Today is known as Eid Al-Adha to Muslims around the world, and is referred to as “Korban” among the Uighur people in China and Central Asia. Korban means “sacrifice”. This is a day that commemorates Abraham’s faith and almost-sacrifice of his son Ishmael as according to the Koran (as opposed to Isaac as indicated in the Bible). It is the most important day on the calendar. It is a day of remembering. It is a day of atonement. It is a day when blood is spilled as a sacrifice and as a covering.
I have been trying to keep up on my language skills from my time out west. However, today I’ve been spending extra time going through my Uighur language books and pictures, remembering the time I spent with them three years ago.
Korban. I remember this day clearly as I walked around the city and observed. I remember watching thousands of men (and a few women on the side) kneel and bow as they prayed in front of the mosque that morning. I remember that day being abnormally cold. I remember being so overwhelmed that I was nursing a migraine for most of that day. I allowed myself to watch as sheep were bought in the marketplace and then sacrificed on the streets. The local imam would lay his hands on the sheep’s head, say a prayer, and then men especially employed for such an occassion would cut the sheep’s throat. And the sheep would be utterly silent. After it was dead they would make a slit in the leg and with their mouths would blow up the sheep like a balloon in order to make the right kind of cuts. I remember watching the rituals to determine which pieces were to be offered up as an offering and which pieces could be put at the table of the feast. This was happening on just about every corner of the city. Their sins were atoned. Until next time, that is. I remembered the words of Isaiah, “he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Is. 53). Suddenly that passage made sense. Piles upon piles (truckloads of piles) of sheepskin was lining the streets that afternoon. And I remembered that It Was Finished a long time ago.
(pictures are blurry because the cold kept fogging my lens…sorry)
In Hebrews 4 it talks about entering the Sabbath-rest. Some people take this as meaning resting on Sundays, and while it does refer to that some, it is also speaking to something much deeper. It is speaking of entering the rest of God, to enter His presence for eternity. To truly rest. To be able to approach him because of grace- and only because of grace. To finally come to the conclusion that there is absolutely nothing you can “do”, but is only about Who you know. You see, most every belief system in the world talks about how you will never be good enough so you must do more and work harder and harder to become more perfect. However, this message talks about how you will never be good enough so you must simply rest in the grace of Him who offers it. No more blood sacrifices. No more sin offerings. Just simply rest. Rest and trust in the One who offers that gift. Lay your past at the altar once and for all and enter into the Sabbath rest.
So, on this day remember the faith of Abraham, yes. But, also rejoice in the Father of Abraham who offers for us something so much greater through His own lamb offering.
On this day offer a cup of tea to a Muslim friend. Listen. Learn. Listen some more. Share life. And love him well.