“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him: for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:6,7).
Before we can understand the context of this first angel or message, we need to understand the following :-
- The Great Controversy – why were sin and suffering permitted to enter into this world ?
- Adam’s Fall – why did sin enter into this world ?
- The Earthly Sanctuary – How did God illustrate through the ceremonial laws how he deals with sin ?
- The Heavenly Sanctuary – How does God plan to eradicate sin and suffering from this world ?
THE GREAT CONTROVERSY
“God is love.” (1 John 4;16.) His nature, his Law, is love. Every manifestation of creative power is an expression of infinite love.
The history of the great conflict between good and evil, from the time it first began in heaven to the final overthrow of rebellion and the total eradication of sin, is also a demonstration of God’s unchanging love.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” (John 1:1. See also Revelation 19:11-16). Christ, the Word, the Only Begotten of God was one with the eternal Father – one in nature, in character, in purpose – the only being that could enter into all counsels and purposes of God. “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” ( Isaiah 9:6). His goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2).
The Father wrought by His Son in the creation of all heavenly beings.”By Him were all things created,…whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16. Angels are God’s ministers, radiant with the light ever flowing from His presence and speeding on rapid wing to execute His will. But the Son, the Anointed of God, “the express image of His person”, “the brightness of His glory”, supports “all things by the word of His power”, holds supremacy over them all. (Hebrews 1:3). Christ, “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God”, because “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (“the fulness of the Godhead bodily”), and “that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.” (Philipians 2:6; Colossians 1:19; 2:9; 1:18).
(Click to enlarge)
HOLY PLACE IN THE SANCTUARY COMPRISING…The Seven-branched Candlestick, The Table of Shewbread, The Golden Alter of Incense, and the Ark Of The Covenant in the Most Holy Place.
There was perfect harmony throughout the universe of God, the Law Of Love being the foundation of the government of God. God desires from all His creatures the service of love – service that springs from an appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced obedience; and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service. These celestial beings delighted in reflecting God’s glory.
However, a change came over this happy state. Sin originated with him who, next to Christ, had been the most honoured of God and was the highest in power and glory among the inhabitants of heaven. Lucifer, “son of the morning”, was first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled. He stood in the presence of the great Creator. “Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty… Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth…Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created, till iniquity was found in thee”. (Ezekiel 28:12-15). God made Lucifer good and beautiful, as near as possible like Himself. He was next in honour to Christ, however, little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation. The Scripture says, “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.” (Ezekiel 28:17). “Thou hast said in thy heart,…I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the Most High.”(Isaiah 14: 13, 14). Not content with his position, though honoured above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator and the glory with which the Infinite Father had invested His Son, power that was the prerogative of Christ alone. ( See Colossians 1:18, 19 and 2:9).
Now the perfect harmony of heaven was broken. God Himself had established the order of heaven; and in departing from it, Lucifer would dishonour his Maker and bring ruin upon himself. But the warning, given in infinite love and mercy, only aroused a spirit of resistance. Lucifer allowed his jealousy of Christ to prevail, and became the more determined. To dispute the supremacy of the Son of God had become the purpose of this prince of angels. The envy of Christ was indulged.
Lucifer went forth to diffuse the spirit of discontentment among the angels. He began to insinuate doubts concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings. He urged that changes to the law of God were necessary for the stability of the divine government, while secretly fomenting discord and rebellion. Division of feeling imperceptibly grew up among the angels, until eventually, some of them stood ready to second Lucifer’s demand for equal authority with the Son of God.
The Son of God shared the Father’s throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled them both. About the throne gathered an unnumbered throng of holy angels, “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands .” (Revelation 5:11). The Only Begotten of God could fully enter into His purposes, and to Christ was committed to execute the mighty counsels of His will. The Son of God had wrought the Father’s will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him as well as God, their homage and allegiance were due. Christ was still to execute divine power in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants. But in all this He would not seek power or exaltation for Himself contrary to God’s plan, but would exalt the Father’s glory and execute His purposes of beneficence and love. The angels joyfully acknowledged the supremacy of Christ, and prostrating themselves before Him, poured out their love and adoration. (Read Hebrews Chapter 1). Christ had ever stood at the right hand of the Father; His supremacy, so full of blessing to all who came under its benignant control, had not heretofore been questioned.
In great mercy, according to His divine character, God bore long with Lucifer. Lucifer persistently defended his own course, and fully committed himself to the great controversy against his Maker. Thus it was that Lucifer, “the light bearer”, the sharer of God’s glory, the attendant of His throne, by transgression (“sin is the transgression of the law” 1 John 3:4) became Satan, “the adversary” of God and holy beings. God permitted Satan to carry forward his work until the spirit of disaffection ripened into active revolt. Then there was war in heaven. Says the Scriptures “…Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan,…into the earth and his angels were cast out with him.”Revelation 12:7-9. (Christ is Michael. Michael means “who is like God?”. Compare Jude 9, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Daniel 12:1).
When he was cast out of heaven, Infinite Wisdom did not destroy Satan. The inhabitants of heaven and of the worlds, being unprepared to comprehend the nature or consequences of sin, could not then have seen the justice of God in the destruction of Satan. Had Satan been immediately blotted out of existence, some would have served God from fear rather than from love. For the good of the entire universe through ceaseless ages, Satan must fully develop his principles, that his charges against the divine government might been seen in their true light by all created beings, and that the justice and mercy of God and the immutability of His law might be forever placed beyond all question. Thus the history of this terrible experiment of rebellion was to be a perpetual safeguard to all holy beings to prevent them from being deceived as to the nature of transgression, to save them from committing sin, and suffering its penalty. And thus all will understand that God’s work is perfect “…for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” “And God said, Let Us make man in our image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:1, 26, 27).
Man was to bear God’s image, both in outward resemblance and in character. Christ alone is ” the express image” (Hebrews 1:3) of the Father; but man was formed in the likeness of God. His nature was in harmony with the will of God. His mind was capable of comprehending divine things. His affections were pure; his appetites and passions were under the control of reason. He was holy and happy bearing the image of God and in perfect obedience to his will.
Eve was noble in form and full of beauty. She was taken from a rib from the inside of Adam. (Genesis 2:21, 22). As long as Adam and Eve lived in obedience to God, they were covered by a robe of light and glory. God soon celebrated the first marriage. The Scriptures declare that “Marriage is honourable”. (Genesis 2:23-25, Hebrews 13:4).
In six days, the great work of creation had been accomplished. And God “blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made”. (Genesis 2:3). Following the example of the Creator, man was to rest upon this sacred day, that he should look upon the heavens and the earth, he might reflect upon God’s great work of creation, which declare that there is a living God. The apostle Paul wrote under inspiration, “For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works…There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:4,9,10). Man needed a Sabbath to remind him more vividly of God and to awaken gratitude because all that he enjoyed and possessed came from the kind hand of the Creator. The Sabbath and the marriage institution were the first two gifts of God to man, that after the Fall, Adam brought with him through the gates of Paradise.
In the midst of the Garden of Eden, stood the “tree of life” and the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. (Genesis 2:9). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil had been made a test of their obedience and their love to God. Satan was to follow the holy pair with continual temptations and have access to them, only if they investigated the forbidden tree.
Satan chose the disguise of one of the wisest and most beautiful creatures on the earth – the serpent. (Genesis 3:1, Revelation 12:9). When Eve wandered from the side of Adam, she soon found herself gazing with admiration upon the forbidden tree. Now was the tempter’s opportunity, “Yea hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden.”
(Genesis 3:1). Whilst observing the beautiful fruit and questioning why God would withhold this tree from Eve’s access, the musical voice of “the destroyer” declared that partaking of this tree, she would attain to a more exalted sphere of existence and enter a broader field of knowledge. (Genesis 3: 5, 6). Satan represented to the holy pair that they would be gainers by breaking the law of God.
Adam took the fruit from Eve and did eat also. (Genesis 3:6). They both imagined themselves entering upon a higher state of existence but soon the thought of their sin filled them with terror. The robe of light which had enshrouded them, now disappeared, and to supply its place “they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons”. (Genesis 3:7). For they could not, while unclothed, meet the eye of God and holy angels. (Man hides himself from God because of the sense of his nakedness and the fear of appearing in the presence of his Creator unclothed by the garment of Christ’s righteousness. It is to meet this need that the three angel’s messages focus on the proclamation of the righteousness of Christ, which is to be received by faith.” Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and see his shame.” (Revelation 16:15.)
Adam & Eve Used Fig Leaves To Cover Themselves
As a result of Adam’s Fall, the spirit and characteristics of Satan appeared in the pair’s defence of their actions. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. They both charged God the responsibility of their fall. (Genesis 3:12, 13). The spirit of self-justification originated in the father of lies; it was indulged by our first parents as soon as they yielded to the influence of Satan, and has been exhibited by all the sons and daughters of Adam. Instead of humbly confessing their sins, they tried to shield themselves by casting the blame upon others, upon circumstances, or upon God.
When Adam and Eve tasted of the forbidden fruit in an act of disobedience, why didn’t they perish immediately? Because, as soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour. The instant man accepted the temptations of Satan, and did the very things God had said he should not do, Christ, the Son of God, stood between the living and the dead, saying, “Let the punishment fall on Me. I will stand in man’s place. He shall have another chance”.
The Lord declared, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed ; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise its heel.” (Genesis 3:15). This sentence, uttered in the hearing of our first parents, was to them a promise. While it foretold war between man and Satan, it declared that the power of the great adversary would finally be broken. The murder of Abel was the first example of the enmity that God declared would exist between the serpent and the seed of the woman – between Satan and his subjects and Christ and His followers. The promise pointed to the occasion when Christ would humble himself by “taking upon him the form of the servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”. Christ was nailed to the cross, but he gained the victory. Satan bruised Christ’s heel, but Christ bruised Satan’s head, “…that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Romans 2:14).
