‘Eid Al Adha’ is an Islamic holy day that is found in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Testing of Abraham
“Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Yitz’chak; and go to the land of Moriyah. There you are to offer him as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will point out to you.
“Then Shlomo [Solomon] began to build the house of Adonai in Yerushalayim on Mount Moriyah, where Adonai had appeared to David his father. Provision had been made for this at the place David had chosen, the threshing-floor of Ornan the Y’vusi” (2 Chronicles 3:1).
Mount Moriah is where the Temple mount is today. It is the place of Abraham’s testing and the second burnt offering (the first being the one Noah did after he left the Ark). Burnt offerings were not done for specific sins, but as a reminder of the complete sinfulness of man. For specific sins, the burnt offering accompanied other offerings.
Burnt offerings were personal offerings as opposed to corporate and no one, not the priest nor the person offering took any portion of the offering. The person bringing the offering had an integral part in the sacrifice. He would put his hands on the head of the animal, cut the animal’s throat, dice it up and put it on the altar. With the complete burning of the offering, there seemed to be a divine solution for man’s fallen state, his depravity and his need for redemption from the cycle of death.
Abraham is taken by God to the very place where his descendants, the Israelites, would worship God according to His prescribed manner. In the same courts of the Temple, Yeshua would stand and proclaim that He is the Messiah (John 10:10).
To answer Isaac’s question regarding the missing lamb, Abraham states that “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.” Isaac obviously understood burnt offerings and the need for a lamb. Abraham understood that God HIMSELF would be the Provider of the lamb – El Yireh.
As Abraham is about to offer his son, God stops him and he finds a ram in the thicket and offers it in place of Isaac. Just as ‘the lamb’ was used in the Garden of Eden to show Adam and Eve their coming redemption through the blood of a lamb; God uses a ram to show Abraham that the redemption would come through a substitute. Because of Abraham’s faithfulness to obey God, he is commended.
For now I know that you are a man who fears God, because you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me” (Genesis 22:12).
Ibrahim and Islam
Abraham didn’t have only one son. He had another son named Ishmael. Muslims believe this exact account of Abraham’s testing except for the son. They believe the son was Ishmael. They commemorate this event with a holy day called Nabi Ibrahim, The Momentous Sacrifice of the Lamb.
For any of us, the specific son, though absolutely relevant to the redemptive promises given to Abraham and passed onto Isaac, could have been Ishmael. It was not the ‘son,’ but the substitution of a lamb that is significant for all mankind.
As Ibrahim offered his son as a sacrifice, God intervened at the last moment and provided a ram. In the words of the Islamic account, “What a momentous event!” Instead of sacrificing his son, God, El Shaddai, provided Abraham with the substitute sacrifice of a ram.
The sin of mankind is deeply rooted in the soul. It doesn’t matter whether we are Arab, Israeli, Chinese, Brasilian, African American or American Indian. The consequence of sin brought death into the world. The lamb in the Garden of Eden had to die so that Adam and Eve could live and procreate. It’s blood covered their sin, its flesh paid their wage of death. In order to atone for our sins, we can try to cover ourselves with fig leaves or our own good works, but how do we know when we’ve done enough good works or that our fig leaves are actually removing our sin rather than just covering the ugliness.
Thus, there is the Eid ul-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice that focuses on the ram.
But who or what does the ram symbolize? What is the purpose of killing a lamb? What is significant about the son, the only son that Abraham loved?
The ram in the thicket points to another lamb, the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. As Ibrahim stated, God Himself would be the provider and would send a lamb. In the immediate moment, a ram appeared in the thickets, but that ram was a shadow of a greater needed sacrifice, the very Lamb of God, Yeshua (Jesus).
With his death on the cross, Yeshua (Jesus) became the momentous lamb sacrifice for sin for all mankind, for all time, everywhere. Those who put their faith in his work on the cross are the true children of Abraham whether they come from Ishmael, Isaac, or the nations of the world.
Though it may be difficult to accept that God became flesh in the form of a man, His Son, it would be necessary for God Himself to provide His own Son as the offering – His only Son, the Son that he loved – in the place of Abrahams’ son that he loved.
Because of Abraham’s faithfulness, God promised to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore. Ishmael, like Isaac has become great nations of people as promised; but the seed that represented the ram in the thicket, the seed of promised redemption that was spoken to Adam and Eve, went through Abraham to Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David until Yeshua came into the world.
There are no works good enough for anyone to atone for their own sin because sin deserves death. Yeshua’s death on the cross became the final work necessary for deliverance from personal sin.
Hebrews 11:17-19 relates an even greater hope that Abraham realized on Mount Moriah. Abraham’s faith was so great that he believed that God could raise his son from the dead if he sacrificed him on the altar.
“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”
This is exactly what happened to Yeshua. Though he was the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sin of the whole world, death could not hold him. He rose from the dead to show that He truly is the Son of God, divine in nature and holy unlike any man, priest, or prophet. Abraham was counted righteous and faithful and put his trust in the God that would not only bring about the resurrection of the dead, but the resurrection of his son as well as the Son, God Himself would provide.
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