The Lamb of God
By Dave Hunt
The Bible claims to be the Word
of the only true God. In addition to
historical, archaeological, and scientific proofs, there are numerous
internal proofs. No such evidences exist for other "sacred writings." The
Bible was written during 1,600 years by 40 prophets, most of whom lived in
diverse cultures, at different times in history, yet who never contradict
but complement each other. For the Qur'an, Muslims must take the word of
Muhammad, just as the Book of Mormon rests solely upon Joseph Smith's word.
But every biblical prophet is confirmed by 39 other prophets, and they
condemn the "scriptures" of every religion!
It would be difficult for a single author to avoid contradiction when
dealing with such a lengthy period of detailed history involving so many
individuals and nations and covering such a wide variety of subjects as does
the Bible. But 40 different prophets writing with one voice over a period of
many centuries? There can be only one explanation: divine inspiration!
Hundreds of prophecies uttered centuries and even thousands of years before
their fulfillment are the irrefutable proof God offers of His existence, and
these identify beyond question His Word to man, a proof absolutely unique to
the Bible. Besides proving that the Bible is God's Word, fulfilled
prophecies develop themes woven like golden threads through the entire
tapestry of Scripture.
One of the major themes is redemption: the only means by which a holy God
can justly forgive and be reconciled to His creature, man. The Bible
denounces all of the world's religions as inspired by "the god of this world
[Satan]" (1 Cor 10:20; 2 Cor 4:4). They all teach that their god or gods can
be appeased by works and religious rituals. The Bible alone is clear in its
declaration that salvation "is the gift of God [a gift cannot be earned or
merited]....Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according
to His mercy he saved us" (Eph 2:8; Ti 3:5).
God's Word allows no room for accommodation, dialogue, or compromise. Truth
does not concede anything to error and has nothing to discuss with lies. Yet
for many years, the Roman Catholic Church has been in "dialogue" with
Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims, all of whose religions diametrically oppose
the Bible. (A Catholic-Buddhist conference in a Kentucky monastery purported
to find "common ground" between Christ's suffering on the cross, the
Buddha's "Four Noble Truths," and Buddhist meditation-Los Angeles Times,
July 27, 1996). How is such confusion possible? Because centuries ago,
Catholicism, like the non-Christian religions, developed a "Christian"
system of works and sacraments for salvation. And for many years now,
Baptists and evangelicals (whose ancestors broke away from Catholicism
during the Reformation) have been in "dialogue" with the Roman Catholic
Church. Meanwhile, at the UN and at the leadership level of most "faiths,"
the clamor for a one- world religion is growing ever louder.
Biblical Christianity stands alone against the ecumenism that every religion
will eventually embrace under Antichrist. The Gospel is separated from all
religions by the uncompromising declaration of every biblical prophet that
for God to forgive sins and reconcile man to Himself, the penalty for sin
must be paid in full. That penalty is death (eternal separation from God,
the giver and sustainer of life), and it was pronounced upon the entire
human race: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die....For the wages of sin is
death..." (Ezk 18:20; Rom 6:23). This penalty cannot be waived even by God
himself, who is bound by His eternal Word. But God sent His Son to become a
man through a virgin birth to suffer in our place the punishment He had
pronounced upon mankind.
The fact that the payment for sin can be made only by a sinless victim is an
integral part of the theme of redemption all through the Bible. Clearly, no
sinner can pay for his own sins: "The sacrifice of the wicked is
abomination..." (Prv 21:27). Salvation can only be by God in grace crediting
Christ's death in payment for the sins of all mankind to those who accept
salvation on His terms. This is seen in the animal sacrifices Jews were to
offer. The fact that these sacrifices had to be repeated over and over
proved that they were only temporary anticipations of a true sacrifice,
which God would eventually provide: "For the law...can never with those
sacrifices [bring perfection]. For then would they not have ceased to be
offered?" (Heb 10:1,2).
Furthermore, from A.D. 70 to the present, Jews have been unable to offer the
sacrifices that were established by God's specific instructions in the
Torah. This fact carries very serious consequences, especially since the
destruction of the Temple and the resulting cessation of sacrifices did not
happen by chance but were God's judgment upon rebellious Israel as His
prophets foretold: "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without
a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice..." (Hos 3:4,5). Jesus
declared that Gentile control over Jerusalem would continue until
Armageddon: "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the
times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Lk 21:24). This is a remarkable
prophecy still being fulfilled, as we document in Judgment Day.
