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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Portraits of Christ

Don Smith :: Gen 22; The Lamb God Provided

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Portraits of Christ
“The Lamb God Provided" (Genesis 22)

Like a prophetic figure from Israel's past, John the Baptist cried out in the Judean wilderness, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

  • The residents of Jerusalem were embroiled in controversy over this man clothed in camel's hair and wearing a leather belt.
  • Some likened him to the prophets Elijah and Isaiah.
  • He proclaimed that he was one preparing the way of the Lord.
  • He called his generation to give evidence of their repentance through water baptism.
  • One day out of the Jordanian crowd came a man from Galilee coming to be baptized.
  • Upon seeing him, John declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
  1. But why did he use this title to identify the Christ?
    • Of all the images to ascribe to the coming Messiah why refer to Him as a lamb?
    • The answer is older than time itself.
    • Before Creation in the eternal counsel of heaven, the Father promised His Son an eternal progeny from the earth to glorify Him forever.
    • Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
    • He is the very essence and substance of God Himself.
    • But God, knowing all things, made provision for man's redemption from sin.
    • For God's justice to be satisfied, a perfect sacrifice had to be offered.
  2. Even before time, Jesus Christ is portrayed as the slain Lamb of God.
    • 1 Peter 1:18-20 reminds us, “You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God."
    • Jesus Christ is the unblemished, holy Lamb of God prepared to step into time and space and be slain as a sacrificial lamb.
    • John 3:16 becomes clear when we add “the Lamb of God." “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [the Lamb of God] that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish but have everlasting life."
  3. We find another glimpse of the Lamb before creation in Revelation 13:8
    • It says that, "All who dwell on the earth will someday worship him [the beast], whose names have not been written in the Lamb's Book of Life."
    • Jesus Christ was the Lamb destined to be slain from the foundation of the world.
    • Therefore, we cannot understand John the Baptist's words, "Behold the Lamb of God," until we see Jesus Christ as the Son of God prepared before creation to be "slain for the sin of the world."
  4. We find types and shadows of sacrificial lambs offered to God after the fall of Adam.
    • Adam and Eve stood completely naked and exposed before God's holy judgment. (Genesis 3:21)
    • But God, rich in mercy, took the initiative and covered their nakedness with tunics of skin taken from sacrificial animals.
    • These animals provided a covering for their sin.
  5. The children of Adam and Eve were the first examples of offering sacrifices.
    • Cain offered the first fruits of his crops.
    • Abel sacrificed the firstborn from his flocks.
    • Abel and his sacrifice were acceptable because without the shedding of blood there cannot be the forgiveness of sin. (Genesis 4:4)
  6. Animal sacrifice is recorded after the Great Flood.
    • Noah built an altar to the Lord and took clean animals and offered them as burnt sacrifices. (Genesis 8:20)
    • By the time Israel was in Egyptian slavery the sacrifice took on even greater definition. (Exodus 12)
    • The Lord commanded that every man take for himself an unblemished lamb.
    • He was to place his hand upon the sacrifice, as a way of imputing his sin upon the innocent lamb.
    • Then he was to kill it at sunset on the 14th day of Nisan, which is the same day, month, and time Jesus was killed 1400 years later.
    • Thus far we have seen the Lamb be identified as the Son of God residing in eternal glory, as a covering for the sin of Adam, as a firstborn male from Abel's flocks, as an unblemished sacrifice from Noah's flock and as a Passover Lamb slain on the very month, day, and hour that Jesus was crucified 1400 years later.

But there is no greater picture of the sacrificial Lamb of God in the Old Testament than that taken by Moses of Abraham and his son Isaac in Genesis 22.

  • This photograph is dated 4,000 years ago.
  • In it we see that the sacrificial lambs offered to God are only types of the one true sacrifice that God would provide to take away the sin of the world.
  1. Our story begins with a prologue to the events that are to follow. (Genesis 22:1)
    • Moses gives us the insight that the dilemma facing Abraham is a test of his faith from God.
    • He does this to warn us in advance that God is not tempting Abraham to do evil, but to test Abraham's faith.
    • In Exodus 20, God tested Israel in the wilderness so they might not sin.
    • Likewise in James 1:2-4, 13 we are told, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone."
    • God was testing Abraham's faith in the promises of God's Word.
  2. Moses then gives us the context for this event.
    • He says, “After these things." But what things is he referring to?
    • He is reminding us of God's promise in Genesis 12 to bless Abraham with a son, who would bless all the peoples of the world.
    • He is also pointing us back to the time when Abram did not yet have an heir.
    • At one time all Abraham had was his adopted servant, Eliezer of Damascus.
    • Later after years of marital tension of not having a child, Sarai thought it was time to help God out.
    • She gave her Egyptian maid Hagar to Abram to be a surrogate mother.
    • What resulted is a tragedy being lived out today.
    • The son of Abraham's flesh was named Ishmael.
    • It has resulted in centuries of ever-increasing enmity between the Arabs and the Israelis.
  3. God waited until all hope in the flesh was dead.
    • Abram was almost one hundred years old when God blessed him with birth of the promised son.
    • They called him “Isaac" which means “laughter."
    • The long anticipated son had arrived into the hands of parents filled with love and hope.
    • At the time of our story in Genesis 22, God interrupts this family's life when Isaac is a grown young man, perhaps in his early thirties.
    • Abraham answered God's call by saying, “Here Am I."
    • This is the same response Moses, Samuel, and Isaiah gave when God called.
    • It is being instantly obedient and restfully available to fulfill God's purposes.
  4. God then commanded Abraham to act on his faith. (Genesis 22:2)
    • The first step of obedience was to take his beloved son on a journey of faith.
    • We learn in John 1:14 of the journey that God's only Son took when He entered time and space. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
    • Abraham's assignment was to “Go to Mariah."
    • In 2 Chronicles 3:1, Mariah is associated with the place where the Lord appeared to David in Jerusalem.
    • It was on this same geographic site that Solomon later built the Temple.
    • Thus far in our study we have seen not only the origin of the Lamb, but his unblemished holiness, his position as firstborn, his time of death, and now even further information—the place of his death.
    • God then asked what seemed contrary to the promises of God, to “Offer his only begotten son as a burnt offering."
  5. The tension built as Abraham stepped out to obey God. (Genesis 22:3-4)
    • He prepared for the sacrifice of Isaac as he was told to do.
    • Abraham saddled a donkey to ride to Mariah.
    • In his hands he carried a knife and a jar containing embers of fire.
    • He had firewood cut for the sacrifice and took his son Isaac, as well as two servants.
    • They traveled three days and beheld the place God had commanded.
    • Notice now the faith of Abraham revealed as he leaves instructions to the servants. (Genesis 22:5)
    • In that simple line, “We will come back to you" contains the expression of his faith, the secret of Easter.
    • Hebrews 11:17-19 gives us further insight, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,' concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense."
    • Here we have the secret of Abraham's faith.
    • Because God is holy He cannot lie.
    • God promised him a son who would bless all the peoples of the world.
    • If God asked him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, then God was obliged to honor His word.
    • Abraham therefore concluded, this must be a test of faith.
    • God will raise him from the dead and they will be reunited in life.

