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Bible verses about Azazel Goat
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Leviticus 16:5

The two goats of the unique Day of Atonement ceremony are first mentioned in Leviticus 16:5, which contains an often-overlooked detail: “And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering” (emphasis ours throughout unless otherwise noted).

The “two kids of the goats” together are a single sin offering. That is, the two young goats are distinct elements that jointly accomplish this offering for sin; both parts are absolutely required for the offering to be accepted. A typical sin offering consists of only one animal, but this sin offering consists of two. This shows that something additional is being accomplished here, something beyond just the payment for sin.

The biblical sin offering, detailed in Leviticus 4, is God's prescribed way to show sins being paid for through a death. While “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4), God still required blood to be shed to remind the people that sin incurs the death penalty.

A critical part of the sin offering involves the priest placing his hands on the head of the animal before it was slain to show that the animal would stand in the place of the party under judgment. The unblemished, innocent animal, representing the guilty party, symbolically received the guilt. This detail is reiterated four times within the instructions for the sin offering (Leviticus 4:4, 15, 24, 29), as well as in the initial consecration ceremony for Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:10). A sin offering is incomplete without this symbolic transference taking place.

Every sacrificial animal—through the requirement of it being unblemished—is portrayed as being sinless (Deuteronomy 17:1; Leviticus 22:17-25). The Pentateuch contains at least forty injunctions that the sacrificial animals, either in specific offerings or in general, had to be without blemish or defect. In addition, Malachi 1:6-14 records God's indignation at later priests for offering blind, maimed, and diseased animals. A reason the animals had to be of the highest quality is that they were offered to God, who deserves only the best. A second reason is that every sacrificial animal prefigured the Savior, who was entirely without blemish or defect.

In the symbolism of a substitutionary sacrifice, an innocent participant is chosen to bear the sins of the guilty. However, this utterly fails to apply to Satan, for his millennia of sin make it impossible for him to be pictured as unblemished or innocent. Not by any means!

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part One)


 

Leviticus 16:5

The two goats in this Day of Atonement ritual made up a single sin offering. As “the fulfillment of Moses' teachings” (Romans 10:4, God's Word Translation), Jesus Christ was the object of the whole system of sacrifices. Every sacrificial animal was an unblemished, substitutionary offering that found its fulfillment in His life or death.

In contrast, Satan is not involved in any sacrifice, let alone in bearing the sins of mankind. The identification of the azazel as a type of Satan does not spring from Scripture but ancient Jewish literature—specifically from the inventive Book of Enoch.

Each of the two goats played a separate role, and lots were cast so the high priest would know which goat was to fulfill which role, as determined by God. The first goat was “for the Lord,” meaning that it was to satisfy His justice as payment for sin (Leviticus 16:8-9). Its specific purpose was to provide a covering of blood for the Holy Place, the Tabernacle, and the altar (Leviticus 16:15-19). The high priest used its blood to purify the holy objects used in approaching God. Even though individual Israelites did not enter the Sanctuary, God still considered it defiled simply by being within the sinful nation. God's holiness required the accouterments used to access Him to be purified before He removed Israel's sins each year.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part Two)


 

Leviticus 16:8

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is a Sabbath of solemn rest, set apart by its unique requirements to afflict one's soul and do absolutely no work (Leviticus 23:26-32). Within its instructions are a few rituals that make it even more extraordinary. Chief among these is the ceremony of the two goats found in Leviticus 16, part of a larger cleansing ritual performed once a year by the high priest.

With the passage of time and the difficulties of translation, the instructions for the two goats are far less clear to us than they were to their original recipients. In particular, the Hebrew word azazel, used for the second goat (Leviticus 16:8, 10, 26), is surrounded by speculation and contradictory assertions. A common belief among Sabbatarians is that azazel is the name of a wilderness demon. From this foundation springs the conclusion that the azazel goat—often translated as “scapegoat”—represents Satan.

If we solely use the Bible as our source, we will find no definitive statement for azazel representing Satan. What appears instead is that Satan—whose original name was Hêlêl—has coopted the term to apply to himself in the same way he coopted one of the titles of Jesus Christ, “light-bringer” or “light-bearer” (Lucifer), for himself (see Isaiah 14:12; II Peter 1:19; Revelation 22:16). Yet it is not possible for Satan to be a part of the atonement God provides for His people, a role that can be fulfilled only by the Savior.

