Continued from ➡ Refuting the Jewish Claim of Their So-Called ‘Divine Right’ to Palestine
The Stone Which the Jews Rejected
Luke 20:9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. Luke 20:10 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Luke 20:11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. Luke 20:12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Luke 20:13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son (servant the Messiah); perhaps they will respect him.’ Luke 20:14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ Luke 20:15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? Luke 20:16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” Luke 20:17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Luke 20:18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” [English Standard Version]
How did the Jewish people come to occupy Palestine originally? According to their own Scriptures, it was done by vicious murder and genocide. They conquered a land already occupied by indigenous peoples. Supposedly this was done by the command of God; but God also warned them that if they departed from Him and His commandments, He would drive them out of the land again, and “curse” them. According to their Scriptures and history, God did indeed drive them out by means of the Assyrians and Babylonians.
Then God permitted them to return again to Judea and Jerusalem, but he also gave a prophecy to Daniel (9:24-27) that they would once again violate God’s covenant, and a ‘decreed end’ would come upon the nation of Israel. Within a period of 490 years (“70 weeks” of years – 70×7 years) “Messiah” would appear and then be “cut off” from them; and after that the “people of the Prince” would come and thoroughly destroy the city and Temple.
Again history tells us that this did indeed occur when the Roman army conquered Judea and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple (in A.D. 70). Many orthodox Jews recognize that this destruction was the punishment of God for their sins; they maintain that they have a commandment from God to submit humbly to God’s punishment and not take any steps, particularly military, to remove themselves from the punishment and reinstate themselves in their “ancestral land”. They must live peacefully in whatever lands to which they have been dispersed by God’s retribution, and pray for the peace and welfare of those lands. They totally repudiate Zionism, and say that the only hope for peace in the Middle East is for the Israeli government to be disbanded and government of the whole land restored to the Palestinian peoples (including the Muslims, Christians, and Jews who lived there before Zionist Israeli occupation took place). They say that no Zionist can be a true Jew, and no true Jew can be a Zionist.
Those who are Christians should repudiate Zionism, because Jesus himself – in the parable related in Matthew 21:33-46 – explicitly stated that as a result of their rejection of him (“Messiah the Prince”) and his message, the kingdom of God would be taken away from the Jewish nation and given to another nation which would – unlike the Jewish people – bring forth appropriate ‘fruit’ for the kingdom. Mat 21:42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Mat 21:43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people (“ethnos” – which means “nation”; the Jews use it to refer to nations other than the Jews, and it is frequently translated “Gentiles”) producing its fruits. Mat 21:44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” There is simply no room in that prophecy for a revived “kingdom of the Jews” in the sight of God. When God brought the Roman army on Jerusalem, it signified “the end” for Jewish leadership in God’s kingdom. The Jewish people no longer occupy a special place in God’s favor (if they ever did), and have no ‘Divine right’ to any piece of real estate.
We Muslims of course recognize in this prophecy of the Prophet Jesus that the other nation to which the kingdom would be given – instead of the Jewish nation – is that other branch of the Abrahamic family which God promised to make a great nation: the family of Ishmael. This is the “stone” which the Jewish builders rejected, but God has made the “chief cornerstone” in His kingdom.
Despite all of this, however, the Zionist movement arose in the late 19th Century, calling for the Jewish people to retake Palestine and establish a Jewish nation there. In the 1940s they accomplished their mission, with the help of several ‘western’ governments, by means of terrorism and military violence. Their slogan was “A people without a land for a land without a people”. What could be more vicious than that slogan and the attitude it represents? It was either an outright lie – that Palestine had no occupants, so who could object to Jews moving to a vacant territory? – or it was, even worse, a statement that the Palestinians who were at that time inhabiting the land were sub-human, not even worthy to be considered people! Who could object to the Zionist Jews slaughtering a bunch of animals in order to retake their land?
While one could hope that they were ‘only’ telling an outright lie, the only real conclusion that can be reasonably reached based on the actions and statements of Israeli leaders since then is that the second alternative is the correct one. The Zionists don’t consider the Palestinians to even be people. No wonder what the Satan Netanyahu can state, without blushing in shame, that the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers in “Judea and Samaria”. How can you be foreign occupiers in a land which was previously inhabited only by animals?
