Three Angels' Messages Part 24

            Welcome again, and thank you for joining with us as we continue to study the Three Angels’ Messages, found in Revelation 14. These messages are so important, because they represent God’s last invitation to the human race. God wants to wrap this up quickly!
We are currently looking at the phrase, “The hour of His judgment has come,” and as we’ve mentioned before, we see that the Bible clearly reveals that there is a judgment, and that one important phase of it starts and ends before Jesus returns. It is the purpose of this pre-advent judgment to make the decisions as to who will be saved and who will be lost. What could be more important than that? For that reason, we should find out everything that we can about this critical topic!
            The sanctuary service was God’s “show and tell” illustration of salvation. It told the story of Christ’s provision for redemption. Jesus is the Tabernacle, the Door, the High Priest and the Lamb. Only by Him can we be saved. His blood atones for our sins, and this was depicted in the offering of animal sacrifices whose blood typified the blood of Jesus. But why would the sanctuary need cleansing? The sanctuary needed to be “cleansed” because the impurity of the sins of the people had been transferred from them to the sanctuary.
            Every day, sinners came with their offerings and laid (the Hebrew indicates “lean” or “pressed down”) their hands on the head of the sacrificial victim, and then the animal was slain. In type, the sin was transferred from the sinner to the sanctuary, by means either of the blood of the sacrifice being sprinkled on the veil separating the holy from the most holy place, or in some cases the flesh of the animal being eaten by the priests who served in the tabernacle. Thus the sanctuary became defiled by the “reminder of sins,” and required cleansing from those sins which had accumulated through the year. Hebrews 10:3. This annual cleansing was accomplished on Yom Kippur.
            Each year the “tenth day of the seventh month” was a most solemn day. It was called Yom Kippur, meaning “day of covering (in a special sense).” Notice how the concept of “cleansing” is brought into the discussion of the procedures and purposes of that annual event. “So he (the high priest) shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.” Leviticus 16:16. So, the whole purpose of this ceremony had to do with correcting a condition of “uncleanness.” That obviously, would involve a cleansing process.
            A number of animals were sacrificed that day and as a part of his ministry, the high priest was to “sprinkle some of the blood on it (the horns of the altar) with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and sanctify it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.” Verse 20. So, there was something in the sanctuary which required cleansing. Later we read, “This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who sojourns among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.” Leviticus 16:29, 20. It is obvious that “cleansing” was a vital part of the service of the Day of Atonement. We learn from this passage that it wasn’t just the physical structure of the tabernacle which was the subject of the cleansing; it was the hearts of the people. The Holy Bible says, “That you may be clean from all your sins.”
            While the word in Leviticus 16 (taher) isn’t the same Hebrew word for “cleansing” as appears in Daniel 8:14 (tsadaq), it is a close synonym, as demonstrated in passages like Job 25:4, “How then can man be justified (tsadaq) with God? Or how can he be clean (taher) that is born of a woman?” As we've noted, by the rules of Hebrew poetry in synonymous parallelism, the two words are shown to mean essentially the same thing.
            Yom Kippur was a most solemn day, on which the people were required to “afflict their souls,” meaning that they engaged in deep contrition and repentance. It was understood that their records were reviewed and their sins removed from the camp in totality. It was a time of sacred “judgment.” All of this symbolized the final removal of sin from the records of heaven, a process described both by the 7th chapter of Daniel in the depiction of the heavenly court, and by the 8th chapter of Daniel by its reference to Yom Kippur.
            Just to review: given the parallel of the prophecies of Daniel 7 and 8, we would expect that something having to do with “judgment” would occupy this “slot” in the sequence. In chapter 7, we saw earthly kingdoms, the horn, the judgment and the end. It is clear that the two chapters are covering the same material. In chapter 8, we’ve seen earthly kingdoms, the horn, and now we would expect something in keeping with “judgment” to be the next component in the list, before the picture is completed. The phrase that is put into the spotlight as being the critical “hinge point” of the prophecy, something that vital to the answering of the question, “How long?” is the “cleansing of the sanctuary.”
            Has it been understood that there something in the sanctuary service that was distinctly related to “judgment” and “cleansing”? Yes there was! To this very day orthodox Jews look upon Yom Kippur as the “Day of Judgment.” If you have an interest, you can research how Jews today look at Yom Kippur. If you put the words, “Yom Kippur Judgment” in your search engine, you will find quotes like this one from a Jewish author: “The name ‘Yom Kippur’ means ‘Day of Atonement,’ and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to ‘afflict the soul,’ to atone for the sins of the past year. In Days of Awe, I mentioned the ‘books’ in which G-d inscribes all of our names. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.”
            Here's another quote. “By Yom Kippur the 40 days of repentance, that begin with the first of Elul, have passed. On Rosh Hashanah God judged most of mankind and has recorded his judgment in the Book of Life. But he has given a 10 day reprieve. On Yom Kippur the Book of Life is closed and sealed. Those that have repented for their sins are granted a good and happy New Year.”
