And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!John 1:36
The first recorded scripture of a lamb is used in reference to when God commanded Abraham to go up a mountain with the unfathomable commandment to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, “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 22:7] Fortunately, this event was intervened by the Lord resulting in a show of Abraham’s unwavering faith as recognized by God. A lamb by nature is a young sheep, usually less than one year old and was chosen as one of the animals that was to serve as a sacrifice to the Lord God for various purposes such as a sin offering as referenced in 2 Chron. 29:21.
The very first animal sacrifice in the Bible however was made by the builder of an ark named Noah and this occurred upon learning that the flood waters had receded enough to disembark from the ark, “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.” [Gen 8:20] With this noted, let us first have a closer and more in depth look at animal sacrifices in the scriptures since this ultimately relates to the phrase in this week’s scripture reading of who is the lamb of God?
Animal sacrifices in no way included the off loading of aged, unwanted, disabled or disfigured lambs. They were rather described as follows, “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:” [ Ex. 12:5] As it specifically related to an offering to God for sins, the lamb represented one of the primary animals for this purpose, “And he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the holy place: for as the sin offering is the priest’s, so is the trespass offering: it is most holy:” [Lev. 14:13] Most holy to the Lord, unblemished, keep this in mind in reference to this week’s scripture reading.
It is quite debatable and perhaps controversial to comprehend that the Lord God required the sacrifice of animals for the sins committed by sinful humanity. I mean after all, what did those poor innocent young animals have to do with people committing sins? But there are some parallel points in reference to the Lamb of God worth noting. First consider this, as indicated above, the lamb was a young unblemished sacrifice, reflecting a sense of purity if you will. This is in direct correlation to Jesus as noted in this scripture, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” [Heb 4:15] Without sin, Jesus was sinless, or as the lamb was described, unblemished, which is a crucial point to keep in mind as a sin offering. A person with sin could not nor could they ever atone for sin since they already have sin in themselves.
Shedding of Blood
Secondly, the sacrifice of an animal involved the shedding of blood and this has absolutely direct correlation to the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross since his blood was indeed shed (John 19:34). Note how the author of Hebrews once again highlights this important point which was written for the Jews, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” [Heb. 9:22] Now, here is the crucial point to note in this whole discussion pertaining to sacrifices. In the Old Testament, the priests of the Jewish faith were required to sacrifice animals, namely lambs, all the time as a sin offering. But these were temporal measures of atonement before God, they never appeased the demands of the Lord on a permanent basis and this kept repeating itself for the duration of the Jews religion.
Let us now contrast this endless process of atonement from the sacrifice of lambs with the sin offering of Jesus Christ to God as noted once again in the book of Hebrews, “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” [Heb. 9:28] Did you notice that word “once” in this Bible verse? Christ was only offered or sacrificed once for all mankind, after that there was no longer any need to offer a sacrifice to God, Recall when Jesus was crucified on the cross and his dying words were, “It is finished” [John 19:30]. This is precisely why the apostle Paul articulated in his letter to the Roman church, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” [Rom. 10:4] In other words, Christ did it all for us, complete redemption back to God through his sacrifice on the cross.
Sacrifice on the Cross
This was it dear seekers of faith. All the animal sacrifices that occurred in the Old Testament ended in the culmination of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This is why the author of Hebrews wrote in his letter to clarify this point, “…but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” [Heb. 9:26] After Christ, there was no longer a need for further sacrifices to atone for the sins of mankind. This is the most amazing point of the Christian faith in that God who was manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16) came down from heaven to redeem mankind himself through his own sacrifice. No one else could accomplish this for us, Christ did it himself! A lamb was a sacrifice in the Old Testament. A Lamb had to be without spot or blemish. A lamb was the precursor to the final sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
It is notable that this giving of Jesus Christ as the sacrificial lamb was prophesied centuries before by the prophet Isaiah in this passage of scripture, “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.” [Is. 53:7] This prophecy was fulfilled as recorded by the apostle John during the interrogation of Jesus before the governor Pontius Pilate, “And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.” [John 19:9]
To further corroborate this event in history, it was also prophesied by another prophet called Jeremiah as noted in this passage, “But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.” [Jer, 11:19] This same message was shared by the early apostles during their preaching to the Jews following the ascension of Jesus, “The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:” [Acts 8:32]
The shedding of the blood of Christ was most remarkable. Let us not forget that the Jew’s religion involved centuries of animal sacrifices in adherence to the commandments given by the Lord. But now, the final Lamb is presented as a sacrifice to God, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” [1 Peter 1:19] Note the many key points in this scripture, precious blood, without blemish, without spot, this dear seekers of faith is the Lord Jesus Christ presenting himself on your behalf to God as a sacrifice for your sins. This is why John the Baptist declared, “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]
The decision is yours
Let us close off this Bible study by fast forwarding to the end of the New Testament. The apostle John recorded the words of the Lord Jesus Christ near the end of the book of Revelation, “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” [Rev. 22:1] Here it is noted where the Lamb of God is at the right hand of the throne of God. This is further confirmed two verses later as John records, “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:” [Rev. 22:3] No more curse, contemplate this phrase for it was only through the Lord Jesus Christ who removed the curse of sin upon us!
Will you come to the Lamb of God today, will you believe on him as the sacrificial atonement for your sins, the sins that you have treasured and cherished for so long in your life, the sins that you have clung to through thick and thin, the sins that you think nobody knows about, the sins that you thought would get you through all of life’s problems, only to realize that it was the Lord Jesus Christ who gave his life on the cross to redeem you from those despicable sins (John 3:16).
Think long and hard about this decision for as the apostle John proclaimed, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” [1 John 1:7] Be not deceived seekers of faith, for a person’s redemption has absolutely nothing to do with self effort as many would believe, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” [1 Peter 1:18-19] This is the true redemption, the Lamb of God, giving his life for you. Will you come to him now and believe?
Bible Study Questions
- In this Bible study called who is the Lamb of God, what does a lamb represent in the scriptures?
- In the Bible, the Lamb of God represents (a) John the Baptist, (b) Jesus Christ, or (c) the apostle Paul? Hint John 1:36.
- Why do you think sacrificial lambs were required to be unblemished according to the commandment of God?
- True or false, animal sacrifices are still part of the Christian faith? Hint 1 Peter 1:18-19
- Can you name two prophets that are referenced in this study who prophesied about the sacrifice of Christ?
- In 1 Tim. 3:16, what does it mean when the apostle Paul declares that God was manifest in the flesh?
- If you realized that the Lamb of God took away your sins, will you consider sharing this study with someone you love?