Crushed for Our Iniquities
Given By: "Glenn D. Blank" On Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tonight, I would like to explore a mystery: why does God deal with iniquity is strange ways?
Leviticus 16:21 says, "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."
The live goat is the Azazel or scapegoat.  The High Priest lays hands on it to confess the sins of Israel.
That's odd: why confess iniquities over a live goat, then send it out to die in the wilderness? A mystery!
Isaiah 53:5, "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities."
Isaiah 53 describes the suffering servant, who, like the Azazel, bears away all the sins of Israel.
I hope you all recognize the One who was pierced through for our transgressions?  Who is he?
Seven centuries before the fact, Isaiah saw Yeshua the suffering servant-pierced with Roman nails and a centurion's sword-to verify that he had actually died-to atone for our transgressions. Wow!
But there's another mystery here: why does the suffering servant need to be "crushed for our iniquities"?
Wouldn't it have been enough for him to die to atone for our sins?
What are these iniquities that require such strange, drastic and cruel measures?

Yom Kippur was designed to be a visible demonstration of how much it costs to forgive sin & iniquity.
To fully appreciate the meaning of Yom Kippur, we need to understand our iniquities as well as our sins.
Sins and iniquities are two different, though related concepts, which often appear together in the Bible.
For example, in Psalm 51:2, David says, "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."
These are two different words in Hebrew:
The word for "sin" is chet-you probably recognize this word, from the prayer we said earlier this evening- Al Chet, For the Sin. Chet is an offense against God, violating the Torah and worthy of death.
The word for "iniquity" is avon, means perversity or wickedness; it comes from a root meaning "to be crooked," bent or inclined the wrong way.  
Numbers 18:1 may help you grasp the nature of avon: "The LORD says to Aaron, You and your sons in your father's son shall bear the iniquity (avon) relating to the sanctuary."
Hmm.... You know, the sanctuary could not violate any commandments, so how would it get iniquity?
It was made ritually unclean-a state of iniquity-by contact with human iniquity.  Tag, we're it!
Also notice that the priests are to "bear the iniquity" away-like the scapegoat or suffering servant.
God will not dwell in the sanctuary unless someone bears or carries its iniquity away.
In other words, chet or sin is a particular act, breaking a commandment.
But avon or iniquity is a state of being, a description of human nature, crooked or inclined toward evil.

Does anyone remember a related concept I talked about just this past Shabbat?
Yetzer hara: the evil inclination. Genesis 6:5 describes this human condition, just before the flood:
"The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."
Apparently things had gotten pretty bad back then. But even a forty-day flood couldn't wash it away..
As soon as Noah got off the boat, the old man got drunk; his son spied on him lying naked in his tent,
so Noah cussed his grandson! Oy gevolt! Has human nature improved much since then?
You can envision man's moral nature, by standing on a ramp: good pushes up and evil leans down.
Up is loving God (even through trials) and your neighbor (even when it's not convenient or pleasant).
Down is selfishness, pride, feeding our carnal appetites. Which way are you naturally inclined?
Let's face it: unless God gets a hold of us, our desires & thoughts are going to be inclined that way.
We're inclined to be selfish, we're inclined to pride, to fear, to worry, to covet, to be resentful..
How many of you aware of this inclination?
Traditional Judaism has a couple of ways of understanding iniquity.
Reform and secular Judaism tend to focus on sin, ignoring iniquity.
Without iniquity, people may seem to be basically good. Occasionally, we break a commandment.
With this outlook, your Jewish friend or relative might have difficulty considering herself a sinner.
"I'm basically a good person! Every once in a while I mess up... So? Nobody's perfect!"
Since I was raised with this background, when I was a young man I didn't think of myself as a sinner.
To be a 'sinner', you'd have to be constantly breaking the laws, a reprobate.
With this background, you'd have a hard time appreciating the need for Messiah's atonement.
Orthodox Judaism, on the other hand, does recognize and try to deal with iniquity.
Orthodox Judaism recognizes a war betwixt yetzer hora & yetzer tov, the good inclination of the soul.
Rav Sha'ul (Paul) describes this struggle in Roman 7:19, "For what I do is not the good I want to do;
no, I keep wanting to do the evil I don't want to do." (Oy! Talk about a Jewish guilt complex!)
Some Rabbis say that a purpose for afflicting ourselves on Yom Kippur is to enable your yetzer tov
to gain sway over the yetzer hora. By fasting, acts of tzedakah or righteousness, religious prayer,
and some Torah study, the yetzer tov can overcome the yetzer hara.
While all these activities are admirable, can they truly do away with the evil inclination or iniquity?

