Tuesday, December 13, 2016
The Centrality of the Lamb of God at Christmas
Numbers 28:4 ‘You shall offer the one lamb in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight"
Today I want to talk about the centrality of the Lamb of God to Christmas. Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God no less than 25 times in the New Testament. In today's post we will deal with the centrality of the Lamb of God as He pertained to the timing of Christmas.
The centrality of the lamb in communicating the timing of the sacrificial system
In Numbers 28 we see a summary list of all the major sacrifices and festivals that were to be celebrated by the Jewish people. Lambs figured quite prominently into God's provision of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament. For example, with regards to the timing of the sacrifices, Moses writes in Numbers 28:2 - “Command the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be careful to present My offering, My food for My offerings by fire, of a soothing aroma to Me, at their appointed time". That phrase "appointed time", as well as the word "festival", communicate the combined idea in the Hebrew a dress rehearsal. The sacrifices and feasts of Israel were like dress rehearsals, with Jesus Christ being the final and only performance of salvation. As you go down through the remainder of Numbers 28, we see how lambs were significant in the daily, weekly, monthly and the annual Passover celebration:
-Daily there were to be two lambs offered, one in the morning, and one in the evening. (Numbers 28:1-8)
-Weekly, or every Sabbath, two male lambs were to be sacrificed. (Numbers 28:9-10)
-Monthly, at the beginning of each month, the people were to sacrifice seven male lambs without defect, along with other types of animals. (Numbers 28:11-15)
-Annually, once a year, at the Passover celebration, commemorating the Jews Exodus from Egypt, the Bible speaks of the people roasting a lamb for the Passover meal and spreading its blood over the door posts of their homes. (Numbers 28:16; Exodus 12:1-13)
We could go further into the chapter, but the point is made: lambs were central to the cycles of time in the Old Testament sacrificial system (mentioned some 30 times or so in Numbers 28-29 alone).
The Lamb of God - central to God's timing in accomplishing salvation
Truly the Old Testament is used to prepare for Christ's first coming in the New Testament, with His title "The Lamb of God" being no exception. In the New Testament, the Bible is very clear about Jesus, the Lamb of God, coming at the right time. We know that from eternity Jesus was regarded as the Lamb of God. Consider for example Revelation 13:8 "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (KJV) Being regarded as the Lamb of God in eternity, He came to become the Lamb of God in time. Galatians 4:4-5 tells us: "when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
The timing of Jesus' coming into the world was perfect timing. In Luke 2:1-7, we see several indications of the timing of Christmas being centered around the Lamb of God - Jesus Christ:
1. The timing was right historically - Luke 2:1-3 tells us of a census taken in the Roman world which prompted Joseph and Mary to go up to Bethlehem, some 90 miles from Nazareth, where Joseph and Mary resided.
2. The timing was right for His birth -Luke 2:5-7 tells us that Mary had reached full term with the God/man in her womb, revealing that the timing of His birth was right.
3. The timing of heaven and earth was right - Luke 2:8-20 that shepherds were in their fields, watching their flocks of sheep (lambs!), and suddenly the hosts of heaven made the announcement of Christ's birth.
4.The timing of creation was right - Then in Matthew 2:2 we see the magi coming to worship the now two year old Christ child upon seeing a star which appeared over the night skies of Persia in their land. For two years they traveled to see this wonder of wonders - the Lamb of God.
God brought all this together to reveal this truth of the lamb of God coming at the right time that first Christmas.