A few weeks ago on a schools-just-started Friday afternoon, my son and his girlfriend’s family were baptized by the Waterloo Cascades on the Spring Creek River. He’d chosen to be baptized when he was in third grade, but wanted to renew his commitment as a young man.
One after one – a first grader, middle schooler, a high school student, two college students and two parents were baptized.
One of the things I noticed – that struck me – is the tight grip of trust the one being baptized had on the arm of the one baptizing. It drove home the need of believers to help, to be a source of strength, assurance and acceptance, to new believers – even before they dedicate their life to Christ. Then, after they died to Christ and rose in Him, the need of support still – and encouragement – as they eventually find their footing as a child of Christ.
Then – something unexpected happened. A goat appeared – reminding all there that God always provides when we give ourselves to Him. That goat climb down from the rocks above us, after the last person was baptized and the children were playing in the rocks at the water’s edge. I thought of Abraham, when he’d taken Isaac to sacrifice Him at God’s command – and when God realized Abraham’s faithfulness, a ram appeared:
“And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.” ~ Genesis 22:13
Matthew Henry in his commentary, explains that ram so very well: “It was not God’s intention that Isaac should actually be sacrificed, yet nobler blood than that of animals, in due time, was to be shed for sin, even the blood of the only begotten Son of God. . . . Christ was sacrificed in our stead, as this ram instead of Isaac. . . .A new name was given to that place, for the encouragement of all believers, to the end of the world, cheerfully to trust in God, and obey him. Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will provide; probably alluding to what Abraham had said, God will provide himself a lamb. The Lord will always have his eye upon his people, in their straits and distresses, that he may give them seasonable help.” ~ Matthew Henry Commentary.
That afternoon, the goat came down that rocky, steep hillside to celebrate with us – celebrating, reminding what Jesus has done for us:
That lamb who came to greet this newly baptized son and precious family, seemed to be reminding all of us more keenly of just what Jesus did for us, so very glad, that merry goat, that He wasn’t needed to make things right.
My memory hummed with this scripture, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! ” ~ John 1:29
The goat was a messenger, calling out,
“Jesus! Jesus! The most perfect sacrifice of all!
Because of Jesus! Jesus! you have no need of me at all.
Jesus! Jesus! How the Redeemer loves you all.”
The world is suffering, here and abroad. Families are hurting. Communities are hurting. That goat reminded me then and reminds me now of whose I am and how much He loves you and me, and all those suffering today in a world that more and more doesn’t seem to make sense. We belong to the one who fights for us, redeems, brings us to Himself.
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage, I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33
Abraham needed the ram in the thicket. We don’t need the goat from the rocky hillside.
I am remembering, Father and Redeemer, King and Creator, that you have made each of us. That we are your servants, your creation, your children. You never forget a single child lost or found. Thank you for blotting out our transgressions like a cloud and our sins like a mist. Thank you for making a way for each of us to return to you without the goat on the mountain or the lamb in the valley. Thank you for sending your Son to redeem us, to be the final blood sacrifice to cover our sins. Let me sing for joy like the heavens and shout aloud to the depths of the earth of what you have done – because the Lord still today redeems His children, pursues the lost ones until found, revealing His glory! (taken from Isaiah 44: 21-23).