The Cleansing of the Sanctuary in Light of the Cross

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When people ask me why Adventists do not keep the feast days, I tell them we do-literally! At the cross we had the literal Passover. Ever since 1844 we have been living in the literal Day of Atonement. When Jesus returns it will literally be the Feast of Trumpets. As Colossians 2:14-17  points out, we do not need to keep the feast Sabbaths which were a shadow of things to come, because now we had the literal Passover when Jesus died on the cross. Now we are living in the literal Day of Atonement.

I have heard people say there is no such thing as a literal Day of Atonement, but that makes no sense to me, because how can there be a shadow to something that doesn’t even exist? Also the sanctuary building itself shows me there has to be a literal Day of Atonement and cleansing of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is an illustration of the Gospel. Many try to tell me the Gospel ended at the cross. If that is so then the sanctuary would have ended in the courtyard where the sacrifice was slain. The fact that the sanctuary continues to a holy and most holy place, tells me the Gospel goes beyond a literal cross into a literal holy and most holy place.  Besides, if the Passover had a literal cross and the Feast of Trumpets has a literal second coming then reason tells me the Day of Atonement must have a literal Day of Atonement as well.

A friend pointed out to me that there was no reason for a literal Day of Atonement beginning in 1844 because sins were forgiven and cleansed right away. There was no need for a cleansing of the sanctuary . yet peter refers to a future day of refreshing or cleansing of sin still to come.

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3:19 KJV

The Message Translation refers to a work still to be done by Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary.

“Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah he prepared for you, namely, Jesus. For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be. Moses, for instance, said, ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet just like me from your family. Listen to every word he speaks to you. Every last living soul who refuses to listen to that prophet will be wiped out from the people.’ Acts 3;19-23 The Message

Still I have heard people say there is no reason for a Day of Atonement or investigative judgment because God already knows everything and does not need to investigate. However in Genesis 3 God comes into the Garden of Eden to investigate after Adam and Eve disobeyed. Again in Genesis 18:21 God investigates Sodom and Gomorrah. So we cannot say there is no investigation because God already knows. Besides, all arguments aside, Daniel 8:14 says after 2300 days (a day for a year Ezekiel 4:6) the sanctuary shall be cleansed. The prophecy of Daniel 8 and 9 mesh together. If you try to make the cleansing of the sanctuary in 2300 literal days then

you have to make the coming of the Messiah in 483 literal days which would make it impossible for Jesus to be our Messiah and Savior. But as Daniel 8 and 9 clearly teach, in A.D. 27 at the beginning of the 70th week, Jesus came as our Messiah and in 1844 He entered the Most Holy Place in heaven to complete the Gospel with the Day of Atonement and Cleansing of the Sanctuary.

 

The Old Testament Day of Atonement was a shadow or illustration of what would occur during the literal Day of Atonement when Jesus entered the Most Holy Place for us. Let’s take a look.

What was to happen at the end of the 2300 days?

The other replied, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the Temple will be made right again.” Daniel 8:14 NLT And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. Daniel 8:14 KJV

Note: The Bible refers to two sanctuaries, one on earth and the other in heaven.

After what, was Moses to build the sanctuary?

“Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you. Exodus 25:8- 9 NLT

Where is the location of the original?

Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle,the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. Hebrews 8:1-2 NLT

They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:5 NLT

How many apartments did it have?

Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.Exodus 26:33 NLT

When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. Hebrews 9:6 NLT

How frequent was it in the second apartment?

But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:7 NLT

When did the high priest do this?

“On the tenth day of the appointed month in early autumn, you must deny yourselves. Neither native-born Israelites nor foreigners living among you may do any kind of work. This is a permanent law for you. Leviticus 16:29 NLT

What was he doing?

On that day offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the Lord’s presence from all your sins. Leviticus 16:30 NLT

How did he do it?

Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. Leviticus 16:7-9 NLT

What did he do with the blood?

“Then Aaron must slaughter the first goat as a sin offering for the people and carry its blood behind the inner curtain. There he will sprinkle the goat’s blood over the atonement cover and in front of it, just as he did with the bull’s blood. Through this process, he will purify the Most Holy Place, and he will do the same for the entire Tabernacle, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites. Leviticus 16:15-16 NLT

What did he do with the sins?

