THE LAMB OF GOD

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The Lamb of God

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)

And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!  (John 1:36)

Here we have the only two references in the Bible where Jesus is described as the Lamb of God.  Many assume that John the Baptist was alluding to Christ being the Passover lamb who would be sacrificed as a sin offering, however this is not completely the case.  The first mention of God’s lamb predates the Passover to the time when Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Isaac enquires of his father:

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here [am] I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where [is] the lamb for a burnt offering?

To which Abraham replies:

My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering. (Genesis 22:7-8)

Later on we read how that God prevents Abraham from carrying out the sacrifice of Isaac and Abraham offers a ram instead.  Notice it is not a lamb that Abraham finds but a Ram:

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind [him] a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. (Genesis 22:13)

Thus the lamb that Abraham refers to was yet to come.

Lambs for sacrifice

From the very beginning of the Bible we have the idea of animal sacrifices (particularly lambs).  When Adam and his wife attempted to cover their nakedness with fig leaves it is recorded that God, Himself, would cover their nakedness with animal skins, thus indicating the need for God to provide a blood sacrifice for the covering of their shame:

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
 (Genesis 3:21)

A short while after we read of their sons’ offerings to God, God being more accepting of Abel’s offering than that of his older brother Cain:

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: (Genesis 4:4)

Next we read of Noah offering sacrifices to God:

And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (Genesis 11:20)

 

Right up until the Exodus we see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob offering sacrifices of their flocks to God.  Until God calls upon Moses to have the Children of Israel to sacrifice a lamb and daub the blood on the posts and lintels of the doors to their houses so that the Angel of Death would pass over their houses:

Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth [day] of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of [their] fathers, a lamb for an house:….. And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.  And they shall take of the blood, and strike [it] on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses….And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye [are]: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy [you], when I smite the land of Egypt.
(Exodus 12:3, 6-7 & 13)

Moses would institute this as an annual commemoration:

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. (Exodus 12:14)

Later on Moses would bring in the idea of Atonement through blood sacrifice:

Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy. Now this [is that] which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. (Exodus 29:37-38)

This became a Law that had to be observed.

For what purpose was the Law given?

Samuel, the great Prophet of Israel, would declare:

Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams.
(1 Samuel 15:22)

God, through His prophet would declare:

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
(Hosea 6:6)

Israel saw the Law given by Moses as an end in itself, however, as we can see from the words of the Prophets, God is more desirous of Mercy and the knowledge of God than any amount of sacrifice.  Thus the Law was not given to Israel as an end in itself.  Thus we MUST ask the question:

Wherefore then [serveth] the law? (Galatians 3:19)

To which the answer is:

It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made. (Galatians 3:19)

The Law was added in order to reveal to people their sins:

I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.  (Romans 7:7)

Thus by revealing to us what is sin we then see our need for atonement and redemption through a blood sacrifice for the remission of sins:

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.  (Hebrews 9:22)

The Law is not an end in itself but the end of the Law is Christ, the one we must to look for forgiveness and salvation:

For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (Romans 10:4)

Grasping at shadows

….the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (Galatians 3:24-25)

The Law points us to Christ in order that we might be justified by faith.  Once faith comes we no longer need the Law as we now have Christ.  Christ is the bright reality of the Law.  The law, of itself, cannot justify—only condemn:

….a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16)

The things of the Law are but a dark shadow of the reality:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.
(Colossians 2:16-17)

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. (Hebrews 10:1)

Though the Law, with its accompanying sacrifices, does speak of atonement the reality of Atonement is not found therein:

….every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:  (Hebrews 10:11)

Those that look to the Law for justification, by keeping any part of it in addition to faith in Christ alone, are merely grasping at shadows.

Thus we have the one who Abraham spoke of and John the Baptist declared—Jesus Christ, the Lamb that God provided for sacrifice!

By John Hayworth

(All references are from the KJV)

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