3.2.1 Lamb: Innocence
Volume 3: Living Symbols—Chapter 2.1
“The next day [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks before me, because He was before me.”’” (John 1:29-30) Why did John call Yahshua the “Lamb of God,” and not the “elephant of God” or the “aardvark of God?” And more to the point, how could the people within earshot be expected to understand what he meant? It’s (obviously) because the “lamb” was a well-established scriptural symbol, a central part of Torah ritual established fifteen hundred years previously—the codification of sacrificial images going all the way back to Eden. Nor was the idea of such a lamb “taking away sin” a foreign concept to the Jews (though doing so for the whole world might have seemed a stretch, if they hadn’t thought it through).
The Israelites, from the very beginning, had been a sheep-herding people, a pursuit as common among nomadic bronze age families like Abraham’s as computer technology or health care careers are in our society today. A man’s wealth was measured not in money, but by the size of his flocks and herds. And society—even those who weren’t shepherds themselves—depended on them for food, clothing, and often even shelter. As might be expected of a society that was so dependent on the flock, there are many words in Hebrew used to denote lambs or sheep, words with slightly varying shades of meaning that are largely lost on us today. (To get a picture of what I mean, imagine trying to sort out the vocabulary of our present car culture a thousand years in the future: what was the difference between a sports car, a sport sedan, a sport vehicle, and a sport utility vehicle?)
Probably the most general word translated “lamb” is the Hebrew word seh, used forty-six times in scripture. A seh is simply one of a flock—a lamb, sheep, goat, a young sheep or goat, any clean small four-footed mammal, or even a flock of them. It is the word used when the particular species, age, gender or description of the animal is less important than the mere fact that he exists. So the Torah’s property rights precepts, for example, usually use the designation seh, not something more specific.
The inherent sacrificial suitability of the seh is made clear in the story of the almost-sacrifice of Isaac on Moriah: “Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here am I, my son.’ He said, ‘Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb [seh] for a burnt offering?’ Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb [seh] for a burnt offering, my son.’” (Genesis 22:6-8) This was a prophetic dress rehearsal, of course, for the eventual sacrifice of the Lamb of God, precisely two thousand years later, on the very same spot. There Yahshua was deemed a seh, a sacrifice suitable for the redemption of all mankind from the penalty of our sins.
This same truth is in view in the Law of the male firstborn, both of animals and men. “You shall set apart to Yahweh all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be Yahweh’s. Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb [seh], or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.” (Exodus 13:12-13) The ultimate “Firstborn,” of course, would be Yahshua (Yahweh’s “only begotten Son”), who would fulfill not only the “sacrifice-the-firstborn” facet of the law, but also comprise the “lamb” substitute. We humans, like donkeys, are unclean: we cannot atone for our own sins or pay for our own redemption. Rather, a “clean” substitute—a seh—must be provided in our place. That lamb is Yahshua.
A more specific Hebrew designation for a “lamb” is keseb, a young ram or sheep, a small ruminate mammal of the Ovis family, about a year old or more (though in some contexts there is no apparent focus of the youth of the sheep). This seems to be a general word for the “sheep” species—unlike the seh, it is exclusive of goats. A keseb is a ceremonially clean animal, so it’s okay to eat, according to the Levitical dietary laws. A related word is kebes, meaning virtually the same thing. The usage statistics are revealing. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament notes, “This root and its derivatives [i.e., both kebes and keseb] occur 128 times in the Old Testament. Of these, only 17 do not occur in the context of sacrifice. Kebeś itself occurs 106 times with only 6 of these being non-sacrificial. As might be expected, 105 of the total occurrences are in the Pentateuch.”
We can see the general term contrasted with the specific in the instruction concerning the Passover “lamb,” which, as it turns out, didn’t have to be a lamb at all, but merely one of the flock—of the sheep or the goats. “On the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb [seh] according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep [kebes] or from the goats [’ez], and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.” (Exodus 12:3-7) Once again, the particular species isn’t the crux of the matter, but rather the animal’s intrinsic suitability as a sacrifice—a selection from the flock, a “clean” animal, one without imperfection or flaw. The “firstborn” theme is also in view here in the Passover instructions. (Note that the “firstborn” passage we just reviewed is in the very next chapter.) The Passover sacrifice, after all, was specifically intended to prevent the angel of death from slaying the firstborn of the household in which the lamb was slain. Thus the substitutionary nature of the sacrifice—of one life being taken so that another might live—is introduced in no uncertain terms. This is the foundation of the concept of “grace” that’s so prevalent in the writings of Paul.
