A Lamb arrives in heaven to take the book from the Enthroned One (Revelation 5). Why a Lamb?

We think of the “Lamb” in association with Passover, but Passover is not the only time when a lamb has to be offered.  In fact, Passover doesn’t even requires a lamb but permits either a sheep or a kid. In Leviticus 23, which structures much of Revelation, the list of feasts begins with Sabbath and then moves to Passover and the feast of unleavened bread. In the description of Passover, there is no mention of a Lamb.

There is a lamb in the next section of Leviticus 23, which describes not the Passover but the feast of “first sheaf” (Leviticus 23:9-14), which takes place when the harvest first begins to sprout. The first sheaf that appears is taken before the Lord and offered as a wave offering. It’s the first growth appearing from the ground, the firstfruits of the earth. And when the sheaf was waved before the Lord, a “male lamb one year old without defect for an ascension offering” was also brought to Yahweh (v. 12). 

The appearance of the Lamb in Revelation 5 matches the feast of firstfruits, the year-old Lamb as the ascension offering that goes along with the waving of the first sheaf. Jesus is the first sheaf that appears from the dead earth, the first seed that goes into the ground and springs up from the ground as resurrection life. He is also the Lamb of the first sheaf, the “ascension” Lamb that goes up into the presence of Yahweh. Revelation 5 depicts the feast of first sheaf as an ascension of Jesus.

More on: Revelation

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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