Extremely long post
I think I have shared so many things lately, that I got sidetracked about Judah. But as I write, I am only trying to connect the dots. In one of my previous posts, I talked about my Muslim friend doing Istikhara on my behalf. I also mentioned the fact that in my own prayer time, God had guided me to the same account in both my Bible and my Quran. I think you deserve to know what happened.
Not only that, I have to remain truthful to my word. In my very first post, I said that one of my goals was to explain what it meant to be a born-again person. One’s faith has to be palpable on an every-day basis, otherwise, our faith might as well be dead. If I cannot walk my faith in a practical, tangible way – as a woman, mother and wife – then what exactly am I striving for? This is a biblical truth found in James 2:18. You cannot separate your faith (belief) from the way you act (deed).
Discipleship in Christ is about responding to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine your thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. We have to walk the talk. Salvation is a gift from God. It is free. But that is only the beginning of the Christian life. Discipleship is looking at the Bible as a mirror, and asking yourself how much you actually resemble your Savior. Christ-likeness is the goal of the Christian life. It almost sounds impossible, but that is the standard. We will never look like Him, we are broken. Our hope is that one day we will.
I cannot denny that I feel flattered when very close friends of mine tell me my faith is growing. Apparently they see things I see not. I personally have not felt strong in the Lord Jesus Christ for the past 9 months of my life. But I’ll tell you what, I have held on to Him for dear life. I have cried for Him, with Him and because of Him. I have cried myself to sleep not knowing who God really is. Who misled me into believing Jesus as Savior?
When I have looked into Muslim apologetics, I have found that Jesus never died. The Swoon Theory has Jesus passing out on the cross, but He did not die. He recovered later. The Legend Theory claims the crucifixion never happened. The Natural Death Theory argues Jesus died a natural death many years after. The substitution theory makes God a deceiver. God Himself made someone look like Jesus who was then crucified in the place of Christ.
God’s deception started right at the cross. But why would a great, loving God do that? Didn’t God know that a great movement called Christianity would emerge from all this? Why didn’t God stop it right on its tracks?
Was my God a deceiver like some Christian apologists claim Allah is? Or did Allah made someone else appear like Jesus in order to test us? After all, we are put in this life to be tested according to Islamic view.
I have had many answers to my prayers, but those answers came when I would read my Bible. My Muslims told me I was biased. They said I had to let go of Christ if I really wanted Allah to show me the right path. Without knowing, they were almost suggesting me to commit “Christian shirk”. The worst of the worst – rejecting the Holy Spirit. Their words came from a good place and a good heart. They love me. I know they love me.
I also know they are Muslims, but maybe I was biased. So I began asking God for answers while reading only my Quran. By no means I am an expert. I have only read sixteen juz-un out of thirty (53% of Quran content). I am sure I will still learn from the remaining fourteen parts. But believe me, after nine months of reading and thinking about it, I know what Islam teaches.
Islam can get very complicated, but it is fairly simple. You submit to God. Then you follow the beautiful example of the life of Mohammad. Lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, Muḥammadur rasūlu-llāh. I even know how to pronounce that. I have actually uttered those words after my Muslimah showed me how. You pray five times a day. You fast during Ramadan. You give charity. You try to go to Makkah. You do good deeds. And by all means, you stop entertaining the pure thought of Jesus (PBUH) dying on the cross for your sins.
You do that, and you will be okay. You hope you will go to Heaven. In šāʾ Allāh. But you don’t really know.
You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound, as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?
– C.S. Lewis
So what? What was I supposed to do with all this knowledge in my head? I knew Christianity and I knew Islam. I was accountable to God for what I knew now. I was tired – my brain was tired, my soul was tired. I had asked God for wisdom, for discernment, but I was going one way, and then the other. I literally felt tossed by the waves of my own unbelief. And I almost gave up on Jesus.
God has showed me a great deal of things lately. The greatest, I believe, is that He loves me enough to give me free will. After Allah showed my Muslimah that I was heedlessly running towards Jesus, we talked about it. Through her Muslim eyes, that meant that I was not really looking for the truth. I was only looking for ways to justify Jesus as Savior. She never said this, of course, but I know enough Quran to understand that this heedlessness would land me in hell fire. Forever.
QURAN AND BIBLE – SIDE BY SIDE
Doesn’t Allah love me?, I thought. I know He does – Muslim or not – so I asked God one last chance. He had shown me many things before, but I pleaded with Him. I said that Moses got away with all his excuses for not wanting to go to Egypt. I reminded God – as if He needs my reminders – that Gideon was a mess asking for many signs. God showed him those signs, but then Gideon would question God again.
I knew that I had to make up my mind once and for all. What else was I looking for? I knew enough Islam. I knew enough Christianity. After a year of living in India, and all my knowledge, I had to make a choice. I was tired of learning for the sake of learning.
God, Allah, Jesus… whoever you are, I am up for grabs. Whoever God you are, you have to tell me right now. Show yourself to me. Answer me. You know I love you. Jesus, if you are God, show me. God, if Mohammad is your messenger, show me. I am afraid. If you tell me Islam is the right path, I will give you my Shahada right now. I will start wearing my hijab right away, and I will wear it until the day I die. Jesus, if you are who the Bible says you are, I promise you, I will proclaim your glory and your praises to the top of my lungs until the day I die.
I would say it was the most sincere prayer I have prayed in the fear of God. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I had to keep my word either way. And I knew these two books were put to the test. Quran and Bible were together, and both would show me the path to take.
