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The scapegoat and our Father’s merciful character

Posted Oct 25, 2017 by Deyan Delchev in Character of God
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Many of us who come from the background of adventism know well that the typical Day of Atonement points to the special event that has been happening since October 22nd, 1844:

“I beheld,” says the prophet Daniel, “till thrones were placed, and One that was Ancient of Days did sit: His raiment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool; His throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9, 10, R.V. {GC 479.1}

Thus was presented to the prophet’s vision the great and solemn day when the characters and the lives of men should pass in review before the Judge of all the earth, and to every man should be rendered “according to his works.” The Ancient of Days is God the Father. Says the psalmist: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” Psalm 90:2. It is He, the source of all being, and the fountain of all law, that is to preside in the judgment. And holy angels as ministers and witnesses, in number “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,” attend this great tribunal. {GC 479.2}

“And, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away.” Daniel 7:13, 14. The coming of Christ here described is not His second coming to the earth. He comes to the Ancient of Days in heaven to receive dominion and glory and a kingdom, which will be given Him at the close of His work as a mediator. It is this coming, and not His second advent to the earth, that was foretold in prophecy to take place at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844. Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies and there appears in the presence of God to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man—to perform the work of investigative judgment and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits. {GC 479.3}

In the typical service only those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the blood of the sin offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service of the Day of Atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period. “Judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?” 1 Peter 4:17. {GC 480.1}

In this process of examination the life’s record, it will be clearly shown who had accepted our Father’s substitute Sacrifice. His only begotten Son died so that we may live by the virtue of His spotless character. We receive this gift only through faith but the law of our Father will show if we  have truly received it, because Christ’s righteousness fulfills the law (Rom 8:4). How in the typical Day of Atonement was it shown that Christ would pay the penalty for our sin?

 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.  6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.  7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.  10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness… Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:  16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.  Leviticus 16:5-10, 15, 16  

The Lord Jesus “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Heb 2:9) which is the final result of our sins. Whoever from the human family that receives this sacrifice will not suffer real death which is the consequence of sin (Rom 6:23), and even if he passes away, it would be only sleeping until the resurrection at the second coming and not real death:

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.  22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.  23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.  24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.  25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:21-26

The reason for Christ’s full and real death was that He bore all the results of sin which is real and full death.  Up until that moment no one has ever suffered such death and no one was destined by our Father to suffer it because His Son took it all upon Himself:

Upon Christ as our substitute and surety was laid the iniquity of us all. He was counted a transgressor, that He might redeem us from the condemnation of the law. The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation. All His life Christ had been publishing to a fallen world the good news of the Father’s mercy and pardoning love. Salvation for the chief of sinners was His theme. But now with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father’s reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt. {DA 753.1}

At the cross, it was clearly shown what happens to someone who receives the full penalty of sin. Not that the Father hid His face from His Son (Ps 22:24), but the sins of the world did that. How thankful we should be that Christ took it all upon Himself for us and thus He became our real Substitute. From the very beginning when humanity fell in sin, our Father did not allow for sin to inflict its full penalty on us (Gen 2:17) because Christ is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”. Then what will finally happen to those who continually refuse to accept our Father’s Substitute in death for us?

“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. While life is the inheritance of the righteous, death is the portion of the wicked. Moses declared to Israel: “I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.” Deuteronomy 30:15. The death referred to in these scriptures is not that pronounced upon Adam, for all mankind suffer the penalty of his transgression. It is “the second death” that is placed in contrast with everlasting life. {GC 544.1}

Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God. {DA 753.2}

After Satan brought sin into the world, he tempted man to set himself in rebellion against the authority of God. He inspired him with hatred against God because of the results that followed sin. He suggested that God was arbitrary, destitute of mercy and benevolence, because the penalty of the law fell upon the transgressor. When fallen man views God in this light, he casts aside his authority as a moral governor. God has a right to enforce the penalty of the law upon transgressors, for law without a penalty would be without force. God’s law is the foundation of all law and government…. When the curse fell upon the beloved Son of God, who became sin for us, the Father made it manifest that the unrepenting transgressor of his law would have to suffer its full penalty. The word of God declares, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” The law of God was upheld and vindicated by the Son of God. The death of Christ, as an expiatory sacrifice, opens a way whereby the sinner may be pardoned, and turn from the path of transgression into the path of truth and righteousness, while at the same time it vindicates the honor and unchangeableness of the law. In the plan of salvation, justice and mercy clasp hands together. {ST July 14, 1890, par. 2}

