Most people have heard the term “scapegoat.” Typically, we hear this word when referencing someone who took the fall for the team or someone who took the blame for something they weren’t even guilty of committing. This term is rooted in Leviticus 16, when we read of the need for Aaron to present a live goat that would take on the sins of the people, and then go into the wilderness to symbolize the complete removal of the sins of the people.
There is argument over the term Azazel. Some people see this as being Satan. Others understand this term to mean “complete removal” or “entire removal.” No matter the possibilities, this action of laying of hands on the goat’s head for confession was seen as a transfer of the sins from the people to the goat. Driving the goat away from the people, into the wilderness, symbolized the removal of the sins of the people.
You may use this term “scapegoat” today to describe someone who carries the blame alone, despite their lack of guilt. This live goat that Aaron lay hands upon is a foreshadowing of Who would come to be the ultimate Scapegoat. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was free of sin. He was perfect. As He hung on the cross, it was as if Aaron lay hands on Him. The sins of all people were transferred to Jesus Christ. He bore it all. He died on the cross, killed like a criminal, and then He was sent away to remain in a tomb. But the story doesn’t end there. On the third day, He rose. Unlike the need for Aaron to continue to find scapegoats to purify the people, Jesus Christ was able to provide the complete removal of sins forever. There is no need for another scapegoat. Today, if you are convicted of sin in your life, turn to the one true Scapegoat, Jesus Christ, and repent of your sins. You will be forgiven.
“The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the LORD. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the LORD…. When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat. He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land.” – Leviticus 16:10, 20-22 [NLT]