Strong's Concordance does not define azazel as a name at all, instead giving the meaning as “goat of departure.” It identifies two roots for this word, the first of which means “goat” or “kid” (#5795). The second root (#235) means “to go away, hence, to disappear.” The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon says it means “complete removal.” These definitions not only fit with the Hebrew, but they also align with the instructions in Leviticus 16.

But to start with azazel as the name of a fallen angel—representative of Satan—is, at best, to begin with a conclusion, and at worst, to base crucial understanding on an apocryphal tradition. When we look at the totality of what Scripture says, a very different picture emerges.

There is wisdom in not basing a doctrine on the meaning of a word, since meanings can change or become lost with time. A far more solid foundation beyond a word's common definition must be laid. Moving past the definition of azazel, then, another foundational principle of Bible study is that significant matters—especially doctrinal ones—must be established by “two or three witnesses.” By comparing what the azazel goat accomplishes with the rest of God's revelation, its role—and thus, its identity—becomes clear. There is no second, let alone third, witness for Satan playing a role within this chapter or in the atonement for sin.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part One)


 

Leviticus 16:8

This first biblical occurrence of lots being cast shows that the matter of choosing what goat fills which role is completely in God's hands. God does not leave it up to man to choose which would fulfill these roles because of man's inability to judge properly.

I Chronicles 24—26 shows that governmental roles in Israel were determined by lot. To remove any ambiguity, various officials, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers, and other leaders were assigned their lots in life through God's decision. The same thing occurs in Leviticus 16: God determines which goat will fulfill which role.

The matter of the different roles becomes clear after understanding Leviticus 16:8. A difficulty springs up here, though, because the construction seems to imply two separate personalities: One lot is cast “for the LORD,” and another “for azazel.” However, if we look deeper, we will see that the phrase “for the LORD” is not about identifying a personality at all.

Because we have the benefit of looking back in history on Christ's sacrifice and understand that the sacrificial system pointed forward to the work of the Messiah, our minds tend to interpret “for the LORD” to mean “as a representation of the LORD.” While the sin offerings did pre-figure Christ, the phrase was not intended to mean this, but that the first goat was designated “as belonging to the LORD.”

It is used in the same sense that the sacred incense was “holy for the LORD” (Exodus 30:37), that in wartime the Israelites were to “levy a tribute for the LORD” (Numbers 31:28), and that an idolatrous city was to be completely burned “for the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 13:16). The first goat's role was to appease the Lord and to be sacrificed to Him; it was for the Lord's satisfaction in the ritual, not to represent Him.

Consider that the Israelites did not truly understand the intent of the sacrificial system. During the first century, the concepts that the Messiah would be God-in-the-flesh and that He would be killed in fulfillment of the whole sacrificial system were entirely foreign. If there was ever a national consciousness that the first goat was a representation of the Creator God, dying for the sins of the people, it was clearly forgotten by the time it was fulfilled!

Even though we can now read various psalms and prophecies related to the crucifixion and recognize them as Messianic, the Israelites did not have this understanding; they thought the Messiah would be a human leader who would restore them to national greatness. In like manner, they certainly understood, not that one of the goats would represent the Lord, but that the goat was a sacrifice to the Lord. The instructions do not specify how the ritual would later be fulfilled—only what the goats were for.

Along these lines, azazel is not a name in the Bible, nor did the live goat represent a second personality, but instead it fulfilled a second purpose. It was chosen to accomplish just what the Hebrew root word means: departure, removal, or disappearance. The first goat was for the Lord because His justice must be satisfied; it was for the cleansing of His house (Tabernacle and people). The second goat was for an additional step after the penalty for sin was paid: completely removing the sins from view by bearing them to an uninhabited land. Thus, while many infer that two personalities are in view in Leviticus 16:8, the construction does not require it. Rather, the lots were cast to determine which goat would fulfill each role within this compound atonement for sin.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part One)


 

Leviticus 16:8-22

The typical approach to this chapter hinges on defining the word azazel, the Hebrew word for the second goat, often translated as “the scapegoat.” However, there is no obvious definition scripture for the word.

