The Lamb—and Genesis history—in Scripture
Originally published in Creation Extra, March 2013
Many biblioskeptics have tried to portray the unfolding of the Bible’s message from Old to New Testament as representing the ‘evolution’ of Christianity. Random genetic mutations are supposed to have generated totally new information, structures and functions in alleged evolutionary history. Similarly, in this notion, totally new doctrines and ideas are said to have emerged. They were supposedly accepted or otherwise into this evolving faith—a bit like natural selection does with such hypothetical mutations—along with humanity’s alleged social and cultural evolution.
It is true that there is a progress of doctrine in the Bible. A better description might be a progressive revelation. The great preacher J. Sidlow Baxter1 explained it like a window blind being gradually raised. The light of the sun outside (analogous here to God’s truth, the glory of the Gospel) is unchanging—but through this stepwise revealing, ever more of this pre-existent light becomes apparent.
Baxter’s example of this progression, and its utter overall consistency through the ages during which men of God were inspired to write the Holy Scriptures (2 Peter 1:21), was the Bible doctrine of the Lamb. You may know that Christ was God’s Passover Lamb,2 but notice how it unfolds. Summarized in overview:
- Early Genesis: Adam’s Fall → the first animal slain because of sin—perhaps a sheep/lamb?3 In the account of Cain and Abel, we are introduced to the necessity of the lamb, and also that it has to be slain—without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin, says the Bible (Hebrews 9:22).
- The father-and-son drama of Abraham and Isaac clearly reflects the substitutionary nature of the ram (lamb)—and that “God Himself will provide the lamb” (Jesus is our substitute, taking on Himself God’s justified wrath at our sin).
- Exodus and Leviticus introduce the character of the slain Passover lamb—without blemish or spot. Its blood is placed on the lintel and doorposts, as in a cross. It protects the occupants from God’s wrath, just as the blood of the ultimate, eventual Lamb of God protects believers from the consequences of sin. If Jesus had not been sinless (without spot) He could not have been our substitute.
- In Isaiah 53, we read about the One who will be led like a lamb to the slaughter—He who will be pierced for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. For the first time we see that the lamb is a Man.
- In John’s Gospel, John the Baptist points to Jesus and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God”; now we know the lamb is a specific man: Jesus of Nazareth.
And in the last book, Revelation Chapters 5 and 6, we read about the resurrected Lamb, reigning over the universe unto the ages everlasting.
The big picture
Many believers are familiar with this and many other amazing patterns that tie together bits and pieces of the Bible into a unified whole, all telling the same story. Why raise it here? Because those who deny that early Genesis is history often tell us that the truth, or otherwise, of what this book says happened is unimportant. What counts, they say, is the theology therein. Now we have often responded, correctly, that the Bible itself bases its theology on that history and its validity.
However, to get the full impact of this, consider just the account of the Exodus, and its part in the above unfolding doctrine of the Lamb. The Bible carefully recounts things that it claims truly happened; there was a nation, Israel, the descendants of Jacob, in captivity in Egypt. If that never happened, if there was no captivity, then there also was no Angel of Death slaying the firstborn of those not covered by the blood of God’s lamb. Therefore the entire picture, the way it relates to and contributes to God’s revelation of the Gospel, falls apart. In short, destroy the historicity of the event, and you shatter the credibility of any theology which the Bible firmly links to it.
History provides our theology
If Moses did not strike the rock at Horeb historically, then Paul is wrong theologically when he indicates that the rock was a spiritual type of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). The fundamental doctrines of the Cross—God’s answer to the problems of sin and death—are tied to historical events in Exodus, as we have seen. And they are also—even more so—squarely rooted in the history recorded in Genesis (how sin and death entered the universe). This history is referred to many times in the NT—both directly and by allusion.
Satan’s hatred of the Gospel/Cross is well known. So, no wonder we see this huge and focused effort, including within the very walls of the church, to undermine the credibility of that Cross-related history, by whatever means. Whether ridicule, appealing to ‘science’, academic credibility, getting people to see it as an unimportant issue—whatever it takes.
With this in mind, please be encouraged that you are helping us press on with this vital proclamation that Genesis history is truth—the facts are consistent with it, and the Gospel’s credibility stands or falls with it. To those of you who support us in whatever way you are able (even a little bit greatly helps the work to go on)—a heartfelt thanks!
References and notes
- A long-ago Baxter message inspired this article. The Australian-born James Sidlow Baxter (1903–1999) was a famous preacher and author in the UK. Return to text.
- 1 Peter 1:18–20 says that our redemption is “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” Return to text.
- There probably had not been enough time for lambs to be born from the adult animals created to multiply. The first married couple, with no mutational defects or infertility problems, was told to multiply. The Fall occurred before Eve had conceived her first child, Cain, thus only weeks at most. See Timing of the Fall. Return to text.