A Lamb for An Ass
“And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem” (Exodus 13:13).
Throughout the Mosaic dispensation, every day in the Jewish nation opened and closed with the sacrifice of a lamb. A lamb was offered upon God’s altar, at the door of the tabernacle every morning to begin the day; and another lamb was sacrificed every evening to conclude it. The Lord God said, “I will meet you to speak there unto thee” (Exodus 29:42). The lamb sacrificed was the place of meeting. God came to his people and his people came to him by a sacrificed lamb. There was no other way for the two to come together. If God came to man, it was by a lamb sacrificed. If man came to God, it was by a lamb sacrificed. That lamb sacrificed was given to the children of Israel for a token, a sign, upon the hand that made the sacrifice and in the eyes that beheld it. And this is what the token promised, this is what the Lord God said by the sign, — This is how I will dwell among you and be your God, this is how you “shall be sanctified by my glory” (Exodus 29:38-46).
The Lamb God’s Glory
According to the typical revelation of the law given in Exodus 29, sanctification was by the sacrifice of a lamb; and in verse 43 we are told that it is by God’s glory. Does the Lord God mean for us to understand that all our salvation and all his glory is in that Lamb, to whom these typical lambs pointed, the Lamb of God, Christ our Passover, the Lamb of God sacrificed for us? Indeed, he does! Both our salvation and God’s glory are in the Lamb of God slain for sinners.
Unclean Made Clean
In the 2nd verse of Exodus 13 the Lord God commands, “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.” What about the unclean animals? The Lord God gave a very specific command, forbidding that any unclean beast be offered to him (Leviticus 27:11). He makes two commandments that seem to contradict one another. If one is fulfilled, it would appear that the other cannot be. He demands that all the firstborn of man and beast be sanctified unto him. Yet, he also forbids offering anything that is unclean to him. How can such a law (the law is one) be fulfilled? How can all the firstborn be sanctified to the Lord, and no unclean thing be offered to him? The Lord God himself answers that question in verse 13. — The ass was redeemed, made clean and accepted by God by the sacrifice of a lamb.
The Wonder of Grace
The Lord God met the difficulty by providing a substitute for the unclean ass. Though the ass must be God’s, it could not be, except by substitution. The Lord God says, concerning the unclean ass, “Every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb.”
What a sweet, beautiful picture this is of the glorious gospel of Christ! The Lord God often compares man to an ass. It is written, vain man is born “like a wild ass’s colt” (Job 11:12). You and I are all born by nature “like a wild ass’s colt,” foolish, senseless and stubborn, given to lust and debauchery, and wild. As the wild ass will not bear the yoke, so none will ever bow to the yoke of Christ, except the Son of God break him. Man by nature is like “a wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up wind at her pleasure” (Jeremiah 2:24; Job 39:5).
Yet, the holy Lord God said, I will take the wild ass, the unclean thing, make it clean, use it for my service and show my glory in redeeming it by a Substitute, by the blood of the Lamb. He said, they “shall be sanctified by my glory!” He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up to die in our stead, as the Lamb of God, our Substitute; and that is his glory, the glory that sanctifies us (Romans 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; 5:17-21).
This is the great wonder of grace. — Being redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, we are the sheep of God, the lambs of Christ’s flock, made fit to sit far above principalities and powers in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus! Lost by sin through the fall, and utterly unclean, God’s super-abounding grace has made us utterly clean, without spot and without blame, through the sin-atoning blood of his dear Son!
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