Adam knew the penalty of sin, and the sacredness of the law of Jehovah which is the foundation of His government in heaven as well as upon earth. If man transgressed, he must “surely die”. (Genesis 2:17). The plan of redemption must, therefore, provide the death of an acceptable substitute. Man’s substitute and surety must have man’s nature, a connection with the human family whom he was to represent, and as God’s ambassador, he must partake of the divine nature, having a connection with the Infinite, in order to manifest God to the world, and be a mediator between God and man. (Read Hebrews chapters 1 and 2).
The son of God would suffer on the sinner’s behalf. The whole plan of redemption centres on the idea of a substitute’s dying in man’s place – the innocent suffering for the guilty. Christ alone was able to take the sinner’s place, bear the full load of his guilt and pay the full penalty.
To be a perpetual reminder of man’s sin, to lead the fallen human race to confess faith in the promised Redeemer, God ordained the sacrificial offerings. Adam was the first to offer an innocent sacrifice. As he took the knife to slay the innocent victim, witnessing death for the first time, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God – Jesus Christ. (John 1:29. The knowledge of this provision made for the salvation of men, was handed down to each generation. The Scriptures say, “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” (Genesis 4:4). Without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin. (Hebrews 9:22). Man was to show faith in the blood of Christ as the promised atonement, by offering the firstlings of the flock in sacrifice. Later in the book of Genesis, Abraham offered a ram for a burnt offering. (Genesis 22:13).
The Word of God states that “sin is the transgression of the law”.
(1 John 3:4). If the law could be changed, man might have been saved without the sacrifice of Christ; but the fact that it was necessary for Christ to give His life for the fallen race, proves that the law of God will not release the sinner from its claims upon him. Christ had said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law…but to fulfil…Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17, 18). It is demonstrated that the “wages of sin is death.”
(Romans 6:23). The very fact that Christ bore the penalty of man’s transgression is a mighty argument to all created intelligences that he is changeless; that God is righteous, merciful, and self-denying; and that infinite justice and mercy unite in the administration of the government.
THE EARTHLY SANCTUARY
As the Supreme Ruler of the universe, God has ordained laws for the government not only of all living beings, but of all the operations of nature. Everything, whether great or small, animate or inanimate, is under fixed laws which cannot be disregarded. But while everything in nature is governed by natural law, man alone, as an intelligent being, capable of understanding its requirements, is amenable to moral law. To man alone, the crowning work of His creation, God has given a conscience to realise the sacred claims of the divine law, and a heart capable of loving it as holy, just and good (Romans 7:12); and of man prompt and perfect obedience is required. Yet God does not compel him to obey; he is left a free moral agent. God is not arbitary.
In the wilderness, one morning, a thick, dark cloud had descended upon Mount Sinai, in front of Moses and the assembled children of Israel. “And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.” (Exodus 19:18). From the thick darkness flashed vivid lightnings, while peals of thunder echoed among the surrounding heights. The hosts of Israel shook with fear and fell upon their faces before the Lord. Even Moses exclaimed, “I exceedingly fear and quake”. (See Exodus 19:16-19, Hebrews 12:18-21). Surrounded by a retinue of angels, He made known His law. Moses describing the scene says: “The Lord came from Sinai…and he came with ten thousands of saints: from His right hand went a fiery law for them…” (Deuteronomy 33:2, 3). These precepts of the Decalogue are based upon the great fundamental principle of love. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all the mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke 10:27). These Ten Commandments, described in Exodus, chapter 20, verses 1-17 are as follows:-
God’s Law Proclaimmed From Mount Sinai
1. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”
Jehovah, the eternal, self-existent, uncreated One, Himself the Source and Sustainer of all, is alone entitled to supreme reverence and worship. Whatever we cherish that tends to lesson our love for God or to interfere with the service due to Him, of that we do make a god.
2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them…”
The second commandment forbids the worship of the true God by images or similitudes. The attempt to represent the Eternal One by material objects would lower man’s concept of God. The mind turned away from the infinite perfection of Jehovah, would be attracted to the creature rather than the Creator. (See Romans 1:20-25).
“I the Lord thy God am a jealous God…”
The close and sacred relation of God to His people is represented under the figure of marriage. Idolatry being spiritual adultery, the displeasure of God against it is fitly called jealously.
“Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me.” It is inevitable that children should suffer from the consequences of parental wrongdoing, but they are not punished for the parents’ guilt, except they participate their sins. By inheritance and example the sons become partakers of the father’s sins. Wrong tendencies, perverted appetites, and debased morals, as well as physical disease and degeneracy, are transmitted as a legacy from father to son, to the third and fourth generation. This fearful truth should have a solemn power to restrain men from following a course of sin.
“Showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep my commandments.”
Jesus said, “If you love, me, keep my commandments”. (John 14:15). “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments…” (1 John 5:3). “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination…He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28: 9, 13).
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”
This commandment not only prohibits false oaths and common swearing but it forbids us to use the name of God in a light or careless manner, without regard to its awful significance. But the thoughtless mention of God in common conversation, by appeals to him in trivial matters, and by the frequent and thoughtless repetition of His name, we dishonour Him.
4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
The Sabbath is not introduced as a new institution but as having been founded at creation. It is to be remembered and observed as the memorial of the Creator’s work. Pointing to God as the Maker of the heavens and the earth, it distinguishes the true God from all false gods. All who keep the seventh day signify by this act that they are worshippers of Jehovah. Thus the Sabbath is the sign of man’s allegiance to God as long as there are any upon the earth to serve Him. The fourth commandment is the only one of all the ten in which are found both the name and the title of the Lawgiver. It is the only one that shows by whose authority the law is given. Thus it contains the seal of God, affixed to His law as evidence of its authenticity and binding force.
God has given men six days wherein to labor, and He requires that their own work be done in the six working days. Acts of necessity and mercy are permitted on the Sabbath, the sick and the suffering are at all times to be cared for; but unnecessary labor is to be strictly avoided. “Turn away thy foot from the Sabbath , from doing thy pleasure on My Holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and…honor Him, not doing thy own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure.” (Isaiah 58:13). Nor does the prohibition end here. ” Nor speaking thine own words,” says the prophet. Those who discuss business matters or lay plans on the Sabbath are regarded by God as though engaged in the actual transaction of business. To keep the Sabbath holy, we should not even allow our minds to dwell upon things of a worldly character. And the commandment includes all within our gates. All should unite to honor God by willing service upon His holy day.
5. “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
God Himself, has placed upon parents the responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, and has ordained that in the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God. The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to succour and comfort them in old age. It also enjoins respect for ministers and rulers and for all others to whom God has delegated authority.
6. “Thou shalt not kill”.
All acts of injustice that tend to shorten life; the spirit of hatred and revenge, or the indulgence of any passion that leads to injurious acts upon others, or causes us even to wish them harm (for “whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer” 1 John 3:15); a selfish neglect of caring for the needy or suffering; all self-indulgence or unnecessary deprivation or excessive labor that tends to injure health – all these are, to a greater or less degree, violations of the sixth commandment.
7. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
This commandment forbids not only acts of impurity, but sensual thoughts and desires, or any practise that tends to excite them. Purity is demanded not only in the outward life but in the secret intents and emotions of the heart. Christ, who taught the far-reaching obligation of the law of God, declared the evil thought or look to be as truly sin as is the unlawful deed. (Matthew 5:27, 28).
8. “Thou shalt not steal.”
Both public and private sins are included in this prohibition. The eighth commandment condemns manstealing and slave dealing , and forbids wars of conquest. It condemns theft and robbery. It demands strict integrity in the minutest details of the affairs of life. It declares that every attempt to advantage oneself by the ignorance , weakness, or misfortune of another is registered as fraud in the books of heaven.
9. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
False speaking in any matter, every attempt or purpose to deceive our neighbor, is here included. An intention to deceive is what constitutes falsehood. By a glance of the eye, a motion of the hand, an expression of the countenance, a falsehood may be told as effectually as by words. All intentional overstatement, every hint of insinuation calculated to convey an erroneous or exaggerated impression, even the statement of facts in such a manner as to mislead, is falsehood. This precept forbids every effort to injure our neighbor’s reputation by misrepresentation or evil surmising, by slander or tale bearing. Even the intentional suppression of truth, by which injury may result to others, is a violation of the ninth commandment.
10. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his mansservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.”
The tenth commandment strikes at the very root of sins, prohibiting the selfish desire, from which springs the sinful act. He who in obedience to God’s law refrains from indulging even a sinful desire for that which belongs to another will not be guilty of an act of wrong toward his fellow creatures.
Such were the sacred precepts of the Decalogue, spoken amid thunder and flame, and with a wonderful display of the power and majesty of the great Lawgiver, the Creator of heaven and earth. As God’s great rule of right was presented before the people of Israel, they realised as never before the offensive character of sin, and their own guilt in the sight of a holy God, “for sin is the transgression of the law”. (1 John 3:4). In order that the obligations of the Decalogue might be more fully understood and enforced, additional precepts were given (Exodus 21:1 – 23:11), illustrating and applying the permanent principles of the Ten Commandments.
This Law should not be looked upon as much from the prohibitory side as from the mercy side. Its prohibitions are the sure guarantee of happiness in obedience. As received in Christ, it works in us the purity of character that will bring joy to us through eternal ages. To the obedient it is a wall of protection. We behold in it the goodness of God, who by revealing to men the immutable principles of righteousness, seeks to shield them from evils that result in transgression.
We are not to regard God as waiting to punish the sinner for his sin. The sinner brings punishment upon himself. Every act of transgression reacts upon the sinner , works in him a change of character, and makes it more easy for him to transgress again. By choosing to sin , men separate themselves from God, cut themselves off from the channel of blessing, and the sure result is ruin and death.
The law is an expression of God’s idea. When we receive it in Christ, it becomes our idea. It lifts us above the power of natural desires and tendencies, above temptations that lead to sin.
