OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery – Part 3

OT Background to Revelation’s Lamb Imagery – Part 3

by Jason DeRouchie, Tom Kelby, and Jack Yaeger


JY: Welcome to Gear Talk, a podcast on biblical theology. Today we are considering, for the third episode, the Old Testament background of the Lamb imagery John uses in Revelation. Last episode, Jason and Tom ended with David’s incredible words in Psalm 34. Today we start with the consideration of why John chose to speak about Jesus as he did in Revelation. We then work backward, considering John the Baptist’s words about Jesus as the Lamb of God and Old Testament prophecies from Isaiah and Zechariah.

The Lamb in Revelation: The Radiance of the Father

TK: Welcome to Gear Talk. Today we are going to be talking and finishing, for at least this time period, our discussion of the Lamb described in Revelation 5. Jason is with me. Hey, Jason.

JD: Hey, good to be back.

TK: So Jason, we’ve been talking about Jesus described as the Lamb and I would encourage you to, if you’re listening, to go back and listen to the previous two podcast—three podcasts, actually. We’ve been talking about characters in Revelation. Jesus is introduced as a Lion in Revelation 5. In fact, he’s described as that, but when John looks, he sees a Lamb and we made note of that. But Jason, I wanted to ask you something about what John is doing here because, in Revelation, John chooses to use the title, Jesus or the name Jesus less than he uses the title, Lamb. So, what do you think John is up to? And there’s specific numbers too. So, the name Jesus after Revelation 5 appears just nine times, but Lamb appears twenty-eight times in reference to Christ. So what is John wanting us to think?

JD: Yeah. Within the book we have Jesus’s name occurring fourteen times, so it’s half of the instances that we have the name Lamb. There’s a clear identification. From the beginning, all that this book is about is a is the revelation of Jesus Christ. And so this is bearing testimony of the Christ. John is on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. He’s been proclaiming the greatness of the resurrected Christ, whose resurrection did not stop with him being on the earth again, it extended all the way to his being elevated to the right hand of the Father. The testimony of Jesus is indeed what drives this book, the faithful and true, who are following Christ are holding fast to the testimony of Jesus. That’s Revelation 12. They are keeping the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14 and then at the end of the book, it’s a call to celebrate Jesus, as the one who is over all things. And Jesus ends the book saying I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you. And then John’s prayer, come Lord Jesus, the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. There’s no question he has Jesus in focus. He’s aligning with the Father’s passion and redemptive history to magnify his Son.

And yet, the dominant image of who Jesus is in this book is a lamb, but it’s not a prediction that he will suffer. Rather, it’s all built on the fact that he has suffered and has brought great fruit from that suffering. It’s birthed a new creation. It’s birthed a people who are now standing strong and true to this Lamb. They have conquered the Dragon “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimonies, because they love the not their lives, even unto death.” Revelation 12:11. So this blood of the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain, has ransomed some for God from every tribe and language and people and nation—Revelation 5:9. This work of the Lamb is the foundation for all victory, all hope, all courage in the book of Revelation. So it’s not just Jesus the man, it’s Jesus, the Lamb that was slain. And what that means—because the one who was slain rose and has victory and I think that John is wanting his readers—you and me—to gain the same fuel that Christ himself had in his own suffering. We’re identifying with the Lamb in his journey unto triumph. But for us it’s also through suffering. So that’s probably another one of the reasons why the lamb imagery is so dominant—to remember that if the head had to journey through his suffering, the body will too need to journey through suffering. He is the one who went before us. And yet his victory has overshadowed and colored all that we are. It’s given us hope and grounding, and because of what Jesus did, we have courage because as he has definitively won the battle for us. He has overcome this Dragon and his beast and the false prophet. As we dwell today in Babylon, outside of the City of God, carrying our own crosses as we endure the false teaching and the persecution of the Antichrist and all of his outworkings in our age. We have hope because of what the Lamb has secured, he has ransomed, we have conquered and it’s all through the blood of the sacrifice. So, it’s the dominant image, I think, not simply saying Jesus, whose name means Yahweh saves, raising up the metaphor of the lamb elevates how he saves. He saved through suffering, and we now follow that lamb, carrying our own cross unto our own crown.