These quotes clearly show that the enforcement of the penalty for sin upon the transgressors on the part of our Father will be the same as with His Son at the cross. If we believe that Christ died because His Father killed Him (Isaiah 53:4) by this we simply show that we have the mind of fallen men. Christ died with the first death because He was the first that received the full consequence of the penalty of sin. This is why when Christ came out of the tomb he was called “the firstborn from the dead” (Col 1:18) even though Moses was chronologically resurrected prior to that moment. Christ and the Father have never intended that there should ever be such thing as “second death” because Christ has already taken all that upon Himself. Notice that hell was not intended for human beings at all:

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: Matt 25:41

Not that God has at some time made the design for hell to exist. It was the choice of the instigators of sin that enforced this process. The devil and his angels could not be benefited by the Father’s Substitute because they have committed sin in the face of a full revelation of our Father’s merciful character and there hadn’t been anymore place for true repentance on their part:

Pardoning, redeeming love is brought to view in Christ Jesus. Satan had misrepresented the character of God, and it was necessary that a correct representation should be made to worlds unfallen, to angels, and to men. Satan had declared that God knew nothing of self-denial, of mercy and love, but that he was stern, exacting, and unforgiving. Satan never tested the forgiving love of God; for he never exercised genuine repentance. His representations of God were incorrect; he was a false witness, an accuser of Christ, and an accuser of all those who throw off the Satanic yoke, and come back to render willing allegiance to the God of heaven. {RH March 9, 1897, par. 3}

But even as a sinner, man was in a different position from that of Satan. Lucifer in heaven had sinned in the light of God’s glory. To him as to no other created being was given a revelation of God’s love. Understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness, Satan chose to follow his own selfish, independent will. This choice was final. There was no more that God could do to save him. But man was deceived; his mind was darkened by Satan’s sophistry. The height and depth of the love of God he did not know. For him there was hope in a knowledge of God’s love. By beholding His character he might be drawn back to God. {DA 761.5}

By these thoughts we are prepared to examine the final penalty of the law over the unrepentant transgressors as it is shown through the typical service of the Day of Atonement:

“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 all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.” Verses 21, 22. The scapegoat came no more into the camp of Israel, and the man who led him away was required to wash himself and his clothing with water before returning to the camp. {GC 419.2}

It was seen, also, that while the sin offering pointed to Christ as a sacrifice, and the high priest represented Christ as a mediator, the scapegoat typified Satan, the author of sin, upon whom the sins of the truly penitent will finally be placed. When the high priest, by virtue of the blood of the sin offering, removed the sins from the sanctuary, he placed them upon the scapegoat. When Christ, by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He will place them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty. The scapegoat was sent away into a land not inhabited, never to come again into the congregation of Israel. So will Satan be forever banished from the presence of God and His people, and he will be blotted from existence in the final destruction of sin and sinners. {GC 422.2}

Through this service we can clearly see that God is not the One that kills Satan. He just allows for the penalty of sin to come upon him in its full force. In the typical service, the goat that represented Christ, was killed by the Priest himself which signifies Christ’s decision to submit His life voluntarily to death:

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. John 10:17, 18

 The Son of God willingly submitted Himself to the full penalty of sin so that He might become our Substitute. Thus Christ allowed for the full penalty of sin to come upon Himself through all events that happened from Gethsemane to Calvary. The scapegoat’s (Satan) fate is different in this that he is not killed by anyone but “shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited” (Leviticus 16:22). We don’t know exactly what happened to the typical scapegoat after he was drawn into the desert but we do know that after the Second Coming of Christ, Satan will indeed be drawn into a desolate land for the period of 1000 years:

Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof… And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. 22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. Isaiah 24:1, 21, 22

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.  2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,  3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. Rev 20:1-3

