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Ram in a Thicket

Ram in a Thicket

From Ur, southern Iraq, about 2600-2400 BC

This is one of an almost identical pair discovered by Leonard Woolley in the 'Great Death Pit', one of the graves in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. The other is now in the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia. It was named the 'Ram in a Thicket' by the excavator Leonard Woolley, who liked biblical allusions. In Genesis 22:13, God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, but at the last moment 'Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son'.

The 'ram' is more accurately described as a goat, and he reaches up for the tastiest branches in a pose often adopted by goats. Goats and sheep in the Near East were among the earliest animals to be domesticated. They were an everyday feature of agricultural life and are regularly depicted by artists in many different ways.

The figure had been crushed flat by the weight of the soil and the wooden core had perished. Wax was used to keep the pieces together as it was lifted from the ground, and it was then pressed back into shape. The ram's head and legs are covered in gold leaf, its ears are copper (now green), its twisted horns and the fleece on its shoulders are of lapis lazuli, and its body fleece is made of shell. Its genitals are gold. The tree is covered in gold leaf, with golden flowers, the whole supported on a small rectangular base decorated with a mosaic of shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli.

The tube rising from the goat's shoulders suggests it was used to support something, most likely a bowl.

C.L. Woolley and P.R.S. Moorey, Ur of the Chaldees, revised edition (Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 1982)

H.W.F. Saggs, Babylonians (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

C.L. Woolley and others, Ur Excavations, vol. II: The R (London, The British Museum Press, 1934)

© Trustees of the British Museum


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1 a. PG/1847. DETAIL OF THE COFFIN (s), SHOWING THE STRING BINDINGV. p. 137 b. PG/1851. BITUMEN BOAT, SHOWING THE SKELETON OF WITHIES ON WHICH THE BITUMEN WAS PLASTERED V. p. 145 PLATE 87
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U. 12357 A. THE RAM CAUGHT IN A THICKET One of the two goat statuettes from the Great Death-pit. Scale c. (ht. 0-50 m.) v. pp. I2i, 264 M. Louise Baker pinx, PLATE

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Joint Expedition of the British Museum and of the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania to Mesopotamia Hall, H. R. (Harry Reginald), 1873-1930, ed Woolley, Leonard, Sir, 1880-1960

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Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | 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.” Genesis 22:13-14

When God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and say, “Let my people go!” he was disheartened. Anyone who has ever walked through the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and has seen the gold and the magnificence which decorated the courts of the pharaohs can imagine in a small way how this 80-year-old man, who for the last 40 years had been a shepherd with loneliness for a companion, would feel, striding into the palace asking that some two million slaves be allowed to take a hike out of the empire.

Sure! Just like that. So Moses, fishing for something more concrete, says, “When they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ then what shall I tell them?” God told him to say that “I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:13-14)–something that made a lot more sense to them than it does to us today. Here’s why. God used a word that was based on the verb, “to be.” It means one who is the totality of existence. It is the basis of the word Jehovah, one of the names which God used to reveal who He is.

In ancient days, God’s name was revered, something sacred and holy, and the degree to which God’s name is profaned and trivialized today marks the distance we have come with our backs to God.

Guy Duffield wrote, “Scribes who copied the Scriptures used to wash their hands before they would write the word God. But when they came to the name Jehovah they would bathe themselves all over before writing it. So much did the Jews stand in awe of that awful Name that they substituted for it some lesser word for God whenever it occurred in their public reading of sacred Scripture.” (Guy Duffield, The Seven Great Redemptive Names of God, p. 4).

In Old Testament scriptures, the name Jehovah is also compounded with other names, giving us beautiful pictures of God’s nature and character. He is called, Jehovah Elohim meaning, “Jehovah God,” Jehovah Rapha meaning “Jehovah or God our healer,” Jehovah Shalom meaning “Jehovah or God our peace,” Jehovah Ra-ah meaning “Jehovah or God our shepherd, Jehovah Shammah meaning “Jehovah or God, the one present,” and so forth.

Each of these names for God is connected with something meaningful and significant that gives us guidelines for living in the early hours of the twenty-first century.

First, do you remember the story of a father who was asked by God to sacrifice His son on Mt. Moriah, at the same place where the temple was later to stand? His name was Abraham, and the son was Isaac. The first mention of the word love in the Bible was used of Abraham, describing how he loved his son (Genesis 22:2). Here’s the record. “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” (Genesis 22:13-14). The phrase we translate “The Lord will provide” is Jehovah Jireh or “The Lord our provider.”

