The scapegoat

Many people play the blame-game. When things go wrong, we blame other people. The water shortage is the fault of the water companies. The increase in the cost of living is the fault of the government and President Putin. It’s the school’s fault I didn’t get the grades I needed to go to university. It’s the manager’s fault that my favourite football team isn’t doing well.

It has been the same from the beginning of time. Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command by eating the forbidden fruit. When he confronted them, they blamed each other and Adam even tried to blame God. He said, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then God asked Eve, “What have you done?” She replied, “The serpent deceived me that’s why I ate it.” Ever since people have tried to shift the blame for their own failings and sins on to someone else.

The person we blame is our scapegoat. This concept comes from the Bible and speaks of a wonderful provision God made for the sins of his people to be forgiven. God commanded Aaron, the high priest, to take a goat and to lay both his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of God’s people. In this way, he transferred the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a specially chosen man was told to drive the goat into the wilderness. As the goat went into the wilderness it carried all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land. This vivid ceremony helped the people to believe that God really had forgiven them and remembered their sins no more. It also pointed forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus.

A moving hymn written by William Williams tells how Jesus took our sins upon himself so that we might be forgiven: “The enormous load of human guilt was on my Saviour laid; with woes as with a garment he for sinners was arrayed. And in the fearful pangs of death he wept, he prayed for me; loved and embraced my guilty soul when nailed to the tree. O love amazing! love beyond the reach of human tongue; love which shall be the subject of an everlasting song. Eternity, though infinite, is short enough to trace the virtues of his healing wounds, the wonders of his grace. You men, rejoice in Jesu’s blood, you angels, join your lays; in one harmonious endless choir sing his eternal praise.”

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