(A Pakistani vendor and his goats are silhouetted against the sunset while he waits for customers at an animal market set up for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha – AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Eid al-Adha has always fascinated me.
For non-Muslim readers, Eid al-Adha is “is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to honour the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his young first-born son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of submission to Allah’s command and his son’s acceptance to being sacrificed, before Allah intervened to provide Abraham with a lamb to sacrifice instead” (Wikipedia).
Especially interesting to me is this verse in the Quran where Allah speaks to Abraham about his son after Abraham passed this incredible test of obedience and love (from Quran 37:100-111):
“We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice.”
Amazing. . .powerful. . .words.
All over the world, Muslims sacrifice animals at this time in remembrance of Abraham:
“Muslims who can afford. . .sacrifice their best halal domestic animals (usually a cow, but can also be a camel, goat, sheep or ram depending on the region) as a symbol of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son” (Wikipedia).
Though I know the concept of a sacrifice for sin is definitely not in Islam, Eid al-Adha always reminds me of the concept of forgiveness through sacrifice found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible that I would like to share with you.
There is a consistent scarlet thread of a blood sacrifice – the sacrifice of a spotless lamb.
“. . .each man is to take a lamb for his family. . .The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them. . .all the members of the community. . .must slaughter them. . .Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses. . .On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord — a lasting ordinance.” (The Tawrat, the word of God through Musa – Moses – Exodus chapter 12, verses 3-14).
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (the prophet Isaiah speaking about Jesus, chapter 53, verse 7).
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!‘” (The Good News According to John, chapter 1, verse 29).
“. . .knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (the first letter of Peter, chapter 1, verses 18-19).
This is the scarlet thread – the unfolding theme – of the Bible:
A lamb. . .a spotless lamb. . .a sacrifice. . .forgiveness.
I thank God for Abraham’s obedience.
I thank God for the Muslim people around the world.
I thank God for the sacrifices of Eid al-Adha that help us remember Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and God’s glorious ransom of that son.
Most of all. . .I thank God for Isa al-Masih – Jesus – the spotless lamb of God. . .the glorious ransom for my sins. . .the momentous sacrifice for me.