Abraham is the father of the Jews, Christians and Moslems. Abraham's inheritance includes both Ishmael and Israel and through Jesus, all the nations of the world. The faith of Abraham should be our faith, and we all should study his history.

Abram means, "The Divine Father is exalted," while Abraham translates into "Father of a multitude." Abraham's qualities of humility, hospitality, righteousness, steadfastness, prophecy and faithfulness to God are the examples given to all of us who are "of the book". The only way for Moslems, Christians and Jews to ever get together in unity is for all sides to get together on the truths concerning Abraham and the promises given to him by God.

We all believe in the promises given to the friend of God, Abraham is the father of all who believe. Only when the people of the book abrogate God's promises to their own group and exclude another is this disunity among God's people possible. Let us not be as the hypocrites and agree to disagree but rather come together with one voice, and as obedient and loving children rest in the bosom of Avraham Avinu - Abraham, our Father.

First things first, let us agree on this - God is One. He is one person, Jesus is One with Him and we are one with Jesus. Do not fall into the metaphysical trap of tri-theism, there is but One God, not three. The Old Testament, the New Testament and the Quran all agree on this one indisputable fact. Those who disagree are not included in this unity and probably don't want it anyway, ignore them.

Abraham is seen in the Quran as the prototype of the Muslim. With Ishmael, his firstborn, he built the Temple of the Ka'ba at Bekka, or Mecca and instituted the rites of pilgrimage. God chose the Hebrews to be the recipients and heralds of His message to mankind and it is through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that this revelation of God begins. The God of the Hebrews is the only true God but this is the same true God that was revealed to Mohammed. We can take it even further, for in His first words to Abraham God said: "By you all the families of the earth shall be blessed," and that includes the gentile nations as well.

I need not tell the whole story of Abraham, Moses can do it better and you can read it for yourself starting with Genesis 11:29. I wish to concentrate mainly on Abraham and his first two sons.

Abraham was born Abram and migrated with his father Terah to Haran from Ur of the Chaldees, a land of iniquity and idolatry. After his father's death God called Abram to go to the land that he would show him, "And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curse you, and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed." Abram left for the land of Canaan at the age of 75 with his wife Sarai and nephew Lot.

As Abram and Sarai grew old they still had no children, so Sarai convinced Abram at the age of 86 to take her handmaid and he fathered a son Ishmael through Sarai's Egyptian servant Hagar. God's word to Abram was not fulfilled with Ishmael's birth, and the promise of a great nation remained unrealized. When Hagar saw that she had conceived, Sarai entreated Abram: "My wrong be upon you, I have given my maid into your bosom, and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and you. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in your hand, do to her as it pleases you. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face."

I don't see any reference to God ever speaking to Sarah but an angel certainly spoke to Hagar. Finding Hagar in the wilderness by a fountain the angel told her to return to her mistress and submit herself under her hands: "And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply your seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for the multitude. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction. And he will be a wild man, and his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him, and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren." The sons of Ishmael became the Arab state in particular and Islam in general, if you know the history of the Ishmaelites at all, you know how this prophecy has been amazingly fulfilled through history.

When Abram was 99 years old (Ishmael was 13) the Lord again appeared to Abram to make a covenant with him: "As for me, behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. Neither shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made you. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant to be a God unto you and to your seed after you. And I will give unto you, and to your seed after you, the land wherein you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God." God then instituted the rite of circumcision, renamed the name of Sarai to Sarah and blessed her as the mother of nations and promised that she would bear a son.

Abraham could not believe this nor could Sarah. They both laughed at the absurd notion of having a child at their age. If a child were to be born, it would be a miracle. God was fulfilling His part of the covenant. "Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old?" Abraham asks, "and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God - O that Ishmael might live before you! And God said, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son indeed, and you shall call his name Isaac, and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly, twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto you at this set time in the next year." Isaac was born the next year as God had promised and Abraham loved both of his sons.

"And the child grew, and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And this thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son."

Because of Ishmael's jealousy toward Isaac, Hagar and her son were again cast out into the wilderness: "And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What ails you, Hagar: fear not: for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in your hand. for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt."

