It’s a holiday throughout the Muslim world.
It’s Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are in Mecca, the most holy city in Islam. Young and old, rich and poor, male and female, they all wear white robes as a symbol of purity and equality. Pilgrims recite the Qur’an, pray, and perform rituals that symbolize cleansing.
Yet we know only Jesus can cleanse us in a way that lasts forever.
It’s Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice. Families are slaughtering animals to remember how God provided the sacrificial lamb for Abraham in place of his son (Ishmael, according to the Qur’an).
We know Jesus was the perfect lamb God provided so we wouldn’t need to make sacrifices.
A few years ago I started asking about these sacrifices. Is this about forgiveness of sins? I got many kinds of answers. Some of the more orthodox said no, it’s symbolic. ‘We remember Abraham, but it’s not really about forgiveness.’ Others said yes, it’s atonement for the bad things.
Is this sacrifice atonement for past sins, or forgiveness for future sins? I asked. Those for whom it was about forgiveness agreed it was for offenses they would commit in the future. One very religious bearded man described it as a way to celebrate God’s provision when He asked Abraham to offer up his son on the mountain, and just before he did God provided the perfect lamb from heaven to take the place of his son.
The perfect lamb from heaven. What an incredible bridge to the story of the gospel!
We have many opportunities to talk about sacrifice. Our friends and neighbors are already talking about it. We are cleansed from sin through the sacrifice of the perfect, spotless Lamb of God. That is the hope we bring to an area of the world where people are compelled to do good deeds, sacrifice animals, and perform cleansing rituals to achieve eternal life.
Would you pray with us for our local friends?
- Pray for discussions about sacrifice and the Perfect Lamb happening this week.
- Pray that God would grant Truth to those who are seeking.
- Pray that Muslims would discover the emptiness in effort, that there is no human answer to the issue of sin.
- Pray for Muslims to have the opportunity to hear. The majority of Muslims live in a context where they will never hear the gospel.
- Pray for those who have been exposed to the message, that God would remove the veil from their eyes (2 Corinthians 4).