At that time the righteous will be resurrected and taken in heaven with Christ because the antitypical Tabernacles would have begun:

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.  6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. Rev 20:4-6

The Feast of Tabernacles was not only commemorative but typical. It not only pointed back to the wilderness sojourn, but, as the feast of harvest, it celebrated the ingathering of the fruits of the earth, and pointed forward to the great day of final ingathering, when the Lord of the harvest shall send forth His reapers to gather the tares together in bundles for the fire, and to gather the wheat into His garner... {PP 541.2}

The righteous will then see clearly the mercy and righteousness of God and His Son in dealing with unrighteous both angelic and human beings. But the full penalty is still not inflicted on Satan and the rest at that moment. It will happen after the thousand years. Let us notice carefully what happens then:

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,  8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.  9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.  10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.  11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Rev 20:7-15

This passage of Scripture shows how the full penalty of sin will be inflicted upon the ones that chose to reject the Father’s Sacrifice for them. Notice that although these people are resurrected, they are called “dead” and it is because they have chosen that their names should not be contained in the book of life. The part with the fire which falls down from God (verse 9) is explained in verses 11. The presence of God and His Son, Their character and their Law is what will allow for the full penalty of sin to be inflicted upon Satan and all of his sympathizers. Speaking about this day, Jesus said:

And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. John 12:47, 48

It is interesting that Leviticus 16, where the details of the typical Day of Atonement are given, starts with the following information about the reason for the details given further:

And the Lord spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the Lord, and died;  2 And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. Lev 16:1, 2

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu died because they entered into the Sanctuary in a drunken state with strange fire (Leviticus 10). Were they killed by physical fire? No, because we read:

And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord…. And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.  5 So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said. Lev 10:2, 4, 5

Physical fire would not allow for their “coats” to be still unharmed. That was the fire of God’s word that reflected the sin back to these men. About this fire Jesus said:

I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? Luke 12:49

This fire was the result of the revelation of God’s character of mercy which was unbearable for those who followed Satan and his character. Concerning Satan, this fire will operate for the following reasons:

Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. Ezekiel 28:18

This fire is the full penalty of sin inflicted upon Satan through the manifestation of God’s character of mercy and pure love. That’s the most tormenting fire that could exist but it is not God who kills Satan otherwise God would be the wages of sin and not death. In this process God allows for His law to be the independent arbiter for sin as He has done on the cross. As for those who followed Satan, they were not coincidentally represented by Christ as goats:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:  32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: … Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:  Matt 25:31, 32, 41

The goats identify their characters with that of Satan and therefore they share his fate. In this fire they all suffer according to the measure of their experience of God’s merciful character. This is why many will die quickly and other will suffer much more. When all of them have died, then the physical fire, which is the outer expression of the spiritual fire, will cleanse the earth. This is what we learn from the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was tormented physically but He died because of what sin does to everyone by hiding the Fathers merciful face. So in the day when the antitypical scapegoat with all his followers are sent in the wilderness to bear their iniquities, then it will be clear for EVERYONE that God’s judgments are righteous and do not require arbitrary intervention which is contrary to the law that governs the universe. God destroys no man but every man that is destroyed will have done so through his own actions. When those actions are revealed in the light of God’s merciful character the guilt of their selfishness will crush out their life.

The death of the spotless Son of God testifies that "the wages of sin is death," that every violation of God's law must receive its just retribution. Christ the sinless became sin for man. He bore the guilt of transgression, and the hiding of His Father's face, until His heart was broken and His life crushed out. All this sacrifice was made that sinners might be redeemed. In no other way could man be freed from the penalty of sin. And every soul that refuses to become a partaker of the atonement provided at such a cost must bear in his own person the guilt and punishment of transgression. GC 540

God has given to men a declaration of His character and of His method of dealing with sin. "The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." Exodus 34:6, 7. "All the wicked will He destroy." "The transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off." Psalm 145:20; 37:38. The power and authority of the divine government will be employed to put down rebellion; yet all the manifestations of retributive justice will be perfectly consistent with the character of God as a merciful, long-suffering, benevolent being.  GC 541.2