By now, you might be wondering, what’s the deal with lambs?
Why is a lamb the choice animal for sacrifices? Well, there are a couple reasons.
First, lambs were valuable. Today we measure wealth by the number on your paycheck or the car you drive or your stock portfolio. In those days, wealth was measured by the number of sheep you had.
But also, a lamb represents something innocent.
If I asked you to think of an innocent animal, most of you would probably think of a puppy. At least in modern America, puppies are everywhere and they are cute and adorable.
But if you think puppies look innocent, you should see lambs bouncing around in the Spring. My wife Morgan and I lived in New Zealand for five years and we always loved November. Fun fact about NZ, there are about 4 million people and over 28 million sheep, so you see sheep everywhere.
And November was lambing season, which meant you would see lambs running up and down fields, jumping together, and wagging their little tails faster than I’ve seen a dog ever wag its tail.
So lambs are innocent – that’s important to remember.
There is another story about lambs in the Old Testament and it is the story of Passover. This event occurred during a time when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God had been working through Moses and Aaron to free the people, but Pharaoh refused to let them go.
In order to free His people, God plans to do something drastic. To prepare, he tells the Israelites to do something very particular in Exodus 12:5-7:
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
I’ll pause there for a second. God calls them to choose a lamb without blemish. That means it is your most valuable lamb, and the one most worthy of sacrifice. He tells them to sacrifice the lamb, and cover their doorposts with the blood of the lamb.
Skip down to Exodus 12:12-13 which says this,
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
If this story makes you uncomfortable, that’s a good thing. God’s judgment should make us uncomfortable. But once again, there is a glimmer of hope here. God’s judgment doesn’t fall on everyone, does it? Who escapes the judgment?
It’s not about being Jewish. It’s not about being sinless. If an Israelite did not have the blood on their door, they would suffer the plague. The people who were saved from judgment were saved by the blood of the lamb without blemish that covered them.
Set-up, and payoff. Who would become the ultimate lamb? Who would be innocent and without blemish? Who would be incredibly valuable to God the Father. Who’s blood would protect His people from the final day of judgment.
The answer, of course, is Jesus.
Once the Israelites escape from Egypt they head out into the wilderness. It is there that they encounter God in powerful and unique ways. God gives them the law, most famously he gave the 10 commandments, but he also gave a few hundred other laws.
Not surprisingly, those laws also work as an example of Chekhov’s gun.
So we’re going to look at them in the next video.