Guest Post by David Zeidan
Messianic Jews believe that God reveals Himself to humans in a unique way through the Bible and through Yeshua the Messiah. Other faiths which repudiate that, such as Islam, are false religions, even if they contain some partial truths in their distorted religious structure.
Messianic Jews believe in one God – a God who rules over the whole universe and over all humankind, whether they believe in His existence or not. There’s only one God, exalted and full of glory and power. It is impossible to limit Him to just “the God of Christians” or “the God of Muslims”, or any other category. The God revealed in Scriptures isn’t a local God. He is not the God of the Jews alone, or the Christians alone, or of the Muslims alone—but God of all and above all.
Jews, Messianic believers and Muslims all claim faith in only one God—one creator who revealed Himself to humans—unlike pagan religions who believe in many gods. Still, the truly important question isn’t really whether Messianics and Muslims believe in the same one God or whether they call Him by the same name. What really matters is what they believe about Him, His being, His character and his attributes, and whether they know Him personally and directly.
What is God like?
Messianic Jews, basing their beliefs on the Bible, understand God’s nature by looking at the face of Messiah Yeshua, in whom and through whom God reveals Himself fully to mankind. They believe that God’s essential being and character is love. That is why they call him “Father”, a name signifying a personal relationship and a familial closeness. While there are some similarities between the perceptions of God in Christianity and Islam, there is no doubt that many ideas about God in Islam contradict what is revealed in the Bible. The Muslim understanding of the nature of God is very different from the image of God as revealed to man in the Bible and in Yeshua.
The image of God in Islam is based on what is written in the Quran and on the traditions attributed to Muhammad (the hadith).
Just as the Messianic faith cannot be separated from Yeshua, so Islam cannot be separated from Muhammad. All that a Muslim knows about Allah was transmitted to him by Muhammad in the Qur’an and the hadith. Muhammad – what he said and did – is the only source of authority in Islam.
Islam emphasizes God’s oneness, greatness, power and strength, his transcendence and his “otherness”. Allah is more different from man than man could ever imagine. Allah is so different that he cannot be described in human words; he is not a God with a personality who wants a deep relationship with man; he isn’t able to sympathize with the human experience, and he knows no suffering. Allah does not reveal himself to humans; he only reveals his will. Many of the concepts of God found in Islam are different from and even stand contrary to the way the Messianic faith perceives God. Islam denies Yeshua’s divinity and incarnation, His atoning death on the cross and His resurrection. Islam denies the triune nature of God’s being and declares that God has no son. The fundamental precepts of the Messianic faith are an abomination and a heresy in the eyes of Islam.
Does God love sinners? Or not?
The God portrayed in the Bible is our Father in heaven who loves sinners, desires their salvation and longs for a personal relationship with them as His children and His friends. In His great love He sent Messiah Yeshua to die on the cross to become a redeeming sacrifice, to atone for them and to give them total salvation and eternal life. This salvation is a gift of grace given freely to all who believe in Yeshua. On the other hand, the God of Islam does not love sinners and demands humans save themselves by total surrender to him, as slaves who obey his commandments perfectly. The God of the Bible is faithful to His words and promises. The God of Islam is arbitrary, doing as he pleases, and is not committed to his own words and promises.
In the Messianic faith, God gives us security and confidence in our salvation which is not dependent on us but only on the perfect work of the Messiah.
In Islam, the believer has no confidence in his salvation, and even a good God-fearing Muslim might find himself in hell despite all his efforts, if God (according to his arbitrary sovereign will which can’t be disputed) so desires. In the Messianic faith, God treats the repentant with love and kindness. In Islam the fate of a man is determined from the outset by God and is unchangeable.
Messianic Jews believe in a God who created the world and set reasonable and logical laws to govern it. These laws are fixed, and man can examine nature and discover its secrets through logic and scientific research. Orthodox Islam, on the other hand, denies the principle of cause and effect (wherein a cause always produces the same result) and claims that God creates all anew every moment according to his will. According to this concept, nature is unpredictable, and therefore one mustn’t search for reasons as to why things happen in the universe using a logical process of thought.
The true meaning of the name Allah
The term Allah (الله) as the name of “the one God” appears in Arabic much before the rise of Islam. Christian Arabs called the God of the Bible Allah. The Arabic word, Allah, originates from the same Semitic root ( א.ל.ה ) as אל, אלוה and אלוהים, Hebrew words common in the Bible as names of the one God, the God of Israel. The Arabic word Allah means the God (el-illa). While Christian Arabs referred to the God of the Bible this way, pagan Arabs used that same name for their highest god – the one above their many demigods. Muhammad used that name as the name of the one God whose message he preached in the Arabian Peninsula. He drew his understanding of the God of Islam from Jewish, Christian and pagan sources.
The claims recently heard in the western Christian world—that Allah, the God of Islam, is a pagan God (the moon god), and that Christian Arabs shouldn’t refer to our real God that way—are unacceptable. The Greek word theos, which was used for the pagan gods of Greece, appears already in the Septuagint and in Greek originals of the New Testament as the word for “God”, the equivalent of the Hebrew word “אלוהים”. Similarly, the English word god originates from the pre-Christian Germanic pagan world, but that doesn’t bother English-speaking Messianic Jews.
In light of all this, it is undoubtedly proper and fitting for Arabic-speaking Christians to use Allah as the name of God.
In John 14:6 Yeshua says:
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but through me.”
Since Muslims don’t accept Yeshua as the one and only way to God the Father, they don’t have free access (as we do) to the creator God they claim to worship. Muslim comprehension of God is a distortion of the biblical truth. We, as believers, must share with them the good news of the love of God and His full redemption in Messiah Yeshua.