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Monday, December 30, 2013

John the Baptist – Part 4

Lamb of God

       The Apostle John has revealed that Jesus is the Eternal Word, Life and Light, John the Baptist witnessed that Jesus is the true Light, and is full of grace and truth. In other words, the fullness of grace and truth. John the Baptist's only God-ordained function was to bring people to Christ. This is also the function of the Law and the Prophets of the Older Testament.. (Galatians 3:24-25)  Two people have now witnessed that Jesus is the Light of the world -- the Apostle John and John the Baptist.  God's Word says that "every Word must be established by two or three witnesses." (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16)  God will not act contrary to His Word!  
      Next John the Baptist reveals that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29  John the Baptist presented the Eternal Lamb of God to Israel first. 1 Peter 1:18-19: For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and 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. Jesus came to the Jew first and then the Gentile to fulfill scripture. The forefathers of the Jews were sinners just like you and me. John says that the ways of the forefathers was "empty," but the precious blood of Christ is full.  Our fleshly, sinful ways are empty, but spiritual life according to the ways of Jesus is full.  Silver and gold can't save us and do away with sin. As opulent as Solomon's Temple of God was, it couldn't take away sin forever. Only the precious blood of Christ that was sinless because He is sinless could do this.. Jesus was chosen before the world existed to become the Lamb of God who takes away our sin. The Father, Jesus the Word and the Holy Spirit knew the plan of redemption before the world was ever created.
     The Apostle John mentions the problem of “sin” more than any of the other gospels. Sin must be dealt with. Jesus is the Eternal Passover Lamb. “For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7  Jesus dealt with sin.
     In Revelation, Jesus is referred to as the Lamb 27 times. The Lion of Judah is used only once in Revelation to describe Jesus. The Lion is the symbol of Kingship and victory. Jesus is the King of God who fought the enemy and won in one single match on the cross as the Perfect Lamb of God. (see Revelation 5:5) It was as the Lamb of God that Jesus is counted worthy.  Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb. These two lie together in peace as One in Christ. The Lion of Judah in Revelation was “able” to open up the truth, but it was the Lamb who was slain who was “worthy” to open the seal over the Word of God.  It was Jesus' willing sacrifice of His life as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world that made Him worthy to open the Word of God by the power of His Holy Spirit.  The same Holy Spirit that was in the Father was in Him because He too is holy and God.  God reproduced is God.

First Mention of Lamb in scripture

       God designed His Word just a He designed His creation. God declared the end out of the beginning. “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.” Isaiah 46:10 The ancient sages believed in the Law of first mention. The first mention of a word or number in scripture unlocks and opens the door to the fullness of Truth that follows. It is the gateway to Divine Truth until it reaches fulfillment in Revelation. This first mention is the seed that grows fuller and fuller in its revelation until all is fulfilled and restored to newness and holiness once again in the end. Within the first mention seed is subsequent truth, The seed of all Divine Truth is in Genesis. The seed progressively grows, blooms and blossoms at maturity (fulfillment) throughout scripture until the end meets the beginning and all is restored to holiness and peace as it was in the beginning. This is God's order in His revelation of His Son Jesus Christ throughout the written Word. The Seed Jesus is hidden in the Older Testament, blossoms in the New in His flesh body and is revealed in all of His spiritual glory and fullness in Revelation.
      The first mention of lamb in scripture was when Abraham took his promised son Isaac up on a mountain to be sacrificed as a burnt offering for atonement of sin. In willing love and obedience, both the father and the son obeyed God's instruction. God is asking Abraham to do what God Himself will eventually do through His Son Jesus. There are other first mentions in this account of Abraham and Isaac: 1) only begotten son; 2) love; 3) worship; and 4) bound.  These words are also a picture of what God Himself will ultimately do through His Son Jesus.  
       Isaac was Abraham's only begotten son of God (his miraculous, spiritual son). The love of father Abraham for his spiritual son Isaac and his willingness to sacrifice his son on the altar to atone for the sin of the father's household sets the stage for all other love in scripture. Love reaches its apex in the love of our Heavenly Father who gave His only begotten Son as evidence of His great love for all of humanity. What Abraham and Isaac were about to willingly do is referred to as worship. Abraham and Isaac's worship had nothing to do with a song and praise. It had all to do with love, sacrifice, surrender and obedience to God. A surrendered life of obedience to God and His Word no matter the cost is the greatest form of worship one can give God. Isaac was bound to the altar by the father but set free. Jesus was bound to the cross as a love-servant to God and Man. He died and was set free in His resurrection on the 3rd day. Jesus whom Isaac prefigured fulfilled the two greatest commandments at the cross. He loved His Father with all of His heart, soul, mind and strength, and He loved humanity perfectly and fully with the same love He had for His Father. Abraham indeed saw Christ's day and was glad! The end was in the beginning!

