Today, a guest editorial!
Scapegoat is a familiar term used in our culture for someone who bears the brunt of accusations of guilt against another party. Its origin dates back 3500 years to the sacrificial system established by Moses. This prescribed sacrifice occurred in the Jewish calendar on Atonement Day, or Yom Kippur, which is soon to be upon us.
“When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” Leviticus 16:20-22
The scapegoat prophetically previewed the role of the coming Servant Messiah described in Isaiah’s prophecy 2200 years later:
“All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has laid the iniquity of us all
On Him.” Isaiah 53:6
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
Hear the eloquent and encouraging words of John Flavel from the mid 1600’s. Flavel was an Anglican Puritan pastor, the son of a pastor, who was trained at Oxford.
“When Christ became our sacrifice, he bore away our sins. The word ‘to bear’ is a full and emphatic word, signifying not only to bear, but to bear away. This is a real purging of sin. How great a mercy is this! ‘Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered’ (Psa. 32:1). Who can express the happiness of such a state as this? Pardoned reader, let me beg you, look over the cancelled bonds, and see what a vast sum has been remitted to you. Remember your natural state, and yet pardoned. Fully, finally, and freely pardoned! What can you do less than fall down at the feet of free grace that moved so freely towards so vile a sinner? Not long ago your iniquities were upon you. Now they are as far as the east is from the west (Psa. 103:11-12). O the unspeakable effectiveness of Christ’s sacrifice; it extends to all sins (1 John 1:7): past, present, without exception, and all sins to come! God ‘did not spare his own Son’. Sparing mercy was denied to Christ. Not a moment of time was lessened for the suffering and wrath that was appointed for him. Justice will not bend in the least. What a sad case for your soul, O reader, if you have no interest in this sacrifice! Consider how you can support the infinite wrath that Christ bore in the place of God’s elect. Woe and alas for evermore to that man who meets a just God without a mediator! I beseech you, by the mercies of God, in the light of all the love you have for your own soul, do not neglect this opportunity. Get an interest in this sacrifice quickly. What will your state be when vast eternity opens to swallow you up? Happy is that man who can say in a dying hour: ‘This is my comfort—“Forgiven!”’ Remember, no sin can stand before the effectiveness of his blood (1 John 1:7).”
JOHN FLAVEL (1628-1691), Works, I:161-164”
Excerpt From “Voices from the Past.” : editor Richard Rushing.