Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Human defiance enhances God's glory (Psalm 76:10)

Roland Clarke

The psalmist penned these profoundly awe-inspiring words, “Human defiance only enhances your glory, for you use it as a weapon.” (Psalm 76:10, NLT) In a similar way, the English Standard Version reads, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise you; the remnant of wrath you will put on like a belt.” The Cambridge Bible for schools and colleges explains this verse well, saying, “All rebellion against God’s will must in the end redound to God’s glory: it serves to set His sovereignty in a clearer light.” The story of Pharaoh is a prime example, “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16)

Nebuchadnezzar also shows how God uses the schemes and wrath of the wicked to bring himself praise. You recall that Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego defied the King's order to bow to his 90 foot statue thus arousing Nebuchadnezzar's fury. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. But in the end, he acknowledged and praised “the God of Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego.” In fact, he made a decree that, “Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” (Daniel 3:19, 28-29)

Balaam also shows how God's purposes cannot be thwarted by the wicked, indeed, the Lord makes them say things which confirm his plan. You recall how Balaam was offered a huge reward by King Balak if he would come and curse the Israelites. But Balaam had already told Balak that he could not proclaim anything except what the Lord directed him to say. He declared four oracles climaxing with Numbers 24:17 an amazing prophecy foretelling the coming of Messiah using the imagery of a star and scepter arising from Israel.

Fifteen hundred years after Balaam there arose another evil spiritual leader named Caiaphas, who harboured murderous hatred towards God's Messiah. John 11:49-52, tells us that Caiaphas, the high priest, said to the Jewish leaders, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” The Gospel writer notes that, He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”

In spite of Caiaphas' defiant attitude, God sovereignly orchestrated circumstances so that what he said amounted to a prophecy “that Jesus would die for the nation.”

Muhammad is another false spiritual leader who adamantly opposed the core message of the Bible, i.e. Christ's deity and his sacrificial death. However, like his predecessors, Balaam and Caiaphas, Muhammad taught certain things that are in line with – and confirm – the Gospel, albeit unwittingly. For example, the Qur'an says that God chose the name for Mary's virgin-born son, Messiah Jesus (Al Masihu Isa). I could list several other statements in the Qur'an which point strongly to (or validate) the Gospel but it is not necessary to detail them here.

The theme of God's sovereignty as seen in Psalm 76 and illustrated in Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, etc., culminates in the last book of the Bible. Revelation 12:12 tells us that when the Devil, realizes his time is short, he comes down to earth “in great wrath...!” Then God unleashes an unprecedented series of seven judgements representing a full or complete outpouring of his wrath. (Revelation 15:1) Through these judgements God sovereignly works out his purposes and establishes his eternal kingdom with his Messiah reigning as King of kings. God's honor is vindicated and his name will be forever praised.

Let us conclude by noting that the overarching theme of God's sovereignty (including how he maintains his honor) is not only biblically sound, it has an undeniable ring of truth to genuine god-fearing Muslims. So, why not try engaging your Muslim friend in conversation about God's sovereignty as portrayed in Psalm 76:10? Think about the stories we have used to illustrate this central theme. Do most of them not resonate with Muslims?

As for the story of Caiaphas, prayerfully consider how you can share this story in more detail. Don't underestimate simply reading John chapters 18-19 with your friend. As Christians we ought to encourage our unbelieving friends to read each of the above mentioned stories from the Bible.

Below are several articles that you may find helpful as you explore certain aspects of the above stories.

A dialogue about the one true God.

“Allah hu Akbar” – God is the greatest.

Is God able to humble the haughty?

Rejoice and welcome the King!

Signposts to paradise.

Facing our common foe.

Who can overpower Satan and release his captives?

All Bible quotes are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise indicated.

If you want to contact me please communicate by email here.