The Seven Feasts of Israel – Passover (Part 1)

Andrew Giles at Blessington, Ireland

December 9, 2007

 

When was the Passover instituted? When was it inaugurated? I was asking myself that question; and of course, one starts with thinking about the children of Israel coming out of Egypt after their captivity for 400 years. We think of the killing of the lamb and the painting of the blood on the doorposts and the lintel and the angel of death passing over; that is where the word “Passover” comes from.

A little more thought and one would say there was a sacrifice before that, because Abraham took Isaac up to Mt. Moriah and God provided the ram that was caught by its horns in the thicket and that was what was slain.

Then you think a little more and you can go back further than that and say that the Passover was instituted in the garden, where Adam and Eve were; they broke the commandment of the Lord and at the end of that time in the garden, you see that God made coverings of animal skins so there clearly was a sacrifice there; an animal doesn’t give up its skin without there being a shedding of blood.

Having gone back from 1500 B.C. to 2000 B.C. to 4000 B.C., one still has to go back further than that. The earliest mention of Passover is found in the book of Revelation chapter 13. The context is not really significant to what I am saying so we will just read verse 8.

Revelation 13:8 ‘And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world .’

The significant thing about the death of Jesus was not the death of Jesus. There were probably people yesterday and will be today, who died horribly painful deaths after torture, and if you were to compare them with the death of Jesus, you would say they were as bad. It wasn’t actually the way in which He died.

In the history of Israel at the time of the rebellion against the Roman authority in the year 70 A.D., they said there were thousands of people who were crucified; crosses just lining the streets. It wasn’t particularly the torture, or the pain, or the method of sacrifice; it wasn’t unusual in that respect. In the context of human history, of course it was incredibly painful; it was incredibly horrible, but it’s not unusual; it’s not unique in any way in the context of the suffering itself. Despite the fact that Hollywood tried to paint it in a recent film as being particularly severe, it really wasn’t unique on account of that.

The thing that makes the death of Jesus unique is, firstly, the fact that it was the Lamb who died. The Lamb is not a title that Jesus took upon Himself, but it was one that God gave Him. He was the Lamb of God. In other words, the significance was not how He died, but who died.

The significance is also the affect of the death, because there’s been no other death of any man, at any time, that’s had the affect that Jesus’ death has had.

So it is not how , but who and what the consequences were.

As we consider the Passover, this is to do with Jesus. There was nobody else who could make a Passover happen as far as our lives are concerned. Nobody else could give us a Passover. Nobody else could cause us to be transferred out of death into life, other than Jesus Himself.

The “ who” of Passover is what makes Passover a Passover. It’s all about Him and His work. He took the blame; we are considered never having done the wrong for which He took the blame. We are not guilty; we do not even have the charge on our charge sheet anymore because He took it.

He took the wrath of God—the wrath of God was shown towards Him—and He took that and we get blessed. He takes the bad and we get the good. He was cut off and we get accepted. He was rejected and we get welcomed. He went into death and we come into life. He gets no mercy and we get mercy. He emptied Himself and we are filled.

All the opposites of what happened to Him, come to us because of what He did. He took all that we deserved; all that was rightly coming to us at the hand of God because of our rebellion and the rebellion of the human race. He takes all of that and we get everything that was His before the sacrifice. There’s an exchange of places. His life ends and our life begins.

No one else but Jesus could do that for us because no one else but Jesus was in a place where there was an effective exchange that could be done.

If Brother Alan had died for me, we would have swapped like for like because he doesn’t have anything that can benefit me; this means nothing against Alan! Or, if I had died for Alan, I couldn’t benefit him because we’d just be exchanging like for like. There would be no purpose in the exchange in terms of the benefit.

Because it was Jesus, and because He was innocent and perfect, because He was in a place of being God’s favorite son—His only beloved Son, because of that perfection that was on Him, He had something to give. He had a life to share; He had a relationship which He was in, which I wasn’t in and you weren’t in—the human race wasn’t in—which we could pick up, if He would take the position we were in. It was an exchange. It wasn’t an exchange that we could require. We had no bargaining chips; we had no ground to stand on; it was an exchange of mercy and grace. It was because of Jesus; it is the Lamb who has accomplished this for us.

