Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Messiah the Peacemaker

Roland Clarke

These last three years our world endured the COVID pandemic and now the already challenged global economy is groaning under the greater burden of two horrifying wars – in Ukraine and Gaza – which many fear could trigger World War 3. Is there a glimpse of hope in the midst of the deepening rage of religious radicals like Hamas who take pride in killing civilians for the sake of God? Truly our world desperately needs peace more than ever!

Back in November 2008, one month after the United Nations convened the “High-Level Meeting on the Culture of Peace” war broke out between Israel and Hamas. The Secretary-General made an urgent appeal, “the need for dialogue among religions, cultures and civilizations has never been greater.” Six years later (2014) another war broke out between Israel and Hamas. And now nine years later, here we are, again facing another bloody conflict that threatens to engulf the wider region, if not the whole world.

Early in this war Israel tried to negotiate some kind of resolution, but Hamas refused to release their hostages while remaining committed to wiping Israel off the map, as you may not know, their charter Covenant clearly states.

Peacemaking has been a cornerstone of the UN, and its charter contains a Messianic quote from the Bible about “beating swords into ploughshares.” These words from the Jewish Tanach (O.T.) foretell the profound peace that will eventually be achieved under the Messiah's reign. Luke 2:14 provides a clue to how this prediction would be fulfilled, saying, “Peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.1 These were the words used when angels announced the birth of Mary's baby – Jesus, God's Messiah.

It seems fitting, therefore, that anyone wanting to engage in interfaith dialog ought to be willing to look at Jesus Christ who is acknowledged by virtually every faith (except for Judaism) as an outstanding peacemaker and 'messianic' figure. Of course, Christians are not the only ones who believe Jesus was a peacemaker. Muslims believe he will return to earth in the end times to conquer evil and usher in a period of worldwide peace. One Muslim writer has noted Islamic sources that confirm Al Masih (Jesus) will abolish Jihad; “Sayyidina Salamah bin Nufayl has said that the messenger of Allah said, ‘The (command of) Jihad will not be abolished until the descent of Isa Ibn Maryam.’”(Seerat al-Mughlata', Musnad Ahmad)" 2

One can see similarities between these quotes and Bible prophecies telling how the Messiah as Prince of Peace “will settle international disputes. They will hammer swords into ploughshares... Nation will no longer fight against nation nor train for war anymore.... Your king will bring peace to the nations." (Isaiah 2:4; Zechariah 9:10).

The Ahadith mentions other Messianic prophecies such as, 1) the wolf and the lamb living together and 2) worldwide peace during Messiah's reign.3

It is appropriate to consider Christ's role as peacemaker in the context of our deeply polarized world, especially considering that many Muslims and Christians interpret the escalating conflicts surrounding Israel as a sign of the end times. (See footnotes) Furthermore, we should also bear in mind that many aspects of Christ's life on earth show him to have been a peacemaker.

Messiah's first coming

Before Jesus was born it was foretold that he would “guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:79) Peacemaking was a theme in His teaching, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Jesus promoted peace when he healed a woman plagued by an incurable disease. After healing her, he said, “Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:48) Another situation prompted Jesus to speak the same reassuring words, “Go in peace.” In this case, however, it involved a different kind of problem – the person was an “immoral woman”. After forgiving her sins, Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)

Both these examples ended on a happy note but on a different occasion near the end of his earthly life, Jesus twice mentioned the tragic results that will ensue when peace is not achieved. We read in Luke 19 that a crowd of onlookers loudly acclaimed Jesus saying, “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in highest heaven.

The Jewish leaders were offended by this and urged Jesus to stop such things being said. Jesus refused. Then, as he “came closer to Jerusalem, and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. ‘How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long, your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.’” (Luke 19:38-44)

Bible commentators have noted that “Jerusalem's utter destruction (in 70 A.D.) was divine judgment for their failure to recognize and embrace their Messiah when he visited them.” (John MacArthur) Muslims are inclined to agree, feeling confident to do so because Islam acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah ('Al Masih' is found 11 times in the Qur’an).

While it is true that Christ's prophecy underscores God's judgment of the Jews, we should not assume that Israel's rejection of their Messiah and her spiritual blindness imply that God has abandoned the Jews and turned against Israel. Neither does this mean that Gentiles have the right to be so furious and vengeful that we must wipe the Jewish nation of Israel off the map as some Muslim leaders have repeatedly declared.

