9. THE LAMB
Vol. 2, No. 3, May – June 1973
TO the Jewish nation the saddest day in their history was when, in their besieged capital in A.D. 70, all supplies were exhausted and the sacrifices had to cease because there was no longer a single lamb which they could offer. To God, however the saddest day must surely have been when, some forty years earlier, the temple priests had heedlessly and industriously continued shedding the blood of innumerable Passover lambs while the Lamb of God was being sacrificed on a cross just outside the city.
John the Baptist had faithfully testified that Jesus was God’s Lamb (John 1:29) but the nation, whose whole history was based on the concept of the sacrificial lamb, did not receive his witness, persisting with the shadows while they decisively rejected the substance. Happily there was a remnant within this nation which pioneered the way for the new, spiritual Israel, basing their faith and hope on the fact that Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). It is clear from Philip’s preaching (Acts 8:32-35) and from Peter’s teaching (1 Peter 1:19) that all believers identified Jesus as the Lamb of God. Just as pardon, protection and deliverance came to Israel by the blood of a lamb, and just as communion with God was maintained by the daily sacrifices, so we now enjoy cleansing, access to God and spiritual victory through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11).
The lamb is a symbol of gentle meekness. The only reference which the New Testament makes to Christ’s heart is to quote His own words about its essential lowliness (Matthew 11:29). This emphasises the aptness and beauty of His name. The lamb is also a symbol of purity. It was always a feature of the sacrificial lambs that they were without a blemish of any kind. The Passover lamb had to be reserved for three days of careful scrutiny to ensure its suitability, and only then was it pronounced a valid sacrifice. The Lord Jesus, however, was exposed to more than three years of the closest examination by men and devils without any fault being discovered in Him, and was pronounced by the Father’s own heavenly judgment to be perfect. He was God’s spotless Lamb, and His blood the sufficient provision for the sinner’s need, now and through endless ages (Revelation 7:14).
The book of the Revelation not only discloses the glories of Christ’s coming kingdom but it also uncovers the true character of the present kingdom of this sinful world, and for this purpose it employs the symbolism of a wild beast. In complete contrast to the arrogant pretensions of this beastly embodiment of Satan’s kingdom, John was inspired to stress the true nature of God’s appointed King. He is the Lamb. The title is used twenty-eight times in the course of the book, and the word would more accurately be translated ‘the little Lamb’. The final issue of the history of this age will be a climactic conflict between the beast and the Lamb (Revelation 17:14). Of course the Lamb and His lamb-like followers are assured of victory. In God’s universe, love will always conquer hatred, meekness will always triumph over pride, purity will always emerge triumphant from its fight with brute force. The Lamb and His cross guarantee this.
The Lamb will be the central figure in God’s eternal city of life and love. He will be its light (Revelation 21:22) and it is interesting to discover that this title is used seven times in the description given by John in his wonderful ending of his own book and of the whole Bible. There can be no higher privilege than to be citizens of that heavenly metropolis. This honour is reserved for those who “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth”.