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The Scapegoat

Hope Ministries - Columnist
Posted 10/2/20

The definition of a scapegoat is a person or thing that bears the blame for others. This term was originally applied to a live goat that was used by the priests of Israel on the Day of Atonement, Yom …

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The Scapegoat

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The definition of a scapegoat is a person or thing that bears the blame for others. This term was originally applied to a live goat that was used by the priests of Israel on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. According to Leviticus 16:10, once a year the scapegoat would be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement for God's people.

The High Priest would lay his hands on the head of the scapegoat and confess over it the sins of the people. Then the goat was led into the wilderness to be released, symbolically taking away their sin. The scapegoat bore the blame of guilt from their sin, and God accepted this act and removed the guilt of sin from the people. (See Leviticus 16:21-22.)

I recently learned something new about this ritual. A crimson colored strap was tied to the head of the goat before it was sent out into the wilderness, and a crimson colored thread was tied to the door of the sanctuary. This represented Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

The Lord made a way to show His people that He accepted their sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sin by doing an extraordinary miracle. Each year as the scapegoat was sent into the wilderness, both the strap on the goat's head and the crimson thread on the door turned white. In this way the people knew the ransom for their sin had been paid.

But an unusual thing started to happen. During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the crimson colored strap and thread never turned white again. What changed to stop this sign to the people that God had accepted this payment for their sin?

The event that not only changed the course of history for God's people, but for all mankind, was the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus became the true scapegoat, once and for all. Because of His sacrifice, we can have assurance that our sins can be forgiven for all time, not just once a year. Yom Kippur literally means “Day of Covering,” and Kippur also means “ransom.” Jesus paid the ultimate price and ransom for our sins, covering them with His precious blood.

Knowing this can give us peace. When we trust and believe that Jesus paid the price for our sin, and receive this gift of forgiveness and salvation, we have the assurance that when we confess our sin to Him, He is faithful to forgive us (I John 1:9).

We can know that our sins are forgiven, not just hope that they are. We can unload the heavy weight and burden of our sin and guilt upon this wonderful scapegoat God has provided for us, knowing that Jesus bears our blame and shame because of His great love for us, and offers us a way of escape.

Hope Ministries is a Christian counseling center, and we are here to help. If you would like to speak confidentially with someone, give us a call at 482-5300.

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