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Jesus in Leviticus

November 29, 2021

Our Scapegoat

One of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar is the Day of Atonement, called today Yom Kippur. It’s the only day of mourning and fasting God ever gave to His people. It was the day that established fasting in the Old Testament and to mourn for sin (see Leviticus 16, 23).

On this day, the great high priest acted alone. He began with two goats. From one, he sprinkled its blood on the mercy seat. Then, with bloody hands, he held the head of the live goat and confessed the sins of Israel. The laying on of hands identifies this goat with the sins of Israel, and like is said of Jesus in Isaiah 53:6, “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus was made sin for us!

Then the high priest put that “scapegoat” into the arms of another priest who took it outside the city and drove it into the wilderness. Israelites were stationed at intervals to see that the scapegoat disappeared, never to be seen or found again. And the news that the goat was gone was relayed from station to station so that it was known a few minutes later in the temple. Their sin was atoned for … for another year.

And just as the news was passed from station to station, so the Good News that Christ has taken away our sins has been passed from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to Paul, the apostle, the early church fathers, and finally to our day to me and to you! Christ has put away our sins in a perfect and complete manner!

On this holy day, God was impressing on these people that they were sinners. We’re all lost sinners. Our sin separates us from God, who is holy and can’t look on sin. The only way to God is through what Christ did for us on the cross. He died for our sins, and He entered into the Holy Place and offered His blood on the altar. And because of that, God has removed our sin—and not for just another year, but for eternity.  

And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. -1 John 1:7