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Identifying with the Lamb of God...

Identifying with the Lamb

Further thoughts on parashat Vayera...

by John J. Parsons

THE NEAR SACRIFICE OF ISAAC establishes that God does not want us to sacrifice ourselves on the altar, but rather to identify with the appointed sacrifice of the lamb given on our behalf... Isaac pictures the identification process. First he completely submitted himself to God's will by being bound as a sacrifice. Once that decision was made, God intervened by providing the ram caught in the thicket, which represented the "binding" or identification of God's sacrifice for him (Gen. 22:13). Just as the lamb was identified with Isaac, so Isaac was identified with the lamb. Likewise, Yeshua died in your place so you can identify with his death for you, trusting it as your atonement provided by your Heavenly Father. Your union with Yeshua means that his death was your death: "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God" (Col. 3:3). Likewise, his "life after death" (resurrection) is your eternal life: "When Messiah who is your life appears, you also will appear with him in glory" (Col. 3:4). Baptism symbolizes your identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua as the Lamb of God sacrificed on your behalf (Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:4). Just as Isaac descended from the altar in newness of life, so we are made new creations because of the sacrifice of Messiah: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).

Of course we cannot crucify ourselves, but we trust that God finishes the work of Yeshua on our behalf... We "reckon" ourselves crucified with Messiah and trust in his work of salvation performed for our personal blessing. As it says: "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Yeshua the Messiah" (Rom. 6:11). Only after this can you present yourself as korban chai (קָרְבָּן חַי) - a living sacrifice - for God (Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5).

There aren't two gospel messages: one for the sinner and the other for the saint... The message of salvation is always "good news" to those who are sin-sick and riddled with guilt and shame, and it is always "bad news" for those who deny their inner condition before God and believe that they can justify themselves. We never get beyond the call to "repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). We don't "get saved" in order to follow the path of self-righteousness; we get saved to be witnesses of God's righteousness... We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

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