CLAIM: Critics often point out that there is no mention of the Jewish Messiah in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Christian apologists often point to thematic rituals like the Day of Atonement in response. Does this passage prefigure the work of Christ?
RESPONSE: On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Jews preformed a ceremony where they would sacrifice an animal and send an animal out of the camp. This symbolized the way that the Jews would get rid of their guilt before God.
(Lev. 16:16 NASB) He [the high priest] shall make atonement [Hebrew kipper] for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities.
This first goat was killed to make atonement for their “sins” and “impurities.” He died for the sins of the people.
(Lev. 16:21-22 NASB) Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
This second goat escaped into the wilderness. Therefore, it has been called the “scapegoat.” He carried away the sins of the people.