I was reading an article from Reader’s Digest about twelve phrases commonly used today that most people don’t know are based on scripture. One of the phrases that were mentioned in this article was the term “scapegoat.” Most of us have heard this term usually in the context of one person taking the place of another, but don’t know that the term is actually based off of biblical practices in the Old Testament. We read from the book of Leviticus what the custom and purpose of these practices were.
He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat. | Leviticus 16:7-10
This sacrifice has so many parallels to Christ’s work of salvation on the cross of Calvary. In the Old Testament times, a sin offering was made by taking two goats and killing one to shed the blood as recognition of the removal of sin and sending the other one away into the wilderness to represent those sins being remembered no more. Every time a sin was committed back then, this procedure had to be repeated. Christ’s sacrifice had the same effect on our lives once and for all. Christ’s death both cleansed us of our sins and took them away forever, never to be remembered anymore.
Another thing we may not realize is that this was something that was set in motion from the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Progressively through scripture we see the development of God’s perfect plan to redeem all of mankind being executed through the decisions that were even made by those who hated Christ. We read this clearly in the gospel of John when Jesus is brought before the Jewish high priest before his crucifixion:
So the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, and led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. | John 18:12-14
Caiaphas’ intentions had nothing to do with the security of the Jewish people. Rather, he wanted Christ to die so that the Israelites would no longer follow Him, which in turn, would free him from having to worry about civil rebellion against the Roman Empire. By condemning Christ he inadvertently paved the way for all people to have the opportunity to receive Christ.
The one thing we can draw from all of this is that God has made a perfect plan from the beginning of time and nothing will stand in His way of fulfilling that. Even the decisions that we make on a day-to-day basis are all part of His plan. Our choices can either help or hinder the accomplishing His plan, but they will never stop it.
In making decisions, we must ask ourselves: Are we hurting or helping God’s plan? In every case, the plans God has set out for us are for our own good, although sometimes we cannot always see that. We get caught up in our own thoughts and worries that we overlook the good He is trying to do for us. So let’s make the conscious decision to follow the will of God in our lives. The first and best decision we can make is to accept Christ into our lives – this is always in God’s plan for all mankind, but ultimately, it’s up to us to accept it!