I think I'll just jump right in with some thoughts on the verses today. Come join me! :)
Sura 14 -- Ibrahim
4. We never sent a messenger who did not speak the tongue of his people, that he may explain to them distinctly. God leads whosoever He wills astray, and shows whoever He wills the way: He is all-mighty and all-wise.
Two things about this verse. Did God promise messengers to all people? If so, where is the one for the English speakers? Another, if God leads people astray does He also oversee the corruption and changing of His precious Word to mankind so they will be lead astray?
11. Their apostles said to them: "Indeed we are men like you, but God bestows His favours on whomsoever He wills among His creatures. It is not in our power to bring a miracle for you without the leave of God. The believers should only place their trust in God. 12. And why should we not repose our trust in God when He has shown us our paths of duty to Him? We shall bear with fortitude the hardships you inflict upon us. The trusting place their trust in God."
I like this part about trusting God. I believe the part about God granting favors to whichever of His creatures He chooses. I've often pondered the fact that I have been blessed so much whereas others in the world cannot speak freely without grave repercussions and still others can barely survive for lack of food and clean water.
18. Like ashes are the deeds of those who deny their Lord, which the wind blows away on a windy day. They shall have no power over what they earned. This is the farthest limit of going astray.
This reminds me of some poetic verses from the Psalms. The first Psalm, for instance, contrasts the righteous who is like a tree taking root by a stream of water, yielding fruit, not withering but prospering. On the other hand,
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
22. When the reckoning is over Satan will say: "The promise that was made to you by God was indeed a true promise; but I went back on the promise I had made, for I had no power over you except to call you; and you responded to my call. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. Neither can I help you nor can you give me help. I disavow your having associated me earlier (with God). The punishment for those who are wicked is painful indeed."
This verse reminded me a bit of Amber's post recently about Satan being a "job." I am not so sure about that theory, however, I did agree with her that we cannot always say "the devil made me do it" as we are free to choose to follow temptation or follow what we know is right to do. So I can see Satan here making a case for this very thing with his urging us to blame ourselves and not him. Is the phrase about "disavowing your having associated me with God" a direct reply to the charge some Bible readers make about Satan's fall from heaven being a result of his wanting to be equal with God? Intriguing!
34. He gave you whatsoever you asked. If you try to count the favours of God you will not be able to calculate. Man is most unjust indeed, full of ingratitude.
Whenever we are feeling down about life and rotten circumstances we are going through, counting our blessings - no matter how small they seem - is a wonderful way to lift our spirits. My preacher often says that a person cannot be both thankful and discouraged at the same time. So he encourages us to start praising the Lord and thanking Him when we are in discouraging times. This helps us remember how big our God is and that problems are tiny in comparison to His might.
35. Remember when Abraham prayed: "O Lord, make this a city of peace, and preserve me and my progeny from worshipping idols: "
This a great prayer -- one for a city of peace and for us and our children to always follow God.
52. This is a message for mankind that they may take a warning from it, and may know that He is the one and only God, and that men of wisdom may reflect.
Oh to be one who is wise enough to reflect on the teachings and goodness of God. Great verse!
I have actually read and written posts up through sura 17, but I am trying to refrain from publishing them as quickly as I write them because I know it's a lot to read already. However, I wanted to tell you this in case what I write now has already been covered by you in the comments section of previous posts. Thanks to all who have contributed to a great discussion thus far. I am learning a lot from you!