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Two Goats and a Savior

• Greg Boyd

When God redeemed us, He set us free from slavery to sin. When God forgave us, He separated us from that sin.

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When God redeemed us, He set us free from slavery to sin. When God forgave us, He separated us from that sin.

In Leviticus 16, we see an illustration of these two principles. On the day of Atonement, Aaron was to bring two goats into the temple. One goat was sacrificed to buy the people out of slavery to sin (for the wages of sin is death, and no sins may be forgiven without the shedding of blood).

Upon the other goat was put the sins of the people. That goat was then sent out in to the desert (bearing the all of the people’s sins). In that way, the sins were sent away, separated from the people. God sent away the sin that would otherwise separate Him from His people. In other words, He forgave them. This ceremony with the goats was done to symbolize what was to happen when Jesus came down to the earth. Jesus was both the sacrifice whose blood redeemed us, and He was the One who bore all our sins upon Himself and carried them away from us.

Forgiveness is a difficult thing for most people. But if you hang onto your anger, no matter how justified that anger is, it will destroy you. But because the Spirit of forgiveness dwells within each believer, forgiving is possible even when we can’t manage to do it on our own.

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Focus Scripture:

  • Leviticus 16:6-18

    6 “Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. 7 Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 8 He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. [b] 9 Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. 10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.

    11 “Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering. 12 He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. 13 He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the tablets of the covenant law, so that he will not die. 14 He is to take some of the bull's blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover.

    15 “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull's blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. 16 In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel.

    18 “Then he shall come out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull's blood and some of the goat's blood and put it on all the horns of the altar. 19 He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites.

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