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Friday, April 14, 2017

Jesus - the Lamb and the Lion of Judah

Jesus – the Lamb and the Lion

As we celebrate the Passion and Resurrection of our Savior during this Passover and Easter time, I would like to share with you some phenomenal things about Jesus.

In this article I want to show you that Jesus is the Lamb of God, that He is the Lion of God, that He was the fulfillment of the Atonement Sacrifices, and that Jewish writings outside the Bible reveal that very interesting and significant occurrences happened between the time of Jesus (about 30AD) and the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (70AD.) It is also noteworthy how the Jewish writings outside the Bible viewed Jesus.

The Bible says,
“Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain” (Revelation 5:5-6, ULKJV.)

Isn’t it interesting to note that, among other things in this Scripture, that Jesus is called both a “Lion” as well as a “Lamb.”

I will come to the “Lion” character of Jesus at the end of this article, but let’s first begin with the “Lamb,” and the Atonement Sacrifices of Azazel and L’Adonai.

The Lamb of God

Revelation is not the first place where the Bible calls Jesus “the Lamb.” John the Baptist was the first to call Jesus by this label. He said, “The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and (he) said, Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world…” (John 1:29, ULKJV.) “And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he said, Behold the Lamb of God! (John 1:36, ULKJV.)

What in the world was in John the Baptizer’s mind when he said these words?

When the Bible calls Jesus “the Lamb,” it has nothing to do with some supposed “gentle nature” of Jesus who would not as much as hurt a fly. This version of Jesus does not exist. Sure, He was “meek and humble,” but when the Bible refers to Jesus as the Lamb, it must be understood in the context of the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament) and Torah (which is the Law and the five books of Moses – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.)

In the broad sense of the word Lamb, it simply means that Jesus is the fulfillment of the sacrifices of the Old Testament, such as in Exodus and Leviticus. It was not only a lamb, but also rams, goats, bullocks heifers, doves, etc., and the New Testament presents Jesus as the fulfilment of these sacrifices. Let’s go right there…

“Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually” (Exodus 29:38, KJV.)

When John the Baptizer called Jesus the Lamb of God, He was making a direct connection to the prophetic imagery of the Old Testament, which predicted the coming of Jesus.

The simple meaning of the slaying of a lamb to atone for the sins of Israel was that an innocent lamb’s blood temporarily covered the sin-stained guilt of Israel in the Old Testament, prophetically declaring the coming of the Lamb, who would not cover, but completely remove sin. This was fulfilled in Jesus.

There is also other prophetic imagery of Jesus, which I want to touch on here…

The Two Goat on the Day of Atonement

Jesus is also the fulfillment of the two goats in Leviticus 16. This is a fascinating chapter. Read it later and read Jesus into it as you do. It’s easy to get lost in the details though, so here I want to present the simplest exposition of how Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophetic imagery of these two goats.

1.         The High Priest brought sacrifices (two goats) before the tabernacle (Leviticus 16:7;)

2.         One goat was L’Adonai – for the Lord, the other goat Azazel – the escapegoat) (Leviticus 16:8;)

3.         He cast lots – to determine which goat would be which (Leviticus 16:8-10;) (Jewish tradition says he drew two stones from an urn – one white and one black. The white one would be L’Adonai – for the Lord and the black one, Azazel – the escapegoat;

4.         L’Adonai – for the Lord would be sacrificed;

5.         Azazel – the escapegoat would be let into the wilderness;

6.         Before he let Azazel – the escapegoat into the wilderness he would lay his hands on it’s head, confess over him Israel’s sins and transfer their sins onto it (Leviticus 16:20-21.) Azazel – the escapegoat would then “bear upon him all their iniquities…” (Leviticus 16:22.)

Wow! This is powerful, prophetic imagery of something which was yet to come! It was the shadow of the substance. It was the shadow, and Jesus was the substance – the fulfillment. Let’s look at the above details and see Jesus and His atoning work in the light of the New Testament.

 1.         The High Priest is Jesus ((Hebrews 3:1, 4:14, 4:15, 5:10, 9:11, etc.,) and Jesus is also simultaneously the sacrifices (John 1:29, Hebrews 10:4-5, 1 Corinthians 5:7, etc.:)

2.         Jesus is both L’Adonai – for the Lord, as well as the other goat Azazel – the escapegoat,) as we will see below…

3.         We skip over the lots cast for now;

4.         L’Adonai – for the Lord means Jesus took upon Him the wrath of God against sin (Romans 5:9, Romans 3:25;)

5.         Azazel – the escapegoat means Jesus carried our sins away (Revelation 1:15;)

6.         Azazel – the escapegoat’s receiving of the sins of Israel means Jesus received our sins, and God laid on Jesus “the iniquities of us all” (Isaiah 53:6, 1 Peter 2:24-25,) not only of Israel, but of the whole world (John 1:29.)

