“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 to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:8-10)
In ancient Israel, the sins of the Israelites were daily transferred as they made their sin offerings. However, once a year, on the 10th day of the 7th month, the Day of Atonement, the High Priest sacrificed a bull as a sin offering for his own sins. After this, he took 2 goats and presented them at the door of the tabernacle with a view of dealing with the sins of God’s people as a whole. One goat would be slain as a sin offering for the people and its blood be brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement for the sins of Israel (Leviticus 16:15-19). This was necessary so that God’s tabernacle, which represented God’s presence among the Israelites, could remain among God’s people.
The other goat, the scapegoat, was then presented before God at the tabernacle of meeting. The High Priest would confess over this goat the sins of the children of Israel. It would then be sent far away and released in the wilderness, thus to bear the sins of Israel far from the presence of God (Leviticus 16:20-22). Thus God’s presence could continue to be among the Israelites because their sins had been atoned for and their sins had been removed far away from the tabernacle of meeting.
As I read this, I marvel at the mercy, grace, and justice of God. He made these provisions for Israel looking forward to the time when Christ would come and be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind to satisfy the justice of God. He bore our iniquities upon Himself. May all of us rejoice that God has provided a way for each of us to have our sins atoned for by the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. He has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all!
“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).