Is it that those innocent Palestinians shouldn’t object at all to being violently driven from their houses and lands???
The traditional Christian understanding of “the stone which the builders rejected” is that it refers to Jesus Christ himself. It’s the interpretation which the Christians accept. In fact, it seems so obvious to them that it never occurred that there might be any other possible understanding of the reference. We Muslim interpreters insist that the “stone” was in fact the Arab people descended from Ishmael, to whom the Message of the Qur’an was given through the Prophet Muhammad – and from whom a ‘mountain’ has arisen which fills the whole earth (Daniel 2:35 in the ‘Old Testament’ of the Bible).
Because it was so obvious to the Christians that the “stone” was Jesus Christ himself, they will naturally think that this Muslim interpretation is absurd – an evidence of Muslims trying too hard to find Islam and Muhammad in Biblical prophecy. They definitely will not just immediately exclaim: “That’s right! Why couldn’t we see that before?”
However, they should continue to give it consideration, and seek out Muslim writers who could give a clear explanation of why they understood the prophecy in this way. This should ‘opened their eyes’; but this explanation now will seem clear and simple to them.
The whole point of the parable, of course, was to reach the conclusion that the Jewish “tenants” of the “vineyard” (God’s kingdom) had failed so miserably in their duty, and had proven to be so treacherous toward God, that their honored position in the kingdom would be removed from them and another people would be given that position – another people who would produce the ‘fruit’ of the kingdom and render it up to God. That is the inevitable conclusion of the parable, and in Matthew’s account the listeners themselves were so taken in by the parable that they themselves rendered the verdict that the “tenants” would be destroyed by the owner of the vineyard and others would get the lease.
By the way, this is an example in the Gospels that clearly shows the Bible is not inerrantly ‘inspired’. In Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus asked the question “What will he do to those tenants”, it was the listeners who responded with the verdict that those “wretches” would be killed and the vineyard leased to others. In Mark and Luke, though, it was Jesus who answered his own question. In fact, in Luke, the listeners were so far from rendering the verdict themselves that they responded “surely not” when Jesus gave the verdict. (I love the way the King James Version renders the phrase: “God forbid!” However, “surely not” is actually a closer rendering of the phrase. “God” is not present in the Greek phrase. More literally, it would be “Let it not be”.) However, this is also a good example to show that while the details of the story may vary (and in fact are technically contradictory), the point of the story is not affected.
Notice, then, that it is in support of this verdict that the tenants are to be replaced with other more faithful people that Jesus refers to Psalm 118:22: “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?” The point of the parable was not that one of the emissaries of the owner would be restored in order to collect the rightful ‘fruit’ – not even the “son” who had been killed – but that the tenants themselves would be replaced. The point of Jesus’ quotation of the Psalm was that the Jewish Scriptures themselves declared this very thing.
In Matthew, this is clear in that immediately following the listeners’ verdict that the treacherous tenants would be killed and replaced, Jesus said “Have you never read in the Scriptures…?” In other words, it’s as if he had said “Isn’t that precisely what the Psalmist said?” Then Jesus followed up the quotation with his own conclusion: “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” He did not say “Therefore I tell you, the son (servant) whom you will treacherously try to slay will be resurrected to inherit the kingdom.” Then, immediately after saying that another nation/people will be given the kingdom of God, he says “And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” There is nothing in the statements of Jesus to indicate that the stone was a person rather than a “people/nation”, and everything to indicate that the “stone” and the “nation” were one and the same.
If possible, this conclusion is even clearer in Luke’s account of the parable. In his account, the listeners had exclaimed “surely not” when Jesus said that the tenants would be destroyed and the vineyard leased to others. Jesus responded by saying “What then is this that is written…?” Nothing could be clearer than that Jesus was asking how they could object to his conclusion, since the Psalmist had said the same thing: the Jewish nation which was currently the “cornerstone” in God’s kingdom – but which had failed miserably in its duty to bring the kingdom to all nations according to the promise to Abraham that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3) – would be replaced by another “stone” which the Jewish builders had rejected; and that “stone” would produce the intended “fruit”.
