Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Lamb of God

Episode Resources

Watch "Jesus—Lamb of God."

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says the Lamb of God will either bring you comfort or terror. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Listen, one day you will face the Lamb as your Judge, or you will face Him as your Savior. Which will it be for you? He will conquer you, or you will be one of those who conquers with Him.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Wonder of His Name, for Christmas Eve 2018.

Nancy’s about to show you why it’s so meaningful that Jesus is our Lamb. This message is part of the series “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.” This message picks up on our last session of Jesus as our Redeemer

Nancy: Now, lambs play an extremely important part in Israel’s history and in the redemptive story. Throughout the Old Testament, lambs are a symbol that point to Christ who is the Lamb of God. That’s the name we want to look at today. But as with so many of these names, we have to go back into the Old Testament to see how Jesus fulfilled a type, how He fulfilled a picture or a symbol that we find first in the Old Testament.  

The first mention of sacrificial lamb is found in the book of Genesis chapter 22. You may want to turn there. But you know the story about how God told Abraham to take his son Isaac, the one son that he had longed for, he had waited for, the son that had been promised to him, the son that he loved with all his heart. And God said take that son and offer him as a burnt offering to God.

Well, Abraham obeyed God. He got up early in the morning. He didn’t know the end of the story the way we do. He cut the wood for the offering. He headed out with his son to that place forty-five miles away at Mount Moriah where God had told him to make the sacrifice.

And on the third day they arrived at the Mount. He told the servants who had come with him to wait. Then he put the wood on his son’s back. Abraham picked up a knife and a fire and carried them with him—the fire to light the sacrifice.

And then we read in verse 7 of Genesis 22:

Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (vv. 7–8).

Now, some of the older translations translate that a little differently. They say: “God will provide himself the lamb for the burnt offering.” Either way, when you come to the New Testament all of that makes a whole lot more sense. God will provide for Himself the Lamb. God will provide Himself, the Lamb for the burnt offering.

You remember how at the last moment, from a human perspective, as Abraham took the knife in his hand to offer up his own son to God, how God provided a substitute—foreshadowing, of course, the day when God would one day sacrifice His only Son, the Lamb of God, who would die in our place. So we see the significance there of the lamb offered up for a burnt offering.

Then we come to the story we’ve talked about earlier in this series in Exodus 12, the initiation, the inauguration of the Passover. Let me read just a little bit of that from Exodus 12 beginning in verse 1.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt . . . Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household (vv. 1, 3).

So God was getting ready to ransom, to deliver His people out of Egypt. And first there has to be this ransom price paid, the redemption price. And so God says, “Every family is to take a lamb.” And then verse 5:

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. . . . And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month (vv. 5–6).

So you get the lamb on the tenth day, you bring it into the household. Now, how long would it take your family to get attached to that lamb? Is four days long enough? Yes, by now the kids have this lamb named. It’s their pet lamb, and God says, “Now, on the fourteenth day, you tell the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel to kill their lambs at twilight.” Take a lamb. Kill the lamb. Verse 7:

Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night. . . . So the lamb is killed, the blood is spread, the flesh is eaten.
It’s . . .  roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. . . . It is the Lord's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments.
And when I see the blood [the blood of the slain lambs, spread on your doorposts], I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt” (vv. 7–8, 11–13).

Now the story is much longer than that, but you see the juxtaposition here that this is a night of judgment on the Egyptians who did not kill the lambs and spread the blood. It’s a night of judgment for the Egyptians, but it is a night of amazing great salvation for the Israelites.

You see those twin themes of judgment and salvation going all the way through the Scripture. I make a little note in my Bible each time I come to it—judgment and salvation. There’s no salvation without judgment. But wherever there is judgment there is salvation offered. The only difference was the lamb, the blood of the lamb.

And from that point on, once every year the Israelites commemorated this night. They sacrificed a lamb. They offered up and ate a Passover lamb. They did not want to ever forget their deliverance out of Egypt, and they didn’t want their children ever to forget either. And so we see the inauguration of the Passover lamb.

And then through the books of Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers we see lambs all the time. Just circle those references when you come to them in your Bible to make Leviticus come alive to you. In those three books there are ninety-three references to lambs being offered up as sacrifices. That’s in addition to other sacrificial animals—bulls and goats and birds—but ninety-three references to lambs being sacrificed.

As the people of Israel would enter the gate of tabernacle, just inside the courtyard, there was an altar. It was a wood altar covered with bronze, the bronze altar. It was an altar of sacrifice. In fact, the Hebrew root for the word altar means “to slay or slaughter.” It’s the place where the lambs and the other sacrificial animals were slaughtered, and they were offered up to God.

