“Ransomed… with a
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim.
Ibrahim Called Out
One of the best examples of submission to the Word of Allah occurred when Ibrahim was called to leave his home, his kindred, and his country. He was to travel toward an unknown destination that Allah, in time, would show him. Ibrahim implicitly obeyed when Allah spoke to him. This event is recorded in the Honored Qur’an and in Taurat Genesis 12, starting in verse 1: “Now the LORD had said unto Ibrahim, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” Ibrahim’s response is recorded in Genesis 12:4: “So Ibrahim departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him … and Ibrahim was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.”
By this time Ibrahim was no longer a young man; he was settled and wealthy. But when he heard the voice of Allah, he obeyed without questioning. Ibrahim was not told where he would go, but only that he was to pack his belongings, gather his household and leave. This he did, setting aside his own preferences because he was fully confident in Allah’s leading. You see, Ibrahim had developed a relationship with Allah; he understood that His way is best. Therefore, he simply took Allah at His Word and submitted to His wishes. We, too, would do well to render that same submission to Allah as Ibrahim rendered.
Ibrahim Called to Sacrifice
Chapter 22 of Taurat Genesis contains another record of Ibrahim. Many years after leaving his home and kindred, he was directed by Allah to sacrifice his son. Many details are revealed about what happened then. Is this account important? Yes! Why else would Sura 26.69 tell us to “rehearse” the story of Ibrahim? The Honored Qur’an has a very positive statement about Ibrahim. Sura 26.69 Ash-Shuara states, “And rehearse to them (something of) Ibrahim’s story.” It is evident that this account is most important for us to know and understand, for it has a lesson to teach us. We are most blessed to know the story.
In Taurat Genesis 22:2 it is written, “And he (Allah) said, Take now thy son, thine only son….” Then came these most unexpected, extremely painful words: “…Whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”
Ibrahim was in the habit of communing with Allah. As a result, there had developed such a relationship between Allah and Ibrahim that Ibrahim recognized Allah’s voice when he heard it. And the love Ibrahim had towards Allah was such that when Ibrahim heard His voice, he trusted and obeyed from his heart, even when he did not understand Allah’s purposes. As Ibrahim had in the past, he again moved to obey. This story is briefly recorded in As-Saaffat Sura 37.102-107. It could not have been an easy task for him to carry out that command! His tender heart must have been pained beyond description! Yet the Word from Allah rang clear in his memory.
Ibrahim Among the “Hanif”
The “Hanif” are truly sincere and most devoted to Allah. They are the purest in their worship of Allah. The biblical account in Genesis 22:3 says that after Ibrahim was told to sacrifice his son, he “…rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and …his son, and clave [split] the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which Allah had told him.” This humble obedience is why Ibrahim is considered to be among the “Hanif.” When Ibrahim received Allah’s command, he obeyed without delay, acting willingly upon what he was instructed to do. Is it not true that today, those who are obedient to the voice of Allah, those who yield unquestioning submission to Him, are also among the “Hanif”?
Ibrahim Called to Mount Moriah
This task Allah had asked Ibrahim to carry out was no small feat. The Taurat tells us it took three days to make that journey to the land of Moriah. They must have been three long, painful days, since Ibrahim believed he would return from the place of sacrifice without his beloved son. And what would he tell the boy’s mother? One wonders if Ibrahim found any rest during the nights while others slept. Surely Ibrahim wrestled with Allah in prayer over this issue.
Taurat Genesis 22:4-8 continues the story: “Then on the third day Ibrahim lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Ibrahim said unto his young men, abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” No other person was to witness this event before Allah. “Ibrahim took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon … his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.” Before long the son of Ibrahim spoke saying, “My father, …behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Ibrahim said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.”
They arrived at the site; the altar was built; the wood was placed upon the altar. Then the aged father had to tell his dear son, “You are to be the sacrifice.” Imagine! This was the beloved son of Ibrahim in his old age! Yet the son submitted fully to what Allah had asked of Ibrahim. Without verbal protest or physical resistance, he allowed himself to be bound and placed upon the altar.
Ibrahim raised the knife in his hand and was about to slay his son, when his hand was stayed. A voice from heaven called: “Ibrahim, Ibrahim.” He answered, “Here am I.” Genesis 22:9-11. The story continues in verses 12-13: “And He [Allah] said, lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Ibrahim lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him, a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Ibrahim went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead [place] of his son.”