            So, even today the Jews look upon the service of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, as functioning as God’s final judgment! Most interesting, especially when we take into consideration that it was on that day that the sanctuary was “cleansed.” As part of the service, the high priest “shall sprinkle some of the blood on it (the altar) with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and sanctify it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.” Leviticus 16:19. The purpose of this “cleansing” was to remove the record of sins that had been deposited there throughout the year, as the people confessed their sins day by day.
            But where is the sanctuary to be cleansed in the “time of the end” referred to by Gabriel? It couldn’t be an earthly sanctuary, because the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman General Titus in A.D. 70. Is there another sanctuary beside the one on earth? Going back to the original instruction given to Moses, we find that he was told, “According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.” Exodus 25:9. Moses was shown an original or pattern sanctuary in heaven, of which he made an earthly copy.
            The writer of Hebrews comments, “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected and not man.” Hebrews 8:1, 2. It stands to reason then, because there was no longer a sanctuary on earth when this prophecy came to its terminus, in “the time of the end,” the prophecy must be speaking to the sanctuary which is in heaven, which is the true and original, of which all earthly sanctuaries were only copies.
            This once-a-year ceremony in the ancient, earthly sanctuary, illustrated God’s final accounting with sin which takes place before Jesus’ return, when the sanctuary in heaven, the “true tabernacle” is cleansed from the record of the sins of the saints. This is in keeping with what we were told in Daniel 7, in that the judgment scene given to Daniel is placed in heaven, not on earth.
            So when the question is asked “How long the trampling?” what is the answer? We know that it cannot be a direct answer, because it is not God’s policy to reveal the “day and hour.” But, as Jesus did before He ascended to glory, an answer is given that while not “direct,” nevertheless reveals an important fact concerning a necessary pre-requisite to His return. The beginning date of the pre-advent judgment, a necessary part of God’s plan, is revealed.
            Think of it this way. Let’s say that your child is restless as you travel to visit a friend whose whereabouts are unfamiliar to you. You’ve scribbled some notes on a scrap of paper and you are doing your best to make all the correct turns. Your child asks, “When will we get there?” You tell your child, “I can’t say exactly, but when we get to the Arco station on Edmonds Street, we'll be close because they live in the next block.” No, you don’t know the exact time, but being able to identify something that is a last marker is helpful. That’s the message of Daniel 8:13, 14. The question: “How long the trampling” (which comes to its end when Jesus comes back)? The answer: “At the conclusion of the 2300 year time period the judgment, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, the pre-advent investigative judgment, will commence.”
            That aspect of the judgment, brought to view in chapter 7 when the Ancient of Days presides and the books are opened, illustrated by one of the festivals of the Jewish sanctuary service, Yom Kippur, will commence at the conclusion of the 2300 year prophecy. Remember, the vision of chapter 8 is placed in a “sanctuary setting,” with its animals being animals of sacrifice, not the wild and unclean beasts of chapter 7. While not a “direct answer,” it is the perfect answer. Knowing the date of the beginning of heaven’s final tribunal, the conclusion of which is necessary before He comes back, is something that will cheer the hearts of all those who cherish the fulfillment of God’s great plan.
            By the mouth of these “three witnesses” these things are confirmed: by the structural comparison of chapters 7 and 8, which shows that the “cleansing of the sanctuary” of chapter 8 fits into the same slot in the sequence as the judgment scene of chapter 7; by the strong legal flavor of the word tsadaq; and by the purpose and goal of the Day of Atonement, to which our attention is drawn through the phrase “then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
            Before we leave this subject of the sanctuary being “cleansed” or “vindicated,” there’s something very important to stress. Keep in mind that it’s not just about books being examined or furniture cleansed. And it’s not just about the records of humans being reviewed to see who is going to be saved or lost, as important as that might be. Referring to the cleansing of the sanctuary is merely a verbal illustration trying to open our eyes to the real issues at stake. The screen is much wider than our earthly concerns. Remember that no trial has a basis for existing unless charges are filed by a prosecutor. In his rebellion, Satan accused God of being unfit to rule the universe. He brought charges against God’s government, His throne and His law. He said that God’s law was too restrictive, and that society would be better off with no restraints.
            God’s name and character are on trial. It is in a very real sense, the “hour of His judgment.” What part do we have to play in this? It is God’s purpose to illustrate His justice and power in the transformation of the lives of those who yield to Him. He wants to build His case upon the evidence of changed characters. He wants to answer the charges of Satan by the exhibits of the lives of those who say “Yes” to Him. His proposition is, “I will make a mortal man (or woman) more rare (“precious” KJV) than fine gold.” Isaiah 13:12. Notice that it’s His promise, “I will make.” This is not something we do.
            In times past, through “alchemy,” men tried to find a way to make gold out of other substances. They never found out how to do it in the physical realm, but God says He can in the spiritual realm! He can make our characters as gold. He has the creative power to make weak sinful human beings (notice the passage in Isaiah just quoted is talking about “mortal” man) victorious through the merits of Christ. This is not legalism, it’s grace at work. It’s the Gospel, the “power of God to salvation.” But that process of refinement and purification can only take place if we say “Yes.” The Gospel, illustrated in the lives of His saints is His answer to Satan's charges. God's name will be cleared and vindicated of all accusations. You and want to be a part of God’s great purpose, don’t we!