The Symbolism of the Day of Atonement

Leviticus 16:21-22  

“Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.”

Listen to the "Verse by Verse" episode covering this scripture.

The Day of Atonement is a special holy day with great meaning. The rituals described in Leviticus 16 help us understand its meaning in God’s plan. Here are excerpts from our article “The Day of Atonement: Removing the Enemy, Reconciling All to God.”

“The rituals God gave ancient Israel for the Day of Atonement included one involving two goats. The high priest was to present them before God, and God would show which one was ‘for the Lord’ to be sacrificed (representing Jesus Christ) and which was for Azazel (the Hebrew word translated as ‘scapegoat’ in the New King James Version). The goat for Azazel was left alive.

“‘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 shall send him away by the hand of an appointed man into the wilderness. And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land which is cut off; and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness…

“‘And he that letteth go the goat for Azazel shall wash his clothes and bathe his flesh in water’ (Leviticus 16:21-22, 26, Jewish Publication Society).

“The connection between the goat for Azazel and the binding of Satan in Revelation 20 becomes more clear when you note that most scholars believe Azazel is the name of a demon inhabiting the wilderness (Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 1, p. 326).”

For more about the symbolism of the Day of Atonement, see “Leviticus 16 and the Day of Atonement.”

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