Propitiation by blood having been made on the day of atonement inside the veil; the special work of the high priest was not, however, completed till substitution had been delineated in the fullest manner that the type could set it forth. By the Lord's command Aaron had entered the holiest with blood, and had dealt with it in the manner prescribed by the Mosaic ritual. By the Lord's command likewise, the scapegoat was kept in reserve till the moment arrived for the high priest to concern himself with it, as the ordinance of the day of atonement set forth. Inside the sanctuary Aaron had sprinkled the blood of the sin-offering. Where, and when no eye could see him but God's, he did that work, by which Jehovah was enabled in righteousness to accept before Him a people that had sinned. Now once more back in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation, ere he changed his garments and resumed the ordinary pontifical attire, he brought forward the live goat for a substitution to be typically effected. For he alone, who had made propitiation, could deal, aright with the scapegoat, azazel, i.e. the goat of departure.
This the high priest now proceeded to do. He laid his hands on its head, and confessed over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on its head, and then sending it away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. For uncleannesses, transgressions, and sins, propitiation by blood had been made. Now the iniquities, transgressions, and sins of the people were confessed over the head of the people's substitute, who bore them away into a land uninhabited. A holy God could not even pass over uncleannesses, not to say sins, unless propitiation had been made for them. How fully did He maintain His own holiness in all its untarnishable perfection, whilst announcing by the means provided to maintain it, the impossibility of any one in Israel keeping himself fit for entrance into the divine presence. For had any one kept himself from transgression and sin, and no one did that, as Solomon attested (1 Kings 8:46), he could not have ensured himself against defilement by uncleanness, as Leviticus (Lev. 11 - 15) shows us. Propitiation then was needed for uncleannesses as well as for positive sins; for they were the fruit of sin, though they might not arise from acts of sin; but substitution as well as propitiation was called for where sins themselves were in question.
Iniquities, transgressions, and sins were confessed by the high priest, and all of each. The confession was a comprehensive one. By iniquities we understand the fruits of perverseness or crookedness; by transgressions, the overstepping of a line, beyond which a man should not have gone; by sins, the missing or falling short of a mark. Hence these several terms would comprehend all acts of deflection, from the right road, every overstepping of the line, and all comings short, or missing of the mark to which they ought to have attained. All this was confessed on Israel's behalf by Aaron, and put on the living goat reserved for that purpose, which was then sent away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.
Now this was the first time throughout the service of that day that Aaron was called to open his mouth, after that he had killed the sin-offering. Inside the veil, as we have remarked in a previous paper, he had no need to speak, and no opportunity presented itself which called forth any prayer from his heart and from his lips. Here in the court where he did speak, prayer would not have been in season. He spoke, whether at length or with brevity we know not; but it was not to ask for anything at the hands of Jehovah. He was not there as the suppliant for the people, but as their representative to confess all their iniquities, and all their transgressions in all their sins. Confession, not prayer, was then in season. All duly confessed over the head of the scapegoat, on which both his hands had rested, the iniquities and sins of the people were no longer on them. The burden of their sins rested on that goat. The people had not shifted their burden to the live goat. They had no active part in the doing of it. It was done, but done perfectly, and for that year finally, by the high priest, the son of Amram, of the tribe of Levi.
Charged with all that weight of sin - all, let the reader again remark, all the iniquities of the children of Israel, with all their transgressions in all their sins, the substitute for the people was led away by the person appointed for the purpose. All their iniquities had been laid upon it, not some, not the great ones, the gross ones, not those that weighed heaviest on their consciences, but all - all were placed on that goat, who bore them all away. Propitiation and substitution were now accomplished facts. The two goats, really but one sin-offering (Lev. 16:5), typifying two important parts of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus, were both needed, the former to meet the claims of God's holiness, the latter to free the guilty ones from the burden, the weight of their sins.
Charged with the people's sins, that goat went away into a land not inhabited, or separated, never to return. And as it took its departure, all might see it going away, might watch its gradual disappearing from sight till lost to view. With what interest doubtless some regarded it, Jehovah's provision for a guilty people. Sent away by the high priest under the charge of the man selected for the purpose, that goat wended its way into the wilderness. That man could ensure its going thither; but who could keep it from coming back? It went with all the sins of the people on its head, and it was of the utmost importance that it should never come back. Full provision was made for its departure, but nothing was said of its return. The man took it away. The Lord provided that it never should come back.
