One of the great themes threading its way through the Scriptures is the picture of a shepherd leading and tending his flock of sheep. (Please refer to my recent article for more information on this subject.) The current article is on a related topic—the Lamb of God. Jesus has many names. Each name describes an aspect of His character or a function within the Godhead. We have learned Jesus was the Door to the sheepfold as well as the Great Shepherd in the previous article. We are His sheep. He is our leader and guides us to His intended destination. This article will portray Him as the Lamb of God—the very lowliest in the hierarchy of a flock of sheep. How can He be the Shepherd as well as a Lamb? Once again, these names describes His duties within the Godhead. Being the Lamb of God pictures perhaps the greatest of His works towards humanity—His work of redemption.
Lamb of God in New Testament Scriptures
The picture of Jesus as the Lamb of God is prevalent through New Testament Scripture. The last Book of the Bible uses the picture of Jesus as God’s Lamb several times. For example, Revelation 4: 6 says, “and I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.” This verse reaches back to the crucifixion—the time when the Lamb was slain for the sins of mankind. But it was really the time ‘as if’ He was slain. The crucifixion was not the end. He rose from the dead and ascended to the throne at God the Father’s right hand to rule forever. The number ‘seven’ is used repeatedly in this verse to emphasize His Deity. The Lamb is the eternal God. The word, horn, in prophetic Scripture refers to one who rules over a kingdom. The Lamb’s seven horns portray His rule is far more powerful than any human king. He rules with omnipotent authority. The Lamb’s ‘seven eyes’ indicates He knows and sees all. He is omniscient (all-knowing) and nothing escapes His attention. His ‘seven Spirits’ alludes to His omnipresence. He is present everywhere at all times. No one can escape His presence. (Refer to Romans 8: 38-39). Only God embodies these three qualities—omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. These indicate the Lamb is God indeed, even though He appeared vulnerable in His human body on the cross.
saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).
The Lamb is ‘worthy’ to receive power and rule over all creation, because He gave the ultimate sacrifice—His earthly life—to atone for sin and defeat death for all believers.
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Rev. 12:11).
Many Christians have given their lives for the Lamb over the generations. This human sacrifice of believers will dramatically increase in the last days under the Antichrist’s persecution. Although these individuals suffered martyrdom, they prevailed due to the ‘blood of the Lamb.’ They, like the Lamb, will resurrect to an eternal existence with great rewards due to their sacrifice. The ‘blood of the Lamb’ made this possible.
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” (John 21:15)
Jesus appeared to His disciples on multiple occasions following His resurrection. The above verse refers to a time when He appeared to Peter. Jesus instructed Peter to ‘tend His lambs.’ This was Jesus’ exhortation to take care of the many believers (lambs) that would come to salvation after His ascension. They would need care, nurturing and encouragement as they grew in Christ. Jesus assigned this command to Peter and to all leaders in the Body of Christ down through the ages.
The Lamb in the Book of Isaiah
But He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth (Isaiah 53:5-7).
This wonderful Scripture from the Book of Isaiah prophesies the crucifixion of Christ over 700 years prior to its occurrence. But more pertinent to this article, it portrays the prophecy with images of sheep and a Lamb. Isaiah was a Jewish descendant from the lineage of King David. Isaiah and King Hezekiah were cousins during the time this prophecy was given. God sent Isaiah to prophesy about God’s Son, the Messiah, to his nation Israel.
Isaiah records his people—the Jews—would each go his own way, ignoring the leadership of their Shepherd. The Shepherd Jesus reached out to Israel and offered God’s kingdom on earth. He proclaimed Himself as God’s chosen Messiah. But His people rejected that offer, and demanded Pontius Pilate crucify Him. “All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each has turned to his own way.”
But Jesus came ‘as a Lamb that is led to slaughter, like a sheep that is silent before its shearers.’ ‘The Lord caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him.’ The Lamb of God was led to His execution on a Roman cross. His blood paid for the sins of all His sheep. The name, Jesus, means ‘God saves.’ His death on the cross was the satisfactory payment for the redemption of each of His followers. The Lamb of God was also the Shepherd of His sheep. What man could ever concoct such a story—the Lamb of God is also the Shepherd of God’s sheep? Though His own people rejected Him, Jesus had another flock of sheep that He died for. That flock embodies believers down through the ages who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. A remnant of the original flock of Israel will one day accept Jesus as Savior and Messiah also (see Zech. 12: 10). They will enter the Millennial Kingdom and live under His reign.
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them (Isaiah 11: 6).
“The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD (Isaiah 65: 25).
The above verses paint a picture of the Millennial Kingdom. Jesus, ‘the Lamb of God,’ will redeem the world from the degrading effects of sin. All animals will dwell in peace with one another and the strong will no longer prey upon the weak. The Garden of Eden was untainted by sin prior to Adam and Eve’s rebellion. Carnivorous animals did not exist during that time. All animals were vegetarians. They did not devour flesh and blood. The Millennial Kingdom will be a similar place. Jesus will purge sin from the world during that time. The lamb, the most innocent of animals, will dwell in peace with wolves and lions without apprehension. The fearless predators of this world will no longer prey upon the weak and vulnerable.
