In His Steps

“These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.—Revelation 14:4

THE “Lamb” is one of the symbolic titles that the Scriptures apply to Jesus. Its first use in the Book of Revelation is in chapter 5, where we read that 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.” (vs. 6) Here is revealed the lesson which is conveyed by the “Lamb” symbolism. It is a “Lamb as it had been slain,” denoting sacrifice, a full and complete sacrifice, even unto death. While this is the first reference to the Lamb in the Book of Revelation, this particular symbol of sacrifice in connection with the outworking of the plan of God is prominent throughout the Bible, being introduced in the Book of Genesis.

God had told our first parents that if they transgressed his law they would die—“In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) When they partook of the forbidden fruit they were sentenced to death; but in pronouncing sentence God said that the “seed” of the “woman” would “bruise” the “head” of the “serpent.” (Gen. 3:14,15) This statement, while veiled with symbolic language, implied that in some way, not then revealed, the results of Satan’s victory over our first parents would be set aside.

A little later, the two sons of Adam and Eve brought sacrifices to the Lord. Cain’s offering consisted of the fruit of the field, while Abel presented a Iamb. We read in Hebrews 11:4 that “by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” In order for Abel’s faith to enter into the offering of this “more excellent” sacrifice, it must be that the Lord had revealed to him in some manner that this was the kind of sacrifice that would be acceptable.

It is doubtful that Abel understood why the offering of a lamb would be so pleasing to the Lord; but in the light of the plan of God as it unfolds to us throughout the remainder of the Word of God, we can now understand. Our first parents had sinned and had been sentenced to death. That condemnation was to be passed on to their offspring, because all would be born in sin. But God had made a statement which implied that this sentence of death was to be set aside, that in some way sin was to be remitted. So, by symbol, very early in the unfolding of his plan, God began to reveal that “without shedding of blood is no remission.”—Heb. 9:22

Blessings Promised to All

Some two thousand years later in human experience, the Lamb symbolism is again brought to our attention. This is in connection with God’s dealings with Abraham. God promised this faithful patriarch that through his “seed” all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 12:3; 22:18) Abraham’s faith was severely tested in waiting for the birth of this promised seed. He did not understand that the seed which God had in mind in making this promise was Christ.—Gal. 3:8,16

After long years of waiting, Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah. To their understanding Isaac was the seed of promise. But when this beloved boy had grown to manhood’s estate, God asked Abraham to offer him up as a burnt offering. (Gen. 22:1-19) Abraham had great faith in God and in his promises. He believed that if he gave Isaac up as a sacrifice, God would raise him from the dead, to fulfill his promise that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed. So Abraham proceeded to comply with the Lord’s request.

Consequently, we see Isaac stretched out on an altar to be sacrificed, and Abraham with his knife raised to slay his son. Thus a revealing picture is presented to us. By it we are informed that before all the families of the earth can be blessed through the seed of Abraham, a loving Father must give up his Son in sacrifice. As, through the Scriptures, the plan of God for the salvation of the world unfolds, we learn that the “Father” who actually gives his “Son” in sacrifice is our loving Heavenly Father, who gave his own beloved Son for the redemption and salvation of the world. (John 3:16) A ram, or lamb, was provided as a substitute for Isaac; so the beloved Son of God is the Lamb which God provided, that through his sacrifice all mankind might be blessed.

Deliverance from Egypt

Centuries after Abraham’s day, his descendants were held captives in Egypt by Pharaoh, and God sent Moses to deliver them. Pharaoh, who in this situation might well represent Satan the Devil, was not willing to release the Hebrew children from captivity. Various plagues were inflicted upon Pharaoh and his people, the last one being the death of the firstborn. Some of these plagues fell also upon the Hebrew children.

Through Moses God gave instructions as to how the people of Abraham could save their firstborn from death. Each family was to slay a lamb. The blood was to be sprinkled upon the lintels and doorposts of their houses. During the night the lamb was to be eaten. So, under the protection of the “blood,” the firstborn of the Hebrew children were saved from death, and the next day the Hebrews were all delivered from their slavery in Egypt. Thus again the symbolism of the slain Lamb is brought very dramatically to our attention.

