Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. Abraham took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. Genesis 22:13
As Abraham crossed the border of Mount Moriah, with Isaac in tow, he told those who would wait at mountain’s base, they would return.
Upon mount’s point and with most precious atop altar, a question filled the air, but didn’t steal Abraham’s breath.
“Father, where is the lamb for sacrifice?”
“Son, God will provide.”
This was not a declaration that God would come, but that He already had. Before this sacrifice entered their sights, Pappa had taken measure and readied all needed for what lay before them.
Afore Abraham was son, strapped to wood, awaiting dagger and fire. What filled Abraham’s heart now emptied his soul.
This though, is the place of substitution. For the end of us is the beginning of Him.
Barely breaking the silent and still that surrounded, a noise quickened Abraham to look in a different direction, so he would no longer see what he offered, but what God gave.
A ram had came up the other side of the mountain. From valley to mount.
Thicket held the ram in place, much as the bindings upon the altar held Isaac. Neither struggled. All waited.
A ram and a reprieve. A glimpse of gathered grief, a grasp of held joy.
A thicket is a group of wild shrubs and occasional small trees which grow together to form impenetrable branches and roots.
A Hebrew word wound for thicket is ‘sabak’ which means “entwined, an entwining bush or tree.” Another wielded word is ‘cukkah’ meaning “booth, a temporary shelter, canopy, tent or dwelling.” One more word woven with meaning of thicket is ‘sok’ rich with the definition of “a hedge or thorn that provides a place of protection.”
On knees am I, a bit breathless over I AM. This is strand of our story. From Genesis through Gospels to Revelation, booths are built and we are beckoned, to not only see what He has done, but to dwell in the doing. Clouds, branches, tents and arks, all habitations of God we are asked to abide in.
Cradle, crown and cross.
The soldiers wove thorn-branches into a crown and put it on his head and put a stick in his right hand. Then they kneeled down in front of Him and mocked Him saying, “Hail to the King of the Jews.” Matthew 27:29
Christ was ‘caught’ in the thicket of a crown. No resistance or rebellion was there, save ours. No struggle, just sin and salvation.
He bowed his head and received the crown. The thorns provided for our protection, pierced Him with the Lamb’s first wound.
From the valley of war, they could not see the promise of peace cresting the other side of the mount. Even so, the distance between mountain and valley was shortened for each of us.
Joined wood, disentangled us from sin and snare. A new direction mapped out. For the cross is a compass, carrying the latitude and longitude of love. Holy limbs were bound but not broken. A body connected by vein and sinew brought low and held high to remind us that His Body was not meant for dividing lines and formed fences.
Beautifully bound, He came up the side of mountain, unseen, for all the barely breathing. His last sigh was Bride’s first breath. There, atop altar, His crowned head bowed once more and all the barren places began to sing, thirsty souls began to drink and hungry hearts took and ate. Heaven opened and has yet to close.
No matter where we are or what our great need, there is a ram coming up the other side of the mountain. And He wears a crown.