On the Road with Paul and Oliver

Chapter 16

In the spring of 1969, Paul Bryant, Oliver Heath, and I set out in Ollie’s new, red Volkswagen bug for Mobile, Alabama. The little car was stuffed with printed material ready for handing out along the way. On the road we stopped at every college or university we came across. I would haul out my guitar, set up someplace on campus, sing some songs, and preach short little sermons when a crowd gathered. Our California license plates were usually enough to attract atten- tion, and I looked somewhat like a hippie, which few had ever seen up close in many of the places we visited. After the short preaching, we would hand out literature and talk individually with those who were interested. Paul and Ollie were exceptionally adroit at personal

evangelism during such times.

My friend, Prince Altom, arranged our visit to his Southern Baptist alma mater, Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Word had not trickled down to the campus police, and we were ordered off the campus and threatened with arrest. But after some pressure from the students, the school officials understood we really were Christians and not troublemakers. They made an abrupt turnabout, welcomed us, and gave us freedom to do our ministry.

Secular schools all along our route received us to some degree. I doubt this would happen now, but it was characteristic of the Jesus Movement to be welcomed on campuses of all kinds. Of course, the “One Way” theology we constantly proclaimed ruffled some feathers, but it seemed to us then that God’s hand was upon us.

In most places we visited, no one was aware of a spiritual awaken- ing or revival happening. However, the news media knew about it to some extent and alerted many to the events taking place in California,

On the Road with Paul and Oliver       55

and that opened doors for us as we went. Some churches welcomed us, and some did not, but the group most open to us was youth who were trying to emulate the hippie thing. In almost every town we vis- ited there was someplace where the kids hung out, maybe a coffee house, a café, or a park. We only had to drive around a short while to find the spot.

Paul, Ollie, and I were not exactly naturally outgoing people, but during this period we were able to easily approach a group of kids and start handing out literature. Conversations ensued, and almost always some would trust Jesus as Savior. Since we were meeting the kids mostly on the street, on the campus, or in a hangout, we didn’t give an altar call or invitation of any kind, which was what I practiced in my pastoral min- istry. Instead, while we talked, people simply experienced the new birth.

This, too, was typical of the Jesus Movement; people seemed to be specially brought to us, and then, in some way, were touched by the Holy Spirit.

A Texas Story

I will relate an event, one of the many wild and crazy things that happened on that trip. We were in Houston, Texas. Dr. Francis DuBose had arranged for us to visit several churches he knew from having lived there. Somehow, we were also invited to one of the flag- ship churches among Southern Baptists, First Baptist Church of Dal- las, where Dr. W. A. Criswell was pastor. While we were in Houston, we discovered a scheduling error: we were to be in both Dallas and Houston at the same time. In fact, on that one Sunday morning we were supposed to be in two Houston churches and the one in Dallas. We had to split up. Paul and Ollie covered the Houston churches while I drove the “bug” to Dallas.

It was a dark and stormy night, however, and the windshield wip-

56       Chapter 16

ers were not working on Ollie’s car. Over two hundred miles separate the two great Texan cities, and I left after a Saturday evening youth gathering in a huge Houston church. For hours it poured, and I was scared to death. Every car on the road seemed to be traveling at top speed, and I had to lean out the window and use my left hand as a wiper blade in order to see the road ahead. I finally made it to Dal- las about four in the morning, found the church I was to speak at, parked across the street, and tried to get some sleep. In a while the rain stopped, but soon the police pulled up behind me and made me get out, while they questioned me, patted me down, and checked the inside of the car for contraband. I explained what I was doing and why I was parked there, but they made me move. I circled around for a while, found another spot, but soon they were back and I had to move on. To kill time I simply drove around the downtown area of Dallas and waited for the sun to come up. Tired, dead tired, and par- tially wet, I was in no shape to do any preaching.

Around seven a.m., and right on the same block as the church building, I happily entered a little

café and took a chair at the counter. The place was packed, and I waited as the guy behind the counter kept going back and forth in front of me, serving other customers. Though I tried to smile at him, he would not serve me. Finally I got up some cour- age and asked for a cup of coffee. He stopped in front of me, put his hands on the counter, leaned forward, and in a loud voice said, “We don’t serve your kind here.”

I was wet; I was tired, and now I was mad. Sliding off the stool I stood there and said, “I am a Southern Baptist preacher, and I am preaching at the church next door. You can bet I am going to be talking about this little incident.” With that, I walked out.

After a couple of hours, folks began to arrive for the Sunday school gathering I was to address. (I was also to give a testimony at the main worship service later on.) When the young man who was leading the class saw me, it was evident he was taken aback. He hesitatingly

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allowed me to speak to the college age group, which was really large, and before I spoke I was able to get some coffee and donuts down me. With a simple explanation of what was going on in San Francisco, I emphasized how God was working things in a way I had never heard of before. I basically talked about a miracle-working God.

Those young men and women, who were not much younger than me, received me warmly and mobbed me when I was finished. As I was preparing to go to the main auditorium, the contact person, the guy who was somewhat startled at my appearance, told me there had been a change and I would not be able to give a testimony after all. I accepted that, said I understood, and instead of leaving to head back to Houston, I found my way into a balcony and got to listen to the great Dr. Criswell preach. It was worth the trip to Dallas.

Who is Muhammad’s Gabriel?

This essay will examine three questions. First: Who is Gabriel? The answer prompts a second question: Who is Allah? The answers to these provoke a third question: Who is Muhammad? All that is Islam hangs on the answers to these three questions.


The name Gabriel is found in four places in the Bible: Daniel 8:16 and 9:21, and Luke 1:19 and 1:26. The name Gabriel means, “God is mighty.”

First, the two passages from the Old Testament book of Daniel:

When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it. And behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” (Daniel 8:15-16)

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. (Daniel 9:20-21)

Gabriel is thus introduced in the Book of Daniel, and we see more of him in the New Testament.

Second, the two passages from the New Testament Gospel of Luke

While the priest Zechariah was on duty at the Temple in Jerusalem, an angel of the Lord appeared to him. The angel announced to Zechariah that the prayers of him and his wife Elizabeth had been answered to the effect that Elizabeth would bear a son and his name would be John. We pick up the story in Luke chapter 1:

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.” (Luke 1:18-19)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26-27)

Now we look at the words of Gabriel to Mary in verse 28: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Mary, greatly troubled at the greeting, tried to understand what the angel meant. Gabriel continued:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

Is the angel in Matthew also Gabriel?

Joseph, about to marry Mary to whom he was betrothed, was troubled when he learned she was pregnant. Thinking to divorce her quietly, he had a visit from an angel while in a dream. The angel (no name given) said to him:

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”

Is the angel who spoke to Joseph the same one who spoke to Zechariah and Mary? We cannot be completely sure, but it seems as though it must be the case. However, the argument I am about to make does not depend on the answer to that question, as both angels in Luke and in Matthew are clearly angels of the Lord.

What have we learned so far?

The angelic appearances have to do with the birth of Jesus, the one who would save His people from sin. The birth was miraculous, accomplished by the Holy Spirit, and this is all the explanation for the pregnancy we have. The point is clear: no human being had sex with Mary. Neither God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit had sex with Mary. The birth was miraculous, and this fits perfectly with the word God revealed to Isaiah six hundred years earlier:

Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

The passage is referred to as “The Sign of Immanuel,” meaning that the virgin’s child is God come to be with us in a miraculous, non-human manner—thus a sign. God actually became flesh, which the Creator of the universe could do. And He did.

The child born to Mary was not called Immanuel but Jesus. Immanuel, in traditional Jewish understanding, is what He, Immanuel, is, which is God become man. The name Jesus refers to what He would do. “Jesus” is a word derived from the Hebrew name for Joshua. It means, “God saves.” Joshua was the one who brought the Chosen People across the Jordan River into the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses would not be allowed to do this, and the concept is that the Law of Moses cannot bring salvation. No, salvation is a gift of God and is not by works of the Law. In His dying for sin, Jesus became the Savior, and this is proven by His resurrection. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.

One last word from Gabriel, the angel of the Lord

Gabriel said to Mary in reference to the child she would bear: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). This virgin birth, not the result of sexual intercourse, would be miraculous. The child would be of the same nature as the Father.

