Deuteronomy 18:15–18—Is this a prophecy about the prophet Mohammed?

Problem: God promised Moses here, “I will raise up for them [Israel] a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him” (v. 18). Muslims believe this prophecy is fulfilled in Mohammed, as the Koran claims when it refers to “The unlettered Prophet [Mohammed], Whom they find mentioned in their own [scriptures], in the Law and the Gospels” (Surah 7:157).

Solution: This prophecy could not be a reference to Mohammed for several reasons. First, the term “brethren” refers to Israel, not to their Arabian antagonists. Why would God raise up for Israel a prophet from their enemies.

Second, in this very context, the term “brethren” means fellow Israelites. For the Levites were told “they shall have no inheritance among their brethren” (v. 2). Third, elsewhere in this book the term “brethren” also means fellow Israelites, not a foreigner. God told them to choose a king “from among your brethren,” not a “foreigner.” Israel has never chosen a non-Jewish king.

Fourth, Mohammed came from Ishmael, as even Muslims admit, and heirs to the Jewish throne came from Isaac. When Abraham prayed, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” God answered emphatically: “My covenant I will establish with Isaac ...” (Gen. 17:21). Later God repeated: “In Isaac your seed shall be called” (Gen. 21:12).

Fifth, the Koran itself states that the prophetic line came through Isaac, not Ishmael: “And We bestowed on him Isaac and Jacob, and We established the Prophethood and the Scripture among his seed” (Surah 29:27). The Muslim scholar Yusuf Ali adds the word “Abraham” and changes the meaning as follows, “We gave (Abraham) Isaac and Jacob, and ordained Among his progeny Prophethood and Revelation.” By adding Abraham, the father of Ishmael, he can include Mohammed, a descendent of Ishmael, in the prophetic line! But Abraham’s name is not found in the original Arabic text.

Sixth, Jesus perfectly fulfilled this verse, since 1) He was from among His Jewish brethren (cf. Gal. 4:4). 2) He fulfilled Deuteronomy 18:18 perfectly: “He shall speak to them all that I [God] command Him.” Jesus said, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). And, “I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49). 3) He called Himself a “prophet” (Luke 13:33), and the people considered Him a prophet (Matt. 21:11; Luke 7:16; 24:19; John 4:19; 6:14; 7:40; 9:17). As the Son of God, Jesus was prophet (speaking to men for God), priest (Heb. 7:10, speaking to God for men), and king (reigning over men for God, Rev. 19–20).

Finally, there are other characteristics of the “Prophet” to come that fit only Jesus, not Mohammed, such as, He spoke with God “face to face” and He performed “signs and wonders” (see comments on Deut. 34:10).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.