What was the significance of the scape goat in Old Testament & how does it relate to New Testament?

Author: BibleAsk Team


Automatic Transcript Generated:

Speaker 1

All right, so Bernie is asking, what was the significance of the escape goat in the Old Testament and how does it relate to the New Testament?

Speaker 2

All right, my friend Bernie, I love your question, because I absolutely love anything having to do with the sanctuary and the sanctuary service. Just so you know, it’s actually not escape goat. It’s just scape. S-C-A-P-E-I know it sounds like escape, but it’s its own word, scapegoat. So just so you know, FYI, kind of a thing. So when we’re talking about the scapegoat as part of the Sanctuary service, this is a really important piece because everything in the sanctuary is symbolic and looks forward to things pertaining to Christ. But the scapegoat is not a symbol for Christ. But you’ll see what it is once we get into this in just a second. So if you want to learn about the scapegoat in the Old Testament, you need to go to the Book of Leviticus and chapter 16. So we’ll go there really quick. Leviticus. Excuse me, I cannot sleep tonight. Leviticus, chapter 16 is all about the holiday called the Day of Atonement. People also call it Yom Kippur. And basically it is the last day of the Jewish calendar year. It typically falls sometime in the fall. And basically it’s a day where all of God’s people in Israel, this is in the Old Testament, were to afflict their souls.

Speaker 2

They were to spend the day fasting and praying and confessing their sins, and they were not to do any work. And they were simply supposed to make sure that they were right with God and with each other. And so the work of the high priest was very specific and very important because it pointed forward to Christ and what his work is as far as his ministry on Earth as well as in heaven. And so in Leviticus, chapter 16, you see basically the work of the high priest. And when it talks about the scapegoat, this is interesting, because in Leviticus 16, we’ll actually start in verse seven. Leviticus 16, verses seven through ten. This is talking about where the goats come in, because there’s actually two goats. One is called the Lord’s goat, and one is the scapegoat. So Leviticus 16, verse seven says he shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats. So basically, one of these goats is going to end up being the Lord’s goat, and one of them is going to be the scapegoat.

Speaker 2

Verse nine. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell and offer it as a sin offering. So one goat, they look almost identical to each other, will be presented as the Lord’s goat for the sin of the people. Now, prior to this, the priest will have already sacrificed a bull to atone for his sins and his house. But when he sacrifices the Lord’s goat, this is for the sins of all the people in the entire camp, all the people of Israel. And then in verse ten, it says, but the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement upon it and let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness. So basically, the lot of the Lord’s goat was to be a sin offering for all the people. And then the scapegoat was to be led into the wilderness, but it was also to bear sin as well, but in a different way. So if you keep going in the chapter, this is actually kind of interesting because when you read in the Book of Hebrews chapter ten and verse four, it kind of alludes to this specific event, talking about Christ and his blood that was shed.

Speaker 2

If you could look at Hebrews ten four, it says, for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Verse three it says, but in the sacrifices, there’s a reminder of sins every year. This is referring to this specific event of the Lord’s goat and the bull being sacrificed for the bull being sacrificed for the priests in his household, and then the Lord’s goat being sacrificed for all the people. And then in verse five, it says, therefore he came into the world, Jesus, sacrificing an offering you did not desire, but a body. You’ve prepared for me basically that the blood of Christ is the only blood that can take away sin. So this Lord’s Goat, this first one, was to be a symbol for Christ. However, the scapegoat is very interesting because it had a different purpose to teach us something very important. And so if you keep going, in Leviticus, chapter 16, here you see what happens to the scapegoat in verses 20 through 22. And here it reads, and when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy place, because the priest has to do this whole ritual of cleansing with blood in the Holy and most holy place.

Speaker 2

In the Holy place. Excuse me. And it says, and he shall bring the live goat. And 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, or in the King James, it’s a strong, you know, somebody fit. And it says, the goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land, and he shall release the Goat into the wilderness. And so here you see something really interesting about this scapegoat, that all the sins that were ever confessed throughout the whole year, whenever there would be sin, they would confess it onto the Blood of an Animal, and they would sprinkle that blood onto the four horns of the Altar of incense and before the veil in the Holy place. Basically, he’s saying, all the sins of Israel, all of the sins of God’s people were then transferred onto this scapegoat. And this scapegoat was sent out into the wilderness into darkness, basically, that it would go out and die of natural causes because it wouldn’t be slaughtered.

Speaker 2

It would die of its own, of its own Natural way. And what’s interesting about this is very similar. We see a parallel to this in the Book of Matthew, chapter 25 in the New Testament. So just kind of answering the second half of your question, what does this have to do with the New Testament? So when you look at Jesus and what he shared about his second coming and what would happen when he would come again to judge the earth? In Matthew, chapter 25, starting verse 31, it says, when the Son of man comes in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. And it says, all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats, in verse 33, he says, and he will set up the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. And then the king will say to those on his right hand, those sheep come, you, my blessed of my father, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Speaker 2

But then it says, describes the behavior of those who are saved. But then when you go forward into verse 41, it says, then he will say to those on the left hand, which would be the goats, depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was, you know, and he says, I was hungry. You didn’t feed me all these things, all the ways that the wicked had sinned. And then verse 46, it reiterates, all these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. And it’s interesting because when Jesus talks about the righteous going one way and the sinners, those who reject Christ going the opposite way, if you look up a few verses in verse 30, Jesus says, and cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness, just like that wilderness, and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And so I believe what the symbol of that scapegoat is, is one, it’s a symbol of Satan, that God’s people, Jesus is the Lord’s goat. His blood cleanses the people from their sin. But the scapegoat, the one on which all the sin is poured, it’s basically Satan gets the blame for all the sins that God’s righteous people have done in their lives.

Speaker 2

So we don’t bear our sins. Satan is the one responsible, because Satan is the one that tempted us to sin. But by the blood of Jesus, we are saved. We can be washed from those sins. And then where does the blame lies on Satan, who tempted us in that way? But also, I believe that the scapegoat is also a symbol for those who would not accept the blood of Christ. They bear their own sins. They bear the weight, the punishment of their own sins. And you see that in the Book of Romans, where it says, for the wages of sin is death. They’re going to bring about bearing their own sin and their own punishment, which is going to be the second death, which is death, where you cannot be resurrected from. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord, the Lord’s goat, the one who shed his blood for those who would accept it, God’s people. So I know that was a bit of a lengthy answer. Sorry if it took some time, but that is hopefully giving you a little bit more insight as to the purpose of the scapegoat.

Speaker 2

The scapegoat, again, is a symbol, I believe, of Satan and the followers of Satan, who will bear their own sin and will bear the sins of those that they cause to sin as well. So they will deserve that punishment because they didn’t accept the free gift of salvation through Christ. So again, hope that helps. Jay or Wendy, any other thoughts on that one?

Speaker 3

Yeah, fun fact. The term scapegoat, the English term of it, was coined by William Tyndale around 1530, and apparently he actually did intend for it to mean escape goat.

Speaker 2

Interesting.

Speaker 3

Yeah. Though if you go back to the original Hebrew, it really is more like, if you literally translated it it would be one goat is for Azazel. And then the big debate is, what does Azazel mean? Some people think means angry God. Some people think it’s like a cliff where the goats would be thrown over. And then over time, the Jews sort of came to believe about these demon possessed goats that are taking over the wilderness. Kind of going back to that demon connotation there, but didn’t want to take away from your amazing explanation. I definitely agree on everything you said there. That was very beautiful.

Speaker 2

God is good. If I said anything, it was Bible that said it was not me, praise God.

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