THE SLAIN LAMB
“David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Romans 4:6-8.
Now we have another problem. If God can only forgive sin on the basis of the death of His Son, how could David experience the blessedness of knowing that his sins had been forgiven when he lived long before Jesus?
The writer to the Hebrews made it clear that animal blood can never remove sin. It is only a picture of the greater sacrifice – that of God’s perfect Lamb.
“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.” Hebrews 10:1-3
“But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God…for by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:12, 14.
Did David somehow understand that his sin was forgiven on the basis of a sacrifice that was perfect and acceptable to God for all time? On what basis did the children of Israel escape the angel of death when he passed over Egypt and struck down the firstborn of the Egyptians? By obeying God’s instruction to paint the blood of a lamb on the door frames of their houses, they were placing their faith in God’s promise and in the blood of a lamb.
Jesus was often in trouble with the religious leaders for forgiving sin. They accused Him of blasphemy because only God can forgive sin. On what basis did Jesus have the right to forgive sin? Was it because He was God? But God, according to His own decree, declared that the only basis upon which sin can be forgiven was the death of a human being who had no sin of his own.
Now let’s look at God’s response.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” 1 Peter 1:20.
“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders …The Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the earth…” Revelation 5:6; 13:8.
Since God exists outside of time, He views the effects of what Jesus did on the cross, although it happened at a time in history, as spanning all time, not just time after Jesus died.
The sacrificial system incorporated in the Mosaic Law was intended, not to be the basis for the forgiveness of sin, but a visual aid to help His people understand the nature of, and remedy for sin. When they trusted in the shed blood of a sacrificial lamb for the forgiveness of their sin, they were actually acknowledging God’s provision of a perfect Lamb that would deal with sin once and for all, and trusting in His promise of forgiveness.
The Israelites learned slowly, through a process; one lamb for a family when the angel of death passed over them on one occasion, memorialised by their annual celebration of Passover; one goat for a nation to forgive their sins for one year and, finally, one Lamb, God’s Son, for the world, once for all.
“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:18.
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