Ram in the Bush
When was the last time you heard a reference to the biblical story about Abraham, Isaac and the ram in the bush? It’s been a long time since God has placed it on my heart; or that I have heard any reference in general.
Today is Ash Wednesday , in the Christian faith it marks the beginning of the Lenten season; the 40 day period ( as a symbol and reminder of the 40 days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai communing with God, received the Ten Commandments and that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness after His baptism ) that preceded the celebration of Resurrection Sunday.
Many people have always referenced and/or tied this story ( Ram in the bush) in terms of God’s provision ; this is true to the extent that God provided His sacrifice as an outcome of Abraham passing the test of faith that God had just presented to him. However, the real essence of this story ( and the Lenten season) is the willingness to sacrifice the one true thing ( in this case – person) we love as a testament of our love for, our willingness to sacrifice and obey God. God made provision ( in this case a substitute for the sacrifice itself- Isaac- in the form of a Ram) only After he saw the depth of Abraham’s love for Him, and the depth of his faith – enough to be willing to trust and obey Him even when he was not presented with any answers.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. ”Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
As you may recall, God had promised Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age; Abraham was 75 years old when God promised him Isaac. Sarah and Abraham had to wait 25 years for their promise of their seed (Isaac) to be fulfilled. Abraham and Sarah were well in age- they were OLD; Sarah thought the idea of having a child as old as she was ( eggs all dried up) that she literally laughed at the notion. It got to a point that it was taking so long for the promise to manifest that Sarah took things into her own hands ( with Abraham’s full cooperation) by giving Abraham her hand maid / servant/slave- Hagar- to bare a seed on their own; Ishmael was the result.
To finally have their promise fulfilled, they really adored Isaac -only for God to turn around and ask them to give him back? Literally give him up by sacrificing him — REALLY?
I’m sure Abraham had to dig deep into his core in order for him to stir up the level of faith that required him to trust and obey God to the extent that he did.
I also believe that this is something that God wants us to reflect on as we approach lent. I also firmly believe that the Lenten season’s purpose is to help us to remember God’s ultimate sacrifice- His Son Jesus.
As a covenant with us – His believers- He’s asking us to what level are we willing to sacrifice , to trust and to obey. 😘🙏🏾
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son , your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you. ”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you. ”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. ”
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided. ”
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.
When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
4:1-11pp — Mk 1:12,13; Lk 4:1-13
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Timeline of Abraham