Umar has tried to critique my paper regarding the Islamic perspective of Jesus death and final hours.
Umar starts off his "response" by trying to undermine Jesus death on the Cross:
Sam Shamoun starts off his article by saying that if it is proven that Jesus did not die (or get crucified), then Christianity is nothing but a lie. Let us investigate now on the alleged crucifixion of Jesus:
36"Abba,[a] Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."
(Mark 14:36 NIV Bible)
42"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
(Luke 22:42 NIV Bible)
39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
(Matthew 26:39 NIV Bible)
Now, here is what Jesus says about praying:
22If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
(Matthew 21:22 NIV Bible)
So now we have a problem. Jesus says whatever you ask for prayer (if you believe) you will receive it. Above, Jesus is asking for the "cup" to be removed from him. Here is the definition in context as to what "cup" means:
"For Jesus that cup was His death and everything that it involved."
(Source: Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 373)
So here we have a problem. If Jesus prayed for the cup to be removed, and before he says whatever you say in prayer (believing) you will receive it, then was Jesus heard?
Let us quote the context in order to demonstrate Umars inability to read what is in front of him:
"And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, Sit here while I pray. And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch. And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, IF IT WERE POSSIBLE, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. YET NOT WHAT I WILL, BUT WHAT YOU WILL. And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand." Mark 14:32-42
A careful reader will immediately see that Jesus didnt demand that the cup be taken away, but rather prayed that it only be removed if it were within Gods will. This same point is found in all of the accounts which report this event:
"And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, My Father, IF IT IS POSSIBLE, let this cup pass from Me; YET NOT AS I WILL, BUT AS YOU WILL He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, YOUR WILL BE DONE." Matthew 26:39, 42
"Father, IF YOU ARE WILLING, take this cup from me; YET NOT MY WILL, BUT YOURS BE DONE." Luke 22:42
As anyone can see, none of the versions say that Jesus demanded that he be spared from death. All three reports clearly show Jesus asking that the Father spare him from having to drink the cup ONLY IF it was according to his will. In other words, even though Jesus was troubled regarding having to take on Gods wrath upon himself, he didnt DEMAND that God save him from the Cross. Jesus emphatically says that if it was not Gods will to spare him from death then he was willing to accept his fate. After all, didnt Jesus say that he came not to do his will but the will of the One who sent him?
"Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work." John 4:34
"I can do nothing on My own initiative As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." John 5:30
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." John 6:38
And didnt he also teach his followers in the Lords Prayer to seek Gods will?
"This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, YOUR WILL BE DONE on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Matthew 6:9-13
Umar is correct on one point: If Jesus demanded that he be spared from death then God would be obliged to answer, which would result in there being no salvation for lost sinners. According to the Holy Bible God always answers Jesus requests:
"So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that WHATEVER YOU ASK from God, God will give you." John 11:20-22 ESV
"So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you ALWAYS hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me. When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus, come out. The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, Unbind him, and let him go." John 11:41-44 ESV
Thus, if Jesus had demanded to be spared and had the Father not answered such a demand then this would mean that the divine Persons of God are not in perfect union and accord. This would show that one Divine Person could pray a prayer that the other Divine Person does not answer which would therefore mean that there is disharmony and discord within the Triune Godhead. But since no such discord exists, Jesus doesnt make that kind of demand. Being Gods perfect Son and the perfect Servant, Jesus prays the perfect prayer which seeks to be in perfect union with the Fathers purpose, not seeking to impose his own will upon God his Father.
Now, Christians will run to get verses that say that "Jesus gave his life willingly", and "It was the will of the Father", but now we have another problem. Here are some passages in the book of Psalms which will help shed some light:
39But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
40And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.
As we see above, Jesus is praying to God in his time of trouble (as he says himself that he was "overwhelmed with sorrow" in Mark 14:34), and he was praying that he wouldn't die, that the "cup" shall pass from him. But in the above passage, it speaks that God Almighty would help the individual and save him from the wicked individuals because they trust in God.
Furthermore, we read in Psalms:
28For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
As we can see, God Almighty doesn't forsake his saints, so why was Jesus forsaken? Why wasn't Jesus heard? The Christians will obviously reject this claim, and again run to get verses from Paul's works etc., to help their claim, that it was God's will to kill his son, but now there is a contradiction between what they say, and what God Almighty says to what the Christians today tell us.
Moreover, David also prayed to God Almighty in his time of distress and he was heard:
12Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.
13O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.
1I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
(Psalms 39:12-13 and Psalms 40:1)
David also speaks about how God Almighty performs all things for HIM:
1Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
2I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.
3He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.
David speaks about how God Almighty will save him.
We also find in Psalms:
2O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.
1In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.