Scholars are little help in arriving at a definition, for scholars can be found to support whatever view one desires. A typical explanatory note is found in The Comprehensive Commentary of the Holy Bible, which gives this unrooted viewpoint: “See different opinion in Bochart. Spencer, after the oldest opinions of the Hebrews and Christians, thinks Azazel is the name of the devil, and so Rosenmuller, whom see.” Yet, if the wise of this age cannot give scriptural backing for their views, of what value is their scholarship? Are the “oldest opinions of the Hebrews and Christians” based on the Word of God or dependent upon the traditions of men?

Many have based their understanding of Leviticus 16 on tradition, which claims that azazel is the name of a fallen angel. The original, 58-lesson Ambassador College Correspondence Course says this about azazel: “Ancient Jewish literature knew the Devil by this name. It is, for example, spelled Azalzal and Azael in apocryphal literature” (Lesson 37, p. 4, 1965; emphasis ours).

The updated, 32-lesson edition contains a few more sources (Lesson 37, p. 10, 1986). However, the authors do not use the Bible in their evidence, as the Bible does not identify the live goat as a type of Satan. Instead, the authors quote Arabic tradition that azazel is the name of a demon. They quote a book entitled Islam and Its Founder. They also quote a couple of Protestant theologians on their respective opinions.

The real bombshell, though, is this excerpt:

Let's notice a modern Jewish commentary that makes it clear that the azazel goat represented Satan the devil: "Azazel . . . was probably a demonic being. . . . Apocryphal Jewish works, composed in the last few centuries before the Christian era, tell of angels who were lured . . . into rebellion against God. In these writings, Azazel is one of the two leaders of the rebellion. And posttalmudic documents tell a similar story about two rebel angels, Uzza and Azzael—both variations of the name Azazel. These mythological stories, which must have been widely known, seem to confirm the essentially demonic character of the old biblical Azazel" (Union of American Hebrew Congregations, The Torah-a Modern Commentary, page 859). (Emphasis ours; ellipses theirs).

This last source is a devastating admission. Jewish tradition is used as the final and most important proof, yet its foundation is “apocryphal Jewish works, composed in the last few centuries before the Christian era.” The best-known apocryphal Jewish work from that era is the Book of Enoch.

The Book of Enoch bears the name of one of God's faithful servants, yet it was actually written by individuals during the intertestamental period (circa 300-100 BC). While containing biblical themes and names, it also includes many things that directly contradict the rest of the biblical canon.

In the Book of Enoch, Azazel is a fallen angel who teaches mankind unrighteous ways. As a result, he is bound and sentenced to the desert forever. It also contains another tradition typically taught on the Day of Atonement—that Satan is the author of human sin: “And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin.” In other words, the ascribing of all human sin to a fallen angel is from the very same Jewish tradition that identifies the azazel as a demon. Yet neither aspect of that tradition is backed up by Scripture.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part One)


 

Leviticus 16:10

The Day of Atonement ritual follows the same pattern as the ritual for the cleansing of leprosy, found in nearby Leviticus 14:3-7, 49-53. It contains similar figures and activities as the ritual of the two goats, and is a type of the more important Day of Atonement ritual. In considering the lesser ritual, nothing suggests that the two birds are somehow opposites or represent opposing personalities. Instead, the birds are two essentially equal elements, each chosen to serve a different role to accomplish a single purpose. The two goats are likewise two equal actors, which again precludes Satan, for the only place he is equal to Jesus Christ is in his own estimation!

A detail in the leprosy ritual clarifies a part of the ritual with the two goats. The bird that is set free is dipped in the blood of the one that is killed (Leviticus 14:6, 51), showing that a cleansing or sanctification is made for the bird that is then freed. This is more obscure in the instruction for the goats, but can be found in Leviticus 16:10: “But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon [Hebrew 'al] it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.”

The NKJV here says atonement is made upon the goat, which is a reasonable translation since 'al is simply a preposition with any number of English equivalents. Other translations and commentators, such as the Companion Bible and the Cambridge Bible, hold that here 'al indicates for the live goat—that is, the goat is presented alive before the Lord to make atonement for it. Ellicott's Commentary makes this observation: “Better, to make atonement for it, that is, it was placed before the Lord in order that it might receive expiation and sanctification, and thus be fitted for the sacred purposes it was destined to fulfil” (emphasis theirs).

