Sura 18 -- Al Kahf
This sura is called "The Cave" and fittingly enough there is a rather "cute" story near the beginning (note that! hehehe) about some people (the number is debated) and a dog who went into a cave, slept for a number of years and then woke up thinking they'd only slept a day or a few hours. I think they were hiding from evil people and, welllllllll, I didn't quite follow all the particulars, but I think the moral of the story was that God protected them because they were believers. If anyone wants to add more commentary on this story, please do. What is it: an allegory, parable, myth, supposed true story?
27. Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no one who can change the word of God; and you will not find refuge except in Him.
Another pretty strong statement about NO ONE being able to change the word of God. Does this include the former Word of God?
Beginning in verse 32 there is a parable of two men who had vineyards. One man's crops fell into disaster and he rued the day he ever associated anyone with the Lord (vs. 42).
56. We never send apostles but to convey happy tidings, and to warn. But those who disbelieve contend with false arguments to nullify the truth. They make a mockery of My revelations and of what they had been warned.
Sadly most of the Old Testament prophets seemed to have gloomy words because the people had turned away from God, but I do agree that occasionally there were "happy tidings" about God having mercy and caring for His people like a good shepherd. I love this visual from Isaiah 40.
10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and his arm rules for him.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
I found the dialog between Moses and (this translation said ) Joshua peculiar. I gathered that Joshua left the fish for lunch behind on a stone, they retraced their steps and encountered someone guided by God. This person agrees to take Moses with him after warning Moses not to question what he does. However, Moses observes this guy's actions and can't help but react! Why take a boat with holes? Are you going to drown your passengers? Why kill an innocent child? Why rebuild a wall? The person keeps warning Moses that he doesn't understand and to stop questioning. Only later does this person explain the bigger picture. I totally agree that we don't always know the bigger picture and that God's ways are higher than ours.
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
However, I must admit to having a problem with the little child being killed and reading the explanation for it. I would hope God could keep his people dedicated to Himself regardless of how a young man grows up to defy what his parents believe. And the hope that God would bless the parents with another child...well, I doubt I'd like to hear this explanation if I were the grieving parents. See what I mean?
80. As for the boy, his parents were believers, but we feared that he would harass them with defiance and disbelief. 81. We hoped their Lord would give them a substitute better than him in virtue and goodness.
After this story is something about Dhu'l-Qarnain (vs. 83). Who is this guy? And also who or what are Gog and Magog in your beliefs? The translation I have has very few notes, however, it does make a short case for Dhu'l-Qarnain being Cyrus the Great of Persia and Gog and Magog being two Mongolian tribes. Is this the generally-accepted thought among most Muslims?
103. Say: "Shall I tell you whose labour will be wasted? 104. Theirs whose effort is misspent in pursuit of the pleasures of the world, even though they think they are doing good things."
Lastly, I thought these verses were a superb reminder to all of us caught up in pursuing earthly pleasures even when we believe we are doing good things. Great reminder!