April 27, 2010

The Scapegoat

"Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat...

"When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert." (Leviticus 16:6-10, 20-22)

Is it really believable that Jesus died for our sins? Is it realistic that this is something that could happen? Ironically, a lot of the same people who would say that this is utterly impossible--one man taking on all the sins of the world--are the people who believe in aliens, or magic, or multiple dimensions. Now I'm not putting a blanket "these do not exist" statement on those three things. What I'm doing is making a correlation between things that are difficult, if not impossible, to prove.

If you came from a Jewish tradition, and studied the scriptures (the Old Testament) I would think that it might be a bit easier to comprehend. Look at the verses above. What is it that happened in this story? Well, on the day of atonement, along with all of the other sacrifices and ceremonies that Aaron performed, he also took a goat and placed upon it all the sins of the people. Then it was led into the wilderness where it likely died. But the point is that the sins of the people went off into the wilderness, never to return.

So what was it that Jesus did again? He took the sins of all humanity--this time it was all humanity, not just Jews, and he took them for all time, not just the past year--and he took them upon himself. And he died, and took those sins with him, never to return. (ok, JESUS returned. The sins did NOT)

Jesus is often referred to as the sacrificial lamb. Which he is. But he is also the scapegoat for all humanity. The one on whom we pile all of our sin, guilt, doubt and iniquity. And through his death and resurrection, these things have been cast away from us forever.

Now, one important note is that we really have to try to stop coming up with more sin, guilt, doubt and iniquity. Jesus died for things you haven't even done yet, so they will be forgiven, but I wonder how our lives would be if, instead of letting ourselves wallow in doubt during a hard time, for example, but instead thanked God for taking that doubt from us. Because He did. It is gone from God's signt as soon as we repent of it. So why not avoid the need for repentance and go straight into thanksgiving? I wonder if that would change anything in our lives.

Because that is what Jesus came to do--to change our lives, to give us freedom and forgiveness. To bear our sins into the wilderness so that we would not be judged by them. Glory, hallelujah! Thank you God for taking my sins from me, for giving your son to die for the sins I have committed, and the ones I have yet to commit. Thank you for loving me so much that you sent your son as the scapegoat for humanity, to die for things he did not do. Thank you that he took on all of my guilt and iniquity, that he died so that I may live. Help me to remember this before I am tempted into sin again, so that I would refrain from heaping more on the cross. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. I imagine if I spent more time being thankful and praising right now rather than dwelling on the "issues" and how to change them...God just might change my heart about the "issues" and they wouldn't really be "issues" after all.

    Thanks for your persepctive! You've really encouraged me the last few days!


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