The scapegoat. You’ve heard of it. The person designated to take the blame for a particular failure or offense, usually with the implication that others who are at the very least equally responsible are getting off without being held accountable.
Well, this is where that concept comes from. Here you have the literal scapegoat. The goat upon which all the sins of the people are heaped. The goat that carries those sins off into the desert, making the people clean once more, fit to receive the presence of God among them.
Then there was the other one. The one that was slain. The one whose blood was used to make atonement for the people before the mercy seat.
These two goats together served a purpose that Christ would one day fulfill once and for all.
The goats are just a stop gap measure, cleansing the people for another year. Christ would cleanse us all, once and for all. He would take upon himself all of our sin, and his blood would atone for it. It wouldn’t be sent off into the wilderness. It would be washed away, completely.
Christ. Our scapegoat. Our atonement. Permanent. Complete. Sufficient.
We are released from the weight of the law. I get overwhelmed and exhausted just reading about it. I can’t imagine living under it, keeping track of clean and unclean, marking the calendar with the necessary sacrifices. I would much rather say grace over my meal than stop by the Tabernacle on the way home from the butchers every week. That may be a bit flippant, but trying to wrap my head around the daily reality of this life has left me a little stressed.
Aren’t you glad we live under the blood of Christ, freed from the law? Now we are left with the statutes: Love God. Love your neighbor.
Yes, James has a lot to say about how observing those statutes should actually play out it. Yes, I feel like the modern church needs to sit at James’ feet for an intensive review. But I am still so grateful we aren’t under the letter of the law, bound to ritual sacrifice.