As we come to an end of our study of the Old Testament and approach the Christmas season, it’s important to remember why the Old Testament and all the Scriptures were written in the first place. The Old Testament tells us about the ups and downs of the children of Israel as they struggled to live. The Law of Moses the Law of Moses was fulfilled when Christ came to the earth, but it was put into place for a very specific reason to bring people to Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob taught my soul delighteth and proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ. For for this end hath the law of Moses been given, and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world unto man are the typifying of him.
The Law of Moses was a complicated collection of laws and sacrifices, but all of them pointed in one direction toward the great and last sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Sometimes the people missed the point and became overly fixated on the law itself, forgetting the whole point of the Law. To begin with, king Benjamin reminded his people that the law of Moses availeth nothing except it were through the atonement of his blood, even before the law of Moses was given. The system of sacrifice given to Adam and Eve and followed by every prophet after was designed to let them know there was a way for them to be saved, and that they would be saved through the sacrifice of the son. Let’s review a few episodes that highlight this point.
In Genesis, abraham was commanded to sacrifice his only son with his beloved wife, Sarah. Abraham trusted God and took his son Isaac to the appointed place of sacrifice, but he also believed there would be another way. He told Isaac, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering. So they went, both of them together, and God did provide a lamb. It was Jesus Christ who died for Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and every other woman and man who lived or does live on the earth.
In the Book of Exodus, the Lord freed the Israelites from bondage through the passover. This sacred night became a focal point of Israelite history and was centered around the sacrifice of a lamb. The Lord gave very particular instructions about the lamb, telling the Israelites, your lamb shall be without blemish a male of the first year. You shall take it out from the sheep or from the goats. Christ was without blemish or sin and a firstborn son, just like the lamb required for the Passover sacrifice.
Isaiah also compared the Messiah to a lamb, writing, he was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and a sheep before her shears is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. In the New Testament, this symbolism was carried even further. The first people to know about Jesus’s birth outside of his own family were the shepherds in Bethlehem, the people who looked after the Lambs of Israel. Some of these shepherds may have even watched over the flocks of lambs who were sacrificed in the temple in Jerusalem.
In their own way. Every prophet in the Old Testament testified of Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob taught that none of the prophets have written nor prophesied say they have spoken concerning this Christ. When we think of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our minds usually go to images of the cross or of the Savior in Gethsemane, and this is an important part of his sacrifice. But we also need to remember that the sacrifice and the atonement of Jesus Christ was not just the last few hours of his life, but his entire life.
The sacrifice began with that helpless little baby, meek and lowly as a newborn lamb, laid in a manger and watched over by the very people who shepherded the Lambs of Israel. Jesus gave up his position as the God of Israel and the Lord of the universe to be a little child, vulnerable as a lamb. He sacrificed all he had to come to earth and to live as one of us, to show us the way this Christmas season. As we look to the symbols of the season, to the Christmas trees, to the candy canes and the bright ornaments and lights, we need to remember that they’re all symbols of the real meaning of Christmas. The Lamb of God and the light of the world came to earth to show us all the way, to give us hope, and to prepare a way home for each of us.