The substitution, however, couldn’t be of one thing for something like it (e.g., Sydney Carton nobly going to the guillotine in place of Charles Darnay in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities). In the real world, a sinful man can die for his own sins, but not for the sins of another. And as Yahshua pointed out in John 3:17, all of us stand condemned by our sin—unless something is done to alter that situation (that “something” being defined in the previous verse as “believing in God’s only begotten Son”). Since God’s Son is sinless, innocent, blameless, and pure, He alone is able to function as the sacrifice Yahweh requires. And this is where God’s choice of the “lamb” as a symbolic sacrifice comes into view. Lambs represent innocence, a life lived without sin, without malice, and without deceit.
In the Passover scenario we just reviewed, the lamb chosen by the family to substitute for the life of the firstborn son wasn’t just picked out at random and summarily killed. Rather, God commanded that he was to be selected, inspected, and brought into the household four whole days before he was to be slain. What could be expected to happen between Nisan 10 and Nisan 14? Considering the docile, gregarious nature of the lamb (and even, to some extent, a young goat), an attachment would naturally develop between the animal and its family. It would become a pet, a companion, a fuzzy four-footed friend. He would become a familiar fixture around the house; his own unique personality would be revealed. The children would know him by name, and they’d get to where they could pick him out among a hundred sheep who looked just like him. So when the afternoon of the fourteenth rolled around, when the lamb had to be slain and roasted, there was plenty of agony to go around. The father would have spared the lamb if he could, since by now his children were in love with it. But he knew that if he did, his own son would die. There was really no option. As fond as the father had grown of the little critter, it came down to a choice between the lamb and his own son. There was no contest. The lamb had to die so his son could live.
To anyone with a firm grasp on the history of the thing, it should be apparent that this is precisely what happened in 33AD. Yahshua entered the “household” of Israel on Monday, Nisan 10, being thronged in adulation on the road leading from Bethlehem to Jerusalem—and in the process upstaging the High Priest, who thought he was bringing the perfect Passover lamb into town. (This particular Nisan 10 was prophesied—if you do the math—in Daniel 9:25.) During the next four days, Israel got to know their Lamb quite well as He taught in the temple, mentored His disciples, chastised those who profaned His Father’s house, and generally created mayhem and consternation for the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees (much to the delight, I imagine, of the “children” of Israel who found their arrogant pretensions hard to swallow). But four days later, on the 14th of Nisan (precisely as specified in the Torah) Yahshua was offered up to save us all from the messenger of death, His blood being applied to the doorpost and lintel of our eternal home—the “cross”: the stauros (upright pole) with its crosspiece, the patibulum. And just as John had prophesied, Yahshua was revealed to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
The images of Passover may be the most obvious repository of “lamb symbology” in the Torah, but they are not remotely alone. Virtually every type of blood sacrifice allows (or specifies) the use of a lamb, and the picture it presents is always the same: the innocence of the animal standing in for man’s lack of it. The peace offering (or selem) was typical: “If his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering to Yahweh is an animal from the flock, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. If he offers a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before Yahweh, lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it in front of the tent of meeting.” (Leviticus 3:6-8) The laying on of hands symbolically transferred innocence from the lamb to the one making the offering (or vice versa—guilt from the worshipper to the lamb). Burnt offerings (the olah), sin offerings (the chata’t) and trespass offerings (the asham) all specified circumstances under which lambs could be offered. And of course, the firstborn offering (the bekor) specified that all firstborn male lambs (being clean animals) were to be sacrificed.
Several of these offering types are seen in the context of the cleansing ceremony for leprosy. I discussed this at length in The Owner’s Manual, so I’ll confine my remarks to the “high points.” Leprosy is a scriptural metaphor for spiritual sickness—which can manifest itself in many different ways. The rites in the Torah do not actually prescribe a method for ridding oneself of the disease, but rather describe what to do once you have been cured. During the first seven days (indicative of the course of one’s mortal life), inspection and verification are done, and only after that time is the spiritually ill person (that’s all of us) finally declared “clean” (or not).
The “eighth day” of the rite, then, speaks of what happens in the eternal state: “And on the eighth day he [the one who has been cured] shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil. And the priest who cleanses him [literally, declares him to be clean] shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before Yahweh, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before Yahweh. And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy.” (Leviticus 14:10-13) Three lambs are to be offered by the cured leper. The first male lamb is a guilt (a.k.a. trespass) offering (the asham), acknowledging one’s lapses in holiness. The second is a sin offering (the chata’t), addressing the cured person’s failures in behavior. And the ewe lamb is an olah, or “burnt offering,” brought for atonement, homage, and celebration before Yahweh.
