Muhammad, a Prophet Like Moses?
Moses, Time Magazine, Google algorithms, and Muhammad. Notice a theme yet? Of course not. So why in the world did I just mention these seemingly random things? Well, several months ago I came across some people on social media referencing a discussion (a discussion that ultimately turned into a debate) between a Muslim apologist named Nadir Ahmed and Dr. Michael Brown, a Jewish Christian fluent in Hebrew. So I looked up the debate to see what they were talking about and found that Mr. Ahmed was promoting the popular Muslim claim that Deuteronomy 18:18 is a reference to Muhammad, and some of the “evidence” (I use that word lightly here) he used to advance his claim was Time Magazine and Google algorithms. And no, I’m not joking. He literally did. As you might imagine, it was one of the most lopsided debates you‘ll ever see. So what problems are there with the claim that Deuteronomy 18:18 references Muhammad? Let’s take a look.
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18 ESV)
What’s the Context?
The book of Deuteronomy was written about 1406 BC and records Moses’ words to the children of Israel as they were on the plains of Moab about to enter the promised land. It was written by Moses at the end of the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering. The book records a series of sermons by Moses in which he restates God’s commands to the Israelites that he originally gave about 40 years earlier. Moses also reiterates God’s covenant to the Children of Israel as well. It was during one of Moses’ sermons that he makes a reference to a new prophet that will be like himself.
Is Muhammad Like Moses?
In Deuteronomy 18:18 (and 18:15 as well) Moses said that God will raise up a prophet like him. Some Muslims say these verses are talking about Muhammad, but is Muhammad really like Moses? Could this possibly be talking about Muhammad? Below are six big problems with the claim that Moses was talking about Muhammad (and no, I won’t use Time Magazine or Google algorithms): 1) Deuteronomy 34:10-12 tells us what Moses was like, thus telling us what a prophet like Moses would be like: it's one who would know God face to face. Muhammad obviously didn't meet this requirement. Not only did Muhammad not know God face to face, but his supposed revelations didn't even come directly from God. Instead, Muhammad’s supposed revelations came through the mediation of the angel Gabriel. However, there is someone who knew God the Father face to face like Moses knew God face to face, and His name starts with “J” and ends with “S”. 2) In Deuteronomy 18:18, Moses tells the children of Israel that God told him the prophet who is to come will be “from among their brothers” (and in Deuteronomy 18:15 he also said the prophet will come “from your brothers”). When Moses said this he was referring to and speaking to the Children of Israel, so this means the prophet will be a Jew. Muhammad was not a Jew; he was an Arab. So it’s impossible for these verses to be talking about Muhammad. Jesus, on the other hand, was Jewish. 3) Muhammad also contradicted what Moses said by teaching another God than Moses did. Moses taught that God is a (spiritual) father (Deuteronomy 32:6), that the children of Israel are His children (Deuteronomy 14:1), and that God bore Israel (Deuteronomy 32:18), but Muhammad denied these in Surah 5:18. 4) In Acts 3:19-24, Jesus' disciple Peter confirmed this passage in Deuteronomy is referring to Jesus. So even Jesus' followers confirmed this passage was talking about Jesus, not Muhammad. 5) In Surah 28:48 the people asked Muhammad to perform a miracle like Moses, and he would not. In fact, Muhammad actually made an excuse for not performing a miracle like Moses. He said since the people rejected the miracle of Moses, then there is no reason for performing a miracle like Moses because the people would just reject that as well. It's interesting that people during the time of Muhammad even noticed Muhammad was not like Moses! 6) Finally, just two verses down in Deuteronomy 18:20, God tells us what the criteria is for being a false prophet: it's somebody who speaks a word in God's name that He didn't command, and somebody who speaks in the name of other gods. God also told Moses that the one who does such things should be put to death. Well, it just so happens that Muhammad is guilty of both. According to Islamic sources, Muhammad once delivered a revelation that promoted polytheism by acknowledging the three goddesses al-lat, al-uzza, and manat (Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, pages 165-167; al-Tabari, Volume VI, pages 107-112; Tafsir Al-Jalalayn on Surah 22:52-53). This incident is commonly referred to as the "satanic verses." Later, Muhammad claimed Satan had tricked him, and then received another convenient revelation absolving him of that false revelation by saying all prophets have said wrong things because of Satan (Surah 22:52). So not only was Muhammad not like Moses, but Moses would’ve actually had Muhammad put to death for being a false prophet.
So when one takes an honest look at Deuteronomy 18:18, it‘s one hundred percent clear that it’s not a reference to Muhammad but rather a reference to Jesus.
What Does Deuteronomy 18:18 Mean for Us Today?
Deuteronomy 18:18 shows us that Jesus didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Rather, He was repeatedly foretold in the Old Testament and His arrival was expected by those looking (John 1:41). There are numerous prophecies about Jesus contained in the Old Testament, and this one found in Deuteronomy is just one of many that help us identify the true Messiah. It shows us that God didn’t leave us in the dark about His plan; instead, He informed His people about future events and what to expect. Even many years before Jesus’ arrival, God was pointing His people to their savior, to the perfect “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 ESV).
Dingers, just like last week, this WVW was written by Joel Ivy a friend that loves Muslims enough to tell them the truth and loves truth enough to tell it to Muslims. He runs a fantastic, informative website www.WhowasMuhammad.org and you can find more of his posts @whowasmuhammad on Instagram.