The Scapegoat

God has always looked for a generation of His people who are prepared to lay down their all for Him – who would not run away from total surrender. This will be realised in the last generation of Christians upon this earth. That is, those who are alive when Jesus returns as King of Kings. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. (I Thess. 4:15-17) NRSV

God has given insights in His word that we may understand these portentous events. It’s in not one but various books of the Bible that we can understand God’s plan for His people. 

In the book of Leviticus chapter 16, mention is made of the Jewish Day of Atonement. This was one of the most important Jewish Feasts, Yom Kippur, still practised to this day by fundamental Jewish people.

We are talking here of Old Testament, Old Covenant, events which all Christians believe have been superseded and fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, the true Lamb of God. Speaking of those who lived in the Old Testament era, the Bible says, For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. (I Cor.10:1-4) Everything in the Old Testament Sanctuary Service was a ‘type’ of someone or something in the New Covenant, New Testament era – the day in which we live.

On that day, Yom Kippur, “two male goats for a sin offering” were taken “from the congregation of the people of Israel.” (Lev16:5) This introductory statement alone is interesting because it speaks here of ‘two’ goats that are part of ‘a’ sin offering on the day. They are both part of the sin offering for that particular day. Lots were then cast over these 2 goats. He shall take the two goats and set them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting; and Aaron shall cast lots on the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel. Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD, and offer 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. Lev.16:7-10 Later on in the day this is what happened to the ‘Azazel’ goat. And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send [him] away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: (vs.21)

There are many versions of what this second goat called the ‘scapegoat’ or ‘Azazel’ represents. Some say it represents Jesus who was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. Some say it represents Satan who ultimately has the sins of the world laid upon him and is sent off into the wilderness of this world during the 1000 years after the second coming of Christ. (Rev.20:5-7) (see footnote) There are sincere Christians who have in good faith accepted either of these explanations. Is there any other possible explanation that would fit in with what the Day of Atonement is typifying? 

  1. Firstly it seems a little incongruous that, at the draw of a straw, Satan could have anything to do with the redemption of mankind. Lev.16:5 specifies both goats as being a ‘sin offering’. This fullness and completeness we would think belongs only to Jesus Christ.

  2. Secondly the text says that the scapegoat was to be, “let go….in the wilderness.” (Lev.16:22 KJV) The NRSV has this text as, “set free in the wilderness”. We can be sure that Satan has nothing to do with being ‘let go’ or freedom or being ‘free’. We are reminded of the words of Jesus, If the Son shall set you free ye shall be free indeed. Jn.8:36 And Peter says, Act as free men…. 1Pet.2:16 Jesus alone can set us free. This is interesting. The goat is released into the wilderness, which is called the wilderness of sin.(Ex.16:1) But it is “let go” or “set free”. There was no apparent cause of death involved with the second goat but atonement was made over it. (vs.10) This doesn’t seem to fit with what will happen to Satan. He is ‘bound’ and ultimately cast into the lake of fire. Rev.20:2,10) This is not synonymous with being “let go” or “set free”. Surely it must be questionable whether the devil can be any part of the atonement. 

Could it be God’s people who are represented by the scapegoat?  Do they have a significant role to play in God’s atonement? God’s people are referred to as the “body of Christ”. They do not die as a sacrificial offering but they do have a role to play in the atonement. In fact the apostle Paul talks of this in the New Testament. I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. Col.1:24 NRSV This verse is saying that God’s people, His Church, have a part to play in finishing the work that Christ began. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 1 Pet.2:21

A point often overlooked in Leviticus 16 is that it seems to be given as a response to what happened to the 2 sons of Aaron when they died before the Lord. (Lev.16:1) It was in response to Nadab and Abihu’s sin in offering “strange fire”, (Lev.10:1,2) that God instituted the Day of Atonement. The concept of the Scapegoat is mentioned first and only in Lev.16.

God’s response to His people offering “strange fire” before Him was to show them the way to redeem themselves by following a pathway of surrender, burden bearing, and complete subservience to, not an unholy spirit, but the true Spirit of the Living God. 

Even though we are not told specifically what these two sons had done that was so wrong we could assume that it was in the area of presumption and that they were being led by an unholy or evil spirit. God’s response was swift punishment. By design or by accident the procedures to be followed on the Day of Atonement are given in the immediate context of Aarons two sons dying. The Day of Atonement clearly sets out the way for God’s people not to fall into presumptive sin. The Day of Atonement deals not only with God’s provision for mankind’s salvation, but also with the wonderful part that mankind, His Church, have to play in that grand plan. That would be well represented by the scapegoat.