TK: That’s really good. I think when we read well anything, but certainly this book here—Revelation—and he’s using an image, it’s really easy to almost flatten the text out. So, to pick a different one in Revelation 4:2 it says, “At once I was in the spirit, behold a throne stood in heaven and one seated on the throne. And he who sat there…” and he’s going to go on. Maybe in my preaching, in my reading, in talking to someone very quickly saying, well, that’s God the Father. Versus meditating on why did John choose to not name God the Father right there instead, start with a throne. There was a throne, and so a throne stood in heaven and one seated on the throne. I think for us to resist that flattening of a text to just say, well, that’s God the Father and let’s move on, almost as if John was just for creative purposes alone substituting something, versus: No, he’s saying something by doing this. What does it say that there’s a throne? What does it say that one is seated on that throne, and that throne is in heaven. It should say something to the people who are on earth who are suffering. It should encourage us in ways that maybe just a name wouldn’t encourage us because we wouldn’t be thinking down the same roads. Any thoughts about that, Jason?

JD: Well, what came to my mind was the initial verses of the book of Hebrews where Christ is called the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of God’s nature—being that very literally, it’s being the radiance of the glory of God and being the exact imprint of his nature. He sat down at the right hand of God, so the main verb is, he sat down being the exact imprint of God’s nature. And lest we think he’s just like the wax that would somehow capture that seal, but it’s not the seal, it’s just a picture of the seal. That’s not what he means in saying he’s the exact imprint of his nature because he’s described as the very radiance of the glory of God, meaning that this is the glory emanating. This is the glory. It’s not just a picture of the glory. It’s not a reflection like we would see in a mirror or like in the way that a picture would represent the reality. That’s not what Jesus is, he’s the very radiance of the glory. And the way that God is described in Revelation 4 is very similar to how Jesus himself is described in Revelation 1, and we’re supposed to see this connection and, as the Lamb steps forward, he is nothing less than the radiance of the Father’s glory. He is God. He is three. He’s a new person in the Godhead, but he is, in his very essence God, not just a picture of God, not just a reflection of God, he is the very radiance of God.

And so as John is describing this one, of whom they will say, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God almighty, he’s—this description is of one who is seated on the throne having—you’re right, the ambiguity is calling us to recognize there is the Father and there is the Son, and there is the Spirit. And this book is—while it can describe all three as it does for example, in Revelation 14 where the true Trinity stands against the false trinity of the Dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, the description in Revelation 4 is of a nature that it makes us think. It’s like it leaves the ambiguity: Who are we seeing here? Is it Jesus? Is it the Father? And the sense you get is yes. And John wouldn’t have us separate the two because, as the writer of Hebrews has said, Jesus is the very radiance of the Father’s glory, not something distinct from it. But the way that we encounter it, the way we encounter God is through Christ. The very light that we see, the very warmth that we feel is indeed the sun’s rays emanating. It’s not something different from the sun. It is caused by the sun generated by the sun. And if the sun goes below the horizon. We no longer experience it. It’s one in the same with the sun. And indeed everything we see in reality is dependent on that radiance. And so there is, even in John’s description in Revelation 4, an elevation of the very nature of the Christ alongside the Father. I agree.

The Lamb in the Gospel of John and Leviticus: Providing Access to God

TK: Jason, let’s start in, John. I want to go back to the Old Testament—I know we both do—to talk about some passages there that speak of the Lamb of God. But let’s work backwards. So, John the Baptist introduces Jesus as the Lamb of God. Why did he do that and not introduce him in a different way? What was he saying to the people?

JD: Well, it is striking that when we come to John 1:29. The next day, he sees Jesus coming toward him and John the Baptizer doesn’t say, look, my cousin. But those who are around him hear, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

TK: He doesn’t even say the king. That’s not his starting point. Look, the king.

