Our Works on the Day of Atonement

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As this week’s SS lesson focuses on the work of Jesus our High Priest on the day of atonement, let’s take just a moment and focus on what the people were to be doing on the day of atonement.

This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.  For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, thatyou may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.  It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. Leviticus 16:29-31 NKJV

Even though this is not a weekly Sabbath we are to put away our works. Now when you consider that we have been living in the literal day of atonement since 1844 it does not sound logical to do no work since 1844. So how do we apply the no working part to how we should be living in the literal day of atonement? I believe the answer is found in Galatians 5:19-21:

 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Leviticus tells us to afflict our souls. What does that mean? Could it mean doing some heart searching and putting away our fleshly egos and lusts? This is where I think we need to be careful about something Paul warned us about a long time ago.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 NKJV

Hmmm….interesting….Paul says endure afflictions. Could it be that during the day of atonement, in the last days, when we should be afflicting our souls, looking for areas and rooms of our hearts that need to be surrendered to God, that Satan supplies us with false teachers with fables that make us feel so good about ourselves that we don’t feel the need to do any soul searching, much less afflict our souls or deny the lusts of our flesh and egos?

 

During the day of atonement, which we believe we have been in since 1844 we are to be afflicting our souls and putting away our works, so that the Holy Spirit can fill us with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is not our works but the works of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 NKJV

On page 623 God’s messenger describes the work of God’s people during the literal day of atonement, beginning in 1844. Does this sound similar to what God’s people were told to do during the symbolic day of atonement?

It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to him, to unite our weakness to his strength, our ignorance to his wisdom, our unworthiness to his merits. God’s providence is the school in which we are to learn the meekness and lowliness of Jesus. The Lord is ever setting before us, not the way we would choose, which seems easier and pleasanter to us, but the true aims of life. It rests with us to co-operate with the agencies which Heaven employs, in the work of conforming our characters to the divine model. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls.  –Ellen White, The Great Controversy, Page 623

Jesus will not force an entrance into our hearts. He will come into our hearts when we have taken a good look at our hearts and sense our need of a Savior. This means putting away the pride and works of the flesh and asking the Holy Spirit to replace our works with His fruit. While Jesus does not wish to harm the dignity of the individual, it is impossible for us to sense our need of Him, until through affliction, the ego has been crucified. This is how Leviticus 16:29-31 is fulfilled, when we afflict our souls and do no works of the flesh.

Acts of the Apostles-The Great Commission

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. But this picture is not in the Tampa Bay area. Can you tell where it is?

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 3

After the death of Christ the disciples were well-nigh overcome by discouragement. Their Master had been rejected, condemned, and crucified. The priests and rulers had declared scornfully, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” Matthew 27:42. The sun of the disciples’ hope had set, and night settled down upon their hearts. Often they repeated the words, “We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” Luke 24:21. Lonely and sick at heart, they remembered His words, “If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” Luke 23:31. 

     Jesus had several times attempted to open the future to His disciples, but they had not cared to think about what He said. Because of this His death had come to them as a surprise; and afterward, as they reviewed the past and saw the result of their unbelief, they were filled with sorrow. {AA 25.1} 

 The early church started with a disappointment. The disciples did not understand the Scriptures said Christ had to die, even though Jesus told them plainly. They got excited about their own plans for Christ and got carried away. They were mocked and ridiculed by the Jews and the non believers. Then when Christ was resurrected they were accused of making up the story to cover their embarrassment that He had died. Fact is, even though they made a mistake and misunderstood Scripture, they were still God’s people, and Christ was indeed resurrected and commissioned them to take the good news to all the world.

Later in 1844 God’s people suffered another disappointment. They did not understand that the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel pointed to the sanctuary message and not a time prophecy for Christ’s return. Even though the Bible taught clearly against setting times and dates for Christ’s return God’s people once again got carried away. When Christ did not return in 1844 they were disappointed as the disciples were at the cross. They were mocked and ridiculed. Then when they discovered that the 2300 day message actually was about the sanctuary they were accused of making it all up to cover their embarrassment. But even though they made a mistake they were still God’s people and He has commissioned them to take the good news to all the world.

When people mock and ridicule the saints of God in 1844 they do exactly what the Jews did to the disciples at the cross. In both cases the mocking and ridiculing leads to unbelief in God Himself.

Thankfully none of the accusations in either case holds any water and the everlasting gospel will outlast all the lies and accusations will triumph! Here are some wonderful promises found in the current chapter of Acts of the Apostles.

The disciples were to carry their work forward in Christ’s name. Their every word and act was to fasten attention on His name, as possessing that vital power by which sinners may be saved. Their faith was to center in Him who is the source of mercy and power. In His name they were to present their petitions to the Father, and they would receive answer. They were to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christ’s name was to be their watchword, their badge of distinction, their bond of union, the authority for their course of action, and the source of their success. Nothing was to be recognized in His kingdom that did not bear His name and superscription.  {AA 28.2} 

 

Christ did not tell His disciples that their work would be easy. He showed them the vast confederacy of evil arrayed against them. They would have to fight “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12. But they would not be left to fight alone. He assured them that He would be with them; and that if they would go forth in faith, they should move under the shield of Omnipotence. He bade them be brave and strong; for One mightier than angels would be in their ranks–the General of the armies of heaven. He made full provision for the prosecution of their work and took upon Himself the responsibility of its success. So long as they obeyed His word, and worked in connection with Him, they could not fail. Go to all nations, He bade them. Go to the farthest part of the habitable globe and be assured that My presence will be with you even there. Labor in faith and confidence; for the time will never come when I will forsake you. I will be with you always, helping you to perform your duty, guiding, comforting, sanctifying, sustaining you, giving you success in speaking words that shall draw the attention of others to heaven.  {AA 29.1} 

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.