Believers in Messiah Yeshua say, echoing Rabbi Sha'ul, "I'm just a sinner saved by grace."
This doesn't necessarily mean that we are always sinning.  (I hope not!)
It means that we recognize that there is something in us that is prone to iniquity.
Most believers, and for that matter, most Jews, are not out there robbing banks.
That's part of the reason Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run is funny.
The idea of a nebbish, who grows up playing the cello . in a marching band, winds up robbing banks.
A Jewish nebbish is more likely to feel guilty about thinking about robbing a bank.
How about you? Do you ever covet? (That's one of the 10 commandments!)
Do you ever lust? Do you ever hold grudges? Do you ever deal with anxiety by looking in the fridge?
These things are iniquity. Your iniquity separates you from God.
Isaiah 59:1-2 say: "Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear."
Here we see both sins and iniquity together again: your iniquities separate you from your God,
so that your sins make him hide his face from you.
Both sins and iniquity need to be dealt with.
We all have this evil inclination, we're all this on this inclined place, and we all make excuses.
Ever since Adam and Eve we've been making excuses.
Even if you are morally strong enough to resist the evil inclination, the fact that you have a yetzer hara still makes you unfit to come into the presence of the God in His perfect holiness.
This is what Isaiah realized when he saw the Lord in the Temple, saying, in Isaiah 6:5.
"Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
Isaiah wasn't confessing any particular sin, but his state of uncleanness, or iniquity.
Uncleanness is a state-the human condition-that makes you unfit to be in the presence of God.
Even though God very much you to come into his presence!
Every child of Adam is unclean, because he or she is born into iniquity, inheriting this evil inclination.
So your iniquity separates you from God.
So what is to be done about this?
Just as the sanctuary needed to have its iniquity born away, so do we.
Let's see how God deals with iniquity in Torah, in the Yom Kippur sacrifices.

Leviticus 16 tells us about two goats:
Verse 9: "Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering."
So this first goat is for what? Sin.
Verse 10: "But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement, by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat."
So this scapegoat was to be taken alive into the wilderness, not killed.
Verse 21: "Aaron is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities (avon) and rebellious sins of the Israelites-- all their sins-- and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their iniquity (avon) to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert."
Notice that the first goat was offered as a sacrifice for sin.
The second goat, the azazel, was to bear iniquity, alive, into the wilderness.
This bearing or carrying of iniquity is an ongoing process, dealing with the ongoing state of iniquity,
because iniquity doesn't just disappear.
I must continually put my carnal nature to death, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
When we think about the scapegoat, we might thin, lucky goat, he doesn't get the knife.
But that's because we don't understand the terrain of the Judean wilderness.
If you sent a goat into the wilderness of Pennsylvania--happy goat!
But that's not what the Judean wilderness is like -- it's a trackless, hot, burning waste.
The azazel was left out there, tied to something, was doomed to die a very terrible, suffering death.
Not so lucky!  The other goat, the sacrifice goat, died a very humane death.
The method of slaughtering sacrifices, which comes down to us in kosher laws today,
was very humane, using a very sharp knife, so there was no pain.
That sacrifice goat died a very easy death, but the scapegoat died a slow death, alone in the wilderness.
Why was this necessary?   A sacrifice was sufficient to atone for sin.
But for the atonement of iniquity, it seems it can only be done by a slow, agonizing death.
Now that we don't have a tabernacle or a Temple, how can we have atonement for sin & iniquity?
I hope you know the answer--the Creator of the Universe came into the world to do it,
taking human form as the Messiah, the anointed One, the suffering servant.
In Isaiah 53:5 we see some amazing parallels between Yeshua and the two goats of Yom Kippur.
"But he was pierced through wounded for our transgressions, and he was crushed for our iniquities;
the chastisement that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed."
"He was pierced through" is sometimes translated "He was wounded."  The Hebrew word is m'chalel, The primary meaning of this Hebrew word is pierced through, perforated, a breaking of skin.
On Yom Kippur, once the sacrifice goat's neck was cut, it died, immediately, from blood loss.
Its blood was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant: the mercy seat.
Because this was done, God manifested himself in His Shekinah, filling the tabernacle with His glory.
In the same way, when the blood of Messiah Yeshua was shed, it flowed out of his wounds on the cross
-the cross is like the mercy seat-a Roman centurion saw a manifestation of God there, saying,
"Surely he was the Son of God!" Ever since, countless people have seen God's glory on that mercy seat!
Do you see the parallel here, between the sacrifice goat and the suffering servant?
Yes, there are amazing, awesome parallels. But there's more....
Isaiah 53:5 also says he was "crushed"-the Hebrew is daka, meaning shattered, broken in pieces.
You may have wondered, why did he have to die like that? Why did he have to suffer so much?
Why did he have to be whipped, crowned with thorns, made to carry a cross,
forced outside the city onto a rocky hill, nailed to two wooden beams, hung up naked,
taunted and humiliated by his own people,
then left to die, of exhaustion and thirst, asphyxiation, and a physically broken heart.
Here's the other incredible parallel: Messiah didn't die a humane death. It was slow and agonizing.
Like the scapegoat driven out into the wilderness, He suffered and died, to bear away our iniquity.
As Isaiah 53:6 says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity (avon) of us all."
Somehow, he still bears our iniquity... because we all still struggle with it.
We all wander off, from His perfect will for our lives, because we each want to go his or her own way.
So Hashem has laid on Messiah the iniquity of us all. Yeshua bears it away for us, like the Azazel.
Do you see now? Like sheep, we keep straying off the path of righteousness into trouble and iniquity.
Yet Messiah has made atonement for you, not only for your sin by his blood, but also for your iniquity, your carnal nature, by the terrible suffering He endured-all to forgive you, to pardon you completely.
How much he has done for us! Romans 5:8 says, "God demonstrates His own love toward us in this: while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us." What amazing love! He much He loves us! 

