Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Of the scape-goat...

"There was likewise a live goat, which the priest was to take; on the
head of which he was to lay his hands, and there to make a public confession to God of all the people's sins; and when so done, the priest was to lay all the sins of the people on the head of the goat;  then was the goat to be sent away into the wilderness, never to return with them more, Lev. xvi. 7—9, 21, 22. This type, as well as the rest, sets forth the won derful grace of God in Christ to sinners, who hath prepared a scape-goat for them, to carry away their sin on his own head; which is Christ, his only Son. Oh! this is wonderful love, saith the Spirit, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John iii. 16. Look to Christ, this scape-goat; he bears all the sins of his people; they are confessed over, and translated upon Christ's head, Isa. liii. 6; 1 Pet. ii. 24. And so they are made his sins, not ours, and he hath carried them into the wilderness of forget-fulness, where they shall never come into mind more; "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more," Jer. xxxi. 34. Christ will leave all the sin and guilt, which he took on him, behind him in the wilderness; and let us assure ourselves that whenever Christ comes again, he will come "without sin unto salvation," Heb. ix. 28."
Thomas Worden, The Types Unveiled - chapter 40 (1640s)


  1. In Lev 16 there are two goats. The first goat is killed for an atonement, but this is applied by Worden to the second goat. The second got is let go ALIVE in the wilderness is NOT described as an atonement. The sins of the people are confessed over this "scapegoat", and it is then "led by the hand of a fit man into a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness." What might we say therefore about this "scapegoat" that is NOT an atoning sacrifice? I have a view that I think is consistent with what Jesus accomplished in His death and resurrection, and in what we confess in our creeds and confessions, but I'm afraid it does not agree with Worden.

  2. Hudson, I think you're missing something. The entire ceremony is the once-a-year Day of Atonement. The atonement is typed in both goats showing forth the work of Christ's atonement: 1) presenting to God the blood of Christ in the type of the first goat thus satisfying the justice of God, upholding his glory, and therefore God's favor toward sinners replaces his judgment and wrath. 2) Christ typed in the scape-goat as our substitution who takes our sins and removes them far away never to be seen or found again. Both are indispensable aspects of the atonement.

    John Calvin:
    "A twofold mode of expiation is here presented to us; for one of the two goats was offered in sacrifice according to the provisions of the Law, the other was sent away to be an outcast, or offscouring (katharma vel peripsema) The fulfillment of both figures, however, was manifested in Christ, since He was both the Lamb of God, whose offering blotted out the sins of the world, and, that He might be as an offscouring"

    Matthew Henry:
    "3. He must then cast lots upon the two goats, which were to make (both together) one sin-offering for the congregation. One of these goats must be slain, in token of a satisfaction to be made to God’s justice for sin, the other must be sent away, in token of the remission or dismission of sin by the mercy of God. Both must be presented together to God (v. 7) before the lot was cast upon them, and afterwards the scape-goat by itself, v. 10."

    JN Darby:
    "The glory of God was established, on one side, in the putting of the blood on the mercy-seat; and, on the other, there was the substitution of the scape-goat, of the Lord Jesus, in His precious grace, for the guilty persons whose cause He had undertaken; and, the sins of these having been borne, their deliverance was full, entire, and final. The first goat was Jehovah's lot-it was a question of His character and His majesty. The other was the lot of the people, which definitively represented the people in their sins."

  3. My point is that the day of Atonement involves two DIFFERENT goats, separated by lots, one to be killed as a sin offering, its blood purging/cleaning the temple, and the other goat to be burdened with sin and abandoned (alive) in the WILDERNESS which in Hebrew means "land of separation." This latter point is emphasized in the Geneva Bible's notes, in which Calvin had a hand. The first goat may be seen as the Elect; the second as the Reprobate.

    In Calvin's Commentary, as you have provided, he concedes the twofold ceremony saying the passage is about one singular "expiation"; in the first mode is a cleansing, a blotting out to satisfy the Law and the Glory of God. In the second mode is an "offscouring" separation from sin. Darby is even clearer, saying the first goat cleanses of the place of God's justice and mercy, for His glory; and the second goat represents guilty persons. Far less clearly, Henry describes one singular "sin offering" consisting of a satisfaction (of the Law) and the other for remission of sin.

    Again, the Day of Atonement celebrates the separate fates of two goats according to lot. The first is an unburdened and innocent goat, the first of the Elect, His blood cleansing the temple and pointing to God's glory; His mercy and justice. There is no blood sacrifice with goat #2. It is not representative of Jesus and the Elect, but of Israel and the Reprobate. Having now been separated from God, it is burdened with sin by imputation of the priests. God turns His back toward the reprobate nation, abandoning the goat with a parting gift of survival (like Ishmael). Let us NOT say that Jesus is like Ishmael.

