Thursday, April 1, 2010

Skeptical of the Scapegoat's Partner

"Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and sent it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat into the wilderness" (Leviticus 16:21,22).

The man who leads the scapegoat into the wilderness comes back. He doesn't stay with the goat. "The one who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp" (16:26). But some seem to want to chaperon the scapegoat. I am skeptical of these, having been one for so long.

This was a living death. Being cut off from the congregation of the people of God was a picture of being consigned to a living death in the wilderness, for the presence of God, the atonement for sin, the Word of God, and the people of His covenant were all in the camp. Leaving this for the wilderness was a picture of Hell we find much later: "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

Some who claim the title "Christian" shun the camp of the Lord, the congregation of the people of God. They shun the promised Presence of the "two or three gathered" in His name. They shun the teaching and discipline of the Word. They shun the Table remembering the atonement that means life and identity. They play the part of the scapegoat.

"Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He Who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:19-25).

What's grievous is that immediately after this comes this warning: "For if we go one sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries" (10:26,27). The writer mentions "sinning willfully." What is the only sin that has been mentioned in the preceding text? "Forsaking our own assembly together."

Let the scapegoat go and come back to camp, beloved.

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