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February 24th

In the OT readings in Leviticus, we find an instance of what looks at first glance a syncretic practice on the Day of Atonement. It appears that some superstitious, ancient idea mixed into the passing of the people’s sins to a goat-demon lord through the scapegoat that is driven into in the wilderness. Many scholars have pointed out this part of the atonement tradition. In any case, it seems that there, in black and white on the pages of the Bible, a goat-demon is part of the Day of Atonement ritual- at least symbolically.

Leviticus 16: 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel … 22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness … 26 And he who lets the goat go to Azazel shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. [ESV]

From the Encyclopedia Britannica:
Azazel, in Jewish legends, a demon or evil spirit to whom, in the ancient rite of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), a scapegoat was sent bearing the sins of the Jewish people. Two male goats were chosen for the ritual, one designated by lots “for the Lord,” the other “for Azazel” (Leviticus 16:8). The ritual was carried out by the high priest in the Second Temple and is described in the Mishna. After the high priest symbolically transferred all the sins of the Jewish people to the scapegoat, the goat destined “for Azazel” was driven into the wilderness and cast over a precipice to its death. Azazel was the personification of uncleanness and in later rabbinic writings was sometimes described as a fallen angel.

Not very far ahead in Leviticus 17: 7 we will read:
They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols to whom they prostitute themselves. This is to be a lasting ordinance for them and for the generations to come. [NIV]

From Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the Old Testament:
Goat idols (17:7). “Male goats” (literally) as the recipients of sacrifices must represent supernatural beings, such as goat demons or satyrs, who inhabit desolate places (see comment on 16:10). J. Milgrom has stated that 17:7, where sacrifice to goat demons is banned, stands in “blatant contradiction” to chapter 16, which mandates dispatch of a male goat to Azazel. But there is no real contradiction because Azazel’s goat is neither a sacrifice nor an object of sacrifice. Rather, it is simply a ritual “vehicle” for sending evil back to its source

Maranatha! IC -|- XC

Prayer for Today:
Lord, thank You for being closely with all of my imprisoned Christian family. Encourage them with Your presence. Quell their fears and soothe their hearts. Let them hope and wait upon You. Amen.

Daniel Wallace's philosophical, psychological, theological/biblical treatise on love and sex/sexuality is a "must" to read. I'm glad that someone has finally tried to put together a holistic view on love and sex and its signifciance in strengthening the committted relationship between two individuals.

Sometimes Christians when talking about sex (and other issues) merely quote scripture to support their arguments without taking into consideration
the psychological aspects of our humanity. As human beings, we are all these in one: physical, intellectual/cognitive, socio-emotional, moral, spiritual.

It's when we separate or dichotomize our nature that we end up having problems with our own selves just as when we separate ourselves or out of synch in our relationship with God.

A beautiful sexual relationship between two committed people strengthens the emotional bond and brings about spiritual unity. Indeed this is symbolized by the triangle with Christ at its apex as diagrammed by Daniel in his concluding paragpraph.

This was exactly the kind of marriage that I had with the beauty and splendor of sex, emotionally strong, spiritually grounded/rooted though unfortunately it only lasted seven years, but I can proudly say to this day ----they were the most beautiful years of my life!!!

The rituals of clean vs unclean and atonement for sin. I know it all sounds bad but God created everything for our good and wanted nothing to separate us from that love. Then u have Jesus teaching his disciples about clean vs unclean of the intentions of your heart. People that are of this world always want to contradict the Word and its testimony. However nothing. No! Thing! Now tomorrow or forever will separate God's people from His love. His love reaches to the heavens..is forever! Amen!

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