Then he will set the two goats before GOD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and cast lots over the two goats, one lot for GOD and the other lot for Azazel. He will offer the goat on which the lot to GOD falls as an Absolution-Offering. The goat on which the lot for Azazel falls will be sent out into the wilderness to Azazel to make atonement.— Leviticus 16.7-10, The MessageStop for a moment and think this week about the imagery of the Old Testament’s Day of Atonement ceremony. (If you are not familiar with it, take some time this week to read all of Leviticus 16.) It is truly beautiful. Think of it against the backdrop of knowing that our sin, humanity’s rebellion, is not an “honest” rebellion. We have been deceived about who God really is and what He is like. We are truly rebelling against what we think He is, rather than what He really is. This is why integral to Jesus ministry was His deep passion for simply portraying to us the truth of what God’s character truly is. (See John 8:32: “. . . you will know the truth and the truth will make you free . . .”)
The Day of Atonement is about all of Israel’s acts of rebellion, their transgressions, taking them out of the sanctuary—God’s place of dwelling, i.e. God Himself—and placing them on the head of the scapegoat—i.e., He who truly is to blame for them.
Think about it for a second. How many today would still rebel if they could just see God for who He really is? If they could just see His heart? Is it really that we are rebelling; or is it that someone has deceived us about what He is, and we are simply rebelling against the wrong picture?
The Day of Atonement brought Israel into oneness with their God through the shed blood of a sacrifice that symbolized God Himself. This was done by a cultic rich symbolism. But what were the symbols really revealing? That the day was coming when God would sacrifice Himself for us. And through that self-abandonment, we could begin to see God for what He truly is, and our rebellion would be directed away from God; God would cease to be the one our rebellion is aimed at, and He would cease to be the “one to blame,” so to speak. Instead it would be placed on someone else. We would begin to see: God is not the enemy. God is not the one we’ve needed to be saved from. God is not the one we should fear or against whom we should rebel. For as we begin to look around, through eyes anointed with all that Calvary shows us, we begin to see . . . “An enemy has done this.”
I long for a Day of Atonement to take place today in our hearts, dear Reader, in each of us. I long for the shed blood of God Himself to open the eyes of our hearts, win our affection and love, and make us one with Him and each other once again, in a relational restoration. Would you like that too? Then let’s begin this week by simply pausing and asking God to show us more deeply who He truly is. Ask Him to show us a fuller revelation of His love, His glory, His character. May we truly experience our rebellion being directed away from Him and placed where it belongs—today.