So how can Jews (or Gentiles) receive God's forgiveness, since the Levitical
sacrifices He specifically commanded ceased nearly 2,000 years ago and are
still impossible today? The answer to that question is given in the theme of
redemption that flows through Scripture.
Central to this theme are the numerous references to a lamb as a redemptive
sacrifice for sin. The first sacrifice that God accepted was the lamb
offered by Abel (Gn 4:2-4; Heb 11:4). The fact, however, that animal
sacrifices were only a picture of a coming sacrifice, which alone could
fully atone for sins, was clear from the very beginning for two obvious
reasons: 1) animal life was never equated in value to human life; and 2) as
we have already seen, animal sacrifices had to be repeated, proving that
they could not remove the guilt of sin.
Yet, the Old Testament prophetic pictures present amazing insights. The
offering of Isaac by Abraham on an altar is a classic example. Muslims claim
that Ishmael, not Isaac, was the son offered-an obvious lie because it
doesn't fit Islam. Allah is not a father, has no son, Islam has no
redemptive sacrifice, and denies Christ's death for sin.
God's command to Abraham, however, to offer his "only son Isaac" (Gn 22:2),
has undeniable prophetic meaning in relation to the biblical sacrifice of
God's "only begotten Son" (Jn 3:16). Father Abraham's offering of Isaac on
an altar has meaning only in relation to the biblical account of Father God
offering Christ on the Cross for man's sins. Nor could it be a coincidence
that the very place where God told Abraham to offer his son became the site
of the Jewish Temple and its sacrifices. Islam tries to steal this also by
saying that it was from the place where "Ishmael was offered" that Muhammad
ascended to heaven. That unbiblical claim, however, has been recently
discredited by Muslim authorities. (See Judgment Day)
In Abraham's cryptic response to Isaac's question, "Where is the lamb for a
burnt offering?" (Gn 22:7), the mystery seems to deepen: "God will provide
himself a lamb" (v. 8). God himself will be the sacrificial lamb for man's
redemption? Did Christ refer to this statement when He declared, "Abraham
rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad" (Jn 8:56)? Isaiah
revealed both that the coming Messiah would be God's son: "unto us a son is
given" (Is 9:6) and also that He would be YAHWEH, called "the God of Israel"
203 times in the Bible: "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The
mighty God, The everlasting Father" (Is 9:6)! A baby born to a virgin would
be God's son and at the same time would be the Father?! Yes. As Jesus
declared, "I and my Father are one" (Jn 10:30).
Isaiah also foretold that the Messiah would be the promised lamb sacrificed
for the sins of the world: "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us
all....[H]e is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her
shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth" (Is 53:6,7). No wonder John
the Baptist, when "looking upon Jesus as he walked...saith, Behold the Lamb
of God...which taketh away the sin of the world" (Jn 1:29,_36). The
intricate interrelationship between scriptures by so many different prophets
from Genesis to Revelation is awesome!
The most complete Old Testament prophetic picture of the coming lamb is in
the Passover. The detailed instructions settled in advance the controversy
at the root of today's conflict in the Middle East over the land that God
promised to Abraham: "I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after
thee...all the land of Canaan [there was no such place as "Palestine"!], for
an everlasting possession..." (Gn 17:8). Because Ishmael (though
illegitimate) was Abraham's firstborn son, the Arabs, who claim descent from
Ishmael, say they are the "seed" of Abraham to whom the Promised Land was
given. The Bible, however, clearly says that Abraham's descendants through
Isaac and Jacob are the "seed" and true heirs (Gn 17:19; 26:3,4; 28:13; 1
Chr 16:15-18, etc.) According to the Bible, the claim of Arabs and Muslims
to this disputed land is a fraud-yet the UN, EU, USA, et al., accept it as
the basis for a "peace" that defies the God of Israel!
Muslims say that the Bible was changed by Jews and Christians. That won't
fly. The God of the Bible defines the seed that inherits the land so clearly
that any "change" would be impossible: "...thy seed [i.e., that inherits the
land] shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve
them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years....But in the fourth
generation they shall come hither again..." (Gn 15:13-16).
The Jews, not Arabs, were slaves in Egypt for 400 years, then were brought
"in the fourth generation" into the land of Canaan. Arabs did not come into
"Palestine" until the brutal seventh-century-Muslim invasion after Jews had
lived there for more than 2,000 years. This is irrefutable history proved
by the Passover.
