Answering ISIS – A Short Reply to the ‘Breaking the Cross’ issue of the ISIS Magazine ‘Dabiq’
This glossy on-line magazine (Dabiq), 82 pages long, is filled with reassuringly professional quality photographs and 12 densely worded articles: some supposedly theological in content, some heart-warming human interest stories of Islamic converts and jihadists, concluding with an inspiring piece ‘By the Sword’ aimed at telling us Christians and the West in general: ‘This is a divinely-warranted war between the Muslim nation and the nations of disbelief’.
With this last article is a high-quality photo of a kneeling man who has just been beheaded, his head having just hit the dirt, blood still spirting from arteries in his freshly cross-sectioned neck. His executioner looks suitably proud of his handiwork, while the impressed ring of on-lookers in tasteful soft-focus clearly look suitably victorious: ‘I will give victory through terror!’ as Muhammed is reported to have said. Most of the magazine is devoted to telling us Christians why we have got monotheism all wrong and that if only we convertedand got the right religion and took up the Sword of Allah we could avoid this fate.
There is only one small problem with this message: it is complete nonsense from beginning to end.
I thought it might be useful to answer ISIS by telling what the Bible or ‘Holy Scripture’ says: what it says about Islam’s concerns about Christianity and then what the Bible says about ISIS, or at least the kind of violent manner of life that they espouse.
Let’s start with some theology: the Trinity. ISIS get very worked up about Christians’ idea of the Trinity. The magazine argues that God is One, so don’t say, O Christian, that there are three Gods. We Christians don’t say there are three Gods and never have. There is One God. But this One God is known in three revelations in history: God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We could not know what God is like until we beheld the Son, and we could not know the closeness of God until we received the Holy Spirit. To deny the Son is to deny the Father, and to speak evilly of the Holy Spirit is to truly commit blasphemy, as Christ taught. This isn’t hard. The Trinity is simply a way of understanding the implications of the historical reality of the coming of Christ and His giving of the Holy Spirit to His disciples – a promise to all who believe in His name –i.e. in the name of Jesus. When Jesus commands His disciples to spread the Good News to all nations, He commanded them ‘to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ Clearly, in Jesus mind, these three went together.
Second, the magazine reruns the old accusation that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, but that Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’ cross part of the way was crucified in His place, and therefore Jesus was never crucified. What?? Are ISIS trying to tell us that Jesus was mistaken for another man by the Roman executioners; that the Pharisees who hurled abuse, did so supposedly at the wrong man, for the six hours; that his closest disciple who conversed with His lord hanging on that cross was conversing with a stranger but failed to notice that fact; that his mother and other women who had known Jesus all their lives were looking sorrowfully on, were weeping all that time for six hours but failed to notice it wasn’t Jesus hanging there; that the man who had been beaten, scourged and had a ‘crown’ of thorns pressed over his head had been accidently mistaken for a passing businessman?
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus of the Sanhedrin who had spoken closely with Jesus, went to Pilate and negotiated to bury the body of Christ. Perhaps they too were mistaken and so took the wrong body off the Cross, wrapped the wrong body for burial and laid the wrong corpse in the tomb; a corpse that three days later God raised from the dead. Perhaps God too was mistaken and raised the wrong man from the dead.
If the quality of your tactics is as good as your argumentation, then I fear you do not have long to live.
Third, perhaps the most startling error is the misunderstanding of God. They claim the proper name of God is Allah, which they conflate with the Hebrew Elohim as a proper name for God. It isn’t, the proper name that God gives Himself is tetragrammaton YWHW, conventionally vocalised Yahweh, which is not easily translated but carries the meaning ‘I am, I was and I will be’, or ‘the Self-caused.’ Because of the holiness of this name, in translations of the Hebrew Scriptures it is rendered LORD.
The proper name of God, written in palaeohebrew (10 Century BC), Aramaic and square Hebrew.
The name, Yeshua, anglicized as Jesus, means Salvation, and this name has the same root as the name Joshua, the Israelite leader who followed after Moses and who led the Israelites in their conquest of Canaan following the Exodus. The angel who foretold the virgin birth of the Child commanded that He should be called Yeshua.
But much more serious than the misnaming of God is the misunderstanding of God. God’s most important commands are to ‘Love the LORD the God with all thy heart, with all they soul, with all thy might and with all thy strength.’ And to ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Through the revelation of Jesus, the ‘visible image of the invisible God’, we now understand that the nature or character of God is love.
Allah, it seems, commands perpetual war on the unbelievers, whoever they may be (Shia, Sunni, Ahmadiyahs, Sufis, Christians, Jews, Hindus – I struggle to keep up with the long list of enemies). Jesus commanded to love, even to ‘Love your enemies’. God also commands this: ‘Do not steal. Do not murder.’ Contrast this is with what is written in this issue of Dabiq:
- “Fight those who neither believe in Allah and the Last Day, nor do they forbid what Allah and His Messenger forbade, nor do they follow the religion of truth, of those who were given the Scripture, until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled” (At-Tawbah 29), or
- Any Christian or Jew who accepts the jizyah and then breaks any of the agreed upon stipulations shall find no security, and their blood thus becomes lawful to spill and wealth permissible to seize. For indeed, “Honor belongs to Allah, His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know” (Al-Munafiqun 8).
In other words, Allah’s commands in Islam are the exact opposite of what He commands in the Bible. So, whatever else Allah may be, He cannot be the same God as the God of the Bible, unless God has changed His mind about what is important, or else He previously lied. Since God cannot be holy if he is mad or bad or mistaken, Allah cannot be who Yahweh is, and Jesus cannot be the visible image of the invisible Allah.
