“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. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.”
Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest was allowed to enter into the Holiest chamber of the Tabernacle. His responsibility was to provide sin offerings for himself and the people. The activities of this day provided atonement for the sins of the nation. Every aspect of the day was filled with symbolism that pointed to the work of Christ upon the cross. It was on this day, the High priest would select a lamb as a scapegoat, lay his hands upon its head, confess the sins of the nation, and set it free in the wilderness. The Hebrew word translated “scapegoat” is a compound word made up of two words: goat and go. I like to refer to this animal as the “go-goat.” Bearing the sins of the people, it was set free, never to be seen, or heard from, again.
It is not difficult to see the similarities between the “go-goat” and the work of Christ. When we receive Christ, our sins are washed from us. To use the Psalmist’s illustration, they are removed “As far as the east is from the west. . .” (Psalm 103:12). Micah explains, they are thrown into the “. . . depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). As the “go-goat” disappeared from sight, the people were reminded that God would not bring up the sins of the past. They had a fresh, new start, and were able to move into a deeper walk with God, and relationship with one another.
How sweet is the work of the Cross. It is there, where all our sins are forgiven, and removed. Though our past failures may haunt us, they do not hold us. It is not God who continues to remind us of our failures. A friend of mine had a placard, behind his desk, that read; “The next time the devil reminds you of your past, you remind him of his future.”
Instead of being crippled by your past mistakes, cling to the work of Christ, and the forgiveness that He offers. Let’s make today the day we move past those old sins, and into the sweet rest that Christ provides.