We have all heard of the ‘Lamb of God’, as a representation of Christ and his sacrifice for our sins, or the term ‘the sacrificial lamb’. Obviously this image used as a carving on buildings, especially religious edifices, is numerous, whether in stone or wood.
However, most will not have heard of the ‘Goat of God’, also a representation of Christ, and his sacrifice for our sins. Many will have come across the term ‘scapegoat’ which often appears in the Bible, but you may not have come across the term ‘the sacrificial goat’.
According to the Bible and the laws of Judaism, an offering to God to cleanse sins may be made by sacrificing a defect free bullock, goat or lamb, depending upon the sin(s). The bible has quite a few verses explaining how different characters atoned for their sins by offering up one, combinations or multiples of these animals.
Jesus who saves us from our sin, if we trust and believe in him and follow his teachings, offered up both: his body, as the ‘Lamb of God’, to abate the wrath of God and take away the sins of the world; and his blood, as the ‘Goat of God’, to symbolically be sprinkled upon the Holy of Holies, to cleanse our sins so that we might enjoy everlasting redemption.
This is revealed in the Book of Hebrews, Chapter 9, Verse 24-28, “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him,” and Chapter 9, Verse 11-12, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”
To have this ‘Goat of God’ carving upon a Church door in Ethiopia, then it must symbolise the entering of the church for Christians, to remember that Christ has shed his blood inside, upon the altar or holy of holies, in order to grant them everlasting redemption from their sins, and therefore to be mindful of Christ’s sacrifice and to believe and trust in him and his teachings.
For those who ignore such a reminder from the Great Redeemer, that their souls will be cast down into the Pit, and as such, as a symbol of spiritual protection, it invokes the power of Christ, over any evil spirits trying to enter, reminding them that Christ will not sacrifice his blood for them, for they did not adhere to his teachings, or trust in him, and did not follow his example, so cannot access the holy space within, without inviting the wrath of Almighty God.
In Ethiopia there is a tradition of making goat figurines which are presented and sold to tourists.
The Goat of God on a Door at Yimrahanna Kristos Cave Church, Early 11th Century AD, Lalibela
A Clay Goat Figurine being presented by three Ethiopian Boys
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