Lamb prefigured and prophesied in the Law and the Prophets

                 First Passover Lamb in the Older Testament

     The first Passover was celebrated just before the Israelites were to be be set free from bondage and slavery in Egypt, and saved from the angel of death. (Exodus 12) God instructed Moses to have every man choose a lamb or a goat without spot or blemish from their own herd as an offering to God for salvation and deliverance. Why a lamb or a goat? A goat was the sacrifice for sin in the Law. Jesus became the goat (sin) for us so we could become the righteousness of God in Him. At twilight all of the Israelite men were to slaughter the lamb or goat, just as it was prophesied that Jesus would be led to the slaughter. (Isaiah 53:7; Jeremiah 11:19) God was painting a picture of God's Lamb – His chosen and precious Son – who would eventually do and fulfill all of the Older Testament scriptures.
       Can you imagine the amount of blood that was shed when all of these lambs were killed? Then the male of the house was to take some of the blood of the sacrificial lamb or goat and put it on the tops and sides of the door frame into their house. When God passed through the land and saw the blood, He would passover that home and all within would be saved from the angel of death. The blood of the lamb saved the firstborn from death. Those who did not apply the blood of the lamb were put to death. In the New Testament, believers are covered by the blood of Jesus. All who receive and believe in Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross and are in the House of God are saved from eternal death.
       The Israelites were then to put the lamb on the fire and roast it, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. All of the lamb or goat must be eaten with the bitter herbs and unleavened bread. None of it was to be left. If it was not fully eaten, then what was left must be completely burned. Not just anyone could eat this holy sacrifice. This sacrifice was to be wholly to the Lord. The Lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread were a picture of the suffering and death of Jesus, the sinless Bread of Life.  This offering along with the Bread must be completely consumed by fire. Jesus, the Lamb and Unleavened Bread of life withstood the fire of God's wrath for sin on the cross and yet He was not consumed.  He is alive forevermore. Jesus wants us to eat His Word anointed by the fire of the Holy Spirit to maintain our spiritual life.  Jesus wants us to fully know Him. We know Him through His Anointed Word.
       Those who had the blood on the door of their houses would not be put to death when God passed by exercising His judgment upon the firstborn sons of Egypt. Eating the lamb identified the members of the house with the death of the lamb. Believers in Christ are to identify with Him.  Now, in Christ, believers eat the communion meal in remembrance of what Christ did for us,. We are to identify with His death as well as His resurrection life. His was an eternal, spiritual delivery and life. The communion meal is Christ's table of reconciliation and restoration. When we eat at His table, we are reminded of the cost that Jesus paid to save us and give us eternal life. The Israelites were saved from earthly slavery and death, but in Christ we are saved from spiritual slavery and death and given eternal life. God invites us to sit down at a table with Him and partake of His covenant meal bought by the blood and body of Christ. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” To go back to the Passover feast in the Law is in direct disobedience to Jesus. The lamb and the unleavened bread of the Older Testament passover meal cannot save from spiritual, eternal death.  Only the blood of Jesus can do this.
         According to the Law, the meat and bread of the burnt offering that was not eaten must be burnt up by fire, but in Christ we can eat of His Word and drink of His blood (new life) daily, and there will always be fresh bread and meat in His Word that never runs out or goes stale.  This was illustrated in the multiplication of the bread by Jesus. Jesus' multiplied bread fed the multitudes but there was as much bread in the baskets left as when they started.  In other words, the Bread of Life -- the Word of God -- never runs out!  It is sufficient for everyone.
          John the Baptist is introducing the Lamb of God to the Israelites. Then in Acts 8:32-35, it says that Jesus will be preached to the whole world. Jesus is not only the Lamb, He is the bitter herbs in His suffering and death on the cross. He is also the unleavened bread as the pure, sinless Truth of the Word of God. All who believe in Jesus are saved by His pure, sinless blood. God saved and delivered the Israelites not because they were worthy but by His grace and love. The Israelites were as sinful and disobedient as believers are today. All have fallen short of the glory of God. God in His unfailing love sent His chosen and precious Son to save us and give us eternal life, not because we are good but because He is good. The Bible says that God's glory is in His loving kindness toward mankind. (see Exodus 33:19)  Mankind is precious to God because He created them in His very own image and likeness. 
           God is also true to His Word, so He is faithful to His Covenants with the Israelites. He sent His Son Jesus to fulfill all of the Older Testament Covenants fully and completely. In Jesus and His New Covenant, God is faithful to all nations, tribes and tongues. His grace and love is offered to all through the body and blood of Jesus. The Older Testament Passover was earthly and temporary. It saved the Israelites from physical slavery and death. The New Testament covenant in Christ is Eternal and saves both Jews and Gentiles from eternal spiritual death and bondage. Jesus takes the “natural” into the “spiritual.”

