Before I get into the subject matter, I want to talk for a second to explain why I’m writing this blog.
This is the first blog in a series that I’m calling, “It’s all in the details”. The purpose of this blog is to jump into a little more detail into some passages in the Bible that most people have heard of about a million times, but never really realized what they were reading.
I also want anyone who’s reading this to know something about me. I don’t believe what I believe because it was something that was comfortable, or because it was something that was taught to me by my parents. Don’t get me wrong, I did grow up in a Christian household and I did hear all about the Bible growing up. I could probably win more Bible trivia games growing up than anyone I knew, but it was all head knowledge, and very little heart. It wasn’t until my life turned and, because of a series of bad decisions, I ended up in an emergency room hearing the doctor tell me I should have probably died. That’s the kind of news that shakes you up, and the kind that made me ask myself,
“If I had died last night, what would have really happened to me?”
It wasn’t until I set out on that quest did my faith become real…but only by challenging it at every chance I could get. Now, I don’t say all of that for anyone to sympathize with me, but because what I found was so much more real than I could have ever imagined. In trying to challenge the Bible in rebellion, it became so much deeper and profound than I could have ever imagined. While I won’t go into all the physical properties about that now (which I encourage anyone who’s into that stuff to read “Cosmic Codes” by Chuck Missler), I do want to get into some of the stuff that is so overlooked but so important to know.
These are the things that set the Bible apart. Things that should give each of us a glimpse as to the fact that nothing…NOTHING…is in the Bible by accident or by coincidence. In short…it makes the Bible cool.
Now that I got that other stuff out of the way, let’s jump into a passage. I titled this blog (as you’ve already seen if you’ve gotten this far) “Abraham’s Ram”. I chose to start this series with this particular story because it’s not only important in looking at the Bible as a unified story from beginning to end, but because it also has an “angel”…which we’ll get into a little later.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into a the Bible. Just to give you a quick background, this is the famous story of Abraham and Isaac when Abraham goes to sacrifice his son. Now, up until this point, Abraham has been a yo-yo of faith. While he believes, he keeps jumping in front of God and seems to always sort of stumble into forgiveness. We see over and over again as his faith grows that even though God promises him something, he tries to resolve his problems himself (I’m sure that doesn’t sound like any of us…*insert sarcasm here*). But as he grows, we see him begin to realize that it’s not him resolving the problems at all. God does keep His promises, and for that, we finally see Abraham start to let go and trust God whole heartedly. So when God asks something of Abraham, something that is so bizarre to us today, we are shocked to think that he even contemplated following God’s command. So let me jump in and explain what I mean.
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. 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. (Genesis 22:1-2)
Before I go on, I want to hit the hold button. This is where most people tune out.
“How could God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son? What kind of a sick God is that?” people will ask.
But before you can even begin to come up with an answer, you have to ask yourself an even more disturbing question; and that is, “What kind of a sick father would actually accept that?”
And there’s the rub. By this point, Abraham had come to some tough realizations. Most of all, Abraham realized that God had painted Himself into a corner. On the one hand, God promised that Isaac would be the father of many nations. But on the other hand, God was now asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. You have to take a step back and look at this from Abraham’s viewpoint. The stuff that Abraham had gone through up until this point were beyond what most of us can comprehend…but he knew one fact to be true. If God had promised something, He was bound to make sure it came true. Abraham probably had no idea how God was going to solve this problem, but at this point he had come to realize that it was God’s problem to solve…and what was more, he had faith that God would solve the problem. You can almost hear Abraham think to himself, “Ok God, I’ll do it…I don’t know what the heck you’re going to do to fix it afterwards…but I’ll do it.”
But Isaac wasn’t completely oblivious to all of this either. In fact, something seemed off to Isaac, which is why he asked,
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? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:7-8)
Abraham knew, but how could he explain it to his son? I mean, think of that. He sort of had to give Isaac a, “Hey kid, just trust me…” sort of line to ease Isaac’s mind, but it still must have been an awkward moment. Isaac knew that a lamb was what needed to be sacrificed, and yet there was none. if nothing else, Isaac was a little confused to say the least.
