“Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat.” Leviticus 16:8 NKJV
This Old Testament ritual was a beautiful shadow of what Jesus would do and from our perspective what Jesus has already done for us. Aaron was the High Priest and he was instructed to have two goats brought to him for the sacrifice of the people’s sins. He handled the two goats differently and in what Aaron did with both goats we get to see exactly what Jesus did for us, by His sacrifice for our sins.
The first goat was killed as a sin offering for all the people. The blood of the sacrificed goat was brought into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. The second goat remained alive and was then brought to Aaron the High Priest.
21 “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land, and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” Leviticus 16:20-22 NKJV
This second goat [the live goat] was referred to as the “scapegoat”. Aaron laid his hands and placed all the sins of the people upon the goat. This was a vision of Jesus would do for all mankind as the sins of all people were placed on Him. As the sins of the people were laid upon the head of the goat, so the sins of all mankind were placed on the head of Jesus and symbolized by the wearing of the crown of thorns on His head. That live goat was then sent into the wilderness by a “suitable man”. Jesus was the only suitable man and He willingly took upon Himself your sins and mine.
The goat was then taken from the Temple and Jerusalem and led out into the wilderness, to the place of forgetfulness and there the goat was released. Jesus took all you sins and paid the price for them with His own blood just like the first goat. He took all memory of your sins and which He paid for and has taken them to the wilderness of forgetfulness. As believers, we have all failed and come up short, but we are not to dwell on sin. If you have accepted the sacrifice that Jesus made for you then they are removed and forgotten. If he has forgotten them then why should you dwell upon them? Jesus had done this for you and so put the sins behind you and move forward in His freedom and favor with a thankful heart, not a heart oppressed with guilt. He has set you free.
J Todd Hostetler