As we look at Leviticus 16:1-17:9 it would be easy to get excited about the Scape Goat. And we should get excited. This ritual that take two goats and kills one and chases the other out of camp is an interesting picture of how Jesus deals with sin. But let us not miss something significant about this section of Scripture as we watched the goat take the sin far out of the presence of the people. When we look at Leviticus 16:1-17:9 we should come to realize that God was prescribing how his people worshiped, where they worshiped, and when they worshiped.
There are reasons to believe that God still treats sin the same way he did for the people during the exile. No longer is there an annual sacrifice of a goat because there is a unending substitute in Jesus Christ. And as Psalm 103:11-12, God "removes our transgressions as far is the east is from the west" like the goat symbolized by it's done even better through Jesus today.
There are also reasons to believe that God still prescribes how we worship, where we worship, and when. But for the follower of Jesus, that worship is no longer limited to a temple made of man's hands, because Jesus dwells with his people (a different kind of temple). And because Jesus is our only High Priest, there is no mediator between us and him. We have access to Jesus anytime we desire to worship, which should be all the time, in all we do. We are even instructed how we are to worship (see Romans 12:1-2, John 4:23, and Luke 4:8 for some examples).
We should see this prescription of God as gift. Could you imagine if God did not let us know how to worship him? We would come up with all kinds of silly ideas and in the end, our ideas wouldn't be worshiping God, they would be worshiping our preferences.
We should also realize that we can worship God because of Jesus. Jesus is the perfect atonement for sin. Jesus is the perfect "Scape Goat." Because Jesus made a way to deal with our sin, we can come before God in worship. Because we are clean and holy in and through Jesus, we can worship and praise the Lord out of gratitude. What a blessing for those who follow Jesus!
Here's video with more thoughts on this:
We'll see you Sunday!
Pastor Bryan Catherman