The Scapegoat

Tuesday, Mar. 7                               

There are two analogies (probably more) of how God dealt with man’s sin in the O.T.  One of them we are all well aware of—the Passover lamb.  This lamb, analogous to Christ, represented the substitutionary payment for man’s sin.  A second analogy was a ritual that took place on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.  Described in Lev. 16, this ritual involves a scapegoat, which is not so well understood outside the Jewish community.  Four unblemished  animals were chosen for these rituals—a young bull, a ram and two goats.  The bull was a sin offering for the high priest.  Once the high priest was atoned for, he could then sacrifice the ram as an atonement for the people.  Before an animal was killed, the priest laid his hands on it, symbolically putting the sins of the people on it, and sacrificing it to God as a substitute for man’s sins.  Its blood was sprinkled on the ark of the covenant. Then there were the two goats.  One would be killed as a sin offering, which symbolized a sufficient payment for man’s sin, and which would later be realized by Christ dying on the cross.  The second goat, called the scapegoat, had a different connotation.  The priest would lay his hands on the scapegoat just as with the other goat, placing man’s sins on the animal, but instead of being killed, the goat would be sent off into the desert.  The sins would symbolically be removed or carried away.  These two goats represent the same two aspects of atonement mentioned in yesterday’s blog—the imputation of sin and the and the imputation of righteousness.  This two-fold work of grace prepares us for heaven and also prepares us for living a godly life in this world.

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