Read Leviticus 16:20-22. What happened to the live goat?
The ritual with the live goat was not an offering. After the lot decided which of the two goats was to be for Yahweh and which one was for Azazel (often translated as “scapegoat”), only the goat for Yahweh is referred to as a purification offering (Lev. 16:9, Lev. 16:15).
By contrast, the goat for Azazel is called the “live goat.” It was never slain, probably to avoid any idea that the ritual constituted a sacrifice. The live goat came into play only after the high priest had finished the atonement of the entire sanctuary ( Lev. 16:20). This point cannot be overemphasized: the ensuing ritual with the live goat had nothing to do with the actual cleansing of the sanctuary or of the people. They already had been cleansed.
Who or what is Azazel? Early Jewish interpreters identified Azazel as the original angelic sinner and the primary author of evil, even as the leader of evil angels. We know him, of course, as a symbol of Lucifer himself.
The ritual with the live goat was a rite of elimination that accomplished the final disposal of sin. Sin would be brought upon the one responsible for it in the first place and then carried away from the people forever. “Atonement” was made upon it in a punitive sense (Lev. 16:10), as the goat carried the ultimate responsibility for sin.
Does Satan then play a role in our salvation, as some falsely charge we teach? Of course not. Satan never, in any way, bears sin for us as a substitute. Jesus alone has done that, and it is blasphemy to think that Satan had any part in our redemption.
The ritual with the live goat finds a parallel in the law of the malicious witness (Deut. 19:16-21). The accuser and the accused stand before the Lord, represented by the priests and judges; an investigation is held; and, if the accuser is found to be a malicious witness, he shall receive the punishment he intended for the innocent (for example, vicious Haman who put up gallows for loyal Mordecai).
Thank God again for His merciful forgiveness and the fact that He will remember our sin no more (Jer. 31:34). How can we learn not to remember our sins once they are forgiven? Why is it so important for us to do this?