Day of Atonement: 11. Azazel Part 2

Leviticus 16:20‑26  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Azazel or the People’s Lot (continued)
Now we come to an important difference between the two goats. The first goat, we have seen, was not expressly limited like the second; the bearing of the Antitype assuredly is infinite. It was not only that the first goat was slain, and the blood carried into the holiest, but we hear of it also atoning for the holy place, the tabernacle, and the altar. The application of the blood goes far beyond man. Just in the same way in the New Testament the blood of Christ is not at all limited to His people or that to which it is applied. Its efficacy is also boundless for all those who come at God's call, and believe in Christ.
But the assumption that His blood has no scope beyond the elect is a serious error. Not that to me God's electing love is a doubtful question, but as sure as any other truth of revelation, and a spring of solid comfort to the household of faith, humbling to man's pride and glorifying to the God of all grace. One may be quite willing to allow, therefore, that election is behind the second goat, if such an expression may be allowed. For there limitation comes; but the first goat typically is unlimited in its range. For this reason is grounded upon it the going forth of the gospel to every creature under heaven. What can be less limited, if other truth be safeguarded? Nothing can be conceived more disastrous to the unmeasured width of the gospel than to address the elect merely. The Lord commanded that it be preached to every creature. Therefore you do well to act on His word, and need not fear for God's glory. Be assured that God has found a ransom and is fully vindicated. Do not imagine for a moment that you are in danger of going beyond what the blood of Christ deserves, and what God estimates of His ineffable sacrifice. Were there a thousand worlds to save, were there sinners beyond all that exist to hear God's glad tidings, there is that in the blood of Jesus which would meet every sinner of every world. Such is the unlimited value God finds in the death of His Son.
Yet if God did no more than proclaim the gospel, no person would hearken or could find peace. You may be arrested by the gospel, you may receive the word straightway with joy; but the word so received by nothing deeper than I the affections comes as quickly to naught. The soul requires more than that, and the believer by grace is the object of a deeper work. The truth pierces the conscience under the hand of God's Spirit; and the believer being thus brought to God, in a true self-judgment as well as sense of His grace in the person and work of Christ, is justified from all things. Hence one is not entitled to say to an unconverted person, “your sins are blotted out, and you are justified from all things.” It is going beyond the word of God for a servant of His to tell an unbeliever that by the work of Christ he, and all the world, are saved; so that all they need is to believe it. On the contrary, till you believe God about His Son, you are yet in your sins. “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved and thy house.”
In going beyond God's gospel, you are preaching a spurious one of your own. You are bolder than man ought to be, without the word of God and even against it. That the blood of Christ is capable of meeting every needy soul is assuredly true. But you have no warrant to tell a soul, until there is faith in Christ, that his sins are all gone. When he believes the gospel, you are entitled to tell him, in virtue of the truth figured in the second goat, that Christ bore his sins in His own body on the tree, and bore them away forever. The work of propitiation is seen under the first goat. When the sins are confessed and sent away, then is the comfort of knowing that all the heavy burden is clean gone never to reappear. This one cannot say to every soul. Here it is that the limitation to Israel has its importance. The people are concerned in the second goat in a very definite manner. In the former case it was Jehovah's lot; in the second place, it is the people's lot. By the “people” is not meant everybody, but (as far as Leviticus speaks) the chosen nation, and that nation only. But why reason like a Calvinist to limit Jehovah? Would you narrow the glad tidings of God?
No doubt if you believe the gospel, you are one of God's elect, you are one of His children, crying, Abba, Father. Now you know from His word that you were the object of God's love before the world was made; but you had no right tο appropriate one word about it until you believed ιn His Son. Till then all beyond was outside you; the fact is that you were a child of wrath like another. But when the soul confesses Christ, when the blood is owned in its propitiating value, then you have a true title from God to near, “Your sins, which are many, are forgiven.” Then the full truth can apply unhesitatingly to the soul which believes and repents. For there sever is a divinely wrought repentance without a divinely given faith, nor a divinely given faith without a kindred repentance. Be ready to comfort a soul whenever there is either the one or the other apparent. For in some cases the soul is fuller of joy in Jesus as the Savior than in judgment of self; in others it is filled with the anguish of its sins before God, so as to cloud the sense of pardoning love. This should not be, for the gospel is plain. Yet what can be more wholesome for the soul than to pass through a searching self-judgment in the sight of God? Be not uneasy about such a tried one, nor hurry it too much. Do not turn him away prematurely from these profitable exercises of conscience, along with looking to Christ and the cross. Let him bow to an overwhelming sense of his own evil, while learning what the grace of God has wrought in the Lord Jesus; but do not enfeeble that deep work of unsparing self-judgment before God. You may now say confidently in the Lord's name, “Your sins are completely borne away.” This is for any just the teaching of the scapegoat.
Be it repeated that here you have not the broad truth of the work of expiation effected by His blood that grace is sending out to all the world—the work which has forever vindicated the glory of God where sin had put dishonor on Him, and which leaves Him righteously free to bless according to all that is in His heart. Here we see the witness to what is imperatively needed for the unburdening of the soul. Yet the second goat would be ineffective and vain without the first. If God be not first approached with atoning blood, it is the merest delusion to extract from the scapegoat the shadow of a comfort that your sins are borne away.
