The Ram in the Thicket

Abraham and Isaac Laurent de La Hire, 1650

At 100 years old for Abraham and 90 years old for Sarah, they finally have a son, Issac.  God’s promise is fulfilled.  God has blessed their family so they can be a blessing to all the families in the world.

Yet, God makes things interesting again.  When Issac is older, God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son (Gen. 22:2).  After failed attempts and grief-stricken years, Abraham and Sarah finally have a son and now God wants them to kill the fulfillment of the promise.  When most people would be disobedient to this command, Abraham has finally resolved to be obedient to such a gut-wrenching request by God.

God instructed Abraham, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Gen. 22:2).  God’s wording is specific and powerful.  He asks Abraham to offer his only son, Issac, while Ishmael is also available for sacrifice.  God values Ishmael and has promised to care for him, but the promise of God’s people was birthed out of the line that only God could accomplish.  He would not build redemptive’s plan on man’s best-laid efforts.

Abraham takes his son, Issac, who is now old enough and strong enough to carry the wood for a burnt offering (Gen. 22:6) up on the mountain to be slaughtered.  As Abraham raises his hand to slay his only son, God stops him.  Once God sees Abraham’s commitment, he provides a substitute for Issac.  God traps a ram in the thicket to die in the place of Issac (Gen. 22:13).  At the lowest level, this event shows that Abraham has finally become who God called him to be.  He obeyed when it counted.  These two walk down the mountain together to watch God fulfill his promise in a journey that is deemed to be unforgettable.

At a deeper level, this event foreshadows another Father who will sacrifice his only son, whom he loves.  God did not call Abraham to do something that he was not willing to do himself.  It will be his pleasure to crush his only son (Isa. 53:10).  Notice the similar language of how God called Abraham to take “your only son Isaac, whom you love” (Gen. 22:2) when Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  The next time that God asks a father to murder his son, it will happen.  The ram in the thicket will be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

All the nations of the earth will be blessed by Abraham’s family (Gen. 12:3).  One that comes from his lineage (Matt. 1:1) will produce a number in this spiritual family that outnumbers the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5) “numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:11-12).