Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Who Are the People of God?

Jesse Toler

This article is another response to the apologists at Answering Christianity (*). Once again, Abdallah and his allies slash and slice at the Bible. He isolates a small number of verses in a small number of books in order to defend a polemic which is dishonest and ignorant. While Abdallah seems comfortable with his demonstrated lack of knowledge, Christians must be willing to tutor even 'ignorant beasts' whose hands are held in holy counsel though they rage against God [Psalm 73:22-28].


So, just who are the ‘People of God1’? While indeed all mankind is descended from the seed of Adam, beginning in chapter ten of the Book of Genesis we are given a picture of nations as they occupied the earth at the end of the primeval age [Hartley, Genesis, p. 116]. It is, then, Noah from whom all later nations grew and in whose sons is the connective bond by either human lineage, divine covenant or national treaty. It was Noah whose heroism was in his faith, not in the practice of violence [cf. Genesis 4:23,24; 6:11,13]. Like Jesus who would come much later, Noah did not allow the wickedness of his day to infect his message or weaken his confidence2. From Noah we find not only the roots of our shared human heritage, but simultaneously discover the pattern to be imitated under the most perilous of circumstances or trials. Into Noah's hands God once again gave the Creation Commission to go forth and multiply [Genesis 1:22; 9:1]. However, after the Flood, Noah would allow the comforts of his success and standing to lead him into the sin of drunkenness, from which the destiny of whole nations would carry a curse for centuries until finally freed by Christ3.


God is indeed good; however, man is not. Discord and division did not end with Noah, and once again later broke our unity. Human achievement and the lust for power gave God no choice but to scatter the human race into nations, tribes and clans [Genesis 11:1-9; cf. Q. 49:13]4. Mankind had again become incapable of steadfast obedience. But even after this wide separation, within the lineage of Shem, God raised Abraham5. While a discussion of the aggregate narrative or the entire 'toledoth' of Abraham is beyond the scope of this paper, reviewing the promises made to Abraham is important in answering the thesis question, 'Just Who Are The People of God?' To find out, we have to travel back in time 3,500 years.

Abraham was called by Yahweh while living with his family in Haran [Genesis 12]. Abraham was to leave his father’s house and his country. He would leave behind any rank or title connected with his father’s name6. Later, Abraham would send his servant Eliezer back to Haran in order to find a wife for his 'only son' Isaac7 [Genesis 22]. However, long before Rebekah becomes the wife of a patriarch, God speaks to Abraham, certain promises are made, and the later lineage of the Old Covenant People begins to become clearer. Still, to get the greatest possible grasp on the answer to the thesis, we need to delve into God's visitations with Abraham [Genesis 15ff], the subsequent covenant of circumcision and the effect on the birth of a specific nation [Genesis 17] which would receive God's instruction and establish the people which would preserve for themselves and later deliver to us all, the plan of salvation8. We'll look too at the last years of Abraham's life after the death of Sarah [Genesis 23-25]. Later in this paper we'll also see from the Book of Genesis the real and undeniable details which Muslims must fight against or cover up in order to maintain the delusion they hold. We'll close by refuting the first of Abdallah's claims. I will let others discuss the second part of Abdullah's attack9.

Revelation came to Abraham in a vision10, where God stilled Abraham's fear and declared that He was a 'shield and a great reward'. Abraham's response was to express his agony over being childless, which the Sovereign Lord replied to with words of encouragement. God promised that a son from Abraham's own body would be his heir [Genesis 15:4]. In the closing verses of chapter fifteen, a very dramatic event passes and God gives Abraham the right to the land his descendants would inherit, which is described as being limited to the Levant and including the land between the river of Egypt and the Euphrates. In chapter sixteen we find a few clarifying illustrations that need to be discussed. First we see that Sarah's barrenness was not due to physiological factors, but God's will. She and Abraham then ignored divine prerogative and providence. They conspired to 'help God out' by providing a substitute wife. Hagar later despised Sarah, resulting in mistreatment of Hagar so severe that she fled11. While the prophet of Islam would have us believe that the angelic visitation to Hagar occurred near Mecca, the Bible records that,

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur [Genesis 16:7]12.

The next step in the growth of the covenant people occurs in the seventeenth chapter of Genesis. Ironically, the covenant of circumcision is to Muslims a critical point in Islamic history, yet when analyzed honestly, it refutes the Islamic model. Unfortunately, they see from this narrative the evidence that Ishmael was, as the firstborn in the flesh, the natural heir to the promises made to Abraham. But is this true? To find out, we have to consider just what the covenant included, and while we are discussing the necessary scriptures we'll explore to whom it was passed.