The Passover is significant because of who died and it’s also significant because of the effect . If you think about the effect of Passover—the effect of salvation—it’s clearly talked about in this verse; this ‘Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world’. We know very well that Jesus was killed approximately 2,000 years ago. In the realm of time, He died historically 2,000 years ago, but the scriptures here say that He was ‘slain from the foundation’—that is the very, very beginning; the first moment there was any matter—the Lamb was considered by God to have been slain.

We have a situation here where Adam was made and created out of dust; he was fashioned and formed in the realm of the earth and in the realm of time. He was formed within space and time on this planet and at a particular moment. The death of the Lord Jesus Christ was in space and time as well, but it was also outside of space and time. There is a difference between the problem and the solution.

The cause of our problem was limited to a specific time and to the confines of a moment in history. The problem was created when Adam sinned in a moment in history, but the answer was one that God had already outside of history—outside of the planet and outside of time.

Why is it significant? Well, it’s significant because when God made Adam, He made him with a purpose and with a calling on his life that Adam had never entered into. He put inside the garden at the very beginning two trees and Adam never ate of one of them. God put more than two trees there, actually, but He put two which were given names; one was the Tree of Life and one was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

God said, “Look, Adam, there’s the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden.” By the time the woman was being tempted, she had already, in her muddled, confused and lustful thinking, put another tree in the middle of the garden and said that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was in the midst of the garden. That wasn’t how God made it.

God said, “Look, this is the center of your life. The Tree of Life is the central focus. This is where you really ought to be eating.” He didn’t give them any more instruction than by clearly saying, “This is the tree that’s the center.” There was an implied invitation to eat of the tree that God said was the most important but they did not ever eat of it. When they had taken of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God did an act of mercy to them and He said, “In case they take of the Tree of Life and live forever in the state that they are now in, I’m going to put them out of the garden and put a barrier between them and the Tree of Life,” because it would have been a terrible curse to live forever without remedy in the state that they were now in.

But, there was a calling on Adam’s life from the very beginning to eat of the Tree of Life and live forever! He hadn’t entered into that calling, but God always had in His heart that He would find from amongst mankind those who would live with Him forever! It was never God’s permanent, eternal plan to have people like us—mankind—living outside of relationship with Him. He wanted eternally for us to be joined to Him. He planted a Tree of Life that, if a man eats of it, he lives forever! He put it in the middle of the garden! It’s just that Adam thought there was some better agenda than God’s agenda, so he took the other fruit, which he thought would make him wise.

‘Professing himself to be wise, he became a fool’. God said—praise God that God said, “I don’t want him to live forever in that state, so He removed him from the Tree of Life and said, “There’s only one way back.”

If we’re going to become, once again, beings with a calling to eternity and with a hope that stretches outside the confines of the geography of the planet at the very biggest, or maybe the moon as well—there’s been a few guys who got that far, but the confines of our very, very limited experience—if we’re going to go outside of that and stop being earthy and start to be heavenly; if we’re going to go outside the confines of just human experience and start to relate to an eternal God, we need a sacrifice that stretches beyond just the area where the problem occurred. We need to be reinstated in a condition where we can reach into the eternal because we’ll never know God outside of the eternal. God is an eternal being. He’s going to live eternally. We need eternal life if we’re going to be the creatures that know and relate to God.

If Jesus had just come and in a moment in history had done something which took the penalty of our sin, but it was no more than an event in history that happened 2,000 years ago when He died as an innocent man to compensate for Adam sinning 6,000 years ago—then it wouldn’t give us what we need. We needed something that reopened heaven for us; that put back eternity as a possibility to us, so God ordained that the sacrifice of Jesus would be one that had an effect in the heavenly realm, as well as the earthly realm. A sacrifice that had an effect eternally as well as for time. The offering is so much greater than the sin. It stretches back into heavenly realms and it stretches forward into heavenly realms; it’s an eternal sacrifice.

Let’s look at some verses in Hebrews. I want to bring this out. I’m really just thinking about the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world here and we’re going to be moving forward little by little up to the Feast of Passover itself.

Hebrews 8:1 ‘Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;’

Our Savior—our High Priest—is in the heavens. It’s clear, there’s a dimension to Him and His high priestly work that isn’t just confined to the earth; the sin was committed in the earth—it was in a moment in history, but the High Priest is in the heavens.

Hebrews 8:2-5 ‘A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.’

When Moses was building his tabernacle, he received the plan because God took him up in the mountain and showed him something heavenly. Moses took that and made something natural—something material—out of it.

