Read Moses' Book of Leviticus Chapter 16 here. Pray and ask God to reveal His truth to you.
In chapter 16 of the book of Leviticus (Revealed to Prophets Moses and Aaron), we read about what God wanted from His people on the Day of Atonement and the meaning of sacrifice.
What followed next was very significant. There would be two goats. One for the Lord to be offered as a sacrifice, a symbolic “ ransom payment” for the terrible cost of our sin (see previous study).
The other would be the “scapegoat”. The priest would cast lots to determine which each would represent (Leviticus 16:8). Casting lots means God is the one who chooses.
Why is the law regarding the ‘scapegoat’ so significant?
The High Priest was to “lay hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and transfer them on the goat’s head.” (Leviticus 16:21)
“Then he will appoint someone who will send the goat away into the desert. The goat will carry on itself all the sins of the people to the desolate place; and the man shall release it there.” (Leviticus 16:22).
In other words, the goat was brought deep into the desert by a chosen man and then released there. Ancient Jewish tradition records that the goat would be led to a harsh barren place to ensure the goat (sin) would die there and never come back to live with humanity again.
This goat would symbolically carry away the sins as a representative of the nation.
The triumphant return
And this is not the end. The man appointed to carry the goat (sin) away into the wilderness must come back alive and reunite with his people.
His return would mark the successful banishment of sin away and the new cleanliness of the people in front of God!
The Hebrew word for this goat (עזאזל Azazel ) signifies this sending away into the desert. But many scholars also identify Azazel as the name of a demon inhabiting the wilderness. Either way, these laws teach us a lot about God’s plan for the world.
What do these laws teach us?
Although sin is not welcome in God’s presence, sinners are welcome. God wants us to be cleansed from our sin and He wants for us to be near Him.
These laws highlighted the great rift between God and His people, as well as His love and determination to provide a solution to the world’s problem of sin. All these are symbolic images that point forward to God’s eternal plan of salvation later!
God provides a way to banish our sins away, by providing a perfect lamb as a substitute, and by anointing someone who could carry the sins away completely but also able to come back alive and reunite with His people forever.
Of course, no animal or human could do it perfectly. But God promised He would accomplish this perfectly and cast our sins away forever. These laws are only an introduction.
Your Response: Listen to God and Pray…
1. What truth presented in Leviticus Chapter 16 has had the strongest impact on you?
2. What do you think God is teaching you personally today through this truth?
3. How would you want to live in response to that truth?
4. Who will you share this story with?