Scripture tells us that a day is coming when God will restore a remnant of the Israelites. This remnant will be purged by God's painful discipline and be saved. This final restoration will mean great blessing for the rest of the world.

As the scriptures say, 'God has ... shut their eyes so they do not see ...' Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. (Romans 11:8,15,25; Zechariah 12:10; Joel 2:28-32)

Scripture foretells that God will gather his people Israel, again from the ends of the earth. He also promised,

With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you ... For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed, (Isaiah 54:8-10, NKJV, bold added)

What is this 'covenant of peace'? In ancient times, covenants were ratified through the offering of a sacrifice. Isaiah 53, which immediately precedes the above mentioned promise, foretells how the Messiah will be “an offering for sin”.

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him ... (vv. 10,5, NKJV)

It should come as no surprise then, that Jerusalem, which literally means ‘city of peace’, is the very place where the Messiah accomplished his supreme peacemaking mission. Jesus Christ predicted that Jerusalem would be the place where he would be killed and three days later rise again. He specified this city as the place “where all the predictions of the prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true.” (Luke 18:31-33) Furthermore, Scripture says,

through Jesus Christ God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross. (Colossians 1:20)

Peter, one of the disciples, confirmed that reconciliation and peace was accomplished through Christ's death. He proclaimed, “In every nation God accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News ... that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. ... And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a cross but God raised him to life on the third day. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” (Acts 10:35-43, note: bold font emphasizes Jerusalem as the pivotal place where peace with God was achieved, cf. Isaiah 25:6-9)

Exploring the connection between peacemaking, sin and forgiveness

Do you recall the incident mentioned earlier where Jesus forgave the sins of the immoral woman? How could he forgive such sins? It is significant that Peter says “sins are forgiven through his name” that is, the name Jesus. Both the Qur'an and the Bible teach that Mary gave her miracle child a name chosen by God himself. As it is written, “you are to name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Muhammad I. A. Usman, a respected Mufti, writes in his book, ‘Islamic Names’ that Jesus' name means 'God is salvation', a definition consistent with other scholars. Decide for yourself: “Do I believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Prince of Peace? Am I willing to accept that Jesus brought God's salvation and that he alone is able to forgive my sins?”

Three more articles explaining the peacemaking work of Messiah in more detail are available. A short one titled, "Signposts to Paradise" and two longer articles titled, "Converging Destinies: Jerusalem, Peace and the Messiah" andGod's Peace Plan.”

All Bible quotes are taken from the New Living Translation unless otherwise indicated.

If you wish to ask a question or tell me your response I would be delighted to hear from you. Write me here.


1 All Biblical quotations (unless specified otherwise) are taken from the New Living Translation.

2 Quoted by Mufti Mohammad Shafi in ‘Signs of Qiyamah and the Arrival of the Maseeh’, p. 109

3 Ibid. pp. 38,78, quoting Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah, Hadith #13

Endnote: Elusive Peace

For 70 years world leaders (UN) have tried unsuccessfully to mediate peace between Israel and so-called Palestinians. Many are becoming weary or disillusioned as they come to realize that neither Fatah (PLO) nor Hamas have any intention of relinquishing their goal of wiping Israel off the map. Recently Hamas protesters across the world have chanted, 'from the River to the Sea Palestine must be free'. How many of them realize what this slogan really means? As a matter of fact, it expresses a deep underlying genocidal hatred against Israel fueled by Palestinian Imaams (as well as Fatah & Hamas leaders) who for years have quoted the infamous words of Muhammad as cited in the well-known Hadith,

The Last Hour would not come til the Muslims fight against the Jews and the Muslims kill them until the Jews hide themselves, and the stones and trees would speak up saying, ... There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him. (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, #6985)


Other authoritative Hadith writings confirm the Muslim belief that this apocalyptic massacre of Jewish people will be divine judgment by means of Muslim armies under the joint leadership of the Mahdi and Al Masih-u-Isa. One book (among others) which documents this is, 'Signs of Qiyamah and the arrival of the Maseeh.' Such teachings, popularized by Muslim preachers, show that the repeated failures to negotiate peace are ultimately rooted in religious, not political incompatibilities.

