The Lamb of God in the Old Testament

 

The Lamb of God in the Old Testament by Karen Jurgens

Is there anything more adorable than a sweet little lamb? When my daughter Meg was a toddler, my mother brought her a special gift—a soft, cuddly lamb. She named it Leemie, and this stuffed toy became her constant companion day and night. She would drag it along with her blanket, take it on every outing in her stroller, and snuggle with it at night. I can’t begin to count the times Leemie had to take a bath in the washer. Even today, she sits atop pillows in a guest bedroom waiting for Meg when she comes to visit.

The Lamb of God in the Old Testament by Karen Jurgens

Leemie is a very special lamb to our family.

I wonder if God also loved lambs and counted them as special? I think so because He sent His Son, the Lamb of God, to reestablish our relationship with the Father. To understand this, we need to trace it back to the beginning, the Garden of Eden.

The First Atonement

Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world until the serpent deceived them to eat fruit from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After God discovered the couple hiding, ashamed and covered with fig leaves, God Himself provided clothing to cover their nakedness.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them ~ Genesis 3:21 NASB.

This act of God required shedding the blood of an innocent animal to cover man’s sins.

I’ve often wondered…why couldn’t God have taken care of forgiving sins in heaven? Why did He have to shed the blood of innocent goats, rams, bulls, and lambs in Old Testament times?

Click to tweet: There is no blood in heaven

As I pondered this in prayer, God enlightened me with a startling fact. There is no blood in heaven. Heaven is a spiritual place without flesh and blood. When we die, we leave our mortal flesh behind to return to dust as our spirits are released into eternity.

Therefore, since only innocent blood can cover and forgive sins, a sacrifice had to be performed on earth, not in heaven.

Do you recall the story of Abraham and Isaac? Just when Abraham, directed by God, was about to sacrifice his son, the Lord stopped him, saying, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’  He said, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me’ Genesis 22:11b-12 NASB.

The Lamb of God in the Old Testament by Karen Jurgens

God’s test was not only about Abraham’s faith but also a foreshadowing of God’s sacrifice of His Son, our Messiah, for the ultimate forgiveness of mankind’s sins many years later.

The Passover Lamb

Fast-forward from Abraham to the Book of Exodus. God used Moses to deliver the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt and establish the everlasting tradition of Passover. It’s interesting to me that the tradition involves every family taking a sweet baby lamb into their house and treating it as a pet before it became their sacrifice. Here are God’s directions:

‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.  Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.  Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.  Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover.  For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against 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 live; 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 ~ Exodus 12: 3, 5-7, 11-13 NASB.

Click to tweet: The doorposts and lintels covered with blood are in the shape of…

Did you realize that lamb’s blood covering the doorposts and lintel is in the shape of a cross? Not only did the lamb’s blood protect each family from God’s judgment, but also the families, standing with sandals on their feet and staffs in their hands, roasted and ate their lamb before fleeing to the Promised Land.

The Lamb of God in the Old Testament by Karen Jurgens

The Law of Atonement

What procedure did God establish in the Old Testament for the forgiveness of sins? God created the Law of Atonement, outlined in Leviticus 16. Once a year, the high priest would take two goats and cast the lot to see which goat God chose to be a sacrifice and which to be a scapegoat. The one died on the altar, and its shed blood atoned for the sins of the people from the previous year. Here’s what happened to the live goat:

‘When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness’ ~ Leviticus 16:20-22 NASB.

Barred from the camp, the scapegoat wandered in the wilderness until it starved and died, and with it, all of Israel’s sins.

The lamb, along with goats and other sacrificial animals, is central throughout the Old Testament, beginning in the Garden of Eden and continuing with the Laws of the Mosaic Covenant.

IMG_1141[63747] Lamb edited

Have you ever wondered…

How does Passover relate to the Cross of Christ?

Why don’t we sacrifice animals for the forgiveness of sins now?

How did God establish His New Covenant through Christ?

Where is the Lamb in Revelation?

We’ll explore these answers in the next post of The Lamb of God in the New Testament.

Until then…be blessed!

The Lamb of God in the Old Testament by Karen Jurgens

Why Must We Forgive?

Why Must We Forgive by Karen Jurgens

Forgiveness is a hot topic in churches and across the internet. Everyone’s talking about it, including me.

Jesus is coming soon to receive His church and to gather His Saints who are spotless and pure, whose sins have been washed away in the blood of the Lamb.

How is forgiveness a major key in our preparation for that day? You’re invited to join in as I talk with Patti Shene on Step into the Light.

Just click on the link below to go to the archived show. Hope to see you there.

http://ow.ly/GMeH30jhmv5

He is Risen!

 

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

I trust your Easter weekend has been a wonderful experience, from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Hasn’t it been a mixture of emotions?

