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God’s Promise to AbraHam
In this terrible time of terror, war, and hatred between the world’s most predominant religions, it is easy to forget that three of them have common roots.
What are these roots?
They all start with God’s promise to the faithful man Abram (AbraHam). For (at Genesis 12:1-3) God said this to him:
‘Leave this land, as well as your family and your father's home, and go to a land that I will to show you, because I'm going to make a great nation of you.
I will bless you, make your name famous, and you will become a blessing [to others].
I will bless those that praise you and curse those that curse you… all tribes will be blest because of you.’
Then at Genesis 17:4, 5, it is recorded that God said:
‘Look; I am making My Sacred Agreement with you.
So you will become the father of many nations, your name will no longer be called Abram, but AbraHam; For I've made you the father of many nations.
I will make you grow tremendously, I will make nations come from you, and kings will descend from you.’
What are the ‘many nations’ that descended from AbraHam?
They are the nation of IsraEl (the ‘Jews’) and the many so-called ‘Arabic’ nations that also descended from AbraHam, and possibly IsaAc, and possibly Jacob.
In addition, the Bible includes those who claim the God of IsraEl as their God (the ‘Christians’) as adopted sons of AbraHam.
So those that are followers of Judaism or Christianity, and even some among Islam can claim to be descendants of AbraHam either by direct line or by adoption.
The Roots of Judaism
Probably one of the hardest things for people to understand who claim Christianity as their belief, is that Jesus was first and foremost a Rabbi (teacher) of the Law of Moses.
(See Matthew 5:17-19).
For as a person that was born as a Jew under that Law, he had to obey it strictly in order to become the Christ, Messiah, Anointed, or Promised One, and he had to worship the God of IsraEl, whose name was likely then pronounced Ya/h’/weh (Jehovah in English).
And even after Jesus was put to death, the primary responsibility of his followers was to offer the hope of ‘age-long life’ to the IsraElites first.
Then later, when Jesus’ apostles and disciples went to preach in non-Jewish cities, they always started their preaching in Jewish synagogues (not among those whom they called ‘the gentiles’ or ‘the ethnics’).
So to begin with (especially from 33 to 60 CE), Christianity was first and foremost a Jewish religion.
The Roots of Islam
The other connection that most people – Christians and Moslems (or Muslims) alike – simply wish to ignore, is the common beliefs that are shared between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.
Since many so-called ‘Arab’ peoples are descended from the ancient ten-tribe kingdom of IsraEl and/or from AbraHam, it isn’t surprising that the religion of Islam teaches many of the same things as Christianity and Judaism… and they also consider Moses, as well as Jesus and many others mentioned in the Bible, to be great Prophets.
So you’ll find that the first portions of the Bible are quite similar to parts of the holy book of Islam – the Koran.
The other (and most controversial) link between all these religions is the connection between Islam and those who were called the Samaritans in Jesus’ time.
While Islam claims its roots from the teachings of their Prophet Mohammed; the teachings of their religion actually go back several hundred years before Mohammed’s birth.
For example, notice the marked similarity between the beliefs of the Samaritan woman whom Jesus met at the well in Sychar (which had once belonged to Jacob). For we read at John 4:12:
‘You aren’t greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well and who drank from it with his sons and cattle, are you?’
Then again at John 4:20, where she said,
‘Our ancestors worshiped here on this mountain, but you people say that JeruSalem is where people ought to worship.’
So notice that the Samaritains (like many Muslims today) claimed to be descendants of Jacob (or IsraEl), and they still hold places associated with Moses and AbraHam (such as the Temple mount in in JeruSalem) as sacred.
Then notice what we were told at John 4:39-41:
‘Now, many of the Samaritans from that city put faith in [Jesus] because of what the woman testified to … and … many more believed [in him] because of the things he said.’
So it isn’t surprising that the Koran also speaks of Jesus as a great Prophet.
(For more information on Islam, see the linked contributed article, ‘Moon Worship in the Pre-Islamic Middle East.’
And for more information on ties between IsraEl and Islam, see the Note, ‘The Lost Ten Tribes.’)
The Roots of Christianity
The name ‘Christians’ (which means, a follower of ‘the Christ' or ‘the Anointed One') was something that the people of Antioch in Asia Minor started calling Jesus’ followers around the middle of the First Century BCE, as Acts 11:26 tells us.
Yet, while many Christians today think that it truly was a new religion with new teachings, quite separate from the teachings of ‘the Old Testament,’ it wasn’t anything new to the Jews of Jesus’ day. Rather, all the Jewish Christians considered it to be just a continuation of the same worship of the Jewish God, Jehovah.
However, unlike the Orthodox Jews, most Christians came to understand that they were no longer under the Law of Moses, but that they had a New Sacred Agreement with God that was inaugurated by the death of Jesus. We say ‘most Christians,’ because the thought of departing from the traditions of the Old Law wasn’t easily accepted by those who lived in JeruSalem before its destruction in 70-CE, and many Christians today still believe that they must follow the Old Law as well.
Also realize that many ‘Gentile’ Christians may not only be ‘adopted’ sons of AbraHam, but literal sons as well.
For due to the wide dispersion of the ten-tribe kingdom of IsraEl by the Assyrians in middle 8th Century BCE, the dispersion of the Jews in the late 7th Century BCE by the Babylonians, the dispersion by the Romans after JeruSalem’s last destruction, and the thousands of conversions to Christianity (especially during the Inquisition) and intermarriages ever since. Many of us could be actual descendants of AbraHam, and possibly even be actual descendants of Jacob and Judah.
So, the roots of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are far more interlinked than many people imagine.