Have you discovered that God still provides for His children? Have you learned that God’s provision is enough to meet the deep needs of your life, emotionally, spiritually, and physically, that He will be with you when you go through tough times and that He will provide for your needs?

If you are a regular listener to Guidelines or read the commentary, you know that at this point, I usually tell a story illustrating the Guidelines for today. You can be that living illustration or story. You can prove for yourself that the same One who provided a ram in the thicket for Abraham can provide for you today. He is still Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides.


Ram in a Thicket - History

New International Version
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.

New Living Translation
Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

English Standard Version
And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.

Berean Study Bible
Then Abraham looked up and saw behind him a ram in a thicket, caught by its horns. So he went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

King James Bible
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

New King James Version
Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

New American Standard Bible
Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by its horns and Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in the place of his son.

NASB 1995
Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.

NASB 1977
Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.

Amplified Bible
Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering (ascending sacrifice) instead of his son.

Christian Standard Bible
Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

American Standard Version
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And Abraham lifted his eyes, and he saw and behold, one ram caught in the branches by his horns, and Abraham went and he took the ram and offered him up as an offering in place of his son.

Brenton Septuagint Translation
And Abraam lifted up his eyes and beheld, and lo! a ram caught by his horns in a plant of Sabec and Abraam went and took the ram, and offered him up for a whole-burnt-offering in the place of Isaac his son.

Contemporary English Version
Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes. So he took the ram and sacrificed it instead of his son.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw behind his back a ram amongst the briers sticking fast by the horns, which he took and offered for a holocaust instead of his son.

English Revised Version
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

Good News Translation
Abraham looked around and saw a ram caught in a bush by its horns. He went and got it and offered it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
When Abraham looked around, he saw a ram behind him caught by its horns in a bush. So Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

International Standard Version
Then Abraham looked up and behind him to see a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So Abraham went over, grabbed the ram, and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

JPS Tanakh 1917
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son.

Literal Standard Version
And Abraham lifts up his eyes, and looks, and behold, a ram behind, seized in a thicket by its horns and Abraham goes, and takes the ram, and causes it to ascend for a burnt-offering instead of his son

NET Bible
Abraham looked up and saw behind him a ram caught in the bushes by its horns. So he went over and got the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.

New Heart English Bible
And Abraham looked up and saw a single ram caught in the thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up as a burnt offering instead of his son.

World English Bible
Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

Young's Literal Translation
And Abraham lifteth up his eyes, and looketh, and lo, a ram behind, seized in a thicket by its horns and Abraham goeth, and taketh the ram, and causeth it to ascend for a burnt-offering instead of his son

Genesis 22:12
"Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him," said the angel, "for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from me."

Genesis 22:14
And Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. So to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

Psalm 40:6-8 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required…

Psalm 89:19,20 Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty I have exalted one chosen out of the people…

1 Corinthians 5:7,8 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: …

1 Peter 1:19,20 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: …

A burnt offering in the stead of his son. --We have here the fact of substitution, and the doctrine of a vicarious sacrifice. The ram took Isaac's place, and by its actual death completed the typical representation of the Saviour's death on Calvary. In The Speaker's Commentary it has been well shown, that there is no difficulty in this representation being composed of two parts, so that what was wanting in Isaac should be supplied by the ram. And while it would have been most painful for Isaac to have actually died by his father's hand, the doctrine of the possibility of a vicarious sacrifice would have been even less clearly taught thereby. He therefore rises again to life from the altar, and the ram dies in his stead, and by the two combined the whole mystery is set forth of God giving His Son to die for mankind, and of life springing from His death. Compare the mystery of the two birds, Leviticus 14:4 and the two goats, Leviticus 16:8.