Then Gabriel said, “he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33). The meaning is obvious—the child will be the reigning King forever, just as Isaiah had announced: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Without question, the Prophet Isaiah states that the child born is God Himself.

This takes us into the mystery of the Trinity. We will never fully comprehend how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one and complete God all at once. Christian historians and theologians simply note what the evidence reveals.

The point is plain enough—the child born is God in the flesh. He is Jesus born of the virgin in Bethlehem, the one who would die in our place, taking our sin upon Himself, then on the third day be raised from the dead. He is alive now in heaven, one day to return to receive His own.

Nearly six hundred years later, however, there appeared another “Gabriel.”


The majority of Muslims today hold that the Qur’an is eternal (eternal as Allah is eternal), was brought down to earth by an angel, and was then recited by the angel Gabriel to Muhammad. Allah spoke each and every verse to the angel who then recited them, piecemeal, over the course of about twenty-two years, to Muhammad. Muhammad, unable to write, memorized the recitations and spoke them to others, who then wrote them down. (Qur’an means recitation, or that which is recited.)

The angel that appeared to Muhammad at a cave on the slopes of Mount Hira near Mecca, about 610 CE, also had the name Gabriel. It was the custom of many Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Gnostics to retire to secluded places in hopes of receiving spiritual dreams and visions and thereby experience a direct connection with deity. Muhammad was one of these.

Ascetics would fast, meditate, and stay awake for days in order to empty the mind and receive dreams and visions. Muhammad, after a time, achieved trance-like states during which the angel Gabriel, as the angel announced himself to Muhammad, spoke to him. We find a hint of this in the hadith of Abu Dawud, Book 12, No. 2247a, which reads, “When the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) came to himself (after the revelation ended) ….”

Muhammad reported his visits by Gabriel to his wife Khadija, who supported the idea that it was indeed an angel speaking to her husband. Though Muhammad was not sure of the nature of the vision he had, he eventually adopted his wife’s opinion.

At the very beginning of Muhammad’s encounter with Gabriel, he wondered if he was actually in contact with a jinn (demon) rather than an angel. This is stunningly apparent based on a hadith reported by Aisha (the mother of the faithful believers and favorite wife of Muhammad) as found in the most trusted of all hadiths, Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 1, No. 3:

The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Apostle was in the form of good dreams, which came true like bright day light, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before his desire to see his family. He used to take with him the journey food for the stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take his food likewise again till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.”

The Prophet added, “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it anymore. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it anymore. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?’ Thereupon he caught me for a third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, ‘Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists) and has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.

Muhammad was so harshly treated by what he thought was the angel Gabriel that he doubted it was an angel from Allah at all. He became depressed and considered throwing himself off the mountain of Hira. It was only through the intervention and convincing of Khadija, his first wife, that Muhammad was prevented from doing so.

There is an interesting account referred to as “The Lap.” The story is that Muhammad continued to believe the being that appeared to him was a jinn, a demon. Khadija, in the midst of Muhammad’s fears and doubts, asked him to sit on her lap, first one side then the other. When he did, she asked him if he saw the angel. He responded, yes. Then she asked him to again sit on her lap and once again asked if he saw the angel. Again, yes. Then she disrobed and asked Muhammad to sit on her lap again. She asked if he saw the angel, and Muhammad said, no. With that Khadija convinced Muhammad it was indeed the angel Gabriel by saying that only a good angel would not look upon a woman’s nakedness.

The above account is a paraphrase from the Sira,the official biography of Muhammad. Below now is the account, called “The Lap” as reported by Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad’s biographer:

Ibn Ishaq recorded that when the spirit came to Muhammad another time, Khadija tested him:

Ishma’il b. Abu Hakim, a freedman of the family of al-Zubayr, told me on Khadija’s authority that she said to the apostle of Allah, ‘O son of my uncle, are you able to tell me about your visitant, when he comes to you?’ He replied that he could, and she asked him to tell her when he came.

So when Gabriel came to him, as he was wont, the apostle said to Khadija, ‘This is Gabriel who has just come to me.’ ‘Get up, O son of my uncle,’ she said, ‘and sit by my left thigh.’

The apostle did so, and she said, ‘Can you see him?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. She said, ‘Then turn around and sit on my right thigh.’ He did so, and she said, ‘Can you see him?’ When he said that he could she asked him to move and sit in her lap.

When he had done this she again asked if he could see him, and he said yes, she disclosed her form and cast aside her veil while the apostle was sitting in her lap. Then she said, ‘Can you see him?’ And he replied, ‘No.’ She said, ‘O son of my uncle, rejoice and be of good heart, by Allah he is an angel and not a satan.

(Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, tr. Guillaume, 1967, p. 107)[1]

Gabriel in the Qur’an and hadith

Gabriel appears in only three verses in the Qur’an: Sura 2:97-98 and Sura 66:4.

Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind)[2]: Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For he it is who hath revealed (this Scripture) to thy heart by Allah’s leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it and a guidance and glad tidings to believers. Sura 2:97

Who is an enemy to Allah, and His angels and His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael! Then, lo! Allah (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers. Sura 2:98

If ye twain turn unto Allah repentant, (ye have cause to do so) for your hearts desired (the ban); and if ye aid one another against him (Muhammad) then lo! Allah, even He, is his protecting Friend, and Gabriel and the righteous among the believers; and furthermore, the angels are his helpers. Sura 66:4


Of incredibly significant importance is the question: Is the Gabriel of the Bible and the Gabriel of Islam one and the same?

The reader, of course, will be alerted that I am going to make the case that the two are different, in fact, very different. However, it is easy to be fooled. The apostle Paul warned the Church at Corinth that demons could disguise themselves as angels: 

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

(2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

Let me be clear: the Gabriel of the Bible and the Gabriel of the Q’uran are both angels. One is an angel of the Lord; the other is a fallen angel, a demon. My contention is that a fallen angel—a jinn or demon—appeared to Muhammad on Mount Hira. Muhammad was right in his first assessment.

The Ultimate Offense

To state that Islam’s Gabriel is a jinn is to state the ultimate offense for Muslims, since it utterly negates the big three: Allah, the Qur’an, and Muhammad. Allah, because it is Allah who is relaying to Gabriel what is in the Qur’an. Then Gabriel is no angel but a demon. And Muhammad is merely passing along what a demon is reciting to him. Islam is then based upon absolute error, even deception, and nothing more.

Such accusations, let alone suggestions, can earn one the death penalty in Muslim-majority societies. Religions or governments that forcefully, even ruthlessly, stifle dissent show their weakness. This is true of Islam, even in countries where the Muslim population is small. If a Muslim abandons Islam, which is called apostasy, he or she may be punished by death, though this is not clearly spelled out in the Qur’an.

The Christian’s obligation

With the understanding of this enormous deception, what must a Christian do? Must we remain silent and not voice even the possibility that the whole of Islam is based on demonic deception? To refrain from speaking out is immoral and unethical.

Writers of Scripture were known for denouncing false religion and the behaviors they spawn. Many paid the ultimate price for standing with the truth. Many are dying today in Muslim-dominated nations for speaking their hearts and minds.

In the face of terror and considering the great commission given Christians by Jesus Himself (see Matthew 28:19-20, among others), it is necessary to stand up to the murderous lying of the chief demon, Satan. Jesus, while countering the attacks of religious opponents, was clear. Jesus said:

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)

It is not disrespectful to challenge error, especially when the difference is between heaven and hell, both of which are eternal.


Some spokesmen for Islam identify Gabriel as the Holy Spirit in both the Bible and the Qur’an. From where in Islam’s authoritative texts do they get this? In Sura 2:87 and Sura 2:253, and without the word Gabriel appearing, we find, “We supported him with the Holy Spirit.” Islamic interpreters say this “We” is the angel Gabriel. But the plain text of the Qur’an does not state this.

Not only does the Qur’an not identify Gabriel with the Holy Spirit, but neither does the hadith. Instead, we find just the opposite, as illustrated by Sahih Muslim, in book 30: “Gabriel, the Apostle of Allah is among us, and the Holy Spirit who has no match.” Gabriel is not the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit in the Bible

            The Hebrew Bible

Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament show the nature and identity of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is deity, often referred to as the Spirit of God, in that the Holy Spirit is holy, and only God is holy. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, is referred to as a “He” and thus is personal, and is omnipotent, meaning all powerful. And the Holy Spirit can only be God as are the Father and the Son.

