The Scapegoat

Leviticus 16:8–10 “Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.”

Observation: The Day of Atonement was being described in detail. The priest’s responsibility, the purpose of the two goats—one for the sin offering and one for the scapegoat—all were laid out with precision.

Application: The first thing to notice about this passage is that both of the goats were innocent. Of course, any animal to be sacrificed for someone else’s sin is innocent, but these seem particularly so because Aaron was to “cast lots” to choose them.

Death awaited the one to be offered for the sacrifice. The other one—the scapegoat—would at least not be sacrificially killed, but would be led into the wilderness, never to be seen again after the nation’s sins had been symbolically transferred to it by the priest’s laying on of hands. Leviticus 16:22 says, “The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities.”

The Lord Jesus, God’s perfect, innocent Son, came to earth as the sacrificial, perfect Lamb. In doing that, He assumed two roles. First, He was the scapegoat by taking onto Himself all my sin, and in fact the sin of the whole world. Second, He also became the sacrifice, going willingly to the cross, knowing that by His death and resurrection I could have eternal life with the Father. He paid a horrible price not just in the way that He died, but by willingly “becoming my sin,” knowing full well that it would result in a horrible physical death for Him, as well as separation, for a season, from his own heavenly Father.

My heart soars when I remember all He sacrificed for me. Without His life being exchanged for my living death, I would have had to pay my own penalty, thus being separated from God for all eternity.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that scales would fall from the eyes of my friends and loved ones who don’t know You. I pray that their ears might become unplugged, so they could hear the wonderful news of Your free gift of salvation. Let understanding penetrate any darkness around them, that they, too, might accept Jesus’s sacrifice as having been for them, and exchange their life of sin and darkness for His glorious life of freedom and joy.


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