Two Goats, Two Rams, And A Bull
Aaron had just experienced the loss of his two sons, Nadab and Abihu. Anointed as part of the Levitical priesthood, they had brought an unacceptable sacrifice unto the Lord. God could not accept an offering of “strange fire before the LORD.” Judgment was immediate. The death of his two sons acted as a solemn warning that Aaron was not to deviate from the prescribed ceremonial law in the smallest detail. God used this opportunity to instruct Aaron on how to bring an atoning sacrifice for himself, his family, and the nation of Israel. To do this, he needed two goats, two rams, and a bull.
Aaron Dressed In Linen
On the Day of Atonement, he laid aside the ornate garments of the high priest. He laid aside the breastplate that contained twelve precious stones. Each one of them represented one of the twelve tribes of Israel. He laid aside the decorated bonnet that declared that he had been sanctified unto the Lord. Instead, he appeared before the Lord dressed in pure white linen symbolizing humility and holiness.
The Bull Was Sacrificed
The first to be sacrificed was the bull followed by a ram to atone for the sins of Aaron and his family. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Even the high priest needed atonement. The blood was first applied to the four corners of the altar. He would then enter into the holy of holies and apply the blood to the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant.
Jesus the High Priest
In contrast, Hebrews speaks of the only High Priest who did not need to bring a sacrifice for His sins. “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:26-27). Jesus, our High Priest, makes continuous intercession for you and me.
Casting of Lots
The two goats, identical and without spot or blemish, were brought to Aaron to atone for the nation of Israel. Aaron cast lots to determine which goat would be sacrificed along with the ram and which goat would be the Azazel goat. Albert Barnes Commentary on Leviticus explains it this way: “The priest, placing one of the goats on his right hand and the other on his left, took his station by the altar, and cast into an urn two pieces of gold exactly similar, inscribed, the one with the words “for the Lord,” and the other for “Azazel.” The Hebrew word is azazel, which means “goat of departure” or “goat of complete or entire removal.” Both were types of Jesus Christ. The first goat, sacrificed on the altar, represented the blood of Christ shed for our redemption. The “scapegoat” represents Jesus taking away our sins.
The first goat was sacrificed, and the blood applied as it had been for Aaron and his family. The scapegoat was then brought to Aaron who placed his hands on the head of the goat representing the sins of Israel being placed on the Azazel goat. The goat was then led away into the wilderness and set free. When news returned to the congregation that the Azazel escaped into the wilderness, there was great rejoicing. Their sins had been removed.
Rejoice Child of God
Saints, we ought to rejoice. Our High Priest became the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He is the sin sacrifice, the whole burnt offering, and also the Azazel, which has taken our sins away. No longer do we need two goats, two rams, and a bull. All we need is Jesus.