to their parents.

Secondly, Zaatari is again presupposing unitarianism since he erroneously assumes that Jesus cannot receive anything or be subject to another if he is God. However, if God is indeed tri-Personal then there is absolutely no problem with one Divine Person subjecting himself to or receiving something from another Divine Person within the Godhead.

In fact, if Zaatari’s logic were sound (which it is not) then the following Biblical citation proves that Jesus was less human then Mary his mother and Joseph his adoptive father since he willfully subjected himself to both of them:

“And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:51

Zaatari should have no difficulty seeing the problem with this assertion since Jesus’ subjection to his parents has no bearing on the fact that he was a true flesh and blood human being. In light of this why should Jesus’ subjection to the Father affect his absolute Deity if his subjection to his earthly guardians does absolutely nothing to undermine his true humanity?

Thirdly, Zaatari also commits a categorical fallacy by confusing rank and function with essence and nature. Just because someone receives something from someone or is subject to another doesn’t make that individual inferior in essence or value. For instance, just because Solomon bowed to his mother and was subordinate to her this didn’t make him any less human than her. Or just because Jesus subjected himself to Mary and Joseph this doesn’t mean that he was any less human than they were. This simply shows that they are distinct persons with different roles and functions.

In a similar manner, Jesus receiving certain things or being subject to the Father doesn’t make him any less Divine than the Father. It simply highlights the different roles and functions that the Father and the Son have or assume in relation to one another.

Fourthly, the Messiah isn’t merely sitting at God’s right hand but is actually sitting on the very same heavenly throne of God. Nor is he simply sitting on God’s own throne doing nothing but is actually ruling creation from there:

“and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, FAR ABOVE ALL RULE AND AUTHORITY, POWER AND DOMINION, AND EVERY TITLE that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:19-23

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority... Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God." Colossians 2:9-10, 3:1

“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” Hebrews 8:1-2

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

"Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him." 1 Peter 3:21-22

“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” Revelation 5:6

“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."Revelation 7:17

“A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God AND TO HIS THRONE.” Revelation 12:1-5

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God AND OF the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God AND OF the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” Revelation 22:1-3

This explains why God’s kingdom is also called the kingdom of Christ:

“For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Ephesians 5:5

“Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord AND OF His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’” Revelation 11:15

By stating that the Messiah rules over all creation from God’s very own heavenly throne the Holy Bible is clearly placing Jesus within God’s own unique Divine identity as Ruler over all things!

As Bauckham puts it,

5.3. Divine sovereignty over all things

That it is on God’s own heavenly throne itself, the throne of glory, that Jesus sits beside God is explicit in some of the texts (Heb. 8:1; 12:2; Rev. 3:21; 5:6; 7:17; 22:3) and should probably be assumed for all. Partly with the exegetical help of Psalm 8:6, this participation in God’s cosmic rule is frequently expressed by the formulae ‘all things’ or ‘heaven and earth’ (or fuller cosmic formulae) or, for emphasis, both. This language, constantly used of God’s relationship with his creation in Second Temple Jewish texts, is significant because IT IS THE WAY THAT JEWISH MONOTHEISM DISTINGUISHES GOD FROM ALL OTHER REALITY (‘all things’), AS CREATOR AND RULER OF ALL. By including Jesus in the full cosmic scope of God’s sovereignty, New Testament terminology places Jesus CLEARLY ON THE DIVINE SIDE OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD AND ‘ALL THINGS.’ While Daniel 7:14 and Psalm 2:8 provided the basis for thinking of a universal rule on earth of the Messiah (Sib. Or. 5:416; 1 En. 62:6), it is the cosmic scope of Christ’s sovereignty which places it in that unique category which his enthronement on the divine throne in the highest heaven symbolizes. OF NO PRINCIPAL ANGEL OR EXALTED HUMAN IN SECOND TEMPLE JEWISH TEXTS IS IT SAID THAT HAS AUTHORITY OVER ALL THINGS OR OVER HEAVEN AND EARTH.