God said what Moses saw was actually the heavenly thing and he had to make a picture of it. He was commanded to be very, very careful about the picture he made, which we call Moses’ tabernacle. Everything in it pictures something invisible. In Moses’ tabernacle, we see that the very first piece of furniture we come to is the brazen altar; the altar where the animals were slain and the blood was shed, but the Moses tabernacle’s brazen altar is not the real brazen altar; it’s only the image of the brazen altar. It’s a small replica of a real thing.

The real thing is what Jesus did for us, but it’s clear from this passage, that what Jesus did for us didn’t have an effect on earth; it had an effect in the heavenlies. He died on earth in a moment in history. He died on a mountain outside of Jerusalem on an ordinary wooden cross; killed and nailed there after the accusations of men—he was nailed there by men, but actually, it was a heavenly thing; it was in a different dimension altogether, because the altar was actually erected in the heavenlies.

What happened on earth really happened; it really happened in earth and space and time, but actually it was outside of space and time in its effect, because its effect for us is outside of space and time. Our problem is within space and time, but God wants us to be lifted out of this dimension into His presence—into eternal life—to be able to live in another realm in another way than the way that any man outside of Christ has ever experienced.

Adam refused it; no man, until Christ, had an opportunity for it. Jesus came along and didn’t just compensate for what Adam did, but once again re-established the Tree of Life—planted it again—and God says again through Jesus, “If any man will eat My flesh and drink My blood, he will live forever.”

The Tree of Life is re-planted—the flesh and blood of Jesus that was sacrificed for us gives us the possibility of a totally new realm in the heavens.

2 Corinthians 5:1 ‘ For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.’

We couldn’t have a building, eternal in the heavens, if we hadn’t had a sacrifice, eternal in the heavens, to provide it for us. Our Lord Jesus in the real Passover that happened—not the type in Israel’s history but in the real sacrifice—He provided for us something that is beyond the mind to comprehend. It’s incredible in its dimension. He’s given us a salvation that is eternal in the heavens. God has got for us a body that goes with it.

Hebrews 9:11-12 ‘But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.’

It took an eternal life—One who was going to live forever—who came and gave eternal life so that we could have eternal redemption. The price that He paid, lasts eternally.

In the picture, in Revelation, of the Lamb that has been slain, you will remember that He still has the marks on Him. A Lamb ‘as it had been slain;’ this is eternal redemption that God has bought for us.

It’s ever so important that we, as Christians, have an eternal eye on things. I see how essential it is for someone who is dying, but I also see how essential it is for me! You say it’s easier to think to the next life when you are pushing 60 than when you are pushing 20. It takes no time at all—well, it takes 40 years to go from pushing 20 to pushing 60, but that’s no time at all! Sooner or later, we’re going to need to know that we have a redemption that is eternal in the heavens because there will come a moment for everyone of us where this life will stop. None of us knows when our life will end! We’re in that condition where it’s so good that we have a Savior who has purchased something for us that is eternal in the heavens—that’s an eternal redemption for us! The blood of bulls and goats, which are part of the Feast of Passover in type, could never have done that for us. Jesus has opened the door to an incredible new life!

Hebrews 9:13-14 ‘For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?’

As far as I know, this is the only time in the Bible where the Holy Spirit is called the “eternal Spirit”. He’s normally called the “Holy Spirit”; this is an unusual name for Him. Clearly, the writer is trying to get across to us that this is an eternal work that is being done; it was the eternal Spirit that did this. Our problem was that we were going to die! In fact, we had died and God didn’t just want to restore us into what Adam had, He wanted to restore us and go beyond and bring us into life eternal.

It took the eternal Spirit working through the Lord Jesus Christ. The eternal Spirit took an innocent man—an innocent man cannot see corruption—and took Him into death so that we could have the exchange that I was talking about earlier, and we could receive the eternal Spirit and live forever. It’s an incredible thing that Jesus has done for us. If the price that Jesus paid was only a price on earth and not a price in heaven, it would only have bought us forgiveness on earth, but not eternal life.

Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world—right outside of time. God doesn’t see the death of Jesus as being confined to the limited experience that we have or just to the limit of the problem of the situation that Adam got us into; it extends the hope into us, now having the tree of life there by faith for us to eat and so we can have the life in us which Adam refused.

Let’s turn to Genesis chapter 3. God is addressing the woman and Adam and the serpent following their eating of the forbidden fruit.

