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The Scape Goat

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

This seemed to be set off by a 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 rather than 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:

“‘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 quite a lengthy narrative around a term that is 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 draw a lot from a box.  Then, 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 a 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 be led up to the rough cliffs above Jerusalem, a scarlet ribbon would then be tied to its horns.  The other end of the woolen thread (even that has implications, vs. linen) was 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).’”

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

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

Also, a scarlet ribbon was let down from the harlot’s window marking her salvation at Jericho….

Christ became the Lamb necessary to appease God’s (sin’s?) wrath, while also becoming the scape goat, savagely beaten by sinful men.  Yet miraculously, like the Passover lamb as well, not a bone was broken (Is. 53).  He crushed the head of Satan, robbed sin of its power and provided a means for us to live a life of righteousness.  My failures are not the work of satan, but my flesh choosing to walk outside of the Spirit.  In fact, I need no other scape goat; Christ alone is our (e)scape goat.

When we sin, don’t blame satan, see your sin for what it is, “escape” into His righteousness, then confront or in Paul’s words, “crucify” yourself.  See yourself for who you really are outside of grace!

In so doing, the righteousness of Christ can be fully manifest through you, that men might see Him rather than hear your excuses!

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