I shared last week about atonement, at-one-ment. Today why there was a goat of the sin offering while at the same time an escape goat was sent into the wilderness.
But first allow me to say this: There are many more things to glean from Leviticus than I'm sharing in this series. For instance, how the division of clean and unclean animals was more than for their health, but a picture that they, Israel, were clean and special to the Lord, uniquely set aside for Him, above all the other nations of the earth.
This is confirmed by Peter's vision of Acts 10:9-16 in which he sees clean and unclean animals on a giant sheet and was told 3x to kill and eat. Peter rejects that command saying he has never eaten anything unclean. The Lord then tells him the vision is not a dietary lesson, but showing him God has cleansed 'clean and unclean' people alike. He was told not call unclean what God has cleansed. While still thinking on it representatives from the Roman Centurion Cornelius were at the door. "Go with them nothing doubting, for I have sent them", he was told.
We could talk of the regulations of how salt was required on the meat of a burnt offering. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 we are the salt of the earth, and every Jewish person listening would have understood He was talking about seasoning in life, sacrifice to God is a life seasoned with salt, that the earth can't 'go bad' or 'spoil' as long as we are in it and remain 'salty' to our world, and more.
They would have linked Numbers 18:19 record of a covenant of salt, and David referred to in this way in II Chronicles 13:5. Salt being preservative, flavor enhancer, and stands for community and family around the table of God with a view to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb where we are all gathered together as one big family.
There are many things that could be mentioned. How the priests were given the skins of the animals sacrificed in the burnt offering to wear as their covering (Leviticus 7:8). This covering for them provided by the offering for sin is a type of Adam and Eve covered by the Lord's sacrifice of an animal and clothed with their 'glory', skins, and how we are now covered with the Lord's glory, which came through His own 'burnt offering'.
But none is more moving than what is in the middle of Leviticus: The offerings for the Day of Atonement.
Leviticus 16:7 says Aaron shall bring two goats before the Lord and draw lots for them; One will be the goat of the sin offering, and the other will be the escape goat or 'live goat'. These two goats are a type of the dual nature of Messiah, for the blood of one will be sprinkled in the holy of holies before God Himself, and the escape goat will be led into the wilderness to die out of sight at the hand of God.
A lamb is not used here to make a point of how Jesus 'became sin for us': A goat is a type of sin, as when Jesus said in Matthew 25:32-33 that at His return He will separate the sheep nations from the goat nations.
In verse 12 the Lord tells Moses to instruct Aaron that before the two goats are offered to God, Aaron had to take burning incense 'that has been beaten small' into the holy place so the smoke covered the Ark of the Covenant and filled the holy place "that he die not".
The incense is a type of the prayers of the saints as seen in The Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4, and in the larger sense here, is the intercession of Messiah for mankind, His offering, His coming before the Father in the Holy Place.
It is for this reason the incense was 'beaten small' or beaten into tiny pieces, which shows the torture Jesus endured in His offering for mankind 'that we not die' in the presence of God. Isaiah 52:14 says: "Many will be astonished at Him, for His appearance was marred more than any man." Being beaten into tiny pieces meant every bit of incense would be consumed by the fire, showing the complete work of Jesus on the cross.
The goat of the sin offering
In Leviticus 16:16-20 the Lord tells Moses the blood of the goat is sprinkled in the holy place to make at-one-ment for Israel, calling it in v20 'making reconciliation'. It was that moment they were one, no more sin between them and God, for He had reconciled them to Himself, making at-one-ment or united God and man 'at one that moment'.
This answers to II Corinthians 5:17-21 where Paul writes: "That is to say, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not charging their sins to them, and given to us the service of reconciliation. We then as Ambassadors for God beg you, be reconciled to God..."
It is also seen in Hebrews 9:22-26 where it says on the earth the temple was purified by earthly sacrifices, but heaven had to be purified by a higher and better sacrifice: "For Christ did not enter a temple made with hands to offer Himself, which is just a type of the True, but He went into heaven itself to appear before God..."
Jesus was in the midst of ascending to present Himself to the Father when Mary saw Him just after His resurrection. Ephesians 4:8 tells us He was leading Captivity to heaven (those in Captivity, also known as Paradise or Abraham's bosom, ie the righteous who had died but were awaiting their sins to be paid)
In John 20:16-19 Mary turns in awe when she hears Him speak her name: "Mary". He tells her, "Don't touch me for I have not yet ascended to my Father. But go and tell my disciples I ascend to my Father and their Father, and to my God and your God." The text goes on to say, "Later that same day at evening...Jesus stood in their midst..." He was fulfilling the role of the goat of the sin offering in the Holy of Holies, then once done, He came later that day to appear to the others, and did so more often over the next 40 days. How kind of Him to assure Mary He was alive.
We just saw Jesus as the goat of the sin offering which was offered in the holy place, now let's also see His work as the scapegoat, dying in the wilderness at the hand of God. Leviticus 16:21 tells us Aaron was to lay hands on the goat's head and confess the sins of Israel before sending it away into the wilderness to die alone. Verse 22: "And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities in a land not inhabited..." The desolation, the loneliness, is not missed a point we should miss.
This explains why Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!" Notice for the first time Jesus did not use the word 'Father', but He spoke as the unsaved do, the general term 'God'. The sun darkened for the last 3 hours He hung on the cross, alone, suspended between heaven and earth, the scapegoat dying in the wilderness in a private action between God His Father and Himself.
Together, the goat of the sin offering and the scapegoat, reveal the dual nature of Messiah and how His sacrifice cleansed us and made the way for us to enter heaven. If He had not entered heaven to appear before the Father for us, to be declared the legal and final and perfect sacrifice for mankind, our salvation would not have been complete.
Hebrews 6:20 calls Him the forerunner who has entered behind the veil for us, that we may follow. The term 'forerunner' was used to describe a ship coming into port. A man with a rope around him would dive into the water and swim in the path the ship should go, in appearance towing the ship as he swam though it was maneuvered by oarsmen. Jesus is our forerunner this verse says, having 'swum ahead' to see us safely into port.
The scapegoat and the goat of the sin offering are combined in the person of the Lord Jesus. He cleansed us and was declared to be the final sacrifice by the Father God Almighty. That is why Paul would write that we go directly to heaven when we die, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" in II Corinthians 5:6 - Jesus made the way and is awaiting us there, the forerunner having prepared a place for us.
This concludes our study of Leviticus, though there is so much more. But I hope it has been a blessing, new subject next week, until then, blessings,
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