Escape for the Scapegoat [Part 1]

By Alan Wright — July 13, 2018

Are you ready for some good news?

There were two goats on the Day of Atonement.

Today’s Text: “And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.” (Leviticus 16:8–10, ESV)

The Day of Atonement was a high, holy day for Israel because on that day the High Priest would offer a sacrifice in the holy of holies on behalf of the sin of the people. Most Christians are well acquainted with the familiar image of the blood of the innocent lamb. The image of the blood of the unblemished lamb reverberates with sounds of the Passover and we hear John the Baptizer proclaiming: “Behold, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”

We know about the goat on the Day of Atonement that shed its blood for the sins of the people. But did you know that there were two goats on the Day of Atonement?

One of the goats was killed, but the other goat was sent into the wilderness alive. One goat paid for their sin. One goat bore their shame.

The scapegoat remained alive and the priest laid hands on its head and confessed all the wickedness and shame of the nation. Then the goat was sent alone into the wilderness, alive but loaded with the shame of the people.

The Day of Atonement illustrates our dual need and points to the double cure. Born in sin, we have two deep needs: 1) the removal of our guilt; 2) the removal of our shame. We stand guilty as sinners in need of some miracle to pay our insurmountable debt. The death of Christ was the wages for our sin.  But we also need a Savior to heal our shame. When Christ cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He was bearing the shame of the world. In total isolation, He bore the sense of alienation that shame causes us all. Through His radical love wherein we are accepted fully and finally, our shame can lift.

Jesus isn’t only your Lamb that takes away your sin; He’s also your scapegoat who bears your shame. And that’s the Gospel!

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