Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered.
And they both walked on together.
Relate: Genesis 20, part of today’s daily Bible reading, is incredibly significant for the Muslim world. The story it relates is the cornerstone around which one of their biggest holidays revolves. And it makes sense that this is so. Just think about it, by definition Islam means “submission.” What bigger act of submission can there be than Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God’s command? The story, as it reads in the Quran is as follows…
“My Lord, bless me with righteous offspring”
So we gave him the good news of a forbearing son.
Then when the boy reached the age to work with him, Abraham said,
“O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I sacrifice you. So tell me what you think.”
He replied, “O my dear father, do as you are commanded. God willing, you will find me steadfast.”
Then when they submitted, Abraham laid him on the side of his forehead.
We called out to him, “O Abraham! You have already fulfilled the vision.”
Indeed, this is how we reward the good-doers.
That was truly a revealing test.
And we ransomed his son with a great sacrifice.
And blessed Abraham among later generations.
Peace be upon Abraham. This is how we reward the good-doers.
He was truly one of Our faithful servants.
We gave him the good news of Isaac – a prophet and one of the righteous.
We blessed him and Isaac as well.
Some of their descendants did good while others clearly wronged themselves.
If you were to look this up on the internet, I can pretty much guarantee that the last three lines would not be included in any discussion on Eid Al Adha. That is because Islamic tradition and practise disagrees with the Old Testament (Genesis 20:1-18), the New Testament (Hebrews 11:17-19) and even their own Quran (Surah 37:100-113). They claim that it was Ishmael, not Isaac that Abraham sacrificed.
React: As wrong as I might thing Islamic tradition and other parts of the Quran might be, when it comes to this story, both are spot on when it comes to the two most important elements. (1) Abraham submitted to God. (2) God provided another sacrifice.
As much as I would love to say I could do the same… I don’t think I would. I am more than willing to obey God even to the point of death. Just so long as it is my death. If God said that my opedience to him would be the result of someone else? I don’t know. That was a big question I found myself asking when reading Shusaku Endo’s book Silence. Would I forsake God if doing so would end the torture and spare the lives of many others that I know and love? I know what the right answer should be, but it is not an easy question. Like Soren Kierkegaard, the best I can do is approach the question with Fear and Trembling and pray that at the right time God would give me the strength to do the right thing… whatever that might be.
Far more important… God has provided a Lamb. As important as our submission is, the cornerstone to this verse is His sacrifice. Like Isaac, I don’t have to die. Like Abraham, I don’t have to “do.” Because the Lamb has taken my place. God loved us so much that He gave his One and Only Son, the Precious Lamb of God, that whoever believes in Him will not have to perish but have everlasting life. We make the journey. We supply the fuel. But He is the sacrifice. And as a result… we are redeemed.
Thank You for sending Your Son. Thank You for being willing to step in as the sacrifice. Because You have provided, I am saved. No words would ever be enough to say how grateful I am.