Throughout history God has used visual aids to help us “get” the magnitude of His redemption. It took not one but two ceremonial animals to help us comprehend how thoroughly Christ’s sacrifice has dealt with our sins. The first innocent animal was slain and its blood covered the peoples’ sins. Under the Old Covenant this was only a temporary remedy. The ritual had to be repeated annually. But one day on a nondescript hill in Jerusalem God’s perfect Lamb became the final, all-sufficient sacrifice for sin. “With his own blood – not the blood of goats and calves – he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Hebrews 9:12, NLT).
To augment our understanding of the amazing atonement Jesus would procure, a second scapegoat was brought before the priest under the Old Covenant. In this visual aid the high priest was instructed to “lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness” (Lev. 16:21). This scapegoat was never seen again. It was gone, out of sight, and so were the people’s sins that had been placed on it.
This symbolic transfer of the sins of the people onto the innocent animal prefigured how Jesus would take our sins on Himself and then take them away. Our sins, once placed on Him, are forever gone! “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psa. 103:12).
“No condemnation have I in my heart,
He took my sins away,
He took my sins away.
His perfect love He did to me impart,
He took my sins away!”
– Margaret J. Harris