Another way in which the fully cosmic rule of the exalted Christ is stressed is by reference to the subjection of all the heavenly powers to him. The texts portray the submission both of the rebellious angelic powers (1 Cor. 15:24-28; Ascen. Isa. 11:23) and of the obedient ones (Eph. 1:20-21; 1 Pet. 3:22; Ascen. Isa. 11:24-32; cf. Rev. 5:11-14; Ep. Apos. 3). It is noteworthy that specific ranks of angels are those in high authority in the heavens: ‘principalities’ (archai: 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21), ‘authorities’ (exousiai: 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21; 1 Pet. 3:22), ‘powers’ (dunameis: Eph. 1:21; 1 Peter 3:22) and ‘dominions’ (kuriotetes: Eph. 1:21). (Ibid., pp. 176-177; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The following Evangelical scholars also help us to better understand just how truly astonishing Jesus' heavenly enthronement at the Father's right side is:

“A careful examination of Psalm 110:1, and Jesus’ application of it (in conjunction with Daniel 7:13) to himself, reveals how remarkable Jesus’ claim was and why it seemed to the Sanhedrin to be blasphemous. It was one thing to enter God’s presence and yet another to sit in it. But to sit at God’s right side was another matter altogether. In the religious culture and milieu of Jesus’ day, to claim to sit at God’s right hand was tantamount to claiming to equality with God

“Jesus, then, was claiming the right to go directly into God’s ‘throne room’ and sit at his side. The temerity of such a claim for any mere human would be astonishing to the Jews of Jesus’ day. The priests of the Sanhedrin, to whom Jesus made this claim, could not, as a rule, even go into the inner sanctum of the temple, known as the Holy of Holies. Many of them probably had never been inside it. The Holy of Holies could be entered only on a specific day in specific ways by one specific person. Failure to follow the instructions exactly resulted in death. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, carrying the blood of a bull as offering for personal purification and the blood of a ram as offering for atonement for the people. This was followed by a change of garments and ritual washings (Lev. 16). In other words, one entered into God’s presence in the temple cautiously.

“If entrance requirements to the earthly Holy of Holies were so strict, we can imagine what the Sanhedrin priests would have thought about Jesus claiming to have the right to enter God’s heavenly presence. After all, the earthly temple was, according to Josephus, viewed as a model of the heavenly one. Worse still, though, Jesus was claiming that he was going to enter permanently into the heavenly Holy of Holies and sit down. Jesus might as well have claimed that he owned the place! Indeed, this is what his statement amounted to. As Darrel Bock has put it, Jesus’ claim ‘would be worse, in the leadership’s view, than claiming the right to be able to walk into the Holy of Holies in the temple and live there!’” (Robert M. Bowman Jr. & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 5: the Best Seat In The House: Jesus Shares the Seat of God’s Throne, Chapter 20. God’s Right-Hand Man, pp. 244-245; bold emphasis ours)

Zaatari focuses on the fact that Isaiah 52:13 calls the Messiah Yahweh’s Servant and once again erroneously thinks that this somehow undermines the Deity of the Messiah.

However, this ignores the explicit statements from Isaiah that the Servant is actually the Mighty God who comes to be born as a child in order to die as an atoning sacrifice for sins as a way of bringing salvation to all the nations, and to also reign on David’s throne forever (cf. 9:6-7; 11:1-10; 16:5; 42:1-9; 49:1-10; 52:13-15).

In fact, Isaiah’s teaching perfectly comports with the NT since the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures claim that Jesus is God who assumed the role of a servant by becoming man in order to die on the cross:

“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

“For, let this mind be in you that [is] also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought [it] not robbery to be equal to God, but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made, and in fashion having been found as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death -- death even of a cross, wherefore, also, God did highly exalt him, and gave to him a name that [is] above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee may bow -- of heavenlies, and earthlies, and what are under the earth -- and every tongue may confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11 Young’s Literal Translation

It is apparent that Paul here is echoing the language found in Isaiah, particularly 52:13 and 53:12:

“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.”

“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his soul/life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah’s statement that the Servant poured out his life unto death finds its parallel in Paul’s claim that Jesus emptied himself, i.e., to pour out something is to empty it. Paul’s reference to Jesus taking the form of a servant and to God highly exalting him further connects this ancient Christian hymn with Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

Thus, Jesus is the Mighty God who became a Servant by volunteering to be born as a human being so as to die on the cross in order to atone for the sins of God’s people. After perfectly accomplishing God’s will Jesus was highly exalted over the entire creation, going from the status of a humble servant to his current position as the sovereign Lord of all.

