Twisted Scripture: Did the Bible Predict the Coming of Muhammad?

Several years ago, when my husband and I worked for a ministry that required us to raise financial support, I remember telling a long-time supporter how much we appreciated her generosity. She responded, “I absolutely love giving to the Lord’s work! I don’t know why God said money is evil when it can do so much good!”

Of course, the Bible doesn’t say that money is evil. 1 Timothy 6:10 teaches that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. And indeed, an insatiable greed for more money is at the root of many kinds of evil, including theft, lying, deception, hoarding, and even murder. When my friend and I looked at this verse in its context, her entire view of her role in the body of Christ was transformed.

I imagine most of us have twisted the meaning of the Scriptures at some point. Maybe, like my friend, we didn’t read the Bible passage carefully enough or we trusted someone else to tell us what the Bible says rather than looking it up ourselves. Perhaps we didn’t read the surrounding context, which is almost always essential for understanding an individual sentence or verse.

As it turns out, Christians are not the only ones who twist our Scriptures to arrive at erroneous meanings. Since becoming actively involved in ministry to Muslims, I’ve discovered that Muslims, too, have a few twisted Bible favorites. One of these is Deuteronomy 18:18, which Muslims understand to be a prophecy of the coming of their prophet, Muhammad.

Deuteronomy 18:18 says, “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.”

In other words, the Lord will raise up a prophet like Moses for the Israelites from among their brothers and this prophet will speak everything he is commanded.

While Christians understand this verse to be a prophecy of the coming of Jesus, Muslim scholars point out that there were more similarities between Moses and Muhammad than there were between Moses and Jesus. Both Moses and Muhammad were born of two biological parents, got married and had children, introduced a new law, were accepted by their people during their lifetimes, had victory over their enemies, and died natural deaths. None of this was true of Jesus; therefore, they say, this prediction of a prophet like Moses must be about Muhammad.

Are they correct? Is it possible that Muhammad was prophesied in Deuteronomy? We can answer this question by following perhaps my favorite aphorism from apologist Greg Koukl, who cautions readers, “Never read a Bible verse!” If we want to know what a verse means, we must read at least a paragraph and usually much more.

The context of Deuteronomy 18:18 shows us that this cannot possibly be a prophecy of Muhammad for several reasons. First, the prophet who was to come “from among your brothers” must be an Israelite.

The purpose of Deuteronomy was to give the law of Moses to the Israelites once again as they prepared to enter the land of Canaan so that they would remain separate and distinct from the surrounding peoples. The focus was on making sure the Israelites didn’t adopt the practices of the other nations around them. The Israelites were to be different.

In order to clearly differentiate between Israel and other groups, the phrases, “from among your brothers” and “from among you” were used repeatedly throughout Deuteronomy to refer to Israelites; in fact, these phrases never once referred to a non-Israelite. These are the same phrases used in verses 15-18 to refer to the prophet whom the Lord would raise up for the Israelites. The prophet like Moses would have to be an Israelite.

While Jesus was an Israelite, Muhammad descended from Ishmael. This alone disqualifies Muhammad as the coming prophet of Deuteronomy 18:18.

Second, this prophet would speak in the name of Yahweh. Verses 19-20 go on to say, “And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.”

The coming prophet would speak in the name of Yahweh, and he would speak only what he was commanded. Accordingly, Jesus came in the name of Yahweh and said, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me” (John 12:49-50). Muhammad, on the other hand, did not come or speak in the name of Yahweh.

Third, this prophet would never speak in the name of other gods; claiming to speak for God while speaking for false gods was deserving of death. While the historical documents indicate that Jesus only spoke what the Father commanded him, the oldest and most reliable biography of Muhammad’s life recounts an incident in which Muhammad endorsed pagan gods in the name of Allah. When this was brought to Muhammad’s attention, he attributed the mistake to having been tricked by Satan. Fortunately, according to Muslim sources, Allah annulled the verses and presented new ones in their place. (p. 165-166)

Fourth, Deuteronomy 34 specifies what it meant to be a prophet like Moses as promised in chapter 18. Using the same Hebrew phraseology as was used in chapter 18 to describe God raising up a prophet, Deuteronomy 34:10-12 says, “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face-to-face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” According to this passage, a prophet like Moses was someone whom the Lord knew face to face and who performed many signs and wonders that the Lord had sent him to do.

The Qur’an itself states that Muhammad did not perform signs, miracles, or wonders as Moses and Jesus did (2:118; 3:183), and Muhammad never claimed to speak to God directly. Rather, he claimed to receive revelations through a mediator, the angel Gabriel. Jesus, on the other hand, performed many miracles and was a direct mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) who came from God and communicated directly with God (John 1:1-3, 14; John 1:18; 12:49; 17).

In summary, the context indicates that the prophet must be an Israelite, he would speak in the name of Yahweh, he would speak only what he was commanded, he would not speak in the name of any other gods, he would know God face-to-face, and he would perform miracles to the glory of God. For these reasons, it simply is not possible that the prophet who was predicted in Deuteronomy 18:18 could have referred to Muhammad.

While some of the arguments provided here come from outside the Bible, we can gain several clues as to why Deuteronomy 18:18 cannot refer to Muhammad just by reading this verse in its context. In fact, the best way to avoid twisting Scripture in general is to always read at least a paragraph, and usually much more. In the words of Greg Koukl, to correctly handle the Word of God, never read a Bible verse!

Disclaimer: All views expressed by those associated with this ministry or on our platforms do not necessarily represent the opinions of Women in Apologetics, Inc. or its individual team members.

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