Suppose a foreigner in the camp, who had no part in the privileges and blessings of Israel. Imagine him there on the day of atonement. What a sight must have met his eye! The whole camp at rest; every member of the privileged nation keeping a perfect sabbath; the din of daily toil all hushed; cessation from work of any kind absolute throughout that vast encampment. The cloud rested on the tabernacle; no trumpet sound heard either to summon the heads of the people, or to prepare the camp for a march; all as still, as orderly, as quiet as could be conceived. Yet it was not the weekly sabbath, the sign between the Lord and His people, that they might know that He was Jehovah who sanctified them. (Ezek. 20:12.) But the people were resting from all work with as much strictness as if it were the seventh day of the week. What, he might have asked, was it all about? On the previous sabbath they had rested from all work. Now ere another sabbath came round they were doing the same, but with this difference. On the sabbath-day they rested, and afforded thereby rest to their servants and cattle. On this day they were afflicting their souls, whilst the high priest was making atonement for their sins. This resting was most expressive. It spoke of their helplessness in the matter which so closely concerned them, whilst the afflicting of their souls indicated how deeply they were interested in all that was being done.
As the day went on, and the scapegoat was led away, the foreigner might have inquired what that was, and would have learnt that it was azazel, or "the goat of departure," going away with all their sins on its head into the wilderness. Inquiring further, he would have learnt how privileged was Israel above all other people upon earth, since for them, and them only, had Jehovah their God provided a substitute to bear their sins, and to carry them all away. If he asked further, whether they were sure that all of them were gone, would they not have answered that they had seen the goat led away, after all their sins had been solemnly laid on it by the high priest? But were they really gone? he might have again inquired. "Yes," would have been the reply; "that goat just sent away will never come back, for all our sins being laid on it, they are really and truly and for ever gone with it. The man appointed will lead it into the wilderness, and there let it go, and Jehovah will take care that it shall never return." The goat's departure, and its never returning, would be for them decisive of the whole matter. In all this it was true they had taken no active part; yet, knowing that all had been done in accordance with Jehovah's word, they would be satisfied. Aaron's re-appearance from the holy place told that all had been rightly done within; and the goat's departure, after all their sins had been confessed over it, assured them that they no longer rested on the guilty ones. Formerly on them, they were now on the goat, and going away into a land of forgetfulness.
Thus both propitiation and substitution were prefigured in that day's ceremonial; but substitution was only fully effected in type after Aaron's re-appearance in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation, when, before the eyes of all, he confessed the sins of the people over the goat, and in the presence of the whole congregation that goat was led away into the wilderness. What had gone on in the sanctuary no human eye had witnessed; the departure, however, of the goat was patent to all. Further, this goat was provided for the children of Israel, and not for Aaron and for his house. The reason for this, then probably unexplained, is made clear to us who live after the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, and have God's word opened up to us by the teaching of the Holy Ghost. Had the scapegoat been provided for Aaron and his sons, as well as for the people, it might have been said that no one could know their sins were put away till the high priest had re-appeared from within the sanctuary. In other words, since the Lord Jesus Christ is the High Priest of whom Aaron, throughout that day's service, was only the type, it might have been taught, and with apparent ground for the truth of it, that unless the Lord re-appears to the view of people on earth, no one can know that their sins have been borne by Him who is the true scapegoat, as well as the sacrifice, and the Priest: So for Aaron and for his house the scapegoat was not provided, though from the teaching which flows from it they could, and we can, profit. And the reason for the dismissal of the goat before all, and after that Aaron had finished his work in the holy place, is made plain. Israel will only know, when they see the Lord, on His re-appearance from the heavenly sanctuary into, which He has entered, that atonement has been made for them.
