“And the Lord spake … saying, … In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial [not a shadow] of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein …” (Leviticus 23:23-25). Here is pictured to us that blessed event in God’s redemptive plan, when Christ shall come again, in the clouds, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17). It shall be “at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall [all] be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).
Unless Christ returns to resurrect the dead, we would never gain eternal life; if there is no resurrection, “[t]hen they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (1 Corinthians 15:18). Christ directly intervenes in world affairs at the seventh or the last trump (Revelation 11:15-19). A trumpet is a symbol of war. He comes in a time of worldwide war—when the nations are angry! As soon as the work of gathering in the firstfruits (pictured by Pentecost) is completed at the end of this present age, then Christ will begin to set up again the tabernacle of David (Acts 15:16)—to set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people (Isaiah 11:11)—to search out and to find His lost sheep that His ministers have failed to search out and save during this period (Ezekiel 34:1-14).
Notice exactly when this takes place! “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they [Israel] shall come which were ready to perish … and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13). When will Israel be regathered? At the sound of the trump—at the Second Coming of Christ. Because the churches have forgotten the festival of Trumpets, many think that the return of a part of the Jews to the Holy Land and the setting up of a nation called Israel now is the fulfillment of this prophecy! Christ’s direct intervention in world affairs will be the next event in the plan of redemption. And perhaps the glorious Second Coming shall occur, in whatever year it may be, on this very day of the Feast of Trumpets—who knows? While we cannot say for certain, yet cannot we see this possibility?
The crucifixion was upon the Passover day—the very day! The Holy Spirit came, beginning the selecting of the firstfruits of salvation, on the very day of Pentecost. Had not those 120 disciples been observing this annual Sabbath—had they not been assembled there in holy convocation—could they have received that blessing of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit? Repeatedly Jesus warned us to watch, regarding His Second Coming!
Could it be possible that, unless we are observing the Feast of Trumpets, as the first-century Church of God was observing Pentecost, that we shall not be ready, or caught up to meet Him? We do not—we cannot, of course, say; but we do ask the question. Is it not possible? Let us humbly and willingly yield to walk obediently in all the light. The festival of Trumpets is a day of rejoicing—and, as the weekly Sabbath, holy unto the Lord (Nehemiah 8:2, 9-12).
Next, let us read Leviticus 23:26-27, 31-32: “And the Lord spake … saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls [fast] …. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” Wonderful mystery! At-one-ment with God! Man at last made one with his Maker!
Again, in Leviticus 16, where the symbolism of the day of Atonement is explained, we find it instituted a holy Sabbath to be kept forever: “And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you …. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever” (verses 29, 31). Notice, too, in Leviticus 23:32, the expression “from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.”
Every Sabbath-keeper quotes this passage to show that the Sabbath begins at sunset. If we believe that, then why not keep the Sabbath that this very text is speaking of—the high Sabbath of the day of Atonement, instituted forever? Are we consistent, when we continually quote this text to show when to begin the Sabbath, and then refuse to keep the very Sabbath referred to?
Meaning Pictured by Day of Atonement
The day of Atonement pictures a wonderful and great event, to take place after the Second Coming of Christ, which the world is in total ignorance of because it has failed to see the true significance of these annual Sabbaths holy unto the Lord. It has failed to keep them as a constant reminder of God’s plan of redemption! The symbolism is all expressed in the account of the events of the day of Atonement, as carried out before the crucifixion, in the 16th chapter of Leviticus. Verse 5: “And he [Aaron, or the high priest] shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering ….” Verse 6: The high priest offered a sin offering for himself and his house. Verses 7-8: “And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; the one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat” (margin, Hebrew, Azazel).
Now because this has not been understood—because there are many different views and opinions and ideas and explanations of this, we here pause sufficiently to go into this in some detail. Let us, therefore, regardless of our own former convictions, study with open minds, without prejudice, proving all things. We want truth! The key to the whole explanation lies in a correct understanding of the meaning of Azazel.
This word does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament. The Comprehensive Commentary has: “Spencer, after the oldest opinions of the Hebrews and Christians, thinks Azazel is the name of the devil, and so Rosen …. The word scapegoat signifies the goat which went away.” The One Volume Commentary says: “The word ‘scapegoat’ in the A.V. is not a translation.” It is merely an interpretation of the supposed meaning by the translators. True, the English word scapegoat signifies “one who bears blame or guilt for others.” But scapegoat is an English word, and is not a translation of the Hebrew word Azazel. The word scapegoat, and the meaning attached to this English word, is not a translation of the Hebrew word Azazel, and therefore it is not the word inspired originally. Continues the One Volume Commentary: “Azazel is understood to be the name of one of those malignant demons.”
Types of Christ and Satan
These two goats were, of course, types. Notice, it was necessary to be decided by lot, which one was qualified to represent Christ, and which Azazel. Some say both were qualified. The scripture does not say this. Let us not assume it.