One more time – WOW! It is so incredible that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophetic pictures of the Old Testament Sacrifices!

We’re not done with this part yet. I am going to show you how there is a possible indication of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice in Jewish writings outside the Bible…

Jesus in the Talmud

I want to share something that is very interesting. Something strange happened between the time of Jesus from about 30AD – 70AD, according to Jewish tradition. But first, let’s make sure we understand Jewish tradition in it’s proper place. Jewish tradition is not inspired at all. Only the Jewish Bible (the “Tanach” – the 39 books from Genesis through Malachi, which Christians call the Old Testament) is inspired by God, in addition to the New Testament (Matthew through Revelation.)

However, just as when a lawyer presents evidence in a court – some primary evidence and some secondary evidence, so too there are secondary evidences such as can be found in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, and in the Greek and Roman historians Tacitus, Pleny the Younger, etc., etc.…

In this article I want to share something from the Talmud. In a moment I will explain exactly what the Talmud is, but for now, just keep in mind that it is not inspired by God. Only the Bible with its Old and New Testaments is inspired by God. Yet, there are some interesting things in the Talmud regarding the two goats – L’Adonai – for the Lord, and Azazel – the escapegoat.

Again, what we are about to explore is only secondary indications of Jesus and His work. The Talmud does not teach that Jesus is the Lamb of God. Only the Bible teaches it. Yet the Talmud contains some historic occurrences that happened in the Temple at the time of Jesus.

Okay first, what is the Talmud?

Since this article is not about the Talmud, I will be brief. The Talmud is the oral tradition of the Jewish rabbis in written form. It was oral up to about the second century AD, then it began to be transmitted into written form, which was completed in the fifth century AD.

It is not inspired by God, but contains some interesting things, including what we are about to explore.

In the Talmud, the Jewish rabbis say that some strange things happened in the temple in the approximately 40-year period before the temple was destroyed.

The text of two different versions of the Talmud state:

"Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the western light went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open" (Jerusalem Talmud)

“During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel would open by themselves" (Soncino Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 39b.) 

So let’s look at some of this information closely, but we will not explore the “western light” and the “gates of the temple” as deeply. We will go through those rather quickly, so that we can get back to the Azazel and L’Adonai goats.

“The Western Light Went Out”

The Talmud had stated in Menahot 86b that the burning light of the Menorah was a sign that the glory of God was on Israel and the temple. Then, in the Jerusalem Talmud and in the Soncino Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 39b we are informed that “the western light went out” and “… nor did the western most light shine.”

If the shining signified that God’s glory rested on Jerusalem and Israel, then when it did not shine, it would mean the opposite.

Could it be that this curious occurrence had something to do with Jesus’ prophecy that the temple would be destroyed within one generation (Matthew 24.) Could it be that He that is the light of the world (John 8:12,) replaced the light in the temple? Could it be that He that said that He who referred to His own body as the temple (John 2:21) had manifested in this strange sign which the Talmud records?

Again, the Talmud is not God’s inspired word. It’s only the written form of the oral tradition of the Jewish rabbis. But in it we learn from some historical events that may have happened, and if they really did happen, that they may have some meaning related to Jesus, who lived, died and was resurrected at about the time that these signs began to occur. 

The Temple Doors

The Talmud says that the temple’s doors swung open by itself each night. One of the rabbis was frightened by this, and said that it meant that the temple would be destroyed according to Zechariah 11:1.

But now, let’s get back to our topic of Jesus as the Lamb (and later, the Lion.) 


“The Lot”

Let’s quickly remember Leviticus 16. It says that the high priest would cast a lot to determine which goat would be L’Adonai – for the Lord, and which goat would be Azazel – the escapegoat. Now let’s see what the Jewish oral traditions recorded in the Talmud.

