Meet the Scapegoat
Reading: Leviticus 16-18
Key Point: Being the Scapegoat isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Key Verse: “The goat chosen to be the scapegoat will be presented to the Lord alive. When it is sent away into the wilderness, it will make atonement for the people.” Leviticus 16:10
Thoughts: Aaron was a godly priest, though he certainly had his setbacks (uh, need a golden calf anyone?). Apparently his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, chose to hang on to their daddy’s example of idolatry rather than his example of worshipping the one True God (sometimes our mistakes come back to haunt us).
In Leviticus 10, we read about the sin which caused Nadab and Abihu to literally be smoked off the planet by a just and holy God. Fast forward to chapter 16 and now Aaron is instructed on how to make atonement for their sins, as well as the sins of the Israelites.
For the most part I think we’re used to hearing the term “Scapegoat” in a negative light, usually we say someone is a scapegoat when they take the blame for someone else, otherwise known as being the fall guy. We don’t really want to be the scapegoat, do we? But in Leviticus 16:10 we see the true definition of a scapegoat.
Imagine you’re a goat, maybe your name is Billy (sorry, couldn’t help it), and you’re being led to the sacrificial altar of the high priest alongside your brother Jimmy Goat. You hear the people talking, discussing which one of you will be killed and which one will be spared. Nervously your heart begins to race, is today the day you get your throat slashed?
The lot has been cast and the verdict is in. Your beloved brother Jimmy gets sent to slaughter while you live to see another sunset. And yet, for some reason you’re getting a lot of attention for not being the sacrifice this time around. Turns out, you are a sacrifice too; you’re the sacrifice who gets to live. You are presented to the Lord as a living sacrifice (sound familiar?). Your brother died in your place, and you get to live and tell everyone else about it. You’re not the fall guy; you’re the “goat who is departed” (Hebrew rendering of scapegoat).
Fast forward to Romans 12:1, “I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask?” In other words, you are the scapegoat, and as such, you are acceptable to God. The only thing that makes you acceptable is His Son, the one who took the fall for you when He was sacrificed on the cross. Jesus was your scapegoat (the fall guy) and you are the scapegoat (the one who was departed) because, by the skin of your teeth, you have escaped death and passed into life.
You know, I think I like being the scapegoat. Now, as such, I must live up to my high calling as a living sacrifice. Let’s embrace our calling with gratitude, after all, “When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask?” Let’s show the world what being a scapegoat really means.
Next reading: Leviticus 19-21