Christian Churches of God
Azazel and Atonement
(Edition 1.1 19970911-19970913)
The significance of the goats at Atonement is often confused and the name Azazel is often misconstrued or misused. There is a long-standing interpretation of the symbolism that stems from ancient Israel and is found embodied in the texts of the varying periods. That symbolism is examined here in its Messianic and end-time typology.
Christian Churches of God
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(Copyright ã 1997 Wade Cox)
(Summary by Tom Hoffahrt, Ed. Wade Cox)
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Azazel and Atonement
In Leviticus 16:1-34 we are given instructions for the Atonement sacrifices. Among these are the two goats upon which lots are drawn to determine the sacrifice and the bearing of the sins of the people.
The Day of Atonement is commanded and the day is from dark to dark (Lev. 23:26-32). There is to be no work of any sort on this day and those who disobey are to be cut off from the people and from God.
The priests are to be consecrated and there are a series of set activities in regard to the sacrifices.
The first activity in the text in Leviticus is that two sons of Aaron died for being presumptuous. This action parallels another action in the heavens where two beings rebelled and took a third of the Host. The primary of these beings was Satan the great Red Dragon of the Host (Rev. 12:3-17) who is the god of this world (2Cor. 4:4).
Azazel is understood as the angel of the fallen Host we equate with Satan.
The Soncino commentary on Leviticus 16:8 shows that the word Azazel is understood by Judaism as meaning a strong or mighty el. (’Azaz SHD 5811 is held to be derived from SHD 5810 meaning: to harden, be impudent, to prevail, strengthen the self, hence be strong. This is hardly Messianic).
There is thus no doubt that Azazel was understood by rabbinical and second temple Judaism as referring to the being given power over the nations except Israel. That being was understood as the accuser of Israel, Satan.
Azazel is an alteration in the status of the leader. This concept of alteration of status is not examined anywhere because it strikes at the accepted religious concepts of the mainstream system. There is no doubt that Azazel is held to be the leader of the fallen Host in the DSS texts (at 4Q180-181) and responsible for the sins of mankind as we see in the Atonement ritual.
The he-goat designated for Azazel had the sins of the nation placed on his head and he was put under an appointed priest or scribe or wise man (depending on inference) and taken out into a barren land, i.e. the desert and a land devoid of produce.
The duality of the symbolism
Bullinger, for example, holds that the two goats refer to Christ. However, the duality involves two lots – one for Yahovah and the other for al’Azazel. In order to justify the singular identification, the identity of the second name is concealed and allotted to mean dismissal or such like meaning which is impossible from the etymology.
This term scapegoat (Lev. 16:7-8) is translated from the word based on the Hebrew, which is alleged by some to mean complete removal. For example, Green (Interlinear Bible, p. 102) allocates the word as derived from SHD 5799. This word is identified as meaning both scapegoat and twice as meaning for complete removal (cf. p. 102). However, the one word is involved, namely al’Azazel lzazl. Clearly the one word is held to have two distinct meanings by the LXX, by the KJV and by Green to enable this translation. The DSS and the texts of the first century BCE hold Azazel to mean the leader of the fallen Host.
Multiple meanings: multiple answers
The goat is given to the wilderness of the forty Jubilees after the sacrifice of Messiah, the goat for Yahovah. Both Messiah and the Church were predestined before the foundation of the world. So, too, the plan encompassed the entire Host and their redemption and reconciliation (cf. the paper Lost Sheep and the Prodigal Son (No. 199)).
Also, the adversary has sinned from the beginning (1Jn. 3:8) yet he was perfect from the time he was created until iniquity was found in him (Ezek. 28:15). Thus, the beginning here is not the beginning of creation.
The wilderness was the symbol of sin and evil (cf. Isa. 13:21; 34:14; Mat. 12:43; Lk. 8:27; 11:24; Rev. 18:2). ’Azazel was the personification of all that is great and terrible there (cf. Deut. 1:19; 8:15; Jer. 2:6). Thus, the atonement was three-fold: to Azazel, for Azazel, as Azazel. The son of God, here, is Azazel or the fallen goat.
This illustrates the notion of the mercy and goodness of God. The atonement, in the end, is extended to the fallen Host as a function of the grace of God and the adequacy of the sacrifice of Christ in that exercise of God’s omniscience (cf. the paper The Judgment of the Demons (No. 80)).
As one goat, Christ was put to death to the flesh but was made alive as to the spirit. This was through the resurrection where he became son of God in power (Rom. 1:4; 1Cor. 15:45; 1Pet. 3:18). This was the first goat. He was made sin for us that we might become divinely righteous in him (2Cor. 5:21). In this way, we were reconciled to God and sent out as sheep among wolves. So, too, were the entire Host reconciled to God and hence ’Azazel was also atoned for, as we were, even though it is not yet in effect.
The being is at liberty but wandering in the wilderness, which is under the name of ’Azazel who himself has had atonement made for him. As the Church, we wandered this wilderness for forty Jubilees as Israel wandered the wilderness of sin for forty years before they inherited the promised land. When they entered and it was time for the nations to be subjugated, they were reconciled from the Passover at Gilgal.
This wilderness has a dual symbolism. Firstly, it is cut off from God being under the adversary but, also, it symbolises the action of the removal of sin. The wilderness of forgetfulness is the action of remembering our sins no more (Isa. 43:25; Jer. 31:34). In this action God destroyed the power of the adversary as we see from Hebrews 2:14. Luke 13:1-9 shows the requirement for repentance in all. This involves the confession of sin. In this sense we are set free from the condemnation of the adversary, as it is God that justifies (Rom. 8:33-34).
Without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness. Thus death has taken place for the redemption of the transgression. These concepts are found in Hebrews 9:15-22, 26.
Only through this process can we enter the body of Israel. That is why a person who does not keep the Day of Atonement, and the symbolism of the sacrifice of Christ, and the reconciliation through baptism in the Holy Spirit, is cut off from God. It is through this atonement and symbolic baptism that we are given our garments.
The sacrifice of Messiah reconciled all beings to God. Messiah made atonement for every being including ’Azazel or Satan, and that is why in the two goats we can see the activities of Messiah and yet still see the sequential plan of God as embracing all of His sons. His plan is complete and perfect through His omniscience and in His omnipotence. His mercy and goodness is complete and endures forever.