Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Does God really care about you?

By Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.

If I were a Muslim I would want to know what Allah thinks about me.  I would want to know something about Allah.   Does he really care about me?   Do I have any hope of making it to paradise?   Do my good works tip the scale in my favor?

Spencer has written:

“The Quran states that Allah is as ‘near to man as the jugular vein’, but He is nevertheless unknown, and His Books do not reveal Him. Allah is the great mystery, and man does not participate in Him in any way ... Allah does not make a personal self-revealing approach to man, nor does He seek fellowship with man. Islam knows nothing of the self-revealing and self-bestowing of God ....” (Source)

Most human beings know they were created by a higher Being, a higher intelligence.  We all need to seek to know all we can about the Creator and how we can know him.  We all want to know what He is like, and if he will have anything to do with mankind. 

There is only one God and He wants to be known.  He wants man to know what he is like and what he expects of humans. He has taken the initiative to seek man and reveal Himself.  Amazingly, He wants to have a loving, forgiving relationship with mankind. We are referring to Yahweh, the Being who revealed Himself in the Bible.  Yahweh is a loving Being, and that is why there is a world.

Our human experience shows a profound example of the nature of love.  We see this in a man and woman who marry and they want to have a family. Why is this?  Husbands and wives want to share their love with their children.  There are all kinds of heart aches in having children, but the nature of love is that it is willing to take the risks.   In a similar sense, Yahweh was willing to take the risks of creating people.  Not only did Yahweh create, he wants to know us and have us know him.  What a huge compliment!! 

The revelations that Yahweh made of himself begin in the Creation story of Adam and Eve.

These revelations progress thoughout the Scripture and widen from a few individuals to a people and to the whole world.   The following are some of the highlights of this revelation by Yahweh.

The Scripture speaks of Yahweh talking directly to Adam and Eve.

“So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them male and female,  blessed them, and said, "Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals.   I have provided all kinds of grain and all kinds of fruit for you to eat; but for all the wild animals and for all the birds I have provided grass and leafy plants for food" – and it was done.” (Genesis 1:27-30 GNB)

The next conversation relates to their  disobedience to God and their sin against him. God pronounced judgment on their sin and expelled them from the Garden.  Their world changed abruptly because of their sin, but even then God made a promise that an offspring of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent.  This ancient word of God becomes a reality in the death and resurrection of Jesus centuries later.

There are some events recorded early in Genesis in which God speaks to Cain who murdered his brother. God asks: "Why are you angry? Why that scowl on your face? If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling; but because you have done evil, sin is crouching at your door. It wants to rule you, but you must overcome it." (Genesis 4:6-7)

Then God speaks to Noah about the flood and what Noah is going to do.  In Genesis 6:13 Noah is told that because of the sin of the people of the world, God intended to destroy them. But Noah and his family would be spared. Noah is told to build a boat, then in 7:1, God tells Noah to take his family into the boat, and in 8:15-17 God tells Noah, "Go out of the boat with your wife, your sons, and their wives.  Take all the birds and animals out with you, so that they may reproduce and spread over all the earth."  In Chapter 9, God made a covenant with Noah and his descendants. These are all examples of God speaking to humans and letting his character be known.

God’s self-communication began to take a special form in dealing with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This early revelation of God to Abraham begins in Genesis 12:

The LORD said to Abram, "Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's home, and go to a land that I am going to show you.   I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing.   I will bless those who bless you, But I will curse those who curse you. And through you I will bless all the nations." (Genesis 12:1-3)   

"The LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "This is the country that I am going to give to your descendants." Then Abram built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.” (Genesis 12:7)

God never canceled the gift of the land.  Even though they broke God’s covenant with them and he punished them by scattering them to other lands, he also promised to bring them back when they repented of their sins.   One cannot escape noticing the promise of blessing and cursing in Genesis 12:1-3.  In light of the profound hatred of the Jews by Mohammed and his followers one cannot help wondering if this is directly reflected in the lack of advancement in education, science, and economics which prevailed in Muslim culture through the centuries.  See here, here, and here.

