BY THE LAMB
1 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and
said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." 2 He said, "Take now
your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of
Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the
mountains of which I will tell you." 3 So Abraham rose early in the
morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him
and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose
and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day
Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. 5 Abraham
said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad
will go over there; and we will worship and return to you." 6 Abraham
took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and
he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked
on together. 7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My
father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the
fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" 8
Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt
offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together. 9 Then they
came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the
altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid
him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Abraham stretched out his
hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD
called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said,
"Here I am." 12 He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the
lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since
you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." 13 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.”
and offered him up….in the place of his son.” (V.13). In place of!
In place of you who deserved death for your sins and trespasses, God
sacrificed His only Son! In place of! That’s one of the most
important words you can get in this context – it is one of Jesus many
names: The substitute! He who went instead
When the Lord shall enter into the world as one of us, it is
already decided a certain name for Him, and an angel tells it to
Joseph in a dream: “She (Mary) will bear a Son; and you shall call His
name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
Just think about that! This is the meaning of His name!: The one by
whom God saves the sinners! He who walks in place of!
“- behind him a ram caught in the thicket
by his horns.” (v.13).
What a situation! A thicket is something negative – just think
about bramble bush! It is something that hinders you to walk forward,
pull yourself up – till you bleed – and which you can hitch yourself
It is apposite as a picture of sin – what man are hitched to
completely, not only as an outwardly thing, but it has woven into to
every little part of us, so that we have become one with it. How
are we then going to get loose?
You probably have heard Paul’s despondent cry, when he meets this
terrible truth?: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the
body of this death? “(Rom.7:24).
He was stuck in the “thicket!” It had become a reality to him now.
It wasn’t just one thing or the other that had to get in order – washing
of hands and tubs and vessels, a few long prayers, alms to the poor
etc., but trapped in the bramble bush!
But this ram isn’t a role model on Paul, you or me, but here comes
the message that is too strange for us: It is the picture on God’s Son!
Can you think about God’s own Son, completely stuck in this thicket
which is called man’s fall and sin? No, it didn’t appear in any man’s
heart – but it is what the Scripture teaches us!
Isaac was wondering about one thing, that his father had taken with
him wood and fire to the sacrifice, but not the actual sacrifice. “Where
is the Lamb?” (v.7).
That’s a question it’s worth stopping for when it comes to the
Christian congregation and activity at all times: “Where is the Lamb?”
Because, if the Lamb isn’t there, then everything is in vain!
You probably look at the congregation’s activity and confession (the
wood), and all the enthusiasm and ardent – possibly also gifts of the
Spirit in function (the fire) – but then maybe you are one of those who
have seen further into the truth, you are one of them who knows what
(whom) you were saved by – by what (whom) you were
moved from darkness to light – and then you start to wonder: Where is
the Lamb in all this? Oh yes, I see the fire and the wood, but where is
the Lamb? The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
(John 1:29). Him whom I always have to have my eyes fixed on, because of
the “thicket” in me. That which always threatens to take over and
strangle the new life! The sin that poisons everything, and makes it
hard to believe that I belong to the Lord! The only solution again and
again, is to get your eyes fixed on the Lamb! Not on the wood and
the fire – because that cannot save or comfort a sinner in his need –
but the Lamb!
It was this that calmed Paul down when he came with his despairing
cry, and later made him the greatest missionary who has walked on this
earth! Just listen: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
If we were to remain in this passage and ask: What did Paul see?
Yes, what did he see? He saw the Lamb that Isaac sought after! “Abraham
said: God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my
son!” Yes, this is what Paul saw: The Lamb that God had chosen! Jesus
You probably know the titles that he carried this great missionary?
It wasn’t titles of honor, like most of us wants – it was: “As to one
untimely born!” (1 Cor.15:8). “The very least of all
saints!” (Eph.3:8). “The foremost of all sinners.” (1 Tim.1:15).
It was surely nothing that he made up, when Paul himself cried for
and preach for others, a savior and reconciler!
Is it really true that this holy Son of
God, was completely stuck in the sins and trespasses’ thicket? Can it
Listen to what the Word says: “He made Him who knew no sin to be
sin on our behalf.” (2 Cor.5:21).
Made Him... to be sin! We more than assume that we are on holy
ground here. We cannot comprehend what is going on here – but it is
written there so that we can ponder upon it. He isn’t only the atonement
for sins – in the degree we can say only in this context – but He
is made to the actual sin, made to the actual “thicket,” removed and
thrown on the fire. You see Him there He hangs on the tree of Golgotha
under God’s wrath - His consumings fire (Heb. 12,:29), outside the wall,
outside among the people with leprosy, the thieves and the people whom
no one wanted!
If the soil shall become usable and fertile for growth, the thicket
must be removed. Jesus was willing to become this! Of a very special
reason too: We – you and me – would go free! Because when it says this
strange thing about God’s work by Jesus Christ that He was made to sin –
it says further; “on our behalf, so that we might become the
righteousness of God in Him.”
On our behalf! Incredible! So that we, not only would grow
in clean soil, but be clean soil! You heard it, didn't you? : “-
so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” It says
really: “- so that we might become God’s righteousness!”
There is only one thing here that you mustn’t overlook: In Him!
By the Lamb!
If not, you to will be asked: Oh yes, I can see both the wood and
the fire, but where is the Lamb?
I mentioned that we more than assume that
we are on holy ground, when we read this verse in 2 Cor.5:21. Just think
about whom this person is who is made to be sin. God made to be sin! God
made to this “thicket” that us humans get stuck to, and thrown on the
fire! Then we don’t dare to say so much more! But look now to Golgotha!
That is what being preached to you there!
“Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt
offering in the place of his son.” In the place of! That
is our rescue! And that is our entire rescue! Everything else is
in case a fruit by this! If not, it is only wood and fire, and therefore
without the most substantial: The Lamb!
Just consider two things: Just think if God hadn’t chosen any
sacrifice, to be in effect in your place! Where would you go? Completely
bound, on the way to an eternal destruction!
But then the other thing: God has really chosen a sacrifice,
to be in effect in your place! Then what? Then you are completely set
free, on the way to the eternal beatitude!
The beatitude is already yours here and now – as Paul testifies:
“For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor.5:7).
In relation to that, he says: “Clean out the old leaven so that you
may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened.” There isn’t to
kinds of salvation – there isn’t two ways to live in communion with God
in. There is one! He who was delivered over because of our
transgressions, and was raised because of our justification! (Rom.4:25).
God has chosen a sacrificial Lamb, and He has
slaughtered it – in the place of you!
We also read something strange in the 5th
verse in our passage: “Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with
the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will
worship and return to you."
“- we will worship and return to you." Abraham was no liar,
so he must have more than known that God would find a solution for this,
so that he got his promised son back with him. Abraham knew God!
The letter to the Hebrews writer give us a little insight in this,
as he writes: “He (Abraham) considered that God is able to raise people
even from the dead.” And as we now have seen: “From which he also
received him back as a type.” (Heb.11:19).
Holy Bible, New American
Translator: Benedicte Holtan Smart