JD: Right. He identifies this one as one coming from God as a lamb who takes away the sins of the world. This takes us back to Matthew chapter one, where the angel says to Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save (the world) from their sins” (Matt 1:21). That’s the framework when John is able—this very John who was filled with the Spirit even before he was born. When he got close to his cousin, when Mary still had Jesus in the womb and John was in the womb, as Mary drew close, it says John leapt because he, even as an infant in the womb, he recognized the one that he was getting close to. And here he identifies him and it is such a striking statement. John’s—Jesus’s disciples wanted him to be the conquering king, and yet John was able to recognize from the start, “Behold the lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” Before the lamb reigns, he must suffer. The triumph will come through significant tribulation, and it’s as if John, here at the start of Jesus’s ministry, is testifying to what the next years will be for his cousin, who is our savior. Who is John’s savior. It will be the path of a lamb led to slaughter.

TK: I’m thinking of the man Simeon who met Jesus it, you know, Jesus’s mother and father in the temple. And when he said when he said to Mary that a sword will pierce your own soul and he said this one is destined to cause the rising and falling of many in Israel (Luke 2:35), people who knew their scriptures, which would have been the Old Testament at that time—if somebody said look, the Lamb of God, they would have been able to put a lot of pieces together wouldn’t they. They’d have said, if he’s, if he’s taking the sin of the world away and he’s the Lamb of God, then this one is going to be sacrificed.

JD: It’s so important—we’ve talked about the Passover in our previous episodes, but there’s so much more at stake. The Passover was a one time a year event. And yet, in Exodus 29, we learned that every morning and every evening there was a burnt offering of lambs at the Tabernacle and that got transferred into the temple in Jesus’s Day. In John’s day, every morning and every evening lambs were being sacrificed as a testimony to the seriousness of sin, to God’s war of judgment against sinners, and that he made a way only through substitution for provision to be made. In Leviticus 9 and for that matter, Leviticus 3 and 4 and 5, it’s lambs that are central to the very personal and corporate sacrifices that Israel made to approach Yahweh’s presence without being incinerated. I think of specifically in Leviticus 9, because it is the initiatory sacrifice at the tabernacle that is the very first time sacrifices were ever made, and because of that it sets a pattern, giving clarity for what all the rest of the sacrifices that would be offered at the tabernacle at the temple would be about. And right here in Leviticus 9, this is what we read, “I want you to take a male goat”—that’s a lamb—“for a sin offering and a calf and a lamb both a year old without blemish for a burnt offering. An ox and a ram for peace offerings”—and then here’s what it says, “to sacrifice before the Lord, and a grain offering mixed with oil for”—here’s the reason—“for today, the Lord will appear to you” (Lev 9:3–4). So, God says I’m giving you the sacrifices because I’m going to appear to you. That’s the reason I want you to encounter my glory. That’s explicit and just two verses later, “This is the thing that the Lord commanded you to do, that the glory of Yahweh may appear to you” (Lev 9:6). That’s what’s on the other side of putting our faith in God’s provision of the substitute. You trust his provision of the substitute and you get to encounter the glory of God, but not in a way that destroys us like it does the lamb itself, but rather in a way that awakens holiness that helps us see the beauty of God and the greatness of God in a way that changes our souls.

TK: That’s beautiful.

