Readings: Genesis 22:1-14, Exodus 12, John 1:29, 1 Peter 1:17-19, Revelation 5
On the mount called Moriah in the land of Canaan, God called Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac - his promised son, the one God had said would multiply into nations like the sands of the seashore. But then, just as faithful Abraham raised his knife, He provided a substitute.
Abraham named that place "The Lord Will Provide," and many generations later it became the site of the Temple Mount, where gallons and gallons of blood would run daily in gracious substitution for God's people (2 Chronicles 3:1).
And in the plagued and ravaged land of Egypt, God's final act of sovereignty to set Israel free required the firstborn of every person in the nation, taken in the night by the Angel of Death. But for the faithful, He provided a substitute.
Israel commemorated that event with a feast called the Passover, and many generations later the ultimate Lamb of God would be sacrificed during the Passover feast as a once-for-all substitute for the faithful.
Long, long before the coming of Jesus, God set a precedent for Christ's propitiation - for the substitution provided to the faithful. He allowed glimpses into the amazing grace to come. John the Baptist recognized Jesus as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" This time, all of humanity had been called to account for a debt which they could never pay off, a staggering cost - but for the faithful, God provided a Substitute.
The title of highest honor and most frequent use for Christ in the heavenly scenes of Revelation is "the Lamb," or more specifically, the "Lamb who was Slain." Lambs are a needy livestock; they are small, defenseless, and fragile, made even more so by their typical fate as Temple sacrifices. And the specific word used in Revelation to name the Lamb is not even aren, the usual word for a sheep, or amnos, the word for a sacrificial lamb; it is another derivative, arnion, which simply means "a little lamb."
Such a small title for such a Christ.
And yet this is the phrase that inspires such intense worship in Revelation 5 - the little lamb who was slain - for no work of Christ is cause for more praise than His work as the One who became small and humanly fragile so that He could lay down His life as the sacrificial Lamb of God, the propitiation for the ones who believe.