Argument Over the Ram

The Accuser:
"The Lord will provide the lamb."
So Abram answered his son
(who saw only fire and wood)
while you hemmed and hawed
as long as you could, then
waved your hand at a wild ram
tangled in thornbush thicket.

... the man called your bluff!
Why did you stay the knife?
Is this the style of the great I AM?
You give an order, stick with it.

Or was this one of your tricks?
If so, desist. Enough is enough.
Spare the life of the ram
and innumerable creatures
trapped in mechanical thickets
otter, bison, elephant, whale,
"Another quick fix, God,
where's your nice lamb?"

Let them spill their own blood
Isaac the chosen
for Ishmael the banished
(or vice versa). Pity the ram.

The Accused:
So, I provided the ram
It wasn't a trick ...
What if they miss my ram
my people, what then?

They will sacrifice their first born
then white-robed virgins
laid out on stone altars,
throats slit solemnly
Next come uniformed youth,
strewn about in the mud
disemboweled by grenades
and buried with banners
to propitiate providence.

Later, having skinned the earth
of life, without a prayer,
they'll steal its power to poison children, the unborn.
They'll trash the place and flee,
self-ticketed, to space.

Tragic, futile, until like Abraham
they see my hand, my thicket,
until they hear my second word
until they find my Lamb.

At the time this poem appeared, Arthur O. Roberts was chairman of the Division of Religion at George Fox College and was the author of several books on Quaker history, including Tomorrow is Growing Old. His poetry has appeared in various magazines, and he has published two books of poetry, Listen to the Lord and Move Over Elijah.

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