Monday, February 11, 2008

THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB

Once the tent of meeting was erected as the Lord commanded, Moses was given instruction in Leviticus 1ff on the sacrifices to be brought to the Lord. God describes what the sacrifices were to be and the purpose for which they were offered.

Moses writes, "...if his offering is from the flock, of the sheep or of the goats, for a burnt offering, he shall offer it a male without defect. 11 He shall slay it on the side of the altar northward before the LORD, and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar." (Lev. 1:10,11)

It's easy to personalize this and think how it would make us feel. We would have helped the mother when the innocent creature was being born. We would have nursed it and made sure it was safe at all times. How would we feel if we now had to pick that creature from the pasture and sacrifice it for our sins? If you had a heart, you would care for it and would want no harm to come to it. But you have a greater problem. You have a need that you can't take away. You have sins that make you unacceptable to God. And unless somebody or something atones for them, you are lost and spiritually separated from God. And so, according to God's command, you kill the lamb "to make atonement on his behalf." It would be a powerful moment of examination on how you had been living your life.

As Christians we have been spared the requirement of providing a sacrifice for our sins. God has provided it for us. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" (Jn. 1:29). Looking at Jesus and hearing those words would carry for the Jews of that day a significance that modern people don't readily see. Jesus is going to be sacrificed as the Lamb of God. By His death, many will be made alive.

We all are sinful and are spiritually lost unless our sins are forgiven. It turns out that "the blood of bulls and goats did not take away sins". Those things were only to prefigure or foreshadow a truly perfect sacrifice for sin. God has provided that one sacrifice, "once for all", Jesus Christ. Jesus said to the Father, "I have come to do Thy will" (Heb. 10:9). And by that offering, sinful man is sanctified, made holy (Heb. 10:10). "By His wounds, you were healed." Now whoever obeys the Gospel (Rom. 1:5; 2 Thess 1:6-9) by confessing Christ, turning from his sins, and is baptized (adult full immersion) shall be saved. The blood of the lamb, the lamb without defect, cleanses us of our sins and makes us whole (1 Pt. 1:19). Jesus is the true sacrificial Lamb that takes away our sin.

Isaiah the prophet tells of the story of God's redemption through Jesus Christ. "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" (Isaiah 53:6). We must all feel a tinge of sadness to learn why Jesus had to die. But we also feel immense gratitude and hope for the salvation he has brought.
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Moses in the Promised Land

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