Previously we read a Scripture where Jesus is described as being overcome with deep sorrow as he ponders the horrifying destruction that would befall Jerusalem;

How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long, your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation. ... there will be disaster in the land and great anger against this people. They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations of the world. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end.” (Luke 19:38-44; 21:23-24)

Notice, these verses don't portray Christ as a hostile combatant fighting against Israel, as in the Hadith. Not at all. Luke describes Jesus as weeping out of loving compassion, because he wished that they would “accept the opportunity for salvation.” However, we should not assume that Jewish blindness and rejection of their Messiah mean that God forever turns his back on Israel. (more on this later from Romans 11)

As world history comes to a close Bible prophecy explains there will be a time of great trouble for Israel,

In all history there has never been such a time of terror. It will be a time of trouble for my people Israel. Yet in the end they will be saved. ... I will not destroy you[Israel]. But I must discipline you; I cannot let you go unpunished. (Jeremiah 30:7-11)

Scripture says that as a father disciplines and chastises his son so also God disciplines and purges his children so that they may share in his holiness. (Hebrews 12:5-11) The prophet Zechariah explains the outcome of divine discipline of the children of Israel.

They will look on me, whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a first-born son who has died ... All Israel will weep in profound sorrow. (Zechariah 12:10-12, bold added)

Such profound grief implies true repentance. Indeed, this contrition of heart combined with 'looking' to Jesus, whom they pierced, calls to mind the 'look' of faith in Moses' day when Israelites who had been bitten by deadly snakes were instructed to look at the bronze serpent lifted on a pole and be saved. (John 3:14-16) So also, according to Zechariah 'looking' to the Lord Jesus implies that Israelites will acknowledge Christ as their Messianic Lord and Saviour. What a day that will be when peace will no longer be hidden from the Jews. Their eyes will be truly open!

The apostle Paul provides another perspective on Israel's eye-opening experience by citing Old Testament prophets,

As the Scriptures say, 'God has put them into a deep sleep. To this day he has shut their eyes (Israelites') so they do not see ...'Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see …' Did God's people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient so God made salvation available to the Gentiles but he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. … I want you to understand this mystery dear brothers and sisters so that you will not feel proud about yourselves. Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:8-15, 25, bold added)

Compare Luke 21:24, where Jesus foretells Jerusalem being “trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles come to an end.”

Endnote: Point to Ponder

Muslims, Jews and Christians acknowledge the sinister reality of Satan as the arch-enemy of mankind who undermines God's purposes through deceit and lies. The Bible plainly declares that this powerful deceiver, Satan, “has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) Clearly, therefore, Jews aren't the only ones who's minds/eyes are blinded.

Two other prominent traits of Satan are anger and murder. As it is written,

Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. ... But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time. … And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus. (Revelation 12:7-9,12,17)

Speaking of end times, Jesus indicated that the Jewish people would face intense anger (wrath) from around the world, as evident in recent global protests which Hamas dubbed as a Day of Rage. (Luke chapter 21 especially v. 23)

In conclusion, let us “stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. … For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. ” (Ephesians 6:11-12, 15, bold added)

Endnote: Failed peace negotiations are ultimately spiritual

Islam teaches that Al Masihu Isa (Jesus) will bring an end to Jihad, in part, by powerfully destroying all enemies. Yes, it is true: the Bible also teaches that Jesus will ultimately bring peace in a forceful, violent way. He will end war by his superior power. However, Hamas being Muslims, emphatically reject Christ's sacrificial death. According to an authoritative Islamic Hadith Isa's end-times military campaign will include breaking the cross. The Qur'an also denies a core truth of the Bible – “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22; Revelation 13:8) Not only so, Islam vehemently denies that Jesus Christ is God's unique SON.

For these reasons Muslims are deceived and blinded by false teaching. Jesus, on the other hand, rightfully exerts supreme divine authority to execute judgment, as the true Lord and God. When Hamas and other jihadist groups use violence and force to execute the wrath and judgment of God on non-Muslims they are doing so under the guise of a false religion. Their fundamental principle of hating and killing enemies contrasts sharply with Jesus command to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:43-44)

Jesus calls his followers to serve one another in love, even to the extent of laying down our lives as Christ did for us. (1 John 3:16) Our ultimate weapon against Satan is martyrdom. As it is written, “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.” (Revelation 12:11) Whereas Muslims glorify martyrs who kill enemies, Christians are martyred because they remain true to Jesus. They don't deny their faith.

Two very helpful articles which explore different aspects of the war/peace theme are titled, The Best Solution to the Gaza/Israel War, by Oskar and A Longstanding Violent Legacy, by Roland Clarke.

You may also wish to ponder some key Scriptures that clearly teach God's never-failing promises to Israel.