Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. Gen 12:2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. Gen 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Isa 45:22 Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.
John 10:16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
Acts 10:28 [The Christian apostle Peter speaking to the household of the Roman centurion Cornelius – SGP] And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean … Act 10:34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, Act 10:35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Qur’an 49:13 People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should get to know one another. In God’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware.
Qur’an 5:18 The Jews and the Christians say, ‘We are the children of God and His beloved ones.’ Say, ‘Then why does He punish you for your sins? You are merely human beings, part of His creation: He forgives whoever He will and punishes whoever He will. Control of the heavens and earth and all that is between them belongs to Him: all journeys lead to Him.’
[Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version; Qur’an quotations are from the Abdel Haleem English Version.]
Those verses, taken from the Hebrew and Christian portions of the Bible, and the Qur’an (Koran), proclaim with utmost clarity a most basic principle of the Religion of God in all its manifestations: God is King of all the earth (indeed of all worlds), all human beings come from Him, and He has no favorites among them – except that He favors all those from every nation and tribe who believe in Him and do righteous deeds.
This is actually something which should be clear to anyone who uses the reason God gave him/her, even without any ‘Divine Revelation’. Yet the darkness of human understanding is sometimes so great that even the most clear and evident truths of “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” are not seen or are ignored.
Some people have imagined that the color of one’s skin makes him/her superior to everyone else: “white supremacy” for instance – whether its manifestation in the Ku Klux Klan in the USA; or the white, blond haired, blue eyed ‘Aryans’ of Nazi infamy; or any other manifestation. And of course there was the reaction of the “Black Muslims” of the “Nation of Islam” who maintained (maintain?) that the true ‘master race’ is the race of black skinned people.
Others imagine that “God’s elect” are those who belong to a particular expression of the Religion of God. Perhaps most obvious would be some from the Christian religion (“evangelicals”, “fundamentalists”, etc.) who think that they alone belong to the family of God – because they have come to believe in the ‘right’ Prophet, and believe the ‘right doctrines’ concerning that Prophet (that he is – supposedly – “God the Son”, the “Second Person of the Trinity”, and that he died as a substitute for all believers to bear the wrath of God against them and ‘save’ them).
Such ‘supremacist’ imaginations are demolished by the above quoted verses. Even the verse quoted from the letter of Paul to the Galatians does not mean that only ‘Christians’ are God’s people. When he said that all are “one in Christ Jesus”, his meaning was that in the message and “Gospel” of Jesus Christ, all nations and classes of people are equal. Everyone who believes and obeys the message of Jesus Christ is Abraham’s offspring and an heir of the promises of God. And what is the message of Jesus Christ? Simply that one should love God with all his heart, and love his neighbor as he loves himself. This is the same message as all the Prophets of God since the creation of the world have proclaimed. A person who loves the One and Only, and loves his fellow human beings, is obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ even if he has never heard of Jesus Christ! Even if he thinks he rejects the prophethood and messiahship of Jesus Christ (due no doubt to all the distortions of the man and his message which have been promulgated by many who call themselves his followers), if he is doing the things Jesus (and all the prophets) taught then he is Abraham’s seed and an ‘heir of God’.
But there is another group of people who believe they are “the apple of God’s eye” because of a combination of physical genealogical descent from Abraham through his grandson Jacob/Israel, and their religious faith and obedience to the Law of Moses. For many, it is the genealogical descent which at least seems to be the biggest factor. These people, of course, are the Jews – or at least some from among the Jews. I’m not one who believes that they’re all alike.
Nevertheless, even though not all Jewish people are ‘racists’, I imagine it must be with difficulty that they avoid it. It is so ingrained in Jewish thinking based on interpretations of the Bible and the Talmud, that it seems to me that one must either reject a large portion of those books as pure myth and fable, or resort to what appears to many as ‘far fetched interpretations’ of them. Still, there may be some truth to the idea that much of what are known as the ‘historical’ portions of the Hebrew Scriptures was never intended to be understood as ‘true history’, but rather as allegory. It is not “the truth” historically, but it contains a truth. And perhaps the stories were written in such a way as to be unbelievable and even atrocious, in order to ‘cue us in’ that they were in fact allegories rather than histories.
However, historically the Jewish Scriptures have been understood by much of the Jewish ‘nation’ as very literally teaching that they are “God’s chosen people”, vastly superior to the ‘dogs of the Gentiles’. An illustration of just how ingrained such thinking is in Jewish thought is the story in Acts 10 and 11 of the Christian “New Testament” concerning Peter and the household of Cornelius.