In the book of Exodus, we discover that an earthly tabernacle was made according to the commandment of God. The Lord raised up men and qualified them with more than natural abilities to perform the most ingenious work. God presented before Moses, “in the midst of the cloud… into the mount” (Exodus 24: 18), a miniature model of the heavenly sanctuary and commanded him to make all things according to the pattern shown him in the mount ( Exodus 25:8,9; Hebrews 8:1-5);
make me a
sanctuary; that I
may dwell among them.
According to all that I shew thee,
after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the
pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall
ye make it…unto the example and shadow of heavenly things…”
Precious and costly materials from Egypt were used as a free-will offering, to make Him a sanctuary, that He might dwell among them. (Exodus 25:1-7; 12:35, 36). After every part of the tabernacle agreed with the pattern, Moses blessed the people.
The Earthly Sanctuary
God Himself gave to Moses the plan of that structure, with particular directions as to its size and form, the materials to be employed, and every article of furniture which it was to contain. The holy places made with hands were to be “figures of the true”, “patterns of things in the heavens” (Hebrews 9:24, 23) – a miniature representation of the heavenly temple where Christ, our great High Priest, after offering His life as a sacrifice, was to minister in the sinner’s behalf.
The tabernacle was so constructed that it could be taken apart and borne with the Israelites in their journeyings. It was therefore small, being not more than fifty-five feet in the length, and eighteen in breadth and height.
The building was divided into two departments by a rich and beautiful curtain, or veil, suspended from gold-plated pillars; and a similar veil closed the entrance of the first apartment. These, like the inner covering, which formed the ceiling, were of the most gorgeous colors, blue, purple, and scarlet, beautifully arranged, while inwrought with threads of gold and silver were cheribim to represent the angelic host who are connected with the work of the heavenly sanctuary and who are “ministering spirits , sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14).
Plan View Of The Earthly Sanctuary
The sacred tent was enclosed in an open space called the court, which was surrounded by hangings, or screens, of fine linen, suspended from pillars of brass. The entrance of this enclosure was at the eastern end. It was closed by curtains of costly material and beautiful workmanship, though inferior to those of the sanctuary. The hangings of the court being only about half as high as the walls of the tabernacle, the building could be plainly seen by the people without. In the court nearest the entrance, stood the brazen alter of burnt offerings. Between the alter and the door of the tabernacle was the laver, which was also made of brass.
The Israelites’ acts of devotion, their energy and liberality in bringing their free-will offerings to Moses are recorded for the benefit of the people of God. Their example in preparing material for the tabernacle so cheerfully is an example for all who truly love the worship of God.
External View Of The Earthly Sanctuary
The Furnishings Of The Earthly Tabernacle
God gave a pattern of the ark to Moses, with special directions how to make it (Exodus 25:10 – 22). The ark was made to contain the tables of stone, on which God engraved with his own finger, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:12;32: 15, 16). It was in the form like a chest, and was overlaid and inlaid with pure gold. It was ornamented with crowns of gold round about the top. The cover of this sacred chest was the mercy seat, made of solid gold. On each end of the mercy seat was fixed a cherub (angel) of pure gold. Their faces were turned toward each other and were looking reverentially downward toward the mercy seat, which represented all the heavenly angels looking with interest and reverence upon the law of God deposited in the ark of the heavenly sanctuary. These cherubs had wings. One wing of each angel was stretched forth on high, while the other wing of each angel covered his form. Above the mercy seat was the “Shekinah”, the manifestation of the Divine presence; and from between the cherubim, God made known His will. As Moses was required to place the tables of the testimony, God’s Ten Commandments, into the earthly ark, the ark was called the ark of the testimony.
The Ark Of The Covenant In The Most Holy Place
The first four commandments point to our love to God. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37, 38). The last six of the commandments point to our love for our fellow man. “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39).
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
When Jesus was asked, “what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Jesus replied, “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments”. (Matthew 19: 16, 17). Jesus then defines some of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 19: 18,19). Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14: 15).
Paul under inspiration writes concerning Christ’s new covenant, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:16, 17).
The apostle John observed the original Ten Commandments in heaven, “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament…” (Revelation 11:19).
Slice View Of The Earthly Sanctuary
The Ark of His Testimony was placed within the “most holy place” (also known as “the holy of holies” or the second apartment). The “most holy place” and the “holy place” were separated by a rich curtain known as the “inner veil” or the “second veil”; “and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.” (Exodus 26:33, 34). This curtain did not reach the top of the building. The glory of God, which was above the mercy seat, could been seen from both apartments, but in a much less degree from the first apartment.
Golden Alter Of Incense
Directly before the ark, but separated by the inner veil or second curtain, was the golden alter of incense (Exodus 30:1-10). The fire upon this alter was kindled by the Lord Himself, and was sacredly cherished by feeding it with holy incense, which filled the sanctuary with its fragrant cloud night and day. Its fragrance extended for miles around the tabernacle. When the priest offered the incense before the Lord he looked to the mercy seat. Although he could not see it he knew it was there, and as the incense arose like a cloud, the glory of the Lord descended upon the mercy seat and filled the most holy place and was visible in the holy place, and the glory often so filled both apartments that the priest was unable to officiate and was obliged to stand at the door of the tabernacle. The priest in the holy place, directing his prayer by faith to the mercy seat, which he could not see, represents the people of God directing their prayers to Christ before the mercy seat in the heavenly sanctuary. ” And another angel came and stood at the alter, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden alter which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:3, 4).
The incense, ascending with the prayers of Israel, represents the merits and intercession of Christ, His perfect righteousness, which through faith is imputed to His people, and which can alone make the worship of sinful beings acceptable to God. Christ loved us “and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour”.
(Ephesians 5:2). By blood and by incense God was to be approached – symbols pointing to the great Mediator, through whom sinners may approach Jehovah, and through whom alone mercy and salvation can be granted to the repentant, believing soul.
These sacred apartments had no windows to admit light. The seven-branched candlestick which stood toward the south of the tabernacle, was made of purest gold and was kept burning night and day, and gave light to both apartments. (Exodus 25:31-40: Leviticus 24:1-4). The light of the lamps upon the candlestick reflected upon the boards plated with gold, at the sides of the building, and upon the sacred furniture and upon the curtains of beautiful colors with cherubim wrought with threads of gold and silver,which appearance was glorious beyond description. No language can describe the beauty and loveliness and sacred glory which these apartments presented. The gold in the sanctuary reflected the colors of the curtains, which appeared like different colors of the rainbow. Jesus says, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12. See also John 1:4-10, John 3:19-21). In the New Jerusalem, Jesus the ” Lamb of God” (John 1:29), is described as being the light of the City together with the Father (Revelation 21:23).
The earthly candlestick had seven lamps which were fed by olive oil. These lamps are described in the book of Zechariah, chapter 4. This holy oil which runs through the golden pipes represents the Holy Spirit which flows through the heart of those who practise the truth, the Spirit of God which works by love and purifies the soul. The seven lamps are described as being the ” eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” (Zechariah 4:10). The apostle John identifies that the “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” of God in the heavenly sanctuary are “the seven Spirits of God”. (Revelation 4:5). Where do the seven Spirits of God originate from? John further observes “a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” (Revelation 5:6). It is the Spirit of Christ which strives upon the human heart, which works by love and purifies the soul.
Table Of Shewbread
In the first apartment of the earthly sanctuary, or the holy place, were the alter of incense, the candlestick (or lampstand) and the table of shewbread which stood at the north.
The table of shewbread was overlaid with pure gold. (Exodus 25:23-30). On this table the priests were each Sabbath to place twelve cakes, arranged in two piles, and sprinkled with frankincense. The loaves that were removed, being ccounted holy, were to be eaten by the priests. (Leviticus 24:5-9).
The shewbread was kept ever before the Lord. Thus it was part of the daily sacrifice. It was called “shewbread”, or “bread of presence”, because it was ever before the face of the Lord. It was acknowledgement of man’s dependence upon God for both temporal and spiritual food, and that it was received only through the mediation of Christ. God had fed Israel in the wilderness with bread from heaven (Exodus 16). Both the manna and the shewbread pointed to Christ , the living Bread, who is ever “in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24). Christ said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven”. (John 6:48-51).
Outside of the earthly tabernacle, stood the laver, which the priests used to wash their hands and their feet whenever they went into the sacred apartments, or approached the alter to offer a burnt offering unto the Lord. (Exodus 30: 18-31). Moses at the burning bush was directed to put off his sandals, for the ground whereon he stood was holy. (Exodus 3:1-5). So the priests were not to enter the sanctuary with shoes upon their feet. Particles of dust cleaving to them would desecrate the holy place. They were to leave their shoes in the court before entering the sanctuary. Thus was constantly taught the lesson that all defilement must be put away from those who would approach into the presence of God. Jesus offers to wash our sins by the cleansing of His Word. (Eph. 5:26).
