The scapegoat -02

Reading more about the scapegoat today in Samuel Balentine's book on Leviticus. This ritual is about cleansing the temple and the people of the sins that separate them from God. Balentine says this is the "sin that diminishes their witness and compromise God's presence." (p.199) He says the "cleansing of the sanctuary reflects the priestly understanding of sin's capacity to defile not only persons but also institutions." (p.203) Sin left unchecked is a malignancy that will spread unchecked not only in the lives of the people, but though churches and communities of believers who stand as a witness to the truth.

The scapegoat represents the sins of the people being taken out into the wilderness or a barren region, away from the sanctuary and the people. There it has no power or influence to disrupt God's kingdom. Throughout the Bible, the wilderness represents a place of chaos and unstructured nature. It is not a dwelling place which God has created so that he may fellowship with man and prosper. I've discussed this at length before, but these dwelling places are Eden, the Ark, the tabernacle, the temple, the inner man, and so on. 

The enemy wants to de-construct and de-create the places where God has brough order and life. Just like in Genesis where the Spirit of God hovers over the darkness or when God separated the light from the darkness and the land from the chaos of the sea. Also, when God brings his people out of the bondage and oppression of Egypt and through the wilderness into a new land. I love this point that Balentine makes saying, "The ritual banishments of the goat to the wilderness reestablishes the creational boundary between order and chaos that make a holy life in the presence of a holy God possible." (p.209) There is much more going on here than just God paying the price for our sins. Everything matters in these beautiful stories. We just need to stop and take time to dig in a little more to see and hear what is saying.

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