The Big Picture has great photos of Muslims on the hajj and celebrating Eid Al-Adha.
Happy Thanksgiving (belated)
This week we celebrated Thanksgiving and Eid Al-Adha. They go together really well. Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks to God, the one to whom all thanks is due, for all good things are from him. With Thanksgiving coming one day before Eid Al-Adha I found myself thinking a lot more about sacrifice and how I am so grateful that God has provided the greatest sacrifice.
During Eid Al-Adha Muslims sacrifice a sheep and then share the meat with the poor. The Eid commemorates the time when Abraham was willing to obey God by sacrificing his son. This story is in both the Tawrat (Genesis 22:1-19)and the Qur’an (37:100-113). See below to read the full text in both books.
It is a remarkable story of obedience. Abraham was going to kill his son in order to obey God. But at the last moment God stepped in and stopped him. Then God provided the sacrifice. As it says in the Tawrat, “He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The LORD will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided’” (Genesis 22:12-14). The Qur’an says, “When they had both surrendered, and he threw him on his face, We called, ‘Abraham, you have fulfilled the vision. Thus we reward those who do good. This was a clear test.’ And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice and left for him in later times ‘Peace be to Abraham’” (37:103-109).
Both texts make it clear that God was the one who provided the sacrifice in place of Abraham’s son. And the Qur’an adds a very significant comment. It says, “We ransomed him with a great sacrifice.” There is nothing particularly great about a ram in and of itself. Certainly it is not greater than a human. So the greatness of the sacrifice must come from something else. What makes the sacrifice great is that God provided it and he used it to ransom Abraham’s son.
This whole story points forward to the great sacrifice that God provided for all mankind – the sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah. (I know that Muslims don’t believe Jesus died on the cross, but the Injil teaches this. What the Qur’an teaches about the death of the Messiah and whether the Injil is trustworthy are posts for another day [both will be good topics for Contentious Issues]). The Injil says, “Christ our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7) and “But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:26-28).
So this weekend I give thanks to God for doing what I cannot. I cannot purify myself. I cannot remove my sin. I cannot ransom myself. I cannot redeem myself. But God has provided. He has provided a great sacrifice. He has ransomed me. Thank you God.
The texts from the Qur’an and the Tawrat
The Qur’an (37:100-113):
“Lord, give me one of the righteous,” so We gave him good news of a gentle son. When he could walk, (Abraham) said, “Son, I saw in a dream that I must sacrifice you. Look and see.” He said, “Father, do what you have been commanded. Lord willing, you will find me patient.” When they had both surrendered, and he threw him on his face, We called, “Abraham, you have fulfilled the vision. Thus we reward those who do good. This was a clear test.” And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice and left for him in later times “Peace be to Abraham.” Thus we reward those who do good. He is one of our believing servants. And we gave him news of Isaac’s prophethood and goodness, and we blessed him and Isaac. Some of their descendants were good, and some obvious wrongdoers.
The Tawrat (Genesis 22:1-19):
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.
This is a great story of friendship between people of different faiths. I especially appreciate this paragraph:
The three say they became close not by avoiding or glossing over their conflicts, but by running straight at them. They put everything on the table: the verses they found offensive in one another’s holy books, anti-Semitism, violence in the name of religion, claims by each faith to have the exclusive hold on truth, and, of course, Israel.
This week (Thanksgiving and Eid Al-Adha) presents a unique opportunity for Muslims and Christians (and Jews) to celebrate their holidays together – to learn from one another while enjoying each other.
HT: E-Baad-E news
Many non Muslims don’t know anything at all about the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca. And even those who do don’t think much more about it than that a lot of people go to Saudi Arabia. What I have found fascinating this year, as over 2 million Muslims are performing Hajj right now, is the complexity of managing all those people and all of the dangers involved (including the H1N1 flu). Imagine your city of 1.3 million swelling to a city of over 3.5 million for a couple of weeks.
Aziz Poonawalla links to some interesting articles from Arab News that cover the many preparations necessary for hosting that many people. Also check out this aerial view of the tent city where pilgrims live during this time (I couldn’t figure out how to embed the photo – sorry).
