Eid and hope for the future of Humanity.

Islam and humanity

Ever since I was introduced to the Muslim world through my Latin American friends, I have had a special fascination with Eid, the Muslim holiday that was celebrated yesterday.

Eid, by its place in the Islamic calendar and by the things that are done on Eid, can remind Muslims each year that their ancestor Ishmael was spared death because God provided a substitute (yes! that is their variation on the story of the rescue of Isaac in Gen 22).

My fascination (and my hope) grows when I read in Isaiah 60:7 that God promises that the rams of the children of Ishmael will be “acceptable on my Altar”.

Does that refer to the rams in these pictures of the Eid holiday? Take a moment to look at them.

Islam can be a challenge to our Christian faith. For many Muslims “devotion” to God is critical for the future of humanity and they see Abraham’s willingness to offer his son as a supreme devotion to God.

Our Christian faith says that Jesus is critical for the future of humanity.

What do you think is critical for the future of humanity?

12 thoughts on “Eid and hope for the future of Humanity.

  1. tim an interesting note… i am most curious about not what my answer to your question is, but what underlies your question. is this a very clever way to get people to talk back to a missionary guy (since you guys get a lot of silence) or perhaps you are really musing on this issue or perhaps your muslim experiences compel you to enter a dialogue with the american christian world or or or…. whazzup dude – how are you and what’s really on your mind?

  2. If it was a “clever way to get people to talk back”, that was just lucky, though I do profit from other people’s perspective on things, and I would like to know what people really think. Obviously we American Christians don’t know what to do with Islam and we are only now beginning to take notice that it is out there and think about the implications for our faith. I have not, however, abandoned the idea that it is all about Jesus and that all things and God wants us to announce Him as the rightful ruler of history and of our lives. That goal isn’t furthered, however, by not listening to Muslims or by fearing them or by not taking their challenge seriously. For me, the future of humanity is tied up in making Jesus and His love accessible to them and we do that by engaging them and their ideas and doing it with the kind of openness that allows God to be God (as if we had anything to say about that!). I take the story of the prodigal as a paradigm. Both sons, including the one that was in the father’s house doing the fathers work (would that represent Christians today?), needed to be reconciled to the father and experience the father’s initiative in reaching out to them. Not that I am doing all that well myself at getting to know Muslims as actual people (though Lois is). I don’t think I have any Muslim friends. But since most Muslims are out of reach to me, but very much co-travelers on the planet and the ostensible “target” of the ministry of the people I work with, I think it is best to work on my knowledge of them and on my attitude toward them and line it up with God’s. I am working on that, and I chose the date of Eid to take a moment and share the questions I am working on finding the answers to.

  3. Hola Tim,Gracias por tu comentario con relación a este tópico. Yo no soy ningún experto en Islam. Ni siquiera conozco a algún musulmán. Pero ha sido tanto lo que he escuchado al respecto y lo que he leído, incluyendo al Corán; que he llegado a pensar que en la misma teología musulmana hay muchos elementos y fundamentos sobre Sidna Isa para traer a esta gente a Sus pies. Creo que lo único que nos falta a la Iglesia del Señor es voluntad para hacer la Suya, dejando a un lado tanta controversia doctrinal.Feliz Año Nuevo amigo. Dios bendiga tu ministerio, tu vida y a tu familia.

  4. Dear Tim, I’m not sure quite what kind of response you wanted . I have lookedat all of the 16 pictures,but could only distingish the key part in two or three of them. I think all of the distorted Bible stories in the Koran came out the way they did because Mohammed’s first wife’s uncle was a monk of the Syrian Nestorian Church and he told the Bible stories to Mohammed, who re-created them from memory in the Koran. Some of them he undoubtedly distorted on purpose, like substituting Ismael for Isaac in the sacrifice. And the Goat for a easier-to-find sheep in the Koran. But most of them were just a result of faulty himan memory. I’m sure you know that There were already Christians and Jews in Arabia before Mohammed. And that he first planned to have his followers bow toward Jerusalem. However when they were drivennout of Mecca and went to Medina, the Jews there rejected him. So in anger he ordered his people to bow toward the pagan stone block of the Kaaba in Mecca, which they still worship around. Most of Mesopotamia (i.e. Iraq) was Christian long before Mohammed. As was the royal family of Yemen. But their doctines were like those of the Judaizers, whom Paul fought against, who tried to mix Jewish ritual with belief in the Messiah. I wonder if the real “Änti-Christ’ spoken of in the Book of Revelations may not have been, in point of fact, really Mohammed. He certianly seems to fill most of the description. In any case, I THINK your question is either (1) whether God really honors the scarifices of Muslims who sacrifice a sheep. Or perhaps it is (2) whether the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his own son supercedes the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. To the first question I would say that only God knows, but that he often honors the sincere desire of the heart in spite of the mistaken religious trappings with which it comes clothed. To the second version of our question, the answer is clearly “NO”. Hope I have come close to what you wanted from me.