Who that other nation/stone was should have been obvious to those who were familiar with the Hebrew Torah and the promises made to Abraham. God not only promised to make a great nation or nations from the seed of Abraham’s second son Isaac, but he promised that he would produce a great nation from the seed of Ishmael (Genesis 17:20 and 21:13 and 18). The Jewish “builders” weren’t too pleased with that, though. Although they did not entirely delete God’s promise concerning Ishmael from their Scriptures, they tried to obscure and cover it up as much as possible. After the Genesis 17:20 promise that God would bless Ishmael and make him fruitful, making a great nation of him, He then proceeded to say in verse 21 “And [or also] I will establish my covenant with Isaac…” But the Jews (and Christians) have, without any logical reason at all, read that as “But I will establish my covenant with Isaac”; as if it were being said “but My blessing of Ishmael is really inconsequential; my real blessing and covenant will be with Isaac.”
Although Isaac was never at any time Abraham’s “only son”, they nevertheless inserted Isaac into the story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his “only son” as if Ishmael didn’t exist (Genesis 22:2 ff) . When God promised to bless Ishmael and make him fruitful, He said (Genesis 16:12) “He shall be a fruitful man, his hand with every man and every man’s hand with him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his kinsmen.” However, to show their hatred of Ishmael, the Jews (and Christians following in their footsteps) distorted that by claiming “fruitful man” should be read “wild ass of a man”, and “with” should be read “against”. (We will post on it later)
When Sarah (in Genesis 21) became upset at Ishmael’s laughter, the Jews have interpreted that laughter to be laughing at (mocking) Isaac (although the text itself only says that Sarah saw Ishmael laughing – not laughing at anyone or anything). The Christian apostle Paul even interpreted this to mean that Ishmael was persecuting Isaac (Galatians 4:29). The Ishmaelites don’t figure much in the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures because the Jews figured they were at best unimportant. At worst, the Jews despised the Arab descendants of Ishmael.
Who else, then, could the nation/stone which the Jewish “builders” rejected be but that great nation descended from Abraham’s firstborn son Ishmael? The promise of God to Abraham had been that in him all nations would be blessed. When the descendants of Isaac were rejected by God, then the descendants of that other son replaced them. God raised up a prophet from the seed of Ishmael; his Arab brothers embraced his/His message; and instead of thinking that they should hoard God’s blessing to themselves (as the Jews did), they fulfilled the duty of God’s covenant by bringing the message of God to all the nations.
The Christian Church did indeed keep alive the name of Jesus Christ, and expanded greatly. But while doing so, it distorted the message so greatly that it can hardly be recognized for “the way” that Jesus proclaimed. When Christianity became allied with the Roman Empire, it was more a defeat for the “Christian” version of the kingdom of God than a triumph. Rome conquered Christianity rather than vice versa. Only the Message of God through Muhammad, originally delivered to the nation descended from Ishmael, has spread the message – in its purity – of God’s kingdom throughout the earth. This “nation” has indeed been a faithful and fruitful “cornerstone” in the kingdom of God.
I would like to say more about the intriguing nature of the use of the word “stone” for the Islamic “nation”.
The Stone That the Builders Rejected
I presented reasons why I have come to believe that Jesus’ quotation of Psalm 118:22, 23 had reference to the Muslim “nation” beginning with Muhammad and his Arab kin – the “great nation” which God promised Abraham from the descendents of his son Ishmael.
Here, I want to explain why I believe the use of the concept of a “stone” to refer to the descendents of Ishmael as the “foundation” of God’s kingdom on earth is very appropriate – and also answer an objection to my interpretation of the prophecy.
Perhaps we don’t think of it very much, but the use of stones as altars to serve as focuses in the worship of the One God was common among the “fathers” of Judeo-Christian faith. Genesis 12:8 tells of Abraham building an altar at Bethel. Genesis 28:18, 19 tells of Abraham’s grandson Jacob taking a single stone which he had used as a pillow, making it a pillar, anointing it with oil, and making a vow to the LORD – which also is said to have taken place at Bethel. In Joshua 4 we are told that the Israelites, by God’s command, gathered 12 stones to set up as a remembrance after crossing the Jordan River.
As I’m sure is well known, Islam also has a very famous Black Stone which is a centerpiece in the Ka’ba in Mecca. The Qur’an explains that Abraham and Ishmael built the Ka’ba as a House of God in the place now known as Mecca, and set up the Black Stone. This stone is said by tradition to have come down from heaven. Some believe it is meteorite stone, though I don’t believe that has been officially confirmed.
