What weighs heavy on your heart and mind today? What is the enemy trying to hold you captive as a prisoner to? Is it bondage to addictions, the desires of this world or the shame of your past? Maybe it’s the echoing voices in your mind that you are hopeless because of hypocrisy or sins in your own life that you have spent years trying to cover. Or maybe it’s the heavy chains of loneliness and despair because your life doesn’t look the way you intended it to.
Let me encourage you to stand back with me for a moment and take in the accounts of what plays out throughout history, so that we fully understand God’s plan that has been set into motion from the foundation of the world to set those of us who are captive free.
Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel. (Lev 16:7-10)cT
While there is a time difference between the Day of Atonement sacrifice and the Passover sacrifice, there is a greater connection and lesson for us all in them both. We watch their meanings become unveiled before our eyes, when we step away from the Old Testament temple sacrifice and into the New Testament sacrifice that is taking place with Jesus. A key part of the Day of Atonement at the temple in Lev 16 was the sin offering involving two goats. One interesting requirement was, when they were chosen, they had to be as similar as possible to one another and then the lots were drawn. As we fast forward and focus in on the day Jesus was delivered to Pilate to be crucified, we notice a stark similarity. The two “goats” are similar in their human flesh. They are similar in the nation of people that they come from. They are similar in the temptations that they both experienced. And they are similar in their names. Jesus comes before them bearing the name Son of God, (His father). Barabbas stands before them bearing his name, which in Hebrew is translated, Son of a father. Scripture tells us in John 8:44 who our father is though, when we live in sin and unbelief. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
There were two options once the lots were drawn. One was inscribed, “to the Lord” and the other, “to Azazel.” Whoever the lot fell to as bearing the words “To the Lord”, was offered as a sacrifice for all. Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
Over the other, the High Priest confessed all of Israels sins and it was taken away into the wilderness. So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
Now the scapegoat would never be seen again, representing the removal of the Israelites sin. From all of my research into this translation and the meaning, I discovered that Azazel was the representation of a demonic being whose name means “goat escapes”. The book of Enoch (a historical writing outside of scripture) speaks of Azazel when it says in 1 Enoch 10; And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin. This goat who escapes and goes free, does so bearing the guilt and the evidence of the sins of the people. He is sent into the wilderness, to the one from whom sin originated with in this fallen world. This is probably the exact lesson Paul had in mind when he teaches in 1 Cor 5:5- I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
As this goat is removed from among God’s people, casting sin and its guilt back where it belongs, the sacrifice to Yahweh is now offered to cover and atone for those same sins and to remove them from their midst. Jesus as the sacrifice chosen “to the Lord” now becomes our permanent offering. His blood covers all our sins, once and for all.
Barabbas, (like us), becomes the scapegoat who bears the evidence and guilt of our sins, but the sacrifice chosen to Yahweh, Jesus the Christ, is the very sacrifice that allows the guilty to go free. It releases us from the guilty chains that bind us, and sets us free from the death sentence that we deserve, just as Barabbas the murderer was set free that day. The guilt of his own sin, which was also the guilt of his own people, were the very sins that condemned an innocent man to die. This was the plan from the foundation of the world. And however it is meant to be the fulfillment of the law, this one thing we can be sure of. Through the sacrificial offering of Jesus, our sins are both forgiven and forgotten, and we the guilty and convicted are now set free! Praise God for that. For because, as in Egypt, our perfect Passover Lamb has been sacrificed and we have permanently been set free from the bondage of our sin and God’s wrath has been satisfied, we no longer need a Day of Atonement. For our High Priest has completed the task, and our sins and its judgement have been cast back on the one from whom they originated. Now only he, his demons and those who reject this sacrifice “to the Lord” await their final judgement as they wander in the wilderness and of those who do accept the offering and find the Promised Land, it shall be known of us……….the guilty go free.