A careful reading of Leviticus shows that in answer to Nadab and Abihu’s sin God was calling for more responsibility to be taken by the children of Israel – not excuses. Leviticus 16 must be read in the context of chapter 9 where the children of Israel were instructed thus: And unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, saying, Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb Lev.9:3 Take note of this. Before the sin of Nadab and Abihu there was one goat offered as a sin offering for the children of Israel. Come across to chapter 16. Not now one goat as a sin offering for the people. But seemingly as a direct response to the sin of the two sons of Aaron two goats were brought. What is God saying here? This second goat was to show the people of Israel that they had a continuing responsibility to be responsible for themselves and each other. No traitor was to be in their midst. If there is one thing the scapegoat teaches it is this. Like soldiers on a battlefield we are responsible for one another. The scapegoat wasn’t to aprogate responsibility for our weakness and sin by making excuses and saying that it was the prince of darkness who is responsible. It was to embrace the importance of ‘owning’ their own shortcomings and that of their brethren and being prepared to accept their role in the expiation of these sins. And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send [him] away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: (vs.21) Like the apostle Paul says, And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; {5:19} To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor.5:18,19 This has always been the role of Christians whether by voice or prayer and intercession. The atonement was no small thing. Not to be treated casually or singularly. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 2 Cor.5:14

If the scapegoat represents a wilderness life of humility it would be God showing us the way not to fall into sin as did the two sons of Aaron. In fact to put Satan into this role could be seen as sidestepping the role that God has always had for His church. That of humble burden bearers: which of course is the very antipathy of the strange fire offered by the sons of Aaron. To relegate this role to Satan could be seen as both blasphemous and dangerous. We are warned in Scripture of the danger of attributing in any way the work of God to Satan. (Matt.12:22-31) This theory of making Satan the scapegoat makes that which is good into something that is intrinsically evil. The scapegoat is often portrayed in literature as something evil. There is nothing in the context of Lev. 16 to suggest this. It was one of two goats both of which are referred to as, “a sin offering”. Only the holy Lamb of God in the person of Jesus Christ can fulfill that role. And of course, His church, His bride, which is called to follow “in His steps”.

One can readily imagine the devil being very pleased at being able to infiltrate himself into God’s perfect plan of salvation. If he could supplant himself into the place where God’s praying people rightfully belong he will have achieved a significant victory. Imagine me as the final burden bearer. …….I will be like the most High. Isa.14:14

The fact that this doctrine was believed by the early reformers (see footnote) is not crucial. These sincere  believers were coming out of great darkness. Not to them was the full and final light of God’s glory revealed, for, ….the path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Prov.4:18

If the enemy of all mankind can infiltrate himself in any small way into God’s perfect plan of salvation he will have achieved a significant victory. Instead of God’s people being burden bearers as He intended that burden can be rolled onto Satan.

How could making Satan a burden bearer be wrong? Firstly we should state categorically that Satan will indeed bear responsibility for all the sins of this world. This will happen at the end of time and is taught in Revelation chapter 20. That is separate and distinct to what is revealed of the sin offering of Leviticus 16. This is talking of a time when God’s great plan of salvation is well and truly still active in this world. It is of course before the Second Coming when every persons destiny will have been forever decided. Leviticus 16 is talking of the time when the devil still prowls as a roaring lion and God’s grace is very much alive.

How does Satan work at a psuedo religious level? Always through force (Dan.11:38). Through the law (2 Cor.3:7-9) Throughout history, Christianity, when guided by the wrong master, can be very cruel. When men take it upon themselves to enforce that which is the prerogative of God alone (Rom.12:17-19) then evil results. By preaching and embracing the law we are embracing the wrath of God (Gal.4:24,25) When one of our fundamental doctrines is vengeance we have usurped that which belongs to God alone. The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. 1 Cor.15:56

Is it a Biblical concept to identify with the sins of others and to stand on their behalf? As with all true teachings the Bible presents, not proof, but evidence.

It was Moses who offered to stand in the breach before God for his countrymen. Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them. Ps.106:23

It was Jeremiah who wrote: ….see if you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth – so that I may pardon Jerusalem. Jer.5:1

It was Ezekiel who wrote: And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: Eze.22:30 And God said to the same prophet: ….you shall bear the punishment of the house of Israel. Eze.4:5

It was Paul who wrote: For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died……. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor.5:14,19 NAS

It was John who wrote regarding the church of the last days: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: Rev.3:17

It was Jesus who said, why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Matt.7:3

Passages such as these show us one thing. The war is real. The world in which we find ourselves is a spiritual battlefield. As much as we would like to not be a part of it we are called to take up the full armour of God, to believe, and to walk the pathway that Jesus trod before us. This was the wilderness experience that is spoken of specifically in only one place of all of scripture. It is important.

