Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Son of Man Rides the Clouds: Putting to Rest Some Typical Muhammadan Objections Pt. 1a



By Sam Shamoun

In this series of rebuttals I am going to respond the desperate polemics of some Muhammadan apologists who try to refute the Christian interpretation of Daniel 7:13-14. Here is what that passage states:

I saw in the night visions, and there was one like a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven. He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. There was given to Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

The prophet Daniel sees a majestic and transcendent Being who rides the clouds like God does,

who lays the upper beams of His chambers on the waters above, who makes the clouds His chariot, who rides upon the wings of the wind,” Psalm 104:3

the Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will in no way acquit the guilty. In gale winds and a storm is His way, and clouds are the dust of His feet.” Nahum 1:3

And receives the exact same universal worship that God does:

“‘There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, have not regarded you. They do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.’… Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image which I have set up?’…  ‘If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.’… Then Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him. They have defied the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.” Daniel 3:12, 14, 17-18, 28 – cf. 6:16, 20; 7:27

This strongly supports the fact that this specific figure is no mere creature, but an eternal divine Person appearing as a human being.

What makes this all the more relevant to the Christian witness is that Jesus and his disciples applied this prophecy to Christ:

But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Mark 14:61-62

Then He said to the disciples, ‘The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. They will say to you, “Look here,” or “Look there!” Do not follow after them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the heavens from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating, drinking, marrying, and were given in marriage until the day when Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built. But on the day that Lot departed from Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from heaven and destroyed them all. So will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.’” Luke 17:22-30

But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” Acts 7:55-56

“Look! He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’ I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the isle that is called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a great voice like a trumpet, saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and ‘What you see, write in a book, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And when I turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks, and in the midst of the seven candlesticks was one like a Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and with a golden sash wrapped around the chest. The hair on His head was white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters. He had in His right hand seven stars, and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. His appearance was like the sun shining brightly. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though I were dead. Then He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, though I was dead. Look! I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’” Revelation 1:7-18

I looked. And there was a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like a Son of Man, having on his head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. Then another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap. The time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’ So He who sat on the cloud thrust His sickle on the earth, and the earth was harvested.” Revelation 14:14-16

What this means is that, by identifying himself as the figure spoken of by the prophet Daniel, Christ was basically claiming to be God in the flesh.

Suffice it to say, this doesn’t bode too well for Islam seeing how it denies that Jesus is the divine Son of God whom all the nations must worship as God, which is why one finds certain Muhammadans trying to come up with all sorts of ways to undermine this explicit OT witness to the essential Deity and universal sovereignty of the Messiah.

Typically, one will find the Muslim arguing that Son of Man in Daniel is not an individual but a corporate symbol, i.e., the Son of Man symbolizes the saints of the Most High and/or the people that they represent, whom Daniel claims shall be given the kingdom as their eternal possession:

These great beasts, which are four, are four kings which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.” Daniel 7:17-18

 I beheld, and the same horn was warring with the saints and prevailing against them until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.” Daniel 7:21-22

They further argue that according to certain translations, it is these same saints and/or their people whom the nations shall serve forever and ever:

And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; THEIR kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey THEM.” Daniel 7:27 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Notice how the RSV uses plural pronouns, thereby giving the impression that it is the saints who reign forever and whom all dominions must serve.

The Muslims use such translations to show that the Son of Man does not receive the worship belonging to God alone, since this would mean that the saints of the Most High and/or the people whom they represent are the ones who are actually being worshiped as God, something that no Christian would ever accept.

It is these specific objections that we plan on addressing in this series of rebuttals, which we pick up in the next part of our response.

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