In the end, of course, all of these sacrificial lambs looked forward to Yahshua, God’s sacrifice that declares us to be clean of our spiritual sickness. It is no coincidence that after this symbolic law was pronounced, no Israelite (that we know of) was ever cured of leprosy—until Yahshua did so. In Luke 17, we’re told the story of ten lepers who were healed by Yahshua. But of the ten, only one—and a Samaritan at that—came back to thank his Benefactor. Only this one fulfilled the spirit of the Torah with his reaction: “When he saw that he was healed, [he] returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.” (Luke 17:15-16) This spontaneous outpouring of gratitude was the very olah, the burnt offering, that Yahweh had specified back here in Leviticus 14. We are all lepers; we are all born with a congenital spiritual malady. And we have all been offered the cure for our deadly condition. But who among us will do what the cured Samaritan did? (1) Realize we’ve been healed; (2) return, i.e., turn around (read: repent); (3) publicly glorify God; (4) worship our Healer; and (5) give Him thanks. Only those who do will be pronounced clean before Yahweh on the eighth day, the eternal state.
Looking at the seven annual holy convocations (the “Feasts”) of Yahweh, we note that lambs are associated with every single one of them. The lamb slain on Passover was eaten after sundown, meaning that the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15, the second convocation in the series) is in view. For the third convocation, the Feast of Firstfruits (the day after Unleavened Bread), we are told, “When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to Yahweh.” (Leviticus 23:10-12)
The Feast of Weeks continues the pattern: “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering.… And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bull from the herd and two rams.” (Leviticus 23:15-18) There’s a lot more to it, of course, but my purpose here is merely to point out God’s ubiquitous usage of lambs in Levitical worship. In Numbers 28 alone, lambs (kebes) are mentioned thirty-two times in reference to Passover, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles (making the “lamb score” seven for seven in Yahweh’s cycle of annual feasts), in addition to the daily tabernacle offerings, Sabbath rites, and new moon celebrations.
The tabernacle/temple is a comprehensive and detailed metaphor for God’s plan for our redemption. Thus I find it significant that lambs (kebes) are spoken of twenty-six times in Numbers 7 in reference to the offerings that were made to dedicate the original tabernacle. (At the dedication of the first temple, Solomon and the Israelites were said to have offered 120,000 sheep!) And lest you think that the imagery is all but obsolete, note that in Ezekiel 46, the future Millennial temple offerings—now memorial rather than prophetic—speak of lambs seven more times. I wasn’t educated in a fancy seminary and I don’t have a lot of letters behind my name, but I have observed a thing or two about God’s word. My horseback hermeneutics run something like this: (1) Yahweh has good reason for telling us whatever He’s told us: He doesn’t say anything on a pointless whim. (2) He’s told us everything we need to know about life and godliness, and has equipped us with brains to figure out the rest on our own. (3) God doesn’t make stupid mistakes: if something looks wrong, the problem is on our end (faulty logic, bad translations, errant assumptions, etc.), not His. (4) He’s perfectly capable of taking care of His own kingdom; He doesn’t need our help, even though He enjoys our enthusiastic participation. And (5) the more often a theme or subject is broached in God’s word, the more essential it is to our understanding. Therefore, the sheer ubiquity of “lamb sightings” in scripture should tell us that as a symbol, this one’s really important, to wit: any innocence we have (and remember: we must be guiltless if we wish to stand before a holy God) is borrowed, imputed, transferred to us through the sacrifice of Innocence on our behalf. And ultimately, Innocence has a name: Yahshua—“Yahweh is Salvation.”
God told us what to expect: “‘Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,’ says Yahweh of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1) That was fulfilled when John the Baptist testified in the desert: “John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.” (John 1:35-37) The Messenger of Yahweh’s covenant is the Lamb of God. Following Him is the only logical course of action open to us.
There’s more to the “lamb” metaphor than innocence. In addition to being God’s “suitable sacrifice,” Christ is also cast as the Good Shepherd—highlighting the fact that sheep are generally vulnerable, gullible, not too bright, and apt to wander away and get lost—they need help. These attributes make sheep a pretty good metaphor for people, who are weak, venal, and all too apt to go astray. I firmly believe that a big part of what comprised Yahshua’s “sacrifice” was taking on the form of a man. That’s not merely a “demotion.” He gave up entire dimensions in order to meet us where we are. The manifestation of God as man is the ultimate expression of empathy, for Yahshua in so doing subjected Himself to every test and temptation common to our race. And His only defense against evil was that which all believers have at our disposal.
What, precisely, was this defense? Paul explained it: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” It’s hard to defend yourself against something you don’t understand. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:11-17) Truth, righteousness, the Good News of God’s love, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer: Yahshua used—or was—all of these things to defend Himself against the “schemes of the devil” as He walked the earth. His only “offensive weapon” was (as it is with us) the indwelling Holy Spirit. As a mortal human, Yahshua was every bit as vulnerable as we are, and yet He overcame it all, maintaining His innocence (and through it, His power to atone for our sins). “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) So Yahshua is both sheep and shepherd, both vulnerable and invincible, both tested and triumphant.
