God has promised, from the beginning, that the seed of woman would crush satan’s head. He further promised that the seed would be from the family of Abraham. And from the tribe of Judah. They didn’t understand everything, but they understood something. They knew the proper way to approach God was through the blood of a lamb. The Passover was further evidence of the importance of the Lamb of God to God’s people. They were instructed to observe the Passover every year and remember what had transpired on that fateful night. And they did. Lambs were sacrificed every year. The lambs were to remind the people of what God had done and they were to point to what God was going to do in the future.
Moses died but not before leaving instruction to Joshua. He reminded Joshua of what God had done for them. He told him to be of good courage and the Lord God would go with him wherever he may go. Afterward Joshua led the children of Israel into the promised land. They fought the many enemies of God and were victorious. They didn’t understand everything but they understand something. They knew that the way to approach God was through the blood of a lamb. Years and many battles later, before Joshua died, he reminded them of all God had done to bring them into this land and he admonished them:
Choose you this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
They didn’t always live the way they should. Sometimes they forgot who they belonged to and would go off and follow after other gods. This caused much distress and heartache for them, as well as God. He sent prophets to call them to repentance and eventually they would.
But through all of this there were moments when God would reveal more of His plan. David wrote poetry and within the words would be glimpses of the Lamb. Most notably the 23rd Psalm. The Lord is My shepherd. But he also wrote words that only made sense after the fact. Psalm 22:17-19 were prophetic words: I may tell all my bones: they stare upon me. They part my garments among them and cast lots upon my vesture. But be thou not far from me, O Lord. Oh my strength, hast thee to help me.
The most significant prophecies are found in the book of Isaiah. It’s stunning to read these words knowing it was penned 700 years before Christ.
1Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
They were looking for a Messiah. They knew He would be born to a virgin. But they expected a king. They wanted someone to deliver them. But first they had to be redeemed by the blood of a lamb. They missed that part.
And when it came time for God to send Jesus into the world, he made sure there was no mistaking who this baby was nor what he was born to do. Where else would a lamb to be born, but in a stable? Jesus is the Lamb of God who was born to die for our sins, so that we could once again, be in a right relationship with God.
Every other lamb, that had been sacrificed, through all these many years, had been pointing to this baby: born to a virgin, the seed of woman, descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Judah, in Bethlehem: the lamb of God, born in a manger. God made it perfectly clear, so we wouldn’t miss it. But then, He’s a picture perfect God.