Verse 13. - And Abraham lifted up his eyes (in the direction of the voice), and looked, and behold behind him - either at his back (Furst, Keil, Lange, Murphy), or in the background of the altar, i.e. in front of him (Gesenius, Kalisch). The LXX., Samaritan, Syriac, mistaking אַחַר for אֶחַר , read "one," which adds nothing to the sense or picturesqueness of the composition - a ram - אַיִל in the component letters of which cabalistic writers find the initial letters of ךאלהִים יִרְאֶהאּלּו , God will provide for himself (Ver. 8 vide Glass, 'Philippians Tract.,' p. 196). In the animal itself the Fathers (Augustine, Tertullian, Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Ambrose) rightly discerned a type of Christ, though it is fanciful to detect a shadow of the Crown of thorns in the words that follow - caught in a thicket by his horns (the sebach being the intertwined branches of trees or brushwood): and Abraham went and took the ram, and (though not directed what to do, yet with a fine spiritual instinct discerning the Divine purpose) offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son - whom be thus received from the dead as in a figure (Hebrews 11:19).

and saw
וַיַּרְא֙ (way·yar)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Consecutive imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's 7200: To see

a ram
אַ֔יִל (’a·yil)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 352: Strength, strong, a chief, a ram, a pilaster, an oak, strong tree

by its horns.
בְּקַרְנָ֑יו (bə·qar·nāw)
Preposition-b | Noun - fdc | third person masculine singular
Strong's 7161: A horn, a flask, cornet, an elephant's tooth, a corner, a peak, a ray, power

the ram
הָאַ֔יִל (hā·’a·yil)
Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 352: Strength, strong, a chief, a ram, a pilaster, an oak, strong tree


Ram in a Thicket - History

For a long time, God promised to make Abraham a father of nations. Thus when Isaac was born, God’s promises materialized. It was very clear that God’s trust of Abraham’s faith rested solely with Isaac. God wanted to test Abraham’s loyalty. And so He came to Abraham one day and made a difficult request: he must sacrifice his only son. Because he was entirely loyal, Abraham chose to obey God’s command.

Abraham and Isaac

Abraham took his son to a mountain to sacrifice him. Just before Abraham struck Isaac with a knife, God’s angel manifested and gripped Abraham’s hand, commanding him not to harm his son in such a way. God acknowledged Abraham’s resolve. He showed Abraham an alternative sacrificial ram just a few meters away on the altar of which he constructed for Abraham to slay his son.

Genesis Chapter 22 (King James Version)

1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife and they went both of them together.

7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

9 And they came to the place which God had told him of and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies

18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because thou hast obeyed my voice.

19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

20 And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor

21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,

22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.

23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.

24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.


Ram in a Thicket - History

A burnt offering in the stead of his son. —We have here the fact of substitution, and the doctrine of a vicarious sacrifice. The ram took Isaac’s place, and by its actual death completed the typical representation of the Saviour’s death on Calvary. In The Speaker’s Commentary it has been well shown, that there is no difficulty in this representation being composed of two parts, so that what was wanting in Isaac should be supplied by the ram. And while it would have been most painful for Isaac to have actually died by his father’s hand, the doctrine of the possibility of a vicarious sacrifice would have been even less clearly taught thereby. He therefore rises again to life from the altar, and the ram dies in his stead, and by the two combined the whole mystery is set forth of God giving His Son to die for mankind, and of life springing from His death. Compare the mystery of the two birds, Leviticus 14:4 and the two goats, Leviticus 16:8.

Genesis 22:13 . Behold a ram — Though that blessed Seed was now typified by Isaac, yet the offering of him up was suspended till the latter end of the world, and in the mean time the sacrifice of beasts was accepted, as a pledge of that expiation which should be made by that great Sacrifice. And it is observable, that the temple, the place of sacrifice, was afterward built upon this mount Moriah, 2 Chronicles 3:1 and mount Calvary, where Christ was crucified, was not far off.

Behind him which way he looked, either because the voice came that way, or because he heard the noise made by the motion of the ram in the thicket, which had gone astray from the rest of the flock, and whose errors were directed hither by God’s wise and powerful providence and being young, though horned, it might be called either lamb, as Genesis 22:7 , or

ram, as it is here. There needs no curious inquiry how he could offer up that to God which was not his own, both because it was found in a public place, and in all probability utterly lost to its owner, and because he had no doubt a warrant and inspiration for it from the great Lord and supreme Owner of all things.

