Question about Jews, Muslims, and God


#102

Put simply, there is the one God over all people and the Holy Spirit - as believed in Catholicism - guides all people in what ways are possible. So it is that St. Justin Martyr says every religion has “seeds of the Truth” within it. We may well believe that the Holy Spirit, in conjunction with the Angels, works to help people within the other religions approach the Truth more closely with time. Remember that Judaism came out of a long process of developing religion, borne out of the Semitic culture. If you look into ancient Mesopotamia, you will find literature using similar names for God found in the Old Testament, and Psalms too. Moreover, much of the Jewish implements of worship originated in older sources. The Urim and the Thummim, for instance, were probably first used as divination stones in the preceding religions. Nonetheless through the openess to the Holy Spirit in certain individuals within the culture, the Jewish religion was born, and through that Jesus Christ born. The question of whether it had to be Judaism rather than Hinduism or Taosim etc. is interesting. The argument could be made that Judaism was simply the religion that responded best to God, and allowed itself to be transformed most by Him. Anyhow. I think the Pope Emeritus has mentioned we need to be careful in inter-faith dialogue with the Jews, as they do come from an authentic tradition. Pope Francis has said similar things. Islam is a different phenomenon, but not without its similarities to Judaism and to Christianity. There is an historical argument that it began as a heresy, with some disciples of Arius - named Bahira and Waraqah. However, we can never know for sure. What Vatican II says on it, is that the Muslims strive after the same God we do, which is an important element to bear in mind. They venerate many of our Prophets also. Sometimes even pre 7th century Catholic Saints! I know that in Glasgow, St. Mungo/Kentigern who died during Muhammad’s lifetime was venerated with 10th century Vespers a few years back on his anniversary, and it was a great inter-faith event. Catholics, Protestants, perhaps a few Orthodox and notably some Muslims attended in the great Cathedral where he remains buried today. As to the other religions, like Hinduism, do they worship the same God? Again not an easy question if you read over what I’ve said already. I might stop here and refer you to the thought of Fr. Henri le Saux who founded Shantivanam - a kind of joint Hindu-Catholic Monastery - and also to Fr. Robert Kennedy SJ who is both a Catholic Priest and Buddhist Roshi. Their work is pioneering and very interesting indeed. Having an open mind is important.


#103

One point to remember is that all three religions are rooted in the faith of Abraham.

Abraham’s relationship with God is an acknowledged beginning of Judaism.

Christ came to Israel, the children of Abraham.

Muhammad’s people also traced their roots to Abraham, and more importantly, entrusted himself to the God of Abraham.

Each of them responded to a call from God like the one that called Abraham out of his native religion into a new country.


#104

Abraham faced many trials, sometimes even a distance perhaps even moments of uncertainities about a promise through which a son would be born. We all face those same doubts and fears on whether God is listening or will respond to our needs. As if from above, God responds to our doubts and comforts us when we feel abandoned. This is the way the promise of salvation came to us through his son, Jesus.

We are often unprepared for the answers we receive from God. In a moment, as scripture notes, For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Like Abraham, who caught off guard, the promise of a son was told, Genesis 18:10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”…14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

The prophecy, like so many, and when given to Abraham several times, even when they are misinterpreted, comes as a surprise. Scripture notes that God is faithful to his promises but we are weak and have doubts. Read Exodus, God eventually draws the best out of us but with time!


#105

What kind of divination did Joseph do in Genesis 44:5, 15?

Joseph divination

Question: “What kind of divination did Joseph do in Genesis 44:5, 15?”

Answer: In Genesis 44, Joseph tests his brothers (who have not recognized him) by returning their money in each sack of grain they had purchased. In Benjamin’s sack, he places his special silver cup. After the brothers leave for home, Joseph sends his steward after them to confront them over the “theft” of the cup. The steward was to say to them, “Why have you repaid evil for good? Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this” (verses 4-5). In verse 15, Joseph accuses his brothers in person, saying, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” Joseph’s claim to have knowledge by divination seems to conflict with the Bible’s condemnation of divination as evil (Deuteronomy 18:10; 1 Samuel 15:23). Here are some points to consider:

First, it is clear that Joseph’s use of the “divining cup” is part of his test for his brothers. He planted evidence that would link them to a serious crime. Since the cup was part of a setup, it may have not been used in divination at all. There is no indication in the passage that Joseph actually used the cup for divination. Instead, Joseph may have claimed he used it to divine matters in order to raise the stakes and incite more fear in his brothers’ hearts.

Second, divination was common in ancient Middle Eastern cultures, especially among its leaders. In fact, Laban once said to Jacob, “I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you” (Genesis 30:27). Jacob’s sons would have at least been aware of the practice and known what divination was, whether or not Joseph actually used the cup for that purpose. Divination in the Egyptian court would have been common, and a reference to it would have seemed natural to Joseph’s brothers.