  5. found your email thought-provoking. The question of authenticity (who is right about patriarchal accounts) continues to dog the Christian-Muslim debate. Certainly, that is seen clearly in the debates about Ishmael’s fate, as you note. Ultimately, this is all about epistemology — how do we know anything? How do we know that Jesus is risen? How do we know that the Bible is true? How do we know that we exist? How do we know that what we call “blue” is in fact the same blue that our neighbor sees? Etc. This is a BIG, no…HUGE topic. I won’t go into lengthy arguments. I will simply assume for now that as Christians, we do believe that Jesus died for the sins of the world and that the Word of God is trustworthy. Based on these assumptions, what matters for the future of humanity is that all (wo)men should come to a saving knowledge of Christ. This is far more than acquiescence. It is the active embrace of the Lordship of Christ so that people’s attitudes, priorities, behaviors, aspirations, spending patterns, business dealings, marriages, and time use all change. When I speak of conversion, I am saying that we need to change the deep structure of people’s worldview from secular/Muslim/pagan or anything else to biblical/Christian. It takes time to do this, but it is possible. What is needed for the future of humanity is a global revival. We need large movements of groups of people to embrace the gospel. We need America and Europe to return to their Christian roots and repent for rejecting God. We need government policies that are explicitly founded on the principles of Scripture, irrespective of the false dichotomy of “Separation of Church and State.” We need a legal system that balances both the justice and the mercy of God. We need for God to move by his Spirit upon millions of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Atheists, Agnostics, Communists, Animists, and anyone else so that their eyes are opened and they can see the truth of the gospel. We need an outpouring of God’s miracle power to confirm the Word with signs following. We need all of these converts to be discipled into lifelong, vibrant, living, growing relationships with the Savior. And, after there has been a harvest of 1 or 2 or 3 billion souls, we need Jesus to return. Maybe there’ll be a tribulation before, during, or after all of this. It really doesn’t matter. We need the Lord to make good on his promise to return for his bride, and the sooner the better.

  6. Thank you. I agree wholeheartedly with you. I need to get a blog up so good answers like yours get into the discussion that others can read. What you say, of course, has additional implications. There are 1 billion Muslims in the world today who have NO Christian friends who can tell them the gospel. They have almost no possibility of hearing or responding to Jesus. This would seem to be important pre-condition for global revival. How might the peoples of the world experience the move of His Spirit so that their eyes might be opened, if they have no contact with bearers of the Spirit? I assume God is concerned about this and will do something even if we don’t. As for America and Europe returning to their Christian roots, I think that would be wonderful for America and Europe. If we don’t it will not go well for us. But I don’t think it will hold up God’s hopeful future for humanity. It seems that the gospel has a record of dying out in the places where it has been strong and spreading well from the margins (look at the other centers of of Christianity from the past-Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria Constantinople). Perhaps there is a clue here as to what will happen for God’s planned future for humanity….Rev. 21:2-4

  7. Your points are good ones. There is no question in my mind that the need for true cross-cultural missions (E3/P3 evangelism is what they called it when I was in seminary) is as great today as it has ever been. I’m not sure how God will send all of the people to those who are hidden away, locked in darkness, but I know he intends to do so. Part of the answer must be that he is bringing them TO US. The immigrant population from Muslim nations is high and rising in both the US and Western Europe. Surely God can save a few and send them back to their own people, where they already know the language and the culture. I agree with you that the most vibrant forms of Christianity have tended to come from the “fringes.” Your examples of the ancient patriarchal churches are good ones, but there are other examples from the modern era: China, former Soviet Union (I’m thinking specifically of some situations I know in Ukraine), Korea, Argentina, Brazil. I wonder, though, about a revival along the lines of the one that Josiah led in the very heart of ancient Judaism. “Son of Man, can these bones live?” I believe that the Spirit of God wants to blow upon the dead bones of nominal, lifeless Christianity — both American and European — and awaken those who are dead or asleep in their Churchianity and complacency and unbelief. My heart’s passion is for foreign missions, but in a society where gay marriage is taken seriously (and sanctioned in some cases), where over 33 million babies have been offered up on Molech’s altar of self-fulfillment and pleasure, where over 90% of people aren’t virgins when they marry, where less than 10% of the population can even name 3 of the 10 Commandments yet posting them causes national controversy, where fewer than 20% of the people attend church on Sunday, and where the meaning of Christmas and Easter are largely unknown, you do have to ask whether we and our friends in Europe aren’t ourselves becoming a mission field. The words of Jesus to the church in Ephesus ring true for us, too.

