The definitive sacrifice and scapegoat

This past Friday was especially good. We remembered specifically Jesus’ death to secure our ultimate good. For the first time ever I preached from the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament. What was I smoking you may ask?  What drew me to Leviticus was the recent popular denial of Jesus’ death as a sacrifice to appease the wrath of God. Jesus is seen as an enlightened teacher from the realm of light, or a good moral example for our children to follow or even the ultimate chinese ying-yang who restores balance to the universe.

The Bible, on the other hand, pictures Jesus’ death in terms of sacrifice and scapegoat. Leviticus 16 describes what should have happened on the day of atonement. The key words are blood and death. Amongst other violent deaths, a bull had to die to cover the sins of the high priest and his family.

Should we report God?

Why does God demand violence and death? Should we report God to the SPCA as an animal-torturer? God was teaching the people back then and us today that sin is serious. Sin is our personal offense to a righteous God. The priest should have his throat slit for offending God, but God graciously permits the animal to die in the sinner’s place. The next sin offering consisted of two goats. The lucky one got to live. The unlucky one got his throat slit to make atonement for the sins of God’s people. The priest then put his hands on Billy the breathing goat’s head and confessed the sins and offenses of God’s people. Someone then lead the goat into the wilderness and that scapegoat was never seen again. Ever.

Atonement

The Bible says that this two-fold sin-offering pictures the means and results of atonement through the death of Jesus. Sin is atoned for by a subtituionary sacrifice and the results are that our sin, guilt and shame are removed from us forever. Hebrews 9 spells this out.

We deserve to die for disobeying a holy, infinite God. If you feel insulted right now, you either have too high a view of yourself or too low a view of God.  But the good news of the gospel is that Jesus died in our place.