Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The scapegoat: The sin bearer

"...Are you sure? I think you may have it backwards."

"No. The bull is sacrificed for the high priest. One goat is chosen to be sacrificed for us. The other becomes the scapegoat."

"But they don't sacrifice the scapegoat too?"

"No, someone takes it out into the wilderness. But before they do, Aaron puts his hands on the goat's head —like this— and confesses all our sins. That way, when the goat is taken out into the wilderness, it takes our sins with it."

"How does Aaron know all my sins, Father? Do you tell him? Do you have to keep a list?"

"That would be a pretty long list, wouldn't it? And mine would be even longer! The truth is that I don't know. I've never seen it happen. I am just thankful that God has provided a way for our sins to be removed..."

On the Day of Atonement, the roles of the two goats were chosen by lot. One was identified as the Lord's and sacrificed for the sins of the people. The other became the azazel, the scapegoat. As Aaron placed his hand on its head, and confessed the sins of the nation over it, the goat was symbolically loaded with those very sins. It was then entrusted to a man appointed to take the goat out of the camp and release it into the wilderness. Because the sins had been laid onto the goat, it carried those sins from the camp when it left. These sacrifices and ceremonies were repeated on an annual basis to make atonement for the sins of the Israelites.

The Lord Jesus is our scapegoat. The apostle Peter wrote that He "bore our sins in His body on the tree". At the end of that verse, Peter quotes from Isaiah 53. Three times in that passage (verses 6, 11, and 13) Isaiah speaks prophetically of the fact that that our sins and iniquities were laid on, and borne by, Him. Our sins have been removed. Taken away. Not just for the year, but for all time.

(Leviticus 16; Isaiah 53; 1 Peter 2:24)