“When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat. He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land. Leviticus 16:20-22 NLT

Note: For more on the scapegoat click here.

What were the people to be doing?

“Be careful to celebrate the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of that same month—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets. You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves and present special gifts to the Lord. Do no work during that entire day because it is the Day of Atonement, when offerings of purification are made for you, making you right with[the Lord your God. All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people. Leviticus 23:27-29 NLT

What happened to those living willfully in open sin?

All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people. And I will destroy anyone among you who does any work on that day. Leviticus 23:29-30 NLT

Note: Jesus has begun the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary or the blotting out of the record of confessed sins there, as well as from our lives here.

What pronouncement will Jesus soon make?

Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.” “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. Revelation 22:11- 12 NLT

What happens to those still sinning willfully?

And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 NLT

What happens to the righteous?

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT

Which group will you be found in?

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:21-27 NLT

What should we be doing in this time of judgment?

“Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” Revelation 14:7 NLT

What assurance do we have?

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT

Related reading: Was the atonement made to appease an angry God or an angry race?  

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

Could you be an Anti-Christ?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay Area.

As Adventists we understand from the book of Revelation that the anti-Christ is the papacy putting itself in the place of God. Of course any system putting itself in the place of God is an anti-Christ. I was surprised a while back to learn that John the Revelator wrote his epistles after writing Revelation. in 1 John 2:18, John writes, “even now are there many anti-Christs; whereby we know that it is the last time.” So was John implying their were more anti-Christs besides just the papacy? If so could you or I have anti-Christ characteristics?

To answer this question, let’s back up a little. In studying the Three Angels Message, we see that a so-called religious system, Babylon, falls. Again we know from studying Revelation that this is a specific system. However, we also see that this system has an attitude. That attitude is legalism. Man-made laws and a man-made day of worship combine to make a man-made way of salvation, outside of trusting in the merits of Jesus. While Revelation pinpoints this system, it is clear that this attitude can be found in other systems as well, and history has demonstrated it. Were not the Sadducees and Pharisees making their own laws and trusting their own works for salvation? Yet they were not Babylon. So could it be that if I am not careful to crucify self and die daily, that this same attitude of Babylon could be found in my heart too?

So, if it is possible for me to have the attitude of Babylon, would it also be possible for me to have the same attitude as the anti-Christ, thus making me one of many anti-Christs? An anti-Christ is someone who sets himself up as Christ, just as the man of sin mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Here we see that the man of sin, or anti-Christ sits in the place of God. So how could I possibly be an anti-Christ, sitting in the place of God? Isaiah 33:22 tells us; “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver.” Our Lord God is our lawgiver and judge. So, when I set myself up as judge of other people’s motives, or think that I can interpret the law for everybody, I am usurping the seat of God and setting myself up as God, and thus becoming an anti-Christ!

Like Babylon, Anti-Christ is more than a system. It is an attitude. Ellen White explains, that while the pilgrims came to the new world, to escape the anti-Christ, that they carried the attitude of anti-Christ with them to the New World:

“It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. “Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith.” (W. Carlos Martyn, The Life and Times of Luther, Vol. 5, p. 297.) The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors.-Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pp. 292-3

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Scriptures are profitable for doctrine and correction. I can only define God’s law by what is in the Scriptures , but not by my personal opinions or traditions, like the Pharisees in Christ’s time and religious leaders in the Dark Ages did. I am not the interpreter of the Law for the whole world, nor, can I think to change times and laws to meet with my own opinions or inclinations. Since I am not the Lawgiver, I cannot judge people by my own standards.

While open sin must be dealt with by the community of believers, according to 1 Corinthians 6, I as an individual cannot judge inward motives. In judging outward actions we must still be careful. Joseph almost put poor Mary away thinking he had all the evidence of an affair. Even with his overwhelming evidence, he was wrong! Even with all his evidence, he tried to put her away privately, without any public embarrassment. What a great example for us to imitate. Even with his incontrovertible evidence, Joseph was not going to judge Mary’s heart.

