“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory and praise!”
Revelation 5:12 NIV
Throughout the Bible, a sacrificed lamb is used as a symbol of human redemption. In Genesis, God covered Adam and Eve with animal skins, which hints that a sacrifice had taken place. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
When God led Israel out of slavery in Egypt, he gave them the worship practice of sacrificing lambs. Before the first Passover, they were instructed to “take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs” (Exodus 12:7).
The blood became a sign for Israel to remember that the death angel passed over their houses and did not invoke a death penalty of the firstborn in each house.
And it wasn’t a one-time activity. God gave Israel a sacrificial system that involved the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly sacrifices of lambs. It was an integral part of their life and culture.
In the New Testament the theme about lambs and sin continues. The apostle John records that when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward the Jordan River, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NIV) Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, and when he died and rose for all human sin, the need for animal sacrifices, which had always pointed to him, came to an end.
The author of Hebrews attributes these words to the Holy Spirit, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more”. And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” (Heb 10:17-18).
The same chapter tells us that the law, with its sacrifices, was only a shadow of the good things to come, not the reality themselves. By the Father’s will, verse 10 adds “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus once for all”.
The law pointed to Jesus. In the last book of the New Testament, Revelation, chapter 13, verse eight, the apostle John wrote that “the Lamb was slain from the creation of the world.”
John is making the point that the sacrifice of Jesus was once, for all. It includes everyone who ever lived. Old Testament saints as well as New. In other words, the effect of Jesus’ sacrifice is just the same as if he were sacrificed in any time period in which humans lived. We are saved today by the same sacrifice that saves humans throughout all time. From the Garden of Eden to those who live today and those who will come after us, we are all under this covenant of grace, which spans all time.
As the apostle Peter said, Jesus is the Lamb whose blood redeems us. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1Peter 1:18-20).
Salvation comes by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood takes away all sin.” Salvation was never possible through keeping the law, which, in any case, every person has failed to do.
Jesus is not only the Creator and Judge of all things, he is also the sacrificial Lamb who takes the sins of the world upon himself and forgives them all. He is what the law always pointed to, but could never accomplish in itself. He is both the Creator and the Redeemer of his Universe.
I encourage you to live in the redemption he has given us!
Father, thank you for giving us the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Thank you that He sacrificed Himself for me and for the whole world. Help me to live the redemption made possible through Him, the Lamb of God.
Study by Joseph Tkach