Peter would not even have considered entering the house of Cornelius – a Roman centurion – if he had not been given a vision by God showing him that God doesn’t show favoritism. This despite the fact that Peter had spent so much time in the presence of Jesus Christ; and the fact that Cornelius was considered a ‘righteous’ and ‘God-fearing’ man, even by the Jews – who respected him (Acts 10:1, 2, 22). Despite his righteousness and fear of God, he was still a ‘dog of the Gentiles’. He may have been a ‘good dog’, but he was a ‘dog’ nevertheless. He was not an ‘equal’ of the Jews, and no good Jew would think of entering his house and eating with him.
It took visions given to Peter and Cornelius to convince Peter that this notion of Jewish superiority was invalid. And when he returned to Jerusalem, he had some explaining to do – because the Jewish disciples of Jesus Christ there were horrified that Peter had done something as unthinkable as entering the house of an uncircumcised Gentile and eating with him (again despite the fact that Cornelius was respected by the Jews as a righteous and God-fearing man) [Acts 11:1 and 2].
Even with Peter’s explanation, the notion of Jewish superiority refused to die out in the Jewish Christian community. A few years later, after Saul/Paul and Barnabas had seen great success in preaching to ‘Gentiles’ – so that many turned to God from idols – great dissension arose among the Christian believers because Paul and Barnabas were treating the uncircumcised Gentile Christians as equals with the circumcised Jewish Christians. Acts 15 tells about the ‘Jerusalem Council’ which met to settle the controversy. Even after this Council had concluded that the Gentile believers were to be accepted equally without seeking to get them to accept circumcision and keep all of the laws of Moses, the Jews in general and some of the Jewish Christians refused to accept the idea; and they plagued Paul throughout his ministry.
This idea of Jewish superiority is easily seen today in what is known as ‘Zionism’ and ‘the Jewish State of Israel’. Most Jewish people seem to accept without hesitation that the land of Palestine belongs to them by ‘Divine Right’. They are “God’s chosen people”, and they just don’t seem to comprehend that there might be some problem with them ‘cleansing’ the land of its non-Jewish inhabitants, demolishing their houses and cities, burning their crops, etc.
They eagerly accept fables about the land of Palestine being uninhabited, barren, and unfruitful – just waiting for “the apple of God’s eye” to come in and make the ‘desert’ blossom like a rose! Their blind prejudice is reflected in the slogan they adopted about the land: “a land without a people for a people without a land”. Despite the fact they had to murder or drive out hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the land in order to turn it into a ‘Jewish State’, they still said it was a ‘land without a people’. I guess that’s because of the ‘fact’ that those Palestinian ‘Gentiles’ weren’t really people, but ‘dogs’! 🙄
All of those olive and orange groves (as well as other types of agriculture) which the Zionist Jews had to destroy in order to be able to plant their own crops and turn the ‘desert’ into a ‘fruitful field’ were only imaginary, I guess. After all, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) wrote that in his travels in Palestine he found the land uninhabited and barren! (We’re supposed to ignore the fact, I suppose, that Mr. Clemens also said the same thing of Greece – in perhaps even stronger terms. Mark Twain was a great writer of fiction and humor; but it sounds like his “non-fiction” was perhaps not quite so ‘non’ fictional.)
What is truly amazing, though, is that many Christians – and even some Muslims – buy into the absurd notion of Jewish ‘chosenness’ and their ‘Divine Right’ to the land! I came to realize something like 36 or 37 years ago that the Christian Gospel absolutely repudiates this notion. Even though Paul wrote that the Gentiles were once strangers from God’s covenants of promise and ‘aliens from the commonwealth of Israel’, he wrote that this was no longer the case since Jesus, God’s Christ, proclaimed his Gospel. The ‘middle wall of partition’ dividing Jew and Gentile was now destroyed by God; and you may be sure that God will not ‘make Himself a transgressor’ by building again what he had destroyed. (See Galatians 2:18 where Paul ‘diplomatically’ applied to himself the accusation he was making against Peter – who had started separating himself from the Gentile Christians despite the fact that he had been a leader in tearing down that wall of separation: For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.)
In the past two and a half years that I have been reading the Qur’an, I have seen that the Qur’an does indeed confirm what remains of the truth in the former revelations; and it definitely confirms the truth seen by Peter that God shows no favoritism, but those in every nation who believe in God and do good works are accepted by Him. The quotations from 49:13 and 5:18 given at the beginning of this article are quite explicit. 5:18 in particular says that neither the Christians nor the Jews are God’s special people; they’re just human beings, and God bestows His blessings on whom He will among human beings.
Sura 2:124 says this: When Abraham’s Lord tested him with certain commandments, which he fulfilled, He said, ‘I will make you a leader of people.’ Abraham asked, ‘And will you make leaders of my descendents too?’ God answered, ‘My pledge does not hold for those who do evil.’ This confirms the Biblical assertions that Abraham believed God (and showed it by his works), and this was accounted to him for righteousness; and that it is those who have the same faith as Abraham (shown by righteous works) who are his descendents and heirs. Those who disbelieve and disobey are not Abraham’s heirs.
