Sermon delivered August 28, 1999

by Evangelist Wendell Stover

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.

The Lamb of God

What a wonderful direction to point our minds this morning: toward the Lamb of God. Please take you Bible and turn to Exodus 12.

I'd like to remind us that the lamb of God was chosen for a very special reason. Out of all the animals, God chose to represent Christ, God chose the lamb. He could have chosen a monkey. Now, wouldn't that have been something? Or, maybe He could not have chosen the monkey. How about the serpent in the beginning? A beautiful winged animal. But, no, God did not choose the serpent. God chose a lamb.

We have a story in Exodus 12 that reminds us of the purpose of that lamb, the symbolic meaning that would be carried through the sacrificial system of the lamb. You se, in Exodus 12 we have the story given to us of the Passover. Those people had been under a lot of slavery. One atrocity after another had been committed against them. The Egyptians had been very mean, very demanding, very cruel. Finally, God said, "This is it! I want to take my people home."

It sort of reminds me of where we are today in the great plan of things. Some day God is going to declare that time shall be no more. And, according to Daniel 8:19, "...for at the time appointed, the end shall be."

The plagues came upon Egypt very similar to the way the plagues will come upon the earth. But through all of that, God was still interested in saving people. Can you believe it? Even in the midst of all the plagues. It just happened that Pharaoh's heart had become so hardened. He would confess to Moses and Aaron, "Oh yes, if you would just remove the plagues, I will love your people and you can go." But he would not trust, he would not believe God's spokesman. And God, in His great wisdom, declared, "This is it! My people are going to be set free regardless of this man. Please, Moses, go speak to him. Tell him that sometime around midnight there's going to be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt. The death angel is going to come. The firstborn of man and of beast shall die." That was the message given to the Egyptians.

Listen dear friend, whatever you do, chose to be on God's side. You have to do little as far as choice is concerned to be on Satan's side.

You've heard one minister after another declare to you that Jesus is coming soon and time is running out, that very soon the end is going to appear. And all that is true. But if we sit comfortably and do nothing to change our spiritual way of life, some of us may be lost. That would be a shame, that would be just like being a part of the Egyptians because they had the knowledge but refused to have the experience.

Now, for God's people, the message was different. Moses and Aaron gathered the people around. They gave them a unique message they had never given. The message was this: God is going to deliver us very soon. You must take a lamb. Maybe Moses said something like this: Everybody listen up! All you home-boys pay attention! I want you to take a lamb without blemish about a year old, place it in a pen, keep it up. At a certain time we will all kill these lambs, we will cook them a certain way, and then we will eat it.

Are you with me in Exodus 12? The Bible says here in verses 5 to 7, Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein the shall eat it. Those people did not realize what God was really trying to demonstrate there in the beginning. That lamb would represent life, it would represent a gift. Verse 8. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs shall they eat it.

Finally the day came. Fathers went out to where the lambs were penned up. They picked out their lamb and carried it back to their house. Don't you know, there must have been some young people there, watching all that? As a parent, I've learned how little I know about parenting. You'll notice it's usually those that don't know much about parenting that want to give everybody else the most advice. But anyway, there must have been some young people there. Especially young boys, ten, twelve, thirteen years of age who, walking along side of daddy, would say, "Where are you going?" Daddy would say, "We're going to get the lamb." "What are you going to do with it?" "We're going to get the lamb. We're going to prepare the lamb to be eaten."

"Why?" Are you aware that "why" is one of the biggest little words in the English language? And often times, this is predictable behavior. That's the most favorite argument that the teenager has with their parents. No matter what you say, they can always reply, "But why?" I've come to the place sometimes that simply say, "Well, I'm the daddy. That's the reason why. And when you reach twenty five years of age, then you'll understand why."

"Nevertheless, why are we taking this lamb to be killed?" Father would have to explain. "Son, God is going to deliver His people. He has told us to take this lamb, cook it a certain way"

Now wouldn't it have been awful if some of those people had said, "Oh, God doesn't really care how we prepare this lamb. I'm not going to cook it with bitter herbs. I'm not going to roast the lamb. I'm going to boil it." No, no. Everything was describe in detail just like god wanted it to be done. Even instruction was given as to what to do with the blood.

I can see this now. Father and son. Father cuts the lamb's throat. Some of the blood is caught in a bowl. They've already made that home-made paint brush. They dip the paint brush down into the bowl and paint the left side of the door, and across the top part of the door, the lintel, and down the right side. Now, what question would the young people be asking as this blood was being applied to the left side of the door, across the top and down the right side? "That's a pretty color red, but why are we doing this?" Right? Again, father explains, "God has told us that if we will place the blood around the door posts of our home, we shall be protected. This is a token of our deliverance. This is a sign, a signal that we are on God's side." It must have been something to be living in those days with absolute faith.

