The Jewish Scapegoat
In this past week, Jewish people the world over observed ‘Yom Kippur’, the Day of Atonement.
I would like to look at the ‘Parshiot’ (‘Torah’ portions) and the ‘Haftorot’ (readings of the prophets) for ‘Yom Kippur’ (Day of Atonement).
The ‘parsha’ reading from the first ‘Torah’ Scroll is from Leviticus 16:1-34. This portion discusses the instructions to Moses and Aaron concerning the procedure for the priestly service on ‘Yom Kippur’, which would enable them to achieve atonement for Israel; the portion then goes on to detail the laws of ‘Yom Kippur’.
Numbers 29:7-11 is read from a second ‘Torah’ Scroll which describes the sacrificial service for ‘Yom Kippur’.
Following the ‘parsha’, the ‘haftorah’ is read from Isaiah 57:14 - 58:14 in which Isaiah urges the Jewish People to return to G-d through good deeds, kindness and sincere repentance.
During the afternoon service, one ‘Torah’ scroll is removed from the Ark. This ‘parsha’ is from Leviticus 18:1-30 and deals with forbidden sexual relationships.
The ‘haftorah’ is then read from the book of Jonah.
Though everyone knows that a large fish swallowed Jonah, the message of Jonah is actually a timeless lesson in the power of repentance and G-d’s desire to help man rather than punish him.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the ‘parshiot’ and ‘haftorot’ for ‘Yom Kippur’.
Following the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, who died when they offered “profane fire” before the L-rd, G-d told Moses to instruct Aaron that he should not just come at any time into the Holy Place before the mercy seat on the ark, in case he died. G-d said that He would appear in the cloud above the mercy seat and then Aaron should come into the Holy Place; with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering.
Aaron had to put on the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers; he had to be girded with a linen sash and wear the linen turban which were holy garments. Because the garments were holy, Aaron had to wash his body in water before putting them on.
The ‘Torah’ then goes on to detail the service performed by the ‘Kohen Gadol’ (High Priest) on ‘Yom Kippur’ to secure atonement for his people. Among the offerings of the day were two male goats.
Aaron was to cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the L-rd and the other lot for the scapegoat. Aaron then had to take the goat on which the L-rd’s lot fell and offer it as a sin offering; the other goat was to be the scapegoat which had to be presented alive before the L-rd to take the sins of the people upon it. It then had to be let go into the wilderness – We read this in Leviticus 16:5, 7-10.
Aaron was to make atonement for the holy place, for the defilements of the Children of Israel and for all their sins. G-d went on to say in Leviticus 16:34: “This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.”
Let’s now take a look at the ‘haftorot’ for ‘Yom Kippur’:
The ‘haftorah’ for ‘Yom Kippur’ morning, found in Isaiah 57:14 - 58:14, begins with G-d telling Israel: “I will dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
This ‘haftorah’ also discusses the concepts of repentance and fasting, which is the overriding theme of ‘Yom Kippur’.
G-d assured that He would not be angry forever at those who repent and that He would heal them and lead them. The wicked, on the other hand, are compared to a turbulent sea and the prophet says that “there is no peace for the wicked.”
G-d exhorted the prophet Isaiah to admonish the people regarding their fasting ways which G-d found reprehensible - a message which resonates to this very day (Isaiah 58:5-11).
The haftorah concludes with the promise of great rewards for those who delight themselves in the L-rd: Isaiah 58:14: “Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
The ‘haftorah’ for ‘Yom Kippur’ afternoon, found in the book of Jonah as well as in Micah 7:18-20, begins with G-d ordering the prophet Jonah to travel to Nineveh to warn its wicked inhabitants.
The entire book of Jonah is read at the afternoon service of ‘Yom Kippur’.
The haftorah concludes with a brief portion from the Book of Micah, which describes G-d’s kindness in forgiving the sins of His people: Micah 7:18-20: “He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers From days of old.”
A number of lessons can be learnt from the ‘parshiot’ and ‘haftorot’ of ‘Yom Kippur’.
Firstly, G-d is a compassionate, loving G-d who makes every opportunity available for repentance and the forgiveness of sin.
