OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery (Part 2)

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery (Part 2)

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. Today we consider once again the amazing Lamb imagery in the Old Testament. This is all part of a series on major characters in the book of Revelation. Tom and Jason pick up today in Genesis 22. The podcast ends with a look at the amazing words David uses in Psalm 34, demonstrating how Old Testament authors knew the Passover Lamb wouldn’t be a Lamb at all.

Review: Genesis 22 – God Will Provide a Substitute on this Mountain

TK: Welcome to Gear Talk. I’m Tom. I’m with Jason, and today we’re doing the second part of our focus on the Lamb from Revelation. So, Jason, we talked about Revelation 4 and 5, that combination of chapters. And how John heard about a Lion, but when he looked, he saw a Lamb. And we’ve been talking about the Old Testament background to this Lamb imagery. So we got into Genesis 22 and that spot where it says, “On the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided” (Gen 22:14). So, any first thoughts before we dive in today.

JD: Well, our springboard off of last podcast is truly that hope. It’s a hope not only Abraham had, as Jesus said in John 8, Abraham saw my day, he rejoiced and was glad (John 8:56). It’s a hope that Moses, the author of Genesis had. As the narrator himself says, “As it is declared unto this day on the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided.” So Moses is looking ahead even as he’s at Mount Sinai, he is looking ahead. Even as he is instituting the entire range of Levitical sacrifices, he is looking ahead to a greater provision that will be made on the mountain of God. And the readers eyes then are pushed ahead to gain greater clarity through progressive revelation, as we have delivered to us in his word of the nature of that provision, and in the context it’s a substitutionary, sacrificial provision. That’s what God just supplied.

TK: I think it’s—that’s a real help saying that Moses is looking ahead as we think about the books of Moses. Moses is not thinking that Israel is going to keep this first covenant, the old, the Old Covenant.

JD: Not at all.

TK: So he’s not thinking—and I know you’re writing a commentary on Deuteronomy and Moses’s statements—but your statement not at all. He’s not thinking oh, this will work. What’s just happened at Mount Sinai.

JD: No, Moses is explicit when we get—I mean his three favorite terms for Israel in the book of Deuteronomy are that they are stubborn, unbelieving, and rebellious. Those are the three terms that he uses over and over in the book to characterize his people, and by the time we get to Deuteronomy 31, he’s explicit—Yahweh is explicit, first to Moses, “You’re about to die with your fathers, and then this people will rise and whore after foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them” (Deut 31:16–17). So Moses knows the Old Covenant will be broken. And that it is needed to be—it will be needed to be replaced by a New Covenant, which he unpacks for us in Deuteronomy 30. And it’s built upon the promise in Deuteronomy 18 that there will be a prophet like Moses who, just as Moses at Mount Sinai was called upon by the people to mediate the covenant, it says in Deuteronomy 18:15–20, so too, there will be a new prophet, a new covenant mediating prophet like Moses. But unlike with Moses, to this new prophet, the people will listen. The text is explicit in predicting that, and it’s that text, then, that is echoed at the baptism. “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). And then at the transfiguration. “This is my son. Listen to him” (Matt 175). And this is the one.

TK: This is the one, here he is.

JD: And we’re expecting from these earliest stages that on the mountain of God, a sacrificial, substitutionary provision will be made definitively, and what God does on Mount Moriah is only anticipating it.

TK: So do you have any—Jason, do you have any thoughts that—I know you have a ton—but any more in Genesis 22 related to the Lamb imagery that you’d like to get to before we move to our next text?

JD: All I would say is Isaac requests where is the lamb for the burnt offering. The burnt offering is a sin offering. And we are anticipating, therefore, a lamb to be a substitute payment for sins. Isaac recognizes the offense against God must be addressed, and so the context of this hope for provision is God’s wrath, his war against sin and God’s supplies a ram. But what was originally asked for is where is the lamb? That’s a general term. Then I would add in this same context we have explicit, direct prophecy of the Messiah. And it comes when the angel of God comes a second time to Abraham after he has shown his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. We’re told the angel came a second time, and it’s in this context that we have direct prophecy of the Messiah is coming: “I will surely bless you, and I will multiply your offspring” (Gen 22:17). In the previous chapter—why chapter 22 is so important is because, in the previous chapter God had made explicit in Genesis 21 “Through Isaac, your offspring will be reckoned.” Isaac is not the offspring, it is through Isaac that God will preserve the offspring of promise that reaches all the way back to Genesis 3:15, and that has been hoped for in the line of Abraham. Sarah’s barrenness had called into question the promise of the coming offspring who would overcome the curse with global blessing. And yet God has miraculously brought Isaac and through him the coming offspring will rise. And it says that offspring, when he arises, God will multiply as numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the seashore and your offspring—the same offspring who will multiply that is, who will become the church—that same offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth regard themselves blessed.