Jewish tradition reveals that the high priest would draw two stones – one white and one black. The white one would be L’Adonai – for the Lord and the black one, Azazel – the escapegoat. Now, the Talmud says that around 30AD (my calculation based on information in the Talmud,) a white stone was never drawn during those 40 years between 30AD and 70AD. Now think of it. Chance will have it that half of the drawings would have resulted in the black stone and the other half white, or something similar. However, the Talmud teaches that every year during Yom Kippur a black stone was drawn. The probability of this happening is consistently by chance for 40 years in a row is very slim.

But what does this have to do with Jesus? Well, do the math. The temple was destroyed in 70AD. This curious incidence happened in the 40 years before 70AD. This brings us to 30AD. Who lived, died and was resurrected about this time? You got it – Jesus, the Messiah.

I keep reminding us – the Talmud is not God’s inspired Word, but if the events it relates really happened, it may have been an indication of Jesus. We know for sure from Scripture that God was no longer accepting the L’Adonai – for the Lord goat, because Jesus was the fulfillment of this prophetic picture. Perhaps this strange happening regarding the lot was God’s way to show this to the Jewish rabbis.

“The Crimson Thread”

One last thing related to the the atoning sacrifices of the Azazel and L’Adonai has to do with the crimson thread which the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud recounts.  It says, “…the crimson thread remained crimson” (Jerusalem Talmud,) and “…nor did the crimson colored strap become white” (Babylonian Talmud.)

What apparently happened is that the priests put a crimson (red) cloth or thread on the horns of the Azazel – escape goat. Then a piece of the cloth was cut from the cloth and placed on the temple door. Azazel was then let into the wilderness according to Leviticus 16, where it most probably would die. Miraculously, the portion of cloth that was cut off would turn from red to white. This was considered as a sign that God had accepted Azazel, and therefore the sins of Israel were covered for that year.

So what would it mean if the red cloth did not turn white? What if the red cloth remained unchanged? It would indicate that God had not accepted Azazel, and that the sins of Israel had not been remitted. Well, according to the Talmud it happened. Since the Talmud is not the inspired Word of God, we have no way to know for sure that this actually happened. But because this is recorded in both the Jerusalem as well as the Babylonian Talmud, it may indeed have happened.

If it did happen, what could it mean? The only way to get to the bottom of it’s meaning is to revert to the Inspired Word of God – the Bible (containing both the Old and New Testaments.)

While the Bible says nothing about a crimson cloth turning white or not, it has plenty to say about our sin being as red as scarlet, that it would be washed as white as snow, and that it is the blood of Jesus that washes our sins away.

Look at the following self explanatory verses:

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18, ULKJV.)

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6, ULKJV.)

“The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and (he) said, Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world…” (John 1:29, ULKJV.)

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he comes into the world, he says, Sacrifice and offering you would not, but a body have you prepared me … we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:4-5, 10:10, ULKJV.)

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:16-18, ULKJV.)

It is entirely within reason to apply these events in the Talmud to the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, who is God’s L’Adonai and our Azazel.  It is completely within reason to interpret these specific events that the Talmud records to mean that without accepting Jesus and His atoning work, none of our sin would be remitted. Just as “…the crimson thread remained crimson” (Jerusalem Talmud,) and “…nor did the crimson colored strap become white” (Babylonian Talmud,) without the blood of Jesus, i.e. His atoning work on the cross.

Opposition to Referencing the Talmud

Those who oppose these interpretations question why Christians are quick to quote the Talmud when it suits them, and when it does not suite them Christians simply answer that the Talmud is uninspired.

On the one hand, this criticism is well taken and should remind Christians as well as Jewish believers in Jesus to be careful when quoting the Talmud not to do so as if the Talmud is an authoritative source, but merely unreliable secondary literature, some of which is strongly anti-Christian and anti-Jesus.

On the other hand, however, it is perfectly in order to quote sources outside the Bible merely as complimenting material. Where it adds to or contradicts the Bible, it is to be rejected. Where it compliments the Bible, it can be cautiously and prudently employed as additional material. 

Other criticism is that perhaps the crimson cloth not turning white after the crucifixion of Jesus was a sign to the “masses of wayward Jews” who followed Jesus after His death and resurrection, that they were in error. This is a good counter argument, but cannot be sustained. It would firstly acknowledge the existence of the historical Jesus, and secondarily acknowledge that what they call, “masses of wayward Jews” did indeed accept Him as their Messiah, Lord and Savior.

Therefore, they are quick to point out that they do not believe that the crimson-cloth-not-turning-white is not their premise, but something else, namely because of the sins of Israel at that time.