And you see these lambs being offered up for many different reasons. For example, when the priests were consecrated, lambs were offered each day for seven days. And then those priests had to sacrifice lambs to cover their own sins before they could perform their duties on behalf of the people. 

Lambs were sacrificed for peace offerings, for sin offerings, as restitution for guilt. Lambs were offered up regularly by the priests on behalf of the Israelites. Every morning and every evening a lamb was offered up. Two additional lambs were offered every Sabbath, and seven additional lambs were offered on the first day of each month. There were lambs offered on the seven annual feast days or holy days of Israel, extra sacrifices of lambs that were offered on those days.

It’s been calculated that over the course of one year, 1,086 lambs were sacrificed in these regular recurring rhythm of offerings. And that’s in addition to other offerings that were made for individual and corporate sin. That’s a lot of lambs being slain. That’s a lot of blood being shed. 

And in addition to all this, there were other special occasions when lambs were to be offered. In preparation for the Lord to meet with His people and speak to them, lambs would be sacrificed. Women would sacrifice lambs for purification after childbirth. When lepers were cleansed a lamb would be offered. A lamb would be sacrificed in fulfillment of religious vows. When they consecrated the tabernacle a lamb would be offered. Lambs killed. Lambs killed. Innocent, young, male lambs without blemish shed, slain, killed, slaughtered, and their blood running through the tabernacle. 

Well, when we come to Isaiah 53, now this was such a way of life for the Israelites. We don’t sacrifice. Blood and lambs and all this stuff, it’s not part of our everyday life. It was part of the everyday life of the Israelites. And so when we get to chapter 53 that speaks into their culture their milieu as we have this prophecy of the Messiah suffering. And He is likened to a lamb.

Verse 6 of Isaiah 53:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth (v. 7).

Now, every Jew knew this prophecy. They could quote it. They were familiar with it. And so you fast forward 700 years from the time when this prophecy was written and John 2 tells us that “the Passover of the Jews was at hand” (v. 13). More lambs being slain. More blood being shed.

And in that context, John 1 tells us that

[John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" . . . The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and [he] said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (vv. 29, 35, 36).

That was a stunning declaration to the Jews in that day. And it should be a stunning declaration to us because in that one sentence, “Behold the Lamb of God,” in that sentence is the whole heart of the gospel message in one sentence. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

The lamb symbolizes innocence and submission and vulnerability, quiet suffering and sacrifice. And here the Creator, the King of the universe, comes to this earth as a meek, humble, gentle, sacrificial Lamb. Innocent, blameless, he suffers quietly for sins not His own. He doesn’t resist.

The historian, Josephus, tells us that in the time of Christ that at the time of Passover there would be a quarter of a million Passover lambs that were slaughtered. And the blood of those lambs would flow out through viaducts down into the river, the brook Kidron.

As those lambs were being slaughtered on that Passover, a carpenter from Nazareth named Jesus was put to death on a hill outside Jerusalem as the blood of God’s Passover Lamb ran down from His hands and head and feet onto the ground below. And in that moment, Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain and slaughtered, fulfilled all those Old Testament types and pictures and sacrifices.

And so Paul tells the Corinthians “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7). He was sacrificed once and for all, not repetitively like those lambs that were slain again and again and again. But now once for all and our works, our efforts, cannot add anything to what Jesus, the Lamb of God did for us there on the cross that day. That’s why Peter says,

You were ransomed . . . not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot (1:18–19).

We celebrate, we marvel at, we wonder at, we cherish Jesus the slain Lamb of God, slain for sinners to take away the sin of the world. But I want to remind us that that picture of Christ being the Lamb of God is not just something that is for our past tense salvation. The Lamb of God figures prominently in God’s future and eternal plans for His people. In fact, in the book of Revelation you have more than twenty-five references to Jesus as “the Lamb.” I wish we could take a whole session on just those. But let me just give you a taste of it over these next few moments.

We read in Revelation 5,

And one of the elders said to me [John, the apostle], “. . . behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, [we looked at that name last week] the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw [not a lion but what?] a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth (vv. 5–6).

The conquering Lion turns out to be a slain Lamb—the greatest paradox of history that Jesus conquered by His death. And what seemed to be a massive victory for Jesus' enemies at the cross turned into their ultimate defeat and the eternal victory of the Lamb. And so we see throughout the book of Revelation that the Lamb will defeat all of God’s foes, and He will bring judgment on unrepentant sinners. 

Chapter 6 of Revelation:

Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, "Come!" (v. 1).

And thus begins a whole series of passages about judgment being poured out on the earth. It’s the Lamb who opens these seals, who reveals them and executes the judgment of God, the wrath of God on unrepentant sinners.

And then verse 15 of Revelation 6:

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb" (vv. 15–16).

