Originally written for the Day of Atonements in 1992
Lev. 16:5-10, 15-22; Is 53:10– living scapegoat bearing all the iniquities, transgressions, sins of Israel; Israel being atoned for on the basis of the accepted blood sacrifice of the first goat to the LORD; two goats. . .one sin offering: atonement (reconciliation) and the effectual removal of guilt and uncleanness
To consider and to study from the Word of God about the Day of Atonements in general, and its sin offering and whole burnt offering in particular, is to enter into the Holy of Holies, into the eternal counsels of the Eternal God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Places are open now to anyone who is born again from above by the Holy Spirit through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His atoning death for salvation.
Simply stated, the King of Glory – the Son of God – humbled Himself by clothing (identifying) Himself in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3) as the Son of Man, and offered (sacrificed) Himself in purity and without blemish unto God as a sin and guilt offering, shedding His own blood, to the glory of God the Father, and taking upon Himself all of our iniquities, transgressions, and sins in order to be the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe, that we might live before the Holy God – indeed that God may live with and in us – in His love and righteousness.
I want to bring before you the “Goat” which stands live before the LORD – the second goat “to Azazel in the wilderness”: the Scapegoat. What does the expression “to Azazel” mean to any of you in your own languages? [damn!; hell; go to hell!; go to the devil!] The term connotes accusation, blame, punishment, banishment, hatred – always toward innocent victims and that they should be sent away to someone or someplace. (It is not a fit expression, given its thought, from the mouth of a Christian since God has no desire that any human being should go to hell, but rather, on the basis of the atonement, that all should be saved. That so many will choose to condemn themselves is beyond our own comprehension.)
Who was (were) the first scapegoat(s) in the world? Gen. 3:11-12 – the LORD YHVH (and Eve)
–Who did the LORD hold principally responsible for bringing sin into the world? Gen. 3:14, 17 – the
serpent [deceiver; Satan], and Adam
–Were Adam and Eve responsible and accountable for their own sin and disobedience? Gen. 3:16-17 — Yes
–How did Adam first realize his own sin? Gen. 3:8-10 – guilty conscience: he heard God’s voice, was afraid, hid himself
Has not God provided a scapegoat for Israel and for the world during all these thousands of years?
Everyone from Adam and Eve until now has sought – or is still seeking – someone else to blame for his troubles in order to ease the burden of his own guilty conscience from the effects of his own sin or unbelief.
–The Israelis blamed Moses both in Egypt and in the wilderness (Ex. 5:21; 16:6-8).
–Wicked King Ahab accused God’s servant, the prophet Elijah, as the one that troubles Israel (1 Kings 18:17-18).
–The High Priest Caiphas with the rulers and elders of the people of Israel blamed Yeshua the Nazarene for their problems both within the nation and from without (John 11:47-53).
–It is well documented in history that many nations have made Israel and Jews the scapegoat for many (if not all) of their and world’s problems.
–Christians faithful to the blood of Messiah and to the Word of God have been – and will continue to be – scapegoats for Jews and for the Gentiles, and even within the Church of God (Matt. 5:10-12; 2 Tim. 3:12).
–The devil accuses the brethren day and night, accusing us of all manner of things; and we are guilty of many! But there is no condemnation for those in Christ, because Jesus died for us, and rose again!!
This should not be surprising to us as we realize that the true Scapegoat is the Chief Representative of both Israel and of the Church – the King of the Jews and the Head of the Body of Christ – the Lord Jesus Himself! And He is also the representative of all human beings, for He is the Son of Man. Noah, when he prophesied concerning his sons, blessed the LORD, God of Shem – not Shem personally (Gen. 9:26). Yeshua, when He encouraged and comforted His disciples before His crucifixion and resurrection, told them that the world would hate them because it hated Him first; and for this reason: that He chose us out from the world and so we are no longer of the world (John 15:18-19). Thus anti-Semitism and anti-Christian persecution are both first and foremost spiritual in their nature and directed against YHVH and His Anointed One – whether Jesus Himself or His people who are called by His Name (Num. 6:27; 1 Pet. 4:14,16).
We see in the passage from Lev. 16 that two goats were taken from the children of Israel for one sin offering (v. 5). The first goat was for YHVH. He (It) made atonement for the sin of Israel regarding all things pertaining to God’s Throne and His dwelling place amidst the people, and the altar of reconciliation. No hands were laid on it; no blood was sprinkled on the people. Jesus Christ died unto the LORD, to glorify God His Father, to take away the sin of the world. On the basis of this atonement, the good news of the glory of Messiah (2 Cor. 4:4), God the Father is able to have mercy to whom He will be merciful, to have compassion upon whom He will be compassionate, to save whosoever will believe in the Name of His Son Yeshua (Jesus).
Upon the second goat, the one that stood live before the LORD after the first goat’s sacrifice and atonement, the High Priest laid his hands and confessed upon it all the iniquities of Israel, all their transgressions in all their sins. Truly the Day of Atonements. (Yom HaKippurim; Lev 23:27-28; Dan 9:24; Jer 31:31-34; Zech 12:10-14; Rom 11:26-27)
This second goat – the scapegoat – was sent to a land not inhabited (Is. 53:8; Mt. 4:1; 27:45-46; 1 Pet. 3:18-21) –not to the land of the living to shame us – bearing all the sins of the people – removing them with the guilt of them away from the camp for one year until the next Day of Atonements. Both goats together, God is satisfied with respect to His righteousness and justice, and also to His lovingkindness and mercy.
