I’m going to refer you to a respected scholar to pull this all together because I simply can’t state it any better. Joel Richardson, author and teacher of eschatology, describes it this way:
“So now we have this story: Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael is a fourteen year old boy. He’s kicked out into the desert but the Lord is faithful. He preserves him. He promises to make him into a great nation. So we read these things and they’re interesting Bible stories but what I’m asking you to do is to put yourself in the position and recognize the fact that in history, in real time, this was a real boy… with real emotions, with a real life. This happened to a little kid named Ishmael. And so what we need to understand is you have this little boy and… he had a dad. He had a mother. He had a family. He had a life. He had an inheritance. And in one day he loses all of these things. He loses his dad. He loses his inheritance. He’s out in the desert. He’s on his own. And that brokenness, that woundedness, that rejection that took place in this little child, today, has been passed on into the religion of Islam.
What do I mean? … Mohammed, the founder of Islam… claims to be a direct descendant of Ishmael and Muslims, today, view themselves as both the physical and the spiritual descendants of Ishmael. And so here you have this story, this incredible event that took place in this child’s life. Two thousand six hundred years after these events took place, a direct descendant of Ishmael named Mohammed birthed forth a new religion into the world. And what does the religion teach? … It teaches God is not a father. God has no Son. And, thirdly, Ishmael, not Isaac, is the heir with regard to the promises of God to the earth. The very things that those issues of rejection and woundedness and brokenness that took place in Ishmael’s life were preserved in that line and two thousand six hundred years later, a man named Mohammed goes into a cave, has an incredibly dark encounter with some sort of spiritual being. It literally chokes the life out of him to where he feels as though he’s going to die, three times this presence comes over him and it demands of him to recite… On the third time, the words of the Qur’an begin to flow forth from his mouth.
Mohammed, himself, literally believed that he was demon-possessed. He was suicidal. He was terrified.” 1
After this, he runs home to his wife who eventually convinced him he was a prophet of God. This is the origin of Islam.
“In a spiritual sense, Islam is the broken, bitter cry of Ishmael.” 2
Did you notice the compassion in his definition of Islam? This is how we as the Church should approach Muslims who God also desires to be saved [1 Timothy 2:4]. These are people just as lost as you and I once were. I don’t want you to miss this because the implications of this original conflict in Genesis when played out through Scripture to the time of the end is shocking and may be considered by some as quite harsh especially in a day when we are taught that Christians and Muslims both worship the same God and a redefining of Christian love as powerless, non-judgmental tolerance is pervading the Church. We are to love Muslims but this doesn’t mean we don’t, also, let the truth be known. Rather, it is against this backdrop of compassion, of Christian love, that we must tell the truth and warn others. In other words, we must love people enough to tell them the truth about Islam.
“You have in Islam the greatest anti-Christ religion that the world will ever know… And, in fact, the greatest spiritual challenge the Church will ever face particularly in the days ahead. The Church, today, is still in denial.” 3
I echo these last sentiments and, with the exception of Adam’s sin necessitating the death and resurrection of Christ for the salvation of all mankind, I don’t think there has been any one sin in the Bible that has been so felt around the world as Abraham’s. The consequences rage on to this very day between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael and it will only be resolved upon Christ’s return.
1,2,3 The Return Is Near: Strategic Insights Into the Most Important Moment In History. Richardson, Joel. 2011. DVD.