Genesis 3:20 ‘Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.’ (which is clearly the Church)

Genesis 3:21 ‘Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.’

Here we have what I was referring to, the first sacrifice of animals in consequence of sin. Let’s read on.

Genesis 3:22 ‘And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:’ (The thought isn’t written, but you know that God is saying, “We don’t want this to happen.”)

Genesis 3:23-24 ‘Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.’

That’s not to keep it (the way of the tree of life) clear, but to keep it clean. It doesn’t mean that you can’t walk on it; it just means you’re only going to walk on it under certain circumstances.

Here we have God sacrificing animals to give a covering to Adam and Eve because their own works were not going to do it. How do we know what actually happened with this covering? Clearly, it wasn’t sufficient to restore them and give them life in the garden of Eden. Although God killed the animals and covered them with the animal skins, yet He didn’t let them continue to live in the garden.

I’m saying that this sacrifice, which brings eternal redemption for us, which is such a wonderful sacrifice, opens up a new dimension for us in an heavenly and eternal aspect. But it’s clear here, too, that the moment of the sacrifice and the moment of the Passover for Israel and for you and for me, does not complete the work! Had it completed the work, when the skins were clothed on Adam and Eve, they would have been allowed to stay in the garden, but they weren’t allowed to stay in the garden; they were evicted from the garden despite the sacrifice.

What’s God saying? It’s clear, first of all, that the consequence of sin is separation from God. The “death” was the separation from God; He said, “In the day that you eat of it, ye shall surely die.” The death was the separation from God.

And yet, we read in the next chapter about a man called Abel. Abel was one who walked by faith; he had a hearing relationship with God. God instructed him how to bring a sacrifice. He obeyed and he brought the lamb as a sacrifice. Abel had a relationship with God!

At the end of this first millennial day, there was a man called Enoch. ‘Enoch walked with God and was not for God took him.’ He was resurrected! ‘From the beginning, God declares the end.’ In the first day, we have a wonderful picture—it ends with resurrection! A man like Enoch!

Here is a situation where Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, covered with skins, and yes, they died because that’s clearly separation from God, but there’s another picture that is working along with this; sacrifice does, in fact, enable a relationship! Although the thing wasn’t concluded and the choices were still left open to Adam and Eve as to how they walked, yet a relationship with God, because of the sacrifice, was clearly possible! Abel had it and Enoch had it!

Do you understand what I’m saying? The sacrifice rejoined them into the possibility—it gave them the possibility—of a hearing relationship with God and a walk with God. It opened the door to something that Adam, by his actions, lost. God immediately said, “But there is a sacrifice and if you live in the benefit of that sacrifice, I still will receive you.”

If they are going to go back into the eternal fullness of what the garden of Eden is and the life of the heavenlies forever—the eternal blessing that the garden of Eden speaks about—if they are going to go back into that, they are going to have to walk past the flaming sword! But they are not going to walk past the flaming sword apart—outside of—a hearing relationship with God! God put the sacrifice on them and said, “Now, because of the sacrifice—not because I can see you, but because I can see the blood that was shed—the covering of the blood, we can have a hearing relationship again and I will direct your steps.” Sure! Past the sword and past the fire! He doesn’t expect us to find our way back into the garden of Eden outside of a relationship with Him. In fact, it would be impossible to do!

He had killed the sacrifice for Adam and Eve when they sinned. How was it found as soon as they sinned? The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the earth! There was already a sacrifice that could cover them. If they were willing to pay the price and walk in the future in the will of God, instead of the way they had walked in their own will, He would take them through the sword—which is His word and obedience to His word—and the fire, which is the tests and trial of our faith and the suffering that we go through when we say, “No!” to our own lusts and we say instead, “Yes, Lord, I’ll go Your way!” If we go God’s way, we can get back in the garden again!

Let’s look at this scripture:

Isaiah 66:16 ‘For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many.’

These are the instruments God put at the entrance of the garden to be the instruments of our perfection. He was saying that there were going to be some things that He would have in His hand to deal with us to get us into the state of perfection—the fire and the sword— by the fire and the sword, God pleads with His people.

He’s inviting us back into the heavenlies, but He’s saying there is a price to pay. He’s also saying, “It’s worth it! It’s worth it! It’s going to hurt, but it’s worth it!” He says that there is no other way because you must be perfect to be there.

‘By the fire and the sword, the Lord pleads with all flesh.’ That is why the flaming sword is there.