and looked, and, behold, behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns the ram making a noise and rustling among the bushes behind the place where Abraham was, he turned himself, and looked and saw it: the Targum of Onkelos introduces the clause thus, "after these things" and so the Arabic version: after Abraham had heard the voice of the angel, and had lift up his eyes to heaven, he was directed to look behind him and both that and the Targum of Jonathan paraphrase it,"and he saw and beheld one ram''and so the Septuagint, Syriac and Samaritan versions, reading instead of This ram was caught and held by his horns in a thicket of briers, brambles, and thorns, or in the thick branches of the shrubs or bushes which grew upon the mount and the horns of a ram being crooked, are easily implicated in such thickets, but not easily loosed. From whence this ram came is not known it can hardly be thought to come from Abraham's fold, or to be his property, since he was three days' journey distant from home very likely it had strayed from neighbouring flocks, and was by the providence of God directed hither at a seasonable time. The Jewish writers (k) say, it was from the creation of the world and there is no absurdity or improbability to suppose it was immediately created by the power of God, and in an extraordinary manner provided and was a type of our Lord Jesus, who was foreordained of God before the foundation of the world, and came into the world in an uncommon way, being born of a virgin, and that in the fulness of time, and seasonably, and in due time died for the sins of men. The ram has its name from "strength", in the Hebrew language, and was an emblem of a great personage, Daniel 8:3 and may denote the strength and dignity of Christ as a divine Person being caught in a thicket, may be an emblem of the decrees of God, in which he was appointed to be the Saviour or the covenant agreement and transactions with his Father, in which he voluntarily involved himself, and by which he was held or the sins of his people, which were laid upon him by imputation, were wreathed about him, and justice finding him implicated with them, required satisfaction, and had it or the hands of wicked men, sons of Belial, comparable to thorns, by whom he was taken or the sorrows of death and hell that encompassed him, and the curses of a righteous law which lay upon him and perhaps he never more resembled this ram caught in a thicket, than when a platted crown of thorns was put upon his head, and he wore it:

and Abraham went and took the ram without regarding whose property it was, since God, the owner and proprietor of all, had provided it for him, and brought it to him at a very seasonable time, and directed him to take it:

and offered him for a burnt offering in the stead of his son in which also was a type of Christ, who was made an offering for sin, and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savour and its being a burnt offering denotes the sufferings of Christ, and the severity of them and which were in the room and stead of his people, of God's Isaac, of spiritual seed of Abraham, of the children of God of the promise, of all his beloved ones who therefore are let go, justice being satisfied with what Christ has done and suffered, it being all one as if they had suffered themselves as here in the type, the ram having, its throat cut, its blood shed, its skin flayed, and the whole burnt to ashes, were as if Isaac himself had been thus dealt with, as Jarchi observes. Alexander Polyhistor (l), an Heathen writer, has, in agreement with the sacred history, given a narrative of this affair in a few words,"God (he says) commanded Abraham to offer up his son Isaac to him for a burnt offering, and taking the lad with him to a mountain, laid and kindled an heap of wood, and put Isaac upon it and when he was about to slay him, was forbidden by an angel, who presented a ram to him for sacrifice, and then Abraham removed his son from the pile, and offered up the ram.''

(k) Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c. 31.). Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc. (l) Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 19. p. 421.

13 . and behold, behind him] The R.V. marginal note refers to a difference of reading, arising from the similarity of the two Heb. letters for r ( ר ) and ( ד ) d . The word, rendered “behind,” would, by the alteration of r into d , appear with the same consonants as the word meaning “one”: and this reading is found in the LXX, Sam., Peshitto, Targums, and many Heb. MSS. But the text, “behind him ,” is to be preferred.

For the sudden appearance of a ram, cf. the similar suddenness of appearance in Genesis 18:2, Genesis 21:19. God’s gifts may be near at hand, and not yet discerned the recognition of God’s voice brings a sudden realization of His gifts.

a ram ] The conjecture that the word rendered “ram” ( ayil ) should, with different vowel points, be rendered a “hart” ( ayyâl ) is not to be approved. For (1) wild animals were not usually sacrificed by Hebrews (2) Genesis 22:7-8 , by the mention of “lamb,” prepare us for “a ram” (3) the word “thicket” seems to imply the twisted horns of a ram being entangled in brushwood.


Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | 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.” Genesis 22:13-14

When God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and say, “Let my people go!” he was disheartened. Anyone who has ever walked through the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and has seen the gold and the magnificence which decorated the courts of the pharaohs can imagine in a small way how this 80-year-old man, who for the last 40 years had been a shepherd with loneliness for a companion, would feel, striding into the palace asking that some two million slaves be allowed to take a hike out of the empire.

Sure! Just like that. So Moses, fishing for something more concrete, says, “When they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ then what shall I tell them?” God told him to say that “I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:13,14) –something that made a lot more sense to them than it does to us today. Here’s why. God used a word that was based on the verb, “to be.” It means one who is the totality of existence. It is the basis of the word Jehovah, one of the names which God used to reveal who He is.

