Following the Lamb through the Scriptures
As the bodies of Adam and Eve were covered with animal skins, the message was clear. Death had resulted from sin, just as God had promised (Gen 2:17). Man would continue to live, by the death of others. The crops of the field would grow, only to be severed from their life source. Animals of the pasture would suffer death so that men might live. This, of course, continues as a message from heaven, today. There is more.
In His providential care, God has made provision for humanity to survive on the earth. Adam and Eve received directly from the hand of the Lord, but their fallen posterity would toil and taste death with every meal. Without food, men die. With food, they live. The message from the soil was clear. Without bread and meat from the hand of heaven, through another, men perish.
Understanding their plight and their provision from on high, Adam and Eve taught their sons to offer right sacrifice (Gen 4). Without the blood of the lamb, there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb 9:22). Cain rebelled against God’s prescription to remind humanity of the sacrificial life of another. It is true that the blood carried a temporary appeasement of the wrath of God against sinners, but the message was still primitive, “Give thanks to God for the provision of a substitute life, that through its death you will live.” Abel did, but Cain did not.
The necessity of blood shed from another was enhanced, when Abraham and Isaac journeyed to Mount Moriah (Gen 22). Abraham was instructed by God to offer his own precious son, the son of his old age. They constructed the altar and the boy was bound. The blade was drawn, but the hand was stayed.
The clarification of the sacrificial animal served as a type of the one who would come. The Son of God, from heaven, carried the title, “Lamb of God (Jn 1:29).” The message was on the lips of the patriarch, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son (Gen 22:8).”
From Adam, through Abel, through Abraham the dark picture of life, provided by death, illumined further with Moses, at the time of the Exodus from Egypt. The judgments of God against the Egyptians, for their enslaving God’s chosen people, numbered nine. “Let My people go,” was not heeded. The tenth judgment was the death of the first-born, in every house that was not under the blood (Ex 12).
First-born sons were the heirs, the continuation of the family (Ex 13). God warned of the judgment of death, and the word spread. Death was coming to the first-born sons, in families where blood was not applied to the door lintel and mantles.
The first-born sons of Israel were spared on the night of judgment because of the blood of the lamb, slain in the place of those who were sure to make the sacrifice and application of the blood. The Egyptians were not spared because they had not the Spirit for sacrifice. No blood meant no redemption…only death.
Next, as Israel was established in the Promised Land, the temple cult was formed from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron, Moses’ brother. The sheep herding family of Jacob would continue to till the ground as they had done at Goshen.
An entire tribe was ordained to serve the temple of God on Mount Moriah. This was the place of God’s choosing for His people, to give thanks and offer sacrifices in worship, according to God’s prescribed manner. As with Abraham, so it was for the children of Israel.
When worshipers approached the temple at Jerusalem, they brought two animals. Both would serve as types of the coming Christ. The first would be sacrificed by the priest. The blood of the lamb for sacrifice was on the hands of the priest, who would place them on the head of the second lamb. The sins of the worshipers would be confessed, and the second lamb would be taken by a fit man, to the wilderness and set free (Lev 16).
The message was that sins were paid for and remembered no more. The worshiper was free to go, forgiven, having been reconciled to God. He would return again and again because the permanent sacrifice had not yet come, that is, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). What Jesus Christ did once (Rom 6:10), was a one-time offering for all His people from every nation, tribe, and tongue (the world).
The prophets brought the Word of God’s promise for the fulfillment of all this Lamb imagery. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment (Rev 5:6, 12). He Himself is what we need, as did our first parents. He is our only acceptable offering to God, for there is life in His blood, as it was for Abel. He is the sacrificed Son, as it was for Abraham. He Himself is our Passover sacrifice (1 Cor 5:7), as it was for the Israelites in Egypt.
Jesus Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree (1 Pet 2:24). He absorbed the just wrath of God against sin in our place (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10), on our behalf (Rom 5:8), and for our benefit (Is 61:1). Christ’s suffering for His people is the imagery of the prophets, preached to Israel for their consolation (Lk 2:25). It remains the comfort to the Israel of God, Christ’s church, from the apostles’ teachings (Is 49:1–6; Acts 2:42; Gal 6:16).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the message of our salvation (Rom 1:16; Eph 1:13), executed by the incarnate Lamb of God (Jn 1:14, 29): our need, our substitute, our brother the Son of God, our Passover, the sin bearer, who suffered to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21).
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 5:6, 12; 6:9; 13:8). He is the victorious Lamb upon the throne of God (Rev 5:13; 7:17). He is the Lamb who brings His wrath upon those who denied His blood (Rev 6:16). He is the bellwether Lamb we follow because He is God our Savior, in sheep’s clothing…and He is marvelous in our sight!
Spokane Valley, Washington
May 10, 2022