This might be a hard pill to swallow for many, but I believe God prompted me to open my Bible in page 83, and read the second paragraph. This was a very specific command. It is not my intent for you to think that somehow I am special becasue God led me this way. I do believe, though, that God can lead anybody in many ways. God speaks to our hearts. He speaks through His Word, through His people, and through our circumstances.
Then OUR father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if OUR youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless OUR youngest brother is with us.’
These two paragraphs meant literally my life for me. This is Judah speaking. This is the same Judah who married a Canaanite. The same Judah who fornicated with her daughter-in-law, who he believed to be a prostitute. These are the accounts that make Muslims say the whole thing is corrupted. This is pornography in their eyes. I think this is beauty. The Bible narrates the lives of real people with real struggles. I still don’t understand why Islam wants to portray the prophets of God as sinless. If only Muslims read about David and Bathsheba…
But concerning Judah, this is the same Judah who convinced his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery, and to tell Jacob that Joseph was dead. I invite you to read The Skeleton in Judah’s Closet. Do not stop there. Continue with all the commentaries until The Final Test.
But in page 83, I saw a different Judah. A Judah that attempts to paint an accurate picture of the pitiful condition of their father by reporting his words as spoken to his sons (verses 27-29). Jacob’s beloved wife, he had said, had borne him only two sons. When the oldest went out from him (Joseph) and did not return, he was forced to conclude that this son had died, a victim of wild beasts. To take the only other second son (Benjamin), and not return with him would break his heart. Not only would he enter his grave in sorrow, but he also implied that his death would even be hastened by his grief.
At this point, Judah has no idea that he is speaking to Joseph himself.
Judah stands up for himself and his brothers and pleads for mercy. This could have had him killed (verse 34). But Judah had promised his father to bring Benjamin back (Genesis 43:9). Judah has the chance now to keep this promise. He showed great courage and responsibility when he offered himself to stay in the place of Benjamin.
Thank you, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF)
I wish I could tell you I figured all this out on my own, but I am not that smart. This year I had the privilege of studying the Torah in detail. Once a week, for thirty long weeks, I had to go to class, and deal with my children if they cried. I also had Torah-reading homework. So these two single verses might mean nothing for a Muslim who has never read the Torah.
But for me, these two verses meant everything. God brought all my knowledge of His Word to my mind in the span of less than 3 seconds. In forty-two generations, I went from Judah to King David, and from King David to Jesus.
God was no joke. I had asked, and now it was Quran’s turn. I felt moved to fold a page, and insert it in the middle of the Quran. I had no idea what to expect, but when I opened it, I was reading exactly the same account.
They said, “We will attempt to dissuade HIS father from [keeping] him, and indeed, we will do [it].”
The more I read, the more obvious it was portrayed that in the Quran narrative the brothers really never cared about Joseph or Benjamin (note 1721 – Yusuf Ali’s Commentary). The brothers kept on hating them. They believe Benjamin to be evil, and they call Joseph a thief (note 1747). The sons are cruel and heartless against Jacob as he deals with the pain of having lost Benjamin and Joseph (note 1759). The brothers do repent when they are faced with the reality of who Joseph is. Before that, tough, there is not a single sign of regeneration (note 1767).
This might not make much sense to you, but I knew what I had prayed for. Sure, maybe both narratives have a happy ending, but God was giving me the opportunity to choose a path.
1. Torah-Brothers. Self-sacrifice. Character changed. Ready to suffer for other’s sake.
2. Quran-Brothers. Selfish until confronted with the truth. Full of hate until they had no other option.
It was a no-brainer for me. I chose the way of Christ. I chose to give away my life for the sake of others. I am not trying to convince you that I made the right choice, but I am satisfied with the answer I received from God. I asked God to show me something, and He showed me enough for me to decide that Jesus will be my Good Shepherd.
Will the Jews agree? Probably not. Will the Muslims agree? Probably not. We will never agree on anything until the day we die. Apologetics are amazing, and I love that kind of stuff, but I need a break. My husband needs a break, and my children need a break.
I know the path that I have chosen. Most of all, I am owning my decisions. If my decision of following Jesus lands me in hell, so be it. I am at peace knowing that I will have no excuse on Judgement Day. I’m taking full responsibility for my choice.
Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’
Immediately the father of the child cried out and, said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
My faith-life will never look the same after India. Every day, I am asking God to help my unbelief. Rich Nathan seems to think this is the posture of the Christians until the day we die. And that’s okay. I feel I’m crawling to find my way again. I might not know much, but I’m following Jesus. And if that makes no sense at all to you, that’s totally fine. I can always keep looking for the truth. I can always be looking for counter-arguments for Islam or for Christianity. But it all comes down to faith at some point. It all comes down to a PERSONAL DECISION.
This has been a bumpy ride for me. It almost feels like I’m playing hide and seek with my Creator. He seems to hide and then BAM! God screams PEEK-A-BOO right on my face. And then He hides again. And on and off, we go. He likes surprising me. And if you have no idea what I am talking about, that’s totally fine, too. I believe, tough, that someone, somewhere, relates to me right now.
It almost feels like I am saying good-bye. I am.
Judah – Part 4 will be my lost post until further notice. My family needs me. I also feel God has something vey special in store for me, and I need to retreat. I need to recharge. I need to spend as much time with God as I possible can – without my brain overthinking Islam and Christianity.
Just God and me. Together. Hand in hand, like it was at the beginning. I want to fall in love again with the God who swept me off my feet with His Unfailing Love.
Don’t miss the last part of Judah 🙂