The Most Important Animal God Ever Created
This is the first of a two-part study by Mr. Mike Hamel of Cedaredge, Colorado.
What’s the most important animal God ever created? If you said, man, five minutes of shame upon your head. You’ve been listening to the evolutionists too long. This animal is mentioned scores of times in the Bible. It provided a chemical substance once necessary for man’s well being.
It’s the lamb!
The lamb is important because it illustrates and illuminates two vital truths: the reality of sin and the remedy of sin.
The lamb is seen in Scripture almost exclusively as an animal of sacrifice. We don’t travel far into Genesis until we come upon sacrificial blood. Indeed, there is a trail of blood leading all the way from creation to Calvary.
Let’s follow this trail, stopping at points of interest germane to our study. The first historical marker is found a very short distance from “The Beginning.”
God’s initial creation was “very good.” What happened then to make bloodshed necessary? Sin entered into the world. Sin began with Lucifer before Adam drew his first breath. This cherub, lifted up with pride, sought equality with the Almighty. And when God formed man from the dust Satan enticed man to join in his rebellion.
He deceived Eve, then through her reached for Adam, the federal head of a race that would one day number in the billions. Satan pushed hard, finding in Eve a fulcrum close enough to Adam’s heart to provide sufficient leverage. Adam fell, surrendering himself and his world to the devastating force of sin.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). When sin invaded the world it brought death to it. Death is always and only the result of sin. Adam’s sin broke fellowship with God. Things were no longer as He originally created them to be. Man and his world were now twisted and deformed yet still valuable in God’s sight.
The Lord had warned of the consequences of sin (Genesis 2:16, 17). “The wages of sin is death” was a universal and immutable maxim long before Paul penned the third chapter of Romans. Now God demonstrated how sin must be dealt with — by death!
God killed some animals and made garments for Adam and Eve (v. 21). He offered the first sacrifice. He provided the covering for man’s nakedness, something man became aware of only after the fall.
Hence God instituted the sacrificial system. He originated it, shedding the first blood on this planet in answer to sin. Death came because sin was now a reality. But death would also one day prove to be sin’s remedy.
Man must now use blood to cover his sin. The Hebrew word for “cover” is often translated “atonement.”
One can’t be too definite, but I think this first sacrifice was a lamb.
Adam taught the need for a covering to his sons Cain and Abel. We know this because Hebrews 11:4says Abel offered his sacrifice “by faith” and faith can only be based on the revealed Word of God. But although both sons no doubt received the same instructions they chose to come before the Lord in two entirely different ways.
Cain ignored sin.
He scoffed at the idea of sacrifice. He came without blood; therefore, all his gifts were unacceptable.
Abel, on the other hand, came with the blood of a lamb. Only blood! And he was accepted! Shouting to us from this story, soon to end in tragedy, is the moral, “sin cannot be ignored.” Dealing with it is the primary step back to God.
Every passing year sweeps this incident further into antiquity. But these men, being dead, still speak. They represent the only two possible approaches to God; the way of Cain and the way of Abel.
THE WAY OF CAIN is mentioned three times in the New Testament (Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11). From these passages we learn:
· This way is evil.
· This way is Satan inspired.
· This way leads to destruction!
Those who begin their journey by ignoring sin will never arrive in the presence of God.
THE WAY OF ABEL is the way of sacrifice. The way of death. It recognized that sin’s penalty must be paid as a prerequisite to fellowship with God. This penalty is payable in blood. Blood from an offering appointed and approved by God.
The path of blood leads next to Noah. As clean animals lambs were killed as part of Noah’s post-flood worship. Even though the waters of judgment had washed away the old, debauched world order the law of bloodletting was still in effect in the new. Blood again fell onto earth’s soil because the flood was not the final answer to sin.
God commanded Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, as a test of the patriarch’s faith and love. Then, at the last moment, He spared the condemned lad by furnishing an acceptable substitute. There was a bloody offering on Mount Moriah that day, but the blood belonged to a ram, not Isaac.
At the time of the Passover when the Angel of Death walked through Egypt the Jews put lamb’s blood on their houses. Where the Angel saw the blood he did not enter. They heeded God’s warning and averted judgment by means of the paschal lamb .
Lambs were offered twice daily on Jehovah’s altar in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. More lambs were offered on the sabbaths and on the feast days. Six of the seven major Jewish feasts were times of joyful celebration. And as incongruous as it seems, bloodshed was an integral part of all of them. There were no bloodless days in the Jewish calendar!
Leviticus 8; 1 Chronicles 7
Lamb’s blood was used in the consecration of the Tabernacle, the priesthood and later the Temple. Some of the holy furnishings in God’s house were splattered with blood soon after they were made. Aaron’s fine garments were stained with the red stuff immediately after he put them on. The courts of Solomon’s Temple ran red with the blood of 120,000 sheep and numerous other sacrifices on opening day. The observing Jews might well have asked, “Is this a sanctuary or a slaughter-house?”
Beyond question blood was a vital ingredient in the Old Testament economy. It stained almost everything that linked God to man and man to God.
Leviticus 12, 14
When a woman gave birth she became ceremonially unclean for a certain number of days. When her days were completed she approached God with a lamb for cleansing. The healed leper followed a similar procedure for his cleansing. He brought a lamb to the Tabernacle, the blood of which was used in the purification rites prerequisite to restored fellowship.
2 Chronicles 15; 29; 30; 35
Blood flowed profusely during the revivals under Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah and others. Those who had a heart for Jehovah sacrificed as an expression of obedient worship.
We’ve yet to reach the pinnacle of Old Testament revelation concerning the lamb. Before climbing let’s summarize what we’ve learned thus far … God offered the first sacrifice. He made the first move to cover man’s sin (Adam).
… Because of the universality of sin there is no approaching God without the blood of sacrifice (Cain and Abel).
… Men deserve death because of sin. But an acceptable substitute may die in the sinner’s place (Isaac).
… A sacrifice, when it expressed the personal faith of the offerer, delivered from the judgment of God (Passover).
… Sacrifices continued in the Tabernacle and Temple as daily reminders of the problem of sin (daily sacrifices).
… People and objects were set apart for God by means of sacrificial blood (consecration of Tabernacle and priesthood).
… Sacrificial blood was part of the cleansing process God ordered to make the unclean clean again (woman and leper).
The lamb served its intended purpose well. God’s people were continually faced with the concept of putting away sin through the sacrificial lamb. Although the Jews clearly understood this they failed completely to grasp the significance of what Jehovah told them through Isaiah the prophet. Indeed, even from our vantage point in the future, the lofty truth of Isaiah 53 boggles the mind. A supreme sacrifice that would do away with the guilt of sin once and forever was yet to come.
This would be no ordinary lamb. It would be God’s lamb, one He Himself would provide. Not an animal this time.
God’s ultimate sin-bearer would be A MAN!