Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Worshiping Jesus as God

Exposing More of Ali Ataie’s Blunders and Distortions Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We continue from where we previously left off.

Worshiping and Serving the Lord Messiah

The same Hebrew Bible proclaims that all the nations will be required to give abad to the King Messiah, which the Greek OT translates as douleuo:

“Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king’s son… May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. May those who dwell in the wilderness bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust. May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba offer a gift. May all kings bow down before him; may all nations serve him (ya'abduhu)… May his name endure forever; may his name increase as long as the sun.” Psalm 72:1, 8-11, 17

“And all kings shall worship him (proskynesousin auto); all the Gentiles shall serve him (douleusousin auto).” Psalm 71:11 LXX

Here we see the Messiah being depicted as receiving both proskyneo and douleuo. Lest we be accused of falsely assuming that this is a Messianic Psalm, e.g., a prophecy of the Messiah, note how the Jewish Aramaic paraphrase of the Hebrew Bible called the Targums interprets this Psalm:

Composed by Solomon, uttered in prophecy. O God, give your just rulings to the King Messiah, and your righteousness to the son of King David. (The Targum Psalms: An English Translation, by Edward M. Cook, 2001; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The following prophecy announces a time when Israel shall serve both God and the Messiah together!

“For it shall come to pass in that day, says the Lord of Hosts, that I shall break his yoke from off their neck and tear away their bonds, and strangers shall no longer make them their slaves. But they shall serve (wa'abadu) the Lord their God AND David their king (wa'et Dawid malkam), whom I will raise up (aqim) for them.” Jeremiah 30:8-9, 21

That David here is a reference to Christ, and not to the historical David, is confirmed in this next text from Jeremiah:

“The days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise up (wahaqimoti) for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the earth. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely. And this is the name by which HE WILL BE CALLED: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS… Their leader shall be one of them, and their ruler shall proceed from their midst; and I will cause him to draw near and he will approach Me; for who is this that dares to approach Me? says the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:5-6

The King whom God actually raises up to reign over Israel is not David, but the righteous Branch of David, e.g., the King shall be a descendant of David whom God will appoint to rule his people forever.

What makes this text so remarkable is that this Branch is said to be Yahweh himself coming to justify or make his people righteous!

This explains why God would permit his people to render to the Messiah the exact same service or worship which they are supposed to give to Yahweh alone. I.e., although he is depicted as being personally distinct from God, at the same time the Messiah is a figure who is truly divine, one who fully shares in Yahweh’s unique divine identity.(1)

This explains why we find the NT writers describing believers as servants of Christ, servants who are commanded to offer douleuo to their risen Lord who now reigns from heaven itself:

“Servants, obey those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of your heart, as to Christ, not serving when eyes are on you, but as pleasing men as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service, as to the Lord (to Kyrio), and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing any man does, he will receive the same from the Lord (Kyriou), whether he is enslaved or free. And masters, do the same things for them, no longer threatening, knowing that your Master (hymon ho Kyrios) also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” Ephesians 6:5-9

“Servants, obey your masters in all things according to the flesh, serving not only when they are watching, as the servants of men, but in singleness of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord (to Kyrio) and not for men, knowing that from the Lord (Kyriou) you will receive the reward of the inheritance. For you serve the Lord Christ (to Kyrio Christo). Masters, give to your servants that which is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master (Kyrion) in heaven.” Colossians 3:22-24, 4:1

Now in stating that believers are not serving men when they serve the risen Lord, the blessed Apostle is indicating that Christ is much more than a mere human being; he happens to be God Incarnate, a fact which is brought out by the following Psalm:

“[A Song of Degrees:] Unto thee who dwellest in heaven have I lifted up mine eyes. Behold, as the eyes of servants (douloon) [are directed] to the hands of their masters (toon kyrioon autoon), [and] as the eyes of a maidservant to the hands of her mistress (tes kyrias autes); so our eyes [are directed] to the Lord our God (Kyrion ton Theon hemon), until he have mercy upon us. Have pity upon us, O Lord (Kyrie), have pity upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.” Psalm 122 [Eng. 123]:1-3 LXX

The above Psalm is basically telling us that the only Lord and Master that a believer has in heaven is Yahweh God Almighty.

For Paul to therefore describe Jesus as the Lord in heaven whom all believers must serve, this blessed servant of the risen Christ must have believed that Jesus is Yahweh God in the flesh (even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit).


Ataie’s Dilemma

Now this puts Ataie in a predicament since the Quran claims that Allah would never allow a prophet to be taken as Lord, or have servants that serve him alongside of the Islamic deity:

It belongs not to any mortal that God should give him the Book, the Judgment, the Prophethood, then he should say to men, 'Be you servants to me apart from God.' Rather, 'Be you masters in that you know the Book, and in that you study.' He would never order you to take the angels and the Prophets as Lords; what, would He order you to disbelieve, after you have surrendered? S. 3:79-80 Arberry

What makes this rather interesting is that the Arabic word, which the Quran employs to denote the worship that is to be given to Allah alone, is ibadah. Here is how one lexical source defines the root of this word:

Ayn-Ba-Dal = serve, worship, adore, venerate, accept the impression of a thing, obey with submissiveness or humility, approve, apply, devote, obedience, slave, keep to inseparably, subdue, assemble together, enslave.

