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)
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)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Leviticus 16:5: