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biblical teaching

The perpetual scapegoat

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Lev 16:5-1015-22Is 53:10 – living scapegoat bearing all the iniquities,  transgressions, and sins of Israel; Israel being atoned for on the basis of the accepted blood sacrifice of the first goat to YHVH; two goats. . .one sin offering:  atonement (reconciliation), and the effectual removal of guilt and uncleanness 

Yeshua/Jesus died on the Passover not only as the Passover Lamb, but also as the Day of Atonements Scapegoat. He, the perfectly innocent Man, died for His sinful people and for all humanity, thus fulfilling the one sin offering of Yom haKippurim:  one innocent goat sacrificed to YHVH, God of Israel; another innocent goat who had transferred to it all of the sins of the people, and sent out alive to an uninhabitable place. Yeshua first offered Himself to the Father in the Garden of Gethemane, sweating drops of blood, freely submitting to obey Him to the necessary death and separation from the Father of the Son of God for the redemption of the people of Israel, and of all other persons; and then willingly being crucified by sinful men, and asking the Father to forgive them, for they did not know what they were doing.

Simply stated, Yeshua/Jesus, the King of Glory – the Son of God – humbled Himself by clothing (identifying) Himself in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3) as the Son of Man, and offered (sacrificed) Himself in purity and without blemish unto God as a sin and guilt offering, shedding His own blood, to the glory of God the Father, and taking upon Himself all of our iniquities, transgressions, and sins in order to be the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe, that we might live before the Holy God – indeed that God may live with and in us – in His righteousness. (A goat is a clean animal, acceptable for sacrifices to God, yet goats will not enter the Kingdom of God because they are not appreciative or dependent enough upon the shepherd; they eat the sheep’s food, and take up valuable time away from the Shepherd’s care for the lambs and sheep. Yeshua was/is the sinless Lamb; yet to the religious leaders He was too independent and difficult to handle:  the likeness of sinful flesh, even though considered acceptable for sacrifice under the Law.) [Mt 25:31-3341-4346]

I want to bring before you the “Goat” which stands live before YHVH – the second goat “to Azazel in the desert”: the Scapegoat. What does the expression “to Azazel” mean to any of you in your own languages? [damn!; hell; go to hell!; go to the devil!] The term connotes hatred, accusation, blame, condemnation, punishment, banishment – always toward innocent victims and that they should be sent away to someone or somewhere else. (It is not a fit expression, given its thought, from the mouth of a Christian since God has no desire that any human being should go to hell, but rather, on the basis of the atonement, that all should be saved. That so many will choose to condemn themselves is beyond our own comprehension.)

Who was (were) the first scapegoat(s) in the world?  Gen 3:11-12 – YHVH God (and Eve)  
     –Who did YHVH God hold principally responsible for bringing sin into the world?  
       Gen 3:1417 – 
the serpent [deceiver; Satan], and Adam 
     –Were Adam and Eve responsible and accountable for their own sin and disobedience? Gen 3:16-17 Yes 
      –How did Adam and Eve first realize their own sin?  Gen 3:8-10 – guilty conscience:  they heard God’s voice, were afraid, and hid themselves   

Has not God provided a scapegoat for Israel and for the world during all these thousands of years? 

Everyone from Adam and Eve until now has sought – or is still seeking – someone else to blame for his troubles in order to ease the burden of his own guilty conscience from the effects of his own sin or unbelief.

     –The Israelis blamed Moses both in Egypt and in the desert, although he was simply obeying YHVH God (Ex 5:2116:6-8).

     –Wicked King Ahab accused God’s servant, the prophet Elijah, as the one that troubles Israel (1Kg 18:17-18).

     –The High Priest Caiphas with the rulers and elders of the people of Israel blamed Yeshua the Nazarene (Yeshua haNatzri) for their problems both within the nation and from without; and the Jewish people since then have done the same (Jn11:47-53).

     –It is well documented in history that many nations have made Israel and Jews the scapegoat for many (if not all) of their and world’s problems.

     –Islamists, including Palestinians/Gazans, scapegoat Israel and the Jewish people for their own seemingly hopeless existence, apart from the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob – YHVH, the God of the father of many nations, of the son of promise, and of the chosen fraternal twin brother through whom YHVH would glorify His Name by longsuffering grace to an undeserving heir, just like for believers in Jesus. (Ex 3:13-15Mal 3:6-7Jer 30:7-24

     –Christians faithful to the blood of Messiah and to the Word of God have been – and will continue to be – scapegoats for Jews and for the Gentiles, and even from within the Church of God (Mt 5:10-122Tim 3:12). 