Abada (prf. 3rd. m. sing.): He worshipped, adored, venerated, obeyed, served.
Abadtum (prf. 2nd. m. plu.): You worshipped.
Abadnaa (prf. 1st. plu.): We served.
Ya'budu (imp, 3rd. m. sing.): He worships/serves.
Ya'buduuna (imp. 3rd. m. plu.): They worshipped.
Li Ya'buduu (imp. 3rd. m. plu. elative.): That they may serve.
Li Ya'buduuni (imp. 3rd. plu. el.): That they worship me. The final ni is a short form of nii of pronominal and not a na plu.
Ta'budu (imp. 2nd. m. sing.): Thou venerate.
Ta'buduuna (imp. 2nd. m. plu.): You worship.
A'budu (imp. 1st. sing.): I worship.
Na`budu (imp. 1st. plu.): We serve.
l'bud (prt. m. sing.): Thou worship.
I`budu (prt. m. plu.): You serve.
Laa ta'bud (prt. neg. m. sing.): Thou adore not.
La Ta'buduu (prt. neg. m. plu.): You serve not.
Yu'baduuna (pip. 3rd. m. plu): They are to be worshipped.
Abbadta (prf. 2nd. m. sing. II.): Thou enslaved, subjugated.
Abdun / Abdan (nom. / acc.): Abdin (gen. n.): Slave, Bondman; Servant.
Abdaini (n. dual.): Two bond men.
Abiduun / Abidiin (nom. / acc. act. pic. f. plu.): Worshippers.
Aabidaat (act. pic. f. plu.): (Women) worshippers.
Ibaadat (v. n.): servitude/worship. (Project Root List, Ayn)

The reason why this happens to be rather interesting is because the word ibaadah is actually the Arabic cognate of the Hebrew verb abad!

What this means is that the Holy Bible is ascribing the very worship to the Messiah, which Islam says can only be given to God Almighty alone!

This means that, contrary to Ataie’s assertion, the God-breathed Scriptures proclaim that the risen Lord is to be given the very worship that God alone is supposed to receive, obviously because he is God in the flesh!

This now leads us to the third part of our rebuttal where we shall see that Jesus does receive the very worship which Ataie says is never attributed to Christ. More on that point in the next part of our response.



(1) The following citations, which are taken from Christian author and apologist William Webster's masterful work, Behold Your King: Prophetic Proofs That Jesus Is the Messiah, Christian Resources, June 2003, give us an indication of how some non-Christian Jewish authorities and scholars interpreted the prophecy of Jeremiah 23:5-6. The references are specifically taken from Appendix C: The Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament from the Authoritative Jewish Writings, pp. 151-312. Webster’s book can be purchased here. All bold, underline and capital emphasis ours.

Targum Jonathan

… Behold the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Messiah, and he shall reign as king, and prosper, and shall enact a righteous and Meritorious law in the land. In his days they of the house of Judah shall be delivered, and Israel shall live in security. And this is the name which they call him: "May vindication be accomplished for us by the Lord in his day."’ (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, Samson H. Levy (New York: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 68-69)

Targum Jonathan

Say unto him: Thus says the Lord of Hosts saying: ‘Be hold the man whose name is "The Messiah." He is destined to be revealed and to be anointed, and he shall build the Temple of the Lord. He shall build the Temple of the Lord, and he will bear the radiance, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and there shall be a high priest on his throne, and there be a counsel of peace between the two of them.’ (Ibid., p. 99)

The Babylonian Talmud, Baba Bathra 75b

R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Johanan: Three WERE CALLED BY THE NAME OF THE holy One, blessed be He, and they are the following: The righteous, the Messiah and Jerusalem. [This may be inferred as regards] the righteous [from] what ha just been said. [As regards] the Messiah - it is written: And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness (Jer. XXIII, 6) (The Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Editor (London: Soncino Press), Seder Nezekin, Vol. II, Baba Bathra 75b, p. 303)

Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations

BECAUSE THE COMFORTER IS FAR FROM ME, EVEN HE THAT SHOULD REFRESH MY SOUL. What is the name of King Messiah? R. Abba b. Kahana said: His name is ‘the Lord’; as it is stated, And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness (Jer. XXIII, 6). For R. Levi said: It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king, and the name of its king identical with that of its God. ‘It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king,’ as it is written, And the name of the city from that day shall be the Lord is there (Ezek. XLVIII, 35). ‘And the name of its king is identical with that of its God’ as it is stated, And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness: R. Joshua b. Levi said: His name is ‘Shoot’, as it is stated, Behold, a man whose name is Shoot, and who shall shoot up out of his place, and build the temple of the Lord (Zech. VI, 12). R. Judan said in the name of R. Aibu: His name is ‘Comforter’, as it is said, THE COMFORTER IS FAR FROM ME. R. Hanina said: They do not really differ, because the numerical value of the names is the same, so that ‘Comforter’ is identical with ‘Shoot’ (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations (London: Soncino Press), I.16, 51, pp. 135-136)

Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 2:2

God will call the king Messiah after His own name, for it is said of the king Messiah This is his name whereby he shall be called: The Lord our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). (The Midrash on Psalms, William G. Braude, Translator (New Haven: Yale, 959), Yale Judaica Series, Volume XIII, Leon Nemoy, Editor, Book One, Psalm 2.2)

These quotations confirm that, not only did the Jewish authorities view the text from Jeremiah as a Messianic prophecy, but they also believed that God had given the Messiah his very own unique, divine name “Yahweh,” as well as the title “Branch.”