Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Happy Are You, O Israel"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Lesson 5: "Happy Are You, O Israel"

What makes people happy? There are as many different answers to that question as there are people. Probably the list would include both frivolous and thoughtful things, but one of the last things for many would be "worship." Yet, properly understood, it is the only thing that can bring real happiness and contentment. When David was trying to find something that brought true joy to his heart, he compared dwelling together in unity of the Spirit with the happiness brought by the oil of dedication that ran lavishly down Aaron's beard, even to the hem of his garments. Notice, the unity was because the Holy Spirit was present and allowed to participate in the worship service of the temple dedication (see Psalm 133).

This week's lesson takes its title from Deuteronomy 33:29: "Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, and you shall tread down their high places" (NKJV). Notice what is to make Israel happy: they are a people saved by the Lord, and good things flow from that.
Obviously the concept of worship involved here is different from putting in time once a week at church. All worship involves communication with God. Notice that Moses reminds Israel of what God has already done for them (saved them) and what He will do for them in the future (shield them), and what the result will be (enemies submit, and Israel will destroy false worship). That last point is interesting. Israel kept falling into the worship styles of people around them. Usually, this involved intimate physical acts in groves built in high places. Apparently, God knew this kind of worship would not bring them happiness and they needed to destroy the places where it occurred.

It might seem obvious that God prohibited this kind of worship because it was focused on heathen gods, not Jehovah. Certainly that was part of it, but maybe we can learn more. Generally in pagan worship the affection and allegiance to the deity is expressed by actions of sacrifice, the bigger the better. Since the god is not expected to be able to read the mind, it is not expected that the heart and mind be humbled in submission. It is enough that the act is performed. Whether the god is actually thought of during the act of "worship" is immaterial.
For centuries, Israel had performed the rituals of the sanctuary service in the most exacting manner. So caught up in the details of the ritual, they had forgotten the real purpose of the service. God told them that they were to build Him a sanctuary so He "may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8), but they had come to consider that what really counted was the doing of the various rituals. This same mind-set can be our peril. God does not live in the rituals. Unless aided by the Holy Spirit, the human mind is incapable of recognizing God. Humans can perform the rituals of worship without ever submitting the heart to God and never recognize it.

God gave the services of the sanctuary because of the sin problem. God and sin could not abide together. The Lord made the sanctuary plan to explain this and provided that even the illiterate could understand. Different kinds of offerings were ordained, each with a specific application to the overall plan which was designed to demonstrate what it would take for God to restore the original Edenic face-to-face communication. The services were to impress minds that the ultimate conclusion of sin is to kill their Life Giver.

Most pagan worship is manipulative, that is, intended to induce the god to provide something beyond the capability of the worshiper(s). If the crops were dying because of drought, the sacrifices were to induce the god to bring rain. In addition to daily necessities, gods were also asked to protect worshipers in the afterlife. Israel had reduced the rituals of the sanctuary to a manipulative pagan level. When Christ, the great antitype, was born in Israel, they were so invested in the virtue of their rituals, they failed to recognize Him.

But there was one, a Boy of 12, who understood. Even at this early age, it dawned on Him that all these lambs and sacrifices "cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience" (Heb. 9:9). He reasoned that it was all a type of things to come, and eventually Someone sinless, innocent, holy and undefiled must die as the Lamb of God if lost human hearts were ever be reached! His youthful soul surged with a mighty resolve to fulfill His destiny to be that Lamb. He resolved to fulfill Isaiah's prediction that "His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, and it sustained Him" (Isa. 59:15, 16). This 12-year-old Boy chose to go to the cross.

All worship is centered on the sacrifice of Christ which He ministers to us from the heavenly sanctuary. Worship that falls short of being cross-centered is counterfeit worship. The sacrifice of Christ effected an atonement for the world as He "taste[d] death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). Now the race stands as it were neutral before the law of God since Christ received the penalty of eternal death on their behalf. Thus Christ has given a "blessing" of temporal life, unmerited grace, forgiveness of sin, and all good things that follow. All of this was taught by the sacrificial tabernacle services of ancient Israel.

When the love (agape) of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we choose the way of the cross as readily as the Son of God chose it. By identifying with His death, we also identify with His resurrection. "He who hates his life in this world will keep it for life eternal" (John 12:25).

His church, God's house-tabernacle, comprises humble, submissive people who understand their great need for communion with God to cleanse their heart-tabernacle. This house remains the object of God's interest, and the ultimate purpose of the entire sanctuary service now continuing in heaven is the final cleansing. In this final work, the whole universe is to see the power of the gospel displayed.

