“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
“There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king against whom there is no rising up.” (Proverbs 30:29-31, emphasis mine)
This is “Agur the son of Jakeh” speaking. Not sure if it’s true, but I’ve read it’s a pseudonym for Solomon. I do know that the whole of the thirtieth proverb reads much like his others. The part of that passage I’d like to focus on, however, is the part about the goat. The word “comely” meaning “beautiful”, why would a goat be comely, i.e. beautiful, in going?
“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.” (Leviticus 16:21)
Scapegoat: Any innocent victim who is picked by a jury or group of peers, to bear the blame for the sins of the many.
This above scripture from Leviticus is where the word “scapegoat” comes from, as you may have guessed, if you didn’t already know. Oddly enough, the Jewish culture wasn’t the only one to practice this custom—of placing the sins of the people on a victim and sending them off. It was common in different forms throughout the ancient world. It makes me wonder how the goat ended up getting the short end of the stick, but the practice of removing guilt and the need to do so is an eminently human thing. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:8-10) Like our Easter baskets, even? Well…
“If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” (John 15:24)
See, guilt comes in many forms. But guilt only happens when you know you’ve done something wrong. One of the complaints leveled at Christianity and Judaism is that they they create the supply for which a demand isn’t needed. Like a mythic bait-and-switch. And this kind of thinking is understandable when you don’t believe in God. At least you’re thinking. At least you have zero tolerance for flim-flam and snake oil. But if the following statements finds no purchase in you, are you at least willing to humble yourself?
“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
“But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” (Galatians 3:22) Sin is, ladies and gentlemen. Look around you and see its effects. There’s more at work than simple faulty wiring and bad-decisions-with-good-intent. Sin is the active opposite of that which God is. And for God to say that He’s provided a way of escape from, not only sin’s effects on this earth, but also sin’s eternal stain separating you from your Creator, we’d do well to delve deeper into the notion of redemption through the Cross, the blood of Jesus.
He took our sin and left it in hell so we wouldn’t have to go there ourselves. Three days and three nights of suffering was all it took for the past, present and future price of sin to be paid and rendered holy before a holy God.
And whereas the scapegoat never returned and the people were left to live another year before needing to do it again, Jesus did return. Because He was holy upon dying, His Father was able to raise Him from the dead. Don’t confuse yourselves with other stories that don’t get to the heart of the problem, that only deal with a cursory understanding of life at large.
Seen this way, it’s understandable how a goat would be “comely in going”.
“But now is Christ risen from the dead…” (1 Corinthians 15:20)