Christ is everywhere. You can see Him in all things, if only you will look. Recently while out hiking and exploring in Palo Duro Canyon my wife and I had the opportunity to see an Aoudad. It was pretty exciting since we hadn’t seen one before. The Aoudad is a spectacular creature able to survive in harsh climates and difficult terrains. As we continue exploring Christ in the Canyon, I want to share with you Christ as the ram in the canyon.
An Aoudad, also called a Barbary sheep, is a type of big horn sheep. They are originally from Africa, and now populate the Palo Duro Canyon, South Texas, the Trans-Pecos areas, and into New Mexico, since being transplanted here in the 1950’s.
Abraham and Isaac
One of the most popular stories of a ram from scripture is that of Abraham, Isaac, and the ram in Genesis 22.
Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. – Genesis 22:9-13
He’s The Ram, We Are Isaac
This story overflows with foreshadowing the death of Christ. The foundational idea of sacrifice throughout the Old Testament is that of substitution. We are the ones who should have been laid on the altar (Isaac), but Christ is the ram that became our substitute. Listen to the conversation between Abraham and Isaac just before the altar scene:
Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
The prophet Isaiah later proclaimed,
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. – Isaiah 53:6-7
Then in John 1:29 we see John the Baptist proclaiming,
Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Why is this significant?
The same mount that Abraham ascended with Isaac,
is the same mount that David sacrificed to the Lord in preparation for building the temple (2 Samuel 24),
is the same place that Solomon built the Temple of the Lord (2 Chronicles 3:1),
and it is the same mount that Christ was later crucified on, called Golgotha.
The ram that was substituted for Isaac’s life, was merely a shadow of the lamb that would come to be a substitute for all of mankind.
The next time you are in the canyon look for the ram. Envision Abraham and Isaac. Then look forward to when Christ became the substitutional sacrifice for us. We no longer have to find an animal and ritualistically sacrifice it for our sins and trespasses. Christ is the final lamb slain for the sins of the world.