The 1888 message brings a special understanding of the final work of the Holy Spirit at the end of time. Rituals are only useful if we allow them to point the mind to God and the cross of Christ. We must understand our true condition of even unknown sin. At the end, the church on earth will begin to understand the whole truth in seeing not only conscious but unconscious sin. The old covenant dealt with the external rituals and ceremonial cleansing, but the new must deal with internal cleansing, having the law put in the mind and written on the heart.

Those who have allowed the Holy Spirit to do His work in their hearts are those who are waiting for the second coming of Christ. The power of His word in their hearts will demonstrate that power so fully that their message will "lighten the earth with glory." The message itself, not their personalities nor any goodness in themselves, will call believers to "come out of Babylon, My people," and honest-hearted people will respond to the "voice" from heaven (see Rev. 18:1-4). Nothing will be able to hold them back from stepping out boldly to honor Christ in the closing work of the gospel.

--Arlene Hill

For further study:
In Search of the Cross, Robert J. Wieland, chapter 5.
And Then Shall the Sanctuary be Cleansed, Donald K. Short, chapter 5.
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HAPPY ARE YOU, O ISRAEL! (notes by Pastor Penno)

All worship is centered on the sacrifice of Christ which He ministers to us from the heavenly sanctuary. Worship that falls short of being cross-centered is counterfeit worship. The sacrifice of Christ effected an atonement for the world as He “taste[d] death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). Now the race stands as it were neutral before the law of God since Christ received the penalty on eternal death of their behalf. Thus Christ has given a “blessing” of temporal life, unmerited grace, forgiveness of sin, and all that good things that follow. All of this was taught by sacrificial tabernacle services of ancient Israel.
Lev. 9:22: “And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings.”
It was the priest who made atonement by sacrifice for the people. The purpose of all these sacrifices was that they might find fellowship with God, which is the final goal of the foundations of worship. The “blessing” resulted from the “offerings” made by the priest. The result of the sacrificial system within the tabernacle was the blessing of the people.
Lev. 9:23: “And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people.”
The blessing consisted of “the glory of the Lord”. The glory of the Lord was revealed in the offerings. By virtue of God’s love and mercy shown toward sinners, they were drawn to Him. It is at infinite cost to Himself that God gives His forgiveness of sins to His adopted congregation. The sacrifices reveal the character of God effecting a real-time at-one-ment in formerly alienated hearts.
Lev. 9:24: “And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”
It is by the sacred fire that the offering was consumed. The sacrifice that is consumed by divine fire is acceptable to God. The victim was obliterated. Nothing remained.
The sacrificial victim represented the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). God “made Him to be sin for us” (1 Cor. 5:21). The fire does not consume the congregants. It falls upon their substitute who has identified with them by being “made . . . to be sin for us”.
The “fire” represents the agape of God as manifest in His law. “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Where sin appears there agape consumes it, for “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).
God did not hate His Son and thus consume Him with fire. He identified with His beloved Son on the cross while yet hiding His face from the sin-bearer. It was the Son’s faith which broke through the darkness and the consuming fire thus building a bridge of atonement between an estranged world and the Heavenly family. God’s intensity of hate toward sin is just as intense in His love of sinners. God’s forever-love of His Son was just as intense as His forever-hatred of sin which the Son bore.
Jesus died the death which the sinner who refuses God’s forgiveness will die at the close of the millennium. “He hath poured out His soul unto death” (Isa. 53:10). It was a comprehension of His death as revealed in the sacrifices which evoked worship in the hearts of the ancient Israelites.
“Assisted by his sons, Aaron offered the sacrifices that God required, and he lifted up his hands and blessed the people. All had been done as God commanded, and He accepted the sacrifice, and revealed His glory in a remarkable manner; fire came from the Lord and consumed the offering upon the altar. The people looked upon this wonderful manifestation of divine power with awe and intense interest. They saw in it a token of God’s glory and favor, and they raised a universal shout of praise and adoration and fell on their faces as if in the immediate presence of Jehovah.” {PP 359.1}
“It was intemperance that led to the awful results recorded in our lesson. The minds of Nadab and Abihu were clouded by the spirit of wine, instead of enlightened by the Spirit of God, and they could not discern the difference between the sacred and profane. And thus, strictly speaking, intemperance was the sin for which they were destroyed. By intemperance they clouded the glory of God in the true temple of God,—their bodies,—and that led to the error in relation to the figurative sanctuary. They defiled the living temple, and that naturally resulted in debased service in the temporary structure.” E. J. Waggoner, “The Glory to Be Revealed. Lev. 10:1-11,” The Present Truth 18, 30 (July 24, 1902), p. 466.