Israel's deliverance came about through God's judgment in ten plagues upon
Egypt, the final one requiring the sacrifice of a lamb by any who would
escape that doomed land. That event was ever after to be commemorated with
the Passover supper first eaten that historic night: "And this day shall be
unto you for a memorial....[W]hen your children shall say unto you, What
mean ye...ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover...when he
smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses" (Ex 12:14,26,27).
Who keeps the Passover? Not Arabs! Only Jews keep it worldwide to this day.
When an event witnessed by many people is immediately commemorated with a
special remembrance kept ever after, we have proof that it happened as memorialized.
The annual Passover proves the slavery of Israel in Egypt and her
deliverance, as the Bible declares, and that the Jews are therefore the
heirs of Abraham with title to that land by a deed God signed 4,000 years
ago and recorded in Scripture.
Non-Jews have neither right nor purpose in keeping the Passover; yet it has
become popular for Gentile Christians to celebrate the Jewish "seder." True,
the Passover lamb pictures Christ, the Lamb that Abraham told Isaac God
would provide-but so did each Levitical offering, yet Christians don't offer
those, so why would they celebrate the Passover? It commemorates ancestral
deliverance from Egypt, in which Gentiles have no part.
But wasn't the "Last Supper" the Passover, and didn't Christ give it new
meaning, to be celebrated continually until His return? "A new meaning"?
Impossible! The Passover feast with roast lamb has historic significance
involving an "everlasting covenant" (Gn 17:7; 1 Chr 16:15-18, etc.)
concerning the Promised Land. That meaning cannot be changed. Jews (not
Gentiles) are commanded by God to keep it "for ever" (Ex 12:14). Christ
Himself could not give a "new meaning" to the Passover!
Furthermore, the Last Supper was not the Passover. It occurred the night
"before the feast of the passover" (Jn 13:1) and without a lamb. The next
morning, the rabbis were still keeping themselves undefiled so they could
"eat the passover" (Jn 18:28). That afternoon, when Christ was on the Cross,
it was still "the preparation of the passover" (Jn 19:14)-i.e., the lambs
were being sacrificed to be eaten in the Passover supper that night.
But didn't Christ say, "I have desired to eat this passover with you before
I suffer" (Lk 22:15)? Yes, but "this passover" is not the Passover with
roast lamb to be kept only by Jews in memory of deliverance from Egypt.
"This passover" was something new inaugurated by Christ to be kept with
bread and wine (in memory of His body broken and blood shed) by all who
believe on Him (Jews and Gentiles). Why did Jesus, then, call it a
"Passover"? Because as Israel was delivered by the death of a lamb from
Egypt, so it commemorates deliverance for believers from sin, this evil
world, and judgment to come, through the true "Lamb of God": "as often as ye
eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew [proclaim] the Lord's death
till he come" (1 Cor 11:26). Paul said, "Christ our passover is sacrificed
for us" (1 Cor 5:7).
If animal sacrifices could not pay for sin, what was their purpose? They
were physical illustrations of spiritual truth beyond our present
comprehension. Christ continually used the physical to symbolize the
spiritual: ("drink of the water that I give...I am the true vine...the
door...the bread of life...except you eat my flesh and drink my blood,"
etc.). We do the same today. For example, we sing hymns about being "washed
in the blood of the Lamb." We are not speaking literally. Grievous error
enters when symbol is made substance, such as Catholicism's eating of the
wafer that is believed to be Christ's physical body. That would be like
swallowing pages of the Bible in order to "feed upon God's Word" (Dt 8:3;
Jer 15:16; 1 Pt 5:2, etc.)!
The significance behind the sacrificial lamb goes far beyond our highest
thoughts. In John's vision, he is told that "the Lion of the tribe of
Juda...hath prevailed to open the book." Turning to see the "Lion," he sees
"a Lamb as it had been slain..." (Rv 5:5,6)! How can a powerful lion appear
as a newly slain lamb-and in what way could Christ be seen as such in
heaven?! Of the heavenly city, we are told that "the Lamb is the light
thereof" (Rv 21:23). The Bible ends with reference to the eternal "throne of
God and of the Lamb" (22:1,3).
We can only fall down in prostrate wonder and gratitude, rejoicing that one
glad day we will join the redeemed around that throne in the eternal chorus,
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" (Rv 5:12). At last we will "see him as
he is" (1 Jn 3:2) and understand fully, having been transformed into His
image for all eternity.
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