Let's open our Bibles to Genesis 22. Here we find the story of where Abraham is tested. He had been asked by God to sacrifice his son, the son of promise. Isaac, being the young man that he is, has been well trained to trust his father, but as they are nearing the end of their quest, Isaac has a question that has been nagging him, and here he asks it in verse 7.
Genesis 22:7,8 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"
"Yes, my son" Abraham replied.
"The fire and the wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together.
"God himself will provide the lamb." If you have a King James Version, I really like that translation, it reads, "God will provide himself a lamb." I've heard many folks and I have myself that show that God was going to provide a lamb Himself. It would be Himself for the cares of this world. But I wondered which would be the most accurate translation so I got out the old Hebrew and got kind of a surprise. I thought, maybe I've forgotten more of this than I thought I had. Because every time I looked up that word, and I looked it up here and there, I kept coming up with the word that means to see instead of to provide. That confused me for quite a while, but then I finally learned that this could be a literal translation. It could be translated "God will see to it that a lamb is provided." He will see to it. It's almost like He is more involved than just providing it. He's going to take charge. He is going to see to it that a lamb would be provided. God will take care of the circumstances. God is in control of salvation. He is not passive. He will see to it. God did not let Abraham and Isaac down. God provided the sacrifice. And God will not let us down.
When I worked at summer camp a few years ago, we did a program on Sabbath afternoons called "Walk through the Bible." Here we would lead the kids around the camp to different points. The staff would be in biblical costumes portraying different stories from the scriptures. One particular summer we were doing the story of Abraham and Isaac. We actually had a real live sheep. That was pretty neat. It was hidden back around the hill in a thicket and it had a person back there taking care of it until the time came that it was needed for it. I think that person's name was Rod Lewis (a popular story teller for the children). He did a very good job and just as Isaac was on the altar, and Abraham had his knife lifted up, the word of the Lord would come through, megaphone of course, "Stop!" And at the right time, I don't know how it happened...it happened just right every time that there would be a "Baaaa" come from the thicket. It did kind of sound lie Rod, but it was always right on cue. And Isaac would jump up from the altar and run and get the lamb from the thicket and come and lay it on the altar. Now, usually the lamb didn't like those sticks and he would fidget and fuss a little bit. But I remember one week in which the lamb was lying upon the altar and it didn't fidget a bit. It just lay there so willingly. The kids were amazed, and so were the staff. And then it laid its head over the side of the rock exposing its throat to Abraham's knife. Usually when we went to scene to scene the kids were boisterous and kidding around but after that they were dead silent. They had seen Jesus. And there were more than one tears being shed that day by both staff and kids. And I learned something... I now know why God chose a lamb to represent the way His Son would die. The willing submission that I saw that day from that sheep.
Turn to Isaiah 53. Here we find a prophecy as to the way the Lamb of God was to behave. Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
The Old Testament is full of the imagery of the Savior being like a lamb. It is amazing how few were expecting Him to really be that way. They were looking for something else. It seems fitting that the first ones to behold the true Lamb were shepherds. Then, after the shepherds leave the Lamb is basically ignored for 30 years before He is recognized for who He was. Look at John 1:29, you know the story of John the Baptist baptizing in the wilderness and up walks Jesus. And without hesitation John looks over and here in verse 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John saw Jesus and recognized the Lamb.
The lamb-like characteristics of Jesus seem to be seen most clearly during the closing hours of His life as He is arrested, tried in a kangaroo court, beaten, ridiculed, and sentenced to death. Here, He seems to submit to the will of man for He says not a word in defense of Himself and allows this to take place when He could call a host of angels to rescue Him. But wait! It is not the will of man that Jesus the Lamb is submitting to. It is the will of His Father! The same Father that He has submitted to since before He arrived in Bethlehem. What a lesson for me! If I am going to follow Jesus as sheep during the coming crises of the end of this world, I had better be submitting to His will now with all of my life! It needs to be my lifestyle!
We next find the Lamb crucified between two thieves. One thief ridicules Him, and the other thief looks at this man, bleeding, hanging on a cross, being spat upon, and dying and recognized Him as the Lamb of God. That amazes me. That He is recognizable at that point as God. "Remember me when you come into your kingdom." Then the sacrifice is complete. The Lamb is slain. If this were the end of the story, we would not be here in this house on this day. We would not be here any Sabbath because that would be the end of the story. But it is not, because we serve a risen Lamb, a Lamb that could not be kept down, a Lamb whose strength was not broken. This is not just a tragic story we found in history books. This is life. The Lamb Lives!
Look at John 20. Here we find Mary at the tomb. Verse 11: but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?"
"They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."
Jesus said to her, "Mary."
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them. I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.
By faith, Abraham knew that God would "see to it" that a Lamb would be provided. Not just on that day with Isaac, but again on that same mountain many years later. By faith, the shepherds and John the Baptist beheld and knew the Lamb of God. By faith, the thief who recognized the Lamb will be in the kingdom. By faith, Mary recognized the Living Lamb. By faith, we can know the Conquering Lamb when He comes again!
Turn with me to Revelation. I told you we'd get there. Revelation 5:9-14 says, And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slain and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
The I looked and heard the voice of many angels, number thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They circled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!"
The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshipped.
Opening Hymn: 166 Christ the Lord is Risen Today Scripture: Revelation 5:11,12 Closing Hymn: 526 Because He Lives
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last updated 4/04/99 by Bob Beckett.