Isaiah points out the same contrast: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on Him [the Messiah] the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:6-7, quoted in Acts 8) In other words, because we act like dumb sheep, Yahshua became a sacrificial Lamb on our behalf. Consider the role of lambs or sheep in human society. They have two jobs: (1) get fleeced, and then (2) get eaten. People were never designed to be “sheeple.” As far back as the Garden of Eden, our mandate was to administer, tend, and be good stewards over God’s creation, at least here on earth. Man was given dominion over every living thing—except for other men. Some people’s goal, however, is to rule over their fellows, fleecing them and consuming their wealth—or their very lives. When we “turn to our own way,” we cease being men and women, and become sheeple.
So the Psalmist laments (as must we all), “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.” (Psalm 119:176) And seek us God does—and finds us, if we want to be found. David noted, “Yahweh is my Shepherd. I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1) That’s a swell sentiment, but little more than sweet poetic musings if God doesn’t actually do something in His role as Shepherd. Yes, David experienced the guidance and provision of Yahweh in his life, but in the long run, we’d hope for something a bit more tangible, a bit more direct from our Creator. And we wouldn’t be disappointed: Yahweh is our Shepherd, but the One we see holding His rod and staff, leading us beside still waters, is Yahshua—taking care of His Father’s flock.
“Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” He’s speaking, ultimately, of any proposed path to God (or to prosperity, paradise, heaven on earth, utopia, world peace, or whatever you want to call it) that Yahweh Himself did not reveal, any manmade religion or philosophy that denies the truths presented in the Torah—truths Yahshua had come to personify and fulfill. “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly….” The blessed experience described by David in the 23rd Psalm is equated here with a life in Christ: there is no other door. This experience, though everybody may say he wants it (or something like it), is exclusive to those who enter into it God’s way—through God’s only door: Yahshua.
Shifting metaphors a bit, He continues: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” If someone has no vested interest in an enterprise, whether financial, emotional, or moral, he will have no reason to risk his own neck on its behalf. Have you ever noticed the tendency of some politicians to throw their supporters under the bus at the first sign of adversity, or to duck their responsibilities and commitments when it seems politically advantageous to do so? That’s what happens when the agenda is personal power, not love of country. Yahshua didn’t have to grasp at power—He was Almighty God, after all. Christ laid down His life so we dumb sheeple could escape from the ravenous, drooling wolf, Satan. “I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep….” God does not consider us His “property” (though this is His right) but rather friends, companions, His children. We know Him, and He knows us, for His Spirit lives within us.
Remember, Yahshua was speaking to Jews, to Israelites. So the next revelation came as a bit of a bombshell to them: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd….” Yahshua is, of course, referring to the church, the called-out assembly of people who believe in the efficacy of His sacrifice—the “laying down of His life for the sheep.” Though exclusively Jewish in the beginning, the ekklesia would become largely comprised of gentiles as time went on. But the central truth, the one thing everybody seems to forget, is that even though we live in different “folds,” all of His sheep are of one flock, with one Shepherd, whose one voice speaks to all of us. Israel will recognize her Messiah. It’s a prophetic fait accompli.
One final epiphany: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.” (John 10:7-18) Nobody “took” Yahshua’s life. He wasn’t seized and executed against His will. Rather, He “laid it down” willingly and voluntarily for our sakes (knowing the whole time that He had the power to “take it up again” when the time was right). It was all a question of authority. Being the Son of God, Yahshua (though clothed temporarily in a mortal human body) held absolute authority over life and death. He had proved that very thing any number of times. Providing life and atonement for us by literally becoming the “Passover Lamb” of God was “merely” the next step in the unfolding of the Torah’s symbology. I am still dumbfounded that the scribes, Pharisees, and chief priests of Israel, as steeped as they were in the Torah, couldn’t see this coming. I mean, they had Him executed on Passover, of all days! What were they thinking? In retrospect, this is about as obvious as any fulfilled prophecy has ever been.
Anyone who finds himself in a position of leadership could be characterized a “shepherd.” I mentioned that a sheep’s “job” is to get fleeced and then eaten, but the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep is supposed to be a two-way street: in exchange for wool and the occasional lamb chop, the shepherd is responsible for feeding, guarding, protecting, and tending the flock, leading them to water and fending off predators—even if it means risking his own life in the process. So in Ezekiel 34, Yahweh has a scathing rebuke for the “shepherds” of Israel: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel [the leaders, both of the monarchy and the religious elite]; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, ‘Thus says the Sovereign Yahweh: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat.” If you’ll recall, the “fat” symbolically indicates “the best there is,” and more to the point, it was reserved for Yahweh. “You clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep….” The leaders of Israel were not keeping up their end of the bargain. They were supposed to be “herding” their people into a close and secure relationship with Yahweh, but all they were doing was feeding their own faces and lining their own pockets at the expense of the sheeple. Whether or not they realized it, this was tantamount to stealing from God: He concludes the chapter by reminding Israel, “You are My flock, the flock of My pasture.”