So if we had any question regarding what is the typology of Isaac as a sacrifice, the provision of the Lamb on the mountain of the Lord will be provided. Moses makes clear by including the direct prophecy of the coming offspring, a single, male descendant of Abraham who will multiply into a global people, and in doing so, as it says in Genesis 17, Abraham will move from the father, being the father of one nation to a father of a multitude of nations. And in that multiplication, the single offspring will extend turf as it says in Genesis 26:3–4. In contrast to the promised land, God will give him lands, plural, or, as it says in Romans, 4 to Abraham, God promised that the patriarch would inherit the world. It was already promised to Abraham, and that’s part of what we’re anticipating here, that in relation to a substitutionary provision, the offspring to whom Isaac’s own life points. The offspring that will be sacrificed by his greater father will multiply as numerous as the stars and through that multiplication, he will possess enemy gates and be the agent through whom all the nations of the world are blessed. There’s so much bound up in Genesis 22, and it’s in direct relationship to this promise of a coming Lamb.

Reading Backwards: Lot and the Exodus

TK: So from here I’m thinking we could obviously go actually a couple directions forward and backward. But we’ve been prepared that deliverance for God’s people comes from a lamb, and actually even earlier in Genesis we’ve seen types of—like God rescuing Lot—like a people, his people being rescued because when Lot is rescued it’s in connection—I’m looking at 19:3—the angels came and they made them a feast, baked unleavened bread they ate—this is all in connection with Lot’s exodus out of Sodom. So that story gets magnified in Israel’s exodus out of Egypt. Before we get to that story, though, just Jason, I think I grew up and my thinking was—I’m wondering if this was typical of you or for how many people—God saved the innocent people out of Egypt. Would you say that’s fairly typical people to think that way.

JD: I think so, yes, he condemned the wicked ones and saved his good, his wholesome, his pure people. We probably have a similar thought when we think of Noah’s flood. He condemned the world. But there were eight pure people. And so it strikes us when we get to Genesis chapter 8 and there’s only eight humans left on the planet, and what we read is God say, “I will never curse the ground again because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21). Well, who’s he talking about? He’s talking about Noah. He’s talking about Noah’s wife, their three sons and their three sons’ wives. That’s all that’s left on the planet. And it was exactly those words in Genesis 6:5 that God says the wickedness of man is great on the earth and every intention of the thoughts of his heart, are only evil continually. , God was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and he decides to send a global flood. I think we probably are equally surprised when we consider, now, the Passover Lamb and recognize well why was that Passover Lamb needed and what did that blood represent. And I think that’s where you’re going.

TK: Yeah, that that thought of the good guys were saved. But then you have this lamb standing there and you just said that a little bit ago about Isaac and the burnt offering—the burnt offering is for sin, so the Passover lamb in Egypt is because of sin. So, what is the story we’re supposed to take from the Passover Lamb connected with the exodus? And it’s part of why I brought up Lot, too, Is that Lot’s story has connections to the exodus story, I’ve already seen it once now. I’ve seen God save his people, but like Lot, I read the lot story and I think Lot you don’t seem very innocent to me. You seem a lot like the people there, just a little bit different worldview, maybe. But here we get the same thing. So, Jason, what are we supposed to take from the Passover story?

