This week I read a wonderful book by an insightful Pakistani brother, Faisal Malick, entitled HERE COMES ISHMAEL: The Kairos Moment for the Muslim People. What I loved about the book was the tremendous hope Malick holds, based on the Bible, for millions of Muslims to find a fulfillment of their cry for God through the Messiah, Jesus.
Only 4 Bible characters were directly named by God: Jesus, John the Baptist, Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael’s name means “God hears.” In Genesis 21, as a teenager, Ishmael faces a faith-crisis like few of us could imagine. First his own father rejects him and sends him away. Then the supplies run out and he knows he’s going to die. His own mother can’t bear to watch and distances herself from him, too, leaving him totally alone. Malick imagines Ishmael may have asked questions such as, “Who am I? The son of a patriarch, or just the son of a servant?” “My father taught me about God, but like my father and mother, has God forsaken me too?” Even without the lack of nourishment, Ishmael could have given up on life with a broken heart, broken identity, and broken faith.
But in Genesis 21:17 it says that God heard Ishmael’s cry. The prophecy hidden in his name became his experience. And God opened their eyes to see a water source that had been with them all along but they just couldn’t see it.
Many modern Muslims express a similar heart-cry for God, but issues of rejection, broken hearts, fractured identities, and despairing faith have blinded them to the Living Water right under their noses–the Messiah, Jesus, highly honored in the Qur’an, coming again to Judge the earth, the one Healer who can bring wholeness to their hearts. He’s already present to save for those with eyes to see.
Malick exhorts us: “We must intercede for the Muslims like a mother would for her dying child. Some of us have walked away from Ishmael, just like his own mother did, because the condition of Ishmael seems so hopeless in many ways; but we must yield to the Spirit of God and [believe] God will hear the cry of the Muslim people in this hour.”
I believe that the truth of God’s destiny over the sons of Ishmael is not fully found in “Islam” which means “submission.” The submission of a servant is not the same as the affectionate relationship of a son. But God will reveal to the Muslim world the truth of their destiny hidden in the name “Ishmael.” God hears. Even in the greatest crisis, at the lowest point, God has not abandoned them, He hears.
Without a father, a son’s identity and destiny cannot be fully fulfilled. Jesus said he came to “reveal the Father.” Who needs this revelation more than Ishmael’s children? And as I’ve said before, Malachi 4:6 prophesies this revelation is on its way!
When Romans 10:19 talks about Israel being “provoked” to jealousy by the salvation of the Gentiles, could it be millions of Muslims reaching out to the Jews with a new love found in Jesus will finally provoke the Jews to consider that Jesus could be their Messiah? Wouldn’t that just be like Father God to use a good (but despised) Samaritan to bring healing to a hurting Jew, to use a long-lost son (unwanted by his own brother) who comes home to start a party in Father’s house for everyone, including the older son who never understood his Father’s love?
Pray with me for Muslims worldwide to see what they couldn’t see before–an open door (John 10:9) for them to come as sons back into the Father’s house. And when it happens, I want to be in the house partying with them! 🙂