Sheep make their first appearance in Genesis 4:2, “Now Abel was a keeper of sheep.” One of the reasons Abel kept sheep was for the purpose of killing them and offering them to God as a sacrifice. The offering of a slaughtered lamb was in contrast to the offering of Cain who brought the work of his hands, specifically the “fruit of the ground” (Genesis 4:4-5). We are told that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice of the lamb, but rejected Cain’s sacrifice of the ground.
Another appearance of sheep is found in Genesis 22, where God tested Abraham and commanded him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mt. Moriah. As they were walking up the mountain, Isaac said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” And provide He did, for right before Abraham was about to kill his son, God intervened (which was always the plan) and provided a substitute, a ram. “And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns.” (Genesis 22:13)
Now fast forward to the nation of Israel. Their freedom from the slavery of Egypt was built upon the back of slaughtered lambs. All of the Hebrews were told to kill a lamb and put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and the lintel of the house for “The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:13). God then commanded Israel to make this event a holiday and celebrate it every single year at the same time, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” (Exodus 12:14). Every year, therefore, all of Israel would slaughter lambs in remembrance of when God passed over them because of the blood of the lamb.
Sheep then make another appearance in a prophesy of Isaiah around the year 700 B.C. In Isaiah 53:7 it says, “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.” Who is this lamb that will be slaughtered?
700 years later a guy by the name of John the Baptist shows up. John was the greatest prophet of Israel, and upon seeing Jesus of Nazareth testifies, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). How would Jesus be the Lamb of God? How else, but by being slaughtered. Jesus would be the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. And was Jesus slaughtered? Yes, on the cross at Calvary. This is an undeniable historical fact. And when was Jesus, the Lamb of God, slaughtered? At the Passover Feast. Coincidence, I think not.
But that is not the end of the story, for on the third day the Lamb that was slaughtered stood and walked out of His tomb. The Lamb of God overcame death. In the last book of the Bible, we see a beautiful picture of this standing Lamb in Revelation 5:6-10.
“And between the throne and the four living creatures 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. 7And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures 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. 9And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
This is the reason for Easter. This is the reason for everything.