JD: That the whole principle of substitution is foundational for all of Israel’s existence, and what John the Baptist, in that single statement, “Behold the lamb who takes away the sins of the world,” he is putting all the focus of Israel’s corporate worship. They cannot encounter the presence of God at the temple apart from sacrifice. Indeed, if you think about the very structure of the temple, Yahweh is seated on his throne—that’s the Ark of the Covenant, that’s the footstool that links heaven and earth. And it’s in the Holy of Holies. The temple is east-oriented but unlike ancient temples of—that we read about and that we have found numerous examples of in the ancient world, Israel’s temple had curtains. In the ancient world, the god’s idol, his image, the statue, would be in the holy of holies, and the gods were known to sleep at night. You can’t see them, but when the light of the sun would rise over the east—every temple is pointed eastward—the sun’s light would shine and pierce through all the courtyards into the sacred place, into the very holy of holies itself. The light would hit that idol and it would come alive. But in Israel’s temple there were curtains at every stage. There were guardians, so that the light of the sun couldn’t pierce into the Holy of Holies, and that everyone would know that the light that was emanating was the true light, the true glory. God is seated on the throne. People enter into the temple from the east to enjoy the presence of God, but the only way to get to the Holy of Holies is through the altar of burnt offering. It’s at the very center of the main courtyard. At the center of the back half of the temple is the Ark of the Covenant, so God is seated at the center of one half and the altar of burnt offering, ever reminding Israel of their sin, is at the center of the other half, and the only way to approach God is through sacrifice. That is, through these lambs, morning and evening, morning and evening.

So, there’s the Passover lamb, but then there’s the daily lambs, and then the specific lambs that were for sin offering, for guilt offering. This was the provision in order that Israel might encounter glory and live. But in—that was Leviticus 9—it’s only Leviticus 10 that Nadab and Abihu, two sons of Aaron the high priest, offer unauthorized fire before the Lord, and the result is that the glory of God, the very fire of God, came out and incinerated them. So the text says, When the people offered their sacrifices they supplied, their lambs, the fire of God came out, “The fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” (Lev 9:24) But just two verses later it says, “And the fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them (Nadab and Abihu) and they died before the Lord” (Lev 10:2).

TK: It’s actually—oh finish your thought here. I was just going to connect this to—this is the story being told in Revelation, just a micro version of it.

JD: I’ll let you follow up on that right after I finish this thought. It’s the same fire. It’s the same glory, and either it awakens praise in those who have put their faith in the substitute, or it incinerates those who come to God taking him lightly, taking their own sinfulness lightly, like Nadab and Abihu who did, and the summary statement is this, “Among those who are near me, I will be shown holy. And before all people, I will be glorified” (Lev 10:3). So, before sinner and saved, God will be glorified. But it’s only among those who approach God, who draw near to God, “Those who are near me,” those who draw near to him through the provision of the substitute in whom God will be displayed as holy. The lamb is central to our holiness, being saved from the penalty of sin. We call it justification, being saved from the power of sin, we call that sanctification and being saved from the presence of sin in the future, we call that glorification. That is the hope, and all of it is driven by the provision of the lamb. So, calling Jesus the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, and using this as the dominant image in Revelation is massively significant. Everyone—there is not a person in Israel, in John the Baptizer’s day that would not have connected, wow, this is that person that Psalm 34 was anticipating that Psalm 22 foresaw. And as we’re going to see that Isaiah 53 displayed.

TK: So my thought was—this thought of you have a people who, because of sacrifice, are able to encounter God and they shout and fall on their faces and we see that picture of a global people in every tribe, nation, tongue in Revelation, because of the sacrifice, right, sacrifice, ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb doing that. But we also see a people who are resisting God and that their end is the same destruction as we’re seeing in Leviticus chapter 10.

JD: And it’s a destruction by fire.

TK: Right.

JD: It’s—they become the sacrifice. God, the only way for atonement to happen, for God to make restore right order, is either through killing the sinner or killing the substitute, and Jesus comes as the perfect substitute. For all who will believe in him, for all who will surrender to him there can be life and hope and help and courage and comfort. But for those who fail to surrender. It is a tragic story, for they will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where there will be torment, day and night, forever and ever. “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire, sulfur, which is the second death.” And that’s exactly where the devil, along with the beast and the false prophet were thrown and where they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20, verse 10, Revelation 21, verse 8.

The Lamb in Isaiah 53: The Suffering Servant Slain as a Lamb

TK: That thought, John saying, and you, you already mentioned it, but look, “The lamb of God,” people obviously have in their mind in that day a real lamb, real lambs, because that’s part of the culture and it’s part of the story they’ve known. But we said it in previous weeks and you just said it again—and John’s not the first one to make this jump from an animal lamb to a man. The authors in the Old Testament were already doing this. So, you mentioned Psalm 34, that saying that the Passover lamb actually is going to be a man. You mentioned Psalm 22. We talked about Genesis. But Jason talk a little bit about Isaiah 53 and what it tells us about the lamb.

JD: Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is the final capstone servant song we’ve meditated on that whole song in a previous podcast. Here, we’re wanting to specifically see the imagery associated with slaughter, with lamb. It opens by saying “My servant.” The very servant who, “will be high and lifted up, he will be exalted” like a lion-King. He will be exalted, it says, “Just as many, oh Israel, were astonished at you.” Why were the nations astonished at Israel? Because they experienced the curse, the curse of God came upon them. They were exiled, separated from the presence of God as Psalm 22 says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 22:1). That’s what the Israelites as a corporate nation were declaring as the Babylonians served as their agent of slaughter. They came in—the Babylonians came in and judged Israel. So it will be of this man who, under the instrumental hand of humans, will have an appearance that becomes “so marred beyond human semblance and his form beyond that of the children of men, so he shall sprinkle many nations.” In the same way that the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on the altar and on the people, setting them apart so that they were devoted to Yahweh—sprinkled on the altar so that it was set apart for Yahweh—now the blood of this person, God’s servant, the very one who would be exalted. He experiences a level of persecution that puts his own being beyond the semblance of a human. He was so beat up so—the image is crucified. And yet from that blood, something happens where he sprinkles many nations so that they become devoted for God. They become separated for him. They move from enemy to friend. In this chapter, the many—the many, keep that language in mind—it’s the many nations who are sprinkled, not just one nation. No, this man is an agent for the salvation of many.

TK: And what you’re saying right here is the sprinkling language. Even though the lamb itself is not used in this little tiny chunk in 52. There’s, you’re saying, the lamb imagery because of sprinkling is already being introduced into the text.

JD: It’s already being introduced. That’s right. And it’s going to become explicit as we move through the passage. But right away we find out that the very one who will be exalted as King and Lord over all things—this language of high and lifted up that recalls chapter 6 where John saw—sorry—Isaiah saw the Lord—and it’s not Yahweh, it’s Lord, smaller caps—saw the Sovereign One seated on the throne, high and lifted up. So this is royal imagery. He is seated in his palace high and lifted up. How did it happen? The very one who would be high and lifted up entered deeply low, humbled himself, taking on the form of a man, and then even moving to the point where you couldn’t even recognize him as a man. And through that he sprinkled many nations. This is, in just two verses, the picture of the gospel. And like you’re saying it already anticipates the lamb imagery that’s going to dominate this servant song. This very one, it says in 53:3, “was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hid their faces hr was despised, and we esteemed him not.” That’s the perspective.

TK: Who is “we” right there, Jason?

JD: The prophetic voice is calling all who have been saved to recognize there was a point at which we didn’t recognize who Jesus was, we didn’t recognize our need for a savior. Indeed, we were the ones in our sin that put him at the cross. We were why he came. He came not for the righteous, but for the unrighteous. It’s the sick who need a doctor. And I think John—Isaiah here is reminding the remnant—we were among the sinners who put him into this suffering. “Surely he has borne our griefs carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him, stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.” Just, I mean, Isaiah is looking ahead and seeing himself among the Romans, seeing himself among the Pharisees, seeing himself among the proud in the Jewish nation that said, crucify him, crucify him. Isaiah is seeing himself as among those who, when they looked at the Christ, they said he’s being punished under the hand of God. Just as Israel, the nation was cursed and exiled, he’s having the same experience done upon himself.

TK: It reminds me of Psalm 22, where it says if God delights in him, let him rescue him.

JD: Yes, the mocking.