The second verse of Genesis speaks of the Holy Spirit being involved at the moment of the creation of the universe. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

2 Samuel 23:2-3 identifies the God of Israel with the Spirit of the LORD.[3]

The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God ….

Isaiah 40:13 reads, “Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD or what man shows him his counsel?” We notice “LORD” in the phrase “Spirit of the LORD” clearly identifying the Holy Spirit with God.

The New Testament

There is much more, but now we turn to the New Testament, first to the third chapter of the Gospel of John.

A leader of the Jewish people named Nicodemus approaches Jesus at night, presumably to speak with Him in private. He says he knows Jesus is from God because of the miracles Jesus performs. Jesus, however, redirects the conversation by saying, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Of course, the elder statesman does not understand how a person can be reborn. Jesus replies, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” To be born of the flesh is one thing, but to be born of the Spirit is quite another. And we must be clear: Jesus was not talking about any angel much less one named Gabriel. Only God brings life, both physical and spiritual.

The Holy Spirit works the new birth or conversion. This is clear in the passage in John 3, and we find the same in Acts 8:14–20. Also in Acts 3:1–4, the Holy Spirit is directly referred to as God. The writer of Hebrews also declares that the Holy Spirit is eternal when in reference to the power of the shed blood of Jesus: “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).

Looking back to the birth passages in Luke’s Gospel, we find an answer to Mary’s question to the angel Gabriel as to how she will have a baby when Gabriel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you” (Luke 1:35). It is obvious that the angel Gabriel separates himself from the Holy Spirit. Certainly, the Holy Spirit and Gabriel are not the same at all.

Clearly, neither the Qur’an nor the Bible anywhere identify Gabriel with the Holy Spirit.

Angel or Holy Spirit?

The intended goal of Islamic scholars who claim that Gabriel is the Holy Spirit is to contaminate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Which is it then? Is Gabriel an angel or the Holy Spirit, or maybe both at once, at least from an Islamic point of view? Our arguments above show that Gabriel is actually a jinn or demon, thus further clouding an already murky subject.


The Name “Allah”

“Allah” was the name used by Christians and Jews in the Arabian Peninsula for centuries before the Islamic era. Indeed, the word Allah was used by Jews in the Arabian Peninsula for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob before the Christian era.

To put it another way: Neither Muhammad, Abu Bakr, Umar, nor Uthman invented the word Allah. They would have known the word Allah from childhood.

It is not the word that counts; it is the content or meaning of the word.

To the Jew of that period, Allah would be the creator, the lawgiver, and the one who led the family of the patriarchs out of Egypt and gave them the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.

To the Christian of that period, Allah would be the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ in addition to all that the Jewish people believed about God.

It would be only natural for Muhammad to also use the term Allah in reference to the creator God. Clearly, however, Muhammad gave new definition to who or what Allah is.

Islam’s Allah

Islam claims that Allah spoke to Gabriel, who then spoke to Muhammad, who then recited the revelations that originated with Allah by way of Gabriel to other people, who at some point committed them to written form.

The narrative of the collecting of the Qur’an is fascinating. There were so many variations going about that Uthman, the third caliph after Muhammad, ordered all the renditions be gathered together in order to make a uniform document. All the other manuscripts were then burned. But the picture of Allah in the Qur’an is interesting.

Allah is distant, speaks through an angel, loves those who love him, and hates those who do not believe in him. Allah is called the greatest of deceivers and leads astray unbelievers but might also lead astray even the best of Muslims.[4] Though Allah repeatedly refers to himself as the most beneficent, the most merciful, the most forgiving, and so on, evidence of this is lacking or scant other than what he says of himself.

It is not unfair nor a misrepresentation to say that the God of the Qur’an is far different from the God spoken of in the Bible, both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, the God who loves and takes a people to be His own, His children.

Transcendence versus Immanence

One of the major differences between the Bible’s God and Islam’s Allah is whether he is present with his creation. What we find in the Qur’an and hadith about Allah is that he is transcendent and not immanent.

In contrast, the God of the Hebrew Bible, is transcendent but is also immanent, in that He interacts personally with His people. He walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, otherwise known as Paradise. He did so until the Fall, the moment that his single law was broken, about which we read in Genesis chapter three. The terrible consequence of that event was that God’s human creation was sent east of Eden. But he never left them entirely alone; he did not abandon them completely.

God once again spoke with a human being out of a burning bush on Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai) in the Arabian Desert, when God appeared to Moses and told him his name, Yahweh (YHWH, known as the Tetragrammaton). When Moses later led the children of Israel through the wilderness, God commanded and directed him to supervise erection of a Tabernacle, which contained a special place within it, the Holy of Holies, where would God dwell.

This was a foreshadowing of what would come later. The prophets pointed to a time when God would arrive in person. This is what the word Immanuel means—God present. We can see this in the word itself, even if we are not Hebrew literate. The last two letters of Immanuel—“el”—is the English transliteration of the Hebrew word for God, El. Then “imman,” from which we get our word immanent, means present. Simply put, God with us.

This is who Jesus is.

Is Allah a fiction?

Again, my premise is that Gabriel is indeed an angel, but a fallen angel. Muhammad was correct when he thought the being that presented itself at the cave on Mt. Hira was a jinn, which is an Arabic word meaning demon. It was only his wife, Khadija, who convinced him otherwise.

The point then is: If Gabriel is a demon, and Gabriel is reciting to Muhammad what is supposedly spoken by Allah, then just who or what is Allah?

It is clear from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament that Satan and his demons are surely angels but fallen angels who became the enemies of God. And Satan is a god, too.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

“The god of this world,” Paul says, and some chapters later in the same letter he writes of those who “veil” the gospel:

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

(2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

(Note: An apostle is a messenger, one sent with a message.)

Is Allah a fiction? No, there is an Allah, but it is Satan in disguise who directed an underling demon to approach Muhammad while Muhammad was in a trance state and therefore open to demonic invasion.

Have I committed blasphemy and of the worst sort against the Islamic trinity? Yes, indeed I have but not out of meanness or an attempt to deceive.

To say that Allah is the chief of demons (Shayton or Satan), that Gabriel is also a demon (jinn), and therefore that Muhammad was very cleverly deceived is the only possible conclusion given the evidence and arguments above. And this is what most Christians do believe, but it is a fearful endeavor to put these ideas out into the public purview, given what we have seen of Islam in these past few decades.


Is Muhammad a true prophet of God?

Was he duped into thinking he was hearing words from Allah?

Did he make the whole thing up?

Was it all a dream?

Was it a scheme to acquire power and prestige?

Is Muhammad a prophet to be trusted?

Is he to be obeyed? Is he to be believed?

Is he a false prophet?

We cannot be afraid to ask these questions. Lives, both temporal and eternal, hinge on the answers, especially for Muslims. I am aware that Muslim people are sincere seekers after God. Even the most radical among them are only pursuing what has been communicated to them from the cradle.

Muslim people, in my experience, are more “religious” than most Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and so on. Few on earth other than Muslims desire so much to be with God in Paradise. And many will do anything to assure themselves of being there. After all, no Muslim can be sure he or she will be in paradise after death, since Allah is a great deceiver and will lead astray any he chooses. Unlike the Christian who experiences assurance of salvation, the Muslim can only hope and work hard on a daily basis to earn Allah’s favor.

Some commentators doubt Muhammad even existed. I am not one of these. As to whether there were those who embellished the story, especially in the latter part of the seventh and into the eighteenth century, that is a possibility. We are aware of Gnostics in the second and third centuries who did that with Jesus, who made Him into a super hero and magician.

It is well established that Muhammad was not certain in his own mind as to the nature of the entity he encountered on Mt. Hira. At first, he thought the ‘angel’ was a jinn, a demon; his wife Khadija convinced him it was an angel of God.

What is the truth?

That which was revealed to Muhammad differs utterly from what we see of God in the Bible. Which account is the true one?

Islam, of course, says that the revelation to Muhammad supersedes or replaces what is found in the Bible and in several significant ways. For instance, Jesus is not God come to be with us and die on a cross for our sin. Jesus is a prophet but not of the rank of Muhammad. Jesus plays a role in the last days, but he dies and ends up being buried next to Muhammad. It is rather complex, but the Jesus (Isa) of the Qur’an is not even similar to the Jesus of Christian Scripture.