Between the court entrance and the laver, stood the brazen alter of burnt offerings. Every morning and evening a lamb of a year old was burned upon this alter with its appropriate meat offering, thus symbolising the daily consecration and constant dependence upon the atoning blood of Christ. (Exodus 27:1-8; 29:38-42). God expressly directed that every offering presented for the service of the sanctuary should be “without blemish”. (Exodus 12:5). The priests were to examine all animals brought as a sacrifice, and were to reject every one in which a defect was discovered. Only an offering “without blemish” could be a symbol of His perfect purity who was to offer Himself as “a Lamb without blemish and without spot”. (1 Peter 1:19). The apostle Paul points to these sacrifices as an illustration of what the followers of Christ are to become. He says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1). We are to give ourselves to the service of God, and we should seek to make the offering as nearly perfect as possible. God will not be pleased with anything less than the best we can offer. Christ, without blemish and without spot, the antitypical Lamb of God, was nailed to the cross between the third and the sixth hour, that is, between nine and twelve o’clock. In the afternoon he died. This was the hour of the evening sacrifice. Christ had suffered death for every man. As our sins were upon Him, He sensed the Father’s wrath and the separation that sin makes between God and man, and our Saviour cried, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Christ’s Character Discerned Through The Fine Twined Linen And The Significance Of The Sanctuary Colours
By studying and meditating on the sanctuary, many questions in relation to Christ and His plan of Salvation may be answered. David understood this when he declared, “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?” Psalms 77:13). Already, we have seen how each of the earthly furnishings pointed to Christ. Each of these furnishings, within and without the sanctuary, were encased in a court yard. “All the hangings of the court round about were of fined twined linen.” (Exodus 38:16). The walls of the courtyard were white and made of fine twined linen which is very durable. Walls are for protection. This spiritual lesson taught that salvation is a wall about us. The white walls also showed that it stood for purity, forgiveness and uprightness – all elements found in the righteousness of Christ, His character. Even the garments of the priests were also made of fine-twined linen, which, under no circumstances, could be rent or torn as they also represented the perfection of Christ’s character. (Leviticus 10:6). It is interesting to note that Jesus appeared in the white linen garments of the priests in vision before Daniel the prophet. (Daniel 10:5,6. Compare with Revelation 1:13-15). Therefore, this wall that was made from linen represented Jesus. In Revelation 19:8, it say “…to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine twined linen, clean and white, for the fine twined linen is the righteousness of the saints”. When one went into the courtyard of the sanctuary asking for the forgiveness of his sins and confessing them upon the lamb that represented Jesus, he was then surrounded by the righteousness of Christ.
The wall was about him. He was hedged in, protected from the enemy. That wall represented to him the righteousness of Christ and His justification. The Scriptures state, “Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord: This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter”. (Psalms 118:19,20.) Jesus explains “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture”. (John 10:9). Paul further explains that the inner veil of the sanctuary that was rent at Christ’s death, points to Christ’s flesh. (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 10:20.) It is therefore clear that the only way to obtain access to the Father, through the court gate, the door of the tabernacle and the inner veil, is through Christ. As Jesus stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
As the repentant sinner entered into the courtyard through the court gate, and confessed his sins upon the head of the innocent lamb which pointed to the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross of Calvary, by excepting the merits of Christ’s cleansing blood and His perfect righteousness, he was to acknowledge that he is called righteous. (Psalms 118:20). This is what the walls meant to the one who entered. Sin free, forgiven, cleansed and protected. (Read the experience of Job 1:8-10).
Hence we see that the courts of the sanctuary provided protection for the sinner. God has promised that “There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We should always keep in mind that whatever temptation comes to the one who has entered into the courtyard experience of Christ’s acceptance of the penitent and forgiveness of past sins, it is tailored by God to be an experience, when overcome, to better develop the character for the hereafter. Knowing that God only lets temptations come to the Christian that He knows can be overcome, gives us courage and confidence that we can overcome anything with the help of Jesus. Like the apostle Paul, we ought to be able to say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philipians 4:13).
The colors used in the sanctuary were also of great significance. For example, the doors or hangings that led into the most holy place which were made of fine twined linen (the court gate, the tabernacle door and the inner veil) contained the colors scarlet, blue and purple. Again, the garments of the priests were of the same colors. (Exodus 26: 31,36; 27:16;28: 6,8,15,33.)
Perhaps the most obvious of these colors is the colour scarlet. In the book of Isaiah, chapter 1, verse 18 we read, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” God teaches us that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), our characters are stained and sin-polluted. The motive of the human heart is to naturally do those things which are contrary to God’s will. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). It was to meet our fallen nature and restore in us His moral character that Christ shed His life-cleansing, life-sustaining blood, who became “…sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). As the sinner would pass through the court gate, he would discern through the scarlet colour of the linen hanging by faith, the blood of Christ that was able to freely pardon his transgressions and by claiming its virtue, sufficiently able to keep the conscience clean and at peace with God.
The colour blue also has an important symbolic meaning. We are told in Numbers 15:38,39, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring.” As the repentant enters the courtyard, the sinner beholds the colour blue which immediately reminds him of God’s law, the Ten Commandments. In the Hebrew language, the word “Tekeleth” not only means blue but it also is the same word used for perfection and complete. Therefore the blue border on their garments as well as the blue used in the sanctuary, reminded the children of Israel of their obligation to the law of God. As Christ walked through villages, cities or countries, the people besought Him that “…they might touch if it were but the border of his garment; and as many as touched him were made whole.” (Mark 6:56. See also Matthew 14:36). We may also observe that the justice of God’s law is the foundation of His government and His throne. The prophet Ezekiel saw God’s throne at least twice “as the appearance of a sapphire stone”. (See Ezekiel 1:26 and 10:1). When Moses was to be given the Ten Commandments engraved in stone by God’s finger, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and the seventy elders “…saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone.” (Exodus 24:9, 10.) The colour blue will constantly be a reminder of God’s perfect law. On a clear day, your eyes will observe the clear blue sky. The rivers, the seas, the oceans all reveal the same colour. God’s protective care is all about us. Now we may see the importance of looking up when we may face temptation. For encouragement, look up, for it is from these heavens that our Lord and Saviour will appear from very soon.
Purple was the colour of the clothing of kings and princes. (Judges 8:26; Esther 8:15 and Jeremiah 10:9.) Notably, at Christ’s trial in Pilate’s judgment hall, Jesus was asked, “Art thou a king?” The Saviour replied, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John 18:37.) In an attempt to mock Christ, , the Roman soldiers “…platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews!” (John 19:2, 3). They mocked His kingship. However, Revelation 19:16 describes Jesus coming in power and great glory with a name written on His vesture and on His thigh “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
As clearly seen, Jesus was the Door that led into the courtyard, the Holy Place and into the Most Holy Place. Jesus is The Way. As the repentant came to the sanctuary doors, he would see a red stripe that would remind him of the Saviour who would shed His blood to pay, in his place, the penalty of eternal death, the blue stripe would remind him of the eternal law as the standard of God’s character and the purple pointed to the day when Christ would return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
“I Counsel Thee To Buy Of Me Gold Tried In The Fire”
“And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up…And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold.” (Exodus 26:15, 29). The walls inside the sanctuary consisted of upright boards heavily plated with gold. Concerning the earthly furnishings, we see that the alter of incense and the table of shewbread were both covered in gold. (Exodus 37:26, 11). The light within the sanctuary that was emitted from the candlestick was made of one piece of solid gold beaten into shape. (Exodus 37:17). In the most holy place, the ark of the covenant was covered with gold. The two cherubim of gold were also “beaten out of one piece” as was the mercy seat. (Exodus 37:6-9). Why was gold used ?
In several verses in the Bible, it is apparent that gold was also compared to God’s character and His Law. When addressing the Laodicean church, the True and Faithful Witness, Jesus Christ, requires us that we buy of Him “gold tried in the fire” (Revelations 3:18; 1:5). Speaking of God, Job explains that “when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold”. David tells us that “The law of the Lord is perfect” and that it is to be desired more than fine gold, “Therefore”, he says, “I love thy commandments above gold: yea, above fine gold”. Through Isaiah, God promises that he will “make man more precious than fine gold”. Again, we are assured “That the trial of your faith, being more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (Job 23:10; Psalms 19:7, 10; 119:127; Isaiah 13:12 and 1 Peter 1:7. See also 1 Peter 4:12, 13). The gold that Christ offers is His own character.
The gold that Jesus would have us to buy of Him is gold tried in the fire; it is the gold of faith and love, that has no defiling substance in it. What good is the Law of God unless we understand that it reveals the character of God? What good would be the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood if our character is not changed and brought back to its original status? The duplication of Christ’s golden character is the Christian’s highest goal. (Philippians 3:14). The character of our God is the standard of the universe. Anyone who contemplates the sanctuary could not help but be overwhelmed by all the reminders within the sanctuary furnishings that point to the character of God, thus presenting the need to be like Christ.
The Daily Services Of The Sanctuary In The Holy Place
“Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the alter; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even:” (Exodus 29:38,39).
The daily service consisted of the morning and evening burnt offering, the offering of sweet incense on the golden alter, and the special offerings for individual sins. (See Leviticus chapter 4).
Every morning and evening a lamb of a year old was burned upon the alter, with its appropriate meat offering, thus symbolising the daily consecration of the nation of Jehovah, and their constant dependence upon the blood of Christ. God expressed directly that every offering presented for the service of the sanctuary should be “without blemish” (Exodus 12:5). The priests were to examine all animals brought as a sacrifice, and were to reject every one in which a defect was discovered. Only an offering “without blemish” could be as a symbol of His perfect purity who was to offer Himself as “a lamb without blemish and without spot”. (1 Peter 1:19).
We may also observe from this ritual service, that salt was added to every sacrifice; “…all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.” (Leviticus 2: 13). This, like the offering of incense, signified that only the righteousness of Christ could make the service acceptable to God. Referring to this practise, Jesus said, “Every sacrifice shall be salted with salt”. (Mark 9:49). “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” All who would present themselves “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1), must receive the living salt, the righteousness of our Saviour. Then they become “the salt of the earth”, restraining evil among men, as salt preserves against corruption. (Matthew 5:13). But if the salt has lost its savor; (if there is no power for good) if there is only a profession of godliness, without the love of Christ, there is no power for good.
The most important part of the daily ministration was the service performed in behalf of the individuals. The repentant sinner brought his offering to the door to the tabernacle, and placing his hand upon the victim’s head, confessed his sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the innocent sacrifice. By his own hand the animal was slain, and the blood was carried by the priest into the holy place and sprinkled before the veil, behind which was the ark containing the law that the sinner has transgressed. Bt this ceremony the sin was, through the blood, transferred in figure to the sanctuary. In some cases the blood was not taken into the holy place; but the flesh was then to be eaten by the priest as Moses directed the sons of Aaron, saying “God have given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation”. (Leviticus 10:17). Both ceremonies alike symbolised the transfer of the sin from the penitent to the sanctuary.
