Feb 18 (Daily reading: Leviticus 16-18, NASB) A “scapegoat” is defined as a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others. The word originated in Leviticus: “The scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord” (16:10). On the Day of Atonement, the high priest would sacrifice a bull as a sin offering, but he would also take two goats, only one of which would be sacrificed as a sin offering for the sins of the people. The other goat would be the scapegoat, “Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the wrongdoings of the sons of Israel … Then the goat shall carry on itself all their wrongdoings to an isolated territory; he shall release the goat in the wilderness” (Lev. 16:21-22).
The people would not be able to see behind the veil where the dead goat’s blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat. But the people would see the release of the scapegoat into the wilderness, an act which was rich in symbolism. Their sins, symbolically placed upon the scapegoat, were removed from them, and sent away; as David later wrote, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our wrongdoings from us (Ps. 103:12).
Two goats, one sacrifice, as a type of Jesus Christ. Not only did He forgive our sins by taking our death upon Himself (the sin offering), but He also removed our sins from us (the scapegoat). Christ was the scapegoat, blamed (and crucified) for our sins, our wrongdoings. He bore the penalty of death, which was rightfully ours, so that we might have eternal life and freedom. “Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
– Al Gary