Of this the prophets wrote; Isaiah before the captivity, and Zechariah subsequent to it. Both treat of it; the former telling us what thoughts will be uppermost in the hearts of the godly remnant when they see Him; and the latter describing the sorrow that will take possession of them when they learn who is the true sin-offering. Isaiah, in Isa. 52:13-15, describes the effect on kings, and on others, of the Lord Jesus appearing in His glory. Astonishment will seize them as they behold the One once crucified coming in power and glory. "Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider." The coming in irresistible power of the once despised Nazarene will overwhelm them with surprise and amazement. How different will His re-appearance be to the godly remnant. This is treated of in Isa. 53. His rejection by their fathers they will remember and speak of; their own wrong thoughts about Him they will confess, and will acknowledge that they are corrected by His personal presence among them. But not this only. They will then understand, and gladly own, in the language of the prophet, what His death has done for them. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Their Substitute, the true scapegoat, they will then behold, and own. "The Lord hath laid on Him," they will say, "the iniquity of us all." With that they will be satisfied. "Jehovah has done it," they will say, "the One against whom we have sinned;" and in that they will rest. Confessing how wrong had been their thoughts about Jesus of Nazareth, thereby owning their own unbelief, and taking the place of convicted sinners, they will rest contented (how could they do otherwise?) with the perfect Substitute God has provided. Unbelief, and dread of divine vengeance, will both vanish, and perfect peace will take possession of their hearts; for they will learn, when they see Him, that He, the victorious, powerful, glorious One, was wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their iniquities. Iniquities and transgressions Aaron confessed over the scapegoat. Their iniquities and transgressions, they will learn, have been borne by the true sin-offering, God's Lamb, David's Son, and David's Lord.
But relief from all dread of wrath is one thing, godly sorrow for sin is another. This last they will likewise fully experience when they shall look on Him whom they have pierced, and mourn. (Zech. 12:10.) The spirit of grace and of supplications having been poured on them, they will be granted the desire of their heart. The Messiah they will behold, but, beholding Him, will mourn. Their fathers' guilt, the nation's sin, with which they are closely connected, will be to them apparent; and looking on Him, whom they as part of Israel pierced, they will mourn. What an awaking up there will be! Centuries of national unbelief judged in a moment. And the reason, the deep necessity for Messiah's death, will flash on them with vividness, and with all the brightness of a summer's noonday sun. Then, too, the double purpose for which the Lord's side was pierced when on the cross will receive its accomplishment. (John 19:34-37.) By that piercing with the spear, blood and water flowed out. What that is, and how it concerns us, the evangelist who witnessed it has placed on record. (1 John 4:9, 10; 1 John 5:6-11.) By that piercing, likewise, He has been marked in His person as the One who really hung on the cross, and when Israel shall see Him, the once pierced One, mourning will characterise them in truth. Mourning, not the bitterness of despair from learning that there is no hope; but the sorrow of contrite hearts at the discovery of the love which He had manifested for them, and their rejection of it till then. Dread of judgment will vanish when they see Him appearing in power on their behalf. No thought of their sins to be imputed to them will cross their mind. For they will see Him who has borne them, the pierced One, alive, and victorious without them. Having been laid by Jehovah on Him, they will never be put back again on them. And Him on whom they were put they will see without them, all gone, and gone for ever; and He without them will be present among them, the witness of this, for the joy and comfort of their souls.
But not only did He die for that nation, He died for sinners; so we who believe on Him can now say, what the remnant will then own, that our sins were borne by Him in His own body on the tree. (1 Peter 2:24.), Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. (Heb. 9:28.) That question He has settled, and settled for ever. For "unto them that look for Him shall He appear . . . without sin unto salvation." The remnant will know Him as their substitute when they see Him. We know that now on the testimony of the divine word. The proof of it to them will be the beholding Him in power and glory. The proof to us is His presence in heaven without them, attested by the presence on earth, and the teaching of God the Holy Ghost. Our sins cannot be in heaven; but He is there who bore them in His own body on the tree. He rose without them, so all those whose sins He bore are free. The remnant of Israel will only know this when they see Him, hence we can understand why they should deprecate God's wrath. (Ps. 25:7, etc.) Believers on the Lord Jesus Christ in apostolic times knew that question was settled (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 John 2:12); for propitiation had been made (Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10); substitution had been effected (Heb. 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24), and forgiveness of sin was preached (Luke 24:47; Acts 10:43; Acts 13:38) to all who would receive it, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the same still. C. E. Stuart.
People think they want strength to do something; but the first thing is not to do, but to receive.
The mission of the Christian is not to do, but to be - to be like Christ.