But the New Testament speaks so plainly that we may turn profitably to a few scriptures in illustration. Take the earliest that can be in order, the first chapter of Matthew: “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for it is He that shall save His people from their sins.” “Save His people” does not mean save everybody. By “His people” is not meant those of all the nations. Jesus is shown to be the divine Messiah. Jehovah's people are the persons whom He will save from their sins, and not merely come to govern, as a Jew might have thought. His glory is divine; He is truly Emmanuel, which is, being interpreted, God with us. Yea, if possible, He is more than Emmanuel, He is Jehovah. He was therefore to be called Jesus, which involves the ineffable name of Jehovah, “For He shall save His people from their sins.” Thus all is definite. The Savior accomplishes the gracious purpose of God.
In the same Gospel of Matthew, later on, we have not merely words about the Lord, but His own words. Some have the feeling that when we have the very expressions of our blessed Lord, there is more in them than in any other communications of scripture, though these may ever so forcibly set forth the same truth. There is indeed a majesty and a depth in the utterances of our Savior, which is quite peculiar and characteristic of Himself; but the authority of scripture through—(out is really and precisely the same. The moment you bring in varying degrees of authority, you undermine the essence of its power by introducing uncertainty; and uncertainty as to God's word is deadly. However this be, in Matt. 20:2828Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28) it is written, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for” —all? Nay; for “many.”
There is indeed a true sense in which our Lord is ransom for all; and the apostle speaks of it in 1 Tim. 2, “the testimony to be borne in its own seasons.” But a nice difference distinguishes the two texts. When, as in Matthew, it is a ransom for many, we have it clearly defined. The “for” is “instead of” (ἀντὶ) many. It is strict substitution. When, as in 1 Timothy all are in view, it is simply “on behalf of” (ὐπὲρ) all. “For” has not always the same sense in scripture. It is the more needful to make the remark, because so many are apt to reason, that if “for” means one thing in one place, it must have the same force in another. Now take Rom. 4:2525Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25): He “was delivered for our offenses,” and next “raised again for our justification.” The “for” (ado, though it be in Greek the stronger case of the same word, does not mean the same thing in the two clauses. “For our offenses” expresses the reason why He was given up; but His being raised is in order to our justification, not because we were justified, which would contradict the truth, and particularly the words immediately after in chap. 5:1.
Perhaps the prejudices of some may be wounded at hearing this; but let me try to convince you, if indeed open to conviction, that what has been said is true. It would involve the consequence that a man is justified before he believes, which is clearly a falsehood. It is by faith that one is justified, and not before he believes. If this last were allowed, just think of the inevitable consequence. One is a child of God while still a child of wrath! under guilt and condemnation while justified! Can you conceive anything more heinous as well as monstrous, as it might well be, by flying in the face of scripture? None but the believer is justified. Before he believed, he was neither washed, nor sanctified, nor justified. It is here not a question of God's purpose, but of man's faith. Beyond just doubt there was divine purpose before man or the world was made; but what has this to do with the epoch when a man is justified? how absurd to argue that a man is justified before he is born! That God has a purpose of grace about him is another truth; but in order to justification, he must be born again and believe the gospel, receiving Christ at God's word. You cannot have a man justified without knowing Him. Justification is a condition of immunity into which a person is brought by faith. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Justification, it is allowed, must have an adequate basis, or, according to men's ordinary theological language, rest on a duly meritorious cause. But the antecedent ground before God must not be confounded with the means or principle by which the soul is brought into it. If scripture decide, a man is not justified until he believes in Christ, and has consequently peace with God. Peace with Him is a state of mind that the man cannot have without knowing that he has it. It is dangerous work, and ruinous to the soul, to tell a man that he has peace with God, if he have no enjoyment of it. Peace is that blessed change which possesses the soul when, through believing in Christ, he gives up warfare against God. When he receives not only the Savior but the atoning work which the Savior effected, he rests on Him before God. Then, and not before, having been justified by faith, he has peace with God to the praise of Christ, not of his faith, though without faith it cannot be.
So also, if we appeal to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, we read in chap. 15 how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures (ver. 3). Now this is a great truth to lay before an anxious or truly inquiring soul. But you cannot apply it save in a vague and general manner to an unbeliever. You can freely say that He tasted death for every one (perhaps indeed every “thing"), Heb. 2:99But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9). If He had not died as a sacrifice for sin, if He had not shed His blood as propitiation, there could have been no gospel to a guilty world. But it is when the soul believes God as to the efficacy of Christ's death, that the burden of guilt is taken away; for this has the surest warrant of God to every one that believes. Where faith is, we cannot exaggerate the assurance He gives to the soul. Accordingly in Gal. 2:2020I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20), if we turn now to the next Epistle after those to the Corinthians, Christ “loved me and gave Himself for me.” Impossible to have language more individual. It is not merely the general truth that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Here the soul, now believing, is entitled to claim the love of Christ specially, “He loved me and gave Himself for me.” Are you entitled to preach this to an unbeliever? No scripture warrants or admits of such a license.
But we may briefly look back at the third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans too, more cursorily now though it was recently used at greater length: “Whom God set forth as a propitiatory through faith in His blood, for showing of His righteousness, for the passing over of sins that are past through the forbearance of God; for showing, at this present time, of His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” Evidently there is no such thing as justifying unless there be also the believing in Jesus. Faith in God's message must exist in order to justification.