First the blood of the lamb brought salvation to Israel’s firstborn. in Hebrews 12:23 the Apostle Paul speaks of “the church of the firstborn.” The Scriptures also reveal that, following the salvation of the church of the firstborn during the present age, all mankind is to be delivered from the thraldom of sin and death. This is also made possible through the Lamb that is “slain.”

To the Slaughter

The prophecies of the Old Testament also refer to the slain Lamb. This is particularly true of the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. In the preceding chapter we read, “The Lord hath made bare his holy Arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” (vs. 10) The “Arm” of the Lord is Jesus in his exalted kingly glory, the Seed through whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed. How reassuring that through him “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”

But beginning in the next chapter Isaiah asks, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the Arm of the Lord revealed?” Instead of this “Arm of the Lord” being revealed “in the eyes of all the nations,” as Isaiah had previously seen in prophetic vision, he now sees him as “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” “We hid as it were our faces from him,” continues the prophet, “He was despised, and we esteemed him not.”—vss. 1,3

Isaiah continues his prophetic description of the disesteem in which Jesus was held by the people, and of the cruel persecutions which were inflicted upon him. In verse 7 we read, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” Thus the One who in God’s plan of redemption and deliverance is destined to bring salvation to “all the ends of the earth” first becomes the “Lamb which had been slain.”

The Lamb Identified

John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb foretold in the Old Testament. To his disciples John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) John spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and may not have understood the full import of his statement. But to us it is as if John said that this is the antitype of the lamb which Abel offered to the Lord in sacrifice. This, also, is the One foreshadowed by the lamb which God provided as a substitute for Isaac on the altar of sacrifice. Here is the One typified by Israel’s Passover lamb. This is the One Isaiah foretold would be led as a “lamb to the slaughter.” Here is the real Lamb, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Apostles’ Testimony

The Apostle Paul referred to Jesus as “Christ our Passover,” thus identifying him as the antitype of Israel’s Passover lamb. In chapter 1, verses 18 and 19 of his first epistle, Peter wrote, “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”

Thus the Lamb symbolism can be traced through the Old Testament and the New and finds its climax in the Book of Revelation. John sees the “Lamb as it had been slain” as the One found worthy to open the “Book,” which was held in the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. (Rev. 5:1-7) In chapter 14 he sees the Lamb on “mount Sion.” (vs. 1) In chapter 19 we read that “the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” (vs. 7) In chapter 22 we read of a “river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.”—vs. 1

The Lamb Exalted

Associated with many of the Bible’s references to the slain Lamb is another line of prophetic testimony, which is quite different in character. Peter sums up the meaning of this testimony, saying that the Spirit, speaking through the prophets, “testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (I Pet. 1:11) So it is that with many of the prophecies pertaining to the sufferings of Christ, foreshown in part by the symbolism of the slain Lamb, there are also wonderful promises of the exaltation and glory of the Lamb which would follow his suffering and death.

A wonderful description of the promised “glory to follow” is presented in Revelation, chapter 5, where we read: “I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.”—vss. 11-13

It is in keeping with this that in chapter 14 we find the Lamb standing on Mount Sion. Having been rewarded with “the glory that follows,” he is now highly exalted. We are told that in eastern countries where, of course, this symbolic scene is set, when sheep and goats are left to roam as they will, the goats invariably climb to the tops of the hills, while the sheep ordinarily seek the low places, the valleys. So to John it must have seemed very unusual that a lamb should be on Mount Sion.