This is faith: acting upon what we believe to be true, and believing that God's Word will be fulfilled, regardless of how difficult the path up our own Mt. Mariah may become.

  1. Abraham then proceeded to sacrifice Isaac. (Genesis 22:6-8)
    • Abraham laid the wood upon Isaac's back to carry up the mountain.
    • Abraham consoled his son by saying, “God will provide for Himself the lamb."
    • On this same mount the “Only Begotten Son" carried his own cross up the path once walked by Isaac. (John 19:17)
  2. Once they arrived on top of the Mount he bound his son's hands and feet. (Genesis 22:9-10)
    • There is no indication of a struggle.
    • It would appear that Isaac yielded in submission to his father's request.
    • The son willingly lay on the wooden altar.
  3. Two thousand years later the Son of God willingly yielded his life to the Father on Golgotha. (John 19:18; 20:25)
    • His hands and feet were nailed to a tree.
    • Jesus hung from a cross that stood on the very place Isaac was bound to the altar.
    • Then we are told Abraham prepared to plunge the knife into his son, Isaac.
    • Notice it was father Abraham sacrificing his only son.
  4. In the same way, let us not neglect to see that the death of Christ was a result of His heavenly Father's preordained plan to offer up His Son for our sin.
    • At the very last moment the Angel of the LORD stopped the death of Isaac, but not the future execution of God's Son. (Genesis 22:11-12)
    • On this very Mount, a Roman soldier later pierced His Son's side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. (John 19:34)
  5. What love! What grace! That God would strike His own Son to satisfy His just wrath on sin and grant us salvation.
    • As every man in Israel laid his hand on the Passover lamb, we must lay our hands on the cross.
    • Our unrighteousness is imputed (is placed on His account), on the Lamb of God.
    • Christ in return reached out to impute on us His perfect righteousness.
    • Now is the time to sing the Hallelujah Chorus!
    • This is the day we bow in humble worship with unrestrained gratitude for what Christ has done for us.
  6. God promised to provide for Himself a sacrificial Lamb. (Genesis 22:13)
    • At that moment a ram appeared with its horns caught in a thicket.
    • Christ, the Lamb of God, was later seen wearing a crown of twisted thorns on his head. (Matthew 27:29)
    • The Lord said that His Lamb would be a substitutionary lamb.
    • That meant His Son would die instead of Isaac or even you or me.
    • This is what Isaiah 53 describes: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth."
    • The Apostle Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
    • Even as Abraham prepared to offer his son, God the Father prepared to offer His Son as a sacrifice on the 14th of Nisan. (Hebrews 10:5-7)
    • When Jesus the Lamb of God came into the world He said to His Father: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure." Then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." (Psalm 40:6-8)
  7. Then Abraham named this Mount “Jehovah-jireh." (Genesis 22:14)
    • Literally it means, “The Lord's provision will appear."
    • On this mount men began to say, “On this Mt. Jehovah appears."
    • And that He did on the 14th of Nisan at sundown on Passover, on a mountain in Jerusalem, just as God had said.
    • Is it any wonder John the Baptist declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

The death of the Lamb is not the end of the story.

  • On the first day of the week, God's Lamb arose victoriously from the dead.
  • The Book of Revelation portrays the Risen Christ as the sovereign Lamb seated on His eternal throne.
  1. His identity is known to all the residents of heaven.
    • They are heard singing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" (Revelation 5:12)
  2. His accomplishments are recited in heaven by the saints who cry out.
    • “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Revelation 7:10)
  3. His ministry in heaven will be to shepherd His flock.
    • “For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:13-17)
  4. His justice will be faithfully executed.
    • The saints will sing the song of Moses also called ‘The Song of the Lamb,' saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested." (Revelation 15:3-4)

On Easter let us not forget that as Abraham was prepared to smite his only son, Isaac, God the Father did smite His only begotten Son.

  • So we can say, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."
  • May we, by faith, cling to the promises of God.
  • He promised to save us from our sin.
  • He promised us eternal life.
  • He promised to return for His people.
  • The Lamb is on His throne ruling and reigning from heaven.
  • All that waits is the trumpet call.
  • The Lamb of God is coming, just as God promised Abraham.

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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