JD: Well, the language of pass over is specifically in relation to God’s judgment or as the text says, God’s death angel. So he has an angel of death that Yahweh sends to Egypt to execute his judgment on the gods of Egypt, and all who follow them. In that context, the only houses in all of the land of Egypt that God’s death angel passes over, are those that have been protected, because God’s wrath has already been addressed. That is, the houses that bear the mark of blood—the lamb’s blood, the Passover lamb’s blood on the doorpost. So, a lamb has operated as the substitute for an entire household. And that Passover Lamb is not securing eternal salvation for these Israelites. Indeed, this is the generation that will die in the wilderness, separated from God and unable to enjoy his lasting rest. But the Passover lamb does operate as a type or pointer for that eternal salvation. But what it supplies is an immediate salvation, and it also clarifies that those in the house needed a substitute. And that’s what the lamb—an unblemished lamb—supplies. God is going to count those in the houses as if they were unblemished and pass over them, whereas all in Egypt who do not have safety under the blood are not passed over but are actually executed. So, it is this sacrificial lamb’s death that serves as a substitute and protects those who are underneath the visual provision of that blood. The blood is put in the door posts. Everyone who has entered in is then secure from the angel of death. So we read, for example, in Exodus 12:3–7, “Tell the congregation … every man shall take a Lamb according to their father’s house, a lamb for a household. And if the household’s too small for a Lamb, then he and his nearest neighbors shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish a male a year old. Take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the month, when the whole assembly of the congregation shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the doorposts and the lentil of the houses in which they eat” (Exod 12:3–7). And then we read, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and strike all the first born of the land of Egypt, both man and beast; on all the gods of Egypt, I will execute judgment: I am Yahweh. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you or destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout all your generations, as a statute, you shall keep it as a feast” (Exod 12:12–14). So there is this lasting testimony—what’s happening in Egypt will be an everlasting testimony for the Jewish nation—until that Jewish nation comes to an end—it will be a lasting testimony of recollection that there was a lamb that operated as a substitute. That I was worthy of death under the judgment of God, and yet he made a way through the provision of the Lamb. The sacrificed Lamb for me to not receive his penalty, but to enjoy his merciful provision of life.

TK: There’s a interesting verse, chapter 12, verse 38. It makes the comment, a mixed multitude also went up with them, and I think something baked into that statement right there is that mixed multitudes somehow found themselves under the blood of the Lamb, because that’s the only way anybody made it out of Egypt—is being covered by the blood of the Lamb. So, this picture here is going to be moved forward in the story. In the scriptures there’s some descriptions of the lamb here that—it’s almost like one sentence is taken, but that sentence should remind you of a whole storyline. So Jason, give a couple of comments about the statement, “You will not break any of its bones,” because that was one of the commandments about the lamb. Don’t break its bones.

JD: That’s right. Verse 46 of chapter 12 of Exodus, “This Passover lamb shall be eaten in one house.” So it needed to be consumed all at once, and that’s why if your family was too small, you need to get your neighbor’s family to come in so that the entire lamb is consumed. “It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.” So this Passover lamb is characterized by the not breaking of any bones, and that becomes very significant because in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament, future predictions about the Messiah are either built upon or the declaration that in Christ it is fulfilled. Why at the cross, for example, in John 19:36 it recalls such statements, “Not one of Jesus’s bones were broken.” They broke the legs of the two thieves in order to ensure that they would die, but Jesus had already died in order to fulfill the statement and they did not break his legs “in order to fulfill the statement, not one of his bones would be broken.” And what that does is it shows us that typology here. We’re just talking about a Passover lamb that is not supposed to have broken legs, but the fulfillment that typology is indeed indirect prediction. It indeed is—built into the text is typology, and I think we’re supposed to connect the Passover lamb of Exodus 12 with even the prediction of Moses, the declaration of Abraham in Genesis 22 that on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided, namely a new Lamb and a burnt offering.

Reading Forwards: The Lamb in Psalm 34

TK: So these instructions are repeated in in Moses’s book, so Numbers 9:12. But I want to move from here, Jason, to Psalm 34. So this thought, though, that the Lamb is on the one hand consumed, on the other hand, it’s kept intact, don’t break its bones. We said that John took this and said the scripture fulfilled this passage, which was originally spoken about a lamb. He applied it to Jesus, and you call this typology, that idea of I’m taking the picture of the lamb and I’m blowing it up to that infinite level where it was a picture of the Lord Jesus. But it’s clear from Psalm 34 they were already making this connection between going from a lamb to a man who would give his life even in Old Testament times, Psalm 34.

JD: Yes, in Psalm 34—all the Psalter is interrelated, these psalms are not just independent, but are rather intentionally placed, and we come to Psalm 34 only after reading Psalm 2, where the anointed one of God is elevated as heir of the world and the nations are called to find refuge in him lest they experience his wrath. He is the only one in whom the nations can find help, and that’s a striking statement. It’s as if he is the blood that protects. Then we read all these suffering psalms, great lament psalms. We’ve already talked in a previous podcast about gospel cycles in book one and how there’s just the retelling of the suffering, anointed king, who then triumphs by God’s grace over great tribulation. And then what is birthed on the other side, is great testimony of God’s deliverance to a throng of people who are giving praises to God on behalf of the deliverance. They have benefited from what God has done for his king. And his story ultimately becomes their story. His deliverance becomes their deliverance. So, it’s retold from numerous angles throughout the Psalter. When we come to Psalm 34 and the psalmist says right off the bat, “I will bless the Lord at all times” (Ps 34:1), and he calls the audience, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me” (Ps 34:3). So what does he bless? It’s striking, he’s gonna bless the Lord at all times. That means on the mountain tops, but also in the valleys. Indeed, he says, “Let the humble hear and be glad…. I sought the Lord and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears” (Ps 34:2, 4). He was down and God raised him up, and now he’s calling those who are listening to join with him in praise to God—to taste and see that the Lord is good like he has tasted and seen that the Lord is good, to fear the Lord, seen in the way that they live interpersonally in their speech and their actions, in their forbearance with one another.