Ibrahim’s Son Ransomed
How was Ibrahim’s son ransomed? The Honored Qur’an says that it was done with a momentous or great sacrifice! Sura 37.107 tells us: “And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice.” Was the ram caught in the thicket really a “momentous” or great sacrifice? We know it cannot be. Therefore, we know there is more to this story. Could it be that the ram provided by Allah pointed to the future “great Sacrifice”? Did it represent Him whom Allah would send to be the sin offering for the entire world?
In a sense, Ibrahim’s son represented all of humanity. We all should die eternally, because of our sins. However, we may be relieved of that fate and live eternally, thanks to the ransom provided by Allah, that ram-lamb that was sacrificed in our stead about 2,000 years ago. His name is Isa al-Masih, Christ Jesus, the son of Maryam— sent from Allah to be the atonement on behalf of mankind. Man had disobeyed Allah and deserved destruction, yet Allah would provide a solution. The sinful race could be ransomed only by the magnificent sacrifice of Him Who was sent from Allah.
Ibrahim Called Blessed by Allah
Because Ibrahim obeyed Allah’s voice in this matter, the account in Genesis 22:16-18 (Taurat) says he was blessed by Allah. And not only was he blessed, but “in his seed” (his descendants, and one in particular—Isa al-Masih) everyone on the earth would be blessed. “I [Allah] will bless thee…. I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore… and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
Genesis 26: 5 tells us again why Ibrahim was blessed by Allah: “…Because that Ibrahim obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws….” Some would argue that the ten commandments were not given until Moses’ time at Mt. Sinai, long after Ibrahim. However, this account in Genesis forever settles the fact that even Ibrahim obeyed Allah’s ten commandments and other instructions. If we wish to have the blessing of Allah, we, too, must be willing to render obedience to Allah’s Word and His commandments, with the same surrendered will with which Ibrahim obeyed. Most assuredly, we also will be blessed by Allah.
All the verses in the Old Testament Scriptures (Taurat) that speak about sacrificing of animals were to lead us to look forward to the “great Sacrifice,” the “momentous sacrifice” which was to be sent from Allah. Yet when Isa al-Masih Ibn Maryam finally came to mankind, few believed that He was truly the Messiah, the sin offering, the ransom, the Saviour of this doomed world that had fallen deeply into sin.
Mount Moriah and the Ransom
Why did Allah ask Ibrahim to travel to Mount Moriah? That mountain was where the temple would later be built, but it was also the same mount upon which, many years later, Isa al-Masih would give His life as a sacrifice for the human race. He died in the very place where, centuries before, Ibrahim’s hand had been stayed, sparing his beloved son. But for Isa al-Masih, Allah’s own hand was not to be drawn back. He (Isa al-Masih), who was nearest to Allah, became a sacrifice on behalf of humanity. His life was yielded for us. Father Ibrahim’s experience with his son was a foreshadowing; it foretold what was to come. In Ibrahim’s day, a ransom was found: the ram in the thicket. But of Isa al-Masih, the Injeel says, “Even as the Son of Man [Isa] came …to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28.
Anciently, wise people of the East knew that a ransom would come on behalf of mankind. A ransom is the price required to be paid for someone to be released from bondage or captivity. In this case, sinners needed to be rescued or pardoned from sin, because “the wages of sin is [eternal] death.” Romans 6:23. In the Holy Books we read, “…Deliver him [man] from going down to the pit [destruction]: I have found a ransom.” Job 33:24.
Someone had to pay the price on mankind’s behalf, or we sinful humans surely would have only the pit [destruction] to look forward to. It is written in the Injeel that Allah provided a sacrifice, that ransom: “But this man [Isa al-Masih], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever [Himself], sat down on the right hand of God [Allah].” Hebrews 10:12. “And He [Isa al-Masih] is the propitiation [the reconciliation to God] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1John 2:2.
Dear friend of Allah, will you not accept this sacrifice, this ransom from Allah, on your behalf? For you, Allah gave Isa al-Masih, the Messiah, as the “momentous sacrifice.” He is our Saviour from sin. Please accept this gracious offer today!
“Ransomed … with a Great Sacrifice”