Now despite the fact that no one seems to think Abraham, Jacob, or the Israelites were guilty of idolatry when they used stones as holy altars, anointed them with oil, and used them in their worship of God, many Jews (and Christians) delight in ridiculing Muslims as idolaters for their reverence for the Black Stone as ‘part’ of their worship of the One God. Quite literally, this is a stone which the Jewish builders rejected. And that is why it was so apropos that the Psalmist and Jesus should refer to a stone when prophesying that another nation would replace the Jews as the cornerstone in the kingdom of God. The Jewish ‘builders’ rejected the nation descended from Ishmael, and they rejected the center of worship in Mecca, with its Black Stone. Therefore, the “stone” is properly a metonym for the people and religion with which it is associated.
There have been various theories as to the origin of this stone. Some believe it is a meteorite or a fragment of one; others believe it might be volcanic rock. Whatever its origin, it was definitely not hewn by human hands from a mountain or quarry. Therefore, it fits beautifully with Daniel’s interpretation of the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:31-45. In that dream, Nebuchadnezzar had seen a huge statue. “Dan 2:32 The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, Dan 2:33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Dan 2:34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Dan 2:35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”
The different metals in the statue represented 4 different kingdoms or empires, with the 4thbecoming divided (iron mixed with clay). Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian kingdom were represented by the golden head. The silver chest and arms represented the Medo-Persian Empire which followed Babylon. Afterward came the bronze middle and thighs, which represented the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great. Finally, the legs and feet of iron mixed with clay represented the Roman Empire – which became divided into Eastern (Byzantine) and Western sections.
But Nebuchadnezzar saw a stone cut out without human hands which struck the feet of the statue, which were a mixture of iron and clay. This caused the statue to collapse and be destroyed, and the stone itself became a great mountain filling the earth. This stone which destroyed the statue and became a great mountain is interpreted by Daniel to mean a great kingdom which the God of heaven would set up “in the days of those kings”. This kingdom would destroy the other kingdoms, and would itself never be destroyed or left for another people.
So here we are presented with 4 consecutive Empires or Kingdoms beginning with Babylon, with no break in between them; and then a 5thkingdom or Empire which arises “in the days of those kings” – specifically, in the last days of the 4th kingdom when it was in a weak state. It seems hard for me, now, to avoid the understanding that the 5th kingdom, set up by the God of heaven and represented by a stone cut out without human hands, is none other than the religion and Empire of Islam which originated with the Arabian descendents of Ishmael and spread out to “the whole earth”. It is a kingdom which in point of fact did arise in the last days of the weakened Roman Empire, and wound up putting the finishing touch to that Empire (and indeed the whole ‘statue’) when it conquered Constantinople (the Capital of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire – present day Istanbul) in 1453 A.D.
This “kingdom” remains intact to this day. Despite some parts of that vast kingdom having been conquered by invaders from time to time, it remains distinctively Muslim (submitted to the One God) in character. Even the Mongol hordes converted to Islam after they conquered Islamic nations. The conquerors were themselves ‘conquered’ by the religion of the One God. This kingdom has indeed not been left to another people.
Now this prophecy of the “stone cut out without hands” in Daniel fits very well with Jesus’ prophecy of “the stone which the builders rejected”. As Daniel had predicted that the kingdom would never be destroyed or left to another people, Jesus said that “Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him” (Luke 20:18). In Psalm 118, from which the quotation about “the stone that the builders rejected” is taken, the context is of a victorious conqueror. “(7) The LORD is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me… (10) All nations surrounded me; in the name of the LORD I cut them off!… (15) Hark, glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: ‘The right hand of the LORD does valiantly’…”
In Daniel 2:44, the stone which crushes the statue is specifically said to be a kingdom, not a king. This goes hand in hand with Jesus’ prophecy, confirming that “the stone that the builders rejected” is the people/nation which replaced the Jews as the ‘cornerstone’ in God’s kingdom, not the ‘son’ and ‘heir’ of the kingdom whom the ‘tenants’ killed.