TK: The mocking because clearly in their mind God does not delight in him because of what he’s suffering.

JD: And Matthew 27 draws explicitly on that specific verse and applies it to the audience who’s watching Jesus in his passion, in his suffering experience at the cross. “He was wounded for our transgression,” says Isaiah, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” So there is—in Isaiah’s mind, whatever is taking place in relation to this man that’s going to sprinkle atoning blood on nations, at the core of it is a substitutionary act wherein he—as we’re going to see the unblemished one—is standing in the stead of sinners. Oh the hope, oh the help, oh the beauty, “By his stripes, we are healed.” By his wounds we gain help. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.” And here it is, Tom, “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, like a sheep that, before his shearers, is silent he opened not his mouth. He was—by oppression and judgment he was taken away. As for his generation, who considered that he was cut off of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth.” Central to all the sacrifices was that the lamb had to be unblemished. It had to be clear that the sacrificial substitute was not dying because it itself was blemished. Rather, the unblemished nature was going to be counted to one who brought the sacrifice and all the sins of the sinner would be counted toward the unblemished lamb. And that’s how the substitution would work. The substitute taking our sin and his uprightness being counted as our own.

TK: I think that, moving forward to the introduction of Jesus at his baptism, and it would be at his transfiguration as well that idea of this is my son in whom I am well pleased. It’s saying that heaven has given a verdict about this one, just as it says here, this one has done no violence. This one has no deceit in his mouth. This one’s innocent.

JD: That’s exactly right. It recalls Isaiah 50, the third servant song where the servant himself testifies. “He who vindicates me,” chapter 50:8, “He who vindicates me is near, who will contend with me? Let him stand up. Who is my adversary? Let him come near. Who can declare me guilty?” Answer—no one. He who declares me righteous is near. That’s what he testifies to. His was indeed an unblemished sacrifice.

TK: How much of this do you think a New Testament era person—and John was obviously filling the last of the Old Testament age prophets, but in we’re reading them in our New Testament. How many of these pieces did he know? Had he read Isaiah 53? Would you say Jason?

JD: He definitely had read Isaiah 53. He is bathed in the book of Isaiah, where it promised a Messiah who would come and open blind eyes and heal the lame. And Jesus recalls this in Matthew 11 for John the Baptist as he sits in prison. Jesus was one who was to be light not only for God’s people, but for the nations. John knew all this. Jesus was supposed to set the captive free, John knew this, and Jesus said blessed are those who are not offended by me. Meaning that John is still in prison, not everyone’s eyes are open, not everyone’s ears are hearing and yet Jesus is beginning it. And blessed are those who can hope in Jesus, even if they don’t receive all that.

TK: This is really significant because John’s proof from Jesus comes from Jesus quoting Isaiah. So, it’s exactly what you’re saying is—if Jesus says I need to convince you of something, I’m going to go to a book you’ve soaked in. It’s the book of Isaiah. So when he’s using this lamb imagery, we have to assume Isaiah 53 is in his mind.

JD: That’s a—I believe so. Old Testament quotations in the New Testament, Old Testament allusions in the New Testament include contexts, and all the passages that Jesus recalls for John the Baptist are those that surround this very text, which clarifies the means by which a people will be saved. We have to go to verses 10 and 11. Here it is. We read, “It was the will of Yahweh to crush him”—this servant lamb—“He has put him to grief when his soul”—and listen to this, Tom—“makes an offering for guilt.”

TK: That’s your lamb language again.

JD: That’s the lamb language again when his soul makes an offering for guilt, three things will happen: “He shall see offspring; he shall prolong his days; and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.” Tom, what will he see?

TK: Well, he will see the promise from Genesis, chapter 12. He will see the promise from—and you would go further like we read it—the same the Isaac-Abraham story. The offspring will take over the gate of his enemies. So he’s—just reading Isaiah’s poem from earlier passages and making things clear—but he is going to be raised, cause clearly you can’t see if you’re dead. He’s going to be raised and he’s going to see the fulfillment.