Sura 17:4-8 says this about the children of Israel: (4) We declared to the Children of Israel in the Scripture, ‘Twice you will spread corruption in the land and become highly arrogant’. (5) When the first of those warnings was fulfilled, We sent against you servants of Ours [Assyrians and Babylonians] with great force, and they ravaged your homes. That warning was fulfilled, (6) but then We allowed you to prevail against your enemy. We increased your wealth and offspring and made you more numerous – (7) whether you do good or evil it is to your own souls – and when the second warning was fulfilled [We sent them] [“servants of Ours” – the Romans this time] to shame your faces and enter the place of worship as they did the first time, and utterly destroy whatever fell into their power. (8) Your Lord may yet have mercy on you, but if you do the same again, so shall We: We have made Hell a prison for those who defy [Our warning].
This again confirms the prophecies of the Hebrew prophets. Isaiah and Jeremiah for instance predicted the Assyrian/Babylonian captivity, while Daniel in particular (though not only Daniel) predicted the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the “last days/end” for the Jewish State. Daniel 9:24-27 predicted that from the time Cyrus the Persian freed the Jews from the Babylonian captivity there would be 490 years (70 “weeks/sevens” of years). Messiah the Prince would appear in the 69th “week/seven” (he was ‘made manifest’ to Israel at the baptism of John ‘the Baptist’), and be “cut off” in the 70th “week/seven”. After that, and as a result, the “people of the Prince” would come and destroy the city of Jerusalem and its Temple. When the “people of the Prince” is referred to, I believe the Prince is the same “Messiah the Prince” previously referred to who would come and be “cut off”. The Roman legions are seen as being sent at his command, by the will of God, to fulfill God’s purpose. However, others believe that this Prince whose people would destroy the Temple is Titus, the Roman General (son of Emperor Vespasian) who was the actual Roman leader.
In keeping with this prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple by the Romans – and its fulfillment – the Qur’an says this in 5:78 and 79: (78) The Children of Israel who defied [God] were rejected through the words of David, and Jesus, son of Mary, because they disobeyed, they persistently overstepped the limits, (79) they did not forbid each other to do wrong. How vile their deeds were!
I believe this Qur’anic statement about David and Jesus proclaiming God’s rejection of the Jewish people who defied and disobeyed God refers in particular to a parable and statement of Jesus given (with minor variations) in 3 of the 4 “Gospels” (the “Synoptics” – Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Jesus told a parable about the owner of a vineyard leasing it out to some tenants, and then leaving on a trip. From time to time the owner would send servants to collect some of the fruit from the tenants (lease payment); but the tenants beat some and killed others of those servants. Finally, the owner sent his son, figuring that the tenants would at least honor the heir. Instead they killed him, thinking that with the heir dead they would inherit the vineyard themselves.
According to Matthew’s account, Jesus then asked his hearers: Mat 21:40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants? Their response (verse 41) was: He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.
Then followed this response: 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 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.”
So Jesus confirmed the conclusion of his hearers, and applied it to the Jewish nation by quoting from David (Psalm 118:22 and 23) and making his own declaration of God’s rejection of Israel and replacement of them by another people.
Yes, I without hesitation adhere to what some (even Christians, interestingly) disparagingly label “replacement theology”. God honored the faithful obedience of Abraham by telling him that his descendants would bring the blessing of God to all the nations. The descendants of Abraham’s grandson Jacob were chosen to have the opportunity to fulfill that purpose and be a “light to the nations” (not to be superior to, and slave masters over, the nations). When those descendants of Jacob became arrogant and disobedient, and became a “blight to the nations” rather than a “light to the nations” (I believe I read that interesting description of today’s nation of Israel as a “blight to the nations” as a title of an article on Norman Finkelstein’s blog page some time back. See here for the actual article.), God repudiated them and gave that position to the descendants of Abraham’s firstborn son, Ishmael. The Arabic people, beginning with the leadership of Muhammad, fulfilled the purpose of being a “light to the nations”. They did not arrogantly imagine that God had made them superior to everyone else as the Jews had done. People from all nations and races have become “Muslims” (submitted and devoted to God), and the Arabs have no superior place among that “Muslim” people. They became the “cornerstone” in the kingdom, but they are not the kingdom itself.
To conclude then: it is simply impossible that God would adopt some particular nation or tribe of people – or followers of one particular Prophet out of the many He sent – to be His “chosen” or “special” people in any sense that makes them superior to everyone else. The Jewish people were chosen to have the opportunity to bring God’s light to other nations; but when they brought instead a “blight” to the nations, God rejected them and replaced them with a people who would not be arrogant and unfaithful. And it remains true of Arab Muslims as well as all other Muslims that if they are unbelieving and disobedient, they too will be rejected by God. God simply doesn’t play favorites!