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Isaiah’s Sacrificial Lamb Has Come!

In the previous segment https://answeringallah.com/jesus-our-passover-lives/ I showed that Jesus’ vicarious death is likened to the slaughter of the Passover lamb. Here I am going to demonstrate that Christ’s offering up his very own soul on the cross is likened to, in fact, consummates, the other sacrifices prescribed in the Hebrew Bible.

YHVH God granted the prophet Ezekiel a vision of a restored temple where the Passover feast would be observed along with all the sacrifices associated with atonement for various sins and infractions:

“Thus says the LORD God: In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary. And the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple and on the four corners of the ledge of the altar and on the gateposts of the inner court. So you shall do the seventh day of the month for everyone who errs and for him who is naive. So you shall make atonement for the temple. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days. Unleavened bread shall be eaten. On that day the prince shall prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bull as a sin offering. For seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the Lord, seven bulls and seven rams without blemish daily for the seven days, and a male of the goats daily as a sin offering. He shall prepare a grain offering of an ephah for a bull and an ephah for a ram and a hin of oil for an ephah. In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month, he shall do the like in the feast of the seven days, according to the sin offering, according to the burnt offering, and according to the grain offering, and according to the oil.” Ezekiel 45:18-25

The Scriptures testify that the earthly temple was a shadow of the heavenly tabernacle, and was even modeled after the heavenly prototype:

“Let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you—the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture—you shall make it just so… See that you make them according to their pattern which was shown to you on the mountain.” Exodus 25:7-8, 40

“You shall set up the tabernacle according to the plan which you have been shown on the mountain.” Exodus 26:30

“The poles shall be put into the rings, so that the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar when carrying it. You shall make it hollow with boards. Just as it was shown you on the mountain, so shall they make it.” Exodus 27:7-8

“Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, telling Moses to make it as He had commanded, according to the pattern that he had seen,” Acts 7:44

“For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests that offer gifts according to the law. They serve in a sanctuary that is an example and shadow of the heavenly one, as Moses was instructed by God when he was about to make the tabernacle, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’” Hebrews 8:4-5

And according to these same Scriptures, Christ entered into the heavenly sanctuary to present his vicarious death to the Father on behalf of the sins of those who would place their trust in him. The risen Lord also entered into God’s heavenly presence for the express purpose of providing purification for the heavenly temple, much like the priests would do for God’s earthly sanctuary:

“And according to the law almost everything must be cleansed with blood; without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. It was therefore necessary that the replicas of heavenly things be cleansed with these sacrifices, but that the heavenly things themselves be cleansed with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter holy places made with hands, which are patterned after the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Nor did He enter to offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.” Hebrews 9:22-25

What makes this passage rather interesting is that the inspired author expressly refers to Jesus’ death as “better sacrifices”, using the plural as opposed to the singular!

The reason is clear. Jesus’ vicarious death is the fulfillment and consummation of all the various offerings prescribed in the Hebrew Bible.

Compare, for instance, how the following texts describe Christ’s sacrifice,

“Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

“Therefore Jesus also, so that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that He bore.” Hebrews 13:12-13

With the burnt and sin offerings, which YHVH God required for the express purpose of making atonement and reconciliation:

“Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The LORD smelled a soothing aroma; and the LORD said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth, nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.’” Genesis 8:20-21

“Then you shall bring a bull before the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the bull. You shall kill the bull before the Lord by the door of the tent of meeting. You shall take of the blood of the bull, and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar. You shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, and the lobe that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar. But the flesh of the bull, its skin, and its dung, you shall burn with fire outside the camp. It is a sin offering.” Exodus 29:10-14

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, saying: When a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the Lord that should not be done, and he violates one of them, if the anointed priest sins, so as to bring guilt on the people, he shall bring for his sin that he has committed a bull without blemish to the Lord for a sin offering… Then he shall remove all the fat of the bull that is for the sin offering—the fat that covers the entrails—and all the fat that is on the entrails… all the rest of the bull, he shall bring outside the camp to a ritually clean place at the ash pile and burn it on wood with fire. It shall be burned on the ash heap.” Leviticus 4:1-3, 8, 12