He’s calling them to join him and this just reminds me of the very way Psalm 1 is set up where you have the blessed man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked or stands in the way of the sinner, or sits in the seat of the scoffer, but his delight is in the law of the Lord. He’s like a new Adam, like a new Joshua who meditates on the law day and night, he’s leading a new conquest. And yet, unlike Adam, his life is fruitful, right? It’s bearing like new creation. And then the end of the Psalm is, blessed are the righteous ones the company of the righteous ones—plural—in contrast to the wicked ones who do not enjoy God’s presence. So there is a man, and then there is a community. And then Psalm 2 ends., whereas Psalm 1 opened, blessed is the man, Psalm 2 ends, blessed are those who find refuge in him, namely the anointed man, the anointed King, the son of God. Blessed is the man, and blessed are those who find refuge in him. And that interrelationship between the righteous ones, plural, and a righteous one, singular, seems to be at play right here in Psalm 34. So with that in mind, Tom, why don’t you pick it up for us and lead us through the final section, which really appears to be the basis: why should we praise God? Why should we join this individual? And it’s really captured in the final verse the Lord redeems the life of his servants, plural. None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. And since in Psalm 2 to take refuge in Yahweh necessitates that we first take refuge in his anointed son. So, the reason that we should join this anointed voice, whose blessing the Lord, join him in magnifying the Lord is because, somehow, in doing so we will not be condemned. But there’s more at stake in the way that these final verses are put together. So meditate on that just for a minute.

TK: I—even before we get there, just looking at this psalm, this is one of those psalms that, in Hebrew at least, each verse would be based on one of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet like we would say in English A-Z. And I—this Psalm is giving the, if you want to say it, the A to Z of those who desire to see good. Who desire to live long. So what is it? Well, it is this. Keep your eye on the Lord. But part of it is you need to find yourself in the king. So, we get to this spot and there is suffering in this song, the king saying watch my life. This is what happened to me. I was delivered. It gets to a spot here and it says in verse 17, “When the righteous cry for help, and that’s the Lord hears” (Ps 34:17).

JD: And that’s plural—when the righteous persons cry for help, the Lord hears.

TK: And the Lord delivers them out of all their trouble. The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. So, the one reading this is—this is not like a Psalm of rejoicing at this spot. You’re not feeling it, you’re feeling like I have nothing, like you would feel like a slave in Egypt. That’s that picture here. Then it says “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,” and that is not plural in the Hebrew. “But the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Ps 34:19). And then here’s this statement, “He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken” (Ps 34:20). Well, you just imagine David, and he’s reflecting on the king, the coming king, just like Moses was, but he uses language of the king, not like a king reigning on the throne, but he compares the king to a Passover lamb, right here. Takes the language from Exodus 12, takes the language from Numbers. 9:12, and he applies it to the king. So, if we’re wondering, how did John get there in John 19:36 and apply these verses—the verse about “He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken”—to Jesus, he was able to do this in part because David was already doing this in the Psalms. The Old Testament had already made clear that a Passover lamb by itself is not sufficient, we need a greater Passover Lamb, who will be a man. And that connection is being made in this Psalm right here. So, we’re able to preach the gospel fully from this Psalm here and call people, put your trust in the one that God saved. Now Paul’s going to do some different things with this. One of the things he’s going to do is say because you are in him, God will also deliver you. And so he quotes this in—let’s see it is in Romans, is it in Romans 8 I think. No, that’s Psalm 44. Where is—he doesn’t quote this one.

JD: Peter does.

TK: Peter does. But that thought of for us, just like our king, we are being kept intact, we will not be destroyed because we have found refuge in the king who, as a Passover Lamb, laid down his life for us. And we also ought to then lay down our lives for others. So the ending, like you said, it is—the ending is a call for people, first of all, watch the wicked. And if the way looks easy right now, don’t take that way because affliction will slay the wicked. Those who hate the righteous will be condemned. That picture of Egypt, that picture in Sodom, for when Lot was rescued out of it, the Lord redeems the life of his servants. And if you wanted to, I’d draw an arrow right there. How does he do it? He does it, in verse 20, through the offering of his perfect Passover Lamb. That’s how he redeems the life of his servants. None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. All of them will be part of this exodus then. So, this psalm is even presuming there’s an exodus God’s people are a part of. That’s what Peter is talking about. And he’s saying it’s hard, these are hard days, but the Lord will deliver his people.