Now a “lot” is a solemn appeal to God to decide a doubtful matter. It is a sacred religious ceremony. It included a supernatural act of God. That is why lotteries and gambling are of the devil—an actual profaning of a holy service appealing to God. Notice, men were unable to decide which goat was qualified to represent Christ. This involved an appeal to God to decide! “One lot for the Lord, and the other lot for Azazel.” Now one lot was for the Lord—this goat typified Christ—but the other lot was not for the Lord, did not typify Christ, but Azazel—Satan!
These words most naturally suggest that Azazel is the name of a person, here contrasted to the Eternal! Notice the contrast—one for the Lord, the other for Azazel. Now the goat which God selected—through lot, to represent Christ—was slain, as Christ, its antitype, was slain. But the other goat selected by God to represent Azazel was not slain, but was driven, alive, into an uninhabited wilderness. It was not a resurrected goat, symbolizing the resurrected Christ, for it never died.
The uninhabited wilderness, to which this goat was driven, cannot, as we shall show, represent heaven, where Christ went. Heaven is neither uninhabited, nor a wilderness. After God designated which goat represented Christ and which Azazel, the high priest (verse 11) killed the bullock for a sin offering for himself, then took the burning coals of fire and the sweet incense into the holy of holies, also sprinkling the blood of the bullock before the mercy seat, typical of the throne of God, covering the tables of testimony (the law). This the high priest was required to do in order to purify himself to officiate, and to represent Christ as High Priest.
In the antitype, this was not done, for Christ, our High Priest, had no need of this purification as the typical, substitutionary priests did. Now the Levitical high priest was ready to go out and officiate. Next, the goat which God selected by lot to represent Christ, as the sin offering of the people, was killed. Thus the sins of the people were borne by the goat, even as Christ, finally, once for all, bore our sins on the cross. But Christ rose again from the dead, and ascended to the throne of God in heaven.
Now, who, or what, from this point on in the Levitical ceremony, typified the resurrected Christ, who went to heaven? Some say the goat representing Azazel. Let us see. The risen Christ, now at the right hand of the throne of God in heaven (1 Peter 3:22), is called—what? Our High Priest! What was the earthly type of God’s throne? The uninhabited wilderness? No! That is where the live goat went!
The earthly type of God’s throne was the mercy seat in the holy of holies. After Christ died, He went to the heavenly mercy seat interceding for us, as our High Priest. “[E[ntereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:19-20).
Now, again, who, or what, in the Levitical ceremony of the Day of Atonement, typified the risen Christ, our High Priest, who went within the veil to God’s throne in heaven? The one goat had been slain. It represented the slain Christ. It can no longer represent the risen Christ. The slain Christ was not our high priest because the Levitical priesthood, with its high priest, did not end until Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven as a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec. But the risen Christ was High Priest. Now who took this part in the Levitical ceremonies, temporarily reenacted year by year, on this eternal holy day? Why, so obviously a child could see, it was the Levitical high priest, not the goat representing Azazel!
The High Priest—Type of Christ
As soon as the slain goat was dead, who went within the veil, presenting the blood of this goat before the typical throne of God? Leviticus 16:15-16: “Then shall he [the high priest] kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and [now the high priest himself typifying the work of the risen Christ] bring his blood within the veil … and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat … and he shall make an atonement for the holy place ….” And so it was the high priest taking blood within the veil, to the mercy seat, that typified the risen Christ figuratively taking His blood, once for all, within the veil to the very throne of God in heaven, there to intercede for us as High Priest.
Surely this is so plain a child can see. The slain goat represented the crucified Jesus. The high priest, by taking the blood of this slain goat into the veil to the mercy seat in the holy of holies, a type of God’s throne, represented and did the work of the risen Christ, who ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high, there interceding as our High Priest.
Can we honestly continue to teach that the goat representing Azazel represented the work of the risen Christ? Did this live goat take the blood of Christ within the veil, to the mercy seat? The high priest going within the veil, into the holy of holies, symbolized Christ’s return to heaven. The work he did while in the holy of holies symbolized Christ’s work these 1,900 years interceding for us, presenting His shed blood before the mercy seat in heaven.
Now, coming back out, symbolizing Christ’s return to Earth, what did the high priest do? “And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him [Fenton: shall carry upon itself] all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. And Aaron shall … wash his flesh with water …. And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat [Azazel] shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp” (Leviticus 16:20-24, 26).
The Azazel Goat Not Our Sin-Bearer
Let us get this straight! Is there justice with God? Is not God a God of justice, as well as of compassion and mercy? Who is the real author of our sins? The devil is the author of them, even as Christ is the author of our salvation. Jesus took our guilt—our blame—our sins—upon Himself as an innocent substitutionary sacrifice. He was an innocent victim. He loved us, and was willing to die for us. Our guilt—our sins—were borne by Him, and Him alone; and God forgives them when we repent and accept His sacrifice. And yet, is this, if we stop there, full justice? The real cause—the actual author of those sins—was Satan the devil. Is it justice for Christ to bear guilt that is not His, while the devil goes off scot-free?
