This chapter has to do with the great “Day of Atonement” when Israel’s high priest would enter into the Most Holy Place with sacrificial blood to “make atonement” for himself and all the people. Among the sacrifices which were made that day, we read of “two goats” that were to be offered and one of those goats was called in the Hebrew tongue “Azazel” which means “scapegoat.” The “scapegoat” was actually short for “escape-goat”; that is, the goat which would “escape death” by “escaping into the desert.” It is interesting to note that some believe the word Azazel is a compound of two Hebrew words “goat” and “to go away.” As we shall see, this goat symbolizes “the sins of the people being CARRIED AWAY.” A verse that comes to mind that speaks to this is Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He REMOVED OUR TRANSGRESSIONS FROM US.”

We will now read verses 5 and 7-10 and keep in mind that the word “scapegoat” is the English translation of the Hebrew word Azazel: “And he (Aaron) shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering…He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD as the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall CAST LOTS FOR THE TWO GOATS: one lot FOR THE LORD and the other lot FOR THE SCAPEGOAT. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and LET IT GO AS THE SCAPEGOAT INTO THE WILDERNESS.”

It is important to see from verse 5 that the TWO GOATS together constituted ONE SIN OFFERING, yet verses 7-10 teach us this offering would accomplish TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. I believe these two goats symbolized TWO DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF ATONEMENT; the “lot for the Lord” would satisfy God’s holiness and the “lot for the scapegoat” would meet the need of the sinner by removing his sins. First of all, God’s holiness and hatred of sin had to be satisfied through the death of an innocent victim. Thus the FIRST GOAT had to die in order for God to provide forgiveness for guilty sinners. It is a precious picture to us of God sending His Son to the cross as we see in 1st John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the PROPITIATION FOR OUR SINS.” The word “propitiation” means “a satisfying sacrifice” and in the death of Christ (where Christ “died for our sins”…see 1st Corinthians 15:3) God’s holy demands against sin were satisfied and He is now able to offer absolute forgiveness of sins to lost and guilty sinners. This is what is symbolized in the FIRST GOAT.

We saw that the SECOND GOAT was “presented alive before the LORD” and that it was “let go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.” To fully understand what this means we need to read verses 20-22, “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place….he shall bring the live goat. 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.” The moment the sins of Israel were confessed they were transferred to the goat that then carried them away into the wilderness. This illustrates, in a simple and wonderful way, how Christ bore the sins of all who would confess their sins and believe on Him as their Savior. 1st Peter 2:24 declares, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree.” Because “Christ bore our sins,” they have been removed from Gods sight and we can claim the promise of Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He REMOVED OUR TRANSGRESSIONS FROM US.” This is blessed truth represented by the SECOND GOAT; Azazel the “scapegoat.”  (398.5)  (DO)