The ministration of the priest throughout the year in the first apartment of the sanctuary, “within the veil” which formed the door and separated the holy place from the outer court, represents the work of ministration upon which Christ entered at His ascension. It was the work of the priest in the daily ministration to present before God the blood of the sin offering, also the incense which ascended with the prayers of Israel. So did Christ plead His blood before the Father in behalf of sinners, and present before Him also, with the precious fragrance of His own righteousness, the prayers of penitent believers. Such was the work of ministration in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The apostle Paul writes under inspiration,
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Hebrews 9:11, 12).
The Day Of Atonement – The Annual Service In The Most Holy Place Of The Sanctuary
In the sin offerings presented during the year, a substitute had been accepted in the sinner’s stead; but the blood of the victim had not made full atonement for sin. It had only provided a means by which the sin was transferred to the sanctuary. By the offering of blood, the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed the guilt of his transgression, and expressed his faith in Him who was to take away the sin of the world; but he was not entirely released from the condemnation of the law. On the Day Of Atonement the high priest, having taken an offering for the congregation, went into the most holy place with blood, and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat, above the tables of the law.
As the sins of Israel were daily being transferred to the sanctuary, the holy places were being defiled and a special work became necessary for the removal of sins. Once a year, the priest entered the most holy place for the cleansing of the sanctuary. This work, once performed completed the yearly round of ministration. This occasion was known as the great Day Of Atonement. (Hebrews 9:7; Leviticus 16:34).
Day Of Atonement – Plan View Of Earthly Sanctuary
In preparation for the yearly service, the high priest would be arrayed in “holy garments” which consisted of a coat, breeches, girdle and mitre – all made from linen. (Exodus 28:6, 8, 15, 33-35). Before being attired with these garments, the high priest was to “wash his flesh in water, and so put them on”. (Leviticus 16:4). In addition to the linen dress of the common priest, the high priest wore a robe of blue, ornamented with golden bells, and pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet. Outside of this was a shorter garment of gold, blue , purple, scarlet and white called an ephod. The ephod was sleeveless and over it was the breastplate, the most sacred of the priestly vestments. “Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually.” (Exodus 28:29). Likewise, Christ our great High Priest bears the name of every repentant, believing soul upon his heart.
The Events Of The Day Of The Atonement:-
(Leviticus 16:4). Before the High Priest (e.g. Aaron) could begin the ministration in the Most Holy Place, he was required to “wash his flesh in water” and then he could be attired in the “holy linen garments”. Symbolically, those who minister before God, are also required to be washed from our sins and to wear the holy garments of Christ’s righteousness, to be filled with the Spirit of His character. (Ephesians 4:23, 24 and Galatians 5:22, 23).
(Leviticus 16:6). Aaron, the High Priest, was to “offer his bullock of the sin offering” which was to make an atonement for his household and himself.
(Leviticus 16:5,7,8,9,10). On behalf of the people, Aaron was to present before the Lord two goats at the door of the tabernacle. He was then to cast lots upon the two goats to decide which goat would be slain as a sin offering for the people and alternatively, which goat would be used to let go “for a scapegoat into the wilderness”.
(Leviticus 16:11). Aaron was to kill the bullock, the sin offering for his house and himself.
(Leviticus 16:2,12,13). The Lord had spoken to Moses, that his brother Aaron, was not to come into the Most Holy Place (referred to as the “holy place”), all the time. As this apartment was known as the “Holiest of all” (Hebrews 9:3), where the manifestation of the divine Presence of God resided, no one was allowed to enter into this apartment of the sanctuary. Only the High Priest was permitted to enter into the Most Holy Place on one day in the year known as The Day Of Atonement or Yom Kippur. (See verse 17). This Day occurred “in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month” usually on September or October, on the tenth day of the New Year. This Day was implemented that an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins could be completed once a year. (Verses 29 & 34). In accordance with God’s directions, Aaron was to “take a censer full of burning coals of fire” from off the alter of incense, and place “sweet incense” on the coals “that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, (the Ten Commandments), that he die not”. (Verses 12 &13). God had said that “I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” (Verse 2). With trembling the high priest went in before God and the people in reverent silence waited for his return, their hearts uplifted in earnest prayer for the divine blessing. Before the mercy seat the high priest made the atonement for Israel; and in the cloud of glory, God met with him. His stay here beyond the accustomed time filled them with fear, lest because of their sins or his own he had been slain by the glory of the Lord.
(Leviticus 16:14). Whilst in the Most Holy Place, the blood of the bullock was sprinkled by the High Priest “with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat” seven times. Thus the claims of the Law, which were positioned underneath the mercy seat, and which demanded the life of the sinner, were satisfied.
(Leviticus 16:15). “Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat”.
(Leviticus 16:16,18,19). “And he shall make an atonement for the holy place (which is the Most Holy Place), because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation (which is the Holy Place), that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.” The High Priest was to take the blood of the bullock and of the goat “and put it upon the horns of the alter” (of incense). He was then required to sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times against the golden alter to “cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel”. Then in his character of mediator the priest took the sins upon himself, and leaving the sanctuary, he bore with him the burden of Israel’s guilt.
(Leviticus 16:20-22). At the door of the tabernacle the High Priest laid his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, and confessed over him “all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat”. (Verse 21). And as the goat bearing these sins was sent away, they were with him regarded as forever separated from the people. Therefore, in the typical service, the yearly round of ministration closed with the purification of the sanctuary, and the confessing of the sins on the head of the scapegoat. As we see that the service was performed “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5), we may see the antitypical significance. Since Satan is the originator of sin, the direct instigator of all the sins that caused the death of the Son of God, justice demands that Satan shall suffer the final punishment. Christ’s work for the redemption of men and the purification of the universe from sin, will be closed at the removal of sin from the heavenly sanctuary and the placing of these sins upon Satan, who will bear the final penalty. As in the typical service, the sins of the children of Israel were borne away in the wilderness, forever separated from the congregation, so in the final atonement in the heavenly sanctuary, the sins of the truly penitent are to be blotted from the records of heaven, no more to be remembered or come to mind. (See Revelation 1:18 & 20:1-3,7-10,14,15).
(Leviticus 16:23,24). After the confession of all of the sins of Israel upon the head of the scapegoat, the High Priest was to come into the Holy Place of the sanctuary, and take off the pontifical linen garments which he put on when he went into the Most Holy Place. He was then required to wash his flesh in water, and to put on the white linen dress of the common priest. After this, the High Priest came out into the courtyard and offered the burnt offering for his house and himself, and a burnt offering for the people. As the High Priest laid aside his pontifical dress, and officiated in the white linen dress of a common priest, so Christ emptied Himself, and took the form of a servant, and offered sacrifice, Himself the priest, Himself the victim. (Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 4:14; 1 Peter 1:19).
The Day of Atonement was also a day of judgement, where a work of investigation occurred before any confessed sins were blotted out. The whole ceremony was designed to impress the Israelites with the holiness of God and His abhorrence of sin, and further, to show them that they could not come in contact with sin without becoming polluted. (Leviticus 16:26,28). Every man was required to afflict his soul while this work of atonement was going forward. All business was to be laid aside, and the whole congregation of Israel were to spend the day in solemn humiliation before God, with prayer, fasting and deep searching of heart. Those who failed to afflict their souls were “cut off” from among the people. (Leviticus 16:29 & 23:27-30).
On that Day, the whole aim of the atonement, was that the children of Israel may be cleansed from all their transgressions. Likewise, Jesus Christ our High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary calls us to be sanctified and cleansed “with the washing of water by the word”, that you “may be clean from all your sins before the Lord”. (Leviticus 16:30; Ephesians 5:26; Hebrews 7:22,25). “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10). He who came from the heavenly courts to save man from eternal death, He whom men despised and rejected, He who suffered the ignominious death of the cross – He alone is to pronounce the sentence of reward or punishment.
THE HEAVENLY SANCTUARY
The Antitypical Cleansing Of The Heavenly Sanctuary And The 2300 Year Prophecy
The blood of bulls and of goats were used to cleanse the earthly sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. However, “the patterns of things in the heavens” required better sacrifices than these”. (Hebrews 9:23). The “heavenly things” are to be purified or cleansed by Christ’s “own blood” for the Lamb of God appeared in the world “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself”. (Hebrews 9:12, 26).
As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering, and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary; so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ, and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary.
When did Jesus commence the work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary from sin in the Most Holy Place ?
2300 Day-For-A-Year Prophecy
The answer to this question is found in the book of Daniel. In chapter 8, the prophet foresaw the succeeding earthly kingdoms struggling for world-wide dominion. For example, he beheld the arising of the kingdoms such as the “ram which had two horns” (verse 3), being succeeded by the “he goat” (verse 5). These kingdoms represented Media and Persia, and the Greek kingdom respectively (verses 20 & 21). Daniel further beholds a “little horn” power which succeeds the Greek empire (verse 9). The little horn power is seen magnifying itself, and is even seen casting down the truth to the ground and prospering (verses 11 & 12. A fuller explanation of this power will be looked at later in this tract). In response to the destruction caused by this power, Daniel notes the conversation of “one saint” speaking to another (verse 13). The other saint replies,
“Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed”. (Daniel 8:14).