  8. I found your article with the fotos of that Muslem festival very enlightening….I wonder how do you respond to a Muslem about Ismael being the substitute for Isaac as Genesis tells the story. My heart doctor is a very welcome medical person locally and he is from Syria, a Muslem. I have given him the Jesus film and he has seen “the Passion” film…and more recently I gave himJeff Fountains book “The Hope of Europe.” Jeff is with YWAM in Europe. The book is very interesting scanning the historical background of Europe’s scecularism. It gives a very good reenactment of the 1999 reconcialition crusade walk from Germany allthe way to the holy land. It was meant to undo the nasty cruelty of the 1099 crusade, 900 years ago. The author is showing that Christianity will have to rearrange some back historical errors that made Christianity did and how they appeared in the eyes of the Muslem world. Again, thanks for the fotos.

  9. That’s a hard question. I have really been thinking about these things to ask God how to change MY heart attitude and not really thinking apologetically. My heart attitude needs to line up with God’s that says that their rams will be acceptable on His altar and, then, try and understand what that means. On the one hand, not all Muslims think it was Ishmael that Abraham offered. See attached. But MOST Muslims think it was and I don’t really think it is productive to try and prove to them otherwise. Another thing about this is that Muslims are celebrating Abraham’s submission to God and not the provision of a substitute. So it is important to open their minds to the other lesson and that is that Abraham had descendents because God offered a substitute sacrifice, and to allow Eid to be a celebration of gratitude to God for salvation, even if they are only BEGINNING to understand it. I didn’t say it in the e-mail because I wanted to be a little provocative, but I think it is also important, as Christians to remember that we are children of Abraham, saved by a sacrifice, not because we are descendents “according to the flesh” but because we have appropriated by faith the same grace that Abraham appropriated when he believed God would use him to bless humanity. We become children of Abraham by placing our faith in Christ who died a criminal’s death but whom God raised from the dead and seated at His right hand. We are called to bless humanity. As I see it, the future of humanity depends on us, since it requires that Muslims be given access to the truth about Jesus and to the power of His Spirit, and 1 billion Muslims do not have a relationship with someone who follows Jesus and has His Spirit dwelling within. Not only can they not hear and respond to the message, there are no bearers of the message in their lives. This reality must change or we will continue to see the escalation of war and misunderstanding between Christians and Muslims. This is not consistent with the gospel that is to break down the dividing wall of hostility between the peoples of the world.

  10. Verrrry interesting. Thanks, Tim for the Email. I really hadn’t thought about the seriousness of the Muslim model (Abraham willing to kill his son). With that in mind, I can see how extremists may not view themselves as so extreme. It’s a hard one for Western Christianity to ponder… Generally, American devotion to Christ seems small compared to Muslim devotion to their god.

  11. Thanks for the thought provoking questions and the pictures.As I read your piece I thought of a Muslim friend of mine in Malaysia. We were talking a few years ago and he said that he saw that Christians really took ownership of their faith at a personnel level compared to his fellow Islamic believers who attended the Mosques, but did not take personnel ownership only what I would call ritual ownership. Meaning they do the rituals, but do not own the faith for themselves. It is something a part from them that they are involved in.Jesus as our sacrifice is a step beyond the rituals shown here. It is one man for another. It is the ultimate eye for an eye, God for Man and in that formula so to speak both God and man win.

  12. I liked your informative blurb!Never heard of the Eid before and thought that it was neat that their “story” is so close to the gospel message/Biblical truth! We always think of Muslims as so “closed” but it appears that we just need to figure out what the doors are for entering into dialogue. Humanity obviously needs salvation and our family likes to think of it in terms of relationships built

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