Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. (Leviticus 16:8-9)
As I said in the previous devotional, Jewish tradition teaches that each of the goats used in the Yom Kippur service, were identified with a scarlet cord. The sin offering — the one designated for the LORD — had a red cord tied around its neck. The scapegoat had a red cord tied around its head or horns. Tradition further says that, as the sin offering was burning upon the altar, the scapegoat was led into the wilderness and pushed over a cliff. Once this had occurred, if God accepted their offerings — which represented their repentant hearts — the scarlet thread upon the head of Azazel would turn white, signifying Israel’s sins were forgiven. Thus we are reminded of this passage from the prophet:
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
Assuming that this tradition and its ramifications are accurate, it is fascinating that the Talmud (collection of Jewish oral traditions) records that this miracle ceased to occur about a generation before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. That means that around 30 AD something happened that caused the miracle of the scarlet thread to cease. Of course, we all know what happened – God no longer acknowledged the blood of bulls and goats but had made for a better way. As Paul said, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:2).
When Yeshua was presented to the people by Pilate, he also brought out a man named Barabbas which is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew bar abba — “son of abba (father).” There are some manuscripts that record his name as Yeshua Bar Abba. If so, that means that when Pilate presented these two men to the people, on his one side was a criminal named Yeshua bar Abba and on the other side an innocent man called Yeshua who was, indeed, the Son of Abba (the Father). One was freed and sent away while the other was crucified for the sins of the people — many of whom had just cried, “Crucify him.” This is why the miracle of the scarlet thread ceased to occur — the blood of the spotless sacrifice was poured out for the nation’s sins and for ours. So then, I will conclude with this passage from Hebrews as a reminder to us of just what Messiah did on our behalf.
Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12)
Blessings and Shalom,