All of these things fit so well together! The nation and kingdom which replaced the nation and kingdom of the Jews as the cornerstone of God’s kingdom is that ‘great nation’ which descended from Abraham’s firstborn son, Ishmael, which has filled/is filling the earth. And this kingdom is very fittingly represented by a “stone cut out without hands…which the builders rejected”.
This leaves us with the objection that the apostle Peter specifically ascribes to Jesus himself the honor of being “the stone that the builders rejected” (Acts 4:11, and 1 Peter 5:7). Nothing could be more explicit than the statement in Acts 4:11: “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” What can I say to this? Doesn’t this undermine my whole argument which I have gone to such great lengths to establish?
If Peter and the other apostles were in fact the infallible spokesmen that many Christians claim them to be, then it would certainly be true that Peter by that one simple statement completely destroyed my argument. However, that’s simply not the case. The Biblical authors and apostles are atrocious interpreters of the “Old Testament”. Take as an example ‘Matthew’s’ statement in Matt. 2:15 that the infant Jesus was taken by his parents to Egypt, and then brought back to Galilee and Judea, in order to fulfill Hosea 11:1 – “Out of Egypt I called my son”. When one actually looks up that ‘prophecy’ of Hosea, he/she discovers that Hosea was not making a prediction about a future Messiah; instead he was making a reference to the deliverance of the Jewish people (whom God is said to call “My son”) from Egyptian slavery hundreds of years before Hosea wrote his prophecy. Hosea is pointing out the ungratefulness of the Jewish nation for the blessings they had received from God, not predicting that a baby way off in the future would spend a short period of time in Egypt before being brought back home.
Another example can be found in the letter named “Hebrews” in the New Testament. In 2:13, the author quoted Isaiah 8:18 – “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.” The writer of Hebrews would have us believe that the speaker in Isaiah’s prophecy was Jesus Christ, and the “children whom the LORD has given me” were the children of God whom God gave to Jesus as his brothers. Yet that is clearly not the case. Isaiah was talking about himself and his own children. God had given him those children, and told him to give them very symbolic names (like “a remnant shall return”, “haste, haste to the spoil”, and “God is with us”), so that they would serve as signs and symbols for the Jewish people. The writer of Hebrews in fact winds up making a mockery of the prophetic Scriptures by the way he used them. By that system of “hermeneutics” (interpretation), one can make statements mean anything one wishes. I could use God’s commandment to Abraham to leave his country and kindred, and go to a land that He would show him, as a “prophecy” about Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt by the command of the angel!
There are plenty of other examples of such clearly wrong “interpretations” of the Old Testament by New Testament writers. Consider the examples of Peter himself in Acts 1:20 – where he refers to short excerpts from Psalm 69 (verse 25) and Psalm 109 (verse 8 ) to find guidance for replacing Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus Christ. I won’t deal with it here; just check it for yourself and see if by any stretch of the imagination those little snippets have anything to do with Judas and the apostles’ duty to replace him.
So I have no difficulty at all in acknowledging that Peter’s interpretation of “the stone that the builders rejected” is in error. It is understandable, inasmuch as the Jewish ‘builders’ did indeed reject Jesus (as they did many other prophets before him); but Peter is clearly in conflict with Jesus’ interpretation of the Psalm. I’ll accept Jesus’ interpretation over Peter’s.
Of course, one is free to question whether either Jesus or Peter got it right. Perhaps they’re both wrong, and the Psalmist was speaking only of himself. But I’m quite willing to believe that David was indeed a prophet, and he was speaking – by the Spirit of prophecy – of things future to him when he wrote that Psalm. The “I” in the Psalm was the coming deliverer who would bring God’s kingdom to the earth. The “stone” was the nation/kingdom of Ishmaelite descendents which he represented, and who would become the first followers of his God-given message.
The fact that the New Testament writers and apostles made errors in their handling of Old Testament Scriptures does not, of course, necessarily mean that they were always wrong – or even usually wrong. It does mean, though, that the exhortation of the apostle Paul is always relevant: “1Th 5:20 Do not despise prophecies, 1Th 5:21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 1Th 5:22 Abstain from every form of evil”(1 Thessalonians 5:20-22). No ‘prophet’ gets a free pass, giving him exemption from testing.