If Jesus is so gracious as to speak honestly to us and reveal to us our true condition, the least we can do is reciprocate and be honest in heart about ourselves. Jesus suffered for the sins of the whole world. Until they are surrendered and laid at the foot of the cross, we suffer for our own sins and the sins of others who are close to us. We shouldn’t be in denial of not just our true condition but of our true responsibility to our fellow man.

We are told a number of things about God’s people in the last days. They will go through a ‘time of trouble’ such as has never been experienced by any previous generation of Christians. They will understand their role as no previous generation of Christians have done. They will be perfect because of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to them as a gift. They will go forth …..fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners. Song of Sol. 6:10

Could this little goat, perfect in every way, represent, not the devil, but God’s last generation of Christians who go forth into the furrow of this world’s needs and give their lives willingly into service for their fellow man. Then he led out his people like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. Ps.78:52 Could this be a truth that Satan wants to keep hidden. The strength of the children of God is truly in their humility.

God’s work is never going to be finished with more money, missions and welfare programs. The might and power of mankind and his cleverness will never suffice… but the mighty power of the Holy Spirit is different. The groundwork has been laid through centuries of missionary work. The gospel is now in one form or another in all the countries of the world. Where there are believers the Spirit of God will work in ways that we cannot even conceive. This last work of God will be accomplished through His believing people under the mighty unction of the Holy Spirit.

And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. Joel 2:28-32

The sacrifice of Jesus as typified in the daily burnt offerings or sin offering was total and complete. Why then this extra service on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement? Was it just another round of daily offering? Or was it a culmination of all that had happened throughout the year? Is this then bringing a time element into the sanctuary services? Scripture indicates that there is an end to all things in this world. What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. Nah.1:9 The Christian era as we know it won’t go on forever. It is accepted by many Christians that the Day of Atonement services, Yom Kippur, do indeed represent last day events. But how would the end-time gospel be different from the pure gospel that’s been preached for two thousand years? These regular Old Testament offerings surely represented Christ’s completed work for us. Why then the Day of Atonement? It isn’t making up for any lack in the daily services. There was no lack in Christ’s completed work as typified in the daily round of services. What then could it possibly represent at the end of time? There is coming a time when God’s work will be completed, finalised, and then Christ will come. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgement has come; (see Rev.14:7) The Day of Atonement is figurative or a type of, that period of time. We need then to be looking for end-time meaning in the once a year procedures on Yom Kippur.

It’s with these thoughts in mind that we can begin to look for evidence of what this day is really teaching us about what is really happening in our world today. Could it be that God’s people are much more involved in last day events than previously thought? This is not just a time of judgement but a time of intercession of God’s people on behalf of others. These prayers plays a major part of God’s last day plan. (compare Rev.5:8 with Rev.8:5) ….golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Rev.5:8Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. Rev.8:5

The shewbread and the candlestick in the earthly sanctuary were constant and totally reliable. They were totally dependable as representing something that God had provided. They would never change. The only variable in the earthly sanctuary service was the altar of incense…the prayers of His people. God today has made total provision for our salvation. He needs His people to be constant in their prayers. Genuine, Spirit led intercession will bring about the realisation of the 144,000.

Rev. 14:6,7 describes those believers who live at the end of time. Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation and tribe and language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgement has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” NRSV Theirs is a message of judgement but it is not just that. It’s a message of praise to the God of all creation. This is highly significant. While the world at large bows down to the gods of science and evolution these people are full of praise to the real Creator. Theirs is a happy experience.

We are told that the scapegoat was to be led into the wilderness by the hand of “a fit man” vs.21 KJV, or as other versions have it:

“a man who is in readiness” RSV

“a man appointed for the task” NIV

“a man who stands in readiness” NAS

“a man who is timely (ready, fit)” Amplified

“someone designated for the task” NRSV

“a man appointed for the task” TLB

Who could this be referring to? We need to be looking for the spiritual meaning in all of Scripture. If the scapegoat were to represent God’s people in their role as intercessors then “a fit man” would comfortably represent the Holy Spirit. Remember Jesus said, …apart from me you can do nothing. Jn.15:5 NRSV And in John 16:7, Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

Jesus made it clear to us that, as believers, we cannot live by ourselves, in our own strength. The Holy Spirit was often represented in the Old Testament as a wayfarer, as one of us – a Friend. (see the article on Melchizedek) So it would not be the only place in Scripture where the Holy Spirit is represented as a man. He is represented as subservient to Jesus. He is quiet, humble and never seeks to glorify Himself. He does a deep work in the hearts and minds of all creation but His glory is in representing Jesus. As Christians we are totally dependent upon the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Genuine Christians live not for themselves but for the lost around them.

