Usually considered one to take the blame/consequences for another’s actions, the scapegoat foreshadowed the Messiah bearing our sins away.
The scapegoat was chosen by lot to be presented “alive before the lord”. This was part of the atonement process for Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. The scapegoat was to make atonement for the sins of the people. The high priest laid his hands upon its head, confessed the sins of the people, and sent “. . him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. .”
On that day there were two goats incorporated for the people. The other’s lot was for the LORD, a burnt offering to make atonement for the Holy Place, that is, to cleanse it from the sins of the people. These two goats represented two elements of the Messiah’s life, the inner man and the outer man. One lived and the other died.
The goat for the sin offering was necessary in order to cleanse the meeting place (i.e. the Holy Place) for God and man. It represented the way prepared by the Messiah. Cleansing is not to be confused with material sanitization. Its effect is upon the conscience. Death makes clear the nature of our sins. The horror, the blood, the stench of carnage are real manifestations of sin. Those who love the truth must come to terms with the reality of sin. That clarification is necessary so we can receive the true atonement as foreshadowed by the scapegoat.
The scapegoat did not die. The sins of the people were confessed upon the head of the scapegoat. So also the Messiah retained in His mind knowledge of our sins and awareness that our guilt brought His unjust death. Contained within His awareness was also the command of the Father that He should bear these things in order to make true reconciliation. He was presented “alive before the LORD”, a pure mind and spirit. He responded with no ill will though unjustly treated. Though His body died, His inner man remained alive. He went into the barren land, the barren land could not hold Him.
- Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
- 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
- 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.