March 23, 2017
Volume 21, Number 11
I remember the morning well, though it was a few years ago. I had just opened the garage door to put something in the trash and I saw an animal walking up the slope in our back yard. It took only a moment to identify it – it was a goat! To this day I still don’t know why that goat made an appearance in my yard.
In my earlier years I saw another that might have been called a GOAT. Adolph Rupp, who at that time was the winningest college basketball coach of all time, made a guest appearance at a local school. I was already a Kentucky basketball fan, so I made sure I was present for his talk. (Since then others have passed Rupp on that list of wins.)
GOAT? It is now often used to designate someone as “the Greatest Of All Time”. The term was used in 1992 for legendary boxer Mohammed Ali, and not many would dispute the appropriateness of that title for him. Others, though, have been referred to as GOAT, and for these there will likely always be a debate. It’s one reason sports is so fascinating: How do you measure greatness? Everyone’s opinion is different.
An actual goat played an important role in Israel’s history. Instructions for the Day of Atonement found in Leviticus 16:21 explain: “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the heat of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man.”
You likely know that this is the origin of the term “scapegoat”. To put one’s blame on another is to make them a scapegoat. That’s what we find happening in that text, except the sins of everyone in Israel was involved.
The greatest “goat” of all time, in this sense, was prophesied in Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” The same concept of sending sins away is spoken of, but in this case a person is envisioned, not an animal.
Who was this person? John is one of the inspired writers who tells us: “And you know that [Jesus] was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.” Just as the scapegoat was sent out of the city, loaded with the sins of others, so was Jesus (see Hebrews 13:12). Guilty of no sin, He bore the weight of all sins of all times.
Do we dare call Jesus a goat? That term is often used as an insult. But in this case we’re referring to Him as our scapegoat, the one who bore our sins and carried them away. And I have no hesitation in referring to Jesus as GOAT – the Greatest Of All Time. About that, in my mind, there is no debate.
Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.
Copyright, 2017, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).
“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.
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