When I was growing up one of my brothers was the scapegoat, always getting our father's wrath focused on him. Partly because they were so much alike in personality, partly because of issues our dad was working through that he took out on my brother, he always seemed to get the worst of any punishment dad gave out. But where does the word 'scapegoat' come from? Why is it used to this day to describe someone who gets the focus of punishment?
This is where it came from
In October of 1536 Englishman William Tyndale was executed by being tied to a stake, strangled to death, then his body was burned. The crime King Henry VIII charged him with was heresy - being a Protestant. At that time translating scripture into English was punishable by death, so his 1530 Bible in the common English language made him a marked man. Interesting note: His 1530 Bible was the first English Bible to use the name for God as 'Jehovah'.
His dying prayer was that the King of England's eyes would be opened, and less than 2 years later King Henry authorized the 'Great Bible' for the Church of England, which was largely Tyndale's Bible. Ironically, some 70 years later at the 1611 release of the King James Bible (KJV), it became known that the 54 scholars who wrote the KJV had drawn heavily from Tyndale's Bible. Amazing.
But six years before his death, in 1530, Tyndale's Bible put 1 word into the English language that survives to this day, and is relevant to this discussion: Scapegoat.
Originally it was 'escape goat', from the Hebrew word 'azazel' of Leviticus 16: 8, which means 'the goat that departs' or 'the sender away of sins'. Along the way escape goat got shortened to scapegoat, and today many offices, many families, many social groups, all know of that one person who gets the focus off anger or punishment - the scapegoat.
The Day of Atonement - Yom Kippur
Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is represented by 2 goats on the Day of Atonement. Not lambs, but goats. I've talked about how Yom Kippur is a type of the return of Jesus, and it is. Whereas Passover (lamb) and Unleavened Bread in the spring detail His sinless sacrifice and the passing over of our sins, the fall fast of Yom Kippur details the final end of sin. This is the point everyone and everything comes to God to be accountable for their lives. At His return, it means the end of the government of man and the physical and literal start of the government of God in the earth.
Leviticus 16: 11-14 details the high priest making a sacrifice of a bull for himself, and then taking incense into the holy of holy's so that the smoke of the incense* covered the Mercy Seat - the place of God's presence. Even 400 years later David knew God as 'the one who lives **between the cherubs' - the golden cherubs being on top of the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat. *Revelation 5: 8, the incense is 'the prayers of the saints'. **II Samuel 6: 2
After the priest was forgiven his sins he was now able to stand in the place of the people. There were 2 goats used: The goat of the sin offering, and the scapegoat. Both these are types of the work of Jesus on the cross, and His dual nature as God became a Man.
"Then he will kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil...and he will make atonement for the holy place because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins..." Leviticus 16: 15-16
The idea that God would require the Holy Place to be cleansed by blood seems foreign to many Christians. The implication is that heaven itself needed cleansing, that heaven or God was somehow tainted by the sins of His people. Notice also God mentions three issues: Uncleanness, sins, and trespasses.
A sin is a vertical offense against God, a trespass is a horizontal sin against another person (which is also a sin against God), and uncleanness is a general sinfulness of mankind. It has to do with the fallen nature of man. Yet the Holy Place, the Ark of the Covenant, had to have the blood of the sacrificed goat of the sin offering sprinkled on it to be cleansed.
Jesus on the cross is the fulfillment of the goat of the sin offering cleansing heaven, for we read in Hebrews 9: 23-24:
"It was therefore necessary that this earthly tabernacle would be purified with earthly things (blood of bulls and goats). But these are just the pattern of the heavenly, so the heavenly had to be purified with better things than these earthly things. For Christ did not enter into the earthly tabernacle which is just the pattern of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us..."
Jesus then was the literal fulfillment of 'goat of the sin offering' in that He took His sacrifice to heaven to present Himself to the Father. "For it pleased the Lord (Father) to put Him to grief, when you see His soul as an offering for sin...He will see the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied...He will justify many for He will carry their iniquities...because He has poured out His soul to death, and numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of may and made intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53: 10-12
While Jesus fulfilled the sacrifice of the goat of the sin offering, He also at the same time fulfilled the work of the scapegoat - and that is why God commanded on the Day of Atonement there be 2 goats sacrificed - to show Israel the dual nature of their Messiah, and the work of the cross would be done on earth but accepted in heaven.
After the goat of the sin offering was sacrificed the High Priest turned his attention to the scapegoat - escape goat. Leviticus 16: 20-22 says Aaron was to lay his hands on the scapegoat and confess the iniquities, trespasses, and sins of Israel "putting them on the goat", and then sending the goat away into the wilderness. The text says led by the hand of a young man into the wilderness where no one lives - to be dealt with privately by the Lord.
We see this wilderness experience with Jesus the real scapegoat when He called out, "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?!" on the cross. "...the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all..." Isaiah 53: 6
Why a goat and not a lamb?
A goat signifies sin and being out of favor with God. In Matthew 25: 31-32 it says when Jesus returns He will sit on the throne of His glory and separate the nations one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He said He will put the sheep nations on His right, and the goat nations on His left. Verse 34 says He will say to the sheep nations to come and enter into the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. But to the goat nations He will cause them to depart from His presence.
By choosing a goat for the sin offering and scapegoat, the Father is emphasizing the sin of the people, the death as a transgressor on the cross. Yes, he was the Passover lamb, dying for His people. Passing over their sins. But in the final analysis, He was the goat, the sin carrying sacrifice, both dying in the wilderness by the hand of God privately, and at the same time as the perfect Man appearing in heaven presenting His sacrifice. Amazing grace.
Next week I'll wrap it up with the conditions of the earth during the Feast of Tabernacles. I'll focus on the setting up of His kingdom and His 1000 year reign, starting with the above separation of nations. Until then, blessings,
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