Notice Exodus 12:28. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on the throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. If you had been living in a house closest to where the Egyptians lived, even though it most likely was separated by quite a distance, in the quiet solitude of the evening hours, with the windows open, most likely you would have been able to have heard some of the wailing and the sorrowful, mournful cries coming from way over there on the other side.

Now, there's no way you could get a young boy or girl to go to sleep that evening. Too much excitement going on. Had junior been really listening, he would have come to his father and would have said, "Daddy, are you really sure that this blood business is going to work? Have we ever done this?"

I want to leave you with a thought this morning. If you don't get anything else, I want you to catch this. I want you to catch it, I want you to squeeze it, I want you to hold it, I want you to put it in your pocket or your purse. For every one of us will come a trial or an experience that will test our faith as to whether the Bible is really true, and whether or not we are really saved. Maybe you've not walked in many valleys. I want you to know, as pastor I've seen a lot of people walking in valleys and I've been there myself. One of them was just a few months ago when my mother died. It was more difficult when my mother died than my dad, because my dad's health had grown increasingly worse. Mother had spent so much of her energy taking care of him. I had prayed, "Lord let my mother have at least ten good years." She love to visit her children and she had the means to do it. Why not? That was an unselfish prayer. I hate pneumonia. I hate it. Into the hospital she went, and in there she picked up a staphylococcus infection. With the best of medical treatment at that particular time.

Have you ever really been in the valley? Oh yes, you've been raised a Christian. You've been baptized. You go to church. But in the wee hours of some morning when you are in the valley, it's so easy for the old devil as an uninvited guest to sort of say, "You know, you may not be all that you think you are."

I prayed for my mother. We anointed her my mother. And I believed she would rise from that hospital bed ad walk again. I held her hand when she was almost unconscious, and I believed it. I was not trying to lie. I said, "Momma, it's going to be all right." I had no idea that it would only be all right on the great resurrection morning.

What about your faith? Oh yes, now you've heard preacher talking about the blood being placed on the doorposts, the death angel swelling over, doing his job on the other side. But is your faith really strong when it come to an understanding about the blood? Now, the only way to test this is not theologically, not a verbal discussion. The only way to test it is to experience it for yourself. You see, it was not just enough that the lamb would be killed. Something had to take place with the blood. The blood had to be applied to the door. It was symbolic, of course, of Jesus' blood being applied to the door of our heart, teaching that great lesson that just as that passover occurred back then, the true Lamb of God in Christ Jesus, through His life, His blood has been put to our account, and if we accept it, it is ours. Aren't you glad that you serve Christ under the new covenant instead of under that old covenant?

I want to share something with you this morning. I've asked a special helper to assist me. Matthew Calloway, would you come up here. [Matthew comes up onto the platform.] I have a four- legged friend. Would you just stand right here and hold lamby [large stuffed lamb] for me? Isn't that a pretty sight? The handsome young man and that lamb? Here's what they had to do back in those days. If the sinner was going to make confession of his sins, he had to go find a lamb. I used to think he would tie a rope around its neck and lead that lamb down to the sanctuary, but not so. I've since learned that he was to carry the lamb close to his chest. I don't know if I could have done this. I have a very soft nature. To feel that little lamb's heart beating, to look into it's dark brown eyes, to think of what I had to do to that lamb because of my wrong doing. I just wouldn't like that at all. But the lamb would be carried down to the sanctuary. A priest would be there. The sinner would place his hands on the head of that lamb.

If any of you young people would like to pet lamby after the meeting, you're welcome to do so. His hair is so soft and fuzzy. It's a privilege to touch him. But if he were real and breathing, knowing for the last time I would be placing my hands on his head... he might even reach up and lick my hand while I'm confessing sin... Wouldn't that be awful?

You see, that was part of God's plan: to make sin appear awful and horrible, even a tiny sin. But for someone to make confession, they would place their hands on the head of the lamb and confess their sins. Now, the priest did not do this. The sinner had to do this. I brought along a knife that is not very sharp, just for safety purposes. But he would have a knife that was very sharp. We don't want to linger long on this point. The sinner, then, would take the knife. [Matthew, we're not going to do this] The sinner would cut the throat of the lamb and the lamb, of course, would die. The priest would take of that blood, catching some of that blood in a bowl. He would take that blood into the sanctuary, dipping his fingertips into that bowl, and there inside the sanctuary he would sprinkle some of that blood. It would be a record of that confessed sin. Follow the trail of the blood, okay?