I think we should take a few moments to pray about this awesome atonement, don't you?
If you see your need for atonement for sin and iniquity, if you are ready to accept what Messiah Yeshua has done for you, I invite you to pray to receive His gift of mercy and atonement tonight.
I invite you to kneel, or stand, in His presence.  Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord.
Perhaps you are someone who never thought of yourself as a 'sinner', can you now see He also atones for your iniquity, the inclination of the heart away from God.
He wants you to be holy, to dwell in His presence. So I invite you to kneel, or stand, in His presence.
If the fire of your first love has cooled a bit, and your iniquity keeps you apart from Him,
can you see that Messiah still forgives you much, and still bears your iniquity away?
It's all because He wants you to dwell in his presence, to be holy as He is holy, tonight.
I invite you also to kneel, or stand, in his presence..
If you are someone who has struggled to understand the meaning of suffering, consider the Messiah.
He suffered to give you and me victory over our carnal nature and selfishness.
God commands us to afflict ourselves on this day. It's not because afflicting ourselves will vanquish
the evil inclination.  Rather God wants us to identify with His affliction, the affliction that He endures for us, by becoming the suffering servant, the Messiah.
I invite you again to also kneel, or stand, in his presence.
His suffering redeems our suffering, gives it eternal meaning, and gives us the victory of His holiness.
Abba Father promises: if you share in His suffering, you will also share in His glory.
If while suffering you can forgive, while suffering you can love, while suffering you can rejoice,
then all the more will you share in His glory! "I have been crucified with Messiah; it is not longer I who live, but Messiah who lives in me."  Can we see that Scripture together?
So let's pray... maybe you could put your hands on your heart, so this word will go deep into our hearts.

Write this into my heart.
Show me, Lord God, how I am inclined toward evil.
Help me not to cover this up or brush it aside, but to see that it is a spiritual reality,
and that I need that part of me to die on the tree with you,
so that you can bear it away for me.
Thank you, Yeshua, for atoning for my sins and bearing my iniquity.
Thank you, Yeshua, for pouring our your life unto death, to make intercession for me.
Thank you, Yeshua, for making your life a guilt offering, so that I can sew the light of life with you.
Thank you, Yeshua, for suffering so much for me, so that you could forgive me so much.

O Yeshua, because you have forgiven me so much, I love you! I love you so much!
I do love you, and I will love you, with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my strength! V'eemru?