Now I’m going to skip a little bit to get to the cool part…the part that so often get’s overlooked. You see, this whole scene is not solely about Abraham’s faith. I mean, don’t get me wrong, that’s a huge part in this, but it’s not the whole story. Most of us have heard what happens next. Abraham and Isaac get everything ready and, as Abraham goes about and prepares to sacrifice Isaac, something happens.
Most people recount the story and say that an angel steadied Abrahams hand at the last second and didn’t let him plunge the knife. Technically, that didn’t happen. The passage literally just says that the Angel of the Lord called out his name.
And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. (Genesis 22:10-11)
So as to not get into the Angel just yet (that part is going to be controversial enough), what happens next is something that we should all pay attention to. According to the scripture, the story goes, the “angel” continues…
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. 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: 12-13)
…did you catch it? It’s subtle. But did you catch the little detail that was off?
Ok, let’s look at this like a Rabbi would look at it and remember…it’s all in the details.
Remember what Isaac asked in verse seven where the lamb was. He knew what the sacrifice entailed…it was a lamb. And you can see that Abraham knew too, because he replies pretty straight forward that God would provide a lamb.
But God didn’t provide a lamb…he provided a ram.
“So what’s the big deal?” you ask. Well, frankly, it’s huge. And Abraham gives that away when the Angel stops him. You see, as a reader just reading through the Bible quickly, we may skip it. But Abraham knew something was up. Not only did he know something was odd, he knew that what was going on was even prophetic. While some people tend to shy away from prophesy, Abraham, in this case, did not. It’s evident by what he does next. In verse 14, it says…
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. (Genesis 22:14)
Now, that’s a little odd, and while it doesn’t answer the question straight out, it begs that we start to think about it…and what does that have anything to do with prophesy? Well, I’ll tell you. First off, you have what almost seems like a typo, substituting the ram for a lamb…like I said, “who cares?”. But then you see Abraham do something really weird and name this place something bizarre. “In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.”
“What mount?” “What shall be seen?” “Abraham…what drugs are you on? What are you talking about? You almost just sacrificed you son…”
To answer that, lets back up and take a step back. You see, in verse two, God told Abraham to go to Mount Moriah. Now, if you asked most people to day when the last time they visited Mount Moriah, they would probably look at you sideways. Because that name doesn’t really exist today. Today, we know Mount Moriah by a little different name.
You see, for some reason God sent Abraham to a place that not only had significance to prove his faith, but to a place that would be the fulcrum of our faith for all eternity. When Abraham named this place, “In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen”, it now takes on a completely different connotation. Because something was seen there…on that very spot. About 2000 years ago something happened there that changed the course of all history, and is the foundation of the entire purpose of Scripture. Jesus was sacrificed on a Cross of wood for the payment of the sins of the world.
But the details are even a little more important than just this freak coincidence of where it happened (if you believe in coincidences). You see, Abraham said something that, looking back, makes a really profound statement.
When most of us read that Abraham answered Isaac and told him that God would provide a lamb, we didn’t think much about it. But that wasn’t exactly what Abraham said. Remember, it’s in the details. Abraham said,
God will provide himself a lamb. (Genesis 22:8, emphasis mine)
To most, that’s about as lame as it looks. But what happens if you change the emphasis on the phrase and add a comma? Try this.
God will provide himself, a lamb. (Genesis 22:8, emphasis mine)
This is one of these classic cases where you see duality in what is actually written down, and where the text becomes so cool. You see, Abraham’s response could never have been written with what was going to happen in the New Testament in advance. We know that because we have intact manuscripts of the Old Testament from before Jesus was ever born. But Abraham not only gave a reply that is most often completely overlooked, but he describes in that response what is the crux of all human history…in the very spot that it was going to take place thousands of years later.
So then, it goes to show why this blog is called Abraham’s ram. See, God did not provide the lamb that Abraham said he would…at least not on that day. God provided a ram. Because God knew something that no one could have possibly know. That on that very spot, a few thousand years later, He would provide Himself (in the form of Jesus Christ), a Lamb to be sacrificed.
