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Summary: In the OT the blood of sacrificed animals was shed to take away the sins of the people and this had to be done annually, but when Jesus went to the cross on our behalf in obedience to the Father's will, our sins were taken away once and for all.

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Leviticus 16:1-22

Our Scapegoat

Do you remember, when David Cameron, Nick Clegg and the Coalition

took over from Gordon Brown and Ed Balls after the last election,

the new Chancellor of the Exchequer found a note from the outgoing one saying

'There is no money, it has all gone!'

And so for the last 3 years

this government has blamed the last one-time for the Recession

and all the hardships people are going through,

and the Brown Government blamed Blair,

and Blair blamed Margaret Thatcher and John Major before him.

It is not so much politics as human nature,

just as in Genesis we read how Adam blamed Eve and she blamed the Serpent,

and how in court cases murderers and rapists blame their environment or their upbringing.

No one likes to take takes individual responsibility,

as opposed to saying 'I admit it, I am guilty'.

Even the Primary One pupil who gets into trouble over something,

exclaims 'It wis'ne me'.

It is our human nature, our sinful nature, to “Blame someone else.”

or “Blame the circumstances we were brought up in.”

…........................................................................................................................

Someone once said, “He who smiles in a crisis, has found someone else to blame”.

This is always more convenient and comfortable than accepting personal responsibility.

….................................................................................................................................

We all need or look for, a 'scapegoat',

someone we can blame for our misfortune.

The idea of the scapegoat originates in Leviticus 16,

where God explains to Israel the necessity for an annual Day of Atonement.

Known as Yom Kippur, and usually occurring in September,

this was a day of national fasting, repentance and forgiveness.

It is still observed today as a solemn Sabbath,

but without the Temple blood sacrifice for sin.

Yom Kippur has been called “The Good Friday of the Old Testament”.

In Leviticus, the worship focal point of the transitory Jewish nation

was the Tabernacle, a temporary, mobile tent,

eventually replaced in the Promised Land by the Temple.

God directed Aaron the High Priest and brother of Moses to select two goats.

These two animals constituted one sin offering.

The High Priest placed his hands on the head of the one that was slain,

symbolically and ritualistically transferring on to it the sins of the people.

Then the blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant

in the Holy of Holies, within the Tabernacle.

The goat that escaped death was chosen by lot

and released into the desert wilderness, never to be seen again.

The Hebrew word for scapegoat is 'azazel',

combining two words, “goat” and “depart”

(some scholars translate azazel as “banish”).

According to Jewish tradition,

the practice was to tie a cloth to the horns of the scapegoat

which contained the sins of the tribes, every Hewbrew.

The scapegoat was led out of the Tabernacle, past the tents of the people,

out of the encampment and released into the wilderness.

The ordinary people could not see the blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat,

because only priests could get that close,

but this was a ritual that everyone could observe.

The releasing of the scapegoat was symbolic,

and represented the sins of the people being carried away,

never to be held against them again,

just as at Yom Kippur nowadays Jews through stones into rivers or pools

to symbolise getting rid of their sins.

…...................................................................................

The image presented by the scapegoat is vicarious,

(from which we get the word 'Vicar', who is a 'Substitute' for Jesus)

vicarious meaning substitutionary atonement provided by God,

as opposed to us personally suffering for our own sins.

Gospel teaching in basically this:

Either we pay the penalty for our sins,

and that means going to Hell with a one-way ticket,

or we accept a sacrifice made by Jesus on our behalf to cover the debt of our sins.

….......................................................................................................

According to Romans 3:23 we have all sinned and therefore

deserve eternal punishment.

Why?

Because sin alienates; it defiles and separates us from God;

we cannoty be 'at-one' with Him because He is holy and we are sinful.

….................................................................................................

The only way out, atonement, had to be provided by God,

Who provides a way to forgiveness and eternal life,

by the removal of our guilt.

….....................................................................................................................

Before Christ, forgiveness came through animal sacrifice,

and the shedding of the animal's blood,

but these sacrifices found their fulfillment in the death of Christ,

the spotless Lamb of God.

….........................................................................................................

By putting the guilt on the Innocent, as prophesied by Isaiah,

God delivers us from evil, the evil we deserve

if we are honest enough to admit it and sincerely repent.

…..................................................................................................................

Through the grace of God and the shed blood of Jesus Christ

we can be cleansed from all our unrighteousness,

and have our sins taken away as far as the East is from the West,

and be admitted into membership of God’s family

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