The sacrifice of Jesus saves us from the consequences of Adam’s sin, as we can see here; there’s a covering put on us by the sacrifice of Jesus, but we still have to go through the process of our own personal obedience—to go past the flaming sword to get back into the garden.

Genesis chapter 22 is the story of Abraham offering Isaac. If I were to ask you from your knowledge of this story, “What are the significant things in this story that are to do with the sacrifice that God provided to deal with our problem—our sin? You would look through the story and say that it doesn’t say anything about justification; it doesn’t say anything about cleansing; it doesn’t say anything about healing or pardon; it doesn’t say anything about redemption or washing; none of that seems to be in the story.

Because the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world, God is now revealing to us, through the things that happened here, more aspects of the death of Jesus—the death of the Lamb. He’s shown us in Genesis chapter 3 that the effect of the Lamb is that we get a covering. That means we can continue in relationship with God but the effect is not to plant us back in the garden.

What would you say in this story, in Genesis chapter 22, are the additional aspects—the new revelation that God is giving us concerning the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world?

I think there are two significant things from this story. All those things, which I just mentioned, do not seem to be there: nothing about washing, nothing about redemption or justification.

•  The first thing we see here is the sacrifice involves the only son of the Father and that he is loved.
 
•  The second significance is the sacrifice is a substitution.
 

These are two independent truths, but both are important to the understanding of the ‘Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’.

 

Let’s just take one or two little points out of this scripture:

 

Genesis 22:1-8 ‘And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt (or prove) Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave (or split, divided) the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire (remember this is the garden imagery again—the fire) in his hand, and a knife (the flaming sword is still there) ; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.’

People make a big thing about “God will provide Himself a lamb”, but that’s just the English; really, it’s just saying God Himself will provide a lamb. Although it makes a nice thing to say that He is providing Himself as the Lamb, that’s not really what this is saying; it’s just that the English can read either way.

You know how the Lord stopped Abraham from killing his son and there was a substitution.

Genesis 22:13-14 ‘And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen (or the margin says, “it shall be provided”) .’

I read all that because I want to tie three references together in that passage. Mt. Moriah comes from a Hebrew word. The “ah” at the end is the name of God “Yah” and the part in front of it, “mori” means “seen” or “provided”. The word is normally translated “seen”, but it’s also translated to mean “provided”. It very obviously has to mean “provided” on this occasion because the word “seen” doesn’t work.

So Mount Moriah is the mountain where the sacrifice was offered. The mountain’s name means “provided by God”. The same word comes up in verse 8 when it says, “My son, God will provide …” “Mori” is in that word. It comes up again in verse 14: “in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen” and that doesn’t make an awful lot of sense. If you use the word “provided”, which is a perfectly legitimate translation of the word, it becomes “in the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Right there at that moment the Lord had provided the ram caught in the thicket which was a substitution for Isaac.

So we have three references there: the name of the place and the two references in the story to this Hebrew word “provide”. The mountain where this happened was Mt. Moriah, the place of God’s provision; “provided by God”.

2 Chronicles 3:1 ‘Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.’

David had purchased this land because that was the place where the plague stopped. I don’t want to go into those subsequent stories except to point out that this is the place where the temple was built. This is the very same place, Mt. Moriah.

The temple, of course, is the house of God and the house of God is us. This is a picture of us! The foundation of the church is the provision of God. It’s built on a mountain whose name means “God has provided”!

The reason we come together, the reason we have fellowship, the reason we are saved, the reason we are called out, the foundation of all these things is entirely the provision that God has made. This structure of the church, which is not a human structure—this organism—is only in place because of what Jesus did; otherwise, we would be a club and we might as well meet at the bar or the golf club to have fellowship in a different way. But we are having fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ because the foundation—the common ground—that brings us together is something that God has provided for us; the new life in the Lord Jesus Christ—the sacrifice that is described in this story. That is what joins us together! We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one hope of His calling, one Spirit; the common link is what God has done for us!

Willy and I met with people a week ago and they sat down to sing and they stood up to pray. When they prayed, everybody shouted out together. There were many other differences between them and us. The ladies had their heads covered and the ladies sat on one side and the men sat on the other side. It was different! But in another way, we knew perfectly well that we were amongst people who had been built on the same foundation! We weren’t going in there and trying to teach the truths of the Lord to people who were only interested in other matters. We were built on common ground! The church is built on one place only and that is on what God has done!