Scripture backs up this observation. The azazel parallels the live bird that was dipped in the blood of the sacrificed bird and then let go. A sanctification had to take place before the second animal (bird or goat) could fulfill its role. Even though Jesus had no need to be cleansed from sin, He was still sanctified (John 10:36). In contrast, no sacrifice is ever mentioned for Satan's “sanctification” prior to fulfilling an imagined sacrificial role.

The azazel is not brought before the Lord for the sake of judgment (Leviticus 16:10), since it is the symbol of innocence at this point, as the priest has not yet laid his hands on its head. Instead, the goat stands before the Lord in order to be sanctified, receiving its charge to bear the burden of sin and depart out of sight.

In both the leprosy and the Day of Atonement rituals, one animal is killed while another is set free, with the implication of bearing the uncleanness (in the case of leprosy) or sins (in the case of the azazel) to another place. The single sin offering has two aspects: 1) the sacrifice for the payment or propitiation for sin, and 2) the complete removal of sin from view—including from memory and the consciousness. God sees to both the payment for and removal of sin; even our conscience is cleansed (see Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 103:12; Hebrews 9:14).

What is accomplished, then, is more than just payment for sin. The ritual makes use of two animals to show different features of this unique sin offering. One animal died as a type of payment, so that justice would be satisfied. The other remained alive to demonstrate the complete removal of sin from view.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part One)


 

Leviticus 16:20-22

Most of what happened with the first goat and its blood was out of view of the congregation, as it was used to "make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness" (verse 16). More meaningful to the people was what happened to the second goat, “the goat of departure,” which they could watch as it carried their sins out of sight.

One of the best-known Messianic prophecies provides an unambiguous fulfillment of the live goat's bearing of sins:

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. . . . He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:4, 11-12; emphasis ours)

Scripture also describes the Messiah's “bearing” of transgression as acceptance, forgiveness, and pardon (Job 42:8-9; Psalm 25:18; 28:9; 32:1, 5; 85:2; Micah 7:18). The Hebrew word means “to lift up,” “to carry,” and “to take away.” It is tied to forgiveness because it is as if He carries the sins out of sight. While the Bible also uses it to refer to what men do—such as “carry” (Genesis 47:30) and “forgive” (Genesis 50:17)—it is never used to refer to Satan.

Christ's bearing of sins goes beyond paying the penalty, fitting perfectly with one of the meanings of azazel, “complete removal” (compare Psalm 103:12). In Isaiah 53:12, the bearing is linked with intercession. They are not the same thing, but the parallelism indicates that an active work occurs in carrying the sins until they are completely removed from view, figuratively “as far as the east is from the west.”

We see the same thing in the New Testament. I Peter 2:24 says Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree.” Not only did He bear the sins, but He did it by Himself, just as the azazel did (Leviticus 16:22). He did not share that role. The author writes in Hebrews 9:28, “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.” His single and singular sacrifice both cleansed the sanctuary and bore away the sins of many.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part Two)


 

Leviticus 16:21-22

Scripture plainly teaches that Christ bears our sins (Isaiah 53:4, 11-12; I Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:28). Yet, we introduce grave error if we gloss over either the Bible's general teaching on sin or whose sins, in particular, are atoned for in Leviticus 16.

One error lies in blaming Satan for the sins of humanity, then interpreting the azazel to represent Satan bearing mankind's sins. Apocryphal tradition holds that all sin should be ascribed to a fallen angel named Azazel, and even today it is commonly taught that the real cause—the actual author—of human sin is Satan. However, the Word of God shows that this is not true.

There is no question that Satan deceives (Revelation 12:9). He broadcasts his attitudes, and we all have tuned in to them. Ephesians 2:2 establishes that an evil spirit influence is at work in the world today. Paul calls the Devil “the god of this age” (II Corinthians 4:4), and John declares that “the whole world lies under [his] sway” (I John 5:19).

However, “there is a spirit in man” that is the basis of mankind's reason and free moral agency (Job 32:8; I Corinthians 2:11). This biblically revealed truth means that, while a malignant spirit can affect the spirit in man, it does not force a person to act. This outside spirit gives people terrible information on which to base their decisions, but God says they have enough evidence of His power and divine nature to make them without excuse (Romans 1:20).