Abraham, Isaac, and the Lamb
Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Gen. 22: 7)
God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, because this portrayed what He would later do with Jesus, His only Son. God has only one Son and He was begotten only once in human flesh. Jesus perfectly fulfills the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New covenants. God sent Him into this world as a human sacrifice—His blood sealing all three of these unconditional covenants. The blessings of these covenants pass down to their recipients only through the ultimate sacrifice of God’s Son. We are those recipients. God chose us and loved us so much before He even created the world that He sent His only Son (an innocent Lamb) to be sacrificed as a criminal for the sins of all—so we could have an eternal relationship with Him. The main difference between the Abraham/Isaac story and the Jesus story is God actually, historically did sacrifice His only Son. Jesus was God’s Lamb, sacrificed for the sins of mankind.
The next day he (John) saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1: 29).
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
The Hebrew phrase for ‘the LORD will provide’ is Jehovah Jireh. God provided Abraham a sacrifice to replace his son, Isaac—the ram caught in the thicket. The ram is a grown male lamb. God also provided us a grown Lamb, Jesus Christ, in a magnificent fashion. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proved His sacrifice was acceptable to God. God forgives our sins on the basis of our faith in Jesus’ finished work.
The Lamb and the Law
The priest is to take the lamb for the guilt offering, together with the log of oil, and wave them before the Lord as a wave offering. He shall slaughter the lamb for the guilt offering and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. The priest is to pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand, and with his right forefinger sprinkle some of the oil from his palm seven times before the Lord. Some of the oil in his palm he is to put on the same places he put the blood of the guilt offering—on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed, to make atonement for them before the Lord” (Lev.14: 24-29).
A lamb was often sacrificed to cover the sins of God’s people in Old Testament times. The Mosaic Law outlined the performance of this sacrifice in the above verse in Leviticus. God instructed the blood of the sacrificed lamb to be applied to the ear lobe, the right thumb and the right big toe of the individual. The blood covers a multitude of sins—what one does with his hands, where one goes to sin with his feet, and what one hears and acts upon with sinful behavior. The blood of the lamb pictures the greater work of the blood of God’s lamb, Jesus. The blood of Jesus paid for all the sins of every believer. There is no sin that it cannot atone.
It is quite interesting the Law also commanded the priest to wave a ‘log of oil’ with the lamb, and then apply the oil to the same body parts previously covered by the blood of the lamb. Olive oil prophetically portrays the work of the Holy Spirit. The greater prophetic picture given here for the believer is that Jesus’ blood atones for every sin, but the Holy Spirit enables the Christian to walk in newness of life, and prevent repetition of the same sins. This requires a Spirit filled and Spirit driven life.
God’s Lamb—the Ultimate Passover
Passover commemorates God’s miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt. Exodus 12:1-49 describes God’s wondrous work. We will record the initial verses of this section:
“This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their father’s households, a lamb for each household. Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance” (Ex. 12:2-14).
There was really only one ‘Passover.’ It occurred over 3,500 years ago, as the last of the ten plagues afflicting Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God had poured His judgment on the idolatrous Egyptians in the previous nine plagues. Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened and he refused to release the Jews from Egypt. God would unleash one last deadly plague upon Pharaoh and his people, and it would achieve God’s intended result. But first, God ordered each Jewish family to take a perfect yearling male lamb from their flock on the tenth day of Nisan. He instructed them to keep it four days, allowing children and the entire family to bond with it. God directed them to sacrifice the lamb on the evening of Passover—the fourteenth day of Nisan. God commanded them to apply the lamb’s blood to the lintel and doorposts of their home. Late that night the death angel passed over each Jewish home that had complied with God’s instructions. God spared these families the consequences of His judgment. But God judged those who had not obeyed His command—killing the firstborn of every household. Pharaoh and every Egyptian family suffered that terrible fate.
Jesus was born in a stable. A cow’s feed trough (a manger) was His bed. His mother wrapped Him in burial cloths, due to the very high infant mortality of that day. The burial cloths also symbolized His future death in a ‘rich man’s tomb.’ Jesus was a baby sheep—the Lamb of God. John the Baptist later identified Him as ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1: 29). This picture completes a prophetic thread connected backward to the Passover. Each believing family at that time selected an unblemished lamb from their flock and brought it into their homes, allowing all family members to bond with it for four days before the painful sacrifice. Similarly, God allowed His Lamb, Jesus, to bond with His people. The Jews were familiar with His teachings and experienced His miracles. Jesus healed many and forgave them of their sins. He delivered some from demonic bondage, and even resurrected several from the dead. Then God allowed sinful men to sacrifice His Lamb at Calvary. It is not coincidental that Jesus’ death occurred on the identical day commemorating the Jewish Passover in Israel—Nisan 14th. His blood streamed down a wooden cross, recreating the picture of the blood of innocent lambs streaming down the doorposts of each Jewish home 1,500 years earlier. God’s judgment ‘passed over’ all who made Jesus Lord of their lives—those who appropriated His blood as payment for their sins. Each of these individuals will one day enter the ‘promised land’ (heaven) with Him. But God’s judgment will fall upon all other humans who have not have not appropriated the free gift of God’s sacrifice for sins—His Lamb. God’s judgment is final and eternal. It is a severe judgment, pictured by the fire that burned the sacrificial lamb in the original Passover. But God’s fiery judgment never burns out. God fuels that fire forever. Sin will never dwell in God’s heavenly realm. Have you bonded with God’s Lamb? Is that Lamb your Lord and Savior?