We see this in the account of the priestly atonement service on ‘Yom Kippur’ as well as the account of the scapegoat. We also see G-d’s love and compassion in the account of Jonah and G-d’s mercy on Nineveh – even though they were exceedingly wicked; yet, as soon as they repented, G-d relented from destroying them.
Finally, we see this in Micah 7:18-19.
Secondly, G-d is not impressed by our repentance and fasting if there is no care, compassion and love for our fellow man; we see this in Isaiah 58:5-11.
Thirdly, G-d dwells with those who are repentant and humble: Isaiah 57:15: “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” ”
Pride and arrogance keeps us away from G-d; humility and repentance bring us closer to Him.
Finally, G-d rewards those who delight themselves in Him: Isaiah 58:14: “Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.”
So, how does our compassionate, loving and merciful G-d see you?
Do you care for your fellow man?
Are you humble and repentant, recognising that we are all sinners, saved by grace, or are you proud and arrogant, believing that you don’t need G-d?
Do you delight yourself in the L-rd so that He can exalt you?
‘Yom Kippur’ is all about repentance; it’s all about being written in the “Book of Life”.
How sure are you that your name will be written in the “Book of Life”? Are you absolutely sure that your name will not be written in the “Book of Death”?
The “Book of Life” guarantees you eternal life in Heaven with G-d; the “Book of Death” guarantees you eternal life in Hades apart from G-d.
Only you can decide in which of the two Books you want your name written.
To my Jewish brethren, fasting and going to ‘shul’ on ‘Yom Kippur’ will not help your eternal future; neither will “prayer, fasting and charity avert the severe decree”.
There is nothing wrong with fasting, going to ‘shul’, praying and giving charity; in fact, these are all scriptural and good. However, they will not get you written in the “Book of Life”.
The only way to have your name written in the “Book of Life” is through our Jewish Messiah, Yeshua.
In fact Revelations 21:27 says: “But there shall by no means enter it (Heaven) anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.” And the Lamb referred to here, is Yeshua, the Jewish Scapegoat – and this scripture is for both Jews and Gentiles.
Leviticus 16 is a chapter in the ‘Torah’ that deals entirely with ‘Yom Kippur’ and atonement and speaks of the scapegoat. However, Yeshua has become our Scapegoat and our ‘Kippur’ (atonement).
Leviticus 17:11 tells us that the only way to the forgiveness of sin and eternal life in heaven is through the sacrificial system and the shedding of blood - “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
However there is no temple, and there is no sacrificial system. Because there is no sacrificial system, there is no shedding of blood; how, then, do Jewish people make atonement for their soul?
In Isaiah 59:20 the prophet writes: “And as a Saviour He will come to Zion, turning away sin from Jacob, says the Lord.”
Yeshua is the Saviour who takes away sin from all who believe in Him and who invite Him into their life; Yeshua is the Saviour who will grant all who accept Him as L-rd and Saviour eternal life in Heaven’
Scripture records that Yeshua was the perfect sacrifice. He died on the cross, shedding every last drop of His blood, thus taking our sins upon Himself, guaranteeing all who believe in His death and resurrection and who invite Him to become L-rd of their lives, eternal life in heaven.
So my Jewish brethren, are you ready for the Coming Judgment? Are you really sure of your eternal future? If you died today, where you will go? In fact, on what basis should HaShem let you into heaven?
To ensure that you will have eternity in heaven, all you need do is accept Yeshua by believing in His death and resurrection, confessing your sins and repenting of them and inviting Him to be L-rd of your life.
And you can do this by simply praying the prayer of salvation found at the end of this article.
As I conclude, I speak to the church: Will you earnestly pray for the Jewish people? Pray for their salvation; pray that the Lord will thrust out workers into the Jewish harvest field and pray that the church will rise up and take up its mandate to “provoke the Jewish people to jealousy so that they (the Jewish people) may be saved”.
Thank you Yeshua for Your love for me.
Thank you for giving up Your life on the cross for me and for taking my sins upon Yourself.
I confess that I have sinned.
I repent of my sins and I turn from everything I know to be wrong.
I invite You to come into my life as my Messiah, my Saviour.
By Your grace I will serve You all the remaining years of my life.