While it is true that Israel was in a state of deep moral depravity at that time, and while it is true that no sacrifices are effective when we do not repent of our sin, Scripture is also clear from both Old and New Testaments that our own individual righteous works without the atoning power of God (ultimately through Jesus the Messiah and Lamb of God,) is not able to bring us to a state of righteousness (i.e. is right standing before God.

The Bible says,

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6, KJV.)

“…there is none that does good…” (Psalm 14:1, ULKJV.)
“…there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10, KJV.)
“that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:19-20, KJV2000.)

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV2000.)

Good works are not what saves us. Good works is not what makes God accept us. We are all guilty before a righteous and holy God. And it is by God’s atoning work through Jesus in his death and resurrection that we are made righteous before him. We cannot boast of our good works, because even our greatest and most amiable works are but as filthy rags before the righteous and holy God of Glory, before whom even the slightest sin is darkness and repulsive before him.

Righteous works are a natural outflow from lives that have been atoned for and have been transformed by Jesus, our Azazel and L’Adonai. We are not saved because of our righteous works. Our righteous works spring forth because we are saved. We could not save ourselves. Only God could save us. This is called grace. All we can do is receive what he has done. This is called faith, “For by grace we are saved through faith...” (Ephesians 2:8-9,) just as the Old Testament prophet predicted, “The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, KJV.)

How did God save us? He atoned for us by becoming Man, by becoming High Priest of the New Covenant, by operating simultaneously as the sacrifice Azazel and L’Adonai, the High Priest, and as God Himself receiving the atoning sacrifice of the death of Jesus on the cross. God reached out to us to save us and make us righteous before him. God (the Word) became flesh and dwelt amongst us (John 1:1, 14.)

God-incarnate was called, “The Son of God.” And God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16.)  

Another Reference to Jesus in the Talmud

In the Jewish Talmud it writes against Jesus, but nonetheless acknowledges His existence.

It says, “On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu and the herald went before him for forty days saying Yeshu is going forth to be stoned in that he hath practiced sorcery and beguiled and led astray Israel. Let everyone knowing ought in his defense come and plead for him. But they found naught in his defense and hanged him on the eve of Passover”

Here we have it again. “Yeshu” was “hung” (i.e. crucified) on the “eve before Passover,” which is Biblically correct. And though the Talmud ascribes Jesus’ miracles to practicing “sorcery,” and that He “led astray Israel,” the Jewish Talmud does us a favor – it gives us evidence outside of the Bible that Jesus existed. It also affirms that Jesus did indeed do miracles. It also makes a strong connection between Jesus and the Jewish Passover. The Bible teaches that Jesus is indeed our Passover. He is the fulfilment of the Old Testament Passover, which was a prophetic picture of Him who was to come. It says, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us…” (1 Corinthians 5:7, ULKJV.)

Jesus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah

We began this teaching with Revelation 5:5-6. Let’s read it again. It says, “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain” (Revelation 5:5-6, ULKJV.)

We have so far explored the Lamb nature of Jesus, which refers to the atoning work He did as the Lamb of God, as well as the Ram, the Bullock, the Heifer, the Dove, the L’Adonai – for the Lord, and the Azazel – the escapegoat.

But in Revelation, Jesus is not only the Lamb, but he is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! This doesn’t mean there are two Jesuses. There is only one Jesus, but here He is depicted in more than one ways: He is the Lamb. He is the Root of David, and He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

As Lamb, Jesus is our atonement.

As the Root of David, Jesus is not only a descendent of King David, but he pre-dated King David as David’s root, i.e. David’s Creator and source of authority.

And as Lion, Jesus is the King who rules and executes judgment with divine and royal authority!  

Jacob prophesied, “Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, you are gone up: he stooped down, he crouched as a lion, and as a lioness; who shall rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Genesis 49:9-10, KJV2000.)

When Jacob said these words, he predicted that Israel would be ruled by an individual from the Tribe of Judah (which was partially fulfilled by King David’s rule, but David was only a foreshadowing prophetic picture of the Ultimate King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who would not only rule Israel, but all of the world and all of the Universe, for He is the King of the Universe.)

It predicts “Shiloh,” which is a title for the Messiah. Jesus is that Messiah, who was born from the lineage of the Tribe of Judah, and whose coming was prophesied of by Jacob.

Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! If we have Jesus in our lives, the devil has to flee! If we have Jesus in our lives, every demon in hell trembles at the mention of his name! Sickness, sin, depression and fear have to flee.

To receive Jesus, click here to pray this prayer

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