Let’s go back again to the original text. Two goats for a sin offering, one is killed and one is let go into the wilderness. Let’s just say that these both represent Jesus. He is the only sin offering for this world. He is definitely represented by the goat which is killed. What about the other goat which is not killed but let go “free”. How could this be a part of the sin offering? The church is referred to in scripture as the “body of Christ” (Col.1:18) The church, the spiritual “body of Christ” is made up of His people. Those who believe in Him. They do not die as Jesus did, for the sins of the world. That is the prerogative of Jesus alone. But they are still referred to as His body. And of course in a spiritual sense they die. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. 2 Cor.4:8-12. “I die daily”, said Paul. (1 Cor.15:31) And in that sense they are a very real part of Christ Himself. So the figure of the goat being released into the wilderness is a fitting representation of His people being led by the Spirit into the wilderness of this worlds need. In the words of the hymn, said by some to be the greatest missionary hymn of the 20th century.

So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing-
So send I you to toil for Me alone.

Who is prepared then to walk into the wilderness for their fellow man? Christians are free. They have been freed by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. The experience of Christians, though it can be a ‘wilderness’, lonely experience is nevertheless one of complete freedom, “in Christ”. If the son shall make you free you shall be free indeed. Jn.8:36

The question is, are we prepared to sink our lives into the furrow of this world’s need. This isn’t talking about some sort of intense, never-rest, legal experience. It is talking about resting and abiding and above all believing. Are we prepared to care for our fellow man? This is very hard for us because our hearts are naturally self-centred. The spiritual lessons of the burnt offering are crucial for Christians living at the end of time – which many believe is the day in which we live. This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Ps.118:24 NAS

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. 2 Cor.4:8-12 This is the experience, not just of the great apostle Paul, but of those living at the end of time just prior to the second coming of Jesus.

The typical message of the scapegoat is teaching us not to stand aloof and think in some way we are superior, but to identify with – take upon ourselves even, the weakness and suffering of those around us, as the Holy Spirit leads. To be a ‘scapegoat’ is in reality a state of mind. It isn’t a spirit of pride, aloofness, or superiority. It is a spirit of genuine humility, forbearance, and unfailing courtesy. Who of us can measure up to such a thing? But it is a basic principle of the New Testament. [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Phil.2:3

Jesus took upon Himself the sins of this world and we are to follow, “in His steps”. (1 Pet.2:21) This has to have some real meaning for us today. Of course we cannot follow the same pathway that Jesus trod. But He is asking us to follow “in his steps”. To the degree that we can understand and cope, God will bestow on us something of the life and experience of Jesus.

And of all the gifts that heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honour.” Desire of Ages p.225 This is not making us into some sort of self-seeking martyrs. But it should lead us to our knees on behalf of others in quiet surrender to God, asking for His will to be done.

This is the same principle that can be portrayed on any battlefield, whether it be an earthly or spiritual battle – the spirit of mate ship – that which can lead one person to lay down their life for another. The same principle laid out by Jesus who said, Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. Jn.15:13 NAS God is looking for real people, not just ‘religious’ people.

The lesson of, the sanctuary – the scapegoat – the sabbath rest – is this. When we intercede for someone, it is the same as when we pray for ourselves. We go to God just as we are, claiming nothing except the precious blood of Jesus. There is power in the blood to not just cover us but to fill us and to take away even the propensity to sin. When we pray for someone we are not opposing and fighting their sin and unbelief. We are pleading the blood of the Saviour over them. We don’t sit in judgment and condemn. We are in the place of the Master who said, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. Jn.8:11

Neither do I condemn thee” But of course the text doesn’t end there. It goes on to say “go and sin no more”. In our anxiousness to do the ‘right thing’ we feel it our duty to emphasise the last part of this text. In doing this we may be trying to do that which is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit alone. “When He is come”, said Jesus, “He will convict the world of sin.” (Jn.16:8) Perhaps we should be emphasising the first part of the text and leave the rest to God. It is said in the word, Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Zech.4:6 We need to rely, not on intellectual power, not on clever reasoning, not on ‘proving’ tenets of theology, but on something that God says is infinitely more important. The Spirit of the living God. Jesus said, …any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Matt.12:31 That’s how much importance Jesus placed upon the deep, invisible work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus can cope with unbelief, ridicule, even abuse from those who don’t profess to be His followers, even sometimes from those who are His followers. But who can see the deep work that the Holy Spirit may be doing in these very individuals. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will enable us to see this work in others and we quietly rejoice that God is working in a very real way. As intercessors it behoves us to stand as quiet sentinels guarding and pleading the blood of the Saviour over all.