Then, God in the Qur’an is separated from humans and speaks through an angel. In the Bible, God becomes flesh and dwells among us. Also, being in Paradise/heaven in the Qur’an depends upon believing that Allah alone is God and that Muhammad is his messenger. But that is only the beginning. Heaven is earned by habitually doing good deeds, working for salvation. In the Bible forgiveness, salvation, and being assured of heaven depends upon God’s gift alone.  


Who is Allah? Allah is either a chief demon, perhaps Satan himself, or a fantasy figure invented by Muhammad. At minimum, Allah is not the Creator God.

Who is Gabriel? Gabriel is either a jinn, meaning a demon, or again is a fantasy figure invented by Muhammad. Gabriel is not an angel of the Lord God.

Who is Muhammad? He is a seventh century man living in Arabia who was either deceived by a demonic entity or who developed a fictional account of receiving communications from God. Muhammad is not a prophet of God; he is a false prophet.

Another contradiction within Islam:

There is a cascading danger for Islam in its claim that Gabriel is the Holy Spirit. Islam is supposed to be monotheistic, meaning that Allah has no partners. If Gabriel is the Holy Spirit, then Gabriel is deity as well—Allah has a partner. Add to that the doctrine held by the traditionalists in Islam who believe that the Qur’an is eternal in heaven. Another partner? Consider also the reverence shown to Muhammad. Is it so complete that he is lifted to the status of deity as well? One more partner for Allah?

Muhammad is not God and never claimed to be, despite how Muslims tend to view him, and neither is Gabriel. If Gabriel is the Holy Spirit, and the Quran is eternal alongside Allah, and if every Muslim must model his own life after the “perfect man” Muhammad, it is not a stretch to say that Islam has a fourfold divinity: Allah, Gabriel, the Qur’an, and Muhammad.

The list of inner contradictions emanating from Islam is long, and this essay only introduces some of them. For further details, please consult Islamic Studies: Equipping the Christian Witness to Muslims, published by Earthen Vessel Publishing at earthenvesselmedia.com.

[1] The Sira has for centuries been linked with the Qur’an and hadith as authoritative on the life of Muhammad. In more recent years the Sira has been largely neglected, as the accounts of what Muhammad said and did are rather fantastic, problematic, and embarrassing.

[2] Words in parentheses-( )-indicate explanatory notes made by editors of the Qur’an. Without them so very many passages of the Qur’an would be unintelligible.

[3] LORD, all capital letters shows that the Hebrew text has Yahweh, the name of God as revealed to Moses in the burning bush incident. See Exodus 3:14.

[4] See Q’uran 4:142 “Surely the hypocrites try to deceive Allah, and He is deceiving them…” and

3:54 “And they cheated/deceived, and God cheated/deceived, and God (is) the best (of) the cheaters/deceivers.

Paul Opposes Peter & Justified by Faith

Gospel Meditation: Galatians 2:11-21

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         Cephas, known as Peter, when he arrived in Antioch where Paul was, withdrew from eating with Gentiles, that is, uncircumcised Christians, and even walked away from fellowship with these because he feared the circumcision party, those Jews who believed in Jesus but also taught one had to follow the Mosaic Law. Unhappily even Barnabas aligned with Peter.

2.         Paul, when he saw this, challenged Peter and Barnabas, and argued that a Gentile did not have to obey the Jewish laws.

3.         Paul then presents the fact that keeping the Laws of Moses, meaning being circumcised, observing the food laws, and celebrating the feasts of Israel (like Yom Kippur), will not justify, or save, a person.

4.         Paul actually confronted his brother in Christ, Peter, with his hypocrisy, and proclaims that salvation is by faith and not by keeping of the works of the law. Indeed, despite how careful a person may keep all the Laws of Moses, still there is no justification.

5.         Paul will not rebuild what he rejected, that is, to have salvation from God by keeping the Mosaic Law.

6.         And then comes one of the most wonderful verses in all Scripture, Galatians 2:20, stating salvation is a gift from God and not the result of Law keeping.

7.         Paul then points out that if salvation is achieved by law keeping, then Christ died in vain.

Yom Kippur or The Day of Atonement

Today is Yom Kippur, otherwise known as the Day of Atonement, and it is a “fast” not a “feast” like the other six Jewish holidays. Kind of long, and it is in my unpublished book, God’s Calendar.

Six. The Day of Atonement

The authors’ thesis is that Jesus will complete or fulfill the fast known as the Day of Atonement at the time of His return, which will include the saving of all of Israel. Is this warranted on the basis of the biblical material itself?

The second of the fall holidays is the Day of Atonement. The literal transliteration from the Hebrew is yom hakippurim—day of the atonements, in the plural.

Leviticus 23:26-32

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this

seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy

convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to

the LORD. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day

of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. For

whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people.

And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy

from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever

throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It shall be to you

a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth

day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you

keep your Sabbath.”

Notes on the passage:

One. A dominant theme of the fast is affliction, which would include fasting from food and drink, confession of sin, and repentance.

Two. Another theme is refraining from work; again the emphasis is on rest.

Three. If one failed to afflict oneself and avoid work, an individual would be cut off from among the chosen people of God—a most serious and solemn warning. Four. To “cut off” and “destroy” are probably synonymous terms.

Five. The nation of Israel can only receive atonement; it cannot achieve it or earn it. It must be made on their behalf.

Purpose of the fast

The Day of Atonement–a day of humiliation and removal of the sins of the nation so that Israel could be restored to God through the ministry of the high priest. The Day of Atonement was observed by fasting from food and drink, avoiding daily labor, and by a holy convocation or gathering of the people for worship at the Temple. On that day and that day only, the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies wherein God dwelt.[1] So Israel was vicariously[2] brought into God’s presence. Having been excluded from the Genesis Garden of Eden, God’s chosen people are given the hope of one day being fully included in God’s rest or Sabbath.

Leviticus 16

The entirety of Leviticus 16 is devoted to a detailed explanation of the sacrifices and

rituals to be performed, mainly by Israel’s high priest, on the Day of Atonement. There

are three distinct rites required to atone for the high priest and the other priests, the sanctuary itself, and the people.

            One. The high priest sacrificed a young bull to atone for his personal sin and for the sins of all the priests. The high priest bathed first and wore simple white linen clothing rather than the usual ceremonial attire. The first time the high priest entered the Holy of Holies he brought in a censer, which was a device to hold live, hot coals taken from the main altar. The smoke would fill the chamber, especially the area around the mercy seat that rested on top of the ark containing the Ten Commandments. Then, the high priest brought in the blood from the bull that had been sacrificed and sprinkled it on the mercy seat and on the floor of the Holy of holies.

            Two. The second sacrificial rite performed by the high priest was to ceremonially cleanse the sanctuary from the sins of the priests and worshipers. Then the people would have free access to the sanctuary.

Days earlier, specially designated people, representing the nation, selected two goats, which were presented to the high priest. He cast lots to determine which goat would be designated “For the LORD” and which would be designated “Azazel.” (The meaning of “Azazel” is uncertain but it may contain the idea of being sent away, out of the camp and away from Israel.) The Azazel would be the “scapegoat.”

            The goat designated “For the LORD” was sacrificed by the high priest who then  took some of the blood and entered the Holy of Holies a third time and sprinkled blood on the mercy seat and on the floor as he had done earlier.

Three. The high priest then placed his hands upon the head of the

goat designated Azazel and confessed over it the sins of the people thus ceremonially transferring all national sin to the goat. The goat became the sin and guilt bearer—not his own sin and guilt, of course, but that of God’s chosen people. A man previously selected would lead the goat out into the wilderness and let it go free. The sin of the people was removed.

            Later generations enlarged on the sending away of the Azazel or scapegoat. Among the additions included the goat being taken out some ten or more miles to a cliff and then pushed over to its death.            

The high priest of Israel

The high priest acted alone throughout the Day of Atonement. He was not without sin and thus the first sacrificial act was intended to atone for his own sins. The high priest alone worked—no one else did. This is an essential point embedded into the ceremonies on the Day of Atonement. All the nation received cleansing of sin through the work of one man—but for one year only.

