Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Scapegoat

Jesus fulfilled the sin offering for us, and absorbed God’s wrath. Our precious Lord accomplished yet another offering on our behalf—the atonement offering.

On the Day of Atonement, there were certain requirements of the high priest and the people. First, it was a day of humiliation for the priest. The priest was required to put off all his priestly garments of glory. Jesus, the King of Glory, came to reconcile the world to the Father.  Jesus’ humiliation on that day cries to us still through His Passion Story in the Scriptures.

On the Day of Atonement, two goats were brought; their fate decided by the priest’s lots. The Lord’s lot would determine which goat would die for the sins of the nation. The other would  be the scapegoat. Aaron the high priest would lay his hand upon the scapegoat and send it into exile in the wilderness or Azazel. It represented that the nation’s sin lost in the wilderness—to be remembered no longer. The act of sacrificing the goat laid the judgment of death upon it—it represented the people’s sin.

The casting of the lots to determine the scapegoat is displayed on the world’s stage between two men; Jesus and Barabbas. Their fate lies in the judgment of the people—who will die and who will escape; the scapegoat. The voice of the people was heard that day in Pilate’s court—choosing a brutal murder to escape forever and laying the sin of the people on Jesus. Jesus would be the sacrifice the Lord’s lot fell upon that day—fulfilling the atonement offering. 

Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish. John 11:50 ESV 

The horns of the scapegoat adorned with a crimson thread of wool…the scarlet thread woven in the tapestry of the Holy Writ…lives held by a string….

“The High Priest tied a crimson wool thread around the horns of the scapegoat and sent him off into the wilderness accompanied by a priest. The goat was escorted for twelve miles to a designated place, where the priest pushed the goat bearing Israel’s sins over a cliff. A portion of the crimson thread was attached to the door of the temple before the goat was sent into the wilderness. When the goat was pushed off the cliff and died, the thread on the door at the temple was said to turn from red to white. This was a divine sign to the people that God had accepted their sacrifice and their sins were forgiven.”[1]

Come now, and let us reason together, Says the LORD, Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Ancient Rabbinical writings tell of a tradition. Forty years prior to the destruction of the temple, the thread ceased turning from red to white…That thread is forever white at the fulfillment of the atonement offering by Jesus, when He appeared before the Mercy Seat in heaven and sprinkled His blood before the Father.

[1]Booker, Richard, Celebrating Jesus In The Biblical Feasts (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2009), 130-131.

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