                    Burnt Offering in the Law

       According to the Law, a lamb without spot or blemish must be sacrificed to atone for the sin of every Israelite household. These were earthly lambs that had to be sacrificed every evening and morning for sin, and yearly on the Day of Atonement. (Exodus 29:38-42; Leviticus 1:1-17) Why every evening and day? Because mankind sins every day because of His sinful nature, so God instituted a continual sacrifice and fire to atone for sin until Jesus.  The Eternal Passover Lamb who was sacrificed on the cross once-for-all came to earth. His sacrifice need not be repeated because it is an eternal once-for-all sacrifice. Only One who is Eternal and sinless could do this! God dealt with sin by the suffering and death of His own beloved Son on the cross. The cross was the demonstration of God's unfailing love for all of humanity. Love was God and Jesus' motivation. Love by its very nature requires sacrifice, loving kindness, patience, gentleness, long-suffering etc.  Jesus is the Eternal Burnt Offering for atonement. Nothing or no one becomes Eternal except through Christ because He is the Only Eternal One to walk the earth and the first from earth to be resurrected and ascend into heaven. All must follow Him!  This includes the Older Testament saints, patriarchs and prophets.
       In Hebrew, the burnt offering means “that which goes up.” In other words, that which ascends up to the heavens before God. According to the Law given Moses, the lamb was to be offered at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle) so it was acceptable to the Lord.(Leviticus 1:3b) Jesus said that He is the door that we must go through to enter the Kingdom of heaven. He is also the Offering (sacrifice), and He is the One who ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.. In Hebrew the word for offering is “corban,” which means “to draw near.”  Offerings/sacrifice brought the one sacrificing closer to God and God to the offerer.  
       The entire burnt offering must be burnt up. This symbolizes complete consecration to God. Jesus is the Only One who fulfilled this requirement also. He was completely consecrated to God because He was without sin and would only speak what the Father told Him to speak and would only do what the Father told Him to do.
The Israelite offerer had to lay his hand on the head of the lamb for the burnt offering and confess his sin. The lamb will be the substitute offering for his sin and is accepted by the Father. This innocent animal will stand in his place. This too is fulfilled by Christ. He took the sin of the world upon Himself to make atonement for sin.   We are accepted by the Father because of Jesus' finished work on the cross.  There is no other way by which we can be saved.
       Next the Israelite male must slaughter the lamb. The Israelite male had to do the slaughtering, just as all of humanity put Jesus on the cross because of our sin. The Israelite male must see the cost of his sin.......an innocent lamb must be slaughtered and shed its blood to atone for his sin. Jesus is also the fulfillment of this wholly and perfectly. We must identify with Christ in His death (Romans 6:3-11) The High Priest and the priests would take some of the shed blood and sprinkle it on the altar of sacrifice on all sides. Jesus not only shed His blood, He also sprinkled it seven times in fulfillment of this requirement – 1) when He was circumcised, 2) in the Garden sweating blood, 3) the injury to his head from the crown of thorns, 4) the holes in His hands, 5) the holes in His feet, 6) the stripes on His back and 7) the wound in His side. Jesus had to fulfill all of the requirements of the Law perfectly and completely.  The Law lives on eternally in Christ.  We are no longer under its demands but are now to love and obey the Godhead willingly and freely. The High Priest of the Older Testament must sprinkle the blood of the Lamb on the mercy seat 7 times on the Day of Atonement. Jesus fulfilled this completely and fully indicated by the number 7.  
       Believers in Christ not only identify with His death but also His resurrection. We must live as people raised from our deathly, fleshly nature and present ourselves as living sacrifices to God. After the innocent lamb was slaughtered and the sins of the Israelite and his household has been confessed and forgiven, the sons of the high priest were to put all of the pieces of the sacrifice on the fire of the altar. Before placing the inward parts and the legs of the lamb upon the altar, they must be washed thoroughly. After we accept Jesus, He wants us to allow Him and the power of the Holy Spirit to cleanse us.  Jesus  takes things to the internal and spiritual. Jesus told His disciples, “Unless I wash you, you have no part in Me.” John 13:8  Jesus did in the “natural” what He would do in the “spiritual.” Jesus wants to wash our inward parts so we reflect Him and His love and Light. God wants to cleanse our inward parts – our hearts and minds, and cleanse our walk so we have the mind of Christ and walk like Jesus. Jesus then told His disciples that they were to wash each others feet.. In other words, help one another in their walk with the Lord.  We are to allow the refining fire of the Holy Spirit to consume our flesh so we will walk in the Spirit to the glory of Jesus' Name..
       After all of the requirements are completed for the Older Testament burnt offering, the priests must burn the parts of the sacrifice completely. All of the flesh of the sacrificial animal had to be completely consumed by fire.  “It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.” Leviticus 1:9 A sacrificial life lived for God in faith and willing obedience is a sweet fragrance to the Lord. God was well-pleased with His Beloved Son because He did all that the Father asked of Him even to His death on the cross. He is also pleased at the sacrificial life of those who love and follow Jesus. Ephesians 5:1-2: Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

       Heavenly Father, help us to understand that You are a God who doesn't change, and that Jesus is the same yesterday (Older Testament), today (New Testament) and forever (Revelation). Help us to see that you used the Older Testament scriptures to paint a picture of Your redemption plan through Your chosen and precious Son Jesus the Christ. Jesus was the Eternal Word long before He became Man, so help us to see Him fully, not just as a Man but in all of His deity, His glory and power.  Help us to understand God's Fatherly love toward His children even in His correction, and love one another in the same way.   In Christ's precious Name, I pray,

                                                           Blessings and love,


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