As a result of the vision, Daniel was not able to endure the rest, and consequently, “fainted, and was sick certain days” (verse 27). The remainder of the vision continues in chapter 9 of the book of Daniel, where the prophet in the middle of prayer, observes Gabriel the angel or messenger of God (verse 21). The aspect of time, concerning the commencement of the 2300 day prophecy is given in verses 25-27. It is clear that the 2300 prophetic days are literally 2300 years when using the bible interpretation. For example, a prophetic day may be seen as a literal year when we study Ezekiel 4:6; “…I have appointed a day for a year”. Again, we may notice the same principle in Numbers 14:34 referring to the forty years in which the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness; “After the number of days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years…” It may be found that the 2300 day for a year prophecy began when the commandment of Artaxerxes for the restoration and building of Jerusalem went into effect, in the autumn of 457 B.C. This decree may be found in Ezra 6:14; “…And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia”. From this scripture, it is clear that the commandment to build and restore Jerusalem is a threefold commandment:-
The Threefold Commandment in Ezra:
- Ezra 1:1,2 – 1st Part of the Threefold Commandment – Announced by Cyrus king of Persia
- Ezra 6:8-12 – 2nd Part of the Threefold Commandment – Announced by Darius the king
- Ezra 7:1,12-24 – 3rd Part of the Threefold Commandment – Announced by Artaxerxes king of Persia
Therefore, taking the commandment to rebuild and to restore Jerusalem as the starting point, we may find perfect harmony in the application of all the events foretold in the explanation of the period in Daniel 9:25-27 (See diagram of the 2300 day-prophecy). Sixty-nine weeks, the first 483 of the 2300 years, were to reach the Messiah, the Anointed One; and Christ’s baptism, and anointing by the Holy Spirit in A.D.27. All events exactly fulfilled the specification. In the midst of the seventieth week, Messiah was to be cut off. Three and a half years after His baptism, Christ was crucified, in the spring of A.D.31. The seventy weeks, or 490 years, were to pertain especially to the Jews. At the expiration of this period the nation sealed its rejection of Christ by the persecution of His disciples, and the apostles turned to the Gentiles in A.D.34. The first 490 years of the 2300 having then ended, 1810 years extended to 1844. “Then”, said the angel, “shall the sanctuary be cleansed”. All the preceding specifications of the prophecy had been unquestionably fulfilled at the time appointed.
Leading up to the autumn of 1844, the Christian world held that the earth, or some portion of it, was the sanctuary. The great Advent Movement was led by William Miller and his associates, and they understood that the cleansing of the sanctuary was the purification of the earth by the fires of the last great day, and that this would take place at the second advent. Hence the conclusion that Christ would return to the earth in 1844. But that appointed time had passed, and the Lord had not appeared. However, God had led his people in the great advent movement; His power and glory attended the work, and He would not permit it to end in darkness and disappointment, to be reproached as a false and fanatical excitement. This Great Disappointment was foretold in the book of Revelation; “And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter…Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings”. (Revelation 10:10,11). The books of Daniel and the Revelation are one. One is a prophesy, the other a revelation; one a book sealed, the other a book opened. John sees the little book of Daniel unsealed, and he sees that Daniel’s prophecies have their proper place in the first, second and third angels’ messages to be given to the world. The unsealing of the book was the message in relation to time. The first and second angels’ messages were to be proclaimed up to the autumn of 1844, and no further light was to be revealed before these messages had done their specific work. The comprehension of truth, the glad reception of the message, is represented in the eating of the little book. The bitterness in the belly referred to the disappointment in 1844. However, all three angels’ messages are to be revived and are to be preached to all nations and peoples. Only then will Christ come on “a white cloud”. (Revelation 14:6-12,14).
With earnest prayer, some of those who had proclaimed that Christ would return in 1844, reviewed their position and studied the Scriptures to discover their mistake. As they could see no error in their reckoning of the prophetic periods, they were led to examine more closely the subject of the sanctuary. In their investigation they learned that there is no Scripture evidence sustaining the popular view that the earth is the sanctuary; but they found in the Bible a full explanation of the subject of the sanctuary, its nature, location, and services.
The actual cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation – a work of judgement. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when he comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works. (Revelation 22:12).
The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844.
Both the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” and the first angel’s message, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgement is come,” pointed to Christ’s ministration in the most holy place, to the investigative judgement, and not to the coming of Christ for the redemption of His people and the destruction of the wicked.
The great and solemn day when the characters and the lives of men should pass in review before the Judge of all the earth, was presented to the prophet Daniel in vision:-
“I beheld”, says the prophet Daniel, “till thrones were placed, and One that was Ancient of Days did sit: His raiment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool; His throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgement was set, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9,10. Revised Version).
The Ancient of Days is God the Father. Says the psalmist: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” (Psalm 90:2). It is He, the source of all being, and the fountain of all law, that is to preside the judgement. And holy angels as ministers and witnesses, in number “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,” attend this great tribunal.
“And, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away”. (Daniel 7:13,14). The coming of Christ here described is not His second coming to the earth. He comes to the Ancient of Days in heaven to receive dominion and glory and a kingdom, which will be given Him at the close of His work as a mediator. It is this coming, and not His second advent to the earth, that was foretold in prophesy to take place at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844. Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies and there appears in the presence of God to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man – to perform the work of investigative judgement and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits.
In the typical service only those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the blood of the sin offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service of the Day of Atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgement the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God.[ The judgement of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period. We will look at this event later in this tract.] “Judgement must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?”. (1 Peter 4:17).
The books of record in heaven, in which the names and the deeds of men are registered, are to determine the decisions of the judgement. Says the prophet Daniel: “The judgement was set, and the books were opened”. The revelator, describing the same scene, adds: “Another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”. (Revelation 20:12).
The Books Of Record In Heaven
The Book of Life contains the names of all who have ever entered the service of God. Jesus bade His disciples: “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20). Paul speaks of his faithful fellow workers, “whose names are in the book of life.” (Philippians 4:3). And the revelator says that those only shall enter the city of God whose names “are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27. See also Exodus 32:32, 33).
“A Book of Rememberance” is written before God, in which are recorded the good deeds of “them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name.” Malachi 3:16. Their words of faith, their acts of love, are registered in heaven. Nehemiah refers to this when he says: “Remember me, O my God,…and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God.” (Nehemiah 13:14). In the book of God’s rememberance every deed of righteousness is immortalized. There every temptation resisted, every evil overcome, every word of tender pity expressed, is faithfully chronicled. And every act of sacrifice, every suffering and sorrow endured for Christ’s sake, is recorded. Says the psalmist: “Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?” (Psalms 56:8).
There is a Record of the sins of men. “For God shall bring every work into judgment, withevery secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Says the Saviour: “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned”. (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36,37). The secret purposes and motives appear in the unerring register; for God “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts”. (1 Corinthians 4:5). Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered in terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty and every secret sin.
The Law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment. Says the wise man: “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14.) The apostle James admonishes the brethren: “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:12).
Examples Of The Spirituality Of The Ten Commandments
It was Christ who, amid thunder and flame, had proclaimed the law upon Mount Sinai. (Exodus 20:3-17). The glory of God, like devouring fire, rested upon its summit, and the mountain quaked at the presence of the Lord. The hosts of Israel, lying prostrate upon the earth, had listened in awe to the sacred precepts of the law. What a contrast to the scene upon the mount of the Beatitudes! Under the summer sky, with no sound to break the stillness but the song of birds, Jesus unfolded the principles of His kingdom. Yet he who spoke to the people that day in accents of love, was opening to them the principles of the law proclaimed from Sinai.
In the book of Numbers, chapter 21 verses 4-6, we read that whilst the children of Israel were in the wilderness, the people spoke against God and against Moses, murmuring and complaining, asking why they were brought up into the wilderness. They found fault with thier Leader and this is why many were destroyed by serpents. Concerning this event, the apostle Paul says,
“Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.” (I Corinthians 10:9).
What does this prove? That the Leader against whom they were murmuring was Christ. In the fourth verse of the same chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul says that the fathers “did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” So, then, Christ was the Leader and the Commander of Israel in their forty years’ sojourn in the wilderness.
To further illustrate the above point, let us look at Exodus 20:1-3. “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord Thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Who spoke these words? The One who brought them from Egypt. And who was the Leader of Israel from Egypt? It was Christ. Then who spoke the law from Mount Sinai? It was Christ, the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His Person, who is the manifestation of God to man.
We read the words of Christ in John chapter 5, verses 22 and 23, that “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” Hence, as Christ is the manifestation of the Father in creation, so is He the manifestation of the Father in giving and executing the law, for He is the Creator of all created things, and the One whom all judgment has been committed.
Therefore, when on the mount of Beatitudes, Jesus said regarding the law, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Christ here uses the word “fulfill” in the same sense as when He declared to John the Baptist His purpose to “fulfill all righteousness”; that is, to fill the measure of the law’s requirement, to give an example of perfect conformity to the will of God. (Matthew 5:17; 3:15).
Jesus, throughout his pilgrimage of love on the earth, was a living representation of the character of the law of God. His mission was to “magnify the law, and make it honourable.”( Isaiah 42:21).
“Till heaven and earth pass”, said Jesus, “one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” By his own obedience to the law, Christ testified to its immutable character and proved that through His grace it could be perfectly obeyed by every son and daughter of Adam. On the mount he declared that not the smallest iota should pass from the law till all things should be accomplished – all things that concern the human race, all that relates to the plan of redemption. So long as heaven and earth should continue, the holy principles of the law of God will remain.
Because the law of the Lord is perfect, and therefore changeless, it is impossible for sinful men, in themselves, to meet the standard of its requirements. This was why Jesus came as our Redeemer. It was His mission, by making men partakers of the divine nature, to bring them into the harmony of the principles of heaven. When we forsake our sins and receive Christ as our Saviour, the law is exalted. The apostle Paul asks, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31).
Jesus further declared on the mount of Beatitudes, that “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28). When the thought of evil is loved and cherished, however secretly, said Jesus, it shows that sin still reigns in the heart. He who finds pleasure in dwelling upon scenes of impurity, who indulges the evil thought, the lustful look, may behold in the open sin, with its burden of shame and heartbreaking grief, the true nature of the evil which he has hidden in the chambers of his soul. The season of temptation, under which, it may be, one falls into grievous sin, does not create the evil that is revealed, but only develops or makes manifest that which was hidden and latent in the heart. As a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he;” for out of the heart “are the issues of life”. (Proverbs 23:7; 4:23.)