A transference of guilt from the sinner to the lamb took place. Now, the lamb was innocent. And just as surely as they believed that guilt could go from one person to the lamb, they would be forced to believe that Jesus would become the one lamb that would meet the needs of everybody.

There were those who lived on both sides of the cross. In BC (before Christ) times, when the lambs were killed, then the sacrificial system was all in effect. But when Jesus was crucified, that law, the old ceremonial law, was nailed to the cross, and with it went away the need for animal sacrifice. Aren't you glad for that? Now, surely there must have been those who were living on both sides of this arrangement. I think of those disciples. Are you aware that when a young man became about twelve years of age he became a man in that economy (see Luke 2:41-52)? And he would have celebrated his first animal sacrifice. That must have been a horrible thing.

And not only that, after that would take place, as he would be married he would take his grown sons then as they came of age to do the same thing. But all the while now they are being taught that some day a deliverer will come, who can deliver us with as much surety as did the blood of that lamb way back there in the Passover that we celebrate every year.

I just think it is pitiful that at last when the Savior did come, there were so few people there to welcome Him. He came unto His own, and his own received him not. (John 1:11)

Let me tell you a parable. A twelve-year-old boy is given a lamb and the lamb's mother had died and it was his joy to raise this lamb. You know what that term means, don't you, to raise the animal. It means he fed it, he loved it, he cared for it, he gave it water. Even at times, when mom and dad were not looking, he would slip it into the house and he would even sleep with it. he would play with it.

But when he became accountable for his sins... And like some boys do, he got into some trouble. Daddy came and sat down with Nashua and said, "Nashua, you have to make animal sacrifice." Now remember, Nashua only has one lamb. He listens to Daddy. He's attended animal sacrifices before. He says, "Daddy, I will go get a lamb tomorrow, in the morning." And, Daddy says, "Nashua, you have a lamb." See how horrible the story of sin always gets? He began to cry, and he said, "Not my lamb. This is the only one that I have. Please sell me one of yours. I will work for it. I will pay you for it." And Daddy says, "No, you have to provide the lamb." Aren't you glad we're not under that old covenant?

All night Nashua cries. He holds his lamby. he looks into his face. He pets him. Just after daybreak, father comes in to the room. Nashua says, "Isn't there any other way? I cannot not do this, Daddy." The older we get, the wiser our fathers become. Daddy says, "There is no other way. You must do this." Together they go down to the sanctuary, and all the way down, Nashua is crying as he holds that lamb close to his chest. And he says, "Lamby, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

It must have been something to make animal sacrifice for the first time. It was to present the idea, as I said earlier, that sin is heinous, that it's awful, that it is terrible, that you want nothing to do with it.

And even before that sacrifice took place, that young man decided in his heart that if the Messiah ever came, he wanted to be the first to accept Him and to follow Him. And he was as determined then if he were ever married, and if he ever had a son, to pray the Messiah would come before his son would ever have to make an animal sacrifice. (Matthew, you've been a good helper. Thank you very much.)

Surely there must have been those like that who grew up under that old system, but now in the New Testament, as you think of what the ministry of Jesus would evolve into. To watch this Man heal the blind, speak and those who could not walk stand up leaping and run for joy. To hear the stories about feeding five thousand people, to hear Him, the disciples talk about how Jesus stood up on the boat and He said, "Peace be still." And even the stark storm clouds became calm and the rain ceased to fall. Could this really be the promised Messiah?

Now you know there were people in that situation. What about those people who finally heard the news of Christ's resurrection? What about those people who had watched from a distance as Jesus carried the cross and then fell and others carried the cross for Him. They watched the cross going up. What about those people who were standing around the cross, who heard that centurion proclaim, "Truly this was the Son of God?" Yes, out of that crowd were those who had waited patiently and expectantly. The wanted the Messiah to come. And there were those afterward who believe because of what they had experienced and heard.

We think today sometimes that it's difficult to tell people the gospel story because of our secularism. What about those prophets of yesteryear like the apostle Paul and John who wrote the book of Revelation? They were ministering in places where they openly worshiped idols. Bringing people from paganism into Christianity. I'm not so sure it is any more difficult today than it was back then.

Now you listen to me. How about that trust that develops? How can you know that if you are in the valley, or if your health should be taken from you, how do you know that your faith is strong enough to carry you through? How do you know that you are really received of God Almighty?

There's not other service which should be as holy and reverent and filled with inspiration as the divine hour of worship we're in right now. Unseen angels in this building. Tidings being taken from here back into the throne room of the universe. What will that news be to God, to our Savior?