There is no need to run to Pauls work, since Jesus words will do just fine:
"And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him." Mark 8:31-32
"They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise. But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him." Mark 9:30-31
"And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise." Mark 10:32-34
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45
Furthermore, the general promise to the righteous that they will be vindicated and saved does not mean that God does not allow them to suffer. The Scriptures teach that God has and continues to permit many of his servants to suffer and die in his cause:
"In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him." Genesis 4:3-8
"Your words have been hard against me, says the LORD. But you say, How have we spoken against you? You have said, It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape. Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him." Malachi 3:13-18
"I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you." John 16:1-4
"But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." Acts 14:19-22
"For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake," Philippians 1:29
"You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra--which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." 2 Timothy 3:10-13
"And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets-- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated-- of whom the world was not worthy--wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." Hebrews 11:32-38
"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been." Revelation 6:9-11
Umar should have no problem with this since even his own false prophet taught something similar:
And indeed, We gave Musa (Moses) the Book and followed him up with a succession of Messengers. And We gave 'Iesa (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), clear signs and supported him with Ruh-ul-Qudus [Jibrael (Gabriel)]. Is it that whenever there came to you a Messenger with what you yourselves desired not, you grew arrogant? Some, you disbelieved and some, you killed. S. 2:87 Hilali-Khan
And when it is said to them (the Jews), "Believe in what Allah has sent down," they say, "We believe in what was sent down to us." And they disbelieve in that which came after it, while it is the truth confirming what is with them. Say (O Muhammad Peace be upon him to them): "Why then have you killed the Prophets of Allah aforetime, if you indeed have been believers?" S. 2:91 Hilali-Khan
Basically, the promise of redemption and vindication of Gods servants doesnt preclude them from suffering or dying for their faith, but means that God will eventually avenge their blood and exalt them. The Scriptures expressly state that the ultimate vindication of the righteous takes place on the Day of Judgment when God will repay those who persecuted his people with damnation and destruction:
"Then the LORD said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? He said, I do not know; am I my brother's keeper? And the LORD said, What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth." Genesis 4:9-12
"Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said: ‘As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.’" Daniel 7:19-27
"Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation." Luke 11:49-51
"Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering-- since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed." 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10
"After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants." Revelation 19:1-2
More importantly, David himself confirms that God will at times allow the righteous to die in his cause, only to then glorify them because of it:
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him! Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet-- I can count all my bones-- they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it." Psalm 22:1-31
Here, Gods servant suffers at the hands of ungodly men, has his hands and feet pierced through, his garments divided with the enemies casting lots for his clothing, and is left lying in the dust of death. It is only after experiencing all of the above that God comes to the aid of his servant. Whats more, this Psalm actually finds its complete fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus, Gods righteous Servant par excellence:
"And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Mark 15:34
"And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross. So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, "I am the Son of God." And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Matthew 27:39-44
"When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be. This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. So the soldiers did these things," John 19:23-24
"But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise." Hebrews 2:9-12
What the foregoing shows is that being delivered from death is not the only way God saves his people. Rather, deliverance also refers to God vindicating his servants by resurrecting them from the dead in order to glorify them in his presence:
"I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:8-11
"As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness." Psalm 17:15
"Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah" Psalm 49:14-15
"At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." Daniel 12:1-3
In fact, Jesus resurrection was Gods way of delivering and vindicating his Son, being a foreshadow of the glorification that the believers will experience at the end of the age:
"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know-- this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. Acts 2:22-24
"But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:20-23
"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence." Hebrews 5:7
"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant," Hebrews 13:20
Umar also conveniently forgot to quote those passages which speak of the judgment that falls on those who sin against God:
"If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." Psalm 66:18
"When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations-- I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." Isaiah 1:12-17
"Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness. No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity. They hatch adders' eggs; they weave the spider's web; he who eats their eggs dies, and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched. Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. We all growl like bears; we moan and moan like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the LORD, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey." Isaiah 59:1-15
The reader should see the relevance these texts have in understanding Jesus death on the Cross. Christ came to take our sins upon him in order to die in our place:
"The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29
"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24
In fact, the OT prophets such as Isaiah announced Jesus death on behalf of sinners centuries prior to the coming of the Lord:
"Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall THE RIGHTEOUS ONE, MY SERVANT, MAKE MANY TO BE ACCOUNTED RIGHTEOUS; AND HE SHALL BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; YET HE BORE THE SIN OF MANY, and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53
As a result of this substitutionary death God did not view Christ as being righteous once our sins were credited or imputed to him; rather God saw Jesus as a sinner who deserved judgment. Thus, from a judicial perspective Jesus suffered justly because he had taken our sins upon himself in order to save us from the wrath of God.
Umars arguments go from bad to worse:
Moreover, even the Prophet Jonah called to the Lord in his time of distress:
2And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
Furthermore, God says that the person who will glorify him is the one who will call upon him in the day of trouble (specifically speaking to David):
13Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
14Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
15And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
Umar couldnt have provided a better example to prove our case than that of Jonah! As everyone knows, God caused Jonah to be swallowed by a big sea animal for three days and nights because of refusing to obey Gods command to go and preach to the Assyrians:
"And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." Jonah 1:17
After Jonah realized the errors of his ways and cried out to the Lord he was delivered. Umar failed to pay careful attention to the words of Jonah as he was locked up in the belly of the fish:
"Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, "I am driven away from your sight; Yet I shall again look upon your holy temple." The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD! And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land." Jonah 2:1-10
Jonah claims that he cried to Yahweh from the belly of Sheol, from the pit, expressions used throughout the Old Testament in reference either to the grave or to the spiritual realm where the dead go. What this implies is that Jonah may have actually died and cried out to the Lord from the netherworld where God then heard his cries and resurrected him. At the very least, it shows that Jonah likened his experience to one who had died and gone to Sheol. This serves as a perfect analogy to and foreshadowing of the death and resurrection of Christ:
"For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Matthew 12:40
"Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades (Hebrew- Sheol), nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses." Acts 2:30-32
Christ, like Jonah, was buried in Sheol for three days and came back to life again. The major difference between the two is that one (Jonah) was punished because of his personal sins whereas the other (Jesus) was punished because of the sins of others!
More importantly, Jonahs case is another example of what happens to the righteous when they disobey God, namely that they get disciplined for their rebellion. Since Christ had our sins imputed to him his punishment was therefore just and righteous in Gods sight. At the same time, because Christ was actually sinless he could not remain dead but had to be resurrected from the grave after satisfying Gods justice on the Cross.
The above should suffice for now...
Indeed, it should suffice to expose Umars distortion of the biblical texts. The foregoing is an indication of the quality of Umars "rebuttal".
Continue with Part 2.
Rebuttals to Answering-Christianity
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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