Lessons From Lambs
“Behold the Lamb of God!”
- As urban Americans in 2016, we are very ignorant of the nature of lambs and sheep and their use.
- The Jews that heard John the Baptist in A.D. 26 were intimately familiar with all aspects of them.
- The traits outlined here may apply more to sheep than to lambs, but we use lambs representatively.
- During the 1500+ years of Israel under Moses Law, the Jews slaughtered about 400 million lambs.
- Jesus submitted meekly and quietly to the rage of enemies and was slaughtered for us at Calvary.
- The preacher and author here has long intended a study of lambs/sheep and field trip to see them.
- There are many other more insignificant lessons that could be brought than those written below.
- Lambs, sheep, flocks, and shepherds are seen from the earliest Bible chapters to the last chapter.
- This sermon study involved reviewing about 850 references to lambs, sheep, flocks, shepherds, etc.
- Raising sheep is one of the oldest industries we know of by the Bible and human history (Abel).
- Sheep were first used for meat, skins, milk, and wool; it makes the best leather like lambskin jackets.
- The world has over 1 billion sheep in 900 breeds; China has the most; California has the most here.
- Americans eat 87 pounds of chicken, 65 of beef, 51 of pork, 17 of turkey, but only 1.1 of lamb.
- Sheep in America are 1/8 of what they were, due to synthetic threads and promotion of other meats.
- Wool is durable, insulating, wrinkle and fire resistant, moisture-absorbing, but declining (Job 31:20).
- Sheep are shorn annually; a year’s growth is 8 lbs. of wool; one pound can make 10 miles of yarn.
- The best known cheese to Americans from sheep milk is feta, though sometimes with cow milk.
- Lamb meat is called just that, lamb; meat from a grown sheep outside the first year is called mutton.
- George Washington raised them at Mt. Vernon; Woodrow Wilson’s grazed the White House lawn.
- Sheep are animals over one year of age; lambs are animals less than a year; yearlings are 1-2 years.
- The life expectancy is 6-11 years; the mature weight for female ewes 90-300 lbs., males 150-400.
- Sheep produce milk; other nations drink it; the Bible lists it; it makes gourmet cheese (Deut 32:14).
- Weight at birth varies by breed, sex, birth number, etc., but they are close to human babies (5-8 lbs.).
- Gestation is about five months or 150 days as opposed to human gestation of 9 months or 39 weeks.
- A female sheep is a ewe; a male is a ram or buck; a castrated male is a wether; the young are lambs.
- Puberty is around 8 months for both rams and ewes; breeding is 1-2 times a year, with 1-3 in litters.
- Sheep are ruminants with a four-chamber stomach using bacteria to assist breaking down their food.
- They only have lower teeth to press against their upper palette; their field of vision is 300+ degrees.
- If on their back, they cannot get up and must be helped up, or else they could die within an hour.
- Healthy lambs can stand within minutes after birth and can move with the flock almost immediately.
- They have good memories and can recall at least 50 individual sheep and humans faces for years
- More sheep facts and sheep husbandry information may be obtained at many websites and videos.
JESUS Is the Lamb of God
- John will declare this same name/title for Jesus Christ the next day as well (Jn 1:36).
- There is not a single occurrence of lamb in any of the other three gospel accounts.
- There is not a single occurrence of lamb in all the epistles of beloved brother Paul.
- The eunuch read Isaiah 53:7 in Acts 8:32; Peter used a simile once (I Peter 1:19).
- John used Lamb of God as a name and title for Jesus twice here (John 1:29,36).
- He used Lamb 28 times in Revelation (Re 5:6,8,12,13; 6:1,16; 7:9,10,14,17; 12:11; 13:8,11; 14:1,4,10; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7,9; 21:9,14,22,23,27; 22:1,3).
- John loved this name and title, and he saw His Lord as such in heaven (Rev 5:6).
- Jesus Christ is not the Lamb of God in several respects that we should rule out first.
- Jesus is not the Lamb for any hurtful fear, helplessness, or intimidation on His part.
- Jesus is not the Lamb for being a follower of any rather than our Head and Leader.
- Jesus is not the Lamb only; He was also identified in heaven as a Lion (Rev 5:5).
- Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God in several respects we should delight and rejoice in.
- He is the Lamb for being the docile, humble sacrifice put to death by others.
- He is the Lamb for his meek and quiet submission to a brutal death (Is 53:7).
