If you’re somewhat ‘on-track’ with the Bible-Eater reading plan, you either have recently read through Leviticus chapter 16 or are about to. As I read Leviticus 16 again, it brought to mind Easter morning in 2009 and the goat in church (pictured above). I was preaching through Leviticus at the time, and we had reached Leviticus 16 and the Day of Atonement as our text on Easter Sunday.
God instructs Aaron the priest to bring two goats into the Tabernacle. One of those goats is chosen by lot to be killed as an innocent blood sacrifice for the sins of the people. (Here again we see the Scarlet Thread of Redemption threading through the Old Testament!) Aaron is instructed (verse 15) to kill this goat and sprinkle its blood over and in front of the mercy seat (the cover of the Ark of the Covenant). In that way God tells he that he “shall make atonement” (verse 16). In other words, God will accept the blood sacrifice of the goat in substitute for the lives of the people to atone for their “uncleannesses… transgressions, all their sins.” Here again I am amazed by the ‘scarlet thread’ – the continuing theme that God in His mercy is willing to forgive and cover over human sin by accepting the death in our place of an innocent life.
As amazing as that is, the scene is not yet finished. Verse 20 picks up with what is to be done with the remaining (live) goat: “…he shall present the live goat. And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness… The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself…”
There was a family attending my church at the time who raised goats, and they brought a goat to the service that morning. We visually demonstrated what it means to lay hands on that innocent animal, confess our sins as a congregation, and send the goat out with our sins. Yes, this is where the term ‘scapegoat’ comes from! And you know who all this points to! You know who the ultimate ‘scapegoat’ is that God provided for us!
Hebrews 13:12 So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. (NLT)
1 Peter 2:24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.