The key to understanding the Bible is to know the foundation laid in the first three chapters of Genesis. God creates the world and places man in the Garden of Eden. God tells Adam, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17). In Chapter 3, the serpent deceives the woman and both she and her husband eat from the forbidden tree. Aware of their nakedness they sew fig leaves to cover themselves. God then pronounces a curse, but also predicts a coming Savior that will crush the head of the snake (Genesis 3:15). As they exit the garden, God makes garments of skin, and clothes Adam and his wife. The fig leaves aren't good enough, you see, as they represent man's own efforts to cover sin. The garments of skin, however, point to the shedding of blood. Sin demanded the death penalty. Hebrews 9:22 declares, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin."
Do you remember the Passover story? God was freeing the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Despite nine terrible plagues, Pharaoh refused to let them go. The tenth plague was the death of every firstborn child. The Israelites were told to kill a lamb and drain its blood. The blood was applied to the sides and top of the door of each house using a hyssop branch. As the destroying angel passed over the city to kill the firstborn he did not touch the homes marked with the blood. There was loud wailing in Egypt, but in the land of Goshen where the Israelites dwelt, not even a dog barked. They were delivered from death by the blood of the lamb.
The book of Leviticus reveals to us that Judaism demanded great sacrifice. The law demanded the sacrifice of bulls, lambs, goats and birds. There had to be cleansing from mildew and skin diseases. The eating of blood was forbidden. Why? Leviticus 17:11 declares, "for the life of the creature is in the blood and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourself on the altar; it is blood that makes atonement for ones life."
The law, God's holy standard of righteousness, establishes the guilt of all of us. We have all broken the commandments of God. Romans 3:10 declares, "There is no one righteous, not even one. And Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" Do we understand how profound that is? The creator of the universe, the incarnate Son of God, came with a mission to shed his blood for us and pay the price for our sin. All of the Old Testament sacrifices were to cease. "Christ is the end of the law that there might be righteousness for everyone who believes" (Romans 10:4).
"We have received atonement through faith in His blood" (Romans 3:25).
Isaiah 53:10 says, "It was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer as a guilt offering." God loved us so much he gave his only Son. Jesus obeyed his father and took our place that we might be saved through faith in his name. In Revelation 5 heaven cries out "Worthy is the Lamb," and all creation worships. Oh Lamb of God, perfect sacrifice, we bow to you today, Lord Jesus.
Roger Scalice, pastor and missionary for over 30 years, is currently a pastor-at-large burdened that God bring more healthy Biblical teaching to the tri-state area. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.