Scapegoat): A Shadow of Messiah or Satan
The subject of this study concerns the activities of the high priest on the Day of Atonement; in particular, confessing the sins of Israel upon the head of the goat that was sent away into the wilderness (Lev.16:21).
The Day of Atonement is one of God's solemn feast days. On the tenth day of the seventh month of God's Scriptural calendar the high priest (Aaron) was to make an atonement for the sins of Israel. To accomplish this Aaron selected two young goats from the congregation of the children of Israel (Lev.16:5). He was then instructed to cast lots to determine which goat would be "for the Lord" and which for "the scapegoat" (KJV - from "escape goat"). According to Strong's, the word "scapegoat" comes from the Hebrew "azazel" which literally means "goat of departure." It is formed from the Hebrew "ez" meaning goat and "azal" meaning "to go away." The precise meaning has been greatly disputed. Some commentators believe "azazel" refers to the name of the region where the goat was sent. Others believe it to be the proper name of a spirit, demon, or Satan himself. The interpretation that Strong suggests occurs in both the Septuagint and the Vulgate and underlies the rabbinic view, "the goat that is dispatched," in Mishnah Yoma 6:2. In "Pentateuch & Haftorahs" by Dr.J.H. Hertz (Late Chief Rabbi of the British Empire), Soncino Press, 1990, pg.481, we read; "The Heb. Azazel, however, is not a proper name, but a rare Hebrew noun ... meaning, 'dismissal' or, 'entire removal' (RV Margin, Gesenius, Hoffmann, and the Oxford Hebrew Dictionary). It is the ancient technical term for the entire removal of sin and guilt of the community, that was symbolized by the sending away of the goat into the wilderness."
Since the word "azazel" is not
used anywhere else in Scripture and since there are several opinions as to its meaning, we
need to determine, via other Scriptures, its true meaning and interpretation. The most
important point concerning "azazel" (the scapegoat) is found in Lev.16:10; "But
the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the
Lord, to make an atonement with him , and to let him go for a scapegoat into the
wilderness." If we choose to believe "azazel" represents Satan, this
leads us to the question of whether or not Satan can make an atonement for God's people.
Nowhere in Scripture is there a reference to Satan having any part in the atonement.
Instead, we read; "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Rom.5:11). "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb.1:3). "Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once , when he offered up himself" (Heb.7:27). "For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself " (Heb.9:26).
The Scriptures clearly state that Messiah
made the atonement for us by himself . However, it is suggested by many (including myself
until recently) that the first goat represented the atoning work of Jesus, but the second
goat represents Satan. It is believed that, since Satan was "the original cause"
of all sin, "justice demands that God place right back on the head of the devil his
guilt - not our guilt, but his own guilt - for leading us into sin." Pagan Holidays
or God's Holy Days - Which? by Herbert W. Armstrong, Worldwide Church of God, 1986, pg.36.
If that is true, where in Scripture is the
fulfillment of Lev.16:21? The antitypical high priest (Jesus) is to lay hands on Satan's
head and confess the sins of Israel upon him. Yet, we do not find that in Scripture. It
can be said that the angel of Rev.20:1 represents the "fit man" that sends the
goat (Satan) into the wilderness (represented by the "bottomless pit"), but
without the fulfillment of the actual laying on of hands or any other references to Satan
making an atonement for us, it becomes total assumption, a mere theory. Some may try to
suggest that the angel is in fact Jesus. Rev.19:11-14 portray Jesus coming down from
heaven to earth to smite the nations, the beast, and the false prophet. Afterwards , the
angel of Rev.20:1 comes down from heaven to bind Satan. That angel is the only one who
lays hands on Satan, not to confess sins on his head, but to cast him into the bottomless
On the other hand, the Scriptures paint a
beautiful picture of the fulfillment of Jesus as the goat that was sent away bearing the
sins of Israel. First read Lev.16:22; "And the goat shall bear upon him all their
iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the
wilderness." Now consider the following;
Is.53:6c - "And God hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." The sins of Israel were laid on Jesus. They were placed upon him and him alone.
Is.53:11c - "For he shall bear
their iniquities ."
Is.53:12d - "And he (Jesus) bare the sin of many ..." Jesus is the one who bore our sins. He carried them away upon his own head which is what the Hebrew 'cabal' (bare) means.
Is.53:4a - "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our
sorrows:" Jesus is the sin-bearer, not Satan.
Heb.9:28a - "So Messiah was once offered to bear the sins of many;"
1 Pe.2:24a - "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." There is no other sin-bearer.
The act of laying on of hands (vs.21; also; Lev.1:4; 3:2; 4:4,15,29,33) symbolizes the transference of sins from the guilty party (the children of Israel) to the innocent (azazel). The innocent then becomes the sin-bearer. Jesus undeniably fulfills the type (Is.53:4,6,11,12). Satan, however, cannot fulfill the type because he was never innocent. It will not satisfy the justice of God to transfer the sins of the guilty to another guilty party. Since lots were used to decide which goat was "for the Lord," it meant that both goats had to be unblemished. The antitype of an unblemished goat was the sinlessness of Messiah. Can it be said that Satan is sinless and was to be represented by an unblemished goat? "Azazel" was to bear the iniquities of the children of Israel unto a land "not inhabited." We have just read how Scripture undeniably teaches that Messiah is the only sin bearer. Therefore, he is the only person that fulfills the type of "azazel." But how does Jesus fulfill being sent to a land not inhabited and let go in the wilderness?