- If God clothed Adam and Eve with lambskin, Jesus fulfilled it (Gen 3:31).
- Jesus fulfilled the implied lamb that Abraham and Isaac needed (Ge 22:7-8).
- Jesus fulfilled the Passover lamb that delivered Israel, which was an annual family ritual with personal and significant meaning (Ex 12:1-28,43-51).
- Jesus fulfilled the morning and evening lamb of Israel (Num 28:3-8); the interruption of these daily sacrifices was very serious (Dan 8:11-12; 12:11).
- Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath lambs offered every seven days (Num 28:9-10).
- Jesus fulfilled the seven lambs offered to start every month (Num 28:11-15).
- Jesus fulfilled the seven lambs offered daily during Passover (Nu 28:16-25).
- Jesus fulfilled the seven lambs offered for feast of firstfruits (Nu 28:26-31).
- Jesus fulfilled the only Messianic Psalm specifically identifying this replacement of all sacrifices required by Moses (Ps 40:6-8; Heb 10:1-10).
- For the Passover lamb.
Jesus Fulfilled the Passover Lamb
- By far the largest number of lambs slain in Israel for 1500 years was for the Passover.
- Israel recalled God’s death angel passing over their firstborn when seeing the blood.
- Paul explained that Jesus was sacrificed to save us like the lamb for them (I Cor 5:7).
- Jesus fulfilled the Passover lamb in many different ways as antitype of the shadow.
- For much more about the Passover.
The Book of Life is the Lamb’s
- The book of life, with the names of elect be redeemed, is Christ’s (Rev 13:8; 21:27).
- Jesus was slain to put God’s covenant of grace into effect, or no man could be saved.
Lambs Are Silent When Sheared or Slaughtered
- Isaiah gave this prophecy of Jesus meekly and quietly going to the cross (Isaiah 53:7).
- It was this Bible passage that Philip was able to explain to the eunuch (Acts 8:30-35).
- Lambs and sheep will allow themselves to be both fleeced or killed without fighting.
- This is very different from most other animals that will put up much fight and noise.
- Jesus did not revile or threaten those that tortured Him before crucifixion (I Pet 2:23).
- We are to have this spirit in the world, especially under cruel bosses (I Peter 2:20-23).
Lamb for Isaac
- As Abraham led Isaac to Moriah, he asked his father where was the lamb (Gen 22:7).
- Abraham told him God would provide Himself a lamb … creative wording (Ge 22:8).
- God gave a ram caught in a thicket for Abraham to offer instead of Isaac (Gen 22:13).
Lambs Redeemed Asses
- God did not want asses on His altar, so they were saved by lambs (Ex 13:13; 34:20).
- This was God’s ordinance for unclean animals that opened the matrix (Nu 18:15-17).
- For a human application of such redemption.
A Sucking Lamb
- When Israel feared the Philistines, Samuel burnt a whole sucking lamb (I Samuel 7:9).
- God delivered them by thunder, so Samuel called the place Ebenezer (I Samuel 7:12).
- We sing about Ebenezer in the spiritual song, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.
- Shepherds watching over sheep by night heard a great announcement (Luke 2:8-14).
- They were the first to see the Lord Christ and publish the great news (Luke 2:15-20).
Jesus Is More than a Lamb
- When John viewed heaven, he wept that no man was found to open the book (Re 5:4).
- He was comforted that the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, had prevailed (Rev 5:5).
- When John saw this Lion, He appeared as a Lamb slain, thus mortal wounds (Re 5:6).
- This scene in Revelation 5 is of Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven to be crowned.
- For more on this scene of Christ’s ascension.
Jesus Is the Good Shepherd
- John 10 sets forth Jesus as a good Shepherd far superior to the Pharisees and others.
- Those religious ministers that come by other means or goals are thieves and robbers.
- Sheep know a shepherd by his voice they hear daily and will follow, but not strangers.
- Jesus came for the sheep to have abundant life rather than to steal, kill, and destroy.
- Hirelings, day laborers for wages, do not care for sheep like a shepherd owning them.
- Jesus is such a good Shepherd that He lays down His life for His sheep to save them.
- We are the sheep of Jesus by God’s election and gift of us to Him (John 10:16,26-29).
- Jesus as Shepherd was a prophecy of the Old Testament, as Micah saw (Micah 5:1-4).
- The Son of David had great example in David (Ps 78:70-72; Ezek 34:23; 37:23-24).
- For a detailed exposition of John 10.
