Lamb or a ram?

On Rosh Hashanah, in the synagogue we  traditionally read Akeda – a story from chapter 22 of Genesis about Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his only son Isaac.

God said to Abraham: “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”(Genesis 22: 2).

 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. ”(Genesis 22: 6).

And as they walked together, Isaac asked his father, “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”?” Abraham replied, “God will provide for Himself a lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22: 7-8).

Then, at the moment when Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, God called to him and ordered him to stop. Abraham saw a ram (“billy goat” in the Russian synodal translation), entangled by horns in the thickets, and sacrificed him instead of Isaac. Then we read:

“So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided. ”- Genesis 22:14.

As you know, the shofar always sounds on Rosh Hashanah to awaken the soul to the need for repentance. The shofar is a ram’s horn that reminds us of the very ram that Abraham sacrificed on Mount Moriah.

The father told Isaac that God would provide a lamb for the sacrifice, that is, a sheep. But God provided a ram. Was Abraham wrong? Maybe not.

The prophet Isaiah wrote of Someone who, like Isaac, did not resist the death sentence:

“He was tortured, but he suffered willingly and did not open his mouth; like a sheep, he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so he did not open his mouth ”(Isaiah 53: 7).

What lamb was that? About 700 years later, another prophet, John the Baptist, said of Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Could this be the lamb that Abraham imagined when he told Isaac that God would provide the lamb? Jesus told Jewish religious leaders: “ Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.””(John 8:56).

Did Abraham foresee that Jesus would be crucified near that very Mount Moriah, where he once sacrificed a ram instead of Isaac?

Then God prepared a ram to save Isaac from physical death. And later He provided Jesus the Lamb in order to save us from spiritual death – eternal separation from God.

In Hebrews in the New Testament is written:

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. ”(Hebrews 11: 17-19).

According to the New Testament, Jesus – the only begotten son of God – literally rose from the dead after spending three days in the grave. This fact gives all who believe in Him hope for the resurrection after the end of earthly life.

It doe not matter what anyone is saying, because Rosh Hashanah points to the Resurrection – the day when the Son of God, the long-awaited Mashiach, conquered death for us. Truly hag Sameach!

by Matt Sieger /