Chapter 12 The Scapegoat

And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:8).

There is great power in words. There may be even more power in pictures. Pictures seem to live and register in our minds better than words. So God has given us a world of moving models in the Old Testament, and these proclaim in detail His profoundest truths. They are models which point to Christ, and the Spirit of God has made them suitable to every grade of student, so that even the smallest child can understand them. One of the most living of these models is Israel’s great day of atonement.

On this day many animal victims died. The stream of blood was deep and wide. This abundant death proclaimed the awful curse of sin. But each sacrifice also proclaimed God’s remedy for sin, and sounded out the truth of redemption. These sacrifices, then, were heralds of Christ. On the day of atonement two goats were brought for a sin offering. The high priest received them at the door of the Tabernacle and cast lots.

The casting of the lot meant that the selection was left to God. Of these two goats, one was selected for death, the other to live as the scapegoat. In this selection of the two goats we see a picture of God selecting His beloved Son in the councils of eternal love. The beloved Son was called to execute the saving work because He alone was adequate.

The First Goat

The first goat had to die. Its blood was shed. With this blood the high priest then entered into the holy of holies. There he sprinkled it on the mercy seat, and seven times on the horns of the altar, and on the tent of meeting. This extensive use of the blood was to show the extensiveness of sin. It is a widespread malady. It is found everywhere man moves. But the blood shed is also man’s purchase price. It meets every demand of justice. It pays all dues to law. It settles all debts. The blood of Christ thus sprinkles every page of a believer’s life, and blots out all his sins.

The same blood is our peace. When conscience is awakened by the Spirit of God, it writhes in agony. It is sore wounded at the remembrance of sins, and can find no rest. It cries, as David did, “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight” (Psalm 51:4). Such an awakened heart finds no rest, no forgiveness, and no deliverance until it comes to the mercy seat and to the blood of sprinkling. That blood has fourfold power.

(1) Sin-destroying power. Sin is like a weed with many roots. The sins of men have spread far and wide and they rise up in every season. Nothing can destroy these vile weeds but the touch of the Saviour’s blood. Let poor souls look to the Saviour’s cross and see what the blessed Son of God did to sin. He destroyed it completely.

(2) Satan-defeating power. There is no place on earth which does not bear traces of Satan’s presence or influence. No palace of kings, no shacks of the poor have ever shut him out. He has the key to every home and to every room in the home. Nothing can defeat his evil designs and overcome that evil influence but the precious blood of Christ the Lord. Satan flees before the ensign of the cross.

(3) Hell-defying power. Hell cannot receive a blood-washed soul. Its chains cannot bind such a one. Its fires cannot burn him. The gnawing worm cannot torment him. The blood of Jesus is the only safeguard against the pains of hell.

(4) Heaven-delivering power. The blood of Christ removes every hindrance in the way to Heaven. When you look into Heaven and see the great throng and you ask: “What are these?”—the answer is: “They which … have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:13,14). No other cleansing can avail to make sinners fit for such a holy place as God’s Heaven.

The Second Goat

Now the second goat appears. This is the scapegoat. The high priest stretches out his hands and lays them on its head. It is a token of transmitted guilt. The high priest confesses all the sins of his people—a fearful catalog. The scapegoat receives the burden. It takes the load off the people of God.

The scapegoat is then led away. Those transmitted sins are borne beyond the camp, beyond where man can ever discover them, beyond the far borders of a waste wilderness. The goat disappears into the thickets of an untrodden waste, never to be found again.

This is to show what God has done with the sins of His people. All our sins were laid upon Jesus. “The LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). And listen to what He has done with them: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). None can measure that distance. It is an infinite separation. “Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). No line can reach them. They are sunk in immeasurable depths. They are forever hid in a very deep grave.

“Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back” (Isaiah 38:17). Eyes with forward bent cannot see them. They are hid in the distant rear. “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins” (Isaiah 44:22). The blackening clouds, all full of storm and tempest, are not removed only, so that they can blow back another day—but are blotted out to exist no more. They have vanished away.

“They shall not be found,” says the Lord in Jeremiah 50:20. The scapegoat confirms this truth, and there is no deeper comfort than to know that all our sins—so many, so vile, so hateful—have been thus removed. The Lord Jesus has taken them away, and God sees His believing people only in the glories of His beloved Son.

O Christ, Thy precious blood was shed,
For guilty sinners Thou didst die:
My sins were all upon Thee laid,
On Thee my soul doth now rely.
Thee, Lamb of God, by faith I see,
A perfect Sacrifice for me.
’Twas grace abounding brought Thee down
From yonder realms of light above;
The cross was Thine, and Thine the crown
Shall ever be, O Lord of love!
Thy mighty triumph o’er the grave
Declares Thy right the lost to save.

Author Unknown