Tim Keller | July 2, 1995
The Passover story is about escaping slavery in Egypt, but it also shows us a wider kind of freedom. It tells us about Jesus being like a super Moses, who guides us to real freedom through the symbol of the Lamb. Exodus 12:1-13 lets us understand the story and importance of the Lamb.
1. The story of the lamb
Israel’s tale of suffering in Egypt and their rescue by God through terrible plagues is a rich story of justice and mercy. The last plague – killing all firstborn in Egypt – was God’s answer to Pharaoh’s harsh treatment of the Israelites. But God gave His people a way to be saved: painting their houses with lamb’s blood. This odd act helps us understand the lamb’s importance in God’s relationship with His people.
2. The history of the lamb
The lamb in the Bible is a powerful symbol, from Abraham almost sacrificing Isaac to saving firstborn sons in ancient Israel. The story deals with sin, salvation, God’s justice and mercy, making us question our expectations of comfort and how we react to hard times. It reminds us that salvation isn’t about race or good deeds, but about God’s grace and the sacrificial lamb.
3. Behold the Lamb of God
John the Baptist said Jesus is the Lamb of God, showing us that our salvation depends not on animal sacrifices, but on God’s ultimate sacrifice of His own Son. Jesus reinforced this during the Last Supper, where he represented his body and blood as the bread and wine. Like Abraham offering Isaac, God offering Jesus on the cross is a huge display of His love, leading to a powerful experience with Jesus and awareness of sin.
1. Beholding the Lamb of God means now and only now do we see how God can be both just and merciful
God’s commitment to justice is clear in His refusal to ignore sin, but His deep love for us is shown through the provision of a sacrificial Lamb. This seeming contradiction, the apparent clash of God’s justice and mercy, is seen in the journey up and down the mountain. But the solution to this conflict is found in the Lamb of God.
2. Only by beholding the Lamb of God will you become a lamb at heart,
Our hearts remain unsettled until we meet the Lamb of God, as this is the only way to understand a God who is both loving and angry. Without this meeting, people either try in vain to please an impossible God or reject His rules for personal freedom. But seeing the seriousness of sin through God’s huge sacrifice, and knowing salvation comes not from our efforts but from the Lamb’s blood, brings peace and purpose, much like the Israelites finding safety under the lamb’s blood and moving to the Promised Land.
3. Beholding the Lamb of God not only makes you a lamb at heart, but it makes you a lion at heart
Many question a judgmental God, but are inspired by the Israelites’ freedom in the Old Testament. This contradiction comes from not believing in moral absolutes. Recognizing the Lamb of God helps us understand God’s justice and mercy, giving us a reason to fight against unfairness and hope for righteousness. As G.K. Chesterton pointed out, without a moral principle, you can’t criticize anything, so only by acknowledging the Lamb of God can you find the drive and confidence to fight against injustice.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
February Book Offer