This is represented here by Mt. Moriah. It’s also built on a special sacrifice, we see in this story; it’s built on a sacrifice by the Father of His Son. God says twice in this chapter to Abraham, “Isaac, the son whom you love.” The reason that God brings this out is clearly Him saying to us, “The sacrifice of Jesus was not pain-free for Me. This really was at a cost!”

The giving of Jesus for our salvation cost the Father something. Although it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him and He put Him to grief, the Father’s heart was not gladdened when He had to turn His back on His only begotten Son whom He loved and bring darkness over the face of the earth and cut Him off and see Him be made sin for us. That did not bring any pleasure to the Father. In fact, I think it’s very, very clear that Jesus was greatly loved of His Father. Wouldn’t He be? In all things He had done, He pleased the Father. I think sons, for the most part, are loved anyway just because of the relationship; the “filio” relationship means that there is something special. But just imagine a son, if there could be such a one, who only ever did the things that pleased the Father! There could be such a one; Jesus was that one.

When somebody pulls somebody out of the pit, they bring them up to the place where they are. Jesus isn’t going to be the only one, when the matter is finished, who only does the things that please the Father, because there are going to be other people who are established in that same way.

Jesus was the One whom God loved. This was the sacrifice. God was saying through Abraham and Isaac that the sacrifice was actually not going to be an animal, it was going to be a son; His own son whom He loved.

At the end of the story, we see a new thing come in. We see Abraham actually takes his own son up there and is about to kill him and at the last minute, the angel of the Lord speaks to him and says, “Abraham! Abraham!” I don’t know how much urgency was in that cry because I think that knife was pretty soon coming down. Abraham said for the second time, “Here I am.” And the Lord said, “Lay not thy hand upon the lad.” Because there in the thicket—in the wood—the thicket is a coppice, it’s a place where there are trees—there was something amongst the trees there that had been caught by its horns, which I think means it was under authority. Amongst the lives of men, there was a provision that was made.

I mentioned in something that I was teaching awhile back that I think the ram represents the soul. It’s not a complete understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus to see Him as just offering His body; He gave His soul as a sacrifice for sin. The problem was not Adam’s body; the problem was his soul. It had to be a sacrifice of “like for like” for legal judicial reasons. ‘The soul that sinneth shall surely die.’ So there had to be a soul that was offered in its place and the ram represents the soul.

Later on in this series, I want to show how extensive and how far-reaching the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is. John says He didn’t die for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world. Although it’s clear that the sacrifice is available in such a wide extent—for the sins of the whole world—yet, it’s clear too that the benefit is only for those who come on Mt. Moriah; that’s where the sacrifice is. The sacrifice, in a way, doesn’t go to the people, the people have to go to the sacrifice.

Do you remember the story of when Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness? They had to go and look at it before they were healed of the snakebites. The brazen serpent wasn’t carried around tent to tent, they had to go out; therefore, it’s by faith. We have to move by faith into Him; it’s not automatic that the blessing of the sacrifice comes to us.

Here is a conundrum; human sacrifice is forbidden by God. God does not like human sacrifice; He is against it. Here is God commanding Abraham to commit a human sacrifice of his own son. God at times says, “You have given your children to Molech,” and He’s condemning His people because they have gone into human sacrifice. Why is this human sacrifice alright and other human sacrifice isn’t?

What was the purpose of Jesus’ death? Was it to take life or to give life? It was to give life. There’s no other human sacrifice that would have had the purpose of giving life . Every other human sacrifice is taking life ; it may be for example to appease a god who actually doesn’t exist. Jesus’ death is quite distinct from every other death because Jesus’ death was a life-giving death. No other death could be this way.

Romans 5:18-19 ‘Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; (That’s clearly Adam. Adam’s offence brought judgment on all men to condemnation.) even so by the righteousness of one (Jesus) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.’

We have a unique death in the Lord Jesus Christ; it accomplished something that no other death could do. It was a life-giving death! It brought justification described in verse 18 as ‘justification of life’!

It was unique! We’ve experienced it! We got a new life because Jesus died! Can you think of any other death that has ever accomplished that? This was a life- giving death; this wasn’t a life- taking death, it was a life- giving death!

This human sacrifice was unique. I’m still thinking of this human sacrifice. Let me ask you, when Jesus died, was He innocent or was He guilty? At the moment He died, He was guilty because He was guilty with our guilt. He had committed every sin that man ever did. He didn’t die for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world. So when He died on the cross, He didn’t die as an innocent man, He died as a guilty man.