Zaatari then quotes the Quran and ahadith to prove that the false religion of Islam also affirms the honorable position of the Messiah!

To show the utter futility of this assertion we will simply summarize the Holy Bible’s teaching regarding the Messiah’s exalted status.

  1. The Messiah is the Mighty God and Yahweh our Righteousness whose origins are from eternity itself.
  2. The Messiah sits enthroned on God’s own throne over all creation forever.
  3. The Messiah receives the worship which God alone is supposed to receive.

Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the Islamic sources realizes that Islam DOES NOT affirm any of these inspired Biblical truths and therefore does not give the Messiah the honor which God’s true Word says he deserves.

The fact is that the false prophet Muhammad refused to give Christ the same honor that God deserves even though Jesus said that it was God’s express will that everyone honors his Son in the same exact way that they honor the Father:

“Moreover, the Father judges no one but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. He does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:22-23

As if Zaatari couldn’t make it any worse for his case he concludes his “rebuttal” with a prayer, an invocation to Jesus to return!

Jesus is the Messiah, the Messiah is not God, and therefore Jesus is not God, COME JESUS COME, we await your arrival with the Mahdi to establish the kingdom of justice and truth, Amen! (Capital and italic emphasis ours)

In obvious mockery of the way I conclude many of my articles and rebuttals Zaatari invokes Jesus and requests that he come back.

The problem with Zaatari’s invocation is that it is directed to someone whom Zaatari claims is not God despite the fact that Islam teaches that all acts of worship must be directed to Allah alone:

Say (O Muhammad): "Verily, my Salât (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for God, the Lord of the 'Alamîn (mankind, jinns and all that exists). S. 6:162 Hilali-Khan

And that the mosques are Allah's, therefore call not upon any one with Allah: And when the slave of Allah stood up in prayer to Him, they crowded on him, almost stifling. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): I pray unto Allah only, and ascribe unto Him no partner. S. 72:18-19

This includes invocations which are called dua in Arabic:

And invoke not besides God, any that will neither profit you, nor hurt you, but if (in case) you did so, you shall certainly be one of the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers). S. 10:106 Hilali-Khan

And who is more astray than one who calls (invokes) besides God, such as will not answer him till the Day of Resurrection, and who are (even) unaware of their calls (invocations) to them? S. 46:5 Hilali-Khan

The hadiths concur:

Narrated An-Nu'man ibn Bashir:
The Prophet said: Supplication (du'a') is itself the worship.
(He then recited:) "And your Lord said: Call on Me, I will answer you" (xI.60). (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 8, Number 1474)

Narrated Anas ibn Malik
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "Supplication is the pith of worship."

Tirmidhi transmitted it. (Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith Number 697; ALIM CD-Rom Version)

Zaatari himself agrees since this is what he writes,

Ibn Abbas has been reported to have said:

The Messenger of Allah used to teach us tashahhud just as he used to teach us a Sura of the Qur'an, and he would say: ALL services rendered by words, ACTS OF WORSHIP, and all good things are due to Allah

The very first part of the tashahhud conclusively refutes Shamoun. Notice what we are commanded to say, we are commanded to say that ALL ACTS OF WORSHIP belong to Allah! No where does the text say that acts of worship belong to Allah AND the prophet Muhammad? (Muslims Pray to the Prophet Muhammad?)

Since Zaatari doesn’t believe that Jesus is God this means he is guilty of worshiping a creature like the Creator and has committed a blatant act of shirk! This is what happens when individuals decide to mock the living God… God makes them look like the fools that they truly are.

Now the reason why I invoke Jesus is precisely because I believe that he is God and therefore worthy of all worship and praise.

In conclusion, our refutation to Zaatari’s smokescreens conclusively demonstrated that Muslims do face major problems with the teachings of their false prophet since Muhammad taught that Jesus is the Messiah while denying the Messiah’s Divine nature. As such, Muhammad stands condemned by the true God according to the revelation found in his true Word, the Holy Bible, since he perverted the truth about the Messiah and misled countless numbers of individuals by preaching a false gospel.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” Galatians 1:8-9

“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough… For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 13-15

“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:22-23

“Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” 2 John 1:7-11

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus come! You are the eternal Son of God and the Divine Messiah who was to come. We pray that by your grace we will continue to love and worship you forever, O risen Lord of glory! Amen.