Tim Parker

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lambs, Lambs and more Lambs

The new testament has brought very mixed blessings to the animal kingdom.

On the one hand, temple sacrifices are done and dusted... but as passages such as Acts 10: 13 point out, bacon and other porky delights are now officially back on the menu.

I bet Lambs are very glad we are now in New Testament times... Below is a very helpful comment from Philip Ryken (Exodus, 2005) on the development of lamb sacrifice in the bible as a picture of salvation by substitution.

At first God provided one lamb for one person. Thus Abraham offered a ram in place of his son Isaac. Next God provided one lamb for one household. This happened at the first Passover, when every family in the covenant community offered its own lamb to God. Then God provided one sacrifice for the whole nation. On the Day of Atonement, a single animal atoned for the sins of all Israel. Finally the day came when John the Baptist ‘saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29). God was planning this all along: one lamb to die for one world. By his grace he has provided a lamb — ‘the lamb that was slain from the creation of the world’ (Rev.13:8).

The painting is Caravaggio's 'Sacrifice of Isaac'. At the last moment, when Abraham is about to sacrifice his son, a ram is provided in Isaac's place. The impact of the sceen enhanced wonderfuly by Caravaggio's use of light, highlighting the powerful psychological drama as God's promise is delivered.


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