Ezekiel continues the tirade, this time detailing the shepherds’ failures: “The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.” Everything a shepherd is supposed to do for his sheep has a counterpart in what leaders are to do for their people. Although He’s talking to Israel here, it’s pretty clear that the principle could be extended to any leadership situation—other nations, heads of families, pastors of churches, corporate employers, institutions of learning, etc. If people are depending on you for guidance and provision, Yahweh requires that you meet their needs to the best of your ability—and do so before you meet your own needs at their expense. “So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them….’” By the time Ezekiel wrote this, Israel’s northern kingdom had long since been ground to powder in the Assyrian machine (which is not to say Yahweh can’t still track their whereabouts), and Judah had been hauled off to Babylon in chains—all because their “shepherds” had failed in their responsibilities to keep their people safe in Yahweh’s care. And yet the admonition still holds true, for it is a universal principle: leaders have responsibilities before God, the foremost of which is to guide their flocks in the ways of Yahweh.
Furthermore, there are consequences for failing to lead according to God’s law: “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh: As I live, declares the Sovereign Yahweh, surely because My sheep have become a prey, and My sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because My shepherds have not searched for My sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed My sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Yahweh: Thus says the Sovereign Yahweh, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My sheep at their hand and put a stop to their tending the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue My sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.” (Ezekiel 34:2-10) First, God will declare himself an enemy of the worthless shepherd. Idiots and atheists, of course, don’t care about that, but it ought to at least give a rational person pause. Second, God will “require His sheep at their hand,” that is, He will hold the false shepherds personally responsible for their destruction. Again, if you have any pretense of belief in a supreme being, this prospect ought to shake you to your soul. Third, Yahweh will remove the false shepherds from their exalted positions of leadership, so they can no longer fleece the sheeple. This one must be weighed against God’s propensity for giving people ample time to repent. From the point of view of the sheep, of course, removal of the bad shepherd can’t come soon enough. But Yahweh’s timing is perfect.
In the end, every leader who has ever lived is merely an understudy, for Yahweh, manifested as Yahshua, is the ultimate Shepherd. “For thus says the Sovereign Yahweh: Behold, I, I Myself, will search for My sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out My sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.” Although the principle is still universal, Yahweh is focusing on Israel’s future here—their restoration under their King and Messiah during the coming Millennial kingdom. The reference to darkened skies is an oft repeated theme in Tribulation eschatology. “And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land.” For the record, the “mountain heights of Israel” are in the currently disputed “West Bank.” Yahweh is stating in no uncertain terms that Israel’s borders will once again match the original promises. (See in particular the hyper-specific description of the Land in Numbers 34.) “There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I Myself will be the shepherd of My sheep, and I Myself will make them lie down, declares the Sovereign Yahweh. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.” (Ezekiel 34:11-16) Yahweh intends to “fire” those worthless shepherds who led Israel (and the rest of us) astray, taking their cut off the top while scoffing at their responsibilities of stewardship. And who will lead His people? He will, personally. Sometimes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
I should note that people who ascribe to “replacement theology,” a.k.a. “supercessionism”—the idea that the church has inherited Israel’s promises, blessings, and covenant, while the Jews are thrown under the bus of history for their transgressions—is flatly contradicted by these verses (and a hundred similar passages in the Tanach). The church was never scattered like frightened sheep, nor is it reasonable that God intends to gather every member of the ekklesia and squeeze them into tiny eretz Israel, the land promised to Abraham’s physical descendants. To believe in such things, one has to irrationally declare that none of this is literally true—that God was only speaking in allegorical terms. But if you start “spiritualizing” scripture to yield the result you want (rather than taking it the way you found it, assuming only that Yahweh knows what He’s doing), you have no objective basis for your hermeneutics anymore: you’re just making up scripture as you go. It’s tantamount to both adding to and subtracting from the words of God—in clear violation of such warnings as Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, and Revelation 22:18.
Anyway, so much for the shepherds. What about the sheep themselves? Do they (we) have any responsibilities? Are we to be held accountable, even though we’re not leaders? Apparently, yes: “As for you, My flock, thus says the Sovereign Yahweh: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep [both seh, the generic word for members of a flock], between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must My sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?...” A careful reading of the text reveals a distinction between one kind of “sheep” and another here. One group He calls “My sheep,” set in contrast with “you,” other sheep who pollute what they don’t utilize. They’re all part of the same big flock (humanity), all of which belongs to God, but some of them, though not shepherds, still manage to display a degree of selfish, willfully destructive arrogance that Yahweh finds reprehensible. We may not know the solution, but we don’t have to be part of the problem.
