What do you do when you sin? When you disobey God, or hurt someone? Do you ever tell God that you’re sorry? Do you tell others that you’re sorry?
God takes our sin very seriously. Why? Because he is perfect. He is pure. There is not a single bad thing in God, and he has never done a single bad thing. And God wants us to be pure just like him. He wants us to be sinless too.
But we are far from sinless aren’t we? Do you ever sin? Do you ever do bad things? Say bad things? Think bad things? Fail to do good things? All of this is sin. But sin is about more than just how we behave (or don’t behave). It’s about how we relate to God. Sin is about rejecting God and his love and grace – like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. But when we receive God’s love and grace we can be forgiven. We can be freed from the guilt of all our sin.
At Mount Sinai, God taught his people how to be forgiven. He gave them a special day called the Day of Atonement. The word atonement means covering. Each year, on the Day of Atonement God would cover up the peoples’ sins. How? With a sacrifice. God told Aaron, Moses’ brother and the priest, to take two goats. One goat will be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the people, and the other goat will be set loose in the desert, never to return again. Listen to how God describes it here:
Leviticus 16:7-10. 7 Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for [the desert]. 9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for [the desert] shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the [desert].
I know this sounds very confusing, but here’s what God is trying to teach the people – He will both cover our sins and carry our sins away from us forever, never to return. How? By putting our sins onto a substitute.
Aaron would touch the head of the first goat placing the sins of the people on the goat. The first goat was now the substitute for the people and would be sacrificed as a “sin offering” on the altar.
Then Aaron would touch the head of the second goat placing the sins of the people on the second goat. The second goat was now the substitute for the people and would run away into the desert, taking their sins away for another year.
Now, which goat do you think was a picture of Jesus?
Yes, it’s a trick question – they BOTH are.
Jesus came to earth to both cover our sins and to carry our sins far away forever, not just for one year.
Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins as your perfect substitute? Do you believe that he can carry away your sins forever and ever? Do you want to be forgiven by God? Do you want to receive God’s love, and grace, and have his eternal life so that you can live with him forever?
You don’t need a goat. You need to trust in what Jesus has done for us on the cross. He took our sins and carried them away forever. Now, we can know that we are forgiven by God. We can say “I’m sorry” and know that God still loves us no matter what we’ve done. No matter how bad it was.
Remember, being bad can never make God love you less. And being good can never make God love you more. He loves you because of Jesus. Not because of what you do. And that is good news!
Because of Jesus I can know that I am forgiven forever.
With Jesus I can say “I’m sorry” to God and others when I sin.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Act it out! One person can be Aaron the priest. Two people can be the goats (you can even “cast lots” to see who gets to be goat #1 and goat #2). “Aaron” should touch the heads of the goats and confess to God that your family has sinned. “Goat #1” will need to be “sacrificed” for sins on an “altar,” while goat #2 gets set free carrying away all the sins of your family.
Talk about why we don’t do this anymore. Why we don’t need goats. How Jesus is the FINAL sacrifice for sins. All our sins are carried away forever by him.
You died in my place and carried away my sins. I’m sorry for all the ways I still don’t trust you. Help me to love you like you love me.
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