I’m continuing my reading through Leviticus. I’d like to take a moment to encourage you, as I have been encouraged by a brother of mine, to remember that all of the rules and regulations we see in Leviticus, indeed, the entirety of the law, was fulfilled by Jesus. To those given the law with all of these rules and regulations, it was a daunting task to try and fulfill it. While they never succeeded in fulfilling all of the requirements of the law, it’s something we don’t need to concern ourselves with because Jesus also took up that burden for us. When we read those books in the Bible that primarily deal with the law; Leviticus and Deuteronomy, with the understanding that Jesus fulfilled these for us, we can do so with patience, and joy, knowing we will never have to do these things ourselves! 

I’ll be sharing my thoughts on a couple of verses from Leviticus today and hope you are blessed in the process.

Separated from God

“‘You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.’”

Leviticus 15:31 (NIV)

Being clean or unclean was a big deal. It was also a constant process of evaluation. If someone had done something that made them unclean then there was a bunch of stuff that they needed to do to become clean again. Whenever anyone was unclean they could contaminate other people just by touching them. The only way I can come close to understanding how it felt to be deemed unclean is to think about how I feel after a hot day of working out in the sun. After a hard day of sweating all day long, I can’t wait to take a shower. I have had times when, for one reason or another, I couldn’t bathe after such a day. I remember not having any water to even wipe the dirt off myself. I certainly didn’t feel clean. 

Being unclean wasn’t as much about a physical state as a spiritual state. Those who were unclean couldn’t enter into God’s presence. In addition, contact with other people wasn’t exactly encouraged. Some, like lepers, had to live away from everyone else and had to warn people that they were unclean. 

The people who had to deal with being unclean the most were, without a doubt, the women. 

“‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.”

Leviticus 15:19 (NIV)

Every month women had to deal with this issue. Going through a period can be hard enough without adding drama to it. If that wasn’t bad enough, there was also this law.

 “‘When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period.”

Leviticus 15:25 (NIV)

Anyone who touched the woman or was touched by the woman would become unclean. 

In the Gospels, there is the woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years, when she was in a crowd of people she saw Jesus and believed, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed” (Matthew 9:21 NIV) Therefore, walking through the crowd, she touched his cloak, and she was healed. Here was a woman who was not obeying the law regarding cleanliness. The covert manner in which she approached Jesus was because she knew that, here before her, was a holy man of God who could heal her, but she was unclean. Her clothes were not torn nor was she telling others that she was unclean by crying out, “Unclean!” but she was, and she knew it. 

This woman had been living for 12 years without following the law of Moses. She had spent all she had on doctors and suffered in doing so. Everyone she contacted would have been made unclean according to the law of Moses. She was a sinner who previously put faith in humans and not God. When Jesus identified who it was who touched him, she “told him the whole truth” (Mark 5:33), and Jesus confirmed to her that her faith had healed her and told her to go in peace and be free from her suffering. Unlike the Pharisees who would condemn her, Jesus did not. 

The guilt and shame of hiding her sin for 12 years must have weighed upon her. As much, if not more, than the bleeding for those years. The bleeding was bad enough, but the fact that she was spiritually unclean and separated from God was worse. Imagine seeing a holy man and knowing that she would be healed, but also would make him unclean if she touched him. What a burden and what courage and faith. She knew that she would be healed if she just touched Jesus’ cloak. 

Although Jesus doesn’t tell the woman her sins are forgiven, he says something more profound to her. 

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Mark 5:34 (NIV)

After Jesus had asked who touched him, we are told the woman “told him the whole truth” (Mark 5:33 NIV). The woman suffered for many reasons. Being unclean for such a long time, in addition to separation from God, had to have been one of them. 

The Scapegoat

I heard the term “scapegoat” long before I had ever been saved. What’s interesting about this term is that it’s only used three times in the Bible. All of those are in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus. What’s more interesting is that the Israelites didn’t call the goat the scapegoat and the translation that uses the term scapegoat is sort of wrong. 

He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat.

Leviticus 16:8 (NIV)

Two of the most popular English Bible translations use the term “scapegoat” so you probably have it in your Bible. Others, like the English Standard Version or the New Living Translation, use the word “azazel.” 

And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel.

Leviticus 16:8 (ESV)

Azazel is a name, so the Hebrew word that’s being translated is also “azazel.” Azazel is the demonic prince of sin who is opposed to God. Thus the goats were either for Jehovah or For Azazel. 

The most fascinating aspect about the goats is not the association between scapegoats and Azazel. These goats represent something that Jesus did for us. Let’s take a look at how Leviticus describes the goats.

9 Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering. 10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.

Leviticus 16:9-10 (NIV)

Both goats represent our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ taking our sin upon himself. The goat in verse nine is sacrificed for our sin. 

“He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness.

Leviticus 16:15-16 (NIV)

Through the blood of Jesus, we are forgiven of our sin. Let’s take a look at what happens to the live goat.

“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 on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.

Leviticus 16:20-22 (NIV)

The live goat takes on all of the sins of the people, and then those sins are released somewhere out in the wilderness, forgotten. Through Jesus, we have this propitiation for our sins that these two goats couldn’t accomplish (cf. Romans 3:24-25). 

In the New Testament people believed in Christ, not by the words in the New Testament, for it hadn’t yet been written, but through the Gospel message that revealed who Christ was in the Old Testament. We see evidence of this in verses like this one.

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Luke 24:27 (NIV)

Therefore, when I read these passages in Leviticus about the goats, I can see the Lord pointing to them as saying, “This here, this is what I did for you!”

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.