Behold the Lamb of God, Which Taketh Away the Sin of the Worl
- God Will Provide “Himself” a Lamb – In Gen 22:1–2 we learn about how God tested Abraham with regard to his son, Isaac: “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of”. In order to appreciate the significance of this severe test, we must consider what led up to this. Many years before, God had promised a son to Abraham and Sarah. We know from the Bible that Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born – a result of Sarah giving her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham in the hope of achieving conception, which did take place. However, when Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90, God informed them in Gen 17:21, “But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year”. That was just as God had indicated to them initially. The reason God did this was to show that his salvation program would be established through the son of promise (pointing spiritually to Jesus Christ as the Savior) and not by the son after the flesh – a picture of salvation by works as we learn from Gal 4:22–23: “For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants”. The Bible also highlights the fact that Isaac was indeed a gift – a “miracle baby”, if you will – as Rom 4:19–21 teaches: “And being not weak in faith, he [Abraham] considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he[God]had promised, he was able also to perform”. But, now God is telling Abraham to take this son of promise, Isaac, and kill him! Notice how quickly Abraham obeys God’s command in Gen 22:3–5. In the historical setting and from a human perspective, this seems to be such an unemotional, matter-of-fact conversation between Abraham and Isaac. After all, God had instructed Abraham to kill his son and offer him as a burnt offering, and they have been carrying wood for the fire on a three-day journey at this time. Finally, Isaac asks his father, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Then Abraham’s answer “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” indicates his great faith in God’s promise to establish an everlasting covenant with his seed, as we read in Gen 17:19. What constantly amazes and humbles me (and if you are a parent, you can certainly identify with this) is that God did not require Abraham to actually sacrifice his “only son… whom thou lovest”, yet God [Jehovahjireh] willingly offered up His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to pay the equivalent of eternal Hell for each child of God.
Gen 22:3–5: “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him… And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 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?”
Gen 22:9–14 “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 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. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [LORD will provide]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.”
- The Sacrificial Substitute – In the study on the sacrifice of Isaac upon Mount Moriah, we considered Gen 22:4, “Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off”. In the historical context, this was indicating that Mount Moriah could be seen in the distance. Notice how John 19:20 says, “… the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city…” What transpired in both accounts are intimately related. This agrees with the language of Heb 13:11–13, which declares that he had to be crucified outside the city gates, having become spiritually polluted and a curse: “For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach”. Indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ was the spiritual fulfillment of Gen 22:13 “… the ram caught in a thicket by his horns…” as He hung on the Cross, as the Lamb of God , “…slain before the foundation of the world”. In fact both the ram’s horns and the altar which Abraham built in Gen 22:9 are ceremonialobservances which identify altogether with Christ. It was on the altar that most of the sacrificed animals were placed for offerings to the LORD. The first time the word “altar” is used in the Bible is right after all the animals left Noah’s Ark after the worldwide Flood in Gen 8:20: “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”. Of course, the altar and all the Old Testament animal sacrifices pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Thus, Jesus had to “go unto the altar of God” as the Ultimate Sacrifice for the sins of His people, according to Heb 9:24–26.
John 19:17–20 “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.”
Heb 9:24–26: “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which arethe figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appearin the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself”.
