As distant as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our rebellious acts from us. (Psalm 103:12 — EHV)
When something bad happens, people look for someone to blame. What often happens, however, is that the wrong person gets blamed—whether intentionally or not! If the issue lies with someone who is powerful, they will often look for someone to take the blame for them—a fall guy, if you will. A governmental official might blame a member of his administration for a mistake he himself made, a low-level manager might take the blame for something the CEO did, or an older sibling might blame his younger brother for breaking the lamp. They will take responsibility for the actions of others and accept any and all fall out because of it.
The term often used to describe such people is, “scapegoat.”
Two weeks ago we talked about part of the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, and the goat whose blood was shed and sprinkled over the ark of the covenant. This picture’s the blood shed by Christ, which covers over our offenses. Again, read Leviticus 16 for a complete picture of the Day of Atonement.
But there is another important part of the Day of Atonement we didn’t talk about. There was another goat—but this one wasn’t sacrificed on any altar. After the high priest sacrificed the first goat and sprinkled its blood on top of the Ark of the Covenant, he went outside before the people. Then he took the second goat and rubbed his bloody hands all over it while pronouncing upon it the sins of the people. Then this goat, the scapegoat, was taken far outside the camp, far away from the people. That goat would not be able to find his way back home, he would never return again.
The picture is simple and beautiful: The guilt of the sins of the people were placed upon the second goat and were removed far from them. They won’t come back to haunt or to condemn them.
And if that’s the case with the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement, how much more with our sins by Christ on the cross! He placed our sins upon himself and removed those sins far from us—as far as east is from west; and they will not come back to haunt or condemn us. On the cross Jesus cried out, it is finished. Everything needed to be done to save us was complete—finished by Christ on the cross. That means that our sins are completely gone; he did it all and nothing more needs to be done. It was Christ who cast our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19) and removed them far from us—as far as east is from west!
Jesus is our scapegoat, our “fall guy.” Even though we were nothing but guilty (of countless sins) and thus, deserving of punishment; and Jesus was completely innocent, he willingly took our sins upon himself without our asking. He accepted the punishment we deserved and suffered eternal damnation for our sins. Why? Simply because he loves us and wants us to live with him forever in heaven! What makes our scapegoat even more unique? Usually a scapegoat is someone who is under another, one who has less power so to speak—he is usually forced to take the blame by someone in authority over him. But the exact opposite is true for us and Christ. As Almighty God, he holds all the power; but in love, he willingly took the blame for us and in our place suffered and died that we might live with him forever.
What a great day and what a great picture of Christ that the Day of Atonement gives us! Through him we are reconciled to Christ, our relationship with our God is restored, and we are at-one with him again!
Pastor Andrew Frey
Important Update -
We rejoice that we have been able to return to the Lord’s house to worship together, but at the same time we want to do so in a safe manner. As many of you are aware, the last few weeks, the 8:00am service has been full, which perhaps made some of our members uncomfortable. First off, we encourage you to attend a different service. Both the 10:30 am and the Monday evening service have plenty of room in order for you to socially distance. In addition, our council has decided to remove the ropes in the front portion of the lectern side of the sanctuary. This section will not require social distancing. We hope that, with enough worshipers sitting in this section, it will leave enough space in the rest of the sanctuary for everyone else to socially distance. If you have any questions, please speak to one of the Pastors or Council members.
Our fall Adopt-A-Highway date is set for Saturday, October 17th at 8:00am. We also hope to have a work day on this date. Please plan on helping out! There will be more information and a sign-up sheet is in the entryway.
Pastor Frey has started a Bible study on the Christian and the Government—looking at what God says concerning the government and the Christians relation to his other Kingdom. We may be sick of hearing about politics already; but with so much information being thrown at us on a daily basis, it is important to step back and look at what God has to say to us. Join us Sundays at 9:15am.
Pastor Gartner also started a Bible study on "The Life Moses -- A Study of the Book of Exodus". Please join us either Mondays at 8:00am or Tuesdays at 5:30pm.
All these Bible Classes that will be starting will be held at church. If you are not comfortable attending them in person or can't make these times and you would like to receive a recording of these Bible Classes, please contact one of the Pastors and we will send you the link for these recordings.
If you are not comfortable sending your child to in person Sunday School, we have weekly recorded videos of each week's Bible Lesson and the Lesson sheets that we can send to you so that your child can still learn the valuable truths of God's Word. Please contact us if you would be interested in these materials.
Tuesday October 20 at 7:00 pm we will have our quarterly Voter's Meeting. This is the Election and Finance Meeting. We wll be electing a new President and Evangelism Chariman at this meeting as well as decide on some of the ways that we will use the financial blessings God has given to us to do his ministry here at St. John and throughout his Kingdom.
Special Mission Offering:
Each year we designate a certain amount of money to a home mission, a world mission, and one other specially designated ministry. If you have any ideas, particularly concerning a world mission or ministry, please speak to one of the pastors.
Women of Faith/LWMS:
Tuesday September 13 at 1:00 pm all the ladies of the congregation are invited to attend our ladies group for a Bible Study and our LWMS meeting.
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. To help with this, we added an extra service on Sunday morning. We are offering 8:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. We are also asking everyone to sign up each week for whatever Worship Service you plan on attending. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. When you sign-up you’ll have an opportunity to mark whether or not you are willing to help out—it only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
You can find the link to sign-up on the front page of our website at: www.stjohn-appleton.org.
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 8:00 am service which means you can watch anytime after 8:00 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.