    Incidentally, a "scapegoat" in English is not someone who removes guilt, blame or wrongdoing but rather is someone to whom guilt, blame, wrongdoings, mistakes, and faults of others are merely transferred for reasons of expediency. To call Jesus a scapegoat is to insult Him, and the translators of our English Bibles knew this fact, which is why they did NOT intend to convey the idea that goat #2 is Jesus.

  4. Hi Hudson, I do get your point. But I'll stick with my understanding which is more fully expressed in this extended quote from Calvin's commentary; that is, the two goats together type the fullness of Christ's atonement, and specifically as to the scape-goat, it types Christ as "being made a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13) and - "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21). Together the two goats show Jesus's own personal sinlessness and also that our sins were placed on him, that he taking our place as the outcast and our sins being laid on him, he bore the penalty of our sin thus removing them from us never to be seen again. Calvin continued...

    "I embrace, however, what is more simple and certain, and am satisfied with... that the goat which departed alive and free, was an atonement, that by its departure and flight the people might be assured that their sins were put away and vanished. This was the only expiatory sacrifice in the Law without blood; nor does this contradict the statement of the Apostle, for since two goats were offered together, it was enough that the death of one should take place, and that its blood should be shed for expiation; for the lot was not cast until both goats had been brought to the door of the tabernacle; and thus although the priest presented one of them alive "to make an atonement with him," as Moses expressly says, yet God was not propitiated without blood, since the efficacy of the expiation depended on the sacrifice of the other goat...
    "The mode of expiation with the other goat is now more clearly explained, viz., that it should be placed before God, and that the priest should lay his hands on its head, and confess the sins of the people, so that he may throw the curse on the goat itself. This, as I have said, was the only bloodless (anaimaton) sacrifice; yet it is expressly called an "offering," with reference, however, to the slaying of the former goat, and was, therefore, as to its efficacy for propitiation, by no means to be separated from it. It was by no means reasonable that an innocent animal should be substituted in the place of men, to be exposed to the curse of God, except that believers might learn that they were in no wise competent to bear His judgment, nor could be delivered from it otherwise than by the transfer of their guilt and crime. For, since men feel that they are altogether overwhelmed by the wrath of God, which impends over them all, they vainly endeavor to lighten or shake off in various ways this intolerable burden; for no absolution is to be hoped for save by the interposition of a satisfaction; and it is not lawful to obtrude this according to man's fancy, or, in their foolish arrogance, to seek in themselves for the price whereby their sins may be compensated for. Another means, therefore, of making atonement to God was revealed when Christ, "being made a curse for us," transferred to Himself the sins which alienated men from God. (2 Corinthians 5:19; Galatians 3:13.)"


  5. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says "For God was in Christ, and reconciled the world to himself, not imputing their sins unto them, and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation." Nothing here about imputing sins to himself.

    2 Corinthians 5:21 says "For he hath made him to be sin for us, which knew no sin, that we should be made the righteousness of God in him." This obviously refers to goat #1 which cleanses by his blood.

    Galatians 3:13 says "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, made a curse for us, (for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on tree.)" No reference here to a living scapegoat type sacrifice (as it were) but rather only to one that dies (eg. goat #1).

  6. Hudson, you may want to read "The Imputation of Christ's Righteousness" by William Romaine, an 18th century Church of England divine. He writes very clearly on this doctrine regarding the imputation of sin and righteousness as well as the scape-goat type in Leviticus 16 and the anti-type, our Savior Jesus Christ who bore our sins away.

    An excerpt:
    //And first, the ceremonial law taught this doctrine very clearly. Whenever a person had sinned, he was to bring his sacrifice to the priest, and to lay his hands upon its head, confessing his sins over it, and then the guilt was transferred to the sacrifice, and its blood was shed instead of his. This is mentioned several times in Leviticus 4. And of the scapegoat we read, Lev. 16:21, “Aaron, shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat.” All the sins of the children of Israel were passed over to the goat, but were they put into the goat, or were they inherent in him? No, this is too absurd to be supposed, but they were put upon the goat. And this was a very expressive image of our sins being laid upon Christ; for all the sacrifices represented him. As the scapegoat had imputed to him all the people’s iniquities, so had Christ all his people’s iniquities imputed to him; and as the goat did bear upon him all their iniquities, so Christ did bear all their sins in his own body upon the tree. What was prefigured by the type, was fulfilled by the reality, when Christ suffered once for sin, the just for the unjust: for then he was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.//


  7. Jack. Unless you can tell me that the texts which you referenced do not mean what they obviously mean, or from your point of view that they do mean what they obviously do not mean, then what's the point of the conversation? It just seems you're trying to change the topic.

  8. Hudson, rather than changing the topic, William Romaine specifically addresses both the very topic we have been discussing as well as the several aforementioned Scripture passages. If you don't see that to be the case then we are at an impasse.

    Blessings to you in Christ...