We witnessed the dread of Jesus’s coming to terms with His assignment in the Garden of Gethsemane where He shed drops of blood in fervent prayer.

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’ ~ Matthew 26:39, NASB.

On Good Friday, we turned our heads as Judas hanged himself and Peter denied Christ three times.

We agonized with Jesus as He was unjustly accused and sentenced to die by crucifixion.

We cringed in horror as they lashed His back thirty-nine times and slapped the crown of thorns on His head.

We wept as He carried His cross, assisted by Simon the Cyrene, up the hill to Golgotha where they drove nails into His hands and feet.

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’ ~ Luke 23:34.

We sat amazed when He forgave His tormentors as well as the thief crucified next to Him.

And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”  And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise’ ~ Luke 23:42b-43.

We mourned with Mary, His mother, as she watched her Son suffer unto death.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household ~ John 19:25-28.

We waited on Saturday. But where was Jesus from Friday night to Sunday morning?

After death, Jesus descended into the bowels of the earth to Sheol. Sheol is a two-sided holding tank for the dead, with the righteous on one side and the wicked on the other, separated by a chasm. We know this from the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-30.

First, Jesus took away the keys of death, hell, and the grave from Satan. Then He preached the Good News to the damned, giving them the opportunity to escape from their prison of hell. Every person who has ever lived must make the choice to accept or reject Jesus as Saviour. Last, the righteous vacated Sheol to live in heaven.

I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades ~ Revelation 1:17b-18.

Good Friday seals the forgiveness of our sins and the healing of our physical bodies through Jesus’s shed blood at Calvary.

The miracle of Jesus’s bodily resurrection on Sunday seals our eternity with Jesus Christ in heaven. We rejoice because His tomb is empty! Our Lord is risen, just as He said.

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

What joy fills our souls as we rejoice in the goodness of our Saviour! To realize that He loved us that much–to come down from heaven to be the perfect sacrifice for us. We owed a debt we couldn’t pay, and He paid a debt He didn’t owe. He restored our broken relationship with God out of his abundant love for each one of us.

Salvation isn’t a dry, dead religion. It’s a living, personal relationship with the One True God.

May we carry Easter in our hearts all year long. May we be forever humbled and grateful, showing our sincere thanks to Jesus for providing us with the precious, priceless gift of salvation.

Blessed Resurrection Day by Karen Jurgens

 

The Last Passover

The Last Passover by Karen Jurgens

 While they were eating, He took some bread, and [j]after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is My body.’  And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.  Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God’ ~ Mark 14:22-25 NASB.

I’m eagerly anticipating the day we take communion with Jesus in heaven. Are you?

Wishing you a blessed Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

 

Forgiven

Forgiven by Karen Jurgens

I’m sharing one of my former blog posts to commemorate the Easter season.

A crowd of men pushes and shoves me outside my house, tearing my clothes, slapping my head. Their deep voices swirl around me, angry and taunting. The dark tones rumble, thirsty for blood. My blood.

I try to wrap my half-dressed body with my shawl, preserving what little modesty I have left. The suddenness of being discovered in bed with my lover has left me in shock. No hope of escape. Their condemnation will have its cruel way.

My heart races, chugging and pounding against my rib cage, pleading to jump out of my chest and dash away.

Clouds of dust boil around my feet as the mob pushes me toward the temple. Many pairs of dusty sandals rush in unison, stomping like a judge wielding a gavel.

“Guilty!” The Scribes scream.

“Condemned!” The Pharisees spit.

Hope has spread its wings and flown. Their hatred settles on me, like a buzzard taking up permanent residence.

Swells of roaring deafen me. Their righteous indignation drowns me.

Rough hands cast me to the ground. My shoulder scrapes across uneven rocks, tearing my flesh. The jolt smacks my side and sends pain down my leg.

I reach out to stop the momentum, but a sandaled foot crushes my hand. I collapse from the pain, laying my head down, observing dirt mingle together with my blood.

My head has changed into a heavy melon. I cannot see my persecutors through the black veil of my mangled hair.

My heart wrings itself dry of tears. Hopelessness consumes me as I surrender to their hands. My guilt waits for the sharp sting of justice, ushering death. I brace myself for the pounding of the rocks. My body shakes with fear.

Seconds pass. Every muscle in my body is tensed.

Nothing.

Voices raise poignant questions through the air. “The Law of Moses says to stone her . . . what do you say?”

I inhale a weak breath through my mouth, pressed hard into the dirt.

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” This voice is full of authority.

Silence.

Where are the stones that should be crushing my head? Are they planning something more painful? What are they doing? My entire body throbs.

Stones pummel, one after another, to the ground.

I cringe and gasp for my last breath.

Still, nothing touches me.

