Christ, the Paschal Lamb of God 6

k0925197Lastly, the lamb is set to die. God commanded that all Israel shall kill the lamb at twilight of the 14th day (Ex. 12:6). Twilight was “at the going down of the sun” (Deut. 16:6, NKJV).

Christ died exactly on the 14th day of the month of Nisan. It was precisely 4 days after He entered Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, “it was customary in his day to slay the lamb at about 3 PM.” (MacArthur). Christ, the lamb of God, died at around this time (Lk. 23:44-46).

Yet unlike the lamb of all previous Passover Feasts, He did not remain in death. He rose again on the 3rd day!

Today, Christians celebrate “Easter” or preferably, “Holy Week,” at around the same time of the Passover Feast. That is why Holy Week usually falls on late March or early April. For it is the week of the Passover Feast.

Christ is our perfect, Paschal Lamb!

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Christ, the Paschal Lamb of God 5

k0681289In our previous posts, we noted that the Passover lamb was (1) seized on the 10th day of Nisan. It must then be (2) separated and (3) safe-kept from the rest of the flock till the 14th day.

4th, the lamb must be spotless. The Hebrew word for “blemish” is tamim, “complete, whole, entire, sound, healthful.” (BDB) The same Hebrew word is used to describe a man as “wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity of God’s way.” (BDB) The lamb must not have a broken bone. It must not be blind, lame, or sick (Mal. 1:8). The head of the family must examine it and ensure that it is whole and healthy.

Christ, too, was examined by his accusers and by Pilate. (JFB) During those fateful days, the false witnesses contradicted themselves. The priests and the Pharisees desperately ran out of incriminating evidence. Pilate concluded, “I find no fault in him” (John 19:4, KJV). After Jesus gave up His spirit, the Jews wanted to break the legs of Jesus (John 19:31). But 1 soldier instead pierced His side. Thus, the prophecy was fulfilled, “For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken’” (John 19:36, NKJV; cf. Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12).

He was “holy, guiltless, undefiled, separated from sinners” (Heb. 7:26, WEB). He “offered himself without blemish to God” (Heb. 9:14, RSV). He was “unblemished and spotless” (1 Pet. 1:19, TCNT).

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Christ, the Paschal Lamb of God 4

k06341703rd, the lamb was safe-kept. “Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month” (Ex. 12:6, NKJV). The Hebrew is revealing here. “Shall keep” includes a verb and a noun. The verb, “shall,” (hayah) means, “to become, to come to pass.” (Baker, gen. ed., The Complete Word Study Old Testament, 2311).

The next word, “keep,” (mismar) is actually a noun in the Hebrew text, not a verb. The noun means, “guard,” or “the confinement in which someone is kept” (Gen. 40:3; Lev. 24:12). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, s. v. mishmar) The Hebrew Old Testament translates it, “custody.” (Alan Groves, et. al., Hebrew Old Testament in Bible Windows CD) It carries a corollary meaning of watching over it diligently.

The verb form of hayah is Qal perfect. It indicates perfective or completed action. The lamb has become a captive, under the guard and safe-keeping of the head of the family. Thus, the more precise translation is, “And it hath become a charge to you” (Ex. 12:6, YLT).

Exactly the same thing happened to Christ. They took Him into custody. The Lamb of God has become a charge to them. He was under their custody. They did it out of their ill-motives. Yet they played a role within the plan of God.

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Christ, the Paschal Lamb of God 3

k0498188In our previous post, we noted 1st, that the lamb was seized on the 10th day of Nisan, at the beginning of the Passover Feast.

2nd, the lamb was separated. It was set apart, kept from the rest of the flock for 4 days. It must be a male. It was hand-picked over all the others. Likewise, the Bible says that Christ was “separated from sinners” (Heb. 7:26, WEB). Christ was also a male. He is the firstborn of all creation. He is the hand-picked Lamb of God.

On the night of His betrayal, he was separated from his disciples and pseudo-disciples. The masses shouted, “Hosanna!” just a few days before. Now, they’re nowhere to be seen. Some converted themselves into a hostile crowd. The 1 close disciple who promised unflinching loyalty to Him, betrayed Him 3 times instead.

Like a lonely lamb to the slaughter, He was alone.

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Christ, the Paschal Lamb of God 2

k1538616We note several parallel similarities and contrasts between the Paschal Lamb and Christ, the Lamb of God.

1st, the lamb was seized. “‘On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb’” (Ex. 12:3, NKJV). The verb, “take,” is from the Hebrew, laqah, “lay hold of, seize; fetch; take away.” (Carl Peklenk and Alex Luc, Simple Electronic Hebrew Glossary in Bible Windows CD) The verb form is Qal imperfect. It speaks of imperfective, unfinished action of unbroken continuity. The head of the household is to keep on taking the lamb, every 10th day of the month of Nisan, at the beginning of the Passover Feast. Yet the imperfect tense also looks forward to the future, when they will take the Lamb of God to the slaughter.

The timing here is critical. Christ completed the picture by entering Jerusalem on the 10th day of the month. It is exactly 4 days before His crucifixion. He went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast. He also meant to portray Himself as the true Passover Lamb of God.

The Passover lamb was an unwilling lamb. But the Lamb of God willingly went to the slaughter, knowing what will happen to Him. The Passover Lamb can never take away sins. Yet only the Lamb of God can take away the sins of the world. Only He can propitiate for the sins of men and women. Only He can satisfy the wrath of God against the children of wrath (1 John 2:2; Eph. 2:1-10).