The ancient Israelites did not have God's Spirit, yet He still set life and death before them, commanding them to choose (see Deuteronomy 30:15-20). They had only the spirit in man, but the power to choose was still theirs. Earlier, God had warned Israel, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them” (Deuteronomy 11:16; emphasis ours). God's admonition shows that if they allowed themselves to be deceived, it was due to their not “tak[ing] heed.” They could blame only themselves. Satan exerts influence, sometimes powerfully, but the responsibility to choose life still belongs to the individual.

When we sin, it is not because Satan authors it. James 1:14 says that we sin when we are drawn away by our desires, which give birth to sin (verse 15). We sin because our hearts are not yet like God's heart, which cannot be tempted. The core problem is not what Satan does—though it is certainly problematic—but the desperately evil human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). The solution is a new, spiritual heart like Christ's (Ezekiel 36:26).

The common view of Leviticus 16 holds that the goat being led away and released is a type of what happens to Satan. However, neither Satan's binding (at the beginning of the Millennium; Revelation 20:1-3) nor his being cast into the Lake of Fire (sometime after the Millennium; Revelation 20:10) corresponds with the azazel being set free. While not every symbol will necessarily match up in a spiritual fulfillment, it is hard to see how these things even begin to match up. The goat is commanded to be released (Leviticus 16:22), while the fallen archangel is confined, restrained, and (later) cast into fire—completely dissimilar actions. In short, there is no scriptural support for Satan fulfilling the part the live goat plays.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part Two)


 

Leviticus 16:21-22

The sins in view are human sins, yet some propose that what is being expiated is Satan's portion of human sin. In other words, in any given sin, the individual plays a part and Satan plays a part, and thus God must deal with Satan's sins after the first goat is offered to cover humanity's sins.

However, we need to double-check that math very carefully. The Bible says nothing about a co-sinner. God does not split up the death penalty, such that a person earns part of the death penalty, while Satan earns the rest.

Leviticus 5:17 says, “If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity” (emphasis ours). Sinning in ignorance—including transgressing due to deception—does not mean that less of a sin has been committed against God's holy, spiritual law. Regardless of what led to the infraction, when a sin is committed, the sinner earns the wages of sin. There is no concept of a partial sin or divided guilt in the Scriptures. If a sin involves two beings, then each has committed sin, and both earn the death penalty, as in the case of Adam and Eve (cf. I Timothy 2:13-14). That is the correct biblical math.

Think about this in terms of money. We each incur our own debt when we sin, and the debt is not shared, no matter how we incurred it and no matter who said what. If a generous benefactor pays our debt for us, then we are in the clear. Our debt's cancellation, though, is in no way pertinent to the slick salesman who suggested that we take it on in the first place. The deceiver is responsible for his lies, and we are responsible if we listen to him and make ourselves indebted.

The principle of “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4) is why the Bible places such emphasis on drawing near to God, resisting Satan, loving the truth, and guarding ourselves against deception. The danger is not that Satan will make us sin, as he cannot force anybody to sin. The danger is that we will sin and incur the death penalty by not taking heed. That God gives us so many admonitions means that we incur guilt when we let that happen—it is ours, not Satan's.

Symbolically, to represent the guilty party, the substitutionary animal has sins placed on it that are not its own. Obviously, Satan has his own guilt, so he cannot be a substitute for anyone else. The Bible says these are human sins, and it is fallacious to try to explain away its clear statements.

In addition, if Satan were responsible for all human sin, then what would be the need to show a symbolic transference taking place? Under this assumption, the sins of mankind are already on his head! His guilt has never left him, so it does not need to be placed back on him. Yet, the Atonement ritual specifies that the sins be placed on an innocent party's head—one that is not already responsible for those sins. At every turn, Satan fails to fit into what Leviticus 16 says.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part Two)


 

Leviticus 16:26

The azazel is led by a “fit” or “suitable” man, who then had to be cleansed (Leviticus 16:26). Similarly, in Matthew 27:1-2, Jesus was bound and led away at the behest of the chief priests and elders. In verse 31, they “led Him away to be crucified” (see also Mark 14:53; 15:1, 16; Luke 23:26). Christ's well-known petition, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” stands immediately after soldiers led Him to Calvary (Luke 23:32-34). In other words, He appears to be speaking specifically about forgiving those who were leading Him (even though His request would apply to all who participated in His death). In type, the ones leading Him were “cleansed” (forgiven), just like the man who led the azazel away.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part Two)


