We find the account of the scapegoat in chapter sixteen of Leviticus. It is a very weighty chapter for it presents The Great Day of Atonement. There was no other day in the year like it for Israel. It established and maintained for a year Jehovah’s relationship with His people with all their sins atoned for. The blood sacrifices formed that basis – so that a holy God could take up His abode in their midst and deal with them in grace and mercy.
We learn from this portion that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest. It all pictured the promised Redeemer to come. God was hidden behind a vail “I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat;” man was at a distance. Aaron the high priest could not enter that holy place within the vail just any time or he would die (V. 2).
There were strict instructions from God as to how Aaron could enter on that one day a year. He had to have a sin offering and a burnt offering. He had to have on the holy garments of the high priest and his flesh washed in water (Vs. 3 & 4).
Two goats were required from the congregation (V. 5). One for a sin offering to God and the other for the peoples sins to be carried away. First Aaron had to offer a sin offering for himself, for his sins (V. 6). The two goats were presented before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle (V. 7). They represented two grand aspects of Christ’s atoning work, unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament offered yearly and were only a shadow of good things to come; Christ’s perfect atoning work was eternal, once for all meeting our deepest need (Heb. 9:25-26).
“The Lord’s lot” fell upon the one goat and the other lot for the scapegoat (Vs. 8-10). The Lord’s lot represented Christ dying for us. Verses 15 & 16 the goat was killed for the sin offering and his blood sprinkled upon the mercy seat within the vail; making an atonement for the children of Israel because of their transgressions in all their sins.
In that, God has been perfectly glorified in respect to sin. For in Christ’s death there is eternal good even though no sinner were ever saved. Bear in mind how God has been despised, His authority condemned; His majesty slighted; His law broken; His claims disregarded; His name blasphemed; His character defamed. Christ’s death has made provision for all this. It has perfectly glorified God, vindicating His holiness, meeting all the claims of His throne.
The sacrifice of Christ is God’s remedy for all the sin introduced into the universe. It is the ground on which God can act in grace toward all. Psalm 85:10, where “mercy and truth meet together and righteousness and peace kissed each other.” John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” I John 2:2, “…he is the atoning victim for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” I Timothy 2:1-6, “…Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth…Who gave himself a ransom for all…”. God’s grace is free to all for Jehovah’s lot fell upon God’s beloved Son.
We have been occupied with “the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell. Next in order would be the scapegoat, which gives the other great aspect of the death of Christ, its application to the sins of the people. Verses 20 through 22, a fit man took the goat away. Christ is the “fit man.” Hebrews 2:9, “we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death…that he by the grace of God tasted death for every man.”
Aaron put both hands upon the head of the live goat and confessed over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, putting them on the head of the goat. Then sending him away by the hands of a fit man into the wilderness, a land not inhabited and there let the goat go. The full and final forgiveness of the people. For if the death of Christ forms the foundation of the glory of God; it also forms the foundation of perfect forgiveness of sins to all who put their trust in His death for them. God’s glory is first and chief, our salvation is second. God is eternally glorified in the putting away of our sins. They were put away by that act of Christ upon the cross (Col. 2:13).
So the two goats on the day of atonement gives a double aspect of the one act. The one is as perfect as the other. We are as perfectly forgiven as God is perfectly glorified by the death of Christ. This beautiful ordinance of the scapegoat, hold good, in the fullest way to every soul that believes on the Lord Jesus Christ.
How many of the sins of Israel did the scapegoat bear away? “All.” Not one left behind. Where did he bear them? Into a land where they could never be found, because no one was there to look for them. The land was not inhabited.
This shall come to pass for the saved remnant of Israel in the future. They shall be blessed with a Sabbath rest when that mourning remnant shall truly repent and call upon their God (Heb. 8:12). Isa. 38:17 - “Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” Jer. 50:20 – “In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” Micah 7:19 – “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Jesus says, “Surely I come quickly” (Rev. 22:20). Everything tells us, that day is at hand. May we be sober and watch unto prayer for it, keeping ourselves unspotted from the world and ready to meet our heavenly Bridegroom.
E. J. D.