A Biblical Scapegoat and Red Heffer!
A Holy Priesthood
Numbers 15:13 says, " Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way, when he brings an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the Lord.
For the generations to come, whenever a stranger or anyone else living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, he must do exactly as you do. The community is to have the same rules for you and for the stranger living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the stranger shall be the same before the Lord: The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the stranger living among you. "
In the above verse from the Tanach (Old Testament) it covers a lot of controversial issues today. Particularly among followers of Yeshua (Christ) and the need to follow G-d's Torah laws. This has been discussed at length in the hub about the Ten Commandments. But to summarise: The Ten Commandments are part of Torah Law - it is the whole of G-d's laws summarised into the Ten Commandments. Or in other words, these Ten Commandments are described in more detail throughout the Torah Law.
The above verse also says that the same rules G-d gave to his community applies to those who live among them. A perfect example of this is in the Land of Israel where there are a mix of peoples such as muslim's and Christians as well as a Jewish community. Ideally when it is Shabbat in Israel the whole of the Holy Land should respect and respond to this festival whether Jew or Gentile. However, it does not happen. On the sabbath in Israel arabs sell goods in the Holy City and christians have their shops open also in the Holy city.
Christians argue adamantly that they follow Christ who has removed the need for them to follow the Torah and present (misread and misinterpreted scripture) to back their claim.
In a sense and to a point they are right but in a sense and to a point so are the Jewish people when they say Christians are being misled. It is a matter of degree yet an important issue worthy of discussion and explanation and these following verses we will cover, give an explanation to solve these issues.
We start with the above verse first few lines. Hashem (G-d) spoke through Moses and said that His chosen people (the Israelites) must offer sacrifices and these must be presented in a particular way. He also says this is an everlasting command! Thirdly G-d makes reference to non-Jews in the community- that they also must comply with these rules. Not only that but the non-Jew must do EXACTLY What the Israelites do. (As G-d commanded!)
This last point means that Israelites (and Jews today) have a responsibility to set an example to non Jews. It says " You and the stranger shall be the same before the Lord, The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the stranger living among you."
Moving on to verse 22, it refers to unintentional sins. This is sins we commit unintentionally, either as a community or as individuals. These can be as simple as a wrong thought or doing something in innocence that we were not aware of that breaks one of G-d's laws. To Hashem this is unintentional sin. We all commit this kind of sin as it is part of being human- we will always fall short of G-d's holiness and righteousness and therefore always sin unintentionally- it is not within our ability to be sinless! - in this world at least.
Hashem then has set up a particular procedure that could be performed to atone for these unintentional sins. He offers a solution for the community's unintentional sin and for the individuals unintentional sin. G-d's atonement plan goes as follows:
1. Offer a young bull without defect, it is to be slaughter for a burnt offering. Leviticus 1 and 2 and 6:8
2. grain offering is given and must be yeast free and must be from the first fruits of the year. It is a memorial offering, Leviticus 2
3. drink offering,
4. male goat for a sin offering.
5. the priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community and they will be forgiven, and the strangers amongst them will also be forgiven.
For an individual who commits unintentional sin it is slightly different they use a 1 year old female goat for a sin offering. The Priest makes atonement for the person and he will be forgiven.
In verse 30, there is a warning for those Jew and non-Jew that intentionally sin. "But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or stranger, blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the Lord's word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.
Now Israelites sacrificed a red heffer as a burnt offering for the purpose of consecration, purification and a sacrifice for sin. Numbers 19:1-21. The bull is the same principle - as the sacrifice for sin. (1.)
Number (2) and (3) refer to a grain and drink offering, Today we do this with bread and wine in Kiddush or (christians) holy Communion. And this is also a memorial offering.
The last two points (4) and (5) are the most important to take note of: The scapegoat and the Priest.
The scapegoat involved a process whereby the sins of the community were placed on the goat by the priest and the goat was sent away. This represents the sins being removed from the people and placed on another i.e. the goat. The goat then has taken upon itself the sins of the community! This then sets the community free from those unintentional sins. They were set free from guilt and were forgiven by G-d!
To sum up:
The community sacrificed the bull, the priest would then sprinkle its blood over the altar to atone for their sin, he would then burn it as an offering to the Lord.
They would then offer a grain and drink offering to the Lord in thanks giving.