This should not be surprising to us as we realize that the true Scapegoat is the Chief Representative of both Israel and of the Church – the King of the Jews and the Head of the Body of Christ – the Lord Jesus Himself! Noah, when he prophesied concerning his sons, blessed YHVH, God of Shem – not Shem personally (Gen 9:26). Yeshua, when He encouraged and comforted His disciples before His crucifixion and resurrection, told them that the world would hate them because it hated Him first; and for this reason:  that He chose us out from the world and so we are no longer of the world (Jn 15:18-19). Thus anti-Semitism and anti-Christian persecution are both first and foremost spiritual in their nature and directed against YHVH and His Anointed One – whether Jesus Himself or His people who are called by His Name (Num 6:271Pt 4:14,16Ps 2).

We see in the passage from Lev. 16 that two goats were taken from the children of Israel for one sin offering (v. 5). The first goat was for YHVH.  He (It) made atonement for the sin of Israel regarding all things pertaining to God’s Throne and His dwelling place amidst the people, and the altar of reconciliation. No hands were laid on it; no blood was sprinkled on the people. Jesus Christ died unto His Father YHVH, to glorify Him, to take away the sin of the world. (Jn 1:29-31Heb 9:26-28) On the basis of this atonement, the good news of the glory of Messiah (2Cor 4:4), God the Father is able to have mercy to whom He will be merciful, to have compassion upon whom He will be compassionate, to save whosoever will believe in the Name of His Son Yeshua/Jesus. (Ex 33:17-19Rom 9:14-21

Upon the second goat, the one that stood live before YHVH after the first goat’s sacrifice and atonement, the High Priest laid his hands and confessed upon it all the iniquities of Israel, all their transgressions in all their sins. Truly the Day of Atonements.

This second goat – the scapegoat – was sent to a land not inhabited (Is 53:8Mt 4:127:45-461Pt 3:18-21) (not to the land of the living; that would shame us, and we would always have a guilty conscience) bearing all the sins of the people – removing them with the condemnation of them away from the camp for one year until the next Day of Atonements. Both goats together, God is satisfied with respect to His righteousness and justice, and also to His covenantal lovingkindness and mercy. (Rom 8:28-39

The scapegoat, in remaining alive as a sin-bearer, was a reminder to Israel for her sins, and a witness to Azazel, who accuses the brethren night and day, that God has been reconciled, that He has forgiven the sins of His people. For the believer in the finished work on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; in an accomplished atonement for iniquity, transgression, and sins (Dan 9:24); and in the full price paid with His own life and blood that God demanded in order to pardon and to cleanse both things of earth and of heaven – there is now no condemnation when we identify through faith, thanksgiving, hope, and love with the outcast scapegoat, and greatly value the benefits of His sacrifice for our atonement. Satan’s power and claims upon us are broken. We have peace and fellowship with God the Father and with His Son and with one another in a spirit of humility. 

To the unbeliever – especially within the household of faith – the scapegoat is but a continual reminder of his own guiltiness and uncleanness before the LORD and before the children of God. (Heb 10:26-31) According to tradition, Israel at some time in her history began to take up the innocent scapegoat laden with Israel’s/the Jewish people’s own sins and guilt and uncleanness to the top of a cliff, and pushed it off from there to its death below – to Azazel, in their way of thinking (Lev 17:7-9Jn 11:45-52Mt 27:19-26). That displays a lack of understanding of God’s grace and truth:  the scapegoat did not deserve to die: he was taking our sins outside the camp! It is we who deserve to actually die! By thanking God for the actually innocent scapegoat, we are justified and not condemned. Realizing that Messiah/Christ is the Scapegoat, we are eternally thankful for Him! If the willing innocent Scapegoat is not alive in the power and righteousness of God, then our faith is in vain, for neither will we be resurrected! 

But God provided for the otherwise innocent goat to remain alive as a testimony to Satan that God atoned for and forgave His people – and in fact the world – and as a witness to Israel (and to us) of this central truth regarding the reconciliation:  that man can not rid himself of sin or of a guilty conscience by leaning on our own understanding or our own “good works” to carry out the wisdom of God. And as Israel, through unbelief in the commandment of God, wanted to kill the scapegoat then – and so dishonor and disobey the instruction of the Lord – so now, Israel and many within the Church and in the world strive to blot out the memory of their own guilty consciences, due to their iniquity and sins before a holy and righteous God, by blotting out the Name of Yeshua/Jesus – not recognizing that He whom they have pierced is their Savior. We have hated Him without cause (Ps 69:4). The reproaches against God the Father have fallen upon Jesus the Son (Ps 69:9Rom 15:1-4). Because the Scapegoat lives believers are justified and live, and remember from whence we came! (Rom 4:23-25) Because the Scapegoat is alive, there is hope for the grace of God to offer salvation to Jews, and to the nation of Israel, and to whomsoever repents and believes such good news. What God intends for good, both Satan and men call evil (1Pt 4:14,16). Let us not join them!