The ground vibrates with sandaled footsteps. I hear a creak of leather coming closer and can discern the outline of a man’s foot.

I raise my heavy head enough to peer at him through my hair. My eyes focus. Surprise jolts through me as I look into His face.

I know this man.

Liquid love oozes from his understanding eyes. Compassion flows from his smile. Holiness bathes his being, making me even more ashamed of myself. How can he look on me—an adulteress? I am not worthy of his attention.

“Woman, where are they?”

I push up a little, looking around for the first time. I’m outside the temple, and the men have disappeared. Only He is before me.

“Did no one condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” I answer, still not comprehending what has happened.

“Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more.”

He pulls me to my feet. The touch of His hand electrifies my entire body. All pain dissolves, and I am bathed in total peace. My flesh that was bloody and torn is now whole. I feel reborn.

He turns and walks inside the temple. I watch him with a clean heart, washed and dressed in the newness of gratitude and hope. Yes, I will sin no more. I am overcome with amazement that I am alive and not dead.

I begin to step toward home when I see something on the ground. It looks like someone wrote a word in the dirt. I pause to read it.

FORGIVEN.

Fresh tears run down my face. “Messiah!”

I will never be the same.

John 8:1-11

Forgiven by Karen Jurgens

For Such a Time as This

For Such a Time as This by Karen Jurgens

God makes no mistakes when it comes to timing.

International secret societies may laugh at us common folks. Their ultra-rich members think they’re the ones who clandestinely hide an evil secret—that they control the world’s future, driving it headlong into the coming one-world government.

However, as Christians, we’ve read the end of the Book. Revelation comforts us that Jesus will return, destroying the anti-Christ’s seven-year one-world system at the Battle of Armageddon. Then Jesus will set up His kingdom without end—the Judeo-Christian Kingdom of God.

What about today? God made no mistake about our existence at this time in history. You and I are destined to be here now.

So it was with Hadassah, a beautiful Jewish girl who attained royalty in Persia during the 5th-century BC. She had no idea she had been chosen by God to deliver her Jewish people from annihilation until she was in the thick of a life-and-death battle. Her story began when her cousin, Mordecai, sent word about what wicked Haman, a close adviser to the King, had plotted.

 And Mordecai told [Hathach] all that had happened to him, and the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries to destroy the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the written decree for their destruction, which was given at Shushan, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her, and that he might command her to go in to the king to make supplication to him and plead before him for her people ~  Esther 4:6-8 NKJV.

What could Esther do to defend the Jews from Haman’s evil plan?  Mordecai had directed her not to breathe a word about her ethnic background. Her husband, King Ahasuerus, had no idea she was a Jew.

Esther communicated with frantic messages back and forth to Mordecai, who was clothed in sackcloth and ashes. In response to her questions, her cousin replied with deep wisdom—words we quote even today:

‘For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ ~ Esther 4:14 NKJV.

Esther threw herself into her destiny, willing to sacrifice her life for the Jews if necessary—and she broke a law that could have done just that.

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’ ~ Esther 4:15-16 NKJV.

God anointed Esther with great favor in the king’s sight, and he promised to grant her petition up to half his kingdom. In response, Esther extended an invitation for the king and Haman to attend a banquet on the following two days.

Then Queen Esther replied, ‘If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request;  for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated.’  … Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?’ Esther said, ‘A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!’ ~ Esther 7:3-4, 5-6a NASB.

After the King understood that his top political adviser had devised the plan to annihilate the Jews, he commanded Haman to be hanged on the gallows—ironically, the one on which Haman had constructed to hang Mordecai.

In response to their deliverance, the Jews celebrated, feasting and sending food to one another. This feast is called Purim, named for the lot Haman cast for the day he would annihilate the Jews.

It’s clear that Queen Esther was promoted to the palace to serve God’s purpose, which came to pass through her humility and obedience.

But Esther’s story has recently been repeated in our modern times.

On March 3, 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before the United States Congress. He pled his case for protecting Israel from her enemies, today’s Persia. Like Queen Esther, Netanyahu is a Jew from the Tribe of Benjamin. Like her, he pled before the mightiest nation of the world on the afternoon before a very auspicious day: Purim. Coincidence? No, it happened for such a time as this.

God answered Netanyahu by placing a pro-Israel President into the Oval Office in 2017. This is a man who not only honors and defends Israel and her rights of existence but also defends the rights of Christians to worship in freedom. Coincidence? No, it happened for such a time as this.

God makes no mistakes when it comes to timing. You and I were born for such a time as this.

What is God asking you to do for His kingdom in these days?

 

For Such a Time as This by Karen Jurgens

Purim 2018 will begin at sundown on Wednesday, February 28 and concludes at nightfall on Thursday, March 1.