In ancient days, God’s name was revered, something sacred and holy, and the degree to which God’s name is profaned and trivialized today marks the distance we have come with our backs to God.

Guy Duffield wrote, “Scribes who copied the Scriptures used to wash their hands before they would write the word God. But when they came to the name Jehovah they would bathe themselves all over before writing it. So much did the Jews stand in awe of that awful Name that they substituted for it some lesser word for God whenever it occurred in their public reading of sacred Scripture.”

In Old Testament scriptures, the name Jehovah is also compounded with other names, giving us beautiful pictures of God’s nature and character. He is called, Jehovah Elohim meaning, “Jehovah God,” Jehovah Rapha meaning “Jehovah or God our healer,” Jehovah Shalom meaning “Jehovah or God our peace,” Jehovah Ra-ah meaning “Jehovah or God our shepherd, Jehovah Shammah meaning “Jehovah or God, the one present” and so forth.

Each of these names for God is connected with something meaningful and significant that gives us guidelines for living in the early hours of the twenty-first century.

First, do you remember the story of a father who was asked by God to sacrifice His son on Mt. Moriah, at the same place where the temple was later to stand? His name was Abraham, and the son was Isaac. The first mention of the word love in the Bible was used of Abraham, describing how he loved his son (Genesis 22:2). Here’s the record. “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” (Genesis 22:13,14). The phrase we translate “The Lord will provide” is Jehovah Jireh or “The Lord our provider.”

Have you discovered that God still provides for His children? Have you learned that God’s provision is enough to meet the deep needs of your life, emotionally, spiritually, and physically, that He will be with you when you go through tough times and that He will provide for your needs?

If you are a regular listener to Guidelines, you know that at this point, I usually tell a story illustrating the guidelines for today. You can be that living illustration or story. You can prove for yourself that the same One who provided a ram in the thicket for Abraham can provide for you today. He is still Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides.


Teaching Jesus in the Old Testament: Genesis 22

This month begins a new series of materials for teaching Sunday School. Christians often view the Old Testament as intimidating, irrelevant, evidence of God’s judgment and wrath—a long, boring history of a people long gone. Far from this, the Old Testament prepares us for the New Testament or, more precisely, Genesis through Malachi points us to Jesus Christ.

Remember, Christianity is distinctive from all other religions in that God is the actor we receive the Lord’s grace. He creates, redeems, and saves. Although God does teach in His Word how we are to live in obedience to Him, the overarching message is Christ. Without Jesus, the Bible would be just another recipe to earn our way into heaven.

This series will present events in the Old Testament that point us to Jesus, either by comparison, prophecy, or direct action by the Son of God before He was born to us in human flesh. This will include text studies, help finding Law and Gospel, and finally, tips for teaching.

Study

Genesis 22:1–2
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “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.”

  • The time and place are so important. Recall that God kept His promise to give a child to the elderly Abraham and Sarah, and through that son, to create a great nation. The surrounding nations likely confused Abraham as well. Canaanites practiced human sacrifice. Abraham may have thought that God was no different than the gods of those pagans!
  • It’s also worth noting that the land of Moriah would be the location of Jerusalem and the temple. Jesus died outside of Jerusalem. The event of God’s command to sacrifice Isaac in Moriah points to the eventual sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world.

Genesis 22:13
And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.

  • The paramount connection is the ram to Jesus Christ. The Lord does provide the sacrifice. Isaac represents fallen humanity, me and you. Notice as well that God does not simply overlook the need for sacrifice by telling Abraham to forget the whole thing. Blood must be shed.

