The Bible tells of God’s plan of Redemption. Though Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God and eating of the forbidden fruit, God loved them and provided a way to escape the deserved punishment of eternal separation from God.
Perhaps the most consistent and obvious symbol and substance of God’s redemptive plan is a lamb. From the beginning, God required the death (the shedding of blood) of an innocent animal to atone for the sin. First with God’s covering of Adam and Eve with the skins of a dead animal, and then later, when their son Abel offered a lamb from his flock we see the necessity of the lamb.
Heb 9:22 “without shedding of blood there in no remission (forgiveness of sins).”
In Genesis 22, we read that Abraham was commanded by God to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice on Mt. Moriah. Abraham obeyed, but God stopped his hand and miraculously provided a ram (an adult male lamb) in Isaac’s place (Read: Why Was a Ram Sacrificed in Genesis 22 Instead of a Lamb?). That powerful moment revealed God’s provision of the lamb in His unfolding plan of redemption.
So after seeing both the Provision and Necessity of the Lamb, let’s now consider the slaying and the character of the lamb.
The Slaying of the Lamb
Exodus 12 records the account of the Passover. The fledgling nation of Israel was in bondage to King Pharoah of Egypt, but God had a plan to redeem them. He raised up Moses to be the deliverer of His people. Moses, and his brother Aaron, went to Pharoah and, in God’s name, requested that he let Israel go. Pharoah, considering himself to be god, refused to obey the God of Israel and did not let the people go. In response, God sent a series of ten devastating plagues on the Egyptian nation, i.e. its people, crops, and livestock. After the ninth plague, Pharoah, in his stubborn pride and rebellion, still refused to let Israel go. So God responded by sending the tenth plague, the most devastating of all, which was the death of the firstborn in every household in Egypt, including Pharaoh’s palace.
Protection and Provision for God’s People
God had protected Israel from the first nine plagues. But to escape this 10th plague, the killing of the firstborn, God required something specific from His own people. Through Moses and Aaron, He graciously explained how their firstborn could be spared.
Ex 12:3-13 The LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron… On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb…a lamb for a household… Keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight; and they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses… For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn… I will execute judgment… Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood I will Passover you, and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
Of course, the Israelites didn’t fully understand, but they did explicitly obey the Lord. Each head of household took a lamb, killed it, and sprinkled its blood on the doorposts and lintels of the door of their home. This crucial act of faith and obedience spared them from God’s judgment.
A Foreshadow of Another Lamb
The Israelites did not know that this was a foreshadowing of another Lamb that would appear on the scene some 15 centuries later. They didn’t even have the Ten Commandments at this time. Nor did they have the Tabernacle or God’s instructions for the Levitical system of sacrifice. They did not have the 66 books of inerrant and inspired Scripture as we do. They were fully dependent on Moses and Aaron to know God’ will. Thank God, the Israelites obeyed God’s requirement and instructions of the slaying of a lamb.
The Character of the Lamb
Leviticus 1:1-3… “Now the Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting saying, “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘When anyone of you brings an offering to the Lord…of the herd and of the flock… let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting…”
The words “without blemish” appear 62 times in the Bible, and 28 of those are in Leviticus! God required that all sacrifices (whatever animal was used) be without blemish.
Leviticus 5:15… “he shall bring to the Lord as his trespass offering a ram without blemish from the flocks”…
Leviticus 9:2, 19-25 “Take for yourself…a ram (adult male lamb) as a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord. You shall offer…a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the goats. Whatever has a defect you shall not offer, for it shall not be accepted on your behalf…. It must be perfect to be accepted…those that are blind or broken or maimed, or have an ulcer or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the Lord… You shall not offer to the Lord what is bruised or crushed, or torn or cut…because their corruption is in them, and defects are in them. They shall not be accepted on your behalf.”
Clearly, God desired, demanded, and deserved a perfect sacrifice in their worship of Him — a sacrifice that was without blemish, corruption, or defect.
A Hebrew father sends his teenage son out to their flock of sheep with the clear instructions, “Find a lamb for our family’s sacrifice.” The son returns with a lamb that looks very good, but as the dad examines it from head to toe, he says, “No son, this one will not do. See, here is a scab underneath on its belly. Remember, God said it must be perfect, without any defect, without blemish… “it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it”…(Lev 22:21).
That is why man is in serious trouble spiritually. All are born with defects!
Romans 3:10-12, 23 There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23a For the wages of sin is death (physical, spiritual and eternal)…
So we all have the fatal flaw of sin, and God will not let sin into His perfect presence and glory. What is the remedy? We need a Lamb without spot or blemish. And there is One who qualified to be our perfect Lamb, a sinless sacrifice.
Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God…
Romans 6:23b the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
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