JD: If he will be an offering for guilt, experiencing the wrath of God and the fires of God. If he will operate as a substitute, this unblemished lamb-man. He will see something. He’ll prolong his days and the will of the Lord will prosper, so he will be alive. It’s resurrection.

TK: If he didn’t—the “When his soul makes an offering for guilt, then he shall see his offspring.” It’s a requirement for the offspring to exist even.

JD: It is, and here it’s specifically the offspring of the Messiah. So, if the Messiah is the offspring, it’s the offspring of the offspring. It is the multitude that you already pointed us to Abraham. It says and what he will see is offspring. But then in verse 11, Isaiah makes a comment. He says, “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see. He shall be satisfied.” So here what he will see, we’re already told, is a people. And now joy is associated with the people on the other side of his sacrifice. Think about Hebrews, chapter 12, “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross.” How does that passage open up? “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”—those testifying to the worth of Christ. Let us be among them. We are the very—what was the joy that was set before Jesus? He will see offspring, he will see and be satisfied, sprinkling many nations, some from every tongue and tribe and people and nation. It drove Jesus through the cross. It was the joy that was set before him. “By his knowledge, my righteous one”—there it is, he is the unblemished sacrifice. “My righteous one, my servant shall make many to be accounted righteous.”

Now there’s that language of many, one more time, and it pushes me to Romans 5:18–19, where we read these words, “As one trespass led to the condemnation for all men”—that’s the one trespass of Adam. “So one act of righteousness”—righteousness, Jesus—“leads to justification of life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” This is the lamb language. This is Revelation 5. “Worthy are you for you were slain and by your blood you ransomed some for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” This was the joy set before him. This pushed him into the cross and through the cross, satisfying the wrath of God so that there could be legitimate atoning blood to sprinkle on the many. And now he is high and lifted up. It’s it is the story of the gospel, and it provides the hope and the foundation for the entire book of Revelation.

The Lamb in Zechariah

TK: And you have a people who are suffering probably a little bit like John the Baptist and wondering, is he really going to do what he said he’s going to do. And that whole encouragement of look at the lamb, remember the lamb. You need to conquer. Hold on to Jesus. Jason. Let’s end here. And this is too short for this passage, but I think it’d be good if can you just walk us through a little bit of the end of Zachariah, so 12 and 13. Give us a few thoughts here, because clearly Isaiah is not the only one thinking this and we’ve already made that clear. Isaiah had read the Psalms. He’d read Psalm 34, he’d read Genesis 22. He’d seen the imagery of Abel bringing his sacrifices in Genesis chapter four, but here we get something from. Zachariah as well.

JD: Yes, we can end here. Zechariah is an amazing gospel book saturated with other books like Isaiah. Zechariah knew his scripture. Zechariah is dominated in a—I mean it’s driven by the call for the people to rebuild the temple. Think sacrifices, think priesthood. And it also recognizes that the priests themselves are but a picture of a greater priest. And that the sacrifices are but a sign of a future sacrifice and that the temple that they’re building is but a glimmer of the future glorious temple that God will build in his people. So, we get numerous statements. For example, in Zechariah 3, after it says that the priests are but a sign of a future priest, it says that on a single day the Lord will remove the iniquity of the land in a single day, Zechariah 3:9. In Zechariah 6 we read that this—that a Messiah figure will build the temple of the Lord, build the palace of the Lord and that he will bear royal honor and sit on the throne. And not only will he be a royal figure, he will be a priestly figure on God’s throne. And then it says people will come from afar and help him build the temple. I think we’re seeing Jesus as the high priest-king who will build the temple of God with the help of many nations. Indeed, back in Zechariah chapter 2 it even said many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and they shall be my people, not my peoples plural, but it’s as if they become the new Israel: they shall be my people. But the question becomes then, in this book, how will this happen. And what we learn is God is the ultimate shepherd of his sheep. And yet the people will turn on their shepherd, who’s represented through a figure.