It is the blood of Yeshua the Messiah, the once and final sacrifice for sin, which cleanses from a guilty conscience, both for now and for eternity. He is our Great High Priest who lives to intercede for us (Heb 7:25; see the Hebrew of Is 53:6) as we abide in the faith of His death and resurrection for our forgiveness and justification.  He is still our sin bearer and guilt-lifter. God has, through the Lord Jesus, reconciled Himself to sinful men and has given us His Spirit. For us who have received the reconciliation (peace and fellowship), we have a ministry to preach to men to reconcile themselves to God. (1Jn 1:1-72Cor 5:16-21)

The High Priest is still in the sanctuary in the presence of God making atonement with His blood as far as Israel and world are concerned (Lev 16:17). But when they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced (Zech 12:10); when they make Jesus their guilt offering (Is 53:10), then truly will Israel afflict her soul and enter into God’s rest on thatnational day of atonement (Yom haKippurim). The Scapegoat is none other than Israel’s, and the world’s Savior, who knew no sin, but became sin that we might become the righteousness of God! The whole creation will enjoy the Sabbath rest of God! (Lev 16:31Heb 9:23Rom 8:18-25). And to whomever does not abide in the longsuffering of God’s goodness, there simply is no more sacrifice for sin.

YHVH God Himself accepts full responsibility for making possible sin and evil in His universe. For this, He gave His life and blood on the altar – the cross – for atonement and redemption and salvation. Fear God, for it is He who forgives sins (Ps 130:425:11-14Mt 10:28). God the Son became the Son of Man that we might become sons and daughters of God. If anyone here is looking for a scapegoat – or needs one – know that God the Father in His love for you has given His Son Jesus, who willingly in His love for His Father and for us bears the shame and reproaches that rightfully belong to us. We, too, are to identify with Yeshua outside the camp, bearing His reproach, as people blame Him and us for their own troubles. (Heb 13:12-16

Israel and the Jewish people have been the world’s scapegoat for centuries – with their many sins — and in this current war against Hamas in Gaza, which may yet extend into the wider region against other who seek their annihilation. The fact that the Jewish people still live, and the nation of Israel is being restored, is YHVH God’s mercy to display His glory and goodness to them, and to all others.  

Jews have suffered everywhere God has scattered us – because of our sin, and regardless of any innocence — yet Israel today represents the truth that YHVH is, and always has been, the Most High God and Sovereign of His own Creation. Christians and christianized nations have scapegoated Jews for centuries, and are now finding themselves also persecuted as scapegoats, some for supporting the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, and all because we claim that God answers prayers, yet He allows so much suffering in the world.  

Are we, His chosen people and elect, willing to suffer and be identified with Him as scapegoats? Or do we want to throw Him off the cliff, hoping that we will nonetheless be okay with God? Jesus/Yeshua said that they hate us, it is because they hate Him. Do we love God our Father and  our Savior Jesus Christ with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? He took the blame, and bore the wrath because of us and our sins. What is your heart attitude toward Israel and the Jewish people at such a time as this when their perpetual enemy declares and acts upon their murderous envy and hatred so as to blot out the name of Israel as a nation, and to take God’s promised inheritance for them for themselves? Do you blame Israel, or justify the enemy. Do you recognize your own sins in the sins of the Jews; the sins of your own gospelized nations in the sins of Israel?  

Do you blame the one true living God for allowing such misery for everyone, since He has the power and the ability to prevent or stop it? Do we tell Him to bring peace NOW, even though He has told us that His Father has His own plan and time for that? Do we judge our Father and Jesus/Yeshua for being unfair and unrighteous and unmerciful? Untold numbers will not repent, but continue to blaspheme and to willfully continue in their sins, when God’s righteous judgments and wrath are poured out on them, countless numbers suffering and dying because they hate the Creator God and His holiness. Will we be telling Him to stop, or will we be among those who rejoice with the holy angels that the time for His judgments has come?  

Today is still the day of salvation, and the acceptable year of YHVH. Let us continue to proclaim and preach the gospel to friend and foe, that God might have mercy upon them as He has for each of us, and show compassion towards them as He has for each of us. By grace we are saved, that no one should boast of being “good enough”, or “better than that person”.   

Perhaps there are some reading this who are struggling in your personal relationship with God, and in knowing His peace and love as a Father to you. Believe what He says regarding the completeness and perfection of Jesus’ death and resurrection — for the Church, for Israel, and for you. The just shall live by faith!  Perhaps others reading this have been taking for granted your relationship with God because you take for granted Jesus’s/Yeshua’s sacrificial death for you, and what that says about good and evil. In your heart you have no conviction of the sin in you. Except the knowledge in your inner man that Jesus suffered God’s righteous judgment and wrath as your Scapegoat substitute brings you back to the cross where the King of Glory not only died for you, but also because of you and your iniquity, transgressions, and sins, then you are in danger of standing before Him with the many who will say to Him, “Lord, Lord. . .”; but He will answer, “I never knew you.  Depart from me you workers of iniquity.” Terrible; terrible!

To God be the glory and to the Lamb who sits upon the throne! Maranatha! Amen. 

Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.

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