Does God say that there are some sins that are punishable by death? Yes. If you read the law of Moses you will see there are sins that are punishable by death; adultery, murderer, being rude to your dad—I have to get that one in! (laughter) You can read it.

When Achan disobeyed and took the Babylonian treasure and hid it in his tent, the Israelites stoned him and his family; it was God’s judgment.

This wasn’t just human sacrifice, there was a penalty for sin that was on Jesus.

This story of Abraham offering Isaac is, of course, only a picture and God stopped it from being a total human sacrifice. In Abraham’s own heart and mind however, he did offer him up and received him back as a type of the resurrection; the book of Hebrews makes this very clear.

But, God did actually sacrifice His own Son who was human. The reason He did was actually the judgment—it was the penalty—being inflicted on Him that was ours! Although He was innocent in one way, He was also guilty in another. He was innocent of ever having committed any sin Himself; He was innocent in His own life, but He was guilty because of us.

We would never be able to face God as guilty because the wrath of God is against all men for the sins they have committed. But, because Jesus took the sin and became guilty, we then become innocent. This is what the word “justified” means; it works neatly in English anyway, “just as if I’d never sinned”. (This may not translate in other languages very well!)

The execution of the death penalty on a guilty man was not forbidden; that’s not a forbidden thing.

Human sacrifice normally involves somebody else; it doesn’t involve your own son. This is a very unusual human sacrifice as well. In this case, God gave His own Son. The Bible actually says more than that. It says that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.’ My life is in my son—in my children. Every parent has passed their life onto their children. That’s even stronger in the Hebrew view of things, where ‘Levi was in the loins of Abraham when he paid tithes to Melchisedec’. The life is passed on all the time. Here was God not only sacrificing His Son, but in a way sacrificing Himself! So God was not doing this in a way such as, “there’s somebody over there who doesn’t move Me and I’m not really emotionally involved with; let’s kill them”—this was God giving Himself! This is a very different form of human sacrifice, I expect, to the ones that heathen religions require.

This was God actually giving of His own life. He cannot have fellowship with another. The glory of the earthy and the glory of the heavenly are of two different sorts. So God couldn’t join us together with Himself unless He gave us His life! There had to be a joining of the same life—two of the same kind. So He gives Himself to us so that we can have His life!

How do we get His life? He has to give it! How does a person give their life? We know of the phrase, ‘He gave His life’; we know what it means. So God gave His life in the Lord Jesus Christ so that we could have His life—so that we could have relationship with Him—which was in His heart from the very beginning. The death of Jesus accomplished this.

The whole theme of the death of Jesus and what He did on the cross is just immense; it’s beyond our understanding what God did in restoring sinners and bringing them into fellowship with Himself. Not only restoring us, but opening up the eternity and the heavens and His life to us.

God wants His life in people so that He can have relationship with them. Every seed brings forth after its kind. As every gardener knows, you get what you plant. When Jesus died, He fell into the ground and died like a seed and what came forth was actually more of the same; not something different. Up until then, everything was different from Him. When Jesus came on the earth, there was nobody like Him. I’m not talking about facial features or miracle working and that sort of thing. In fact, sometime they came to Jesus and said, “They are doing miracles in Your name.” So there were other people who were doing miracles at that time. There are other people in the Bible who had done wonderful things, but there was nobody like Jesus in the respect of the life that He was living . He was living the life of God, not the human life. He put Himself and hid Himself inside God and what Jesus was able to say was, “He who has seen Me, has seen the Father.” He buried Himself in the earth and it brought forth after its kind—the same!

What you have in you and what I have in me, because of the work of Jesus, is not just an extra little religious compartment; we have the life of God inside of us! Scripture says,

I John 5:12 ‘He that hath the Son, has life…”

And that is not our life, that is His life. The life is in the Son! This is the eternal life of God and it was possible because He, like the picture of the seed, came into an earthy body and died. God said, “Now harvest time.” And this is the beginning of the harvest. The harvest isn’t harvested, yet, but it is growing; the plants are growing and I think we have first the blade and then the ear and God is just waiting for there to be enough sunshine—and fire—until He says, “It’s ripe,” and then He harvests it. What He harvests is many sons, not just one son, but many sons in glory.


   
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