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The Origins of the Appellation “the Lamb of God”
It is recorded in the Bible, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin” (Rom 8:3). From these verses we know that, in order to redeem us mankind from sin, the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross as mankind’s eternal sin offering. And since then, we all call Him the redeeming Lamb. But do you know the profound meaning behind this appellation?
To figure out this question, we should first know what sin offering means. Let’s look at Leviticus 4:27-31, “And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he does somewhat against any of the commandments of Jehovah concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he has sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has sinned. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar. And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet smell to Jehovah; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him,” and Leviticus 16:30-31, “For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before Jehovah. It shall be a sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.”
After the Israelites got out of Egypt, Jehovah God set forth laws through Moses for them to obey, and in this way led them to live on earth. Whoever could abide by these laws would gain God’s blessings. However, because of man’s corrupt nature, they were unable to uphold the law and thus faced the danger of being stoned to death. Only if they made sin offerings could they expiate their sins and avoid being condemned and sentenced to death by the laws. Anyone familiar with the Old Testament knows that in the Age of Law the tenth day of the seventh month was the day of atonement for the Israelites every year. At that feast, all the people had to offer the firstborn cattle and sheep without blemish upon the altar as sin offerings, in order that their uncleanness and transgressions in the year could be purified. From this we can see, in the Age of Law Jehovah God used the blood of cattle and sheep as the evidence of His cleansing man’s sins. Through the sin offerings they made, people at that time would no longer be condemned by the laws and instead were qualified to come before Jehovah God, praying to Him for His blessings and care.
However, at the end of the Age of Law, the people of Israel were increasingly unable to keep the laws and they committed more and more sins, to the extent that Jehovah God’s laws could no longer achieve the desired results in them. The Holy Spirit detested them because their hearts had become depraved without the slightest reverence toward God. In Isaiah 1:11-15, God said through the prophet Isaiah, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? said Jehovah: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination to me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates: they are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them. And when you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you: yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”
From these verses we can see, the corruption of people at that time had reached a certain point, for which Jehovah God was angry with them and rebuked them. According to God’s righteousness, if they went on like this, they would die by God’s curses, and then the creation of humanity would have been for naught. At that time, the people of Israel were full of sins and lived amid sin from which they could not free themselves. So they earnestly prayed and cried out to God. Then God granted them a promise, a promise that the Israelites could receive an eternal sin offering. Therefore, because of the needs of corrupt mankind and also according to His management plan, God was incarnated among man as the redeeming Lamb to take on their sins and relieve them from the curses of the law. God long ago prophesied through the prophet Isaiah, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul to death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa 53:6-12).
When God incarnate came to work, John the Baptist bore witness that the Lord Jesus was the redeeming Lamb, just as it says in John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.”
The Lord Jesus worked among man for three and a half years, during which time He healed the sick, cast out demons, performed miracles and wonders, and bestowed rich blessings upon mankind; He tolerated and forgave man, and in the end was crucified as the sin offering for mankind; He completed the work of redeeming mankind. It can be seen from the work of the Lord Jesus that, He saved those who lived under the law, and satisfied their wish of receiving an offering sufficient to atone for their sins. After His crucifixion, man no longer needed to make sin offerings and had only to accept the Lord Jesus as their Savior for their sins to be forgiven. In this way, the sins of man were no longer a barrier to his coming before God and were no longer the leverage by which Satan accused man. Because of this, the people of Israel, who had been living under the law, could walk away from the laws and were qualified to come before the Lord Jesus, praying for His pardon and grace, and thus mankind could continue to exist and have developed until this day. From all of this, we can appreciate that there is profound significance behind the Lord Jesus being called the redeeming Lamb.
God’s words say, “In order to complete His work and rescue humanity from misery, He had to be condemned by man, and bear the sins of all mankind. The extent of the suffering He went through cannot possibly be fathomed or appreciated by ordinary people. What does this suffering represent? It represents God’s devotion to humankind. It stands for the humiliation He suffered and the price He paid for man’s salvation, to redeem their sins, and to complete this stage of His work. It also means man would be redeemed from the cross by God. This is a price paid in blood, in life, a price created beings cannot afford.”
“Even though He Himself knew that the responsibility He needed to take on in the flesh was so immense, and how cruel the pain He would face would be, when He saw mankind helpless in sin, when He saw the wretchedness of their lives and their feeble struggles under the law, He felt more and more grief, and became more and more anxious to save mankind from sin. No matter what kind of difficulties He would face or what kind of pain He would suffer, He became more and more resolute to redeem mankind living in sin. During this process, you could say that the Lord Jesus began to understand more and more clearly the work He needed to do and what He had been entrusted with. He also became increasingly eager to complete the work He was to take on—to take on all of mankind’s sins, to atone for mankind so that they no longer lived in sin and God would be able to forget man’s sins because of the sin offering, allowing Him to further His work of saving mankind. It could be said that in the Lord Jesus’ heart, He was willing to offer Himself up for mankind, to sacrifice Himself. He was also willing to act as a sin offering, to be nailed to the cross, and He was eager to complete this work. When He saw the miserable conditions of human’s lives, He wanted even more to fulfill His mission as quickly as possible, without the delay of a single minute or second. When He had such a feeling of urgency, He was not thinking of how great His own pain would be, nor did He think any longer of how much humiliation He would have to endure—He held just one conviction in His heart: As long as He offered up Himself, as long as He was nailed to the cross as a sin offering, God’s will would be carried out and He would be able to commence new work. Mankind’s lives in sin, their state of existing in sin would be completely changed. His conviction and what He was determined to do were related to saving man, and He had only one objective: to do God’s will, so that He could successfully begin the next stage in His work.”
From these two passages of words, we can even more feel God’s true love for us mankind. The supreme God, the Creator and Master of heavens and earth and all things, became an ordinary and normal person, humbly hidden in the flesh. He had to take on work an ordinary person cannot handle, while also endure suffering that ordinary people cannot withstand. From when the Lord Jesus officially began fulfilling His ministry to the time of His being crucified, He suffered humiliation and pain in the extreme and endured the rejection and condemnation of corrupt mankind. God is holy, yet He had to live together with filthy and corrupt mankind—the suffering He endured was too great! The Lord Jesus clearly knew that the path of the cross was fraught with hardships and that He would suffer great pain both physically and spiritually. But for the sake of redeeming all mankind, He willingly offered Himself up as a sin offering and was nailed to the cross for mankind. From the redemption work of the Lord Jesus, we can come to a better understanding of the appellation “the redeeming Lamb.” Besides, the Lord Jesus’ love for mankind is not only that He redeemed mankind from sin as a sin offering, but also that He will come again in the last days to bestow upon people more truths and do the work of judgment and chastisement, through which He will completely rid us of our sins and release us from the bondage of sin. The Bible says, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (Jhn 16:12-13). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Pe 4:17). “Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pe 1:5). From this we can see that the Lord Jesus has prepared a greater salvation for us in the last days, which is that He will come back to continue the work of saving man, expressing the truth to thoroughly save us from corruption. This is because though we have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus and had our sins absolved, our sinful nature still remains and we are still slaves to the cycle of sinning in the daytime and confessing them at night. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus comes back, He will continue saving us. Isn’t God’s love for us too great and deep?
Dear brothers and sisters, I’m sure that through such communication, we have all understood why we call the Lord Jesus the redeeming Lamb as well as the significance behind this appellation. I believe every one of you, just like me, is looking forward to the Lord’s returning to fully save us from the degenerate life of sinning by day and confessing by night, so that we can be thoroughly cleansed and changed and enter into the kingdom of heaven with God.
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