We have seen three different times in the Old Testament where someone is called the son of God. Adam was the son of God. The people of Israel under Moses were the son of God. And the son of David, the one who would be king, was the son of God.
Now we come to the gospel (the injil) where we read that Jesus is the son of God. We can’t say too often that God did not have relations with Maryam and make her pregnant. Such a thought truly is blasphemy.
We first see that Jesus Christ is the son of God when the angel announced his birth, “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 1:32-33). It is declared at his baptism, “And behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17). It is then stated again at the transfiguration, but this time something is added, “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5).
Ultimately, Jesus is declared, confirmed, and installed as the Son of God at his resurrection. “And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David’” (Acts 13:32-34).
Jesus Christ is the true son of God. The Injil teaches that he is the second Adam, the son of God who is the head of his people (“Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” [1 Corinthians 15:45], see also Romans 5:14-21). But unlike Adam, Jesus Christ obeyed God in everything.
Jesus Christ is the true Israel, the son of God. In the Injil we read about Jesus Christ being tempted in the wilderness for forty days just like Israel wandered in the wilderness forty years (see Matthew 4:1-11). But unlike Israel, Jesus Christ obeyed God in everything.
Jesus Christ is the son of David, the son of God. He is descended from David and is the Christ. The Messiah (Christ means Messiah) is the one who is God’s anointed king, the one God promised to be ruler over his people (“concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” [Romans 1:3-4]). Unlike Solomon and the other sons of David, Jesus Christ obeyed God in everything.
Jesus Christ is the true Son of God because he is the last Adam, the true Israel and the son of David. To say that Jesus is the son of God we are saying that he is the Messiah. We are saying that he is God’s king who will rule over God’s people.
Part 1: Adam Is the Son of God
Part 2: The People of God (Israel) Are the Son of God
Part 3: The Son of David Is the Son of God
Part 4: Jesus Christ Is the Son of God
Part 5: Jesus Christ Is God’s Unique Son
Part 6: Believers Are Sons and Daughters of God
“A clash of civilizations.” That’s how many in the media and in politics describe the relationship between Muslims and Christians. This popular narrative, however, does not capture the full story. Yes, there is a faction of Islam that is hostile and even aggressively violent toward the West. And there are some Christians who ignorantly scrawl Bible versus on the gun barrels of their tanks. But there are also people like Pervaiz Masih.
Pervaiz was part of the poor, Christian minority in Pakistan. He was illiterate. He worked as a janitor at the women’s campus of Islamabad’s International Islamic University. When a suicide bomber disguised as a women tried to enter the crowded cafeteria, Pervaiz confronted him at the doorway to prevent him from entering. In the struggle the bomb detonated killing Pervaiz and three students, but many more would have died had Pervaiz not sacrificed himself and stopped the killer from entering.
Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university said, “[Pervaiz Masih] rose above the barriers of caste, creed and sectarian terrorism. Despite being a Christian, he sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls.” Some in Pakistan are calling him a national hero.
Pervaiz Masih represents an alternative to the “clash of civilizations” rhetoric that is being propagated. He represents what happens when Christians take seriously their calling to love their neighbors–even when those neighbors are Muslim. Our call to love, give, serve, help, and sacrifice is not dependant on the identity or doctrine of our neighbor. We do not love because of who they are, but because of who we are.
Watch this report by CNN about Pervaiz Masih and be hopeful. Be inspired:
HT: Vitamin Z
Both Muslims and Christians call Jesus Christ the word of God (كَلِمَةٍ ٱللَّهَ ). As I was reading in the Psalms (Zabur) this morning I was reminded of Al Imran 45 (3:45) from the Qur’an. In both verses we see God honoring or exalting his word.
I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
Al Imran 45
Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah;
David was the great king over God’s people. He is honored in Judaism, Christianity and Islam as a prophet who was passionate for God. Through David God gave us the Psalms (the Zabur).
He was the king of Israel and he wanted to build God a house (a temple) where people could come and see God’s glory and worship him. God told him that he was not the one to build this house, but that his son will build it.
