We find the story of God testing Abraham in Genesis 22. Abraham was told to take his "only son, Isaac," to Mount Moriah where he was to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. (Verse 2) Being obedient, he did exactly what he was instructed to do and was about to slay Isaac when the Lord stopped him and provided a ram for the sacrifice. "So, Abraham called the place 'The Lord Will Provide.'" (Genesis 22:14) What played out in the Old Testament was a divine rehearsal for what was to come in the New Testament. The lamb, provided by God for Abraham, was caught by its horns in a thicket. Salvation or deliverance from death was given to Isaac through the lamb.
The lamb would become an animal of significance for the Hebrews. It was the blood of a lamb that saved the firstborn sons of the children of Israel when God passed through Egypt to strike down the first-born of men and animals. (Exodus 12:12) Every family needed a lamb and had to slaughter it to provide the blood to be placed at the top and sides of the door frame of their houses. The Israelites would be eating the Passover meal and preparing to leave Egypt as God was going to deliver them.
As the children of Israel were moving toward the Promised Land God would set up a sacrificial system that would provide a way for them to approach Him. It was done through the sacrifice of a lamb and required that its blood be shed. This system allowed the lamb to take the place of a person to remove their sins and had to be done for them to approach a holy God. Celebrating the Lord's Passover also became a yearly festival and was to take place on the 14th of Nisan, the first month of each year on the Hebrew calendar. "Tell the whole community of Israel that on the 10th day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household...Take care of them until the 14th day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight." (Exodus 12:3, 6)
The sacrificial lambs in each of these scenarios pointed to another Passover Lamb—the Lamb of God—who is God's only Son. John the Baptist knew it when he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!" (John 1:29) Jesus is our Passover Lamb and was slain so that we can live forever with Him. Isaiah prophesied what would happen to Jesus: "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)
Passover eve and Good Friday occur on the same day this week. Father God has made a perfect, spotless Lamb available to each of us. The blood of the Lamb of God was shed for our sins and the sins of the world. How should we respond? We must do as Abraham told his servants he would do: "We will worship and then we will come back to you." (Genesis 22:5) Let us make our worship sacrificial in nature and exalt the Lord for His indescribable gift.
Joan E. Mathias