Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | February 21, 2023

We All Need A 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 and all their unlawful acts regarding all their sins; and he shall place them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands ready. Then the goat shall carry on itself all their wrongdoings to an isolated territory; he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” Leviticus 16:21-22

I’m not going to lie. When reading through the Bible cover to cover, getting through Leviticus and Numbers can be a tough thing—all those very detailed laws and name lists. As a believer, I know that it all points to Jesus, but sometimes I just want to skip to some action. You know, the good stuff.

But as I was spending time in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus during my morning quiet time, I came across a seemingly nominal part of the Lord’s sacrificial laws for Israel that sent my spirit soaring. The verses above also sent me scouring the New Testament to find the Scriptural counterparts to those Old Testament instructions. This is what was made clear: We all need a scapegoat. Let me explain.

We’ve all probably heard the term, “scapegoat”— it’s defined as “a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency.” If you grew up with siblings, there were likely plenty of scapegoat moments. As the baby and only girl among my group of three siblings, I definitely used my brothers as scapegoats for things I did wrong…usually to get out of being punished myself. Maybe you’ve been a scapegoat at work, the one who simply had to take the blame (and consequences) for the team’s mistakes and failures.

Well, shortly after the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt, He gave them—through Moses—very specific instructions on how to make sacrifices to the Lord for the atonement and forgiveness of their sins. These offerings happened regularly and had to be carried out exactly as God instructed. These laws, as well as lots of rules to keep them separate from (and healthier than) the pagan, self-worshipping peoples around them, were initially received with great enthusiasm, but suffice it to say, the Israelites didn’t have the best follow-through. (I can relate.)

In addition to the (very bloody) sacrificial rituals, once a year the High Priest also made atonement for the people by metaphorically placing all their sins onto a goat who would then serve to take all the blame. It would be sent into the wilderness, separating the people from their sins. This scapegoat, along with the blood offerings, would temporality satisfy the requirements of a righteous God. The key word being “temporarily.” The priests had to continually offer these sacrifices because no one could keep the Law—not one (Romans 3:10).

There is much more theological Truth in these chapters of Leviticus than I can possibly get into now. But suffice it to say that all those Old Testament sacrifices were pointing to the ultimate, once-and-for-all Sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ. (Check out Hebrews 10:1-18!) Jesus was the substitution for us, bearing our sin and removing it as far as the east is from the west. By His death on the cross, Jesus satisfied the holy and just requirements of God—taking on God’s full wrath. And by His resurrection, He once-and-for-all defeated sin and death, making a way—The Way—for us to be reconciled with the Father.

Friend, Jesus is our Scapegoat. He not only took the blame for every wrongdoing, fault, and mistake, He did so willingly and gladly to pardon us and justify us before God. And this offer is for everyone (1 John 2:2)! To receive this gift of grace, you just have to believe on the Lord and accept it. Are you burdened by your sins and mistakes? Cast them on Jesus—He’ll take them from you, forgive you, and set you free.

“Lord, thank You for taking on my sin—and taking on God’s full wrath to pay the penalty I owed. Thank You for freeing me from the bondage of sin and self, giving me a desire to serve and glorify You.”

For His Glory


Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

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