There were two goats used on the Day of Atonement. One was slaughtered and its blood was carried into the Holy of Holies by the high priest. That was the blood that covered the guilt of the people in the sight of God. Now their conscience was purified and they could serve the living God.
The other goat was held at the entrance of the tabernacle until the high priest came out and laid his hands on its head. Acting on behalf of all the people of Israel, the high priest confessed the sins of the people and transferred their sins to this animal. This second goat is the “scapegoat.” Nowadays, that is what we call someone who takes the blame for everyone’s mistake. This goat not only received the blame but also took the guilt, carrying it far away into the wilderness–as far as east is from the west.
Together these two goats picture the redemptive work of Jesus. His blood has covered our sins in the sight of God, just as the blood of the first goat did once each year, but now, in Jesus, once for all time. And Jesus became the scapegoat for all his people. Jesus our Savior was loaded with all our sins and carried them far, far away–as far as east is from west. That’s how much he loves us.
My children would tell me how much they loved me by stretching out their arms as far as they could and shouting, “This much …and more.” So did Jesus. As far as east is from the west …and more.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
God, thank You doing all the work. You were innocent of sin and yet you died for mine. I sin a lot. But more than that, you keep walking with me. You keep shaping me into the person you created me to be. I’m free from the guilt of sin because of you, but you keep working on me, freeing me day by day from the presence of sin. Help me to hate my sin as much as you do. I know that happens as my love for you continues to grow, this much and more. Jesus, I love you.