In doing this we are fighting against the powers of darkness. We are following in the footsteps of Jesus. This is the message of the scapegoat.

The last generation of Christians upon this planet will be the ones who follow Jesus along paths of total self-sacrifice and surrender. They are the ones who enter into the true Sabbath-rest of Christ. They are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Rev.14:4 NAS They are the ones who understand the lessons of the sanctuary service and who enter into the experience of the burnt offering – who sink their lives into living fellowship with Christ. We need to open our hearts and minds to spiritual truth. Jesus said, I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth…. John 16:12,13 There will be some things hard to understand which will not be accepted by the majority.

How are we to be guided in this ‘wilderness experience’? By the hand of our fit man who will lead us individually in our personal ‘wilderness’ experience. Is that such a fearful thing? Is that what God is asking of His last generation of people upon this planet? ‘the risky faith embrace of God’s action” Rom.4:12 Message.

* * * * * * *

For the reader the following footnotes give some idea of the diverse interpretations of these passages of Scripture. They cannot all be true. The presence of error, rather than take away truth, actually enhances the truth when it is finally found. Just like the hidden gemstone can be in the ground unseen for generations until it is finally found, cleaned of layers of dirt and finally revealed in its true beauty. The above study on the Scapegoat came, not through happenstance, but through earnest prayer and heart searching.

footnote

Scapegoat | Define Scapegoat at Dictionary.com

dictionary.reference.com/browse/scapegoat

1. a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place. 2. Chiefly Biblical. a goat let loose in the wilderness on Yom Kippur after the high priest symbolically laid the sins of the people on its head. Lev.16:8,10,26

 

from Wikipedia The scapegoat was a goat that was designated (Hebrew לַעֲזָאזֵֽל ) la-aza’zeyl; either “for absolute removal” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon) or possibly “for Azazel” (some modern versions taking the term as a name) and outcast in the desert as part of the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement, that began during the Exodus with the original Tabernacle and continued through the times of the temples in Jerusalem.

Throughout the year, the sins of the ancient Israelites were daily transferred to the regular sin offerings as outlined in the Torah in Leviticus Ch 16. Once a year, on the tenth day of the seventh month in the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement, the High Priest of Israel sacrificed a bull for a sin offering for his own sins. Subsequently he took two goats and presented them at the door of the tabernacle with a view to dealing with the corporate sins of God’s people — the nation of Israel. Two goats were chosen by lot: one to be “The Lord’s Goat”, which was offered as a blood sacrifice, and the other to be the “Azazel” scapegoat to be sent away into the wilderness. The blood of the slain goat was taken into the Holy of Holies behind the sacred veil and sprinkled on the mercy seat, the lid of the ark of the covenant. Later in the ceremonies of the day, the High Priest confessed the sins of the Israelites to Yahweh placing them figuratively on the head of the other goat, the Azazel scapegoat, who “took them away” never to be seen again. The sin of the nation was thus “atoned for” (paid for) by the “The Lord’s Goat” and “The Azazel Goat”.

In Christianity, especially in Protestantism, this process prefigures the sacrifice of Christ on the cross through which God has been propitiated and sins can be expiated. Jesus Christ is seen to have fulfilled all of the Biblical “types” – the High Priest who officiates at the ceremony, the Lord’s goat that deals with the pollution of sin and the scapegoat that removes the “burden of sin”. Christians believe that sinners who own their guilt and confess their sins, exercising faith and trust in the person and sacrifice of Jesus, are forgiven of their sins.

Seventh-day Adventist Christians understand this symbolism differently. As the Azazel Goat was traditionally understood by Jews of antiquity [13] and Christians of the reformation [14] to represent Satan, Seventh-day Adventists’ views harmonize with those of the reformation time period. (See Azazel for detail of this view.)

Since the second goat was sent away to perish,[15] the word “scapegoat” has developed to indicate a person who is blamed and punished for the sins of others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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