The covenant included three principle parts: an heir, an inheritance and a heritage. In this paper, the discussion of the heir will draw us into the conclusion that Ishmael has been completely purged out of the covenant by none other than God13. The facts regarding the inheritance will cast aside any notion that Muslims or even Arabs have a legitimate claim to the land of Israel, and lastly the question of heritage leaves out the offspring of Ishmael as having a prophetic role at all. In the opening verses of chapter seventeen, God confirms what he had said before, and adds the injunction to 'walk before me and be blameless' [Genesis 17:1-2]. Abraham is to be completely devoted to God in practice and in moral commitment. God would fulfill each of his previous promises. Abraham accepts the offer, along with its terms by falling face down. God seals the covenant by renaming both Abraham and his wife14. From that day forward, the notion of a divine covenant permeates and dominates all God's dealings with His people15. The covenant includes but is not limited to pronouncements of external possession of the land in an everlasting covenant. The sign of the covenant will be circumcision16. While even those 'bought with money' are to be circumcised, and grafted into the covenant, it is the family of the 'mighty Prince' [Genesis 23:5] who will govern and lead. While indeed Abraham would be the 'father of many nations' it would be through both Abraham and Sarah that the Promised Son would be born [Genesis 21]17. It is only by Abraham's marked intercession that Ishmael receives any blessing at all [vv. 19-22]18. While Ishmael was a loved son of Abraham, the divine presence of God would live with a 'kingdom of priests' who were to carry out their part as a holy nation [Exodus 19:6]. Muslims are quick to point out that the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael at the time Isaac is weaned was prompted by Sarah. What Muslims must ignore is that in this particular instance, God tells Abraham to ‘listen to whatever Sarah tells you’ [Genesis 21]. Obviously, God used Sarah for the necessary action that Abraham was reluctant to take. Only when Hagar and Ishmael depart does God call upon Abraham to ‘come to the land of Moriah’19. The sequence of events here is vital to understand. When God calls Abraham to Moriah, Hagar and Ishmael had already been sent away. While the Muslims will find the truth uncomfortable, the connected series of events leaves us with no other alternative but to affirm the long held tradition as authoritative and true. Ishmael later appears in scripture at the burial of Abraham, where his lineage is listed and his own death is recorded and his career in Holy Writ ends. Muslims will not be surprised, though somewhat angry, to find that the covenant line continues and Ishmael has nothing to do with it outside of Islamic imagination20. Ishmael, though blessed by God, has no birthright, and is no more than the seed of the bitter harvest. The Islamic reinterpretation is a dismal failure.


Let’s now consider the claims made by Abdallah. He states that,

No race, color or gender are chosen by GOD Almighty in Islam. Everyone is evaluated by his Good Deeds.

While the sentiments are pleasing in appearance, are they true? Islamic sources confirm that mankind was made into nations and tribes [Q. 49:13; Tafsir al-Jalalayn] and that the most noble are the ‘most God fearing among you’21. There can be no doubt that while the Arabian peninsula was drowning in occultism and polytheism, the Noble Jews were holding fast to the inheritance of Abraham, and under great pressure remained firm to the covenant. How was this possible? They were God's chosen people, of course! The Jews were a covenant people who saw in their distinctiveness the truth of Abraham's call. Jews knew even in their failures that they were to be a great people whose progeny would be the blessing provision for the whole world. Jews, as God's chosen people were therefore conscious of their distinctiveness among all the people of the earth. As I already pointed out, the Mighty Prince Abraham, followed by Isaac and Jacob, then the Tribes, were given providence and authority over the land and the Prophetic office. So, while all people can share in faith, not all can produce Prophets and not all claimants to the Office bring legitimate revelation [Luke 1:69; John 4:22; Acts 4:12; Romans 1:16; I Peter 1:10, et al]. The Islamic hostility towards the Jews and Christians has, according to apologist James Arlandson, become a metaphysical one that is debased and irrational [source]. This indicates just which side of the covenant Muslims are fighting from. The origin of the rage can be found in the Quran itself. Muslims are to fight the Christians and Jews until they are killed, convert, or pay jizya [Q. 9:29; Tafsir al-Jalalayn]. Needless to say, it seems remarkably false that God would dispose of His firstborn by dispensational violence22 [Exodus 4:22]. While the scepter may pass from one Priesthood to another [Exodus 40:15; Hebrews 7:11; I Peter 2:5] no legitimate covenant holder would be called by God to destroy Israel23, and as time itself begins to wind down to Judgment Day, Muslims should know better.


1 I do not deny that the Muslims are the people of Allah, the god of the Quran, but in case it isn’t evident yet, Allah has absolutely no genuine connection to Israel or the Bible.

2 Muhammad failed to follow the example of Noah in all but his sin, and Job would be ashamed of such a pitiless man [Job 16:16,17]. Please read more about the ‘Satanic Verses’ to learn the details of Muhammad compromising his message and his cooperation with Satan.