“Therefore, thus says the Sovereign Yahweh to them: Behold, I, I Myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue My flock; they shall no longer be a prey.” Interesting concept: sheep preying upon other sheep, sheep in wolves’ clothing, so to speak—very un-lamblike behavior, but something that’s becoming more prevalent all the time. It’s the antithesis of loving one’s neighbor. “And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, Yahweh, will be their God, and My servant David shall be prince among them. I am Yahweh; I have spoken.” (Ezekiel 34:17-24) “David” (Israel’s beloved shepherd-king) could be a metaphor for his physical descendant, King Yahshua here, but it’s also possible that the resurrected, now-immortal David is in view. My studies in prophecy have led me to the conclusion that both of them will be present in the Millennial Jerusalem. Either way, Yahweh has promised to rescue and protect His flock from both evil shepherds and belligerent, self-centered sheep during the Kingdom Age.
As we saw in Hebrew, the Koine Greek dialect has several words denoting lambs or sheep. When John the Baptist said of Yahshua (twice, both in John 1) “Behold the Lamb of God,” he used the word amnos, the word used to denote sacrificial lambs. Amnos is apparently the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew seh, for it is used in Acts 8:32 to render Isaiah 53:7 into Greek (“As a lamb before its shearer is silent…”). And Peter uses amnos to stress the substitutionary nature of Christ’s sacrifice, comparing it to the Torah’s lamb offerings: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb [amnos] without blemish or spot.” (I Peter 1:18-19) So in the New Testament, Yahshua is positively identified as the Lamb of God’s redemption, the suitable sacrifice of which the Torah spoke, the only means by which we may be reconciled to Yahweh.
But what about lambs or sheep as a metaphor for people—vulnerable, not too bright, and in constant need of our Good Shepherd? In the telling encounter between the humbled Peter and his resurrected Savior, several descriptive “sheep” words are used: “Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs’ [that’s arnion, a little lamb]. He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep. [probation].’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know everything; You know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’ [probation].’”.’” (John 21:15-17) A probaton (or the diminutive probation) is a small grazing animal, a sheep or goat, figuratively, one in God’s (i.e., Christ’s) care and possession. While it lacks the tender overtones of arnion, it is used overwhelmingly in the Greek scriptures as a euphemism for “sheeple” who would be lost were it not for their association with their Shepherd, Yahshua. A few examples of the probation: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out?”(Matthew 12:11) “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost." (Luke 15:6) Or, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)
That last example stings a bit, for “the lost sheep of Israel,” ultimately following the bad advice of their rabbis, opted in the end to remain lost. That is why Yahweh had warned them through the prophet Ezekiel, as we saw above, “Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats.” He will certainly do that among the Jews. As Zechariah reports, “Awake, O sword, against My shepherd [Yahshua], against the Man who stands next to Me, declares Yahweh of hosts. Strike the shepherd, and the sheep [in context, Israel] will be scattered; I will turn My hand against the little ones.” This has been going on since 70 AD. “In the whole land, declares Yahweh, two thirds shall be cut off and perish, and one third shall be left alive. And I will put this third into the fire [i.e., the Tribulation], and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are My people’; and they will say, ‘Yahweh is my God.’” (Zechariah 13:7-9)
But Yahshua also informed His disciples (during the Olivet Discourse) precisely what the gentiles could expect as the age came to its final abrupt conclusion. It’s a process of division, of separating the innocent (i.e., redeemed) mortals still alive on the earth at the end of the Tribulation from the guilty, unredeemed survivors: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on his glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats….” Note that He said “when,” not “if.” Yahshua will reign in glory upon the throne of planet earth. It’s a prophetic fait accompli.
The “nations” are the gentiles—everybody but Israel (whom the King will later describe as “these My brothers”). The only time this scene could logically take place is immediately after the Tribulation—at the very beginning of the Millennial age—for God clearly intends to begin His earthly kingdom (as He did after the flood of Noah) with a clean slate, an earth populated exclusively with people who have chosen to honor Him. If Daniel 12:12 means what I think it does (that someone is “blessed”—i.e., he has “made the cut”—if he survives until 1,335 days after the abomination of desolation, which in turn will occur on day 1,230 of the 2,520-day Tribulation), then the “separation of the sheep from the goats” spoken of here will be a process that will take the first forty-five days of the Millennium to achieve. And if my (admittedly wild) guess about the number of surviving mortals that will have to be evaluated (only a billion or so, out of the approximately seven billion alive today) is even remotely correct, then this judgment process will take place with blinding speed.
“And He will place the sheep [Greek: probation] on His right, but the goats on the left.” That’s the essence of the Biblical concept of “judgment”—the judicial separation of guilty from the vindicated. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….” If the God-King were nothing more than a judge, a mere decider of issues, this would seem very odd indeed. We’re used to judges (as flawed humans themselves) having to be impartial and dispassionate, with no vested interest in how the case turns out. But this One is obviously rooting for the sheep, overjoyed that He’s able to invite these vindicated defendants into the kingdom as blessed souls, destined to be the patriarchs and matriarchs of a perfect world. Only God Himself could exercise the perfect wisdom necessary for such tricky decisions. Remember, all the “defendants” standing before Him missed the rapture. That is, none of them had a personal relationship with the Living God when the “trumpet” was blown some years before this, catching up the true believers to be with Yahshua in the heavens while leaving everyone else to face the wrath of God.