“If the whole congregation of Israel commits an unintentional sin, and the matter is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they do any one of the things that by the commandments of the Lord should not be done, and they are found guilty, and the sin that they committed against the commandment becomes known, the congregation shall offer a bull for a sin offering, and they will bring it before the tent of meeting. The elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the Lord, and the bull will be slaughtered before the Lord. The anointed priest shall bring some of the bull’s blood to the tent of meeting… He shall do to this bull just as he did to the bull of the sin offering; this is what he will do to it. And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. He shall bring the bull outside the camp, and he shall burn it just as he burned the first bull. It is the sin offering of the congregation.” Leviticus 4:13-16, 20-21

“He brought the bull for the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull for the sin offering. He slaughtered it, and Moses took the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar around it with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the base of the altar, and sanctified it to make reconciliation on it. He took all the fat that was on the entrails, and the appendage above the liver, and the two kidneys with their fat, and Moses burned them on the altar. 17 But the bull, and its hide, its flesh, and its refuse he burned with fire outside the camp, as the LORD commanded Moses. Leviticus 8:14-17

“Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Go to the altar, and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people, and offer the sacrifice of the people, and make atonement for them, as the Lord commanded.’ Aaron therefore went to the altar and slaughtered the calf of the sin offering which was for himself. The sons of Aaron brought the blood to him, and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar. But the fat, the kidneys, and the appendage above the liver of the sin offering he burned on the altar, as the Lord commanded Moses. The flesh and the hide he burned with fire outside the camp.” Leviticus 9:7-11

And contrast this with what the high priest was ordered to do with the sin offerings, which God prescribed on the Day of Atonements (yom ha’kippurim), the one day where all of Israel’s transgressions and crimes were pardoned for that entire year:

“The bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. They shall burn in the fire their hides, their flesh, and their refuse.” Leviticus 16:27

The foregoing highlights the fact that Jesus’ sacrifice cannot be adequately described by one specific offering since the entire sacrificial system was designed to be perfectly fulfilled by Christ’s vicarious sufferings.

This brings me to my next point.

Not only do the Gospels present Christ’s death in relation to the Passover, but they also describe it in terms of the suffering Servant of Isaiah, the One who offers his soul as a guilt offering for the forgiveness of sins.

For instance, notice John the Baptist’s testimony of Christ:

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God (ho ‘Amnos tou Theou), who takes away the sin (ten hamartian) of the world. This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.” I did not know Him, but for this reason I came baptizing with water: so that He might be revealed to Israel.” Then John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “The One on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” I have seen and have borne witness that He is the Son of God.’ Again, the next day John was standing with two of his disciples. Looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God (ho ‘Amnos tou Theou)!’” John 1:29-36

Compare this with the following astonishing prophecy of Isaiah, as I quote the English translation of the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, what is typically called the Septuagint (LXX):

“Behold, my servant (ho Pais mou) shall understand, and be exalted, and glorified exceedingly. As many shall be amazed at thee, so shall thy face be without glory from men, and thy glory [shall not be honoured] by the sons of men. Thus shall many nations wonder at him; and kings shall keep their mouths shut: for they to whom no report was brought concerning him, shall see; and they who have not heard, shall consider. O Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? We brought a report as [of] a child before him; [he is] as a root in a thirsty land: he has no form nor comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty. But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; [he was] a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from [us]: he was dishonoured, and not esteemed. He bears our sins (tas hamartias), and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering [by God], and in affliction. But he was wounded on account of our sins (tas hamartias), and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; [and] by his bruises we were healed. All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins (tais hamartiais). And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and AS A LAMB (hos Amnos) before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In [his] humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death. And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practised no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth. The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If you can give AN OFFERING FOR SIN (hamartias), your soul shall see a long-lived seed: the Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to show him light, and to form [him] with understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear their sins (hamartias). Therefore he shall inherit many, and he shall divide the spoils of the mighty; because his soul was delivered to death: and he was numbered among the transgressorsand he bore the sins (tas hamartias) of many, and was delivered because of their iniquities (tas hamartias).” Isaiah 52:13-53:12 LXX