Think about the triumphal entry where it cites Zechariah 9, “Rejoice, O daughter of Zion. Behold, your king is coming to you righteous and having salvation is he” (Zech 9:9). This is Jesus. He’s riding into Jerusalem, and yet it says explicitly here, “As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit” (Zech 9:11). The blood of my covenant. It’s directly associated with this royal figure whose reign will be from sea to sea, recalling Psalm 72, this royal figure is now associated with a bloody covenant. He is God’s Shepherd, Yahweh is the shepherd, but he will reign through his messianic priest-King. But what’s striking is that it says here at the end of Zechariah, “I will pour out on the House of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem”—and in this book the inhabitants of Jerusalem is not just Jews. No, they’ve been joined, according to Zechariah chapter 8, by many from the nations. So, the nations are filling Jerusalem. Then there are ethnic Jews there from the house of David. And God says, “I will pour out on all who are in Jerusalem and among the house of David, a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that when they look on me on whom they have pierced, they will mourn for him” (Zech 12:10).

And then it says in chapter 13:1, “On that day there shall be a fountain open for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse from sin and uncleanness.” Here it testifies to the fact that the shepherd will become like a sheep. He will be pierced on behalf of the many, and flowing out of his sacrifice, the shepherd sacrifice. So he’s like a lion-King who is now treated like a lamb. And on behalf of his sacrifice, there will be a cleansing from sin and uncleanness that is poured out on the many. “This is the end of chapter 13, “Awake O sword against my shepherd, against the man who strikes next to me—who stands next to me” (Zech 13:7). So there’s going to be a sword against the very man who stands by God’s side. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land, declares the Lord . . . I will put this third into the fire and refine them as one refines silver, I will test them as gold is tested,”—and then this is the Hebrew text. It doesn’t show up in my ESV this way, but it says in the Hebrew text, “He will call upon my name and I will answer him.” This is the Messiah. This is the shepherd who becomes like a sheep: “I will say he is my people, and he will say Yahweh is my God” (Zech 13:9). A person is now declared as the people of God. Indeed, all who are in this person. He represents the people and in Zechariah chapter 2, the people included the nations. He represents the many in his death and that’s why the blood of the covenant, according to Zechariah chapter 9, opens the door for his reign to be from sea to sea, because he is the instrument, he’s not only the temple, he’s not only the priest, he’s the sacrifice. And he provides the means for the salvation of some from every people and tongue and tribe and nation, who are now considered the very people of God because he is the people of God. He is the one who represents the many who are sprinkled through his atoning blood, Isaiah 53. And that many is a multi-ethnic community that is being redeemed by the blood of the lamb, who conquers by his blood and by the word of their testimony. I’m in Jesus. He is my Lord. He saved me from my sins. There is now no condemnation, and that declaration puts a death blow to the work of the serpent. The work of the devil.

TK: It is so good. I was talking to a friend last night who is going to be preaching somewhere on Sunday and I just said, you know, what are you preaching on? And he said, I’m preaching on the tree of life and how later biblical authors saw a multitude of trees. And that same thought of, springing from Psalm 1, he will be like a tree planted by streams of water. Ezekiel sees this, but the tree now has, all of a sudden, this one tree is growing all over the place, and Revelation ends that same way. Because the one man who’s like a tree has brought fruitfulness everywhere and created a people. This has encouraged, my soul encourages me for the rest of my day. My prayer, Jason for us, for those who listening is we would meditate on Jesus as the lamb, and we would find joy in that thought and motivation to walk as his people.

JD: For the joy set before us that more people could come to the savior.

TK: Amen. All right, I’m looking forward to what’s next. Jason, enjoy your day.

JD: Thank you.

JY: Thank you for listening to Gear Talk. Next week we’ll consider another major character in Revelation. For more information about Hands to the Plow and the work we do, visit HandstothePlow.org. Also check the show notes for a link to our preacher’s guide to the book of Revelation.