Did Moses Predict Mohammed?


This question was recently posed to me.  Previously, I had been aware of only one passage – from the New Testament – that Muslims claim predicts the rise of their prophet.  But as the question was asked I recalled a passage from the Old Testament in which Moses predicts the rise of a prophet after his time.  As it turns out, this is indeed the passage that Muslims claim that Moses predicts the rise of their leader.

The passage in question is Deut. 18:15,18-19.  From the NKJV it reads:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear…

…I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. 

This passage provides us with some noteworthy characteristics of the coming Prophet. First, Moses said that God will “raise up” this prophet from Israel’s “midst” and “brethren.”  Then, we find that the prophet will speak the words of God, and whoever does not “hear” or harken to those words will be judged.  However, beyond these few clues we find little else to help identify the prophet.

Even if we did not have any more data available about whom this prophet might be I believe we can have serious reason to doubt that it is about Mohammed.  This is because the Hebrew word for “brethren” can mean kindred, or relative, as well as brother.  And even though Muslims claim that they are descendants of Abraham, as are the Jews, Moses’ audience would never have understood the word to include the Arabs.  As a matter of fact, in just a few chapters before this passage, Moses specifically defines a “brother” as “a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman” (Deut. 15:12).

Furthermore, the Prophet is said to rise out of Israel’s “midst.”  In 70 AD, Israel was defeated by the Romans in a war, and removed from their land. They ceased to exist at that time as a nation because Rome dispersed the Jewish survivors all over the known world.  When Mohammed was born (around 600 AD), there was no such thing as Israel’s “midst,” and therefore his life would not seem to fit this particular characteristic of the prophecy.

But we are not limited to Moses’ words in trying to identify the Prophet.  The New Testament sheds light that makes the identification process rather easy.

Matthew describes Jesus being gloriously transfigured before several disciples in Chapter17 of his gospel.  Jesus is then joined by the great Old Testament prophet Elijah, and the lawgiver himself, Moses.  After Peter remarks about being privileged to witness the event, a voice from heaven is sounded.  The voice says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him.” (NKJV)

The most interesting aspect of this scene, relative to this article, is that Moses, as well as everyone present, is told by God to “hear” Jesus.  When we compare this to Moses’ prediction we find that the words of God would be put in the Prophet’s mouth and that everyone is to “hear” him.  A striking similarity of words.

The presence of Moses at God’s admonishment to hear Jesus should cause us to consider if Jesus were indeed the Prophet.  He was certainly a Jew, and was raised up among the “brethren.”  The case for considering Jesus becomes even stronger when we find that Jesus taught that Moses “wrote about” Him (John 5:46). Although in John 5:46 Jesus does not make direct reference to the passage in Deut. 18, it is hard to imagine how else His statement would be understood – since Moses wrote of no one else to come.

But probably most importantly we have a New Testament passage which takes all of the guesswork out of Moses’ prophecy. This is found in Acts 3.  In that chapter we have Peter delivering his second recorded sermon.  The subject of the sermon is clearly Jesus.  Peter points out that Jesus was spoken of by God through “the mouth of all His holy prophets…” (vs. 21).  He then lists what he sees as an example of Jesus being spoken of by a prophet by reciting the passage in Deut. 18.  It is at this point that we can know for certain that the object of Moses’ prophecy is Jesus, and cannot be Mohammed.  Therefore, Deut. 18 cannot be about Mohammed.

The other passage that I have heard Muslims attempt to press into service as proof of Mohammed’s tenure is John 14:16.  This records Jesus saying, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (NKJV).

This suggestion, however, can quickly be discarded because in the next verse Jesus identifies the “Helper” as “the Spirit of truth.” Then, a few verses later Jesus again mentions the “Helper,” and again identifies Him as “the Holy Spirit” (vs. 26).  Therefore, this passage finds no support for a prediction of Mohammed.

These are the only passages that I know of that might be used to underwrite the notion that the Bible predicts Mohammed’s life.  There might be others, but I am not aware of them.  However, I would be happy to examine any that are brought to my attention.

Peace,

dane

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