So, how do Christian missionaries teach Muslims about Jesus when Islam denies His deity and death on the cross? And how do new converts from Islam to Christianity worship Jesus without inviting severe persecution?
One answer is Chrislam, the bringing together of Christianity and Islam. Proponents of Chrislam say that because the Qur’an mentions Jesus and affirms certain biblical teachings about Him, Christianity and Islam share at least some common ground.
They further argue that if Christians avoid the offensive term “Son of God” when referring to Jesus, and emphasize His role as prophet rather than divine Savior, Muslims are more open to the gospel. Once they come to faith in Christ, Muslims may continue to worship at a mosque, pray Muslim prayers, and even partake in a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Rev. 13:16 – And he requires everyone – small and great, rich and poor, free and slave – to be given a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of his name. (HCSB)
He requires everyone … to be given a mark
Next, the false prophet requires everyone – small and great, rich and poor, free and slave – to be given a mark on their right hands or foreheads. No one is able to buy or sell unless they have the mark, which is the beast’s name or the number of his name (Rev. 13:16-17).
The identity of this mark is a matter of much debate. Some interpreters believe it is an actual mark – a brand burned into the skin, or a tattoo. Others point to imperial coins that bear the image of the emperor. Futurists say it could be a microchip planted just beneath the skin. Others argue that John’s language is figurative, referring to people’s thoughts (foreheads) and deeds (right hands) as they place their trust in the first beast and pledge their allegiance to him.
Rev. 13:9 – If anyone has an ear, he should listen: 10If anyone is destined for captivity, into captivity he goes. If anyone is to be killed with a sword, with a sword he will be killed. Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints. (HCSB)
If anyone has an ear
This section concludes with a cautionary message: “If anyone has an ear, he should listen: If anyone is destined for captivity, into captivity he goes. If anyone is to be killed with a sword, with a sword he will be killed. Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints” (vv. 9-10). The beginning of this message echoes similar words Jesus used to underscore the importance of what’s being said. For example, He closes the Sermon on the Mount with, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine …” (Matt. 7:24). He concludes the parable of the sower with the words, “Anyone who has ears should listen” (Matt. 13:9). And He uses the same phrase after explaining the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt. 13:43). And, of course, Jesus ends each of his letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor with the words, “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”
It appears there are complementary lessons in these words. First, the Holy Spirit through John is encouraging persecuted saints to persevere, even to the point of death. They already have been assured that God ultimately will vindicate them and reward them in heaven (see, for example, Matt. 5:10-12; Rev. 2:10; 6:9-11). Second, the Lord is reminding the persecuted saints – and perhaps even their persecutors – that He will judge the wicked. The complaint that the wicked prosper and go unpunished is common throughout scripture; many Psalms of David are deep laments, for example. God, however, reminds us that evil is not forever and the wicked do not “get away with it.”
Rev. 12:10 – Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have now come, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown out: the one who accuses them before God day and night. (HCSB)
A loud voice in heaven
In verse 10 John records, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven.” We are not told whose voice utters this celebratory hymn, just as in previous passages in Revelation we are not always given the identity of those speaking. The emphasis here is not on the messenger but on the message. We may, however, rule out an angelic source to the voice in heaven because of the words “the accuser of our brothers” (v. 10b). Satan accuses sinful and fallen people, not angels, before God. Further, scripture does not refer to the angelic host as “brothers.” So, it’s possible the voice in heaven is that of Jesus on behalf of the redeemed – or, more likely, the combined voices of the martyrs before the throne.
It is fitting that we hear a song, for the people of God often raise their voices in praise when they witness the miraculous deeds of our sovereign God. In the Old Testament, for example, there is the song of Moses at the Red Sea (Ex. 15); the song of Deborah after the Lord delivers Israel from Jabin the king of Canaan (Judges 5); and the song of David, when the Lord delivers him out of the hand of all his enemies (2 Sam. 22). In the New Testament, followers of Jesus compose hymns of praise to honor Him for His finished work on the cross, and singing becomes an integral part of worship (for example, see Acts 16:24-26; 1 Cor. 14:25-27; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).
In this passage in Revelation, there is particular cause for joy. “On no occasion could such a song be more appropriate than on the complete routing and discomfiture of Satan and his rebellious hosts” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Rev. 12:10).
Muslims have a high regard for Jesus. They believe He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, performed miracles, and spoke prophetic truth. He is in heaven today and is poised to return triumphantly to earth.
Yet it is Muhammad to whom Muslims pin their hopes. While they confess Jesus as a prophet, they say Muhammad is the greatest of Allah’s messengers and the one through whom Allah chose to reveal supreme truth in the Qur’an. Therefore, Muhammad, not Jesus, is the ultimate role model.
Okay. So let’s look at the record. We’ll focus on three areas.