In part 2 of this series we saw that Abraham (i.e. the ‘exalted father’) is an iconic lynch-pin of faith for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
Ishmael and his younger brother Isaac buried their father Abraham together (Gen.25:7-9) pointing to some sort of shared destiny for Jews, Muslims and Christians in the sovereignty of God.
The reality is that more Jews and Muslims are changing allegiance to Jesus Christ today than at any other time in history.
The desire of all nations has come in the person of Jesus who is Messiah to the Jewish nation, Saviour of the world (42% of which are Muslim) and Lord of the church.
Reflecting back on the significance in the purposes of God, Ishmael’s life was a symbol of “legalism” (see Gal.4:21-31). If legalistic religion has taken the sons of Isaac and Ishmael out of the ‘household of faith’, it is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that will bring them in “for the law came by Moses (and Muhammad) but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn.1:14b,17).
Muslim (and Jewish) people who respond to the grace of God in Christ are effectively saying…
- Their religious traditions isolated them as ‘slaves’ but the grace of Christ has included them as ‘sons’ (i.e. children).
- They have striven hard to experience the ‘blessing of Abraham’ but in Christ they have become heirs (Gal.3:29).
- They were strangers to the fatherhood of God but now, they call him “Father”.
- They have received the down-payment of eternity by the Holy Spirit (Eph.1:13-14)
- They are walking in the ‘new arrangement’ (i.e. covenant) (Jer.31:33)
- They know the cleansing of the ‘regions deep within’ by faith not law (Rom.3:21-28)
- They have tasted and now see that the Lord is good (Ps.34:8).
- The glories of Sinai (Moses) and Mount Hira (Muhammad) are replaced by the unveiling of the glory of God in the face of Jesus (2 Cor.3:7-9).
God will increasingly use the “foolish things to confound the wise” (1 Cor.1:27). The meaning of the word ‘foolish’ in the original Greek is ‘religious stupidity’.
They are the least likely candidates for the grace of God in Christ, let alone as agent provocateur of ‘spiritual jealousy’ by Jewish people. So while we are aware that “the fullness of the Gentiles must come in” (Rom.11) and that Israel will be provoked to jealousy by that, it is hard to think of any other Gentiles that could provoke Jewish sons of Isaac more than Muslim sons of Ishmael.
But, as we have seen in the previous two posts, the name Ishmael means “God hears” – a Middle Eastern name carried for a reason. God affirmed that he ‘hears’ Ishmael and will ‘bless him’; so Abraham circumcised Ishmael as the sign borne among [Jewish and] Muslim males to this day, as a sign of Abrahamic faith (Gen.17:20-21).
This is why I am expectant that a massive in-gathering is due from among Muslims peoples, before Jesus returns.
Note: I am indebted to Faisal Malick for some seminal thoughts echoed in his book ‘The Destiny of Islam in the End times’, (Destiny Image Publishers Inc.)