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The Scape Goat

If you have been a subscriber to this blog, you may now wonder has he stopped writing?  I am just slow as an editor.  As I had indicated before, my intent was to some day print or Kindle a much cleaner copy of this digital “Journal of an Elder.”  What I find is that these once hurriedly posted writings were shamefully in need of editing. 

However, in this arduous process, I am sometimes moved a second time by these writings and tempted to repost, which is what I did today.  May God bless you again as He has me:

-I seem to have some extra time this a.m. and just keep pondering the words “scape goat.”

This seemed to have been be set off by a recent response on Face Book; essentially, a brother blaming his ills on Satan, the old “Devil made me do it approach.”

Just what is a scape goat and why do we tend to need one?  Is it a means for excusing ourselves from our sins and not confronting, repenting and accepting the righteousness of Christ as a way of life?

Of course I went straight to Wikipedia, today’s online Bible!  Sure enough, they had much to say, even an artist rendering entitled The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt, 1854. 

More than the artwork, the subtitle caught my attention as described by the web master:

“‘Hunt had this framed in a picture with the quotations “Surely he hath borne our Griefs and carried our Sorrows; Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of GOD and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4) and “And the Goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a Land not inhabited.” (Leviticus 16:22).’”

If you care to go to Wikipedia, you will find a lengthy narrative around a term somewhere between Jewish folklore and Biblical symbolism. The translation to English was first used by William Tyndale in his 1530 Bible.

Apparently, two goats of similar stature, age, health and cost were brought to the Levitical priest, who would then draw a lot from a box.  One goat would be offered to Yahweh as a sin offering, the other to a mythological character Azazel, perhaps Satan.  The Hebrew word Azazel,  is combination of the words “Azaz” (rugged) and “El” (power/strong/of God) in reference to the rugged and strong rocks of the deserts in Judea.

According to this narrative, the latter goat would then be led up to the rough cliffs above Jerusalem, a scarlet ribbon would tied to its horns.  The other end of the woolen thread (even this has theological implications vs. linen) was then tied to the cliff.   The goat was cast over the cliffs; thus the use of the text by the artist above: “And the Goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a Land not inhabited.” (Leviticus 16:22).’”  This, possibly a reference to the Kingdom of God, “a land not inhabited?”

Before the goat reached mid-cliff, its limbs would be shattered and his life brutally sacrificed!

Remember the scarlet ribbon, used to mark the anticipated first-born (Gen. 38:28), in the case of Judah’s daughter-in-law Tamar?  Zara, the firstborn breached the birth canal (the first Adam), and then drew back (don’t we all); Phares, the second born (second Adam), took his place, entering the genealogy of the Lion of Judah, The Christ.  Powerful!

A scarlet ribbon was also let down from the harlot’s window in Jericho, assuring her salvation.  It makes me wonder if perhaps the cords that bound Christ at His arrest in Gethsemane might also have been of scarlet?  Just a thought.

Christ has become our scape goat, beaten not by the rocks of a cliff but by sin hardened men.   Yet miraculously, like the Passover lamb, not a bone was broken (Is. 53).  He has indeed crushed the head of Satan, robbed sin of its power and provided a means for us to live a life of righteousness.  Praise God!

My failures are not the work of satan, but rather my flesh choosing to walk outside of the Spirit.  When we sin, don’t blame satan; see your sin for what it is, and “scape” into His righteousness, or in Paul’s words, “crucify” yourself.  See yourself for who you really are outside of grace!

In so doing, the righteousness of Christ may then be fully manifest, so that through you, men might see Him, and not just hear our excuses!

P.S.  I hope this version read a little more smoothly with fewer gramatical errors?

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