The Scriptures make several clear statements concerning the act of carrying away sin.
Jn.1:29 - "The next day John seeth
Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the
Heb.9:26b - "But now once in the
end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
1 Jn.3:5 - "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin."
Jesus is the goat that carried away the
sins of Israel. He took them upon himself and "was made to be sin for us" (2
Cor.5:21). Therefore he fulfills the antitypical "azazel." There is no need for
Satan to bare anyone's sins. He has his own sins to bare and they will prove to be
The Hebrew for "not inhabited"
is "gezerah" meaning "a desert (as separated)." It comes from the root
word "gazar" meaning "to cut down or off." Messiah was certainly cut
off and separated from not only the land of the living, but from his Father as well. When
Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" it was because at
that moment he was separated from God having taken upon himself the sins of the world. Sin
clearly causes a separation from God as Isaiah wrote; "But your iniquities have
separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will
not hear" (Is.59:2). Jesus' disciples also separated themselves from him by
forsaking him and denying him. Jesus was even separated by "suffering without the
gate" and without the camp (Heb.13:11-13). He was sent into the wilderness of total
separation as he bore our sins away.
What about that "fit man" that escorted the goat to the edge of the wilderness? If the angel of Rev.20:1 is not the fulfillment, then who is? Does there even need to be a fulfillment of the fit man? Since, in either view, there is no fulfillment of the man in verse 28 that burns the carcasses of the bullock and Lord's goat, there need not be a fulfillment to the fit man. The following is offered as a possible antitype to the fit man. "Fit" comes from the Hebrew meaning "timely, opportune, at hand." Some translations render it, "a timely man," "a man of opportunity," or "an appointed man." The Scriptures reveal there was a man who was at hand at the right time, appointed by God to lead Jesus to his wilderness separation. That man was Judas. Acts 1:16 says Judas was "guide to them that took Jesus." It also says in Mt.26:24, "The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born." Jesus was "going" to the wilderness bearing our sins upon him. Judas was the man appointed to lead and guide Jesus on that journey into the wilderness of total separation.
Some may object to Jesus fulfilling "azazel" based on the fact that the Day of Atonement falls in the seventh month between two Feasts that have not been fulfilled yet. Therefore, the Day of Atonement cannot be totally fulfilled by Messiah. They reason, therefore, that its future fulfillment must be accomplished by Satan. Although Jesus has fulfilled both typical goats, there remains one major aspect of the Day of Atonement that remains unfulfilled. The antitypical Jubilee trumpet marking the beginning of the Jubilee year (which was typically blown on Atonement Day) has yet to be blown. When Jesus returns at the sound of that trumpet to set the captives free from death, the Day of Atonement will see its total fulfillment.
It is the view that Jesus returns on the
Day of Trumpets that has led to the belief that Satan fulfills azazel. It is reasoned that
if the Day of Trumpets depicts Messiah's return and if Tabernacles depicts the Millennium,
then there can only be one event in between that depicts the goat sent into the
wilderness, the casting of Satan into the bottomless pit.
The truth of the matter is, when Jesus returns, only one trumpet is blown whereas the Day of Trumpets (plural) involves more than one trumpet. The Day of Trumpets depicts the beginning of the "Day of the Lord" when the trumpets of Rev.8 begin to sound. Jesus will return at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet which is also the Jubilee trumpet marking the resurrection of the dead (Rev.11:15-18;1Cor.15:52; 1 Thess.4:16).
Another possible objection would be that Jesus, as azazel, does not fulfill all aspects of the type such as; no one ever actually placed their hands on Jesus' head to confess the sins upon him; Jesus died whereas the goat of departure lived on in the wilderness, etc. As with the fulfillment of other types, Jesus did not fulfill every aspect exactly. For example; He could not fulfill the aspect of the High Priest that kills the Lord's goat and, at the same time, be that goat or else he would have had to kill himself (vs.15); He did not have to offer a sin offering for himself as High Priest (vs.11); Jesus did not confess the sins of Israel upon his own head (vs.21); He did not need to wash his flesh (vs.24); His body was not burned outside the camp (vs.27); He died as our atonement sacrifice on Passover, not the Day of Atonement; His body was not burned as the Passover sacrifice was; Jesus died at the time of the evening sacrifice and the Passover sacrifice, but not at the time of the morning sacrifice, etc. The bottom line is this; The Scriptures declare Jesus to be the ONLY sin-bearer who not only died for the remission of sins, but also the only one to actually take away those sins. When we view the Lord's goat and azazel as one atonement offering, rather than two separate offerings separated by thousands of years, we can understand and appreciate the symbolic fulfillment more readily. Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the typical atonement sacrifice. As the Lord's goat his blood cleansed the heavenly sanctuary (Heb.9:23) and the Israel of God (Lev.16:17). As "azazel" he bore our sins and took them away forever. Halleluyah!
Anonymous by request