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“And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died; And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on…And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house…Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel…And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Leviticus 16:1-34)
Types in the Bible are like our Lord’s parables. They are intended to show us one specific thing, not many things, just one thing. Types usually stand on just two legs: their natural, historic meaning and their spiritual, allegorical meaning. They are bipeds, not centipedes with a hundred pairs of legs. Adam was a type Christ our Covenant Head and Representative (Romans 5:12-21). That does not mean that there was some hidden, mystical, spiritual significance to the size of his feet or the shape of his toes. Sarah and Hagar and their sons, Isaac and Ishmael, were an allegory about law and grace (Galatians 4). But that does not mean that everything they said, did, and experienced were typical. David’s slaying of Goliath was a clear, instructive type of Christ’s conquering sin and Satan in the accomplishment of our salvation. But it is a mistake to try to find something spiritually significant in the sling he used or the five smooth stones he carried in his hand.
When we try to find more in the type than is intended by the Spirit of God in giving it, we make a mess of it and cause more confusion than understanding. Yet, the types and metaphors of Holy Scripture are given to us by the Spirit of God as instructive pictures of grace and salvation in Christ. We should cherish them and seek his grace and enlightenment to understand them and prophet by them.
On the day of atonement Aaron sacrificed the bullock and made atonement for himself. Then, he sacrificed the Lord’s goat to make atonement for Israel. And, then, God’s priest was required to symbolically impute the sins of Israel to the scapegoat.
“And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.” (vv. 20-22)
This scapegoat beautifully portrays our dear Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. As the slain goat portrays him as the Lamb of God sacrificed for our sins, the scapegoat portrays him as the sacrifice accepted. This scapegoat is a picture of the complete removal of our sins by Christ. The first goat, the Lord’s goat, the slain victim, gave us a picture of the atonement. The second goat, the scapegoat, gives us a picture of sin’s removal, the taking away of our sins, which is the result of Christ’s effectual atonement.
The Lost Scapegoat
First, we see in this picture the transfer and imputation of our sins to Christ (v. 21; Isaiah 53:4-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Next, this scapegoat portrays the removal of our sins by Christ (v. 22). When he died at Calvary, under the wrath of God, when he had fully satisfied God’s holy justice, our blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, took away our ins. He removed from his redeemed the guilt of sin (Hebrews 10:14). He took from us the curse of the law and all possibility of punishment for sin (Romans 8:1). And he even removed the memory of sin. In so far as God’s holy law and justice is concerned, the very memory of our sin is gone (Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 4:8; Micah 7:18-20; 1 Peter 4:1-2; Jeremiah 50:20).
A Fit Man
With all the sins of Israel made his, the scapegoat was taken away by a fit man. That fit man is Christ, too, God our Savior, the Judge of all the earth who must do right, the very justice of God. The scapegoat is borne beyond the camp, beyond all sight, beyond the track of man, to the far borders of an uninhabited land. Released, it disappears into rocks and thickets of an uninhabited desert. Unseen, unknown, forgotten, it departs from mortal view. It is now buried in oblivion’s land.
There is no brighter picture of the full pardon of all sin in Christ. Christ bore the accursed load of all my sin and guilt away, as far away as the east is from the west; and God’s all-seeing eye cannot find it. Oh, precious tidings! Oh, heart-cheering revelation! Oh, wondrous grace!
God the Spirit, by the testimony of the gospel proclaims this good news and confirms it in the soul by the gift of life and faith in Christ. God has cast our sins, all our sins, behind his back and into the depth of the sea of infinite forgetfulness. Infinite separation has infinitely separated our transgressions from us. Christ, our Scapegoat, has borne our iniquities away (Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19). Blessed be his name forever, they are gone. — “Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5).
Can we recover what the ocean buries? No line can reach to the unmeasured depths. It has sunk downward, never to arise. Deep waters hide it, and it must be hidden. Such is the grave of sin. Our Scapegoat drowned it in a fathomless abyss. The word is sure. — “Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea!”
Can that be seen, to which the eye of omniscience is blind? Are objects visible, which are behind your back? Our Scapegoat has cast our sins behind God’s back. He has blotted out, as a thick cloud, our transgressions (Isaiah 44:22), and can never find them (Jeremiah 50:20).
Never was our forgiveness of all our sins by our God more rightly declared than when the Lord God sovereignly forced the false prophet Balaam to declare it in Numbers 23.
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!” (Numbers 23:19-23)
That which Christ has taken away, blotted out, and removed by his precious, sin-atoning blood, God cannot and will not remember. He promised, “I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
Do you need comfort? Drink deeply from this stream of joy. Lay down in this green pasture of delight. Your sins, so many, so vile, and so hateful, your Scapegoat has taken away. All your blemishes, defects, iniquities, transgressions, and sins are forever gone! And God your Savior, God who cannot lie says to you, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee” (Song of Solomon 4:7). With joy, every believing sinner may confidently sing with Isaac Watts…
“Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name,
And richer blood than they.
My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine,
While like a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.
My soul looks back to see
The burdens Thou didst bear,
When hanging on the cursed tree,
And hopes her guilt was there.
Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice,
And sing His bleeding love.”