1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. 9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
During the Festival of Sacrifice, Muslims remember that Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son. (They assume that this was Ishmael, even though Sura 37: Al Saffat, does not state that). The Festival of Sacrifice or Slaughter is also called the ‘Great Festival’. It takes place ten weeks after the Sugar Festival, the ‘Minor Festival’.
After the hajj to Mecca, Muslims across the globe all slaughter a sheep or a lamb. Family, neighbours and friends can share in the meal.
Central to this is the submission, the surrender, of ‘Muslim’ Abraham. He was exemplary in that. He was rewarded too: Gabriel told him he was allowed to have his child replaced by a lamb.
What is the message of Genesis 22? Once Jesus said: “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39) ,but where is he in the story? One can draw parallels between Abraham and God: like Isaac’s father gave his son to God, God gave us his Son. More at hand however is it to see the animal in the bushes as a shade of the Redeemer. We can live eternally thanks to the substitute dying of the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Good Friday really is the ‘Great Festival’. Christians celebrate the holy supper. What exactly? Not the self-sacrifice of Abraham, but of Christ. Abraham believed that God could resurrect Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Christians accept that they are saved by the death AND the resurrection of the Lord. Undeserved, amazing grace.
I hear the Saviour say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
And now complete in Him,
My robe, His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.
Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.
When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.
And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down,
All down at Jesus’ feet.