I don't think there's a reporting time, but somehow the news gets back of what we're doing. Maybe the angel will stand there. Maybe he will bow at the feet of Jesus and he will say, "My Lord, today at the McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church there was a divine hour of worship. And they told the story of how You became the true Lamb of God."

Pretty good so far, isn't it? What if Jesus were to ask the question, "How did the people respond to this story? Did they believe It?" Jesus loves us so much, so much, that He calls people to repentance at just certain times in their life.

I visited with a man this week who told me a story of when he was eight years old. Outside of a little Baptist church where they were having a revival meeting and he was playing chase. Inside, they were standing singing the invitation at the close of the sermon. And suddenly a voice spoke to him, "You are not ready for heaven." Do you believe that could happen to a child? I know it can happen, because I was one of them. You can not bring yourself to repentance. God must call you to repentance. We are so fortunate today to have the Holy Scriptures. The dear sister read from 1 Peter 1:18,19(NKJV), knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ ass of a lamb without blemish and without spot. We have already been purchased by the wonderful precious blood of Jesus Christ.

It's there! But you cannot have it unless you are willing to receive it. When the minister stand down here like I'm going to do in a minute, and he gives an invitation for people to come and to accept Christ, what he's really trying to do is give the opportunity for that person to say, "I want Jesus to be first and last in my life." Some people feel a little uncomfortable giving a public invitation. I can tell you I've never met anyone yet, and I've seen hundreds of people come to know the Lord. You don't have to do it publically in a meeting like this. But I have never met, and I've never known of anyone who came forward in a public declaration of their faith that later said, "I'm sorry. I wish I didn't do that." I have had so many people weeping that said, "I wish I had done this a long time ago."

Right now, the blood of Jesus Christ is still working. I want you to believe that. The devil is after our young people as never before. He's devising ways and means to capture the minds of our young people at much younger ages. Why don't we get out of the way and let the Lord do the same? The devil want the minds of young people. You know he's doing that because God wants them as well. God wants to claim them as His. The old devil wants to break up our homes. He wants to destroy our churches. And it's only through this idea of receiving the blood that we can really stop it.

When you receive Christ, here's what you receive. You receive something that you don't have anything to do with. When you receive Christ, when you pray the sinner's prayer of faith your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. There is no power that can stop that name from being written there. That entitles you to immortality, to eternal life. But it doesn't just stop there. When you receive Christ you also receive His life. That means you will want to eat like Jesus would eat. You will like to dress like Jesus would dress. You would want to go to the places that Jesus would want to go to. It means that something literally happens to you.

Now here's what happens. The book of Hebrews tells us that there is a new covenant. He says, I will put my laws into their mind and into their hearts (Hebrews 8:10). The means that we intellectually recognize what is right and wrong and then we have a burning desire to do those things. Why do we have to argue about faith and works and perfection? Live as Jesus would live. Ask Him for His power. Let Him work within your mind to love the things that He would love. That can only come about as we are born again. And some of us, even, are weak through years of practice of sin and inherited tendencies to do evil. We are so weak that we cannot even give ourselves to Him and all of our habits and everything connected with them. But, I promise you, where we are weak, He excels in strength. If we are simply willing to place ourselves in an attitude of submission, and say, "Lord, here I am." And it doesn't matter if it is the first time, the second time, the third time, fifth time, whatever. As long as we are there, willing, we can pray, "Lord, I am weak. I'm not even sure I can give you my life, but I give you permission to take it and to mold it and to shape it. I want to surrender all to you. I want to hold nothing back from you. But I want you to take it. I give you permission."

When we begin to have that attitude, in reliance in the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of salvation then we shall have revival. And with revival also come reformation. But I would hate to see a reformation without revival.

Let's pause for just a few moments and very seriously ask ourselves some questions.

You might be here as a young person, old enough to know right from wrong. You've never been baptized. You've never really given your life to Jesus. Your mom and dad may be even here today, maybe they are praying that you will do that. But they will never force you to do it. This would be a wonderful opportunity for you to pray the sinners prayer of faith, to know that if you were to die you would be ready to receive heaven. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing to know?

I would like to give an appeal today. Yes, for those who have never professed Christ for the first time, If you've never allowed Him to be Lord of your life for the first time, I wish you'd come. There may be some who have given their lives to Jesus but you've never been baptized the Bible way. This would be a good opportunity for you to make a decision to be in our baptism in two or three weeks. It would do you good to make a public decision to be baptized.

Opening Hymn: #302, Deeper Yet
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:18,19
Closing Hymn: #309, I Surrender All

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