This content is from OPEN, a new online resource that serves as a guided journey through the Bible.
If you ever find yourself in a court of law, you will probably want to hire an attorney. Law courts are intimidating places, and they operate under some complex rules, so you need the help of an attorney to represent you and speak on your behalf.
In the Old Testament, the priests did something similar, representing the people to God and speaking on their behalf.
Once every year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would go behind the curtain in the tabernacle, into the Most Holy Place. God himself would come down, and it was here that atonement was made for the sins of the people.
The Day of Atonement pointed forward to the time when Christ would ultimately make atonement for his people on the cross.
On the Day of Atonement, the high priest confessed the sins of the people with his hands laid on the head of a goat.
A transfer took place in which God moved the guilt of these sins onto the goat. “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the [sins] of the people of Israel…he shall put them on the head of the goat” (16:21).
Then the high priest sent the goat away “into the wilderness” (16:21).
Picture the scene as the goat is led away, between the tents and then outside the camp. You watch until the man and the goat are only a dot on the horizon, and then you cannot see them at all.
This is a powerful visual presentation of the gospel. It’s like a preview showing us what God would do when Jesus carried our sins away on the cross.
Today, God wants you to know that through the finished work of Christ your sin is forgiven and your guilt is removed, if you but only trust in Him.
The Day of Atonement illustrates how Jesus dealt with our sins. The goats that were sacrificed were a foreshadowing of Christ. For when His blood was shed, mercy was released for sinners.
The atonement is applied to your sins, in particular, when by faith you lay hold of Christ, believing in Him and confessing yours sins to Him.
God will transfer the guilt of your sin to Christ as you lay hold of Him by faith.
And when God transfers your guilt, He removes it from you, so that you can look up to God with the joy and freedom of someone who is truly forgiven.
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