Christ, the Scapegoat

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT is a significant event in the life of the Israelites. It is when the sacrifice is offered to God to “atone” for the sins of his people. The selection of two goats—one to die on the altar as a sacrifice or payment for sin, and the other to be sent out into the wilderness carrying away the sins of God’s people.

  • The first modeled Christ as the Sacrifice who died to pay the sin debt of His people.
  • The Second modeled Christ as the Sin-Bearer who carried His people’s iniquities far away.


In Leviticus 16:8 – Proverbs 16:33, the casting of lots denoted the Lord’s choice or sovereignty in a matter to be decided. In an infinitely more profound way, Jesus Christ was God’s choice even before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23). The phrase “for the scapegoat” is literally translated, “the goat for Azazel.” Azazel means “the goat that departs”.

Two Goats signify that no single offering could fully illustrate the two aspects of the atoning work of Christ.


God is just; therefore, He cannot simply ignore or put away our sin without first satisfying the demands of His justice.

  • Leviticus 16:9 –  the goat as sin offering
  • Leviticus 16:15 –  the goat will be killed
  • Leviticus 16:15 – the goat’s blood will be sprinkled upon the mercy seat.

The “mercy seat” is the “place of atonement”.

  • It was located inside the temple in the Holy of Holies.
  • It was from above the mercy seat that God had promised to meet with His people (Nu. 7:89).
  • It was there that the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled, atonement for sin was made, and mercy was obtained (v.16).

The goat’s blood sprinkled on the mercy seat in the earthly temple was a type or shadow of Christ’s blood, which was shed to reconcile His people and grant them access to God’s presence in heaven. Christ was received into God’s presence in heaven (Hebrews 9:11-12). The temple veil was ripped in two when Christ died, indicating that the road had been opened for His people’s full forgiveness and unobstructed fellowship with God (Matthew 27:51).


Leviticus 16:21 …lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat

This is a powerful and beautiful illustration of the doctrine of imputation. The fact that the high priest was to lay both his hands upon the goat and to confess over it all the iniquities of Israel represents the full transfer of guilt from the people to the sacrifice. Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would cause the iniquity of us all to fall upon the Messiah. The New Testament makes it clear that our sin was imputed to Christ and that His righteousness was imputed to us (II Corinthians 5:21).

In Leviticus 16:22, the goat bearing the sin of God’s people was banished from God’s presence and made to dwell alone in the wilderness. On Calvary, Christ bore the sins of His people and was forsaken by God in their place.

It was for this reason that He cried out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Christ suffered outside the city’s gate and was left to die, shut off from God and God’s people, just as the scapegoat wandered in the wilderness and the remains of sacrificial animals were burned outside the gate (Hebrews 13:11-12).


God has removed the believers’ sin far from them (Psalm 103:12). Take comfort in the fact that Christ did not only die for your sins but He also carried them away.

“We, who have confessed our sins and believed, may have the assurance that we are saved and forgiven, and God will never recall the iniquities we once committed. They are gone; they are carried away. Thanks be to Christ, our blessed Scapegoat!” - Henk Bergsma

Without Christ as your sin-bearer, you will be forsaken by God forever, away from His heavenly presence. Confess your sins and come to Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins.


Note: This lesson is from our weekly Youth Bible Study Based on Paul Washer’s Discovering the Glorious Gospel.


Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

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