"Deuteronomy 18:18 says that God would raise up a prophet like Moses from among their brothers. The Israelites (the Jews) and the Ishmaelites (Arabs) were brothers. The prophecy states that ‘I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything I command him.’
“Moses was born with a human mother and father, he married, had children, etc. Jesus was born miraculously, he had no human father, he never married, never had children, etc.
My question is this: Who is the Bible speaking of, since Jesus was unlike Moses in every way?"
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to this statement/question from a young gentleman who recently has converted to the Islamic system. He subscribes to the theory that Mohammed, not Jesus Christ, was the “prophet” referred to by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. There are several serious fallacies in this view of the Old Testament passage.
Is Deuteronomy Reliable?
It is not a consistent position to argue that the book of Deuteronomy contains a true prophecy regarding Mohammed, and then, as many Muslim scholars do, denigrate the Torah as unreliable. A leading Muslim apologist writes:
“The first five books of the Old Testament do not constitute the original Torah, but parts of the Torah have been mingled up with other narratives written by human beings and the original guidance of the Lord is lost in that quagmire” (Alhaj A.D. Ajijola, The Essence of Faith in Islam, Lahore, Pakistan: Islamic Publications Ltd., 1978), p. 79.
Did God Reveal the Gospel?
On the other hand, the Qur’an refers to the Christian Gospel as that which “God hath revealed” (Sura 5:50). A commentary on this passage says:
“If Christians follow not their light, they are rebellious” (The Holy Qur’an — Translation and commentary by A. Yusuf Ali, Islamic Propagation Centre International, 1946).
In view of this, unless the Christian wishes to be “rebellious,” he must subscribe to the truth that Moses’ prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15ff has reference to Christ, not Mohammed. This is precisely the point that Peter made when he proclaimed the Gospel to the Jews in those early days of Christian history (Acts 3:18-23).
“But the things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old. Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.”
Was Jesus Like unto Moses?
That there were some insignificant dissimilarities between Moses and Jesus, such as the fact that Moses was married and Jesus was not, proves nothing. There were numerous disparities between Moses and Mohammed. Moses was born in Egypt, Mohammed in Mecca. Moses was taken by God at the age of 120; Mohammed died a natural death at the age of 63, etc.
The reality is, however, there are significant similarities between the work of Moses and that of Christ. Consider the following:
- Kings sought to destroy both Moses and Jesus when they were babies (Ex. 1,2; Mt. 2).
- Both were sent by God to be deliverers (Ex. 3:8; Rom. 11:26).
- Both Moses and Christ authenticated their missions with miracles (Ex. 4:1ff; Jn. 20:30-31).
- Both gave laws from God (Jer. 31:31ff; Jn. 1:17).
- Both mediated on behalf of their people (Ex. 32:32; Gal. 3:19; 1 Tim. 2:5).
- Both supplied bread for the people (Ex. 16:15; Jn. 6:49ff).
- Both Moses and Christ had a “baptism” which provided a transition from bondage to freedom (Ex. 14:30; cf. 1 Cor. 10:2; Gal. 3:27).
- Both men were specially tended by God at the event of their deaths (Dt. 34:6; Lk. 23:46).
- Moses and Christ united in song in praising the mighty works of God (cf. Ex. 15; Rev. 15:3).
It is not accurate, therefore, to assert: that “Jesus was unlike Moses in every way.” A comparison between Moses and Islam’s “prophet” cannot begin to compare with the parallels listed above.
The Relationship of the Jews and Ishmaelites
The fact that Moses and Ishmael sustained a distant relationship is hardly relevant in this matter. The Edomites (descendants of Esau) were also “brothers” to Israel (Obad. 10,12). In fact, the murder of a fellow-human is prohibited on the basis of a common “brother” relationship between all men, since all humans are made in God’s image (Gen. 9:6; cf. Acts 17:26-29).
Was Mohammed the Prophet?
To suggest that Mohammed is the “prophet” foretold in Deuteronomy 18 contradicts the Qur’an, which declares that the “Prophethood and Revelation” was to come through the “progeny” of Isaac and Jacob — not Ishmael (Sura 29:27). In his translation of this passage, A. Yusuf Ali has added the name “Abraham” in parentheses, so as to embrace Ishmael, though the patriarch’s name is not in the Arabic version of the text (Norman Geisler & Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993, pp. 148-149).
Also, compare this emendation with the claim of Muslim writers that it “is impossible for [the Qur’an] to suffer any change or alteration” (Arthur Jeffery, Islam, Muhammad and His Religion, New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1958, p. 128).
Did Jesus Tell the Truth?
The young man spoke accurately when he acknowledged that Jesus “was born miraculously” — that he had no “human” father. Christ did not have a “human” father, as indeed the Qur’an itself teaches (Sura 3.47; 19:20). However, the Qur’an further says that the new-born Jesus spoke to Mary and her people from “the cradle” and said: “I am indeed a servant of God: he has given me revelation and made me a prophet” (19:30).
If the Qur’an is true, and this “servant” and “prophet” was given “revelation” from God, why do Muslims not believe that “prophet” — who declared, under oath, that he was the “Son of the Blessed” (Mk. 14:61-62; cf. Mt. 26:62-63; Lk. 22:70-71). The Qur’an subsequently says that “it is not befitting” that Jesus should be identified as the Son of God (Sura 19:35; cf. Sura 112). But Jesus affirmed his unique Son-of-God relationship so adamantly that it infuriated the Jews, and they sought to stone him (see Jn. 5:17-18).
And so, while our young friend is obviously sincere in his newly-discovered religious persuasion, he is quite in error in his allegiance to Mohammed. We trust that he will study his way to a better understanding of sacred truth.