ISIS concludes this charming publication with this: ‘Jihad is the ultimate show of one’s love for his Creator, facing the clashing of swords and buzzing of bullets on the battlefield, seeking to slaughter His enemies – whom he hates for Allah’s hatred of them. A religion without these fundamentals is one that does not call its adherents to fully manifest and uphold the love of the Lord.’ It seems the business of the Creator is now largely taken up with un-creation. Contrast ISIS’ viewpoint with what Jesus said: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.’
This puts in mind Jesus’ teaching: ‘the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God’ (John 16:2). The implication being of course, that they, ISIS, may think they are doing a holy service for God, but in truth they are doing no such thing.
So, what else does the Bible say about Islam of ISIS and its methods? Well, to understand the answer to that question we need to look at what the Risen Christ says about divine judgement.
“Behold, I am coming shortly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one as his work will be. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (The Book of Revelation 22:12,13). Judgment will be decided by the Judge who is Lord of all, and He is the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Write, because these words are faithful and true. And He said to me, ‘I have become new. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give freely to him who is thirsty out of the spring of the water of life. He who is overcoming will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But to the cowardly and unbelieving and sinners and detestable and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers and idolaters and to all the false witnesses, their part will be in the lake which is burning with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.’ ” (Rev 21:5-8).
So ISIS, speaking directly to you, with your murders, your ‘temporary marriages’, your rapes, your cowardly use of children, your unbelief in Christ, your detestable tortures, and your worship of a god who is demonstrably not the God of Scripture (i.e. you practice idolatry) and your false testimony against Christ: your part will be in the lake which is burning with fire and sulphur; which is the second (and final) death. You think that after your death you are going to enjoy an endless round of copulation with dark-eyed houris. Actually, ISIS, unless you repent of your wickedness, according to the Bible, you are going to hell.
In case you think that somehow God thinks you are a special case, you’re not. All people will suffer judgment: “And I saw the dead, the greatest and the least, standing in the sight of the throne, and books were opened and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life and the dead were judged out of the things which have been written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them and they were judged each one according to their works. And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, which is the lake of fire. And if anyone was not found, having been written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev 20: 12-15.
ISIS threaten with decapitation those Christians who do not turn to Islam. This is what happens to those Christians who suffer these decapitations: “And I saw thrones and they sat upon them and judgment was given to them and I saw the souls of those who had been decapitated because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God and those who did not worship the Beast, nor his image and did not receive the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand, and they lived and reigned with Christ the thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live till the thousand years might be finished. This is the first resurrection. Fortunate and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.” (Rev 20:4-6).
Those who have a penchant for decapitation are part of a world system known in the Bible as the ‘Beast’. Until the restoration of Israel we were not sure who the Beast was. We now know that the Beast is, in fact, Islam, or at least that Islam that wages war on the believers: “And he opened his mouth to blaspheme toward God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, and blaspheme those who are residing in the heaven. And it was given to him to make a war with the holy-ones and to overcome them and authority over every tribe and people and language and nation was given to him. And all who are dwelling upon the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the conception of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who has been slaughtered. If anyone has an ear, let him hear.” (Rev 13:6-9)
To those in Islam who do evil things, God has a special message for you: “If anyone holds in captivity, he is going into captivity; if anyone kills with the sword, it is essential for him to be killed with the sword. Here is the endurance and the faith of the holy-ones.” (Rev 13:10) So, ISIS, when you fight the Christians, you fight God. You may think you are winning, but in the process you end up being killed, just as all those cowards in Europe who harmed innocent families and priests end up being killed ignominiously. Their fate, according to Holy Scripture, is judgment and hell. You think that by undertaking jihad you are undertaking God’s judgment, but what is really happening is that the true God is preparing you for your own judgment:
“And I saw a messenger flying in mid-heaven, having the everlasting good-news to proclaim to those who dwell upon the earth and to every nation and tribe and language and people; and he says in a loud voice, ‘Fear the Lord and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come and worship him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.’
And another, a second messenger, followed saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, who has given all the nations to drink out of the wine of the fury of her fornication.’
And another messenger, a third, followed them, saying in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is worshiping the Beast and his image and receives a mark upon his forehead or upon his hand, he will also drink out of the wine of the fury of God which has been mingled undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tormented in fire and brimstone in the sight of the holy messengers and in the sight of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment is going up forever and ever, and they have no rest day and night, who are worshiping the beast and his image and if anyone receives the mark of his name. Here is the endurance of the holy-ones, those who are keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ ” (Rev 14:6-12). The Lamb in this Biblical imagery is Yeshua, who is ‘the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the Earth’ (Rev 13:8).
While the mark of the Beast has not yet come, it will and we Christians will not take it, and we will be ready. You ISIS, your men and women who participate in your evil acts, will be judged according to what you have done in the body and will be tormented with fire and sulphur in the sight of the holy angels and the sight of the Lamb of God, who is Jesus, the Christ, who has been raised from the dead and is seated at the right hand of Almighty God. Hell is forever: you will never get out of His hell.
So, ISIS, the true God offers you a choice: repent of your works, as some of your number have done, and have sought salvation from Him who is Salvation, Yeshua or die and face judgment. In Scripture it is written: ‘Do not be misled. God is not ridiculed; for whatever a man sows, he will also reap.’ (Galatians 6:7). My hope for you is that you turn away from the path of death and find life in the name of Jesus.
I fear you will not listen, and not find life. You have been warned. Choose wisely.
Tshwane, South Africa