Third, it is possible, though unlikely, this is one of the few cases in which God permitted the use of objects to discern His will. Other examples include the casting of lots (Leviticus 16:7-10), the priest’s use of the Urim and Thummim(Numbers 27:21), and Gideon’s use of the fleece (Judges 6:36-40). If Joseph did practice divination with the silver cup, it was not divination in the pagan sense but seeking God’s will through a particular method.


#106

Reference:What kind of divination did Joseph do in Genesis 44:5, 15?


#107

That’s all very interesting. My point, however, was simply that the Jewish religion developed from those older Semitic religions. So what was once used for divination in the older groups was later used to discern God’s will tentatively, in prayer and worship, with the Jews. So I agree with the point about the silver cup. The farther you turn the clock back, the differences will seem less exaggerated. Whatever the case may be as regards Joseph and the like, it is important maybe to also reflect on Prophecy. St. Thomas Aquinas is very clear in the Summa that many men and women across the Scriptures, both terrible sinners and great Saints alike, had access to certain future events. Those who built their prophecies on divination proper, may have had knowledge given them by demonic agents. As such St. Thomas explicitly puts these prophecies on a lower and subsidiary level. The example of the “Witch of Endor” comes to mind here. Then you have the people like Joseph who received Prophecy from Divinity. In Joseph’s case, I suppose the silver cup (I can’t resist the connotations of the Chalice here) had some religious meaning and use at that time. It’s not something I’m knowledgable about at all - we’re talking about a time prior to the Passover, and most of the other major events in the Jewish calendar. What exactly did they do to worship God before Moses? Taking it back to Abraham, we only seem to have a few clear practices. The building of Altars, almost everywhere he goes, and the sacrifice of the ram. His life reads like an adventure, based entirely on Faith, rather than the life of a religious leader. In fact, that’s a message in itself. He was the ruler of his household, and God spoke to him in that capacity. Shows how centered God’s plan is on the domestic. Then you have the absolutely odd figure of Melchizedek come onto the scene - a High Priest and King from afar, reached only after absolute chaos playing out in Abraham’s life. But I’m digressing. My point about the silver cup, is that God seems to reach out to people via the material. It was only on the mountain Moses received the Law, he had to ascend to the Holy place. It was in the later Temple, amid the incense and other accountrements of Divine worship, that God made Himself known. So the key to it all is simple - the objects are used only in so far as they lead us to God, they are not to be worshipped themselves or taken to be more than they really are. Therefore, divination is largely about intention. I come again to the question of how God was reached prior to the Jewish religion? For 250,000 odd years, and perhaps for around 2.8 million years if we accept personhood to begin at the homo erectus stage, we didn’t have our Judeo-Christian belief. We only had the ministrations of Angels and of course the temptations of demons. I wonder if some of the ancient animists for example, did indeed reach God via certain objects - say like a totem pole - that were legitimate for their own time period. Perhaps the Holy Spirit and Angels did indeed encourage the use of some objects, while others were from an evil source? We have no historical record here, so much of it has to be speculative.


#108

Whoever believes Jesus is I AM will be saved.


#109

I’d copy and paste your reply but there’s a lot to touch on in your comments. First, and reaching back to an old post, Abraham in Genesis 12 is “called” to go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. Then Genesis 15 states that the “Word” of the Lord came to Abram “in a vision” and later in Genesis 17, " When Abram was ninety-nine years old, “the Lord appeared” to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

The Lord called out, the “word” came to Abraham in a vision and then later the Lord appeared. Three stages until the Lord appeared. However, Genesis 12 begins the promise, " At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”

With the many promises of a son, Abraham’s - offspring, there was still a moment that Abraham needed some convincing that Sarah could produce an heir at his age. Until finally in Genesis 17, the announcement came when the angel would return next year and Sarah would have a son. What I read out of these verses, and within the same breath, of the Messiah, is that he will appear or return but we must “have faith and believe”, again, in the same breath.

In the prophecy, Wait for it - it will surely come" the verses are no different than Abraham awaiting a son’s birth. As Abraham’s son birth will “not” delay - nor the promise. The promise that Abraham waited with anticipation (hope) - as we will have to wait! When reading Ecclesiastic the verses come out clearly, " To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a …

The process of producing a son, as so many know about the duration of time, in Genesis 15 that Abraham had to wait(endure). Like so many test from God, endurance/faith/belief is on a much deeper level of faith. The word “wait for it” as scripture notes, as the message from God tells us (in the same way) that it will surely come - the Messiah, as it is read all over Genesis 12 to Genesis 18. Divination, as I believe it to be, can be crippling not only to “what” God wants to draw out from us (as with Exodus) but to strengthen the coming! The waiting - knowing of God’s promise comes from endurance – and belief. So I hope this makes sense.


