In Genesis 22 not much attention is usually given to the ram. Understandably so. There’s so much in this chapter to marvel at: the testing of Abraham, the way in which Abraham’s offering of Isaac foreshadows the sacrifice of God the Father offering His beloved Son, Isaac’s humble submission as a prefiguration of the obedience of Christ, the parallel between Abraham’s words, “God will provide for Himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen 22:8) and those of John the Baptist thousands of years later, “behold the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). There is indeed much to contemplate in this chapter; but for now, let us take a moment to marvel at the connection between Abraham, the ram and Jehovah Jireh.
Abraham was on the brink of slaying his son. He had heeded God’s instruction. He made his way up the mountain. He prepared Isaac to be the burnt offering he thought he was supposed to be. And as he lifted up the knife to slay him the Angel of LORD called out for Abraham to stop. He had passed the test. He did not withhold his only son from the LORD (Gen 22:12). But there was still to be a sacrifice that day and Abraham had nothing to offer. All he had intended on offering was what he thought he was supposed to offer; namely, Isaac.
And it just so happened, that at the moment when Abraham’s knife was stopped and the voice of the Angel of the LORD was heard, that Abraham lifted his eyes and saw a ram caught in the thicket by its horns. Worship was to continue; however, it would continue with the provision that God Himself provided. So Abraham called the name of the place “The LORD will provide”. Think about that. Abraham didn’t call the mountain, ‘Abraham passed the test’ or ‘The mount of Abraham’s most painful trial’ or ‘The mount of Abraham’s greatest success.’ He called it “The LORD will provide”.
Now, by way of instruction and encouragement:
First, be encouraged to know that this moment prefigures the provision that God would provide on a mountain called Golgotha. God would provide for Himself a sacrifice, His Son, the spotless Lamb, on the ‘bloody altar’ of the cross so that those who believe in Him would be forgiven of their sins, justified by His blood, reconciled to God, and spend all of eternity worshiping the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb. Thanks be to God, we can truly say, “In the Mount of the LORD it was provided.”
Second, be encouraged that, to know that the God who spared not His own Son, will meet the needs of His sons and daughters in His time according to His riches in glory. Abraham was ‘down to the wire’ and he had not anticipated that God would provide the way He did. He expected either a lamb or a resurrected Isaac, but instead he got a ram. God came through. And although it is not the primary thrust of the Genesis passage, Genesis 22:14 should remind us of Philippians 4:19. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, in need of temporal/ financial provision, having done your best to heed counsel, get counsel, work hard, and to be a good steward, be confident that God will provide even if that provision shows up in a way you don’t expect at the ‘last minute’. Because God has already provided Jesus the spotless Lamb, you can be assured that all other necessary provisions needed to preserve your life until you cross the finish line of your race will be given to you at just the right time.
Third, God’s provision led to an Ebenezer of worship. Moses wrote, “And Abraham called the name of the place, The LORD will provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided”” (Gen 22:14 emphasis added). Even to the time of Moses the people were saying “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided!” As John Gill noted, it appears to have “been used as a proverbial saying, that as God appeared to Abraham, and for his son, in the mount, just as he was going to sacrifice him, and delivered him, so the Lord will appear for his people in all ages, in a time of difficulty and distress, and when at the utmost extremity, who call upon him, and trust in him.”
Therefore, may you be encouraged today to see that the God who provided a ram on Mount Moriah and His Son on Mount Calvary is the same God who can be relied upon to provide what you need today.