The Blood of the Lamb

by: Bill Bratt


The Bible has much to say about sacrifices. Sacrificing involves the slaughtering of an animal as an offering to God. A blood sacrifice is made to atone for sins of man against God.

One of the first examples of offering a sacrifice occurs in the first book of the Bible: "Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, {5} but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell" (Genesis 4:4-5).

Before the building of the Temple in Jerusalem sacrifices were offered by the heads of the families. With the building of the Temple God ordained Mosesí brother Aaron to be the High Priest and He established the Levitical Priesthood. The book of Leviticus gives the laws, regulations and customs for the Levites and priests in how to worship God under that system. The first five chapters of the book of Leviticus deals with five types of offerings and sacrifices: the burnt offering, grain offering, peace offering, sin offering and the trespass offering. This system of sacrificial offerings remained in place until the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.

In the kingdom age, after Christ returns to rule for a thousand years, "The Millennial Temple" will be built and animal sacrifices will be reinstituted. The prophet Ezekiel recorded the prophecy of "The Millennial Temple" in chapters 40-48. He tells of the animal sacrifices in Ezekiel 44:30 and 46:24. The prophet Zechariah also mentions this in Zechariah 14:21.

The Importance of Blood

Sin separates us from God: "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. {2} But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear" (Isa 59:1-2).

In order to be justified back to God, He requires a blood atonement which is His ordained remedy for the problem of sin. "'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'" (Lev 17:11).

This is reiterated in the New Testament that atonement for sin is not possible apart from the shedding of blood: "And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Heb 9:22).

The Biblical emphasis upon the blood of the sacrifice, and ultimately of Jesus Christ, is related to the giving of the life of an innocent victim to atone for the guilty.

The Institution of the Passover

We all have seen the movie "The Ten Commandments" with Charleton Heston and should be somewhat familiar with the story of the Passover and the Exodus.

Ancient Israel had been in Egypt for many years and God had sent Moses to deliver them. Before God delivered Israel from the slavery of Egypt, He would teach the Israelites and the Egyptians some very important lessons.

Letís pick up the Passover story in Exodus chapter 12: "Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, {2} "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. {3} "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. {4} 'And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb. {5} 'Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. {6} '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. {7} '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. {8} 'Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. {9} 'Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire; its head with its legs and its entrails. {10} 'You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. {11} 'And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover. {12} 'For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. {13} '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; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. {14} 'So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance" (Exodus 12:1-14).

Letís notice a few points: The lamb was to be without blemish, it was to be killed and itís blood was to be used like paint on their door lintel and the two door posts of their houses. The blood was a sign to the Lord to "pass over" them and not kill the Israelitesí first born. The firstborn of Israel were saved from death but the first born of the Egyptians died. Also notice that verse 14 says that the Passover is a memorial and a feast to the Lord and it is to be kept as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. This means that it is to be kept forever. Are you going to keep the Lordís Passover this year?

New Testament Significance

Most of the Old Testament sacrifices point forward to and are a type of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

This slain Passover lamb, without blemish, represented Jesus Christ. As the children of Israel had to come under the blood of the slain lamb, we also have to come under the blood of Jesus Christ for salvation. There are many places in the Bible that mention Jesus as a lamb. When John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching he said: "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29).

The apostle Peter said: "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, {19} but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet 1:18-19).

The night before Jesus was crucified, during His last supper, Christ made a change in the Passover ceremony. Knowing that He was going to fulfill the real meaning of the Passover, "He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." {20} Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:19-20).

The apostle John relates: Jesus "rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. {5} After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded" (John 13:4-5).

Continuing in verse 13: "You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. {14} "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:13-14).

We no longer kill a lamb at the Passover, but we take the bread and wine as a memorial to Christís death.

The Passover pictures the DEATH OF CHRIST for the remission of sins that we have committed in our past.

Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us!

The apostle Paul wrote to the gentile Corinthian Church from Ephesus around 56 A.D. regarding many problems ranging from divisions in the Church to sexual misbehavior then he weaves his comments into the keeping of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread: "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles; that a man has his father's wife! {2} And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. {3} For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. {4} In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, {5} deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. {6} Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? {7} Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. {8} Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor 5:1-8).

Did you notice the apostle Paulís special terminology relating to the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread? Notice that he calls "Christ, our Passover", and that He "was sacrificed for us". Jesus is our personal savior. Jesus was killed for us. He died for you and me. Just like the Passover lamb was killed and its blood was used to save the firstborn of ancient Israel, Christ was killed and His blood was shed for our remission of sin so that we could be saved.

"For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Mat 26:28).

Jesusí blood cleanses us from sin. "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

Jesusí blood justifies us: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. {9} Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. {10} For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom 5:8-10).

Jesus is Our Ultimate Sacrifice

Jesus is our Passover lamb and was sacrificed for us. Through Christís ultimate sacrifice we no longer have to kill a lamb for the remission of our personal sins.

"And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. {12} But this Man (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, {13} from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. {14} For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. {15} But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, {16} "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them," {17} then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." {18} Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin." (Heb 10:11-18).

In Conclusion: Even though Jesus is our ultimate sacrifice, the animal sacrifices will be re-instituted in the millennium after Jesus returns. These sacrifices are like a school teacher, they show an important principle that God requires blood for the atonement of sin.

Jesus is our Passover Lamb who willingly died and shed His blood as an offering of atonement for our sins.