The Day of Atonement
By John H. McCoury
Roan Mountain, Tennessee
“When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites — all their sins — and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry all their sins on itself, to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.” Leviticus 16:20-22
All the iniquities, all the transgressions, all the sins were placed upon the head of this goat. The goat is a picture of Jesus: He is represented as satisfying the heart of God for us and rendering God free to love us without any restraint at all by his justice. God’s justice has been satisfied. He is free to forgive us at any time and to love us. Christ also bears the whole weight and load of our guilt, all that which the Devil tries to use as a basis upon which to ground his accusations against us. All this is to be sent back to him from whence it comes. When our Lord died He went into the wilderness of death like this goat and returned to Satan all the accusations which he has against any believer at any time.
This passage is teaching us what we are to do with these accusations. In Ephesians 6:16, Paul calls them the fiery darts of the wicked one, i.e., all those little suggestions to us that we really aren’t accepted and loved by God. They tell us that He still has a reservation about us and that we still aren’t able openly and boldly to come before His presence. These are all the haunting memories of our past shame, our feelings of unworthiness, our filthy thoughts, and the flashes of fear that come upon us. What are we to do with them? We are simply to put them right on the head of Jesus and say, Lord, take them back to Satan. They don’t belong to me. They belong to Him. That is where they came from and I am sending them back.
Do you want to worship God? Well, how do you do it? Simply by believing that He has accepted you the way you are and has already dealt with everything that is wrong — everything — and is now ready to use you without any hesitation whatsoever. Say to the Lord, Here I am. I am counting on it. Thank you for it. What are you going to do through me today? What are you going to do this next moment in the relationship I am entering into with this person? How are you going to handle it? And your mind and heart can be at peace.
Father, thank you for this promise, and for the beauty of this ceremony which in Israel of old could only occur once a year, but which for me is to be momentary, daily, over and over again. I come boldly into your presence with joy, with a heart washed from an evil conscience, and with gladness and thanksgiving, not on my merit but on the merit of Another. How I give thanks for this and pray that it may be my experience, not only this moment but every day of my life!