Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ibrahim sacrificing his son?

So, the kids at my wife's school are studying sacrifice this week.
As part of that they were taught today "the Islamic story of Ibrahim" (that'll be Abraham) being asked to sacrifice his son, a story celebrated at Eid ul-adha. Application: be sacrificial. Lots of questions from that.. of which two:

1. When's Christianity going to get some air-time? I'm not all that fussed about this, because I don't really expect it. But, in a pluralistic society, surely Jesus should at least have a seat at the table. A table in the world that he made, owns, sustains and stakes his claim on.

2. If that's the Islamic application of Genesis 22 how come Christians tend to teach it the same way? Similarity from the same text isn't too absurd, but Jesus did say that a right understanding of Genesis (and the rest of the Old Testament) means believing in Jesus, and I don't see the Muslim doing that. How often do we teach the Old Testament in a way that Jews and Muslims (or even Atheists) would have no issues with, rather than being thoroughly Christ-centred?

Genesis 22 is Christian Scripture about Jesus Christ! Praise God that he so loved his world that he provided his One and Only son, who is also Abraham's offspring, to die in our place. His glorious sacrifice to save us for himself - not so we can try to be more sacrificial but so we can live!

See Mike Reeves - Enjoying the Cross (1) for some excellent unpacking of Genesis 22 from a Christ-exalting angle.


  1. Yes. The almost-sacrifice of Isaac should point us forward to Jesus' sacrifice - it foreshadows it, only this time Jesus was the lamb. Physically, it also happened in the same spot (a mountain near Moriah, see Gen 22v2 and 2 Chron 3v1, which is where Solomon built the temple, i.e. Abraham was near to Jerusalem).

    I hadn't realised until recently that the Koran doesn't actually specify which son Abraham/Ibrahim was actually going to sacrifice. It's just dogma (or perhaps a hadith) through which Muslims think it's Ishmael. Which, of course, makes sense to them. Except that it wasn't, it was Isaac. But the Koran doesn't name the son.

  2. I blogged some rambling typological thoughts on Genesis 22 once, here

    In short, I think there's lots of ways the passage points us to Christ. Which leaves little room for Islam-Christianity consensus on even this story.

  3. Thanks Pete. Yeh, plenty of connections. I guess we also have the shadow of Isaac figuratively resurrected on the third day..