The same principle described above concerning the breaking of the seventh commandment, may be applied to all of the other nine. For example, let us consider the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). In the book of 1 John, chapter 3, verse 15, we read that “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” The spirit of hatred and revenge originated with Satan, and it led him to put to death the Son of God. Whoever cherishes malice or unkindness is cherishing the same spirit.
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).
The word “therefore” implies a conclusion, an inference from what has gone before. (Read the whole chapter of Matthew 5). Jesus has been describing to His hearers the unfailing mercy and love of God, and He bids them therefore to be perfect. Jesus declares that you may become like him in character, and stand without fault in His presence. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24).
The conditions of eternal life, under grace, are just what they were in Eden – perfect righteousness, harmony with God, perfect conformity with the principles of His law. The standard of character presented in the Old Testament is the same that is presented in the New Testament. (For the apostle John explains, “I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning” 1 John 2:7. See also Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20:8-11.) This standard is not one to which we cannot attain. God has made provision that we may become like unto Him, and He will accomplish this for all who do not interpose a perverse will and thus frustrate His grace.
By the revelation of the attractive loveliness of Christ, by the knowledge of His love expressed to us while we were yet sinners, the stubborn heart is melted and subdued, and the sinner is transformed and becomes a child of heaven. God does not employ compulsory measures; love is the agent which he uses to expel sin from the heart. He changes pride into humility, and enmity and unbelief into love and faith.
The Jews had been wearily toiling to reach perfection by their own efforts, and they had failed. Christ had already told them that their righteousness could never enter into the kingdom of heaven. Now He points out to them the character of the righteousness that all who enter into heaven will possess. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount He describes the fruits, and now in one sentence He points out its source and its nature: Be perfect as God is perfect. The law is but a transcript of the character of God. Behold in your heavenly Father a perfect manifestation of the principles which are the foundation of His government.
God is love. It is His nature to give. His very life is the outflow of unselfish love.
Jesus said, Be perfect as your Father is perfect. If you are the children of God you are partakers of His nature, and you cannot but be like Him. Every child lives by the life of his father. If you are God’s children, begotten by His Spirit, you live the life of God. In Christ dwells “all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9); and the life of Jesus is made manifest “in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11). That life in you will produce the same character and manifest the same works as it did in Him. Thus you will be in harmony with every precept of His law; for “the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.” (Psalm 19:7). Through love “the righteousness of the law” will be “fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit” (Romans 8:4).
The Law Of God And His Righteousness
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33).
The righteousness of God, says Jesus, is the one thing to be sought in this life. Food and clothing are minor matters in comparison with it. God will supply them, as a matter of course, so that anxious care and worriment need not be expended on them; but to secure God’s kingdom and His righteousness should be the only object in life.
In 1 Corinthians 1:30, we are told that Christ is made unto us “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”. Since in Christ dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9), it is evident that the righteousness which He is made to us is the righteousness of God.
When the Psalmist addresses the Lord in Psalm 119:172, we are told that his tongue “shall speak of Thy word: for all Thy commandments are righteousness”. The commandments are righteousness, not simply in the abstract, but they are the righteousness of God. This may be further illustrated in Isaiah 51:6,7, “…My righteousness shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law…” What do we learn from this? That they who know the righteousness of God are those in whose heart is His law, and therefore that the law of God is the righteousness of God. This may be proved again, as follows:
“All unrighteousness is sin” 1 John 5:17
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4
Sin is the transgression of the law, and it is also unrighteousness; therefore sin and unrighteousness are identical. But if unrighteousness is transgression of the law, righteousness must be obedience to the law.
To put the proposition into mathematical form;
Unrighteousness = sin (1 John 5:17)
Transgression of the law = sin (1 John 3:4)
Therefore, the two definitions of sin may be represented as this;
Unrighteousness = transgression of the law
The above is a negative equation. The same thing stated in positive terms would be;
Righteousness = obedience to the law
Now, what law is it obedience to which is righteousness, and disobedience to which is sin? It is the law which says, “Thou shalt not covet”; for the apostle Paul tells us that this law convinced him of sin. (Romans 7:7). The law of ten commandments, then, is the measure of the righteousness of God. Since it is the law of God, and is righteousness, it must be the righteousness of God. There is, indeed, no other righteousness. As we see that the law of God is the transcript of His character, it is easy to see that to fear God and keep His commandments is “the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ revealed that the commandments “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery” may be viewed in a more deeper way. He showed that even a look or a thought may be a violation of the law, and that it is indeed a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The degree of morality that God requires now from Christians, is no different than that He required from His people who were called Jews. God requires the same from all men in all ages.
In this Christ did not reveal a new truth, but only brought to light and unfolded an old one. The law meant just as much when He proclaimed it from Sinai as when He expounded it on the mountain in Judea. When in tones that shook the earth, He said, “Thou shalt not kill”, He meant, “Thou shalt not cherish anger in the heart; thou shalt not indulge in envy, nor strife, nor anything which is in the remotest degree akin to murder.”
Take the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” The apostle tells us of some “whose god is their belly.” (Philippians 3:19). But gluttony and intemperance are self-murder; and so we find that the first commandment runs through the sixth.
It is clear therefore, that the day of the investigative judgment in which we are living, God will judge every secret thing, whether it be good or evil. The law of God is the standard in the judgment and it determines the quality of every act, hence the law forbids evil in thought as well as in deed. So the conclusion of the whole matter is that the commandments of God contain the whole duty of man.
The scriptures further tell us that, “For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified…In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to the gospel.” (Romans 2:12,13,16).
To justify means to make righteous, or to show one to be righteous. Now, it is evident that perfect obedience to a perfectly righteous law would constitute one righteous person. But for one to be judged “a doer of the law”, it would be necessary that he had kept the law in its fullest measure every moment of his life. If he had come short of this, he could not be said to have done the law. It is a sad fact therefore, that there are in all the human race no doers of the law, for both Jews and Gentiles are “all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:9-12). In all the world, there is not one who can open his mouth, to clear himself from the charge of sin, which it brings against him. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).
The law, being “holy and just, and good” (Romans 7:12), cannot justify a sinner – “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20). In other words, a just law cannot declare that the one who violates it is innoscent. God’s law will not bear false witness.
Christ said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:21-23. In other words, it is easier to do wrong that it is to do right; and the things which a person naturally does are evil. Evil dwells within, and is a part of the being. Therefore the apostle says, “The carnal [fleshly, natural] mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7,8). And again, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:17). Since evil is a part of man’s very nature, being inherited by each individual from a long line of sinful ancestors, it is very evident that whatever righteousness springs from him must be only like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), compared with the spotless robe of the righteousness of God.
The impossibility of good deeds proceeding from a sinful heart is thus forcibly illustrated by the Saviour in Luke 6:43-45; “For every tree is known by his own fruit…A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil…” That is to say, a man cannot do good until he first becomes good. Therefore deeds done by a sinful person have no effect whatever to make him righteous; but, on the contrary, coming from a evil heart, they are evil, and so add to the sum of his sinfulness. Only evil can come from a evil heart, and multiplied evil cannot make one good deed; therefore it is useless for an evil person to think to become righteous by his own efforts. He must first be made righteous before he can do the good that is required of him, and which he wants to do.
How may the righteousness that is necessary, in order that one may enter the kingdom of heaven, be obtained?
The Lord Our Righteousness
To illustrate how the righteousness of Christ may be obtained, let us look at the work of justification, or the imparting of righteousness. The example is given in Luke 18:9-14, in these words:-
“And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
The Pharisees are not extinct; there are many in these days who expect to gain righteousness by their own good deeds. They trust in themselves that they are righteous. They want to be able to say to the Lord, “See how good I have been for the past few days: you surely will accept me now!”
But what was the result? The man who trusted in his own righteousness had none, while the man who prayed, in heartfelt contrition, “God be merciful to me a sinner”, went down to his house a righteous man. Christ says that he went justified – that is, made righteous.
Notice that the publican did something more than bewail his sinfulness: he asked for mercy. What is mercy? It is unmerited favour; it is the disposition to treat a man better than he deserves. And in what respect does He treat us better than we deserve? The answer to this is found in Psalms 103:11,12, where it says, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” God treats us better than we deserve by taking away our sins from us. The apostle John confirmed this truth, stating that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). The apostle Paul writes, that we are “justified [made righteous] freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:24-26).
Since the best efforts of a sinful man have not the least effect toward producing righteousness, it is evident that the only way it can come to him is as a gift, for “…they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17). It is because righteousness is a gift that eternal life, which is the reward of righteousness, is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The apostle adds, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” God puts His righteousness on the believer. He covers him with it, so that his sin no more appears. Then the forgiven one can exclaim with the prophet:-
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness…” (Isaiah 61:10).
Let the reader try to picture the scene. Here stands the law as the swift witness against the sinner. It cannot change, and it will not call a sinner a righteous man. The convicted sinner tries again and again to obtain righteousness from the law, but it resists all his advances. It cannot be bribed by any amount of penance or professedly good deeds. But here stands Christ, “full of grace” as well as of truth, calling the sinner to Him. At last the sinner, weary of the vain struggle to obtain righteousness from the law, listens to the voice of Christ, and flees to His outstretched arms. Hiding in Christ, he is covered in His righteousness; and now, behold ! he has obtained through faith in Christ, that for which he has been vainly striving. He has the righteousness which the law requires; and it is the genuine article. The apostle Paul describes this kind of righteousness as being of God, obtained through the faith of Christ. (Philipians 3:9).
There is in the transaction no ground for finding fault. God is just, and at the same time the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. In Jesus dwells all the fulness of the Godhead; He is equal to the Father in every attribute. Consequently the redemption that is in Him – the ability to buy back lost man – is infinite. Man’s rebellion is against the Son as much as against the Father, since both are one.
Let us look at another illustration of the righteousness of God:-
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at His right hand to resist Him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire ? Now Joshua was clothed in filthy garments, and stood before the Angel. And He answered and spake unto those that stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.” (Zechariah 3:1-5).
