The Lamb—and Genesis history—in Scripture
Published: 23 April 2015 (GMT+10)
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.
An important message: getting a good understanding of the big picture is very necessary to properly understand the Gospel. Two books that are excellent in clearly presenting the big picture of the Lamb and the Gospel are "The Lamb" (for children), and "By This Name" (for youth & adults), both by the same author, John R Cross. Both books are available from CMI: both books are true to the Bible as historical fact. In "By This Name", Cross writes "When we say that the LORD instructed Moses to write about the beginnings , we mean that quite literally. God had Moses record what happened on the very first day that the Earth existed." I keep copies on hand to loan or to give away.
Answering to Garry S. I would added that: if Abel offered a lamb and God accepted it; and if Cain's offer of fruits and vegies was not accepted, those offers should be understood as offerings for sin's forgiveness. Where did Able learn the procedure? Surely by his parent's experience. So, it seems to me that Adam and Eve had to sacrifice their lamb in order to get forgiven from their sin. And this eventually under God's - although painfully - personal teaching. Then God from the lambs' skin made the clothes for Adam and Eve; the white clothe of Jesus' righteousness according to Gen. 3:15. A remedy that Adam and Eve could never do by themselves.
Thank you Carl Wieland to remind us the main reason about Bible's reality: to tell us about the good new of sinner's redemption through the ingenious though wonderful substitutive Jesus' sacrifice. Its cleverly dynamics to safeguard both God's mercifulness - which DEMANDS the forgiveness of the sinner, and His righteousness which EXACTS his death (not as a punishment - in my view - but as a consequence of separation from God who is life). Imagine of somebody willing to start a large enterprise for a specific important role. Wouldn't he care that his employees and workers would know to the perfection what to do and how to do their work that the finished product may respond to its reason to be? How much more care would our Creator spend that we may know to the utmost the message He wants us to know for our salvation? Why God tells us through Amos (3:7) that "SURELY the Sovereign Lord does NOTHING without REVEALING his plan to his servants the prophets."? In Proverbs 22:20-21 it is written: "Have I not written excellent sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, teaching you true and reliable words, so that you can give SOUND ANSWERS to him who sent you?". Which reason would God harbour in telling us fantasies about our creation, rebellion and related salvation if they were not true? Deny the historicity of Genesis and the whole Bible is an absolute nonsense! It is just a diabolic scheme to deny Jesus our Creator and Saviour!
The Ten Commandments is the only part of the bible we are told that God directly wrote, by his Spiritual Hand on literal tablets of stone (Deuteronomy 9:10). If we cannot take the commandments as literal, then we can ignore the command “thou shalt not lie” and become liars and make God a liar! Since it’s the truth written directly by God we literally should not lie and reaffirm that God is not a liar.
The Ten Commandments also reveals creation happened in six literal days. The 7th day is a literal 24 hour day because the Jews were told to observe it. Also, Adam was made on the sixth day but all the days of his life were 930 years (Genesis 5:5). So Adam was created before the seventh day and lived 24 hour days which validates six literal days of creation and the 7th day of rest as 24 hours.
Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies and the genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3:23–38, establishes the literal Jesus going back to Adam. The overall picture is that Genesis history is literal and is truth and not a lie. Every Christian should be proclaiming the truth of this.
The Bible does not say that God killed an animal to make clothes for Adam and Eve! He could have created the skins as a separate act of creation.
Garry, while God certainly could have done so, Scripture does not say that He did. When Scripture does not specify a miracle, it is reasonable to assume natural means--in this instance, this would mean He killed animals for their skins to clothe Adam and Eve. This would also be a powerful lesson for them that sin can only be covered over by the shedding of blood.
You can follow the progression of the Tree of Life from the beginning in Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation too.
And the progression of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from the garden of Eden to the cross…