By this is brought to light a most important truth concerning Jesus, the Lamb of God. He did not attain to his high position on Mount Sion by means of self-exaltation, but because, sheeplike, he had sought the “low places.” He humbled himself, and because of this his Heavenly Father had exalted him. Paul calls this to our attention in the 2nd chapter of Philippians, where we read: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, did not meditate a usurpation [Diaglott translation] to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”—vss. 5-11

In the 12th chapter of Hebrews, Paul suggests another example of Jesus’ humility in being led as a lamb to the slaughter. Here, also, he admonishes us to look upon Jesus as a guide in our own endeavors to be pleasing to the Heavenly Father. We read: “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”—vss. 2-4

Contradiction of Sinners

Jesus endured an almost constant “contradiction of sinners” from the beginning of his ministry to the end, when on the cross he cried, “It is finished.” This contradiction was in small things as well as in matters of great importance. Even the great essentials of his life were contradicted. He was the Son of God, but this was contradicted. He came to earth to be a king, the greatest King of all time, and this also was contradicted. Indeed, it was the contradiction of these vital facts concerning Jesus that led to his crucifixion.

When Jesus was baptized he heard his Heavenly Father say, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17) Forty days after this, as Jesus came out of the wilderness, he was confronted by Satan, who, in spirit, took him “into the holy city” and sat him “on a pinnacle of the temple” and said to him: “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee:, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”—Matt. 4:5,6

Jesus resisted this temptation, replying, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (vs. 7) Only forty days previous to this the Heavenly Father had given Jesus full assurance of his sonship. Jesus had complete confidence in the fact that he was the Son of God; so for him to do anything at all in the way of seeking further confirmation of this fact would have been wrong, especially such a foolish thing as to leap from a pinnacle of the temple.

Satan also tempted Jesus in connection with his kingship. Concerning this we read: “The Devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (vss. 8,9) Jesus knew that in his Father’s due time he would take over the rulership of all the kingdoms of this world, and he did not propose to enter into this inheritance on the Devil’s terms; so he replied, “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”—vs. 10

James wrote that if we resist the Devil, he will flee from us. (James 4:7) But there is no guarantee that he will not try again, and he did with Jesus. Actually, these temptations which Satan presented to Jesus laid the groundwork for the “great contradiction of sinners” against the Master, and the Adversary was ever alert to continue the campaign. This was particularly true toward the close of Jesus’ ministry.

When the mob came out from Jerusalem to Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, he said to the religious leaders, “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:53) Previously Jesus had said to these religious hypocrites that they were of their father the Devil. (John 8:44) Satan is the prince of darkness; so Jesus’ remark, “This is your hour,” implied that Satan would now be permitted to do just about as he wanted with Jesus. With this thought in mind, let us note some of the details of what did take place, for in these last hours of Jesus’ life, when he was being led as a Lamb to the slaughter, we find the climax of the “contradiction of sinners” against him.

Jesus’ Sonship

Jesus was arrested and taken to the high priest’s house, where he was humiliated and tortured until morning; and then he was taken before a council consisting of “the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes.” “Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God?” (Luke 22:66,70) To this question Jesus replied, “Ye say that I am.” To Jesus’ persecutors this meant that he had confessed, and they said, “What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.”—vss. 70,71

The point here is that Jesus was the Son of God, therefore his acknowledgment of the fact was not blasphemy. But his persecutors did not believe this great truth; thus their charge of blasphemy was part of the “contradiction of sinners.” The same satanic mastermind, which three and one-half years before this had said to Jesus, “If thou be the Son of God” prove it by casting yourself down from a pinnacle of the temple, was now seemingly having his way. Jesus had not proved that he was the Son of God, so he was now judged worthy of death for blasphemy.

But the religious leaders of Israel did not have the authority to put Jesus to death. Only the Roman government held such authority; so he was taken before Pilate, where he was charged with claiming to be a king. If this were true, it could be construed as insurrection against Rome. So Pilate asked Jesus, “Art thou a king then?” To this question Jesus replied, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”—John 18:37

Following this, Jesus was scourged, and a crown of thorns was put upon his head, and he was clothed in a purple robe and was hailed “King of the Jews!” (John 19:1-3) Later Pilate “wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.” (vs. 19) Jesus actually was the King of the Jews and was destined to be King of the whole world, “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” But everything that was being said about his kingship by his enemies was only a further manifestation of the “contradiction of sinners.” Jesus had refused to bow down and worship Satan in order to become king over the nations, and now he was condemned to death because he claimed to be a king.