The scapegoat, in remaining alive as a sin-bearer, was a reminder to Israel for her sins, and a witness to Azazel, who accuses the brethren night and day, that God has been reconciled, that He has forgiven the sins of His people. For the believer in the finished work on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; in an accomplished atonement for iniquity, transgression, and sins; and in the full price paid with His own life and blood that God demanded to pardon and to cleanse both things of earth and of heaven – there is now no condemnation when we identify, or are identified through faith, with the outcast scapegoat and value the benefits of His sacrifice for atonement. (Heb 13:12-13) Satan’s power and claims upon us are broken. We have peace and fellowship with God the Father and with His Son and with one another in a spirit of meekness.
To the unbeliever – especially within the household of faith – the scapegoat is but a continual reminder of his own guiltiness and uncleanness before the LORD and before the children of God. According to tradition, Israel at some time in her history began to take up the scapegoat laden with her (Israel’s) own sins to the top of a cliff, and pushed it off from there to its death below – to Azazel, in their way of thinking (Lev. 17:7-9). Instead of being thankful and sympathetic for the innocent scapegoat who was made sin, they wanted to get rid of it, not realizing what they were actually doing, thinking that in this way the goat could not come back into the camp with their sins! This is unbelief in the grace of God provided by the substitutionary sacrifice.
But God provided for the otherwise innocent goat to remain alive as a testimony to Satan that God atoned for and forgave His people – and in fact the world – and as a witness to Israel (and to us) of this central truth regarding the reconciliation: that man can not rid himself of sin or of a guilty conscience by leaning on our own understanding to carry out the wisdom of God. And as Israel, through unbelief in the commandment of God, wanted to kill the scapegoat then – and so dishonor and disobey the Lord – so now Israel and many within the Church and in the world strive to blot out the memory of their own guilty consciences, due to their iniquity and sins before a holy and righteous God, by blotting out the Name of Jesus – not recognizing that He whom they have pierced is their Savior. They hate Him without cause (Ps. 69:4). The reproaches against God the Father have fallen upon Jesus the Son (Ps. 69:9). Because the Scapegoat lives we live, and remember from whence we came! What God intends for good, both Satan and men call evil (1 Pet. 4:14,16). Let us not join them!
It is the blood of Yeshua the Messiah, the once and final sacrifice for sin, which cleanses from a guilty conscience, both for now and for eternity. He is our Great High Priest who lives to intercede for us (Heb. 7:25; see Hebrew of Is. 53:6) as we abide in faith in His death and resurrection for our forgiveness and justification. He is still our sin bearer and guilt lifter. God has, through the Lord Jesus, reconciled Himself to sinful men and has given us His Spirit. For us who have received the reconciliation (the peace), we have a ministry to preach to men to reconcile themselves to God.
The High Priest is still in the sanctuary in the presence of God making atonement with His blood as far as Israel and world are concerned (Lev. 16:17). But when they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced (Zech. 12:10); when they make Jesus their guilt offering (Is. 53:10), then truly will Israel afflict her soul and enter into God’s rest. The whole creation will enjoy the Sabbath rest of God! (Lev. 16:31). And to whomever does not abide in the longsuffering of God’s goodness, there simply is no more sacrifice for sin.
YHVH God Himself accepts full responsibility for making possible sin and evil in His universe. For this, He gave His life and blood on the altar – the cross – for atonement and redemption and salvation. Fear God, for it is He who forgives sins (Ps. 130:4; 25:11-14; Mt. 10:28). God the Son became the Son of Man that we might become sons of God. If anyone here is looking for a scapegoat – or needs one – know that God the Father in His love for you has given His Son Jesus, who willingly in His love for His Father and for us bears the shame and reproaches that rightfully belong to us. We, too, are to identify with Yeshua outside the camp, bearing His reproach, as people blame Him and us for their own troubles.
Perhaps there are some here tonight who are struggling in your personal relationship with God and in knowing His peace and love of a Father for you. Believe what He says regarding the completeness and perfection of Jesus’ death and resurrection both for the Church, for Israel, and for you. The just shall live by faith! Perhaps others here take for granted your relationship with God because you take for granted that Jesus died and that God forgives you. But in your heart you have no conviction of the sin in you. Except the knowledge that Jesus suffered God’s judgment as your substitute brings you back to the cross where the King of Glory not only died for you but also because of you and your iniquity, transgressions, and sins, then you are in danger of standing before Him with the many who will say to Him, “Lord, Lord. . .”, but He will answer, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of iniquity.”
Let each person examine and judge himself and so eat of the bread and drink from the cup in remembrance of the Lord Jesus. Let us be ever mindful and thankful to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. To God be the glory and to the Lamb who sits upon the throne! Amen.
Lev. 16; Ps. 69; Is. 53
Acts 2:22-39; Heb. 9 – 10; 13:13
John 10:17-18 (sacrifice); 11:49-50 (scapegoat)
Figuratively: Mt. 3:13-17 (unto YHVH); 4:1-11 (unto Azazel)
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, September 11, 2021, and reposted with permission.