            Jesus’ atoning work on the cross, this high priestly and completed work, cleanses God’s chosen people forever. The writer of Hebrews, a Jew writing for Jewish people, put it this way:

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

Hebrews 7:23-27     

The Day of Atonement after A.D. 70

The ceremonies of the Fast centered upon the high priest and the Holy place in the Temple in Jerusalem. In A.D. 70 that grand Temple was destroyed by a Roman army under the Roman general Titus, who would soon be emperor of Rome, The Day of Atonement is kept to this day by observant Jews in ways not found in Leviticus 16 or 23, although confession of sin, repentance, and contrition are still practiced. 

            The ceremonial Law could not procure forgiveness and salvation. The sacrifices had a limited effectiveness. The Temple with its altar would be lost along with the priesthood and all else that belonged to the sacrificial ministry. However, these were all meant to be temporary and designed to point to a greater reality.

The Azazel or Scapegoat

Jesus was crucified “outside the camp” on Golgotha Hill outside the walls of Jerusalem, with all the sins of God’s chosen people placed upon Him. He was sent away like the scapegoat; He died and was buried, exactly fulfilling the heart of Passover and Unleavened Bread. Then on Firstfruits He was raised from the dead. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to us to glorify this Son of God, reaped a harvest and fulfilled that fourth spring feast.

            The work of the high priest, Jesus the Messiah, has made possible the fulfilling of the Day of Atonement, which is partially fulfilled already—but there is more to come. The work of redemption has already been accomplished, as the writer of Hebrews pointed out nearly two thousand years ago:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:11-12

            Jesus, as high priest, did not sacrifice an animal and use that blood to cleanse the sanctuary as a way for God’s people to enter into His presence. No, the cleansing blood was His own, and upon His resurrection He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. God dwells in heaven, no longer in the Holy of Holies, and we can enter into His presence right now because of the high priestly work of Jesus. God’s people have access to His presence by prayer, and upon their death are raised to God’s presence to enjoy Him forever. Paradise, walking and talking with God, will be regained through the work of the Anointed One alone. 

Zechariah foretells a great day of redemption for Israel

Zechariah the prophet declared that the LORD would give salvation to Israel. The words of prophecy are found in chapter 12 verse 10:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

God will pour out upon Jewish people a spirit of grace, and their pleas for mercy will yield forgiveness. Indeed, Israel will once again, as a people, afflict themselves; they will mourn and weep bitterly as for the firstborn and only child.

            This dramatic and miraculous change of heart will come upon them after they “look on me.” This is the crux of it.

Who is the “me?” The only help in identification is “on him whom they have pierced.” But notice the “me” and the “him” are one and the same. The “me” is the LORD. And He will be “pierced,” a word usually meaning thrust through, with death as the result.   

How is it that the LORD could be pierced? This LORD is the LORD who, in Jesus, became flesh. This is Jesus the Messiah who was crucified, nailed to a tree, and having become a curse for His people, was punctured by a Roman spear. The eye witness to the crucifixion, John the Apostle, said: “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (John 19:34). Between the nails in the hands and feet and the spear in the side, Jesus was indeed “pierced.”

How the Day of Atonement will be fulfilled

How will they look upon the one pierced? It is not evident in the text.

Jesus the Messiah is at the right hand of the Father in heaven and has been for the long interval between the spring and the fall holidays. But the Messiah will return, and those who are Israel will see Him, mourn for Him, and turn to Him as Messiah and Savior. These authors think that the Day of Atonement will be fulfilled when Paul’s end of the age prophecy comes to pass:

Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

Romans 11:25-27

            A “partial hardening” did come upon Israel, not a complete hardening, since we do know that many Jewish people have trusted in Jesus as Messiah and Savior down through the centuries. Indeed, two of the authors of this book are Jewish.

            The partial hardening will end and yield to the salvation of all who are Israel, after those Gentiles chosen by God have also been saved. And so, the Day of Atonement will be fulfilled.

            Paul quotes two passages from Isaiah, first Isaiah 59:20-21 and then Isaiah 27:9, in support of his claim that all Israel will be saved. The Deliverer will come—this is none other than the return of Jesus, the conquering Messiah, the great King, coming to establish His kingdom. Jesus, having already borne our sin, like the sin of the Israelite was placed upon the Azazel, will save all those who look upon the One they pierced and mourn. These will recognize the pierced One as one of their own, even their firstborn as in Zechariah’s prophecy. This will be a saving lookand not a work on the part of the one who looks. It will be a resting in the completed work of the Messiah, His death, burial, and resurrection.

            Thinking again about Zechariah’s prophecy, chapter 12 verse 10, we find that Israel will “look on me,” and it is possible that the prophet had Numbers 21:4-9 in mind. The story is that a bronze snake was lifted up and those who were dying as a result of the poisonous bites of snakes were safe when they looked. “So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Numbers 21:9).

            At the return of Messiah Israel will look and be saved.

The Day of Atonement, Feast of Trumpets, and the Jubilee

Leviticus 25:8-12

You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field.

On a Day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month, every fifty years, there was to be a Jubilee, transliterated yobhel from the Hebrew and meaning “ram,” or “ram’s horn.” The word Shofar appears in our passage as well, verse 9, and also was a ram’s horn. After seven sabbaths of years there would be the grand sabbatical year.

On the Day of Atonement every fifty years the Shofar was to be sounded and the year of Jubilee commenced. It meant that slaves went free, land returned to the original owners, and the fields were to lay fallow. It was a reminder that land, people, and produce of the fields belonged to God.

The Jubilee is of interest, because Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2 and this passage is filled with words and phrases very reminiscent of the Levitical Jubilee passage. At the outset of His ministry, at a synagogue in His home town of Nazareth, Jesus was given the scroll of Isaiah and read, as a part of the worship service:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to

the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the lord’s favor.”           

            Luke 4:18-19

This is likely Jubilee language from the prophet Isaiah, and Isaiah may have been referring to Leviticus 25:8-17. But that is not all. Jesus, after finishing the passage from Isaiah said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

            Jesus identified with the Isaiah passage as being the One whom the Spirit of the Lord had anointed to proclaim the good news of freedom to the slaves. And the New Testament has running through it the message of the good news that Messiah Jesus sets people free from their bondage to sin. He does so by bearing sin, then taking it away in His death and being buried. Then in His resurrection and ascension glorified once again, being directly in the presence of the Father.  

            Jesus has fulfilled not only the Day of Atonement but also the grand Sabbath of them all, the Jubilee. Jesus is the One who brings the Sabbath rest of God. The associations and meaning are obvious and utterly captivating.

Warrant for an eschatological interpretation of the Day of Atonement

Although there are no explicit messianic interpretations of the Day of Atonement in the Hebrew Bible, there is evidence that the Day of Atonement attached itself to the eschatological expectations of the Old Testament saints. Daniel’s vision of the seventy weeks of years (Dan. 9:24-27) envisions a time at which sins would be finally and fully atoned for and when the Holy of Holies would be anointed. In context, this period of “seventy sevens” is not only Gabriel’s interpretation of Jeremiah’s prophecy of seventy years (9:2), but the language used here is reminiscent of the description of the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-12). The Jubilee year was to occur every seven times seven years (forty-nine years). At that time, the ram’s horn was to be sounded in the seventh month on the Day of Atonement. At such a time (as previously stated) all debts were pardoned and every person would return to his ancestral possession in the Promised Land. Thus, this heavenly explanation of Jeremiah’s prophecy likely incorporates a messianic interpretation of the Year of Jubilee with its associated Day of Atonement. In the fullness of time for the people of Israel (seventy times seven years), God would bring about the ultimate pardon from all spiritual debts, a cleansing of the heavenly Holy of Holies (clearly an allusion to Leviticus 16), and the sealing up of all vision and prophecy through the coming of the Messiah.

Is there a biblical warrant?

Is it possible to state that Jesus completed, satisfied, and fulfilled, in His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost something for which  God had laid the foundation in the Jewish holidays and which mark the roadmap of world history?