3 See ‘Who is Jesus?’ Also see the Second Epistle of Clement for the Patristic understanding of Christ.

4 Oddly, while Abdallah claims that no ‘race, color or gender’ has been picked out and made more important than any other, the evidence in the Quran is blurry. After all, there is no indication that a non-Semitic nation has ever been selected to produce a Prophet, yet Q. 10:47 promises that every nation will be blessed with a messenger. So, were are all the messengers for nations like China and America? For regions like Latin America and Europe? Nor is there evidence of any female Prophet in Islam [cf. Kings 22:14-19; II Chronicles 34:23-27].

5 Abraham was justified by his faith, not deeds [Romans 4]. Remember, he was chosen by God two decades before the covenant of circumcision was given to him [Genesis 12 and 17], yet Abdallah insists that, ‘everyone is evaluated by his deeds’.

6 As Hartley points out, Abraham’s devotion to One God would have placed his life in jeopardy. Hartley explains that the native customs of polytheism in which Abraham was familiar would have been dangerous to an emerging monotheism.

7 Note that Abraham sent Eliezer back to Haran to find a bride for Isaac. So, while Osama Abdallah may want us to think no ‘tribe or nation’ was ever a Chosen People, it looks like God, Abraham and Isaac would disagree. There was specific pedigree in mind for his descendants, and it was developing long before there was the covenant.

8 In Luke 19:1-10, note here the specific reference to Abraham as being the ancestor of the Jews. I have yet to find independent pre-Islamic references to such a connection documented by Arabs, independent of Jewish or Christian sources.

9 Hahn, 'The Integrity of the Bible'. Regarding Osama Abdallah's abuse of Jeremiah 8:8, see these articles (1, 2).

11 Hagar was a wife of secondary status the entire time. She would have had no authority in the family and no voice in family management. In both the Old and New Testaments the issue is discussed [See Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Concubine]. See 'Hagar in Abraham's Household'.

12 Muslims should note that the angel addressed Hagar as the ‘servant of Sarai’ and not as the ‘wife of Abraham’. Once she had left his home, she was no longer considered his wife [Genesis 16:3,9; 21:10]. While these relationships have been well discussed in other places, when we are re-examining Israel’s origins it is worth the effort to review these verses.

13 Micah 7:20; Note: God will be true to the promises made to Jacob, and will be a mercy to Abraham. That promise was initially made in Genesis 12:3 and confirmed in later verses. It was renewed both with Isaac [Genesis 26:3] and Jacob [Genesis 28:14]. Muslims need to explain why the descendants of Ishmael, and therefore Muhammad by way of Keder, play no role in these promises at all.

14 Muslims who claim the supremacy of Ishmael need to take note here. Both Patriarchal Parents are given covenant names. God is making his plan very clear: not every son of Abraham is inheriting the promise.

15 Gaebelein, Frank. Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume I, p.257. It is also critical to note that none of these historical events can be found in documented pre-Islamic Arabian sources. Even the Quran as history is suspect [See, Perversion of the Quran].

16 Circumcision is not mentioned in the Quran [See, Circumcision in Islam].

17 Note that in 21:8-21 several important events effect the later narrative. First, a great feast is thrown for Isaac. No such delight was seen with the weaning of Ishmael, and the thanksgiving for Isaac is occasioned with the expulsion of Ishmael and Hagar. The thanksgiving held for Isaac occupies the same place in the narrative as the dismissal for an important reason. So that there is no confusion regarding the Promised Son.

18 Hartley points out that Abraham was evidently doubtful of being able to have a son at such a late stage of life, and in his scepticism offered Ishmael to God as an alternative, which was rejected. Muslims should also take note of verses 11-15 of chapter sixteen, where an entirely separate set of expectations were made to Hagar and that scripture records no later angelic visitations to her descendents.

19 [source]; [image]. Many commentators wrongly describe the event as the ‘sacrifice of Isaac’. In fact, since nothing was killed besides Abraham’s ego, we should all call the event the ‘binding of Isaac’ or the עקידה יצחק (‘Akedat Yitzchak’).

20 For more on Ishmael read this article ‘Ishmael’. Also see, Gigot, Francis. Ismael. The Catholic Encyclopaedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. Retrieved 21 Dec. 2008.

21 Abdallah’s assertion of equality is fiction. After all, nowhere in the Quran is there mentioned a black African prophet, an Asian or European. All Prophets named in the Quran, and given Scriptures were Semitic people, and none were women [Q. 3:84; Tafsir al-Jalalayn].

22 By the phrase 'dispensational violence' I am pointing out that God would not permanently destroy his people Israel with the rod given to another Covenant People. Something is terribly wrong with the Islamic view. Christians know that the Jews have not been replaced, but that all believers are grafted into the Kingdom by the declared Son of God.

23 Pagans have been called from time to time as a rod against Israel, but for Muslims to admit to being such a rod would also be an admission to having no genuine covenant.

Rebuttals to Answering Christianity
Answering Islam Home Page