Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest enters the inner sanctuary of the temple to make a sacrifice for the sins of the
entire nation of Israel. The sacrificial ritual required two male goats that were physically perfect in age and condition. Sacrificed as
the sin offering, one goat's blood and flesh were offered as a substitute payment of the nation's sin. On the head of the surviving goat
(scapegoat), the high priest confessed all of the nation's sins and released to the wild to signify that sin left the Hebrew nation
The Old Testament sacrificial system clearly used animal sacrifices as a substitute for the atonement of human beings
(Lev 17:11). Implicit in this is the recognition of God's judicial penalty for sin is
In his prophecy of the Messiah, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah indicates the significance of the Messiah's sacrifice within the
context of the Levitical sacrificial laws (Isaiah 53:1-12).
The Servant's sacrifice was for iniquity (Isa 53:5, 6, 11),
transgression (Isa 53:5, 8) and sin (Isa 53:12).
The Servant's offering was a guilt offering (Isa 53:10).
The death of the Servant was substitutionary in nature, and it was in substitute for human beings
(Isa 53:5, 11, 12).
This idea of substitution was based on God's prescribed method for restoring a relationship with Him that was broken by intentional
or unintentional sin. This symbolism of conferring sin on to the substitute finds its basis in the Day of Atonement.
Note carefully that when the High Priest made this sacrifice for the whole nation of Israel, the payment was being made to God
regardless of whether individuals of the nation were Believers or not.
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