- Passover Lamb of God – It is extremely significant that as the lambs were being slain in the temple for the Jewish Passover, that the Lord Jesus Christ – the Lamb of God, Who was “slain from the foundation of the world” – was hanging on the Cross. He was fulfilling all the particulars related to the Passover lamb, which God had expressed in the Exo 12:5–14. At the time when Israel departed out Egypt, it was the Passover; it was the blood of the lamb applied to the door post that would cause God to skip over the judgement. This is what the word “passover” actually means, “to leap”, “to go over”. Actually, it all pointed to Jesus, the Lamb of God, as John the Baptist announced, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”. When Abraham was ready to offer up Isaac, remember what Abraham said to Isaac?, “God will provide Himself a lamb”. Lord Jesus Christ is that “Lamb”. Concerning the Lord Jesus, we read in Acts 10:43, “… through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission [forgiveness] of sins”. This is how a sinner — and it is the only way — can escape the judgment of God. It is only through His blood that anyone can find forgiveness and have their sins washed away and be cleansed. The Passover lamb in Exo 12:5 was to be “without blemish” because it symbolized the perfect nature and work of the Lord Jesus Christ: “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats”. This typology is confirmed in the New Testament by 1 Pet 1:18–19, that we were redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”. In Heb 5:1 we learn the purpose of burnt offerings and sacrifices, “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins …” Nonetheless, all of those sacrifices commanded by God in the Old Testament merely served as sign posts to illustrate a deeper spiritual reality which was yet to appear, the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 10:8–10), as we find stated in Gal 4:4. Undoubtedly they speak of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who had to become sin offering for His people, and then had to endure the flames of God’s eternal justice on their behalf. He was the “burnt offering” to redeem wicked, rebellious sinners. He was forsakenbyHis Fatherandbecame a curse in order to mediate an eternal peacebetweenHoly Godandfallen man. Heb 10:8 declares, “Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein” and Isa 53:10 asserts that God is pleasedwith only one sacrifice, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him [Lord Jesus]; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand”.
Exo 12:5–14 “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats… 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, wherein they shall eat it… it is the LORD’s passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 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. 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.”
Isa 53:7 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth”.
1 Cor 5:7–8 “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”.
- Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world – Isa 59:2 reveals our true spiritual condition that has been caused by our sin: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear”. Psa 130:4 records an amazing concept: “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared”. Dan 9:9 describes why this is so incredible: “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him”. Unbelievable as it sounds, forgiveness first originated with God Himself although we have rebelled against him. The Bible teaches much about forgiveness and how it is intimately associated with blood atonement. But why blood atonement? In Lev 17:11 we find this principle, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul”. This explains why the Old Testament is replete with account of lambs, oxen, and turtledoves which were sacrificed on the altar in the temple – like in an animal “slaughter house” – on a daily basis. We also read in the New Testament, in Heb 9:22, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness]”. But what kind of sacrifice is God looking for – an animal sacrifice of some kind? Not at all. We find the answer to this question in Mic 6:7, “Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?…”. We also read in Heb 9:4, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins”. So, if God is not concerned with the shedding of an animal’s blood, then what kind of blood is He looking for? The Lord Jesus was typified by all of the mandatory animal sacrifices throughout the Old Testament, but none is more closely associated with the Savior than the Passover Lamb, to which John alludes under Divine Inspiration. We know from Heb 10:12, “But this man [the Lord Jesus], after he had offered one sacrificefor sinsfor ever, sat down on the right hand of God”. For this reason, we understand why the Lord Jesus Christ is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8). Notice the emphasis that is placed on the timing of this wonderful Salvation Plan, “from the foundation of the world” – In principle, the Lord Jesus Christ paid for the sins of His people even before He created this magnificently complex universe. Christ is indeed “the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel”, as Heb 12:24 tells us. We read in Gen 17:19: “And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him”. We know from Gal 3:16 that the “Seed” in view is physically the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (according to John 1:29) as declared by John the Baptist. Gal 3:16 declares: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ”. The “covenant” is actually the Gospel itself, which concerns itself with the forgiveness of a person’s sin. Rev 21:9b–11 speaks of the heirs of salvation as the Bride of Christ – the Lamb of God – Who is the principal Heir. One of the most interesting accounts of the New Testament is found in Luke 4, where Jesus enters the temple in Nazareth. He is handed the Book of Isaiah, and He turns to Isaiah 61 and reads verses 1 and 2, as we find quoted in Luke 4:18–19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me… to preach deliverance [forgiveness] to the captives …”. As we look to the Bible to learn about this wonderful forgiveness that God has provided, may we be compelled to examine our own hearts to see how we stand before God. Have we received His incomprehensible forgiveness? If we have, are we sharing the Gospel of Christ with others so they, too, may also come to know His marvelous forgiveness? Heb 13:20–21 is a beautiful benediction for us to meditate on as we bring this lesson to a close: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Mic 6:6–7 “Wherewith shall I come before the, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
Heb 10:1–4 “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. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”
Gal 4:4 “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
Heb 10:11–18 “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man[Lord Jesus Christ], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
Luke 4:18–19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance [forgiveness] to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Rev 21:9b–11 “… Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.