To have a better understanding of the approaching significant holiday called ‘Easter’, or Passover, it is invaluable to review the roots of this doctrine and then follow it throughout the Bible.
‘Passover’ deals with the reality of sin, which can be succinctly defined as disobedience to God. The doctrine is first introduced in the Garden of Eden following Satan’s deception and man’s original sin. After God pronounced the curse He did a wonderful thing for Adam and Eve which becomes the central theme of the Bible.
“Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics (coats) of skin and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21
This profound verse reveals that God proactively provided coverings for Adam and Eve making them acceptable in His sight. Equally significant is the fact that the skin of an animal could only be provided after the animal was slain. The animal was sacrificed for Adam’s and Eve’s sake even though they were the ones worthy of death for their sin, not the animal.
Several thousand years later the Prophet Isaiah reaffirmed this great truth.
“…For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10
But let’s go back to Genesis. After Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden they had two sons, i.e. Cain and Abel.
“…Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time…Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock…and the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering…” Genesis 4:2-5
Abel sacrificed a living animal as a substitute for his sin, in fact the Bible states the animal was the ‘firstborn of his flock’. The significance of the ‘firstborn’ is explained in the Book of Exodus.
“Consecrate (set aside) to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.” Exodus 13:2
One of the most revealing verses in the Old Testament explains the significance of offering an animal sacrifice.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11
At the time Israel was to be redeemed from Egyptian slavery, God gave specific instructions relative to their freedom along with the remedy to escape the judgment of death to the firstborn of all the families in Egypt, men and beast.
“…Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb…without blemish, a male of the first year…Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.’” Exodus 12:1-7
God then explained the meaning of His instructions.
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt…and will strike all the firstborn…both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment…Now 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…” Exodus 12:12-13
And then the Prophet Isaiah revealed that Israel’s future Messiah would fulfill the role of the Passover Lamb approximately 700 years before its occurrence.
“…And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” Isaiah 53:6b-7
Thus the Old Testament ‘Lamb’ introduces several major doctrines to be fulfilled in the New Testament including atonement, redemption, substitution, firstborn, propitiation, imputation and the righteousness garment.
To be continued.