The priest would then apply the goat as a mediator for the communities sin!
There is no atonement as such for the Israelite who deliberately sins. This means if a person knows he is sinning - such as the Israelite in verse 32 when he broke the sabbath rules by working on the sabbath day of rest- he was used as an example to demonstrate that G-d must punish severely those who deliberately sin. He is a just G-d and a sinless G-d and demands from His followers true holiness. Anyone who deliberately (that is consciously sins- (meaning the person is fully aware he is apposing G-d's ways) is vulnerable to G-d's judgement!
If just one person within the community sins intentionally it affects the spirituality of the whole community- they all become sinful in breaking the commandments. This is where the confusion lies with believers- they do not understand this principle and that is why we have problems in synagogues and churches, because they allow and therefore 'consent' to deliberate sin being present.
Christians in particular are guilty of this when they say "we except anyone into our church, no matter what"! They accept drug addicts who continue to take drugs and commit criminal acts, homosexuals who continue to practice their homosexuality, child molesters etc and wonder why they are not a blessed church. (See Revelations - seven churches).
Ezekiel 18 is a chapter that demonstrates how a righteous person will live and an unrighteous person will die because of their sin. It also describes how a righteous person who commits deliberate sin will also be condemned!
It says "But if a righteous man (or woman) turns from his (her) righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.....But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life...
So how does all of the above apply to us today? To Jews and non Jews?
Well in Isaiah it says this "Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing what is wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. ...Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;...if you are willing and obedient, ... Chapter 1 verse 16-20
Then the 'solution' that can turn your sins, from scarlet to white, is spoken of in Isaiah 11.
"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him... He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes...
This verse refers to the coming Messiah Jews and believers both wait for the coming Messiah.
The Messiah comes from the descendency of Jessie (that is the line of King David).
In verse 56 The Messiah says: " Maintain Justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.
The Messiah's role is described in Isaiah 61, as
1. as anointed to preach Good News to the poor.
2. To bind up the broken-hearted,
3. to proclaim freedom for the captives
4. release from darkness for the prisoners
5. proclaim the year of the Lord's favour and the day of vengeance of our God.
6. to comfort all who mourn
7. provide for those who grieve in Zion
8.Bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair....
That is our Messiah!
Who is the Messiah?
Isaiah 43:11 tells us, " I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. ...I and not some foreign god among you...."
G-d himself is the savior and no other! This causes difficulty for some Jews and christians to understand. Because Jews say G-d would not send himself as the Messiah and christians say that Christ is God and is to be worshipped. Both are right (by degree)!
G-d; before this world was created, was not alone, he had Wisdom (Yeshua) and the Ruach (the wind which is the Holy Spirit) with him and he spoke to them as persons (see Genesis in the beginning). Wisdom became the chosen one to come down as the savior and Messiah!
Christians need to recognise that G-d (Hashem is the 'One and only G-d but that Christ (Yeshua) is the son and does not replace the Father G-d.
Jews need to recognise that Yeshua has not replaced G-d, but since the beginning Yeshua was part of Hashem's whole plan for the redemption of the world!
How do we know this? Read Isaiah, and the Psalms it is evidenced by the connection with what really happened when Yeshua came into being for 33 years, as a man and the saviour of the world!.
You will also see another magnificent connection -
Yeshua when he was sacrificed and hung on the cross from evening till morning he fulfilled a very important role! He became the Red Heffer that purified the community and his shed blood atoned for their unintentional sins. He became a scapegoat and took all of the world's unintentional sin upon himself so that we can come through him and he would then make our scarlet sins as white as snow!
He is Israel's only Savior!
He is the world's only savior!
As part of G-d he was able to take on this role and still Yeshua always looked to G-d in prayer and supplication as 'HIs' G-d. This is hard to understand because our human intellect cannot reach as far as G-d's wisdom!
We need to take this on faith and understand it so we can accept this free gift of salvation!
Do not try to find excuses or ways to apply these verses to Elijah or King David you will just delude yourself- take it for what it is meant to be- the savour! Yeshua Ha Meshiach!
Read Isaiah 9: 6 Unto us a child is born
Read Psalm 22 Where Yeshua speaks of how he was treated when on the cross, describing in detail before it even happened to him, note verse 18 where he says " They divide my garments, among them and cast lots for my clothing...
Read and receive for eternal life is not far from you!