Leviticus 16:20-22 When Aaron finishes making atonement for the Holy of Holies, the Tent of Meeting, and the Altar, he will bring up the live goat, lay both hands on the live goat’s head, and confess all the iniquities of the People of Israel, all their acts of rebellion, all their sins. He will put all the sins on the goat’s head and send it off into the wilderness, led out by a man standing by and ready. The goat will carry all their iniquities to an empty wasteland; the man will let him loose out there in the wilderness.
Sunday evening at sundown begins Yom Kippur for Jews around the world. The words mean Day of Atonement and the instructions concerning it come from the chapter of the above passage. From this we get the concept of the “scapegoat,” the one who takes the blame for something as opposed to the one who actually did the wrong deed. We all love to blame someone or something else for our faults and failings. The question passages like this raise is whether it is even possible for us to produce forgiveness for our sins from ourselves. If we are sorry enough will we be forgiven? If we change our ways going forward? If we give enough time, energy or money? It seems that forgiveness must be offered from the one who has been wronged rather than the one who has done the wrong. Atonement means that God offers that forgiveness as the wronged party. God provided this act with the goat so the people would know their sins had been carried away by divine approval. Christians believe that Jesus in his death and resurrection is the ultimate indication that God forgives. Are you trying to get forgiveness through your own efforts or are you open to God giving it to you?