Law and Gospel

  • Although we know that Abraham is a sinner like everyone else, he demonstrates a singular willingness to obey the Lord, even to sacrifice his only son, after years of waiting for this child. The connection for us today is not necessarily to return such a treasured gift from God back to the Giver, but rather to be willing to do so. This is the essence of stewardship. Rarely does God ask us to surrender nearly so much as He asked of Abraham, but we are stubborn to withhold even the most meager of possessions. Ironically, by denying God’s call to stewardship, we surrender the divine gifts of gratitude, a sense of safety, and peace—all of which are to our benefit, not God’s. As usual, God benefits us through His activity.
  • Isaac shows us the high price of sin. What could be more important to a father than his child? God demands the highest price. Similarly, God demands the highest price for our sin. Sin means death and eternal hell the only sufficient payment is God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. Notice that when the angel calls Abraham to relent from murder, God doesn’t end the matter there. He provides a replacement. God does not overlook sin He forgives through the punishment placed on Jesus.
  • We often consider Abraham as the hero of obedience in this account, discounting Isaac. We could assume that Isaac had second thoughts about being murdered by His father, but He obeyed nonetheless. Similarly, Jesus obeyed the will of His Father, even to the point of sacrifice on the cross. There are two important differences between Isaac and Jesus. One, Jesus is perfect, where Isaac is a sinner. Second, Isaac likely had doubts, where Jesus was flawlessly committed to our redemption.
  • Perhaps the highest message of this account is God providing the ram of sacrifice. Like Isaac, we lay on the wood yet Jesus came from heaven into the brambles of this broken world. Jesus paid the highest price in order that we might live in grace, know the certainty of forgiveness, and have life eternal.

Tips for Teaching

Consider these questions to help retention and understanding. Each one ends with a number in italics, which refers to a suggested grade level. Use each one to develop more questions at the same level.


The Shofar on Rosh HaShanah

Today the shofar is most commonly used on the Jewish New Year, called Rosh HaShanah (meaning “head of the year” in Hebrew). In fact, the shofar is such an important part of this holiday that another name for Rosh HaShanah is Yom Teruah, which means “day of the shofar blast” in Hebrew. The shofar is blown 100 times on each of the two days of Rosh HaShanah. If one of the days of Rosh HaShanah falls on Shabbat, however, the shofar is not blown.

According to the famous Jewish philosopher Maimonides, the sound of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is meant to wake up the soul and turn its attention to the important task of repentance (teshuvah). It is a commandment to blow the shofar on Rosh HaShanah and there are four specific shofar blasts associated with this holiday:

  1. Tekiah – An unbroken blast lasting about three seconds
  2. Sh'varim – A tekiah broken into three segments
  3. Teruah – Nine rapid fire blasts
  4. Tekiah Gedolah – A triple tekiah lasting at least nine seconds, though many shofar blowers will attempt to go significantly longer, which the audience loves.

The person who blows the shofar is called a Tokea (which literally means “blaster”), and it is no easy task to perform each of these sounds.


Bishop Takes Pawn: Plundering The Rights of a Prisoner- Priest

When Bishop McCormack signed an agreement with the Attorney General's Office to publish the files of some 62 priests accused, a part of the agreement was that each priest would have a ten-day period to review and challenge publication of any files pertaining to him. Concerned that privileged legal documents and other materials produced post-trial by Father MacRae were about to be published, the imprisoned priest wrote to Father Edward Arsenault in January, 2003, asking that this ten-day review be afforded to him. He received no reply.

Ten days after the files were published, in March of 2003, Father MacRae received a letter from an attorney for the diocese describing what he m ust do to obtain his files and review them before the release. The month-long delay in his receipt of that letter has never been validly explained to him.

After the publication of this vast release of files, Father MacRae wrote to both Bishop McCormack and Attorney General Kelly Ayotte protesting the publication of files that were fraudulently obtained by the diocese and published without regard for the priest's confidentiality rights. Bishop McCormack wrote that he tried to prevent the publication of files that were confidential, but was not successful. Attorney General Ayotte's representative wrote to Father MacRae stating that all files obtained by a Grand Jury in New Hampshire are considered confidential under law, but added that Bishop McCormack signed a waiver of confidentiality enabling all the accused priests' files to be published.

In 2005, after Dorothy Rabinowitz published a two-part article exposing the clearly unjust trial and imprisonment of Father Gordon MacRae, officials of his Diocese, including his bishop, ceased all communication with him until 2008.

At that time, Bishop McCormack sent a letter to Father MacRae expressing his concern that he has "learned you have retained new counsel" in this case. Bishop McCormack wrote that he has retained counsel to represent him - though no one knows why the Bishop would need representation in Father MacRae's appeal. The Bishop's letter also detailed that he has commissioned lawyers to conduct a review of Father MacRae's trial for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Bishop's secret "review" bypassed all the lawyers and investigators diligently working on Father MacRae's appellate defense. Bishop McCormack has refused to divulge to the priest or his legal and canonical advocates the nature of that secret review.


Watch the video: 05 Ram Caught in a Thicket (November 2021).