June 23, 2011

Scapegoat: Marked For Death

So you think you got it bad? Don't think you deserve the bum rap you been getting? You feel like you have been unjustly hammered on? Dissed by society, by so-called friends, abandon by those closest to you? I've got news for you...could be worse.

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). More than likely it would wander to its death in the scorching desert heat.

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.

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:11-14

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).

"The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’” Hebrews 10:1-7

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).

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:11-14

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.

1 comment:

Dean Roberts said...

Ahhh this article reminded me of a post which I did on The Scapegoat.

You may find it interesting...


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