This paper looks at the significance and meaning of the two goats on the Day of Atonement, focusing on Leviticus 16:15-22 particularly. As part of the discussion I consider such things as: the meaning of the Hebrew word kaphar, the distinction of emphasis between the two goats, some implications regarding a theology of particular atonement, and the significance of atoning for the tabernacle as symbolising the atonement of creation (not just humanity). I also found this paper to be a lot harder than I expected and certain sections ended up being too rushed :-(
Here is a quote from the end of the paper:
There is no doubt that the role of the two goats on the Day of Atonement was to symbolise and typify the dealing with sin amongst the people of God. While the two goats were involved in two distinct and different rituals, they should be seen as two aspects of the one atonement, rather than two completely different atonements. Just as the numerous types of the Old Testament meet in the one person of Jesus Christ, each adding a different aspect or image picturing his work, so too in this microcosm of the Day of Atonement, the multiple events are just different aspects of the one reality in Christ, and not completely unrelated. Rather than confuse, the multiplicity of symbols helps enrich our understanding of God's gracious work in redemptive history. On the Day of Atonement, the role of the two goats can be summarised as follows:
- Both goats represented the atonement for all the sins of all the people of God.
- The goat for the LORD emphasises the need for cleansing and sanctification by means of death, atoning for both the people and the tabernacle
- The goat for azazel emphasises the complete removal of sin from amongst the people.
- The eschatological hope is for a place and a people of God where all sin is purged and removed.