 

John 8:44

Jesus identifies Satan as the spiritual father of those Jews who opposed Him, implying that they had learned how to murder and lie because the Devil was their spiritual father. They were displaying his characteristics, just as children naturally adopt the traits of their parents. Yet was Satan actually responsible for their sins? Notice what the pre-incarnate Christ says earlier through Ezekiel:

Yet you say, “Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?” Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. (Ezekiel 18:19-20)

God holds the father accountable for his sins, and the children responsible for their sins. The sinning soul bears its own guilt and penalty—death (Romans 6:23). Ezekiel 18 completely nullifies the justification that a child can blame his parents for his faults. Even though parents exert tremendous influence, God's view of parent-child relationships does not allow this shifting of blame.

Following this through, God will not accept this justification with regard to an individual blaming his spiritual father, Satan, even though he also wields considerable influence. According to the repeated principle in Ezekiel 18, Satan cannot bear the guilt of sins committed by a human. He bears the guilt for his own sins, which include deception, but Satan cannot make us sin.

In verses 14-17, God even gives the scenario of a son recognizing the sinfulness of his father and choosing to go a different way. The Jews who opposed Christ in John 8 should have done exactly that—realized that the murder and lies in their hearts did not originate with God, then chosen to act differently from their spiritual father.

In Genesis 3:17, God identifies the trigger of Adam's sin as heeding the voice of his wife. In the same way, our sin may also begin with heeding the voice of another (Satan), but he is not the author of our sin, any more than Eve was the author of Adam's sin. Though Adam and Eve played the blame game, God did not accept their excuses. If we hold to the justification that Satan is the real cause of our sins, we are trying to dodge reality, just as they did.

The apostle Paul declares in Romans 5:12 that sin entered the world through one man, Adam. Notice that God does not put the origin of human sin on Satan, but on Adam, even though Satan sinned long before and overtly lied to Eve (Genesis 3:4). This is how God reckons human sin—as difficult as it may be to accept. The overall point in Romans 5 is that, even though the first man introduced sin to mankind, it is through the Son of Man that humanity will be justified and made righteous. Put simply, humanity has made the choice to sin, and Christ alone provides atonement upon repentance (Acts 4:12; Matthew 1:21; I Timothy 2:5-6).

A few chapters later, in Romans 7, we find Paul's anguish over his struggle with sin. His conclusion is not that Satan is the real cause—the Devil gets only one mention in Romans, where the apostle writes that the God of peace will crush him (Romans 16:20). Instead, Paul concludes that he had indwelling sin. Rather than point the finger at Satan, he mournfully recognizes his sinful state and declares his faith in Christ's work and deliverance (verse 25).

Paul's conclusion suggests that, in addition to Satan being completely unworthy of being represented by a substitutionary sacrifice, it is also wholly incongruous to suggest that the sins of the people belong on Satan's head. Their sins are their own, and Satan's sins are his own.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part Two)


 

Hebrews 9:26-28

After the purification of the sanctuary, the very next theme is that Christ put away sin. His sacrifice alone is sufficient for this; Satan has nothing to add to Christ's work of salvation! We denigrate His name by suggesting that His work is somehow insufficient and that a “counterpart” is needed to fulfill half the sin offering.

The Greek word translated “put away,” athetesis, means “to cancel,” and it can also be translated as “disannul.” The root of this word, atheteo, means “to neutralize,” and can be translated as “cast off,” “despise,” and “bring to nothing.” Thus, in addition to cleansing the sanctuary, Christ's sacrifice put away sin—it cancelled the sin, bringing it to nothing, for those who repent and come under His blood.

Verse 28 says that Christ's sacrifice was for the sake of bearing the sins of many, precisely what the azazel did in type. In addition, He will appear a second time, apart from sin. An ancient Israelite would be horrified to see the young goat wander back into the camp because it would signify that all his sins had come back into view. Spiritual Israelites, however, have confidence that their sins have been completely removed. So, when our Savior appears again, it is not to bring those sins back into view, but to bring salvation.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Three)


 

 




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