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Atonement 2

imagesIn Atonement 1, we noted that atonement is from the Hebrew, kapar, which means, expiation–to cover the sin of people by a bloody sacrifice. It is also means, propitiation—to appease the wrath of God against sin, thereby, satisfying His divine righteousness. In expiation, you make amends with the God, whom you have offended with your sin. In propitiation, you satisfy by paying for it, thereby appeasing the anger of God against sin.

The penalty of sin is death. Every sinner should pay for his or her sin. God is really angry at sin. Every sinner must appease His anger. The bad news is that no sinner can pay for his sin in full. “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, ESV). No matter how religious, how good, how helpful to others he is, it can never take away sin. No sinner can pay the penalty of sin, satisfy God’s demand, and appease God’s wrath against sin. The Bible says that all the bloody sacrifices of men can never pay in full the strict requirements for divine righteousness (See Ps. 50:7-15; Mic. 6:6-8; Heb. 10:1-6).

What did God do that man could not? The good news is that God sent His only begotten Son, the perfect, sinless Lamb of God (Heb. 10:9-10). Christ fully paid the penalty of our sin, satisfied God’s demands, and appeased God’s wrath. How? He was the sinless, Lamb of God. That already satisfies the demand of God for a perfect offering. He died. That’s already sacrificial. He died for us. That’s substitutionary. His blood covers our sin. That’s expiation. His offering appeased the wrath of God, ensuring the mercy of God. That’s propitiation. Thus, Christ made atonement for our sins, by His satisfactory, sacrificial, and substitutionary offering of Himself on the cross.

That is why salvation is all by grace, not by works. It’s all by God, not by us. Salvation is all of God, and none of us. Throw away your faith therefore in your religion or your good works. Instead, throw yourself upon the grace of God in Christ. Kneel by faith at the feet of the cross. Put your faith in His blood. Repent your sin. And you will find forgiveness and release from it (Rom. 3:25).

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Atonement 1

k0634168The sacrifice of the lamb provided atonement for sins. Atonement is a key doctrine in the Bible. It is a key message of the Gospel. Any preaching of a gospel that excludes or diminishes this critical concept makes it a false gospel.

“And you shall offer a bull every day as a sin offering for atonement [kippur]. You shall cleanse the altar when you make atonement [kapar] for it” (Ex. 29:36, NKJV). In the Jewish calendar, there is called, Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement. “Atonement” is from the Hebrew plural noun, kippur, from where the verb, kapar, is derived. It is “the condition which results when one makes amends, a satisfactory reparation” (Ex. 29:36; Num. 5:8). (Baker, gen. ed., The Complete Word Study Old Testament, 2327) To make amends is expiation. To satisfy by reparation or payment is propitiation.  Both are 2 sides of the same coin called, atonement.

The words, expiation and propitiation, are now an “endangered species.” Some Bible translations no longer use it in Rom. 3:25, 1 John 2:2 and 4:10. Seldom do you hear Pastors teach about it today. But they are key words explaining the key concept of atonement. When you make amends with God (expiate), and when you satisfy God’s demands against sin (propitiate), then you make atonement.

How does one make amends with God for sin? In the Old Testament, it is by a bloody offering or sacrifice. God commanded the Levite priest to sprinkle the blood of a bull on the altar as a ransom price for the sins of the people (Ex. 29:36). The bloody sacrifice of the bull had a dual meaning and purpose. It meant kapar, or expiation—to cover for the sin of the people. It also signified kapar, or propitiation—to appease the wrath of God against sin. (The Greek equivalent of kapar is hilasmos, “propitiation” in 1 John 2:2; 4:10.) Expiation is to the offense of sin, while propitiation is to the One offended by it.

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Christ, the Paschal Lamb of God

(The following is the first of a sermon series on the approaching “Holy Week,” as we call it here in the Philippines. Take time to read new posts everyday and grow in knowing the true meaning of the cross of Christ.)

images28Paul wrote, “For Christ our paschal lamb has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7, RSV).  The word, “pashal” or “passover” is from the Greek, pascha (Hebrew, pesach), which means, “a passing over.” (ATSD) The Passover is the 1st of 3 great annual festivals of Israel, celebrated from the 14th to the 21st of the month of Nisan (March-April). The Passover applied only to the paschal supper and the feast of the unleavened bread. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary in Power Bible CD)

God commanded the feast to commemorate the passing over of the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. That fateful night, the angel of death killed all the firstborn humans and animals of Egypt (Ex. 12:12). But when he saw the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their houses, he passed over those houses, and spared them of death (Ex. 12:13).

Thus, God taught the Israelites the key message and meaning of the Gospel of salvation. It is only through the substitutionary sacrifice of the lamb that they can be saved. Only the blood of the lamb can cover them their sins.

The sacrificial lamb of the Passover is a type of Christ. It symbolizes Christ as the Paschal Lamb of God.  The blood of the Passover lamb is shed as an atoning sacrifice for sins in the Old Testament. Likewise, the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, was also shed as the final atoning sacrifice in the New Testament (See Matt. 26:28; Heb. 10:7-18).

Every Israelite priest of old (like every priest today) offered such sacrifices, which can never take away sins. However, Christ offered Himself once for all, for the forgiveness of sins (See Heb. 10:11-12). There is thus no need anymore for another sacrifice for sins (See Heb. 10:18). Every sinner today need only to look back at Calvary and trust the finished work of Christ at the cross.

In our next post, we will study the biblical meaning of the atonement.

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