            In the case of the Day of Atonement we know that Jesus, through His sacrifice on the cross, atoned for all the sin of God’s chosen people for all time. That had already happened on that Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. The question is: Will He fulfill, at His return, the Day of Atonement for Israel according to the promise of Romans 11:25-26? And again, as with the Feast of Trumpets, there is a large clue in Colossians 2:16-17:

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

[1] Some Jewish people think that by fasting they are making atonement for their sins. In fact, only the high priest could make that atonement: the Jewish people could only receive the finished work of the high priest.

[2] Vicarious means through the agency of another. The people of Israel entered into God’s presence by the agency of the high priest. The Israelites were considered present in the person of the high priest.

Joyful Noise

Chapter 15 in “Memoirs of a Jesus Freak”

Music, predominantly guitar music, was prominent in the JPM. Early in 1968, I began learning to play the guitar, never picking up bass or lead, but learning just enough chords to play most of the Jesus songs. During that period I wrote a few simple choruses, and I notice that some of them are still sung to this day.

At Excelsior Baptist Church in Byron we sang hymns with a piano accompaniment. The same had been true at First Baptist at Fairfield. At the Bible studies, however, the guitar was the mobile instrument of choice, and the music was modeled on the rock and roll we had all grown up with. Bands quickly emerged that wrote and played their own songs, and the band we formed out of my Tuesday night Bible study was called Joyful Noise. Greg Beumer, Rick Ricketts, Kenny Sanders, Jeanine Wright, Donna Hays, Malcolm Dawes, Tommy Gaulden, Gary Bartholomew, Jimmy Ayala, Linda Fritz Patton, Mary Kay Herb, Mark Buckley, Kris Kenner, Kenny Hopkins, and others made up Joyful Noise over a period of four years. I played rhythm guitar and sang lead. (My childhood severe ear infections served me well in Joyful Noise and as a preacher, because to compensate for my hearing loss I developed a loud, strong voice.)

Undoubtedly, the most productive and fun years of my life were those spent in the ministry of Joyful Noise. We were not musically polished, but we wrote most of our own music and were equipped to play anywhere, anytime. We played at nearly all the high schools in Marin County, at many churches, and on the street, in parks, in private homes, and even once in San Quentin State Prison.

Joyful Noise had a growing reputation for performing and preaching at drug abuse assemblies in high schools. We would set up and quickly play a song or two—songs like “You’ll Never Get to Heaven on LSD”; “Oh Holy Joe”; “The Christian Way of Life”; “There’s a Great Day Coming”; “One Name”; “Jesus, Jesus, When I Hear that Golden Name”; and “This Little Light of Mine.” Then one of us would give a testimony, followed by another song or two, then another testimony, until I would finally preach a short sermon and give the standard appeal. Time and again, nearly the entire audience to whom we were singing would respond and be apparently converted.

One event stands out in my mind.

Glenn County school system in Northern California invited us to spend an entire day at their high school of 95 students. After the assembly, where we played our music and gave testimonies, we split up into groups of two and visited every classroom for more testimonies and Q and A. At the end of the day we added up lists of names totaling 96 people who had made a commitment to Christ, one more than the student body. I sent these names and addresses with phone numbers to a local ministerial association for follow up. It was quite a joyful ride home for Joyful Noise.

We Travel Afar

Due to the influence of Cora Vance, a wonderful Christian lady I had met at a Women’s charismatic meeting where I had spoken in Atlanta, Georgia, the Atlanta school district hired us to conduct drug abuse assemblies at each of their high schools. It took us three weeks to complete the circuit, holding at least two assemblies each day. On one such occasion, we were scheduled for an assembly during first period in the school’s gym. En route, we lost our way and arrived late. When we opened the door to the gym we found it packed wall to wall with kids sitting silently, patiently on the benches, at least 2,000 of them. In silence we set up the band. Guitars were not in tune, we had no time to warm up voices or tune instruments, and the time was slipping away. We were introduced, I made some sort of apology for being late, and we opened up with a couple of songs, which we performed badly. It was apparent we had to shut down.

One of our Joyful Noise crew, a seventeen-year-old newcomer named Kenny Hopkins, stepped forward to sing and play “Jesus, Jesus, When I Hear that Golden Name.” It is a slow, quiet, meditative song, almost like a love song to Jesus, and when Kenny was finished he said a few words and stepped back. The time was gone, the bell for the second period was ringing, and I simply asked anyone who wanted to be a follower of Jesus to stand up. The entire place responded, teachers and students alike. No sound, no excitement. My few sentences lasted less than a minute. Even today it thrills me. At this point in my life I would not count all those who stood to have been converted. Yet, in the JPM the Spirit of God was poured out in unusual ways. Times of awakening are not like normal times.

Besides the assemblies at the Atlanta area high schools, Joyful Noise played at churches in the evenings and walked onto the campuses of prominent colleges such as Emory University, presenting our typical song and testimony formula. The results were mixed or unknown, but whenever we set up and started, crowds gathered.

Cora Vance had arranged for us to play somewhere south of Atlanta—Rome being the name of the city I think—at a Southern Baptist school whose focus happened to be music. We arrived mid-morning and walked around the campus. I recall taking advantage of extra time to do some running. At noon they invited us to lunch in the student cafeteria, where many students joined with us for conversation. They were curious to see the hippie-looking Christians, not the usual appearance on that campus. Taped to the walls in the cafeteria we found flyers about our arrival that showed a picture of our band playing at the Protestant Chapel in San Quentin Prison.

The”concert” was scheduled for 3 p.m. We began practice around 2 p.m. and were overwhelmed by the beautiful, old music hall we found ourselves in. At 3 p.m. we looked out to see the hall utterly packed with students and faculty. A bad case of nervousness overcame all of us, and Malcolm was so impacted he had intestinal problems and wouldn’t come out of the bathroom. Time was slipping away. With no lead guitar we decided to do a few easy choruses. I was rarely nervous at high school presentations, but here I was almost shaking. We tried to open with “There’s a Great Day Coming,” a tune written by David Hoyt in 1967, but on my very first downward stroke on the guitar, I broke the bottom E string. I handed the guitar down to Gary Bartholomew and said a few things while the broken string was replaced. Then, starting again, I broke the very same string first strike down on the D chord.

Fighting panic, I smiled and said something like, “I guess the Holy Spirit wants something else.” So it was testimony time as usual. I was not able to gauge the impact of our work, but ever since that day I have often imagined our little band playing some of our songs in that rarified atmosphere.

For four years requests for Joyful Noise came in. We turned down more invitations than we accepted, only because we lacked the time. We never charged for this ministry, but money for food, gas, and lodging had a way of showing up. Once we spent a week at the University of Texas in Austin for a student-led religious week, sponsored by the Southern Baptist Student Union there. Also there that week was Maranatha, the lead band from Calvary Chapel, led by Chuck Girard. They were musically very good, and we were not, but it did not matter, as we saw many conversions during that week.

Requests for Joyful Noise slowed and finally stopped altogether, so we disbanded. That was 1972.

Above photo: In Berkeley—July 4, 1971


The lead essay, “Who is Muhammed’s Gabriel?” may be a difficult read for Muslim people, and it is to Muslim people across the globe that this book is written.

The essays in this book were written over a twenty-year period, and the reader will notice differences in my orientation or feelings toward Islam in some compared to others. Many years ago, I developed a love for Muslim people, and this especially after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and after coming to personally know several Muslims from a nearby community. The more I learned about Islam and especially the more I engaged with Muslim people directly, my views softened, in that I realized Muslims were caught in the vice grip of an exceedingly unhealthy religious system.

For two years, 2018 to 2020, Imam Abu Qadir Al-Amin of the Muslim Community Center in San Francisco and I talked with each other—not debated, rather communicated together about what and why each believed—in a television program series. We remain friends and speak with each other on occasion. You can view these television programs by going to milleravenuechurch.org/watch-our-tv-shows.

One of the dividing lines in Islam is fervor, in that the Islam of the extremists is purer, more traditional, and more radical than that practiced and understood by moderates. Only a small percentage of Muslims know much about their religion; the zealous Muslim knows more about Islam, makes it his business to study and be guided by ardent elders, and understands that to have a chance of going to paradise rather than hellfire, it is necessary to be a very fervent follower of Islam.

Most Muslims want to live and let live. But their entire identity, their worldview, is Muslim. They cannot imagine being anything but Muslim. Outreach to Muslims is then dependent on the miracle working of God; the new birth is from above. It cannot be argued into them or coerced.

