THE GOSPEL IN LEVITICUS: The Scapegoat
THE SCAPEGOAT"Aaron is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be sacrificed to the Lord and which one will be the scapegoat." Leviticus 16:8
There is great power in words. A written page imprints distinct ideas. But when the pencil adds its skill, then objects stand in bolder shape. Forms seem to live. The canvass almost moves. So too the tongue may ably express the wheels and works of a complex machine. But let a moving model play; then intricacies open out; obscurities are clear. The eye stamps every part upon the tablets of the mind.
Transfer these thoughts to Gospel truth. Doubtless each statement there is a clear stream; each doctrine is a cloudless sunbeam. The blindness, which discerns not, is the blindness of the lost. But when types pass in long and varied train; when living semblances appear; then deep impressions gain a deeper root.
Reader, such is the teaching of God's glorious book. All modes are used, to manifest Christ Jesus. To see Him is eternal life—to see Him not is ruin's lowest depths. Hence words state facts; and types are joined to words; and images bring in their help. The Bible is a lesson for each class of mental grade. It is a text-book for each mode of thought. Is proof required? Israel's Atonement-day most graphically gives it. What prophets sang; and what apostles preached and what the Savior did, here take a shape, and through the eye impress the soul. Faith looks, and at each moment sees a pictured Savior. Each sight gives being to some text.
On this day many victims died. The stream of blood flowed deep. Each holy altar and each holy place received the reconciling sign. This visible display attests, that death is the dread curse of sin. Each sacrifice proclaims, that substituted sufferings avail. Sounding this truth, they are as heralds, who precede the Lord. If such be not their mind, they only puzzle and perplex. But year by year these shadowy rites recurred. Their note was to predict. They were as morning stars of a far brighter sun. Effectual aid was not in their previous display. They now have vanished. The cross has dug their grave. Their need is past. Christ, their full truth, has once laid down His life. That once is all-sufficient for all the sins of all His happy flock. That once fills to the full the cup of satisfaction. That once seats all the ransomed on the high rock of everlasting pardon. Who then are as blind as they, who now renew the sacrifice—once and forever passed? A bloodless offering is an dreadful cheat. It robs the cross of its consummate glory. It pretends to re-enact what has been done forever. Mock repetition nullifies the finished work. Judaic rites are Christ foreshown. Romaic mass is Christ denied.
But in the service of the atoning day, one part stands singularly forth, and singularly asks survey. Two goats are brought for a sin offering. The priest receives them at the tabernacle door. Then lots are cast. Man's mind may not select. Some unseen hand takes one for death, and bids the other live as the Scapegoat.
Reader, this scene reveals the council of eternal love.—Before the worlds, God's will called Jesus to the saving work. Each portion of the scheme was pre-resolved. Each was consigned to His receiving hands. This truth is precious comfort. They, who feel sin, need much to win their trust. They will not grasp a straw. Without credentials, Christ seeks their heart in vain. But when the Father ushers in the Son—when His voice seals the chosen Lamb—then pyramids of doubt sink low. He, whom God sends, is able for God's work. This rock is raised by God. It is enough. It must stand firm. What sinner can ask more?
The sentenced goat then died. Now mark, my soul, the uses of its blood. With this the high-priest ventures within the mystic veil. The mercy-seat receives the drops. The holy tent is also strewn throughout. Seven times the golden altar's horns are touched.
How fearful, yet how comforting, this sight! There is an universal need. There is a co-extensive cure. Man cannot move, but sin moves with him. Man cannot move, where reconciliation cannot come. There is wide remedy for the wide malady. But further mark the Gospel of this blood-red scene. Blood is our purchase-price. Justice has claims. The law has dues. Our debts are countless. Every moment swells the amount. How can we buy our souls from wrath? Our best is only sin. But let all creditors bring forth their books. Christ sprinkles every page. The dreadful writing disappears. Let heaven suspend its scales. Sin's load is an exceeding weight. But here is blood divine. Therefore it out-weighs.
Blood is our peace. Sin seen in its true light—sin felt in its strong power—is misery's misery, and anguish more than scorpion's sting. The broken heart is one abode of woe. The wounded conscience writhes, and cannot rest. But when the Spirit shows the blood, all dread forebodings cease. It proves, that peace is signed in heaven. It waves an olive-branch throughout the soul. It places pardon in the happy hand.
The blood has a sin-killing power. Sin is a weed with many roots. They widely spread, and ever strive to rise. But touch them with the blood. Let the heart feel, that sin slew Christ, and nailed the God-man to the accursed tree. How can that now be loved, which pierced that brow, those hands—those feet—that side? A holy feeling shudders at the thought. It clasps the Savior, and treads down His foe.