Oh if only we of the book could accept the promises given to Abraham and Ishmael. If we were truly one voice, they would certainly believe our report. Doesn't this previous passage say that God has heard the voice of the lad, Ishmael? In fact his name even means, "God hears". Aren't these promises of God tantamount to a blessing for the descendants? God has fulfilled his promises to Ishmael, yes; but throughout the centuries Christians have treated Moslems as infidels, alienated them, made enemies of them, started wars with them and treated them as not worthy of the grace of Jesus Christ. No wonder they think of us as infidels as well, we have been.

Mohammed was the prophet sent by God to unify the sons of Ishmael and to fulfil God's promises given to them. Moslems are unfortunately still under the law, Islam need not renounce Mohammed to accept God's grace, we are all sons of God. Moslems and the Jews need to accept Jesus as the Messiah that was promised to the world and humble themselves to accept the baptism of the Holy Ghost. They already believe in the God of Abraham, the only way they can appropriate the blessings given to Isaac is not by force but simply through Jesus. Only in this way can Islam come into this revival unity of which we are a part. I believe it will happen, but I believe we need to make it happen. We could also put a stop to the fighting in the land.

With Ishmael gone, Isaac was now Abraham's only son. God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac. Sacrifices are commanded in the Mosaic Law and also acknowledged in the Quran. The purpose of this test was to foreshadow the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and to demonstrate God's love for us. In the Quran we are not told the name of the son who was sacrificed, no matter; it is the ransom atonement that is important. "And He said, take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get yourself into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning..." Abraham was faithful, he did not question God but trusted Him enough that he would sacrifice his only son. But as Abraham was about to do as he was told, God intervened through the voice of an angel. "Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do any thing unto him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me." God spared the boy and provided a ram as a substitute. This was the type of substitute represented on the cross and the sacrifice for our sins.

The idea of a sacrifice is hard for many to understand; why have sacrifices at all? Do they really make sense without some theological justifications for them? Then what are those justifications? If it were just for the sake of sacrifice, it would be better to give to the poor instead of just letting it go up in smoke. Again these are all a foreshadowing of the greatest act in history, that of God giving his son as a sacrifice for us. Sacrifice is made for atonement, it takes away the sins of the people who offer it. In Leviticus we read, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." And in Hebrews, "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood, and without shedding of blood is no remission." Jesus at the Last Supper "took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it, for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." In the Quran - Sura 37:106-7, "For this was obviously a trial - and We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice."

The people become acceptable before God because the punishment for their sin is paid symbolically by the animal that is sacrificed. The whole process was to point to Jesus, the Lamb of God, just as Isaiah wrote: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes are we healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief, when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."

It might be easier to understand if you could consider the sacrifice of Jesus as being the "ransom" sacrifice. To ransom something you need to provide a payment to release whatever is held for ransom. In Isaac's case, he was set free in exchange for the ram. The ram means very little, what means everything is that the story symbolizes the sacrifice God made by allowing Jesus to be sent to the cross. Don't argue with me on this point, you will only oppose the truth. The offering of Isaac was a type of the offering God would give with Jesus. As Paul writes to Timothy "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." This is why Christians consider themselves to be redeemed. Why? Because through the perfect life of Jesus, the sins of the world were nailed on the cross with him. "Without shedding of blood, is no remission." Mankind was bound in sin and the Mosaic Law hadn't helped, God paid the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus to ransom us out of that sin and allow us to live under the law of freedom and love. This is why Christians speak so much of the blood of Christ; the redemption story and the gospel of the kingdom are the Christian message. The Jesus Freaks spoke truly, Jesus was hung up for our hang-ups.

Sarah lived to be a 127 years old. Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah near the city of Hebron and buried her there. Abraham remarried in his old age to Keturah and fathered more children although everything he had was left to Isaac. Abraham was 175 years old when he died and was placed in the cave by Isaac and Ishmael next to Sarah. This is also the burial place of Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. Infidels from all sides have fought over this site.
[35, 36, 38, 378, 402, Genesis, Leviticus, Isaiah, Hebrews, I Timothy]

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