To be clear, I see Islam as wrongly oriented and founded. I no more accept Islam as a revelation from God than I do Hinduism, Buddhism, Shamanism, and the belief systems of many neo-pagan groups.

All organized religions are flawed, including Christianity. I am a Baptist pastor who understands that Baptists are flawed as well. Any and every institution with humans involved will be corrupt to some measure, some more than others. I believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and that God sent His only Son to take our sin upon Himself—to die, be buried, and be resurrected. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. There is salvation in none but Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

To repeat: the lead piece to this small book of essays may be upsetting to Muslims. I know this, as I have visited our local Sunni Mosque for many years now. It is possible that some there will read this and not be pleased with me or feel that I am against them, even despise them, none of which is the case. My overarching view is that people who embrace Islam are people whom the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ loves, and they are people for whom Jesus shed His blood on the Cross.

This grouping of short essays may also be of value to those who wish to understand the main tenants of Islam. It reflects what I learned during my years of researching this world religion. Feel free to contact me at kentphilpott@comcast.net with questions or comments.


The lead essay, “Who is Muhammed’s Gabriel?” may be a difficult read for Muslim people, and it is to Muslim people across the globe that this book is written.

The essays in this book were written over a twenty-year period, and the reader will notice differences in my orientation or feelings toward Islam in some compared to others. Many years ago, I developed a love for Muslim people, and this especially after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and after coming to personally know several Muslims from a nearby community. The more I learned about Islam and especially the more I engaged with Muslim people directly, my views softened, in that I realized Muslims were caught in the vice grip of an exceedingly unhealthy religious system.

For two years, 2018 to 2020, Imam Abu Qadir Al-Amin of the Muslim Community Center in San Francisco and I talked with each other—not debated, rather communicated together about what and why each believed—in a television program series. We remain friends and speak with each other on occasion. You can view these television programs by going to milleravenuechurch.org/watch-our-tv-shows.

One of the dividing lines in Islam is fervor, in that the Islam of the extremists is purer, more traditional, and more radical than that practiced and understood by moderates. Only a small percentage of Muslims know much about their religion; the zealous Muslim knows more about Islam, makes it his business to study and be guided by ardent elders, and understands that to have a chance of going to paradise rather than hellfire, it is necessary to be a very fervent follower of Islam.

Most Muslims want to live and let live. But their entire identity, their worldview, is Muslim. They cannot imagine being anything but Muslim. Outreach to Muslims is then dependent on the miracle working of God; the new birth is from above. It cannot be argued into them or coerced.

To be clear, I see Islam as wrongly oriented and founded. I no more accept Islam as a revelation from God than I do Hinduism, Buddhism, Shamanism, and the belief systems of many neo-pagan groups.

All organized religions are flawed, including Christianity. I am a Baptist pastor who understands that Baptists are flawed as well. Any and every institution with humans involved will be corrupt to some measure, some more than others. I believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and that God sent His only Son to take our sin upon Himself—to die, be buried, and be resurrected. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. There is salvation in none but Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

To repeat: the lead piece to this small book of essays may be upsetting to Muslims. I know this, as I have visited our local Sunni Mosque for many years now. It is possible that some there will read this and not be pleased with me or feel that I am against them, even despise them, none of which is the case. My overarching view is that people who embrace Islam are people whom the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ loves, and they are people for whom Jesus shed His blood on the Cross.

This grouping of short essays may also be of value to those who wish to understand the main tenants of Islam. It reflects what I learned during my years of researching this world religion. Feel free to contact me at kentphilpott@comcast.net with questions or comments.

Gospel Meditation

Galatians 2:1-10

Paul Accepted by the Apostles

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Recite the Lord’s Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

  1. The date of Paul’s trip to Jerusalem has long been contested, it was either 14 years after Paul’s conversion or after his return from Arabia after three years, so 17 years following his conversion.
  2. Titus, a Greek, thus uncircumcised, was accepted by the believers in Jerusalem being led by Peter, which said to Paul that the content of his preaching was accepted.
  3. However, mixed in with the believers in Jerusalem were troublemakers who insisted that it was yet necessary to follow the laws of the Old Testament. These persons were “secretly brought in” ––and the how of this remains a mystery. If these were successful, Paul says it would bring in “slavery” to the Law.
  4. The believers in salvation by grace there in Jerusalem saw that Paul had been commissioned by God to bring the Gospel message to Gentiles (Greeks) and at the same time, Peter had been commissioned to bring the Gospel to the “circumcised” or Jews.
  5. When this reality was clearly observed, the leaders of the church in Jerusalem gave to Paul and Barnabas “the right hand of fellowship,” and it was clear then that they were to go to the Gentiles and Peter and company would go to the “circumcised.”
  6. One thing was asked of Paul and Barnabas however, that they were to “remember” the poor, which they readily assented to.

Preface and 1st chapter of God’s Calendar.


The filming of the discussion of the holidays or feasts* with Seth Postell along with Katie and Kent Philpott took place on May 21, 2009 and shortly before Seth and family moved to New York so that Seth could begin teaching Old Testament at the Fineberg Center in Manhattan. Our studio crew consisted of Stan Damas, Grace Harris, Jim Parker, and Vernon Philpott. The resulting DVD was prepared for publication by Jim, Katie transcribed the DVD into a Word document, and Seth, Katie, and Kent combined to write the text for the book. Each took a hand at editing.

* The words “holidays” and “feasts” will be used interchangeably. “Holiday” coming from the concept of a holy day, is not a biblical term. The Tanakh, in both Leviticus and Numbers, usesמועד,, which is transliterated moed and means an appointed time. A feast was an appointed time, a time directed by God to be observed forever by His people.

One. Sabbath

God rested on the seventh day. For six days God created then He ceased working and rested.* This is a central part of the opening revelation of God to Moses in Genesis.

            Sabbath, in the Hebrew transliterated** shabbath, means rest or cease from labor. It is not as though God became tired after creating the universe, rather His resting points to something above and beyond the normal idea of resting. The Sabbath is perhaps the most important key in understanding the Jewish holidays; in fact, as we shall see, it occupies the center of each of the holidays.

            In Leviticus chapter 23, situated before the listing and descriptions of the holidays or feasts, is the following vital introduction.

Leviticus 23:1-2

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of            Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; theyare my appointed feasts.”  

Notes on the passage:

One. The word LORD, all capital letters, indicates that the covenant name for God is in the Hebrew text, that name which God gave to Moses as to His actual name. (see Exodus 3:1-15) It may be transliterated Yahweh and its pronunciation cannot be know for certain. Attempts at arriving the meaning of this covenant name of God include but are not limited to: I am that I am, or I am the only one, I am being, and I am the unnamable one.

Two. Moses is the author of the material, originally.

Three. The feasts are directly appointed, determined, authorized, established, by God; they are not of human origin.

Four. The feasts are holy—special and not ordinary.

Five. The feasts are occasions for the gathering of the people of Israel. A synonym for convocation would be assembly. 

 Leviticus 23:3

            Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a                  Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do                        no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling                places.

Notes on the passage:

One. Work is normative, six days of work followed by a day of rest. The Sabbath is special then, solemn and holy, set aside, and on it there was to be a gathering of the people of God.

Two.  No matter where or when, the people of God were to observe the Sabbath.

 The Biblical Sabbath

The Sabbath began Friday at sunset. It lasted until sunset of the next day, Saturday. The Sabbath was the last day of the week. Six days of work were followed or concluded by one day of rest, exactly the formula for the creation in Genesis chapter one.

On the Sabbath no work was to be done, and to ensure that no work would be done on the Sabbath, traditions were developed by Jewish rabbinical scholars, over the centuries, and these became so detailed they became burdensome, indeed almost impossible for the ordinary person to carry out. Much of the conflict Jesus had with the religious authorities of His day had to do with Sabbath observance.

            It should be noted that some Christians still observe the actual biblical Sabbath as their special day of worship, but mainstream Christianity began to worship on Sunday, the first day of the Jewish work week, because the resurrection occurred on a Sunday and also because Jewish believers in Jesus began to be excluded from attending synagogues. Sunday, the first day of the week became known, very early on, as the Lord’s Day. (see John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10)

Rest as a view into the nature of salvation

God revealed to Moses that Adam was to take care of the home created for him—the Garden of Eden. All that was necessary for life was in that garden. After The Fall, that willful disobedience to a clear command of God, Adam and Eve were evicted from their home, cut off from fellowship with their God, and were forced to toil, labor painfully, for their survival. Everything had changed.

