The Unluckiest Ram

In Genesis 22 is the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. It is a heartbreaking story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son because God said so. As we walk that path with Abraham, we note his cringing grief when Isaac asks, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Truer than Abraham himself realized, he says, “God Himself will provide the lamb.”

Rewind to several years earlier. Somewhere in the holy land, a lamb was born in an unknown place to an unknown sire. This lamb was raised in its family of mountain sheep, becoming a young adult. But a notable fact of this animal was its horns. It had a long and curly set of horns that circled its head as ram’s horns often do, giving it the advantage over other rams and making it the envy of other males. These horns attracted good ewe lambs and made him a king.

But one day, this king of rams wandered off on his own, perhaps to admire himself in some pool or seek worthy challenges from other rams. As he wandered, he moved from grassy patch to grassy patch, moving ever higher on this particular mountain.

As he moved closer to the top, he noticed some commotion near the summit. People, two of the them, one tied and laid upon a pile of rock. The other brandishing shiny metal, but much distressed. The ram knew this was not a place he wanted to be. Dueling rams was one thing, but he stayed away from people.

But something caught his eye. Under a set of bushes, hidden from view, was a wondrous patch of green, so inviting, so delicious. The ram could not help himself. He had to have some of that tender green. While the people were distracted, he crept over to the bushes and tasted the green. It was the most delightful, most wonderful patch of grass he had ever eaten. He must have more. He was fully consumed by his desire for this wonderful food.

And then suddenly, a powerful voice broke the air. “Abraham! Abraham!” The ram was startled, even scared, and raised his head to assess the threat. Was it the people? A lion? He looked up and saw nothing. The voice made a few more sounds, and the man dropped the shiny metal and unbound the other one. Then they embraced. People are weird.

As he bent down again to eat more of that wonderful grass, he stopped short. His horns, his big, luxuriant, beautiful horns that had been his best allies all his life, granting him the best grazing, the best ewes, suddenly betrayed him. They were tangled in the bush he had been feeding under. He pulled, pushed and pulled again. His fear turned to anger, and anger to rage. He would pull this bush out by the roots! But the more he struggled, the tighter the branches held him. Within a few moments, he was hopelessly stuck. That’s when the man saw him.

“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.”

Sometimes you have been extraordinarily blessed, not simply to glorify you. Sometimes God has laid enormous advantage upon you, maybe even privilege that others do not share. But God gives His gifts in wisdom. Sometimes God blesses you so that through you someone else might receive the blessing.

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I've been in ministry in the Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ for 20+ years. Finished my doctorate in Biblical Studies in 2015. Serve today as a Hospital Chaplain.

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