Bye bye sacrificial goat. Hello forgiveness.
Does that sound strange? Are you wondering what in the world I’m referring to?
Over the past few years I’ve been learning more about how the Old Testament refers so clearly to the coming Messiah, Jesus, and yet it’s also shrouded in mystery as we view it as Christians.
One of the important messages to me as a person who in the past has wondered about the security of my salvation (and met many who struggle with the same thing), is the symbolism of the sacrificial goat.
It might seem strange to look at the Law, but the Old Testament always points us to Christ. The Bible, including Old and New Testaments, fits together more than we recognize. And the sacrifices beautifully point to Jesus as our sacrifice. Let’s look at a particular offering, which speaks to our security. Leviticus 16 gives the procedures for a specific sin and burnt offering involving several bulls and goats. Here’s the final step:
And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness. vss. 21-22
When those verses say a wilderness, they mean no one there. No one will ever see the goat again. It’s so far out the goat can’t find it’s way back. It carries all the sin with it.
What a wonderful relief the people must have felt to say “Good bye goat containing my sins forever!”
We have the same relief of saying good bye to our sin because of Jesus, but we’re experts at rehearsing our sinful reactions. We say to Jesus, “Remember last month when I yelled at my daughter? I feel so bad. Can I really call myself a Christian?”
What does Jesus say? “Huh? What sin? Well, if you asked me to forgive you, then I’ve forgiven and forgotten. Why are you rehearsing it when it’s not on my radar screen?”
That’s security. If Jesus has forgiven and forgotten, our sins are gone and we don’t need to feel insecure.
Picture in your mind that sacrificial goat wandering into the wilderness and suddenly Jesus is standing between you and the goat. You try to look around Him to see the goat, but He blocks your view. His face is toward you and He no longer sees the goat representing your sin. Marvelous! Why would you try to run after the goat?