Then God said this to David in 2 Samuel 7:11-16:
11 And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.
This is typical of the God who is not served (Acts 17:24-25), but serves (Isaiah 64:4). David wanted to build God a house, but instead God tells him that he will build David’s house and raise up his descendant who will be king. God will establish this son’s kingdom and will adopt him as his own son (Verse 14, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”). God promises that the kingdom of his son will last forever. So the son of David is the Son of God. And the Son of God is the king who reigns over God’s people.
The same thing is seen in the Zabur, the Psalms of David. God says in Psalm 2:6, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” In the very next verse the king says, “I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.’”
He is repeating what was said in 2 Samuel 7. It means, “Today I have made you king over my people, you are my son, the Messiah, my anointed one.”
The Son’s rule is not simply over the little tiny land of Israel. Rather, he is to ask God to give him the nations (all of them) as his inheritance and the very ends of the earth as his possession. All the earth is to come under his authority and thus all the kings ought to submit to him.
The Psalm ends with this gracious warning, “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:10-12). Worship God and submit yourself to the son, his king. It is not enough to worship God. We must also honor the son.
Both the Tawrat and the Zabur teach that the son of David – who is the Messiah, the anointed one, the king over God’s people – is the son of God.
Part 1: Adam Is the Son of God
Part 2: The People of God (Israel) Are the Son of God
Part 3: The Son of David is the Son of God
Part 4: Jesus Christ Is the Son of God
Part 5: Jesus Christ Is God’s Unique Son
Part 6: Believers Are Sons and Daughters of God
Because we are human, Muslims and Christians (and everyone else) have a common and serious problem: we routinely underestimate the seriousness of our sin, both in its offense to God and in its power over us. I found the following post from John Piper a helpful reminder of our great problem.
In Psalm 51, as he laments and repents of his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, David confesses at least five ways that his sin is extremely serious.
1. He says that he can’t get the sin out of his mind.
It is blazoned on his conscience. Verse 3:
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Ever before him. The tape keeps playing. And he can’t stop it.
2. He says that his exceeding sinfulness is only against God.
Nathan had said David despised God and scorned his word. So David says in verse 4,
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.
This doesn’t mean Bathsheba and Uriah and the baby weren’t hurt. It means that what makes sin sin is that it is against God. Hurting man is bad. It is horribly bad. But that’s not the horror of sin. Sin is an attack on God—a belittling of God. David admits this in striking terms: “Against you, you only, have I sinned.”
3. He doesn’t justify himself.
David vindicates God, not himself. There is no self-justification. No defense. No escape. Verse 4:
…so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
God is justified. God is blameless. If God casts David into hell, God will be innocent.
This is radical God-centered repentance. This is the way saved people think and feel. God would be just to damn me. And that I am still breathing is sheer mercy. And that I am forgiven is sheer blood-bought mercy. David vindicates the righteousness of God, not himself.
4. He intensifies his guilt by drawing attention to his inborn corruption.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Some people use their inborn corruption to diminish their personal guilt. David does the opposite. For him the fact that he committed adultery and murdered and lied are expressions of something worse: He is by nature that way.
If God does not rescue him, he will do more and more evil.
5. He admits that he sinned not just against external law but against God’s merciful light in his heart.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
God had been his teacher. God had made him wise. David had done so many wise things. And then sin got the upper hand. For David, this made it all the worse. “I have been blessed with so much knowledge and so much wisdom. O how deep must be my depravity that it could sin against so much light.”
So in those five ways at least David joins the prophet Nathan and God in condemning his sin and confessing the depths of his corruption.
Anxious health officials in Saudi Arabia say that for the first time in recorded history, a global pandemic could affect the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. The H1N1 virus is a major concern for authorities in Saudi Arabia, who are gearing up to host some 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims from 160 countries later this month.
Muslims from around the world have been coming to Saudi Arabia for hajj for more than a millennium. It’s one of the five pillars of Islam. Every Muslim who is able is supposed to make the journey to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.
This is a major concern with that many people in close proximity to one another. Let’s pray for the health of all who will be there.