One Lost Lamb Is Worth It
- Lamb loss, mortality today is 20% before weaning, is a costly matter of having sheep.
- Once a lamb lives past weaning, losing it is an expensive event to avoid if possible.
- Jesus described His love of sinners to a shepherd leaving 99 to find 1 lost (Lu 15:1-7).
- As faithful shepherds rejoice, so heaven’s angels rejoice over one sinner that repents.
- A song and its story, There Were Ninety-and-Nine.
- Sung by Ira D. Sankey.
Jesus is the Great Shepherd
- Paul’s conclusion to Hebrews includes a benediction that is glorious (Heb 13:20-21).
- Jesus is the great shepherd of the sheep due to the blood of the everlasting covenant.
- His shed blood ratified the last will and testament and put it into force (Heb 9:15-17).
Jesus is the Chief Shepherd
- Peter exhorted fellow elders to faithfulness by virtue of His faithfulness (I Pet 5:1-4).
- Every pastor and teacher is only an under-shepherd, serving the Lord and His sheep.
- The flock of God’s elect in local churches is to be fed rather than lorded over by men.
- Faithful ministers will receive a crown of glory regardless of their popularity on earth.
God as Shepherd
- Jesus is clearly a significant Shepherd, but so was Jehovah God to Israel (Psalm 23).
- He is seen in the gospel, but there is a nearer fulfillment – Cyrus (Isaiah 40:11; 44:28).
- The theme is common (Gen 49:24; Ps 74:1; 78:52; 79:13; 80:1; 95:7; 100:3; Is 63:11; Jer 13:17,20; 31:10; Ezek 34:12-14,23,31; 36:37-38; Mic 7:14; Zech 9:16; Lu 12:32).
- God employs men to convey His word, but He is superintending Shepherd (Ec 12:11).
- No earthly shepherd, even kings, can stand against this God (Jer 49:19; 50:44; 51:23).
Lambs Easily Wander Astray
- Isaiah compared us sinners to wandering sheep, seeking our own way in life (Is 53:6).
- David admitted and confessed that he had gone astray like a lost sheep (Ps 119:176).
- Lambs are not too intelligent and will wander away not knowing the danger they face.
- They must be kept in sheepfolds or hedges or rounded up by sheep dogs or shepherds.
- Peter confirmed the analogy and applied it to us, identifying our Shepherd (I Pet 2:25).
Lambs in the World
- Our Lord sent His apostles to preach the gospel as lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3).
- Similar to lambs, Jesus charged His apostles to be gentle as doves (Matt 10:16,22).
- He told them that as the world had hated Him it would also hate them (Jn 15:18-25).
- The record of the martyrs, including Jesus and Stephen, is thus (Luke 23:34; Ac 7:60).
Lambs for Slaughter
- Paul comforted believers in Rome with a prophecy of slaughter of sheep (Ro 8:36-37).
- David had written much earlier about the persecutions of God’s people (Ps 44:11,22).
- Jeremiah testified that he was treated by the Jews like a lamb for slaughter (Jer 11:19).
- True followers of Jesus Christ will suffer persecution for godliness (II Timothy 3:12).
Lambs in the Church
- Jesus taught Peter for ministry by telling him to feed lambs and sheep (Jn 21:15-17).
- Every reference to shepherds or flocks is about it (Ac 20:28-29; I Cor 9:7; I Pet 5:2-3).
- Ministers must remember not to overdrive the sheep, for they are better led than beat.
Lambs and Wolves Together
- Isaiah foretold when lambs and wolves would dwell together (Is 11:1-10; 63:17-25).
- The context clearly shows this took place at the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- God’s grace and the gospel alter men’s conduct to where former enemies eat together.
- Think of the glorious peace as Paul assembled at Jerusalem (Ac 9:26-28; Ga 1:21-24).
- It is a very carnal mind that rather likes zookeepers breaking down fences and cages!
Lambs without Shepherds
- Jesus grieved over scattered sheep without shepherds, meaning pastors (Matt 9:36-38).
- Long before, Moses had begged God for a replacement for himself (Num 27:15-17).
- A Jewish mob took Jesus, so His apostles were scattered sheep (Zec 13:7; Mat 26:31).
- Micaiah prophesied this of Israel by way of foretelling Ahab’s death (I Kings 22:17).
- God told of evil shepherds (Ezek 34:1-31; Jer 10:21; 23:1-40; 50:6; Zec 10:3; 11:3-9).
