May 28, 2010

Examining The Scripture XVIII: Scapegoat

Once a year, on the tenth day of the seventh month (Tishrei) a Sabbath was proclaimed and atonement was made for the sins of the whole nation (of Israel). It is otherwise known as the Day of Atonement (modern Jews celebrate this as Yom Kippur). The main part of the ceremony was when the High Priest would take two goats for the community. One goat was marked by lot as belonging to the Lord and the other was a “scapegoat”. The goat belonging to the Lord was offered as a sin offering for the community and its blood was taken and sprinkled on the Mercy Seat (Ark of the Covenant). Its purpose was to to make atonement for the Holy Place because of the uncleanness of the people if Israel and because of their transgressions (Sailhamer 341).

After the sacrifice of the Lord’s goat the second live goat was presented. The High Priest would lay hands on one of two goats that was still alive and confessed all the sins of the nation (v.21). This “scapegoat” would then be allowed to wander away from the camp into the desert wilderness bearing with it the sins and “iniquities” of the Israelites (Sailhamer 341-342).

These goats foreshadowed the coming of the sacrifices the Lord Jesus Christ would need to make as propitiation for the sins of humanity as a whole.

"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted" ~ Isaiah 53:4

Comparatively, the sacrifices of the goats achieved atonement for Israel’s sin. They were a small and encapsulated form or what Jesus would do in His sacrifice for all of humanity, for all of their sins, for all time. The Sin Offering goat and scapegoat were not guilty of the sins committed by the Israelites just Jesus was innocent of the sins commit by all of humanity but because they (Jesus and the goats) had no sin, only they were acceptable as propitiation for God.

Often times sacrificial animals need to be “without blemish” to show symbolically that they were pure or without sin (like Christ). The blood or the life of the innocent living being was the atonement. Christ shedding His blood and dying on the cross bearing the sins of the world as a perfect man that never sinned acted as the blood sacrifice and scapegoat simultaneously in one act and it the New Testament counterpart of the Old Testament Day of Atonement (McGee 400).

Jesus Christ, a final once-and-for-all sacrifice that was acceptable propitiation now and forever and acceptable in the eyes of God. Jesus Christ’s death was approbation and fulfillment of the ceremonial law. No further offerings would be necessary to please God after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Amen! Hence the tearing of the veil upon Jesus’ death. All believers would now have access the the Father when ever they needed to through Christ. Because of Jesus we had a perfect High Priest that ascended to the right hand of the father to act as our mediator with Him (Hebrews 4).

McGee, J. Vernon. "Exodus." Thru the Bible, Vol. 1: Genesis-Deuteronomy. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson, 1983. 400. Print.

Sailhamer, Dr. John H.. "Chapter 3: Leviticus." Pentateuch as Narrative, The. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995. 341-342. Print.

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