Does the Bible mention Muhammad? Does it prophesy his coming?
Muslim apologists often argue that the Bible itself predicted the coming of Muhammad. This is usually based on the teaching of Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15, the teaching of Jesus in John 16:5-11, Isaiah 42:9-16, or Song of Solomon 5:16.
In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses speaks of "a prophet like me" who would come in the future. Christians typically understand this future prophet to be Jesus Christ, especially since John 5:46 records Jesus teaching, "Moses … wrote of me." Muslims seek to interpret this "prophet like me" as a reference to Muhammad. The biggest problem with this interpretation of Muhammad as the prophet is found in the verse itself. Deuteronomy 18:15 reads, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers." The future prophet would be "from your brothers," meaning a fellow Jew from one of the 12 tribes of Israel. No Muslim would suggest Muhammad was a Jew. Therefore, he could not be the "prophet like me" to whom Moses referred. Jesus was a Jew from the tribe of Judah and does fit this prophecy (Matthew 1).
In John 16:5-11, Jesus spoke of one coming after Him who would convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. Some Muslims seek to interpret this coming one as Muhammad. However, the verses immediately following clearly indicate the identification of this coming one: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-14). This coming one is the Spirit of truth, also called the Holy Spirit in the Bible. After His departure from earth, Jesus would send the Holy Spirit to empower His followers to live for Him (Acts 2). John 15:26 also calls the Holy Spirit a comforter ("paraclete" in older English translations).
In Isaiah 42:9-16, a prediction is made that states, in part, "'Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.' Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants. Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the habitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands" (Isaiah 42:9-12). Some Muslim apologists argue that since Ishmael was a descendant of Abraham who inhabited Kedar, this prophecy refers to Muhammad. In this view, the "new song" is the Qur'an revealed to the prophet Muhammad. Isaiah 42:13-16 is then seen as describing Muhammad as a mighty man of war.
Yet the context of Isaiah 42 stands as part of a larger section of Isaiah (beginning in chapter 40) that speaks of the future work of the Messiah. Both Jews and Christians understand this passage as referring to a future time when the Messiah will come in judgment. Jews believe the Messiah has yet to come; Christians believe this prophecy will be fulfilled at the return of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The context is clearly that of someone greater than any man. It speaks of the Messiah who will one day come in judgment, not of Muhammad.
Some also use Song of Solomon 5:16 as a reference to Muhammad. The verse reads, "His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem." This is the most exaggerated of Muslim claims that Muhammad is predicted within the Bible, as the context of this passage is that of a bride speaking to her husband! This is not prophecy, but rather part of a larger dialogue between two lovers.
While some Muslim apologists seek to reach new converts or strengthen current Muslims through attempts to find prophecies about Muhammad in the Bible, the evidence is not there. The Bible speaks of a future Messiah, yet the New Testament claims this Messiah is Jesus (Isa), not Muhammad (John 3:16).
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