Pay close attention to the prophet’s depiction of the Servant as a lamb who offers his soul as a sin/guilt offering, as I cite that part again from the English rendering of both the Hebrew and Greek versions:

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth… “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; He has put him to grief. If he made himself as an offering for sin (asham), he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days, and the good pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:7, 10

“And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb (hos Amnos) before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth… The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If ye can give an offering for sin (hamartias), your soul shall see a long-lived seed:” LXX

Now contrast this one more time with the testimony of the Baptist:

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God (ho ‘Amnos tou Theou), who takes away the sin (ten hamartian) of the world’” John 1:29

It is inarguable that the Gospel is portraying Christ as the sacrificial Lamb foreseen by Isaiah, whose sufferings and death atones for the sins of the world.(1)

With the foregoing in mind, I cite all the places where the inspired NT writers either quote directly from or allude to the prophecy of Isaiah 52:13-53:12:

“When the evening came, they brought to Him many who were possessed with demons. And He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all who were sick, to fulfill what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.’” Matthew 8:16-17 – Cf. Isa. 53:4

“He said to them, ‘But now, let him who has a purse take it and also a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his garment and buy one. For I tell you, what is written must yet be accomplished in Me, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” Indeed, what is written concerning Me has a fulfillment.’” Luke 22:36-37 – Cf. Isa. 53:12

“Though He had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in Him. This fulfilled the word spoken by Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’” John 12:37-38 – Cf. Isa. 53:1

Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this which you now see and hear.” Acts 2:33 – Cf. Isaiah 52:13

“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus (ton Paida autou). You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go.” Acts 3:13 NIV – Cf. Isa. 52:13

God exalted this Man to His right hand to be a Ruler and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31 – Cf. Isa. 52:13

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Rise up and go toward the south on the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ This is desert. So he rose up and went. And there was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in command of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was returning, sitting in his chariot and reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go to this chariot and stay with it.’ Then Philip ran to him, and heard him read the book of Isaiah the prophet, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation justice was denied Him; who will speak of His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.’ The eunuch said to Philip, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet speak, of himself or of someone else?’ Then Philip spoke, beginning with the same Scripture, and preached Jesus to him. As they went on their way, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ He answered, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ And he commanded the chariot to halt. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.” Acts 8:26-38 – Cf. Isa. 53:7-8

“Let this mind be in you all, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. But He emptied Himself, taking upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in the form of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name,” Philippians 2:5-9 – Cf. Isa. 52:13; 53:12

“For then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the world was created, but now He has appeared once at the end of the ages to put away sin by sacrificing Himself. As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this comes the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to save those who eagerly wait for Him.” Hebrews 9:26-28 – Cf. Isa. 53:11-12

“For to this you were called, because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘He committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.’ When He was reviled, He did not revile back; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but He entrusted Himself to Him who judges righteously. He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. ‘By His wounds you were healed.’ For you were as sheep going astray, but now have been returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:21-25 – Cf. Isa. 53:4-7, 9, 11

Hence, much like Ezekiel envisioned the Passover being observed along with the other offerings, the NT depicts Christ’s death as the culmination of all the sacrifices prescribed in the Hebrew Bible, which he then presented to the Father in the heavenly sanctuary for the redemption and reconciliation of all those who would place their trust in the risen Lord.

Further Reading

 Making Atonement For Unintentional Sins? (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/21/making-atonement-for-unintentional-sins/)

Can the death of a human being make atonement for sins (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/18/can-the-death-of-a-human-being-make-atonement-for-sins/)

Endnotes

 (1) The Baptist’s proclamation further connects Jesus with the lamb that Abraham envisioned would be provided as he was about to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering to YHVH God:

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!’ And he said, “Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.’… Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from a distance… But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Then he said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’ So the two of them went together… Then Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up as a burnt offering in the place of his son Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.’” Genesis 22:1-2, 4, 7-8, 13-14

Compare, once again, the Baptist’s testimony of Christ:

“Again, the next day John was standing with two of his disciples. Looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’” John 1:35-36

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