So what did the sheep do in the meantime that compelled the Judge to pronounce them innocent and blessed? Did they all buy black suits and big ol’ King James Bibles and start attending church services regularly? Did they work diligently to form airtight theological positions? No. Considering the times, I’d venture a guess that most of these “sheep” came out of the Tribulation not having much more “doctrine” under their belts than they did before it began. Churchianity remained a foreign concept to them. But they listened to their consciences, heeded the angelic messengers (see Revelation 14:6) and perhaps encountered one of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses—and they did what they knew was right, despite the consequences. The Judge says, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me….’” These are practical expressions of love, not religious acts or cultic rituals. The time for symbols, it appears, will have passed. Now your guilt or innocence will be determined solely on the basis of what you do to help your fellow man, for this, in the end, is the only evidence deemed valid to reveal what you believe.
This—the idea that the sheep had aided the King (the Shepherd) in some way—will come as a surprise to them, however. “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me….’” Sheep aren’t expected to know much or have a lot of skill. Nevertheless, we saw above how God takes exception to those who “muddy the water with their feet,” “trample down the grass,” and “thrust at the weak with their horns.” By treating their fellow sheep with kindness and generosity to whatever extent they were able, these “righteous” sheep will have actually been assisting the Shepherd, though they didn’t even know He was watching.
As a practical matter, since this a picture of behavior during the dark days of the Tribulation, taking care of “the least of these My brothers” can be boiled down to providing shelter and support for the most hated, persecuted, irrationally despised population on earth—the Jews. The Nazis of the 1930s and ’40s showed us how it will work. As Hitler’s minions tried to round up and exterminate all of Europe’s Jews, a few brave souls hid them, sheltered them, fed them, and secreted them out of harm’s way—at dire risk to their own safety. These angels of mercy from our recent past are analogous to the blessed “sheep” of the Tribulation, who will similarly risk their own lives to feed, clothe, and shelter the Israelites—in and out of the Land. One wonders how many there will be. I only know this: they (along with the Jews they’ve supported) will be the only mortals left alive on earth when the King has finished the separation procedure.
This does not bode well for the “goats.” “Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” If the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of which Yahshua spoke in John 3 describes how someone can be “born from above” into eternal life, then this terrifying scenario reveals the converse—being “born from below,” so to speak. These goats have consciously chosen to ally themselves with demons instead of God, and will therefore share in the demons’ fate, described a bit later as “eternal punishment.” As with the sheep, however, the only evidence allowed in this court is what they actually did (or did not do) to “the least of the King’s brothers,” for their actions reveal what (and who) they believe. “For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
One may be tempted to cry “foul” here. After all, helping Jews in these dark times will be (as it was under the Nazis) illegal, dangerous, and (gasp!) politically incorrect. The goats may protest, I was only following orders, or I was only doing as the law required, or I was only trying to protect my family. Though the moral precedent set at the Nuremburg trials will still hold true, the clincher will be that by turning their backs on the Jews, the goats had actually turned their backs on the King Himself, whether they knew it or not. He takes their cowardice (if that’s what it really was) as a personal affront. Nor will ignorance be an excuse: the principle had been laid down four thousand years previously, when God had told Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) In the end, it will all come down to who they believed, Yahweh or Satan. The truly terrifying thing about all this is that apparently, non-choice will no longer be possible: everyone alive on earth will be forced to get off the fence—to get right, or get left.
Lest there should be any confusion about the identity of the coming King, the Book of Revelation uses a literary device designed to establish the continuity between the suffering Messiah of Torah symbol and fulfilled prophecy, and the reigning Messiah of as-yet-unfulfilled prophecy. Here, the Sacrificial Lamb is presented as an image of the reigning King: the only person in heaven or on earth found worthy to judge in righteousness.
We find John in exile on the Isle of Patmos, receiving a heavenly vision of things yet to be: “Then I saw in the right hand of Him who was seated on the throne [i.e., Yahweh] a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?...’” The scroll represents, in a manner of speaking, the title deed to planet earth—something that Adam lost to Satan in the Garden of Eden when Satan tricked Adam and Eve into sinning. Basically, it was like losing the family farm to a sleazy cheat in a rigged card game. The only way to win it back would have been by beating the devil at his own game, but to do that Adam would have had to be sinless. Unfortunately, as we saw with leaven, sin is like a chemical reaction—it’s irreversible. One must become a “new creation” to be rid of its effects. So as far as the world is concerned, only someone who’d been subjected to the same sort of testing as Adam, and yet had remained sinless, could “win” the earth back and undo the curse. And make no mistake. The curse is complete and total: there are seven seals preventing any normal (i.e., corrupted) person from opening the scroll and freeing the earth from bondage.