#110

So many mistakes come through those methods. It is within that anticipation of the hope - it is the promise that Mary spoke and Zechariah exclaimed, " “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

You know, if there were dangerous paths, like St Joseph faced, don’t you think that the angels would protect them? Without the use of other methods? The vision came to the three wise men - as we all would travel far to be close to God’s son. Don’t you think God would allow us to know - like Anna? Who waited in the temple until Jesus was shown at the time?

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.


25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.


#111

One last remark - something happens to us inside when we use forms of divinity. There’s a kick back on the person who uses it. God ordains events to happen - if something was out of line with his plans, I think, someone would know it right away! We can never anticipate God’s plan nor can the angels - like the speech that came from Gamaliel "you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”


#112

When King Herod became aware of the birth of Jesus, he then made inquiries. So Herod called all the priest and law givers. But the verses later testify - The magi were told not to return to King Herod.

“And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

Then St Joseph took the family into Egypt as to hide the child. You read the interplay that goes on. However, God is keeping his son protected.

The use of divination is a method that can cripple - it can cause all sorts of problems.


#113

We strive to become the God we worship, If we see God as the One who victoriously prevails over His enemies and punishes them for their sins. do we then strive to be like this ourselves.

The Avenger is one of the 99 names of Allah, do we focus on this one name and overlook the other names of Allah that describe him as; compassionate, merciful forgiving, generous and just?


#114

I’ve not been checking this regularly, so I’ve not had time to respond to it point-by-point. In short, suffice it to say, we’re on the same page regarding divination. Maybe the way we were speaking about it led to some confusion? I agree that divination in the sense of trying to know the future, is wrong. It wasn’t what Joseph was doing either, when the word divination crops up there we need to understand it as a tentative method of seeking God’s Will. God reveals His Will as far as He wants to. So sometimes the person, often a Prophet in the OT, will have a very full revelation of the future. Other times they will only know so much as is needed for God’s Providence, for them to align to it. The points I was making above were more general, and asked questions about the situation before the Jews existed and so forth.

In any case, I very much enjoyed reading your point about Abraham and endurance. Helped me in fact! It’s very true, endurance and fortitude are of the highest importance.


#115

Sometimes I think society (maybe ours) is leaning toward mysticism. Everyone is looking for answers but finding them in the wrong ways or places.

The hebrew text, as some have correct the term OT, has made it very upfront about this area of mysticism but also the out come. Where does one draw the line - prayer, in the way we communicate, being spiritual, connects ourselves to God. Why the need to go farther with it. If we have to reach God by other means what does this say about prayer and receiving an answer or help. This is my point


#116

Eric, I was hoping that you would join into the conversation when discussing mysticism. You know I think both Jews and Muslims know more about that subject than anybody else. Especially with the background history in those areas of the country. The teaching of that subject is extremely high but also, you have seen more of the outcome.

Sufism, or Taṣawwuf to Jewish mysticism. Between both even within scripture there is some sense of mysticism within it. When we read about the three wise men at the time of Jesus’s birth it was understood that these men came from Persia. They were able to understand the prophecy of the Jewish Messiah? Which I think is incredible. However they must have known about the prophecy. And for them to travel so far to I want to see the child


#117

Do you think that we could start a new thread


#118

Here is a childlike and yet profound way to test the power of the greatest commandments; when looking for a purpose for the creation of the universe and life.

Before the creation of the universe began, imagine God the Father, Son and Holy spirit looking out into the vast empty void of space. They are thinking, we have the power to create anything we want, what is the greatest good thing that we can create?

God could create all the stars and planets and be the supreme builder. He could create plants; and be the unsurpassed gardener. God could create the animal kingdom; and be the best farmer. God could create children in his own image and be the greatest father. Can God create anything greater than children in his own image?

God could love each and everyone of his children as he loves himself. Could God love us more than he loves himself? Can there be any greater purpose to create children, even for God?

Could there be any greater purpose for God to create the universe?

Let me know if you still want to create another thread.
Blessings
Eric


#119

A couple of things to add:

In scripture, one refers to his quality of justice, Psalms Chapter 89 " 3 For I have said: 'For ever is mercy built; in the very heavens Thou dost establish Thy faithfulness."

The two names were used together in the story of Creation, showing that the world was created with both justice and mercy. Psalms 89, 15 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Thy throne; mercy and truth go before Thee."

Again, the great debate with Abraham - 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”


#120

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

The law was a guide post, a path to walk everyday. Like the manna from heaven God nourished the soul with justice,
mercy, truth and faithfulness (gives the soul the substance it needs). Isn’t this what we all need everyday? Today, i looked for it, we all do. Communication and guidance - a way to know that He is looking after us and that He takes care of our needs.

Psalm: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that thou attend him.


closed #121

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