November 24, 2012

Moriah’s Song

Posted in Atonement, Holy Week, Lamb of God, Liturgical Calendar, Suffering Servant at 11:12 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Strong, obedient, perfect ram,
Led by the God of Abraham
Up Moriah’s lonely hill
To fulfill His holy will.

Abraham was led here too,
With the wood that he did hew
Carried by his only son,
And other offering there was none.

“Behold the wood, behold the fire,
But where’s the lamb that we require?”
“God will provide, my precious child.”
So on they walked into the wild.

The altar built, the child lay down;
From heaven came a welcome sound.
“Stay your hand, O faithful one
Who did not spare your only son.”

Just then the ram bowed down its head,
Prepared to die in Isaac’s stead.
Lift your eyes, behold the Lamb,
The perfect One, the Great I Am.

Copyright © 2012 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

I’ve written about this topic from Genesis 22 before (The Thicket and the Ram), but with a slightly different approach. What drew me back to meditate on it more was the idea that the ram was led up onto the mountain just as Abraham was. The one connection I wasn’t able to make explicitly is that Abraham and the ram came up the mountain by different paths, which would signify the path of righteousness that Jesus walked, in contrast to the sinful walk of man.

Rather than a long discursive explanation this time, I’ll just provide a few bullets, mainly because I’m running out of steam for the day:

  1. Moriah is considered by some to be the sight of the temple in Jerusalem. The song of Moriah (which may mean either “chosen by God” or “God teaches”) would always have to be about the Lamb, and never about the rams, goats, turtledoves, or any assorted animals that were sacrificed there. They were merely placeholders.
  2. Can you imagine what it was like for Abraham to chop the wood that he knew would be used to sacrifice his precious son? And in the line that says “other offering there was none” is intended to show that Abraham did not carry a backup, just-in-case lamb with them. God makes sure we know that by having the Scriptures record that Isaac asked about it.
  3. The ram bowing down his head, caught in the thicket, should bring to mind John 19:30, where we read that Jesus said, “It is finished,” and then bowed down His head to die.
  4. This was the first time I had noticed the connection between Isaac’s question in Genesis 22:7, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” and the answer uttered by John the Baptist (John 1:29): “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
  5. The final verse is a play between those last moments on the cross, when our Lord bowed His head to die for us, and the admonition we hear in Scriptures and in the liturgy to lift up our heads and lift up our hearts. He was bowed down so that we might be lifted up!

Hallelujah! Praise to the Lamb!

These ideas have been simmering for about three weeks, ever since a lectionary reading from Genesis 22. It started out as an address to the ram, but I couldn’t sustain that concept, and it somehow made the ideas seem less serious than they are. As it is, the short lines of the poem are teetering close to childish sing-song, but with the words of Isaac injected in the middle, it somehow seemed acceptable.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Moriah’s Song, by Teresa Roberts Johnson […]


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