- Israel would be scattered without a shepherd (Jer 50:17), but they survived (Mic 5:8).
- He foretold foolish and idol shepherds as Jewish priests or man of sin (Zec 11:15-17).
Sheep or Goat
- When Jesus comes to judge all men, He will separate sheep and goats (Mat 25:31-46).
- The sheep will be identified as those who loved the least of His brethren on the earth.
- The goats will be those who did not love His brethren for His sake in their selfishness.
- The sheep will inherit their eternal kingdom, and the goats will go into eternal fire.
- You are a sheep or goat by God’s choice, and faith is merely evidence (Jn 10:26-29).
- Gospel preachers only feed sheep; they do not turn goats into sheep (John 21:15-17).
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
- Jesus warned false prophets would sneak in to eat the flock (Mat 7:15-20; Jn 10:1,10).
- Evil pastors was a O.T. theme (Is 56:10-11; Eze 22:25; Mic 3:5; Zec 13:4; Zep 3:3-4).
- Jesus warned these false teachers would deceive His people (Matt 23:14; 24:5,11,24).
- Paul warned the same would occur in the N.T. (Ac 20:29-31; II Co 11:13-15; Ga 2:4).
- Peter and Jude warned of false teachers sneaking heresy in (II Peter 2:1-3, Jude 1:4).
Slaughter of Lambs
- The LORD prophesied of destroying many nations by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 25:34-38).
- The LORD prophesied of destroying Babylon like slaughtering lambs (Jer 51:40).
- In a connected passage, destroying Chaldea was like slaying bullocks (Jer 50:27).
- Jeremiah used the slaughter of sheep as his prayer against the wicked (Jeremiah 12:3).
- Jehovah also used this language describing destruction of Edom (Isaiah 34:5-8).
- Jehovah also used creative language to describe judgment of Israel (Amos 3:12).
Fat of Lambs
- Lamb fat burning in a sacrifice pictured God’s judgment of the wicked (Psalm 37:20).
- Ever watch bacon grease catch on fire and blaze up in hasty destruction? You grasp it!
- Our God is a consuming fire; He burns up enemies (Matt 3:10-12; 22:7; Heb 12:29).
Lambs Require Business Analysis
- Lambs were for clothing, so Solomon warned to know your business (Prov 27:23-27).
- Lambs were for clothing, a basic essential, so even kings had to pay attention to them.
- Every business and industry has challenges or threats to be wisely seen and thwarted.
- You cannot rest on present job security and cash flow without regard to the future.
- Proverbs 27:26 commentary.
Prosperity Is By God’s Blessing
- David prayed that God would bless Israel the church with fertile sheep (Ps 144:13).
- Abraham and Hezekiah were blessed for obedience to God (Gen 24:35; II Chr 32:29).
- Moses promised Israel blessing of fertile sheep for their obedience (Deut 7:13; 28:18).
- Job ended up with twice as much as before, 14k sheep instead of 7k (Job 1:3; 42:12).
- Jacob’s rods at watering troughs are doubtful; God is not (Gen 30:36-40; 31:11-13).
- Disobedience would bring God destroying flocks (Deut 28:18,51; Ps 78:48; Jer 5:17).
Skipped like Lambs
- The mountains of Sinai skipped like rams and lambs at God’s presence (Ps 114:4,6).
- There was a whole lot of shaking going on when God gave His fiery law (Ex 19:18).
- Also, God’s people should dance like rams and lambs (II Sam 6:14; Hab 3:17-19).
- This author’s mother used to tell of her childhood running and skipping with lambs.
- See skipping (gamboling) lambs.
- More skipping and jumping lambs.
- More skipping and jumping lambs.
- If God clothed Adam and Eve with lambskin, Jesus fulfilled this lamb as well, even if only typical.
- This sermon study involved reviewing over 800 references to lambs, sheep, flocks, shepherds, etc.
- Greater knowledge of lambs and sheep should help us better appreciate our Lord’s sacrifice for us.
- Greater knowledge of lambs and sheep should help us better fulfill our walk with God in this world.
- May we more perfectly understand our relationship to God for greater appreciation and faithfulness.
For Further Study:
- Sermon Outline: John 10 – The Good Shepherd.
- Sermon Outline: Jesus Christ our Passover.
- Sermon Outline: Redemption through His Blood.
- Sermon Outline: Revelation 5 – Christ in Glory.