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul teaches that churches, not individuals, to judge open and outward actions very carefully. He teaches no one to judge the heart and inward motives. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us God and the Scriptures alone tell us what is right and wrong. I am not the Lawgiver or the interpreter of the law for the rest of the world.

Only the Lord our God is our Lawgiver and Judge, and when we judge people according to our own standards, opinions and understanding, we usurp the throne of God and become an anti-Christ.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson at ssnet.org.

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Please Send Michael

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In the book of Daniel we see a lot of spiritual warfare. In Daniel 10 we see Cyrus in the middle of a cosmic struggle that affected the destiny of not only his personal life or nation but of the entire world! In that struggle Michael comes on the scene to help Gabriel overcome evil in the cosmic battle. In Daniel 6 we see a cosmic battle between good and evil. This time Daniel is in the middle of the conflict, and he prays to his God who delivers him and sends his angels to shut the lions’ mouths. In Daniel 3, three Hebrews are tested in a spiritual battle, and they come out of the fire with flying colors and no burns at all. This time one like the Son of God appears in the fire with those who are caught in the literal crossfire of a cosmic battle. Amazing – whenever the cosmic battle gets intense, heavenly beings, even God Himself, shows up to defend his faithful followers. What about in Daniel 10, though? Was Michael another angel fighting for God’s people, or was Michael much more than an angel? Did Christ Himself show up to help Gabriel in the battle over Cyrus?

Recently I was studying with a man who believed Jesus was a really good person, even a savior who died for us, but he did not believe Jesus is God. I shared with him the importance of knowing Jesus is actually God. I asked him, “If your wife was trapped inside a burning building, which would convince her more that you love her – sending a fireman in to rescue her or going in yourself to rescue her?” He replied, “Going in myself.”

God the Son shows His love for us by dying Himself to rescue us.

In Daniel 10, Daniel is in a fierce spiritual battle when finally,

Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me. Daniel 10:13 NKJV

In Daniel’s time of need did God send someone else to rescue Daniel, or did He demonstrate His love by rescuing Daniel Himself?

It’s easy for some to conclude, on surface reading, that Michael is just another angel. But as we look deeper, we see that Michael is actually the Son of God, who became incarnate as “Jesus,” coming to our rescue.

Archangel is a compound of two Greek words: “arche” which means beginning or commencement, and “aggelos” which means angel or messenger. The word arche is also closely related to the word “archo,” which means “to be first” or to “reign (rule) over.” Thus the “Archangel” is the One who began (created) the angels and reigns over them. That would be none other than Christ.

Bible scholars are in general agreement that an “archangel” is over the created angels. But not all agree that the Archangel is the Creator Himself.

Let’s look at a similar passage in which Christ is called the “beginning” of the creation of God:

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” (Rev 3:14)

In this text “arche” is translated as “beginning.” Is it not reasonable to conclude that since to all the other churches, the One speaking is Christ Himself, that this is clearly another description of Christ? Thus, it appears that in biblical usage, the “arch-creation” or “beginning of creation” means the Creator Himself.

Thus from the word usage, we could conclude that the “archangel” is also the Creator of the angels and not one of the created angels.

The name Michael means “One like God” or “There is no one else like God.” If Michael were only a created angel, then Lucifer’s aspiration to be “like God” could not be blasphemous and a reason for his expulsion from heaven. (See Isaiah 14:14.)

In Revelation 19:10 John starts to worship an angel and the angel tells him not to. Obviously this was a created angel who realized there was no way he, a created being could be equal with God. However, in Joshua 5, Joshua meets an Angel who accepts his worship, demonstrating that this was not a created angel, but the Angel who led Israel in the wilderness, referred to in Exodus 23:20-21:

Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.

Notice that the implication that this Angel can forgive transgression. Who but God Himself can forgive transgression? The Jews knew this and accused Christ of blasphemy when He forgave sin. (See Matthew 9:2-6)

So how do we know in the Bible that Michael is the Son of God, now known as Jesus?

Daniel called Michael a chief prince. Who is our chief prince?

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given….. And His name will be called…. Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

Who did Jude 1:9 say raises the dead?

Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. Jude 1:9

When Jesus comes, who raises the dead?

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:16

It is the Lord Himself who has the voice of the archangel. The same voice that Jesus said would raise the dead.

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. John 5:25

There are not two different persons who raise the dead. No created angel can raise the dead. Only Christ can do that.

While Michael rescued Daniel during his time of need, who will rescue us during our time of trouble?

“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake…..” Daniel 12:1-2

Michael, the Son of God Himself will come to our rescue! How assuring to know that God loves us too much to let someone else save and rescue us! He rescues us Himself! Yes God also send angels both terrestrial and celestial to help us in our time of needs, but He also loves us so much that He will finally come rescue all His people Himself!

Daniel 10 gives me comfort that, in my time of need, when I feel I am being overcome by Satan, I can cry out God, “Please send Michael!” And Michael, the Only one “like Unto God,” Yes God Himself will rescue me!

Are you in the middle of a spiritual warfare now, and feel like you are losing the battle? Don’t wait. Call for Michael, the Son of God Himself, now!

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

Staying Humble After God Exalts You

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. James 4:10 NLT

Ever notice that Jesus did not rush over to the Pharisees right after His resurrection and tell them, “I told you so!” Jesus did not have a vindictive spirit.

By the time Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him he no longer had a vindictive spirit either. Who knows? Maybe God had the butler forget about Joseph for a couple of years because it took that long for him to realize that the meaning of his dream was not really about everyone bowing down to him. The dream was really about him saving lives. See Genesis 45:7.

When I lived in Texas I had a friend who was a nurse but was studying to become a nurse practitioner. She told me when she was in third grade an old nun was her teacher. The nun told her she would never be smart enough to become a nurse. Now here she was not only a nurse but studying to be a nurse practitioner. Sometimes when I would call her to go out to eat, she would tell me she had to study. One Sunday I called her to go eat with me, but she told me she was busy studying. I told her the nun was long gone by now and would never know she was a nurse practitioner now, so we should just go eat. She laughed and assured  me we would eat another time. Of course the real reason my friend was studying hard to become a nurse practitioner was not to vindicate herself to her old teacher. She was studying so she could help people. The hundreds and maybe thousands of people who have been blessed by my friend’s medical ministry know nothing about what the teacher told her.  Nor do they care. All they care about is that she can help them. And that’s all that really matters – helping people. By the time Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him he had nothing to prove. He was not sitting on a throne to be vindicated. He was sitting on a throne to save lives. When Jesus was resurrected He had no desire to vindicate Himself to any of the leaders. It was enough that Mary was there at the tomb and He had risen as her Savior. He is not in heaven vindicating Himself now. He is in heaven saving lives. That’s why He lives. See Hebrews 7:25.

I read through the Bible every year, and when I come to the story of David I had often wondered why it took David so long to actually become king after being anointed. Why didn’t he take the throne the day Samuel chose him? Why did God allow Saul to persecute him so much? Then one day I realized that Saul actually started out humble but became arrogant once he was on the throne, thus leading to his destruction. Is it possible God allowed David to wait and endure trials and tribulations on his way to the throne in order to keep him humble even after he was exalted as king?

James says God will exalt or “lift up” those who are humble. But even after being lifted up and exalted we are to remain humble. Arrogance has no place in the Christian life at any time. Jesus told Philip when you have seen Me you have Seen the Father. See John 14:9. When Jesus said He was meek and lowly (Matthew 11:29) He was showing them the Father who was on the throne in heaven. When Jesus was working in the carpenter shop He was showing them the Father who reigns over the entire universe. When Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet He was showing them what God the Father is like.

Jesus was never arrogant and never will be. He was never proud and vindictive and never will be. Even after being exalted Jesus remains meek and lowly. While sitting on the throne watching his brothers bow down to him, Joseph knew he was sitting on the throne to save lives. When every knee bows to Jesus it wont be for self vindication. There is no selfishness in Jesus and thus no need for self vindication. Jesus will be sitting on the throne to save lives.

When God lifts you up, it won’t be for your self-vindication. Keep in mind that you are only where you are to serve others and save lives.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 NLT