Wow…what a coincidence… (*Go ahead and bring back that sarcasm*)
You see, this is just one tiny example that the Bible is so much more than just a story. It’s true author spans all time and knowledge. When you look at this and really dig, you begin to see that there’s no way that this is an accidental story. It couldn’t be. Because we have historical proof that the events written here could never have been in collaboration with what happened on that cross 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. You see, when scripture says,
the volume of the book it is written of me (Psalms 40:7, Hebrews 10:7)
It’s not a figure of speech. The Bible is a unified message pointing to one character…Jesus Christ. And Yes…that’s even true of the Old Testament.
Ok, well, That almost concludes this blog post. But before I go, I promised to adress the angel. I figured it’s only fair, since my novels are based on seeing scripture though the fictional lens of angels and demons. And, what fun would this be if I didn’t throw in a little controversy?
So let me ask the question, who was the “Angel of the Lord” that is mentioned in Genesis 22:11?
Well, before I answer that, let’s remember what the word angel actually means. The word “Angel” basically means “messenger”. Yes, it is true, and I won’t argue, that in a whole bunch of cases when we see the word “Angel” in the Bible that they’re angels in the sense that we think of them. The same sort of supernatural super-heroes that have been depicted throughout history in so many different ways. But what I want to propose here is something else to think about. What is an Angel could be God Himself.
Theologians like to use big, fancy words to describe stuff in the Bible…heck, just the wrd theologian (someone who studies God) is enough to give you a headache if you say it too many times. But one of the terms that is used is the term/idea of The Trinity. That God, being three individual representations, can at the same time be one singular being. That concept is about as foreign to us as can be, and humans cannot even begin to wrap our minds around what that actually means. But when Jesus said,
No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. (John 6:46 NIV)
It literally means that…no man has ever been able to look on the face of God the Father. Yet, when Jesus says
…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;… (John 14:9b)
He throws you a curveball. On one hand He says no man has seen the Father, but on the other hand he says that if you’ve seen Him, you have seen the Father. So, if Jesus is correct (and for the purpose of this point, I’ll assume he is), who was it that the men and women of the Old Testament saw when the Bible says they saw God?
I won’t answer that…I’ll let you work on that one. But let’s now go a step further while going back to my point. Who was the Angel that appeared to Abraham? BEcause most people leave the story where I left it. They say, “Wow, what a great example of faith…that was awesome! I should have faith like that too…” and they go about their day. But I always find it interesting what the “angel” says to Abraham. Not necesarily the first time, but the second time he talks to him.
Oh, wait…did you not study about the second time?
Well, the angel says,
And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 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: 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; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:15-18)
Let me be very clear. An angel can never claim to be God. There was one angel who did try and make that claim, and he’s turned out to be the bad guy. You see, this “Angel” makes claims that only God can make…which in turn, means that He himself must be God, or the message itself cannot come from God. (did I make sense there?)
An angel (the good kind) cannot immitate God, or claim to be Him…that’s blastphemy. Only God can make that claim and it be correct. So when ths particular “Angel” says
“By myself I have sworn…in blessing I will bless thee…I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven… “(I cherry picked parts of that passage to highlight my point), it means that only God can refer to what he promised Abraham earlier in Genesis.
So what meaning does that add to when Jesus says, no man has seen the Father…but whoever has seen the Son has seen the Father (That’s me paraphrasing)?
And that’s your controversy for today. Was the angel that spoke to Abraham actually God? Did God set all of that up just to point to what would happen on the Cross 2000 years ago? Did Abraham realize what he was witnessing when it happened?
Or was it all coincidence?
You see, this blog is meant to get you to think. God doesn’t want us to march on in blind faith, He want’s us to question and dig deeper. I mean, c’mon, if God really does exist and He created everything, do you think that trivial little questions like this would stump Him? Of course not. Instead, He has given us His word, that is SO much more profound and powerful than we can ever imagine. And he promises, if we seek, He will light our path. The Bible can be read to a child or studied by the most complex think-tanks around, and yet there is no end to the treasures that it holds. In fact, the Bible even says something about it.
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. (Proverbs 25:2)
So what’s it going to be? Are you going to take my word for it? You might challenge what I am saying, and I think that’s good. But challenge it with scripture! Dig. Seek. And if nothing else, know that the God of the Universe, the God that wants nothing more than to love you…no matter who you are…wants you to dig deeper. Because it’s the best way for you to get to know Him, and that’s what He wants more than anything!