Chapter 14 of Revelation, verse 10 tells us that,

[Anyone who worships the beast] will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

Chapter 17, verse 14: “They will make war on the Lamb and the Lamb will conquer them” Hallelujah! “The Lamb will conquer them for he is Lord of lords and King of kings" (17:14). A conquering Lamb. Slain from the foundation of the world for the sin of the world, to take away the sin of the world. And then the Lamb is the one who conquers, who executes the wrath of God, the judgment of God on unrepentant sinners.

But we see something else, another thread running through Revelation: the death of the Lamb results in salvation—salvation and victory for the people of God. Unrepentent sinners, they’re consumed by the wrath of the Lamb, by the judgment of God. They are conquered by the Lamb. But those who have believed in the Lamb, who have trusted in His death, in His slain blood will be saved and they will be victorious.

Chapter 7 of Revelation verse 9:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes . . .

They’re not running from the Lamb. They’re not cowering from the Lamb. They approach the eternal throne bold through the blood of the shed Lamb.

. . . clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (vv. 9–10).

The Lamb that strikes terror in the hearts of unbelievers strikes rejoicing and praise and worship in the hearts of those who have believed in Him.

Verse 14:

And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Revelation 12, verse 11:

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Listen, one day you will face the Lamb as your Judge, or you will face Him as your Savior. Which will it be for you? He will conquer you, or you will be one of those who conquers with Him.

And then a precious scene as we see in the unfolding of Revelation how the Lamb will have an eternal relationship with those He died to save. Revelation 7:17:

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd [the Lamb is our Shepherd], and he will guide them to springs of living water. 

Does that remind you of Psalm 23? The picture of Jesus.

Not only is He the Shepherd of His sheep, but He is the Bridegroom of the Church. Chapter 19 verse 7:

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.

The marriage of the Lamb. Who is the Bride of the Lamb? It’s the Church.

And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" (v. 9).

The Lamb is our Shepherd. The Lamb is our Bridegroom. Chapter 21:

Then came one of the seven angels . . . and spoke to me, saying, "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb (v. 9).

Listen, if you don’t have a relationship with the Lamb now, you will not have one with Him for all of eternity. But if you do have a relationship with Him now, He will be your Shepherd and your Bridegroom forever and ever and ever.

Behold the Lamb. Trust the Lamb. Place your faith in Him who died to take away your sin and worship the Lamb. Worship the Lamb. Did you know that the worship of the Lamb will be the eternal occupation and pre-occupation of heaven?

Let me close by reading this passage from Revelation 5: 

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb . . . Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped (vv. 8, 11–14).

Amen.

Leslie: Well, tomorrow we’re going to celebrate the day when the Lamb of God came to our world to save His people from their sins. And Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been helping us appreciate that name of Jesus—the Lamb of God—in a fresh way. All the programs in this teaching series have done that. The series is called “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.” If you’ve missed any, you can hear past programs by downloading the Revive Our Hearts app, or subscribe to the Revive Our Hearts podcast. Each episode will come right to your device, and you’ll never miss Nancy’s teaching. She’s back with a final thought.

Nancy: I want to say first that I hope you and your loved ones have a blessed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day tomorrow. I know you’re thinking about a lot of things today getting ready for tomorrow’s celebration. But let me remind you that Revive Our Hearts is still facing some serious year-end needs and our matching challenge ends one week from today.

That challenge means your gift to Revive Our Hearts will go twice as far. Some friends of the ministry are doubling each gift up to a challenge amount of $750,000. But you need to get that gift to us by one week from today. So in the middle of your joyful celebration, don’t forget to visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make your donation, or call us at 1–800–569–5959.

I’d like to pray here on Christmas Eve as we celebrate the Lamb of God who came to take the sin of the world.

Oh Father, we do worship You. We join the angels in heaven who are worshiping You around clock. As we celebrate the coming to earth of Your dear Son, we are grateful this was not just any baby, but this was the Lamb of God—chosen before the foundation of the world to come and be the substitute, the sacrifice for our sins.

So we celebrate Christmas, as we celebrate the incarnation, we worship You for giving Your Son. Abraham didn't have to give his son at the end—You rescued his son. But You didn't rescue Your Son. You send Your Son to die for us.

So we say that we believe Jesus. We place our faith in You. Thank You for being our substitute, for dying in our place. We worship You. We love You. We bless You.

We pray that You would be ever present in our celebration tonight, tomorrow, throughout this season. May we worship You in a way that honors You—Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We bless You, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is inviting you to trust in the Lamb who died to take away your sin. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Dawn Wilson, Lindsay Swartz, and Darla Wilkinson provided helpful research assistance for this series. 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.