Do you not suppose God’s great plan will finally work full justice by placing that original blame and guilt right where it belongs? Now mark carefully this distinction. Christ bore our guilt. For we have been guilty, even though the devil was the original cause of it all. But justice certainly demands that God place right back on the head of the devil his guilt—not our guilt, but his own guilt—for leading us into sin. We were guilty, too—and our guilt Christ bore—yet all our sins belong right back on the devil as his own guilt! Now notice another point.
The Azazel goat carries away the sins of all the people already forgiven. These sins already were fully paid for by Christ’s substitute sacrifice, symbolized by the killing of the innocent goat before those same sins were finally laid on the live goat. They had been previously paid for by the death of the slain goat. The devil is the real author of all sin. Can we, then, be finally made at one with God, as long as this instigator of sin is with us? Can we not see he must first be driven away? And there would not be justice with God unless his own guilt in our sins were placed right back on his head? Is it justice for Christ to bear the devil’s guilt, as well as our own guilt, for our sins?
Christ has carried our sins, but must He continue to carry them? Should they not be removed entirely from us, and from the presence even of God? Thus the killing and sprinkling of blood of the first goat visibly set forth the means of reconciliation with God, through the substituted sacrifice of an innocent victim. So finally the sending away of the second goat, laden with those sins, the expiation of which had been signified by the first goat, no less vividly sets forth the effect of that sacrifice, in complete removal of those expiated sins from the presence of God!
Satan the Accuser
Satan is the accuser of the brethren. His power over men is founded on sin. When all these sins, of which he is the author, are laid back on him, after being removed from us by Christ, then Satan shall have lost his claim on us. And no longer can he accuse us! Thus, finally, as the acceptance of the blood of the first goat (Christ) symbolized complete propitiation and pardon of Israel’s sins, so the sending of Azazel bearing away those expiated sins symbolizes the complete removal of all sins—deliverance by the atonement from the power of the adversary.
The sacrifice of the first innocent victim was the means of reconciliation with God, but not yet complete justice. The driving away of the second live goat shows the final atonement, by placing the sins on their author where they belong, and the complete removal of the sins and their author from the presence of God and His people—and thus the complete deliverance of the people from the power of Satan.
Webster says to atone means to set at one; to join in one—to form by uniting. We shall not be completely joined in one, and united with God, until this is done. Before leaving this, notice, too, that after laying both his hands on the live goat, Azazel, Aaron had to wash and cleanse himself before coming in contact with the people. So, too, the “fit man” also had to wash his clothes and bathe himself after coming in contact with the Azazel goat, before he came into the presence of the people. The symbolism is certainly that of having come in contact with the devil!
Notice, now, this act of putting these already expiated and forgiven sins on the head of this live goat does not take place until after the high priest returns from the holy of holies within the veil—so this typified an act to take place after the Second Coming of Christ to this Earth! But if the live goat represented the resurrected Christ, then the sins Christ bore on the cross were placed by another, typified by the high priest, back on Christ, after His resurrection. Would this make sense? Is the theory of the Azazel goat being Christ consistent? No, but the plain simple meaning does fit at every turn, and is consistent.
The first goat represented the innocent Jesus who died for our sins—the high priest represented the risen Christ going within the veil to the mercy seat, or throne of God in heaven, for over 1,900 years—and the high priest returning to place the sins finally upon the head of the live goat represented the return of Christ who will place the sins He bore on their author, the devil, and who will send him away alive into a desolate, uninhabited wilderness—the “bottomless pit” or abyss of Revelation 20:3.
In the 19th chapter of Revelation, we have the prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ. At the beginning of the 20th chapter, what is to happen? Exactly what the 16th chapter of Leviticus shows. The devil is sent away—the symbol here used is the “bottomless pit” symbol of an uninhabited, desolate wilderness (Revelation 18:2)—and he is sent there by a fit man—an angel from heaven. Now the devil is not killed. He does not die. He is still alive a thousand years later—after the Millennium (Revelation 20:7).
Now a few points that will come to mind. Both goats were “presented before the Lord.” Can Satan be presented before the Lord? Job 1:6 and 2:1 says he has presented himself before the Lord. Note, too, Azazel was driven away from the holy of holies, a symbol of God’s presence. And so the annual day of Atonement was instituted forever to keep continually before God’s children and His Church the plan of redemption, to occur after the Second Coming of Christ. And we find this annual holy day recognized in the New Testament.
In Acts 27:9, it is recorded that Paul was on his perilous sea voyage to Rome, “when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past ….” See the margin in your Bible. The fast refers to the day of Atonement—the 10th day of the seventh month. Now this day could not then have been past on that particular year unless that day was still in full effect and force and existence. Otherwise the Holy Spirit surely could never have inspired those words! Surely this strongly indicates that this day was still in existence and being recognized thus by the Holy Spirit.