The Lamb, the Curtain, and the Cross

Jonah
It’s interesting how most of the stories in the Old Testament have been deemed children’s stories by the world and the church alike. Of course, those of us in the church would say that we absolutely believe that those stories are true, but honestly when you think of the Story of Jonah (a.k.a. “Jonah and the Whale”) do you see something like this,

In actuality, can you envision sinking down into the dark depths of the ocean after being cast overboard into the most violent storm imaginable, and seaweed coiling around your head, unable to breathe, and hearing the sound of a massive fish (maybe a whale) descending upon you with an open mouth?

What happened to Jonah was significant for his time but also was ordained by God as an illustration of what would happen to Jesus. Jesus was buried in the earth for three days (just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days), he was then resurrected from the dead (just as Jonah was released from the fish after what should have been certain death), and just as Jonah’s obedience to go and preach to the Ninevites resulted in a great outpouring of God’s mercy at the city wide repentance, so Jesus’ obedience in going to the cross results in an even greater outpouring of God’s mercy upon those who would repent and believe the gospel. Jesus is the greater Jonah.

Matthew 12:39-41 ESV … But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Noah

Another example is “Noah’s Ark”. We decorate our babies nurseries in this theme and you can buy Noah’s Ark piggy banks, Noah’s Ark picture frames, Noah’s Ark blankets, etc. I don’t have anything against these things, but think about the story for a moment. God’s wrath is about to be poured out upon the entire earth. Only 8 people from all humanity were saved. Noah and his family are inside a boat with every kind of animal created, and this is after the fall so these are not typically tame animals, that alone must have been frightening.

Luke 17:26-27 ESV … Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

Jesus said that when he returns the world be like it was in Noah’s day. So the story of Noah directly parallels Christians today who are preparing the way for Christ’s return. God spoke to Noah that he was going to destroy the earth and save a few (God has spoken to us through His Word that he will destroy the earth again and save a few, Matt. 7:14, Matt. 22:14), He gave Noah a difficult task to do to prepare for the flood in building the ark (He gives us the task of evangelism to prepare for Christ’s return, Matt.28:19), Noah was mocked (We are mocked, John15:20), it took Noah a long time to build the ark and because of the many years that passed people around him did not believe anything would ever happen (It appears to the world that Christ will never return and so they do not believe, 2 Peter 3:9), God shut the door of the ark and it was too late for anyone else to enter (When the day of judgment arrives it will be too late too share the gospel with one more person and it will be too late for anyone to repent).

Luke 13:22-25 ESV … He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’

Jesus the High Priest
Nearly everything in the Mosaic Law (the law of Moses) was a foreshadow of the gospel and Christ’s ultimate triumph over its imperfections. Moses established a high priest (Aaron & his descendants) at God’s command, and this was a foreshadow of Jesus as the ultimate high priest. Jesus position as high priest wasn’t for the same purposes as earthly priests who bring many sacrifices for sin, he needed only to bring ONE sacrifice; himself. It looks something like this:

Physical                                                      Heavenly

  • High Priest                                                  Jesus
  • Tent (Tabernacle)                                    Heaven (God’s presence)
  • Sacrifice of animal blood                     One time sacrifice of Jesus’ blood
  • Many sacrifices needed                        Once for all eternal redemption because of Jesus

Hebrews 9:11-12 ESV … But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

Jesus the Passover Lamb
When God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt He instructed Moses to have His people take the blood of a lamb and paint it on their door posts and then for each family to eat the lamb. Then when the Lord went through the land of Egypt He “passed over” the homes that were marked with lamb’s blood, and the first born of all the Egyptians died that night, but the Israelite homes were spared because of the blood.

In the same way, Jesus is our Passover Lamb. It is no coincidence that he was crucified during the Passover and that Isaiah 53:7 says that he was “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter“.  Like the Israelites we have been given warning of God’s coming judgment for sinners, and likewise we have been given the instructions for salvation; be washed in the blood of the Lamb through repentance and faith, death will pass over you, and you will be granted eternal life.

John 1:29 ESV … The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

The Curtain and The Cross
This passage in Matthew is where my devotions actually found me and is what led me into thinking about how each and every book of the Bible magnifies the gospel.

 Matthew 27:50-51 ESV … And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earthshook, and the rocks were split.

When Jesus gave up his spirit on the cross and died, the literal curtain in the temple in Jerusalem was torn in half from top to bottom. Solomon’s temple was 30 cubits high, but Herod had increased the height to 40 cubits, according to the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. That means that the curtain was somewhere near 60 feet high and was known to be 4 inches thick, also according to Josephus. Look at the example below to help you picture what 60 feet high looks like.

This was a massive curtain, impossible to tear no matter how big the earthquake. Its destruction was an act of God and a significant symbol of the new covenant where man would now have direct access to God through Jesus.

Hebrews 10:19-22 ESV … Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Jesus flesh was torn apart at his death (the curtain was torn apart at Jesus death), the curtain was the only entrance into God’s Holy Presence on earth (Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6). Jesus body was torn so that the curtain could be torn to make a way for us to draw near to God, and we are pleasing to Him because of Jesus, He forgives us and accepts us because of Jesus, He answers our prayers for Jesus’ sake, He delights in Jesus and therefore delights in us when we come to him bathed in the blood of Jesus. So like the author of Hebrews says, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith..”

Do you have full assurance of faith today? If you are unsure about where you stand with God, or even if you are a professing Christian yet you’ve never examined your faith, please read through the book of 1 John in the Bible and beg God to help you see if your life is painted with the blood of the Lamb or not. Repent and believe the Gospel, read the Bible and obey what it says. May the Lord bless you and grant you faith.

Preparing the Way,
Danae Martin

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