Saturday 13 July 2013

Bible Book:

"Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and sending it away into the wilderness by means of someone designated for the task. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a barren region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness." (vv. 21-22)

Leviticus 16:20-34 Saturday 13 July 2013


Today's reading is a continuation of yesterday's about the ritual and actions forthe Day of Atonement, the holiest day in the Jewish Year.

Following on from the sacrifice of the first goat, we turn ourattention to the end one which has a very different fate. Thepriest places his hands on the goat's head and confesses over itall the wickedness and rebellion of the goat. Then the goat is sentaway into the desert never to return. With the disappearance of thegoat, the sins can be said to become 'out of sight' and so 'out ofmind'.

The reference to Azazel in verse 26, is to a demon of that name,or to the place that the goat was sent, or (thirdly) to designatethat the goat was a 'scapegoat'. But whatever way it isinterpreted, it is an assurance that Israel's wrongdoings are takento a place where they can do no harm.

The need for two goats is a cause for debate - surely one isenough. Do the people really have to be forgiven twice? Some saythat the second goat is as much about resassurance for forgivenessfor people.

In our worship after people have made their prayers ofconfession, there is the assurance of forgiveness, often with thesewords (or something similar):

Christ Jesus came into the world tosave sinners.
This is his gracious word: "Your sins are forgiven."
Amen. Thanks be to God.

The need to know forgiveness is important - not justspiritually, but psychologically. Being forgiven means that we canmove on. The four alls, the traditional summary of Methodistteaching, expresses this as "all may know themselves saved".

To Ponder

  • What does forgiveness mean to you?
  • What does forgiveness feel like?
  • There is the expression "forgiven and forgotten". To whatextent are these two necessary - can you forgive withoutforgetting? Or does remembering play a part in knowing the depth offorgiveness?
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