So John, faced with this seemingly insoluble conundrum, breaks down in tears: “And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.” But as it turned out, all was not lost. “And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals….’” These “elders” represent the redeemed—those whose faith in Yahweh’s solution for their sin defined them as being righteous in God’s eyes. The elders know who is worthy to break the seals and reclaim the earth, for they have witnessed his victory over death. They see Him as the Lion of Judah: the king, the basis of David’s right to rule.
But what John saw didn’t look like a lion. He looked like a little lamb, and a dead one at that, one who had been sacrificed on the altar of Yahweh: “And between the throne and the four living beings and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” Note where the Lamb is standing: He is positioned between the throne (where Yahweh dwells) and the four living beings, representing God’s presence in the affairs of men. The Lamb is positioned among the elders—He identifies with us, empathizes with us, and most importantly, has given His life for us. “And He went and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who was seated on the throne. And when He had taken the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints….” The elders know this Lamb to actually be the Lion of the tribe of Judah—in other words, the rightful King. But notice who else gives Him homage: the four living beings (representative of God’s presence) are also seen bowing before Him. Moreover, prayers are being offered up to Him. It’s the clearest of Biblical principles: one does not bow down to or offer prayers to anyone or anything other than Yahweh—not created things, not saints, not even angels—but only to Yahweh Himself. This “Lamb,” it appears, is no ordinary sacrificial animal: He is God in flesh.
“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals.’” Why are they all so excited? How is the Lamb able to do what no one else in heaven or earth had been able to do? “‘For You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’” Yahweh (as Yahweh—the omnipotent Creator Spirit) could not function as our redeeming sacrifice, for spirits (and especially the self-existent One) are immortal; they cannot be slain, for any reason. That, of course, is why Yahweh, in His love for us, manifested Himself as a meek and lowly man—symbolizing the Passover lamb through whom He would be revealed as our redeemer, our ransom. By this most selfless of acts, Yahshua achieved our transformation from sinners into saints, and earned the legal right to open the seven seals of the scroll.
This revelation, not surprisingly, is cause for celebration—in heaven and on earth: “Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living beings and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living beings said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Revelation 5) On a more prosaic note, the opening of the seals (described in the following chapter) reveals precisely how the Lamb of God will go about taking His world back from Satan. The remainder of the book fleshes out the plot, reveals the players, and generally provides a framework upon which to hang hundreds of previous Last Days prophecies scattered throughout scripture. Taken as a comprehensive whole, like a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, they provide a remarkably clear picture of what’s on our immediate horizon. Tracking down all the puzzle pieces is a job for another book (one I’ve already written, which explains how I know what happens when you “work the puzzle”—Read The End of The Beginning, elsewhere on this website). All I want to do at this juncture is to point out that none of this would be possible if Yahweh had not put aside His glory and humbled Himself like an innocent lamb—He came to be slaughtered on our behalf and in our stead.
The Messiah maintains his “Lamb” persona throughout the Book of Revelation, for it is essential that we make the connection between His sacrifice and His right to rule. As if to make my point for me, we read, “And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind and hand over their power and authority to the beast. They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful.” (Revelation 17:12-14) You don’t ordinarily see lambs “conquering” anything. I mean, they’re sweet, gentle, fuzzy, and not equipped with thumbs—hardly your typical “conqueror” metaphor. But as we have already seen, this Lamb is actually the Lion of the tribe of Judah: four hundred pounds of muscle and mane, teeth, claws, and unmitigated confidence. The lion eats what he wants, when he wants: in this case, He’s going to make lunch out of the Antichrist’s power base. The lesson to us humans: be careful Who you attack. He may not be the helpless victim you imagined Him to be.
Another example: we are given this glimpse of Yahshua’s homecoming: “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads…. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.” (Revelation 14:1, 4-5) These 144,000 are young men from all twelve tribes of Israel (well, actually, Dan is missing, compensated for by two tribes from Joseph), sealed and tasked to introduce their nation to the Messiah they rejected two thousand years previously. They (like the rest of the saints) are “blameless” not because they never sinned, but because their sins have been atoned by the blood of the Lamb—in whose company they’re seen on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. They’re doing what we should all be doing, metaphorically, at least: “following the Lamb wherever He goes.”
As we get near the end of the story—when evil has been conquered and justice prevails—we might expect God to drop the “Lamb” metaphor in favor of something a bit more regal. But we’d be mistaken: “‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” (Revelation 19:6-9) The sacrifice of the Lamb was what made everything possible—the celebration of God’s glory, the eternal union of Christ with His bride, and even her righteous deeds before God.
So no, this is one symbol Yahweh is going to keep using forever. Even when this earth is gone and the heavens are no more, we will still be celebrating the Lamb of God. “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:22-27) Even in the New Jerusalem—which for our purposes is “heaven,” the Lamb is our liberty, our light, and our very life.