Ishmael–God Hears

4 04 2012

An illustration of Genesis 21:18. Print 448 in...

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! 🙂

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God’s Father-heart for Muslims

30 03 2012
Abraham Sends Hagar and Ishmael Away (Gen. 21:...

Abraham Sends Hagar and Ishmael Away (Gen. 21:1-14) Русский: Авраам отпускает Агарь с Измаилом (Быт. 21:1-14) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just returned from a speaking trip to Texas, where people asked me questions like, “Why do Muslims hate Christians so much?” and “How did we get into this mess anyway?”  I took those opportunities to direct them back to Abraham’s broken family relationships: the rejection, abandonment, jealousy, resentment, and broken father-figure that Ishmael inherited.

The question is, how can we minister healing to those heart wounds on an individual scale, then on a corporate scale, to Muslim communities and Muslim nations?

A vital key to our success in this is how we position ourselves.  Imagine Isaac coming to Ishmael with a superior attitude: “I got Daddy’s inheritance, but I’ll give you a handout now and again.”  Unfortunately, the Western church too often approaches Muslims with a superior attitude, and don’t understand when our isolated acts of kindness or generosity are looked at with suspicion or even rejected altogether.

We must position ourselves as equals, and invite Muslims to join us in the embrace of an Everlasting Father who does not reject or abandon us.  For many Christians, we need this revelation and healing for our own earthly father wounds before we can share it with our Muslim friends.  Only through their true Father’s acceptance can they find healing from their woundedness and rejection from their “earthly” father (Abraham), as well as the generations of fathers since.  We can open a new door for them back to the Father, and when they experience His love, they’ll be able to love those they couldn’t before.

I believe God is going to supernaturally help us in this process.  Malachi 4:6 prophesies that in the last days God will “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”  We already see this happening on a family level, with more dads than ever before realizing how important it is that they invest deeply in their children’s lives.  We also see a younger generation being taught about honor for their fathers in a fresh way.  Could God take this to a community and national scale?  How about healing the father-child wound (and resulting orphan spirit) within Islam?  In these last days, I believe we’ll see it happen.

I remember the day one of my Muslim friends got the revelation that God was her Father.  I never told her that, but the Holy Spirit whispered it to her, and it changed everything in her relationship with God.  May God pour out the revelation of His Father’s heart on all the sons of Ishmael!