The Kingdom of God vs. The Kingdom(s) of This World
Daniel 2:44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, Dan 2:45 just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold.
Luke 20:15 “And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? Luke 20:16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” Luke 20:17 But he [Jesus – peace be to him] looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? Luke 20:18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: John 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; John 16:10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; John 16:11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (Quotations from the English Standard Version of the Bible).
Some people may think that the title of this sub-topic is inappropriate. They will say that there is no opposition between God’s kingdom and human government. They’re 2 entirely distinct “kingdoms”, each having its own sphere; and the 2 must never meet. God’s sphere is that which is “spiritual”, and only that; while the sphere of human government has to do strictly with the material world. God is not concerned with matters of human government and society, and human government is not concerned with the things of God and spirituality. So why should I speak as if they were in conflict with each other? As long as we don’t try to mix the 2 spheres, there’s no conflict. Right?
Well, actually that’s quite wrong. Anyone who is consistently a believer in the Almighty, Infinite, and Ineffable One must acknowledge that the Creator of all things is also the Sustainer and Governor of all things. It is quite untrue to say that God’s “sphere” is restricted to the “spiritual” as opposed to the material.
Ultimately, the problems societies face are the result of seeking to ignore God in political, social, and generally “every day” affairs – and consequently substituting other authorities in the place of the King of all the earth. An individual assumes the role of ultimate authority in government, or a group of men do, or “the people” are seen as the ultimate authority. Basically speaking, that is simply atheism; but many supposed “theists” rationalize this by establishing those “categories” or “spheres”.
Those who truly worship the LORD their God, and serve Him only, realize that the only human government which is good, honorable, and just is that government which is in submission to the law of God – Who rules over all things and all “spheres” of life. They pray and work for the “coming” of God’s kingdom to earth in such a way that the will of God will be done by humanity as willingly and voluntarily as it is done by the angels of God in heaven.
Even those Deists – such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison – who drew up the founding documents of the government of the United States of America recognized this fact. They may not have believed in infallibly inspired Prophets and Revelations, but they nevertheless believed in the law of God which can be found in nature and can be discerned by human reason and intuition. For them, the “laws of nature and of nature’s God” were the ultimate laws which supersede even the “will of the people”. Of course, “the people” may refuse to follow the laws of God; but the result will be unjust government.
Those theists, though, who do believe that God has not left it entirely up to human reason and intuition (which are very fallible) to discern correctly God’s law – and that He has sent Prophets from time to time with Revelation to shine light on the darkness of the human mind and reason – find that God has promised that the day would come when He would establish His own righteous government in the earth. He would shatter and crush all ungodly governments.
The Biblical statements quoted at the beginning of this article are examples of this promise of God, and hope of His people. Daniel, for instance, had interpreted a dream of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in which he had seen a giant statue representing human government throughout the ages – beginning with his own government. It was one statue or government, yet it was divided into four segments or kingdoms. Looking back historically, we can see that the four kingdoms which constituted one “statue” were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
Then Nebuchadnezzar had seen a stone “cut out without human hands” which struck the statue on its toes (which were part of the fourth kingdom, Rome), and caused the whole statue (representing ungodly human government) to collapse. Then the stone itself grew to where it encompassed the whole earth – meaning the kingdom or people whom God would raise up as a godly kingdom would overthrow all the previous corrupt governments (which were in fact only one corrupt government in various forms) and establish God’s kingdom in their/its place.
I have now come to the conclusion that this “stone” which was “cut out without human hands” ( and which Jesus –peace be to him – called “the stone which the builders rejected”, referring to Psalm 118) is the “great nation” promised to Abraham through his son Ishmael – or rather beginning with that Ishmaelite nation, and then spreading to people throughout the earth. Just as Daniel had said that the stone would crush ungodly empires, so Jesus said that the stone would break and crush all its opponents.
Having said that concerning the nation/stone which would replace the nation of Israel as the cornerstone in God’s kingdom – and which would “bring forth the fruits” of that kingdom – he also spoke of a Prophet (“helper”, “counselor”, or “comforter”) who would come for the good of men after Jesus (peace be to him) departed. One of the reasons for the coming of this other Prophet was to “convict the world … concerning judgment because the ruler of this world is judged”. This “ruler of this world” is none other than the great statue, representing ungodly world government, which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream and which the Prophet Daniel explained. As there were 4 parts to the statue, so there were several manifestations of the “ruler of this world”; but the coming of the Prophet whom Jesus Christ predicted would indicate God’s judgment of this ruler (whether the ruler is a literal evil spirit named Satan, or a general evil principle pervading all government not submitted to the law of the One Creator and Sustainer of the worlds).