Those who watched Jesus being crucified cried out to him, “If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matt. 27:40) This is the identical challenge that had been hurled at Jesus by Satan three and one-half years earlier, when he called upon him to leap from a pinnacle of the temple to prove his claimed sonship. Jesus then refused to tempt his Heavenly Father, but now a final opportunity was given to him. Now, by coming down from the cross, he could prove that he was the Son of God. By not doing this, his claim was construed to be false—another manifestation of the “contradiction of sinners.”

The bystanders also shouted: “I saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” (Matt. 27:42) Again Jesus refused to vindicate himself in the eyes of his enemies but chose rather to endure the “contradiction of sinners.” How little his enemies realized that by thus refusing to save himself he was providing salvation, not only for them, but for “all the families of the earth”!

And it was because Jesus thus permitted himself to be led as “a lamb to the slaughter” and did not open his mouth in self-defense or seek otherwise to justify himself before his enemies that the Heavenly Father, in the resurrection, highly exalted him. He had sought the “low places,” and now we find the “Lamb” on symbolic Mount Sion.

Here the narrative becomes of vital interest to us, for the record is that on Mount Sion with the Lamb there are “an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” (Rev. 14:1) Our text informs us that these on Mount Sion with the Lamb are “they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” They walk in all the steps of the Lamb, steps which finally lead to Mount Sion. There is no other way to attain this exalted position on Mount Sion with the Lamb except to follow him there. Following human leadership is not the way to reach Mount Sion. Riding “hobbies” of doctrine or practice will not take us to Mount Sion. There is just one way to reach this exalted position, and that is to “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”

And what is that “way” in which the Lamb so faithfully walked and thereby reached Mount Sion? It was the way of humiliation, suffering, and finally, death. It was a way in which “contradiction of sinners” was hurled against him; yet, “when he was reviled, [he] reviled not again.” It was a way in which, while he knew that he was right, he voluntarily allowed others to think that he was wrong, and so wrong that they considered him as an enemy who should be put to death.

Can we walk in such a way as this, and are we doing so? It is unlikely that we will ever be contradicted on such major issues as was Jesus. But the principle is the same, even though the things in which we are contradicted may be relatively insignificant. One of the strongest desires of the human heart and mind is to have the good will and approbation of others. Even in the discussion of a minor point of truth, we like to prove that we are right. Having the “last word” is usually very important to the flesh.

How do we compare with Jesus along this line? Do we ever feel like doing something “big” and dramatic in order to prove that we are heaven’s favorites? Or are we willing to keep right on doing the Lord’s will from day to day, unnoticed and unknown by the world, and even by our brethren in Christ? The Lord may use “little things” to test us along this line; so it is well to scrutinize the innermost thoughts of our hearts to make sure that we are humbly submitting to the “contradiction of sinners” in what may apparently be the inconsequential experiences of our walk “in his steps.”

Peter gave us the correct thought when he wrote: “What glory is it, if, when ye are buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.”—I Pet. 2:20-23

Are we humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God and thus following the Lamb in the way of sacrifice and death, which led to Mount Sion? If we are, and if we continue to endure the “contradiction of sinners” patiently and victoriously unto death, the Heavenly Father will exalt us in due time; and we will be with the Lamb on Mount Sion, a part of that “hundred forty and four thousand” “sons” of God who have the Heavenly Father’s name in their foreheads. We will be with the Lamb on Mount Sion as “saviors” who, when “the kingdom shall be the Lord’s,” will rule with the Lamb in righteousness for the blessing of all mankind. (Obad. 21) Or, to use the symbol of Revelation 22:1, we will be a part of that “throne of God and of the Lamb” from which will flow the “river of water of life.” What a glorious prospect!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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