Notice in the above account that the taking away of the filthy garments is the same as causing the iniquity to pass from the person. And so we find that, when Christ covers us with the robe of His own righteousness, He does not furnish a cloak for sin, but takes the sin away. And this shows that the forgiveness of sins is something more than a mere form, something more than a mere entry in the books of record in heaven, to the effect that the sin has been cancelled. The forgiveness of sins is a reality; it is something tangible, something that vitally effects the individual. It actually clears him from guilt; and if he is cleared from guilt, is justified, made righteous, he has certainly undergone a radical change: he is, indeed, another person. For he obtained this righteousness for the remission of sins in Christ. It was obtained only by putting on Christ. But, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). And so the full and free forgiveness of sins carries with it that wonderful and miraculous change known as the new birth; for a man cannot become a new creature except by a new birth. This is the same as having a new, or a clean heart.
The new heart is a heart that loves righteousness and hates sin. It is a heart free from the love of sin as well as from the guilt of sin. But what makes a man sincerely desire the forgiveness of his sins? It is simply his hatred of them, and his desire of righteousness, which hatred and desire have been enkindled by the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit strives with all men. It comes as a reprover; when Its voice of reproof is regarded, then It at once assumes the office of comforter. The same submissive, yielding disposition that leads the person to accept the reproof of the Spirit will also lead him to follow the teachings of the Spirit; and Paul says that, “as many are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14).
There is no ground for the idea that a person must go through a sort of probation, and attain to a certain degree of holiness, before God will accept him as His child. He receives us just as we are. It is not for our goodness that He loves us, but because of our need. He receives us, not for the sake of anything that He sees in us, but for His own sake, and for what He knows that His Divine power can make of us. It is only when we realise the wonderful exaltation and holiness of God, and the fact that He comes to us, in our sinful and degraded condition, to adopt us into His family, that we may appreciate the force of the apostle’s exclamation, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” (1 John 3:1). Every one upon whom this honour has been bestowed will purify himself, even as He is pure.
The Victory Of Faith
The Bible says that “the just shall live by faith”. The righteousness of God is “revealed from faith to faith”. (Romans 1:17). Nothing can better illustrate the working of faith than some of the examples that are recorded for our learning, “that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4). We will take, first, a notable event recorded in the twentieth chapter of 2 Chronicles.
“It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshapat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazon-tamar, which is Engedi.” (Verses 1,2).
This great host caused the king and the people to fear; but they took the wise course of gathering together, “to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” (Verses 3, 4). Then follows the prayer of Jehoshapat, as leader of the congregation; and it is worth special study, since it was a prayer of faith, and contained within itself the beginning of victory:-
“And Jehoshapat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou God in heaven? and rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand Thee?” (Verses 5, 6).
That was an excellent beginning of a prayer. It starts with a recognition of God in heaven. So the model prayer begins, “Our Father who art in heaven.” What does this signify? That God, as God in heaven, is Creator. It carries with it the recognition of His power over all the kingdoms of the world and of the powers of darkness; the fact that He is in heaven, the Creator, shows that in His hand there is power and might, so that none is able to withstand Him. Why, the man who begins his prayer in the hour of need, with such a recognition of God’s power, has victory already on his side. For notice, Jehoshapat not only declared his faith in God’s wondrous power, but he claimed God’s strength as his own, saying, “Art not Thou our God?” He fulfilled the Scripture requirement, “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”( Hebrews 11:6 ). Then in Verse 12, he concludes, “O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee.” The position of Jehoshapat and his people was in keeping with the apostolic injunction, “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” Jesus, who is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending” is also the One to whom all power in heaven and in earth is given. (Revelations 1:8; Matthew 28:18).
As a result of this prayer, the prophet of the Lord proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit, “…Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou King Jehoshapat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (Verse 15).
“And they rose early in the morning, and went forth in the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshapat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted the people, he appointed singers to the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth forever.” (Verses 20, 21).
What was the result of going out to battle this way?
“And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, which were come against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to slay and to destroy one another. And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked upon the multitude, and, behold, there were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.” (Verses 22-24).
This event was an illustration of the victory of faith. When the enemy, who had been confident in their superior numbers, heard the Israelites coming out that morning, singing and shouting, what must they have concluded? Nothing else but that the Israelites received reinforcements, and were so strengthened that it would be useless to try to oppose them. So a panic seized them, and each one looked upon his neighbour as an enemy.
But the point which should be especially noticed is that it was when Israel began to sing and to praise that the Lord set ambushments against the enemy. What does that signify? It signifies that their faith was real. The promise of God was considered as good as the actual accomplishment. Thus they proved the truth of the words, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4).
Let us now apply this illustration in a case of conflict against sin. Here comes a strong temptation to do a thing known to be wrong. We have often proved to our sorrow the strength of the temptation, because it has vanquished us, so that we know that we have no might against it. But now our eyes are upon the Lord, who has told us to come with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16). So we begin to pray for help. And we pray to the God that is revealed to us in the Bible as the Creator of heaven and earth. We begin, not with a mournful statement of our weakness, but with a joyful acknowledgement of God’s mighty power. That being settled, we can venture to state our difficulty and our weakness. If we state our weakness first, and our discouraging situation, we our placing ourselves before God. In that case, Satan will magnify the difficulty and throw his darkness around us so that we can see nothing else but our weakness; and so, although our cries and pleading may be fervent and agonising, they will be in vain because they will lack the essential element of believing that God is, and that He is all that He has revealed Himself to be. But when we start with a recognition of God’s power, then we can safely state our weakness by the side of His power, and the contrast tends to beget courage.
Then, as we pray, the promise of God comes to our mind, brought there by the Holy Spirit. It may be that we can think of no special promise that exactly fits the case; but we can remember that “this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15); and that He “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galations 1:4); and we may know that this carried with it every promise, for “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
Then we remember that God can speak of those things that are not as though they were. That is, if God gives a promise, it is as good as fulfilled already. And so, knowing that our deliverance from evil is according to the will of God (Galatians 1:4), we count the victory as already ours, and begin to thank God for His “exceeding great and precious promises.” As our faith grasps these promises and makes them real, we cannot help praising God for His wonderful love; and, while we are doing this, our minds are wholly taken from the evil, and the victory is ours. The Lord sets ambushments against the enemy. Our ascription of praise shows to Satan that we have obtained reinforcements; and, as he has tested the power of the help that is granted to us, he knows that he can do nothing on that occasion, and so he leaves us. This illustrates the force of the apostle’s injunction:-
“Be careful for nothing [that is, do not worry about anything]; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6).
The Investigative Judgement – Facing Our Life Record
As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names are rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance. The Lord declared to Moses: “Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of my book.” (Exodus 32:33). “When the righteous turneth away from righteousness, and committeth iniquity,…all his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned.” (Ezekiel 18:24).
All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life. Said Jesus: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” (Revelation 3:5).
Christ will clothe His faithful ones with his own righteousness, that He may present them to His Father “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing”. (Ephesians 5:27). Thus will be realised the complete fulfilment of the new-covenant promise: “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” “In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and their shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found.” (Jeremiah 31:34; 50:20).
The work of the investigative judgment and the blotting out of sins is to be accomplished before the second advent of the Lord. Since the dead are to be judged out of the things written in the books, it is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated. But the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins of believers will be blotted out “when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ.” (Acts 3:19, 20). When the investigative judgment closes, Christ will come, and His reward will be with Him to give to every man as his work shall be.
Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner in the day of God. Sin may be concealed, denied, covered up from father, mother, wife, children, and associates; no one but the guilty actors may cherish the least suspicion of wrong; but it is laid bare before the intelligences of heaven. God pierces all disguises and reads the inner life.
In the judgment the use made of every talent will be scrutinised. How have we employed the capital lent us of Heaven? Will the Lord at His coming receive His own with usury? Have we improved the powers entrusted us, in hand and heart and brain, to the glory of God and the blessing of the world? How have we used our time, our pen, our voice, our money, our influence? What have we done for Christ, in the person of the poor, the afflicted, the orphan, or the widow? God has made us the depositories of His holy word; what have we done with the light and truth given us to make men wise unto salvation? No value is attached to a mere profession of faith in Christ; only the love which is shown by works is counted genuine. Yet it is love alone which in the sight of Heaven makes any act of value. Whatever is done from love, however small it may appear in the estimation of men, is accepted and rewarded of God.
Satan hates the great truths that bring to view an atoning sacrifice and an all-powerful mediator. He knows that with him everything depends on his diverting minds from Jesus and His truth.
The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or occupy the position which God designs them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. The sanctuary in heaven is the very centre of Christ’s work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects and be able to give an answer to everyone that asketh a reason of the hope that is in them.
The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, “whither the forerunner is for us entered”. (Hebrews 6:20). There the light of the cross of Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight of the mysteries of redemption.
Through defects of the character, Satan works to gain control of the whole mind, and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed. Therefore he is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome. But Jesus pleads in their behalf His wounded hands, His bruised body; and He declares to all who would follow Him: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29, 30). Let none, then, regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to overcome them.
We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being on earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
The judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. For many years this work has been in progress. Soon – none know how soon – it will pass to the cases of the living. In the awful presence of God our lives are to come up in review. At this time above all others it behooves every soul to heed the Saviour’s admonition: “Watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” (Mark 13:33). “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come upon thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” (Revelation 3:3).
When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death. Probation is ended a short time before the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. Christ in the Revelation, looking forward to that time, declares: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.” (Revelation 22:11, 12).
The righteous and the wicked will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state – men will be planting and building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has been pronounced in the sanctuary above. Before the Flood, after Noah entered into the ark, God shut him in and the ungodly out; but for seven days the people, knowing not that their doom was fixed, continued their careless, pleasure-loving life and mocked the warnings of impending judgment. “So”, says the Saviour, “shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:39). Silently, unnoticed as the midnight thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man’s destiny, the final withdrawal of mercy’s offer to guilty men.