JD: I think that’s so beautiful. The contrast between the righteous plural and the righteous singular. He really elevates—who is this righteous person? Many are a righteous person’s afflictions, but Yahweh rescues him from them all, protecting all his bones, not one of them was broken. It’s as if he’s—David, the author here—is envisioning he’s looking ahead to the ultimate one, in whom he finds his hope, and then he declares what Psalm 2 already declared: those who hate a righteous one will suffer for their guilt. They will be condemned. You stand against God’s anointed, the ultimate righteous one. You will be condemned. But if you are on his side, if you look to him as the agent through whom God will meet your deepest need, then you’ll be known as God’s servant. He will redeem your soul and none of those who find refuge in God in such a context will suffer for their guilt. None of them will be condemned. It’s a beautiful, beautiful, hopeful psalm.

TK: And I think as far as there’s a reason Peter is reflecting on this in 1 Peter—this whole psalm—because he’s calling people, remember this, remember where you’ve put your hope, live in this way. It’s hard right now, but you will be delivered. And those who hate the Lord will be destroyed. So, you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Hang on. That’s why he’s reflecting on that Psalm. Uh, Jason, I think that if this would be a good spot to conclude for today. We have in the Old Testament, we are going to a spot where Isaac is going to reflect further on this and we have talked about this in previous podcasts, but, I don’t know, what your thoughts are, if you’d like to go back to Isaiah 53 in our next one.

JD: We will figure that out. But even before jumping to Isaiah 53, by the time we’ve gotten to Psalm 34, we’ve already walked through Psalm 22, which Jesus himself, at the cross, quotes when he says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46). And we could take an entire podcast just to note how the Gospel writers, especially Matthew in Matthew 27, as Jesus is going to the cross—the very one whom John the Baptist would say, “Behold the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29)—as Jesus is walking to the cross, the Gospel writers, in order to define what he is doing, are reaching back into Psalm 22. So, when I come to Psalm 34 and I read about this righteous person’s afflictions—this righteous person, whom God rescues, protecting all of his bones—I feel compelled to be reading it in light of Psalm 22 where all these agents of death have surrounded the psalmist, they have pierced his hands and his feet. Yet he can count all of his bones. They stare and gloat over me. And then they divide his garments. They cast lots for his clothing. And yet, these dogs, these lions, these oxen that are all portraits of the enemy, they’re all beasts, standing against this one who is like a Lamb slain. God rescues him. And then he tells his testimony to the brothers, and we’re told right there in that context that all the ends of the earth would remember this event and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations shall worship before you because it proves kingship belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. Posterity shall serve this one who just experienced God’s deliverance. It shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation as they come and proclaim his righteousness, even to a people yet unborn (Ps 22:27–31). That’s what we’re talking about in the story of the Lamb, the very Lamb in Revelation 5, who is as one who was slain and yet worthy of all glory and honor and power and praise. This is the one we’re talking about. And as you already said, what we’re seeing done of Jesus in the New Testament was already done by David in the Old Testament. In the Psalms, he already elevated a person, portraying him as a Lamb. His bones would not be broken and he would be the means, the agent through whom God would save a multitude and a multitude from the nations.

TK: Yep. Sometimes people wonder like, what were the strange things the apostles did with the Psalms, or with other books that they quoted. And what you realize is they were doing nothing strange. They were using them as they were intended, but they were doing things the Old Testament authors were already doing. So, David already knew the Passover Lamb is a man, not just a man, he’s the king who will lay down his life for his people. Moses would have said I already saw that I spoke of that in Genesis 22, like we talked about. I knew the Passover was picturing a greater Passover when God would get all his people. And he speaks about that in Deuteronomy. All right, well thanks for listening. I pray that these things bring joy to your heart and like this Psalm—when we say like an A-Z Psalm kind of—that Psalm 34, that this is, if you want to describe, what the life of a believer looks like, here it is from A-Z. I pray that our life will rest in the Lamb who laid his life down for us.

JD: Amen.

TK: All right, we’ll talk to you next time.

JY: Thank you for listening to Gear Talk. For more information about Hands the Plow and the work we do, visit HandstothePlow.org. Also check the show notes for helpful resources from Hands to the Plow.