The great characteristic of the Religion of God, whose last Prophet was Muhammad, is simply that it proclaims the greatness and kingdom of God over all, and calls men to submit to God. The “kingdom” of Islam (submission to God) is that kingdom which “the God of heaven” has set up.
This “Muhammadan” Islam is not intended to be a separate religion from previous religions such as Judaism and Christianity, and in conflict with them. Rather the “Muhammadan” revelation is a continuation of, and fulfillment of, those religions. In fact, they all constitute the one “Religion of God” which is Islam (submission to the One God). The revelation given to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be to him and his family) just confirms the others, and ‘rescues’ them from corruption which had set in.
When God said to Muhammad, “it is He who has sent forth His Apostle with [the task of] spreading guidance and the religion of truth, to the end that He make it prevail over all [false] religion, however hateful this may be to those who ascribe divinity to aught but God” (Qur’an 61:9, Muhammad Asad version), the “religion of truth” spoken of is not “Islam” as opposed to Judaism, Christianity, or other monotheistic religions. It is the one “Islam” which pervades all those true religions, but which has reached its perfection in the revelation given to Muhammad.
Many Christians have fallen into the snare of thinking that because Jesus the Messiah/Christ/Anointed One said that his kingdom was “not of this world”, and that the kingdom of God is “within you”, we should not be concerned with seeking and establishing righteous and godly human government. They have fallen for the “separate spheres” mode of thinking. But Jesus Christ himself denied the correctness of that conclusion.
Yes it is true that God’s kingdom must begin within people, and spread outward. And it is true that Jesus himself was not the one appointed by God to smash and destroy ungodly human governments. But he said that another Prophet and Leader of another (non-Jewish) nation would come after him who would effectively demolish ungodly government and establish God’s kingdom in human society.
Those whose “eyes and ears are open” to God, and who love His kingdom, should be delighted to see God fulfilling His promise of His glory filling the earth as the waters cover the sea! But so many people are deathly afraid of the spread of Islam (submission to God) and “Shariah” (God’s law). As the Qur’an says in 24:48 – When they are summoned to God and His apostle, in order that He may judge between them, behold some of them decline (to come). [Yusuf Ali English Version]. Why is that? Is it that there is a disease in their hearts? or do they doubt, or are they in fear, that God and His Messenger will deal unjustly with them? [Verse 50] I’m afraid that there is an underlying doubt of God’s goodness and trustworthiness in many people who are afraid of the “triumph” of the Religion of God. Such a doubt is of course in reality atheism or agnosticism. Those of us who claim to believe in the God of all the earth (and of all the worlds) should check ourselves carefully to make sure such a doubt of God does not lie secretly within us.
For myself, I can say that I am delighted to see the continued spread of Islam (submission to God) throughout the earth – even in the midst of tremendous opposition – because this is the spread of the Religion of God and the Kingdom of God; the Kingdom which the God of heaven has set up and which will certainly prevail over all false religion and government (religion and government which establishes other ‘gods’ or authorities beside the One) no matter how much those who serve other authorities than God may hate it. I believe, with Abraham, that “the Judge of all the earth will do right” and I have no fear of His religion as my rule and authority – though I certainly want to make sure whatever rule asserts itself to be “of God” is really what it claims to be.
One of the basic premises of this Divine Revelation in the Qur’an is “freedom of religion”. For instance: [2:256] There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from [the way of] error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing. [10: :99] And [thus it is:] had thy Sustainer so willed, all those who live on earth would surely have attained to faith, all of them: dost thou, then, think that thou couldst compel people to believe..? As shown in the “Muhammadan” manifestation of the Religion of God, Islam (submission to God), is both multicultural and religiously pluralistic.
May God cause His light to shine upon us; and may His rightly guided leader (“Mahdi”) appear soon to lead us fully out of the mess we have made of things and into a truly godly society with godly government.