            Rest was where God was. God was present in the garden and walked and talked with the first humans created in His image, which probably means that the Creator God could actually enter into intelligent communion with His creation.

 Rest is always where God is. God was present in the Tabernacle, and later the temple in Jerusalem, that place of worship God directed Moses to build, and it was in the inner most holy place, the Holy of Holies, where God dwelt. Away from God there was no rest, there was work and labor instead.

The Sabbath—an historical, dramatic, prophecy

Embedded then in the story of rest and work is the story of salvation. God created the Sabbath for His people, He was present with them and when that paradise was lost, God worked, with the emphasis on worked, so His chosen people would be able to enjoy His rest and cease from their work.

            Long before God’s plan could be fully understood by anyone He put into place the very heart of the nature of salvation—resting in the work of God. The falling into death must be overcome by the working of the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. The people of God were promised in the creation of the Sabbath itself that there would be a resting. The writer of Hebrews, chapter 4 verses 9 and 10, describes this:

            So, then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,                       for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his                        works as God did from his.


David Baron in Types, Psalms and Prophecies said, “The weekly Sabbath was appointed by God as a prophecy and pledge.” (page 6)

            In the description of the feasts, holidays, appointed for the people of Israel by God, the Sabbath holds center stage. There was an actual Sabbath day to be observed, but it pointed to something more, a restoration of the rest Adam and Eve had enjoyed in the presence of God. There would always be a Sabbath for God’s chosen people and the weekly observance continually pointed to it.

* Varying views of the nature of God’s creative act are held. Whatever view one might have will not substantially alter, change, or negate the fundamental underlying concept that God rested or ceased from working (creating) and the Sabbath as a concept entered into the human experience and understanding.

**  A transliteration is the rendering or spelling of a word with the letters of one language in place of another. In this case, the corresponding English letters are used in place of Hebrew letters, all in order to assist in pronouncing the Hebrew words.

Early Leaders in Marin County

The Hippie Scene Degenerates The hippie thing was done by the summer of 1968, and by 1969the Haight-Ashbury had utterly changed. Long gone was the1967 Summer of Love, but despite the radical change, theunabated influx of kids from all over the country continued, likely

because the hippie thing had moved eastward over the previous year.

They were easy to spot with their sleeping bags and suitcases and

were the kids I approached and shared the message of Jesus with.

They were often runaways, and what they found in the “liberating

mecca of love” disillusioned and discouraged them. Now they were

scared, broke, and desperate. The girls had often been molested in

one way or another, and the guys often turned to drug dealing and


The Switchboard was a hippie organization set up to assist America’s

youth looking for a new way of living and provided “trip masters”

for those wishing to expand their minds by taking LSD. Owsley

was the favorite brand then, and several trip masters turned out to be

little more than rapists. One day, angered by tales I had been hearing

from both young men and women,1 I walked into the old Victorian on

Fell Street, where the Switchboard was housed, and standing in the

large front office I began calling them out, challenging them all to a

fight, right then and there. I cut loose with, “You raping, robbing jerks,

you need to go to prison, and I’m going to see to it, if you continue,

you %$#*&+$s.” Not too Christian, perhaps, which is debatable, but

1 On Haight Street I was known as someone to turn to, and it was not unusual

for emergency cases to find their way to me. I found that the local police and medical

people were extremely helpful and competent in those days.

Chapter 14

Early Leaders in

Marin County

46 Chapter 14

considering my size and physical condition in those days, few would

have wanted to accept the challenge.

The predators had descended into the district by the middle of

1968. Even the motorcycle gangs were there in large numbers. People’s

minds had indeed been expanded by marijuana, LSD, peyote,

magic mushrooms, and mescaline, so that heroin and meth were

becoming the new drugs of choice. No one wore flowers in their hair

anymore. Drug dealers were everywhere, as were the pimps and the

porn makers. Good-looking young flesh, mostly white, was up for

grabs. This is not racist in any sense, just true.

The kids kept coming, and once in a while we were able to rescue

some. We sent many young people home on buses, trains, and planes.

Sometimes parents traveled long distances by car to claim their children.

I must relate a story, since I have included her biography in this

book. We called her Mary K., and she had sunk to real lows by the

summer of 1968. She had been a high class business professional but

heroin did her in. There she was, standing on Haight Street, flagging

down cars. I called out to her, she stopped and listened, and as I presented

the forgiveness we have in Jesus, she was immediately converted

right in front of me. I took her to Zion’s Inn, and she lived with

us for about a year, until she married a young man who attended the

Tuesday night Bible Study. Mary K. was one of the original members

of Joyful Noise, and through her testimony at our concerts in high

schools and churches around the state, I would estimate that several

hundred kids’ lives where changed. She is someone special, and so is

her husband Chuck Mancebo.

Sometime in 1970, I turned my attention exclusively to Marin

County where I was living, since the work there was in full bloom.

Leaders Emerge

In 1969, I had met Mike Riley and Roger Hoffman, both students

at Golden Gate Seminary. Like Paul Bryant and Oliver Heath, they

were attracted to a different kind of Christian ministry and were also

interested in the charismatic part of the Jesus Movement. They soon

saw that we were in desperate need for some theologically trained

people, so Mike and Roger led the opening of a new Christian house

Early Leaders in Marin County 47

in Mill Valley on Ethel Avenue. At one point they asked me to come

to the school they attended, my old alma mater, to meet a friend of

theirs who had expressed interest in working with us. His name was

Bob Hymers.

Bob, whose full name is Robert Leslie Hymers, Jr., would play a

very large role in the ministry we were developing in Marin. He was

one of the best preachers I had ever heard; yet he was quite different

in many ways. A Southern Baptist, not the slightest charismatic, but a

real fighting fundamentalist, he loved evangelism and was tireless in

this area. A brilliant man of the highest IQ I had ever met (during his

high school years in Los Angeles he would be the lead in several plays

at once and could memorize all the lines without confusing them), he

and I became close friends.

Bob, Moishe Rosen, and I

became fairly well suited to different

kinds of ministry: demonstrations,

protests, infiltrating

anti-war demonstrations, book

burning events, picketing the Russian

Consulate in San Francisco,

and other forms of street evangelism,

including street preaching

and the use of tracts, known as

broadsides. It was Moishe who,

being older than Bob and I and

with experience and inventiveness

we could not match, spurred

us onto these new approaches.

Led by Moishe, we quickly organized

many demonstrations. We

regularly managed to get leaflet

materials composed and prepared

for printing, placards made by the dozen, and the call put out to be at

a certain place at a certain time. Hundreds of Jesus freaks would show

up, marching and handing out flyers. It was a wild and exciting time.

Moishe taught me how to get media coverage from radio, newspapers,

and television stations at whatever event we were up to; it

48 Chapter 14

worked wonderfully well. The attention we received served to inspire

other Jesus freaks all over the country to try the same things; thus it

served as a kind of cross-pollinization process, and the same sort of

strategies began to spread across the nation.

Bob was an exciting preacher, and we brought together many of

our Bible study groups and material to new Sunday evening gatherings.

We met in San Rafael at both the Lucas Valley Community

Church, pastored by Dale Nystrom, and The Christian Church, pastored

by Chuck Boman. We also rented out the Episcopal Church in

San Rafael’s suburb of Lucas Valley.

I was attracted to the Presbyterian form of government as

opposed to either the congregational style I had learned as a Baptist,

or an episcopal, hierarchical style, like the Catholic or Episcopal

churches. As a result, we developed an eldership structure within our

Christian House Ministries. By the time Mike, Roger, and Bob came

along, our eldership consisted of Mark, Kenny, and me. Some other

key leaders, who later became elders, were Bob Gaulden, Bob Burns,

and Cliff Silliman. Paul Bryant and Oliver Heath had already moved on

to other things, so Mike, Roger, and Bob joined Mark, Kenny, and me

to form a group of elders; I served as the senior elder, but this was all

informal and not recorded in any way. This came about in 1971, but I

am getting ahead of my story.