After Lot and Abraham parted from one another “the LORD said to Abram, "From where you are, look carefully in all directions.   I am going to give you and your descendants all the land that you see, and it will be yours forever.  I am going to give you so many descendants that no one will be able to count them all; it would be as easy to count all the specks of dust on earth!Now, go and look over the whole land, because I am going to give it all to you." (Genesis 13:14-17)

Abraham had some doubts about who would inherit his wealth and asked God about it. Eliezer the slave was not to inherit it, Ishmael the son of Hagar was not to inherit it, but Abraham’s  his own son by his wife Sarah was to inherit it, even though at this point Sarah had no children and was old and beyond child bearing. Isaac was born when Sarah was 90, due to Yahweh’s command.  The covenant that God made with Abraham is recorded in Genesis 15:4-18.  In this passage God also declared judgment on the evil people in the land and how and when they would be judged.

In Genesis 26:2-3, “The LORD had appeared to Isaac and had said, "Do not go to Egypt; stay in this land, where I tell you to stay.  Live here, and I will be with you and bless you. I am going to give all this territory to you and to your descendants. I will keep the promise I made to your father Abraham.”    Much of the same story is confirmed to Jacob later.

The revelation is broadened in Moses, in the revelation from Sinai.  God reveals himself to all the people of Israel, a community.  In revealing himself, he reveals his redeeming nature.   To Moses, God said, “I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." So Moses covered his face, because he was afraid to look at God.”  (Exodus 3:6)

Following the story of their exodus from Egypt they came to the sacred mountain.  God did not send an angel, nor did he send a prophet, God came Himself.  God not only wants people to know Him, but he also wants them to live a life reflecting his relationship with them.  The following two passages give the story of God coming down in flaming fire and his rules for living.

“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning. A thick cloud covered the mountain, a loud trumpet blast was heard, and everyone in camp trembled with fear.  Moses led them out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.   Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had come down in a flaming fire. Smoke poured out of the mountain just like a furnace, and the whole mountain shook.  The trumpet blew louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered him with thunder.  The LORD came down to the top of Mount Sinai and told Moses to meet him there.  Then he said, "Moses, go and warn the people not to cross the boundary that you set at the foot of the mountain. They must not cross it to come and look at me, because if they do, many of them will die.  Only the priests may come near me, and they must obey strict rules before I let them. If they don't, they will be punished."  (Exodus 19:16-22)

God spoke, and these were his words:   "I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves.  "Worship no god but me.   "Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth.  Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, because I am the LORD your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation.   But I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws.  "Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the LORD your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.   "Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.   You have six days in which to do your work,   but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work---neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country.   In six days I, the LORD, made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the LORD, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.   "Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.   "Do not commit murder.   "Do not commit adultery.   "Do not steal.   "Do not accuse anyone falsely.   "Do not desire another man's house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns."   When the people heard the thunder and the trumpet blast and saw the lightning and the smoking mountain, they trembled with fear and stood a long way off.   They said to Moses, "If you speak to us, we will listen; but we are afraid that if God speaks to us, we will die."   Moses replied, "Don't be afraid; God has only come to test you and make you keep on obeying him, so that you will not sin."  (Exodus 20:1-20)

It must be noted that not only did Yahweh reveal Himself and his commands for people to live by, but there is the action of deliverance from slavery in Egypt.  Yahweh is a Being who acts and delivers.

Following the revelation of God at Sinai, instruction was given for the building of a portable tabernacle which begins the presence of God on earth where people could come, worship, and have fellowship with God.  God said,

“You and your descendants must always offer this sacrifice on the altar at the entrance to the sacred tent. People of Israel, I will meet and speak with you there, and my shining glory will make the place holy.   Because of who I am, the tent will become sacred, and Aaron and his sons will become worthy to serve as my priests.   I will live among you as your God,   and you will know that I am the LORD your God, the one who rescued you from Egypt, so that I could live among you.”  (Exodus 29:42-46)

The tabernacle remained for the protection of Israel, guidance, and worship of Yahweh. The following passage indicates:   

“Each time Moses went out to the tent, everyone would stand at the entrance to their own tents and watch him enter.  Then they would bow down because a thick cloud would come down in front of the tent, and the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, just like a friend.”  (Exodus 33:8-9)     

The closing chapter of Exodus describes how Yahweh worked with the people of Israel:

“Whenever the cloud moved from the tent, the people would break camp and follow;then they would set up camp and stay there, until it moved again.  No matter where the people traveled, the LORD was with them. Each day his cloud was over the tent, and each night a fire could be seen in the cloud.”   (Exodus 40:36-38)

Later the tabernacle was replaced by the Temple built by Solomon.  Israel prospered but soon fell into idolatry and eventually sections of the country were captured and its people deported to foreign lands. But in the midst of being carried to foreign countries, the prophets proclaimed Yahweh’s message of return and hope:

“The LORD said: Israel, I promise that someday all your tribes will again be my people, and I will be your God.  In the desert I was kind to those who escaped death. I gave them peace, and when the time is right, I'll do the same for you. I, the LORD, have spoken.   Some time ago, the LORD appeared to me and told me to say: Israel, I will always love you; that's why I've been so patient and kind.   You are precious to me, and so I will rebuild your nation. Once again you will dance for joy and play your tambourines.   You will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria and enjoy the grapes.” (Jeremiah 31:1-5)

In this same chapter a great and glorious new promise is made:

 “The LORD said: The time will surely come when I will make a new agreement with the people of Israel and Judah.  It will be different from the agreement I made with their ancestors when I led them out of Egypt. Although I was their God, they broke that agreement.  Here is the new agreement that I, the LORD, will make with the people of Israel: "I will write my laws on their hearts and minds. I will be their God, and they will be my people.   "No longer will they have to teach one another to obey me. I, the LORD, promise that all of them will obey me, ordinary people and rulers alike. I will forgive their sins and forget the evil things they have done."  Jeremiah (31:31-34)

In spite of disobedience, Yahweh is merciful and forgiving.  He still wants all people to have a loving relationship with Him. This is a matter of choosing life, not death. Yahweh wants us to have life and this life is related to Him.

God’s last and ultimate revelation of Himself.

 The presence of the Lord is holy and entry into the Tabernacle was restricted to Moses and later the high priests. Many people heard the voice of Yahweh at Sinai.  But Yahweh went a step further in revealing himself.   The ancient prophets foretold of a Messiah who would come and be called Immanuel, meaning, “God with us.”  This child to be born is described in Isaiah 9:6:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his should; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Price of Peace.”

What we have is Yahweh descending to the level that humans can understand. Instead of a cloud of fire which could not be understood, Yahweh descended in the person of His Son, in human form that could be understood, seen, heard, and known.    He dwelt among us revealing the nature of God and what God is like.  The life of Jesus reflects the patient love of Yahweh for his people.   This love is first reflected in the appearance of Jesus among the people of Israel. After he was rejected by some of the people of Israel, Jesus gave the great commission to his followers  to go to all peoples.  He declared:

“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth!   Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,   and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Only a limited number of people experienced Jesus when he was here.   But Jesus made promises to his followers that far exceeded a relation to a physical tabernacle or temple in Jerusalem.

He said, "If you love me, you will obey my commandments.   I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.   He is the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive him, because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you.”   (John 14:15-17)

If a Muslim is to understand what Jesus said, the Muslim must reject the Qur’an’s distorted views and learn that the Holy Spirit is not a created being, nor an angel  such as Gabriel, but is of the very nature of God.   The very presence of God is promised by Jesus, the Son of God, to the believer and this begins everlasting life in the believer now.  Everlasting life begins the moment God’s Spirit enters your life.   The result: “... the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 GNB)   Is this not what you seek and want?

The apostle Paul warned the church at Corinth about sinning.   “Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God;   he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God's glory.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)   This is what happens to people who give themselves by a willful act of commitment to Jesus.

The final event is described in the last book of the New Testament.  In Rev. 21 we have these words:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth disappeared, and the sea vanished.   And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared and ready, like a bride dressed to meet her husband.   I heard a loud voice speaking from the throne: "Now God's home is with people! He will live with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God.  He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain. The old things have disappeared." (Rev. 21:1-4)

It is misguided to conclude that paradise will be like a heavenly brothel.  Jesus answered a question about marriage in these words:   “Jesus answered: The people in this world get married.

But in the future world no one who is worthy to rise from death will either marry   or die. They will be like the angels and will be God's children, because they have been raised to life.” (Luke 20:34-36)

We marvel at the mysteries of this world and all that God has made and these are things we can see.  But there is more.   There is a fascinating verse to contemplate:   “But it is just as the Scriptures say, "What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!"  (1 Corinthians. 2:9)     The great wonderful truth is that Yahweh wants a living relationship with us now and forever more. Since one cannot see the Infinite God, God has come down in the form that we can understand –Incarnation.  We shall always be in His presence forever.   He is the Lord, we are his friends.

If you have any doubts about being loved by Yahweh, reflect on this wonderful passage:

God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.  God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!   No one who has faith in God's Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn't have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God's only Son.  (John 3:16-18)

Invite Him into your life today.  Everlasting life is just a prayer away.