Leviticus 16:21 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
THE SCAPE-GOAT A TYPE OF CHRIST
Lev 16:21-22. 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 coat, 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.
OF all the types, under the Mosaic dispensation, there was not one more plain in its import, or more useful in its tendency, than that before us. Most other types receive light from their accomplishment in Christ: this reflects light on the Gospel itself. The high-priest, having before offered a bullock and a ram, was to take two goats; and, having determined by lot which of them should be killed, and which be kept alive, was to kill the one, and to sprinkle its blood, with the blood of the bullock, within the sanctuary, and then to present the other before the Lord in the manner described in the text: he was to confess over it the sins of the people, and, by putting his hands upon its head, to transfer to it the people’s sins: and then to send it into the wilderness that it might never more be seen of men. This ceremony pointed out to them the true and proper object of faith: the operation of it on the believer’s mind; and the fruit and benefit of it to his soul.
The true and proper object of faith—
[When the high-priest put his hands on the head of the scape-goat, the eyes of all present must of necessity be turned towards that devoted creature. They indeed who were endued with a spiritual discernment, would look through the type unto Christ the great Antitype: but still the goat would be regarded by all as the immediate instrument used by God for the removal of their sins: their faith terminated on that as the instituted means of their deliverance.
Thus is Christ the one object to whom the eyes of all must be directed. He has been chosen of God from all eternity to bear in his own person, and to take away from his people, all their sins [Note: Rev 13:8.]. In due time he was exhibited to the world in this very character [Note: Rom 3:25. See also Joh 1:29; 2Co 5:21.]: the iniquities of all mankind were laid upon him [Note: Isa 53:6.]: and his command to every living creature is, Look unto Me and be ye saved [Note: Isa 45:22.].
There was indeed under the law another goat, whose blood was shed for the remission of their sins; which was therefore to be considered by them as a joint object of their faith. But the two together were, in fact, but one sacrifice, the one representing the death of Jesus, and the other his resurrection. While therefore we view Christ as dying for our offences, we must also, in conformity with the type before us, regard him as rising again for our justification [Note: Rom 4:25.].]
Its operation on the believer’s mind—
[The high-priest confessed over the scape-goat the sins of all Israel with their several aggravations, at the very time that he transferred them to him by the imposition of his hands. By this significant ordinance he clearly shewed how faith always operates. It leads us in the first place to transfer all our guilt to the sacred head of Jesus. While we see the impossibility of removing our sins in any other way, faith will incline us to avail ourselves of that inestimable privilege of carrying them to the Saviour, and thereby securing to ourselves an everlasting deliverance from them. But will it therefore cause us to think lightly of our iniquities, because they may be cancelled by such means? No: it will rather make them to appear exceeding sinful; and will dispose us to humble ourselves for them in dust and ashes. A true believer will not so much as desire pardon without being made to feel the evil and bitterness of sin: and the more sincerely he looks to Christ, the more unfeignedly will he bewail his manifold transgressions [Note: Eze 16:63.]. While, with Mary, he boldly confesses Christ, with her he will kiss his feet, and wash them with his tears [Note: Luk 7:37-38.].]
The fruit and benefit of it to his soul—
[No sooner was the ordinance before us duly performed, than the sins of all Israel were taken away, and God was reconciled to his offending people. This indeed being only a typical institution, the pardon obtained by means of it was neither perfect nor durable, except to them who looked through the type to Christ himself. But faith in Christ, whether exercised by them or us, will obtain a full and everlasting remission of all our sins. Under the law indeed, there were some sins for which no sacrifice was appointed, and which therefore could not be purged away by any ceremonial oblations whatever. But there is no sin from which we shall not be justified by faith in Jesus [Note: Act 13:39.]. From the very instant that we are enabled to lay them upon his head, they shall be carried into the land of oblivion, and never more be remembered against us [Note: Isa 43:25; Heb 8:12.]: yea, they shall be cast into the very depths of the sea [Note: Mic 7:19.], and be put away from us far as the east is from the west [Note: Psa 103:12.].]
From hence we may learn,
The different offices of repentance and faith—
[Repentance can never make atonement for sin. However penitent we be, we must lay our hands upon the head of the scape-goat, and transfer our guilt to him. On the other hand, faith does not supersede repentance, but rather encourages and invites us to it. We must repent, in order to prepare our hearts for a grateful acceptance of pardon, and a diligent improvement of it in our future life: but we must believe in order to obtain pardon; that being bestowed solely on account of Christ’s vicarious sacrifice. Repentance stirs us up to exercise faith on Christ; and faith stimulates us to further acts of penitence, for the honouring of the law, the justifying of God, the exalting of Christ, the purifying of the heart, the adorning of our profession, and the rendering of us meet for glory. To be in a state pleasing to God, we must be believing penitents, and penitent believers.]
The folly of delaying to repent and believe—
[Impenitence and unbelief keep us from Christ, and rivet our sins upon us. “We must all resemble either the oblation, or the offerer: we must either, like the goats, die under the wrath of God, and be for ever banished, as accursed creatures, from his presence; or we must go with penitence and contrition to our living Surety, and cast our iniquities on him. And can there be a doubt which state we should prefer? Or would we continue another hour under the guilt of all our sins, when there is such a way provided for the removal of them? Let us then behold the Scape-goat, as in our immediate presence, and go instantly to lay our sins on him. It cannot, as under the law, be done by the priest for us; it must be done by every one of us for himself. Let us then go to him with penitence and faith, and rest assured that we shall not repent or believe in vain.]
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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was an English evangelical Anglican cleric.
Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of Simeon, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.