The blood drives Satan back. There is no place impervious to his tread. There is no moment free from his approach. No palace, and no hut exclude. He has a key for every chamber—every pew. No busy hours are too full for him; no stillness is too still. Nothing can daunt him, but this blood. The messengers of wrath passed not the lintels marked from the paschal lamb. So when this ensign is displayed, temptation starts and flees.
The blood bars hell. Those cells cannot admit a Christ-washed soul. If it be possible, let such approach. The chains refuse to touch. The fires curl back abashed. The gnawing worm can find no prey. The jailor drops his keys. My soul, see to it, that this blood is yours. It is sure safeguard against hell-pains.
The blood removes the hindrances to heaven. Behold the countless multitudes before the throne. All nations, kindreds, people, and tongues swell the vast throng. But every robe is white, and every hand uplifts a palm. The question has been put, "Whence came they?" The answer tarried not. "They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." My soul, is not your one desire to join this company, and share their joy? See to it, that this blood is yours. No other cleansing can remove the heaven-expelling guilt.
The blood fills heaven with songs. The ransomed fall before the Lamb. This is the substance of their mighty song. "You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood." Angels swell the strain, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain." My soul, is time fast bearing you to raise this chorus higher? It is so, if this blood is yours. They cannot sing above, who have not washed on earth.
But seek again the ritual scene. It changes. The other goat appears. With anxious eye the multitude intently gaze. It is a moment big with results. The high-priest comes. His outstretched hands are pressed upon its head. This gesture is token of transmitted guilt. He then tells out the fearful catalogue of Israel's sins. In sign the substitute receives the mass of sin. What a deep feeling would pervade the camp! How many lightened hearts would say, 'My burden leaves me. The Scape-goat takes it, and I am relieved.'
The laden victim is then led away. It is borne beyond the camp—beyond all sight—beyond the track of man—to the far borders of a desert wild. Released, it disappears in rocks and thickets of an untrod waste. Unseen, unknown, forgotten, it departs from mortal view. It is now buried in oblivion's land.
There is no brighter picture of the full pardon of all sin in Christ. Faith knows this Scapegoat well. Daily it uses the relief. It hides no sin. It cloaks no guilt. It tells out all upon the head of Christ. Thus have I done. Such is my wretched state. But I cast all on one, who waits to bear, and bears it far away. Christ hastens away with the accursed load, and God's all-searching eye can no more find.
Oh precious tidings! Oh heart-cheering truth. The spirit wills, that this full comfort should most largely flow, and hence by frequent testimony He confirms the truth. Is the east distant from the west? Can we move through the intervening space? As we advance the horizon still recedes. Infinite separation infinitely separates. Thus far our Scapegoat bears our guilt away. Ps. 103:12
Can we recover what the ocean buries? No line can reach to the unmeasured depths. It has sunk downward, never to arise. Deep waters hide it, and it must be hidden. Such is the grave of sin. Our Scapegoat drowns it in a fathomless abyss. The word is sure. "You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." Mic. 7:19.
Can that be seen, from which the eye is turned? Are objects visible, when the front shuns them? Our Scapegoat hides transgression in the distant rear. Is it not said, "You have cast all my sins behind Your back?" Is. 38:17.
Who has not seen a mass of blackening clouds? They threaten to wrap all the skies in one vast pall of night. But suddenly the rays of sun dart forth. The darkness melts—the sable mantle becomes thin—and soon, how soon the gathered mists are gone, and one clear robe of transparent blue decks the pure arch of heaven! Thus when Christ shines upon the mountains of our guilt, they vanish, and no sight can more behold. It is so. Hear the Spirit's voice, "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and as a cloud your sins." Is. 44:22.
The tender Shepherd seeks each straying sheep. He never rests, until all be found. But no search finds His people's sins. A land of infinite forgetfulness conceals them. Mark well the word, "In those days, and in that time, says the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none: and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found, for I will pardon the remnant I spare." Jer. 50:20.
The covenant of grace has precious articles. They are all wonder, wisdom, love. The Father plans them—the blood of Jesus seals—the Spirit is the witness. This code declares, "I will remember their sin no more." Jer. 31:34. The 'Scapegoat ordinance' confirms the truth. Heaven is holy work remembered—unholy deeds forgotten.
Believer, you need comfort. Drink deeply of this stream of joy. Live pondering this gospel type. Lie down in pastures of delight. Your sins, so many, vile, and hateful, pass to your Scapegoat, and so pass away. Faith thus transfers them. Christ thus removes them. God sees you in the glories of His Son, and thus sees no defect.
Reader, have your hands touched the Scapegoat's head? If not, your loathsome load remains. Christ, and Christ only can relieve. But Christ neglected is all sin retained. And sin retained is filth and shame. What if death find you so? What! Oh! learn not the reply in hell.
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