“The next day Korah and his friends were to burn incense before the Lord. God had said that only his fire was to be used for burning incense. Any other was called “Strange fire,” so that if Korah’s company really loved God, they would have said “We cannot burn incense unless God gives us fire.”
But they thought their fire was as good as God’s, and they came with their censers and the incense burning upon them.” E. J. Waggoner, “Gospel Primer,” The Present Truth 19, 37 (September 10, 1903), p. 587.
“A good illustration of how strict God is in his requirements is found in the case of Nadab and Abihu recorded in Lev. 10:1, 2. God had specified the fire that should be used in the services of the Sanctuary. Certain fire was set apart for this use and called holy.  None other was to be used. Nadab and Abihu could not perceive the difference between the fire that was holy and that that was unsanctified, and came before the Lord with strange fire. For this rash act they were instantly slain. They might have reasoned thus: “The spirit of the Lord’s requirement is that fire should be used. It makes no difference what fire we use if we only do it in the right manner.  There is no difference in the fire.’” E. J. Waggoner, “Which Day?” The Signs of the Times 7, 35 (September 15, 1881), p. 416.
“The first and most important is that God is very particular, and will not countenance any deviation from directions which he has given. He had specified the kind of fire and incense that should be used in the sanctuary. Ex. 30:9. He himself had kindled a fire on the altar when the first offering was made upon it, and no other was to be used. It might have seemed to Nadab and Abihu that there was no difference between the sacred fire and ordinary fire; but God had made them different, and it was their duty to recognize that difference.
“It may seem to many that death was a severe penalty for so slight a deviation from the commandment of the Lord; such must remember that the fact that the death penalty was inflicted by the Lord himself, is sufficient evidence that the offense was not small. The Judge of all the earth will do right. It must also be borne in mind that the heinousness of a sin is not determined so much by the actual quality of the deed itself, as by the spirit in which the deed is committed. Contempt for the Lord may be shown in the willful disobedience of a supposed minor precept, as well as by some act which would be generally recognized as a sin. But the sin of Nadab and Abihu was not a small one. It was the result of lightly regarding the service of the Lord. They engaged in his service as carelessly as they would in some business of their own; and this showed that they had no real reverence for God.” E. J. Waggoner, “The Commentary. God Requires Strict Obedience,” The Signs of the Times 13, 22 (June 9, 1887), pp. 346, 347.
“The incense on the golden altar was only to be lighted from the fire on the altar of burnt offering, and no strange fire was to be used. The altar of burnt offering represented the sacrifice of Christ, and no prayer or praise is acceptable to God except it be kindled in the heart Jesus.” E. J. Waggoner, “Back Page,” The Present Truth 15, 7 (February 16, 1899), p. 112.
Lev. 10:1: “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.”
The fire of the Lord is His agape revealed in His holy law. His unselfish love is so unique it is indigenous only to Himself. All other fire is common and derived from humans motivated by self-love. All the worship of the people centered upon the tabernacle. It was to be saturated with the blood-life of Christ consumed by sacred fire. If the fire in the censure was ordinary there was no appreciation on the part of the priest for the sacrifice of Christ. It left an empty impression upon the worshipers and thus was a counterfeit. No atonement was effected in hearts.
Lev. 10:2: “And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”
“Nadab and Abihu were two youths who allowed their arrogance to blossom into blasphemy before God and offered “strange fire” on the Lord’s altar, as it were in His very presence. It was too much for Him to “take” and “they died before the Lord,” not because He hated them, but as a much needed lesson to their nation (Lev. 10:1, 2).” DDB
Lev. 10:3: “Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.”
Lev. 10:4: “And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.”
Lev. 10:5: “So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.”
Lev. 10:6: “And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.”
Lev. 10:7: “And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.”
Lev. 10:8: “And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying,”
Lev. 10:9: “Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:”
Lev. 10:10: “And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;”
Lev. 10:11: “And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.”

Deut. 33:26: “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in His excellency on the sky.”
“1. Who was Jeshurun, in Deut. 32:15? J. E. G.
The word is a poetical title of the people of Israel. It means “the upright,” or “the chosen,” from the verb yashar, “to be righteous.” The Septuagint has in this passage, Iakob, and the Vulgate has ditectus. In Deut. 33:5, 26, and Isa. 44:2, the only other places where the word occurs, the Vulgate renders it rectissimus.”
“Fear not, O Jacob, My servant; and thou Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.” The word “Jeshurun” occurs only four times in the Bible, the three other times besides this one being in Deut. 32 and 33. It is a diminutive, such as people use as pet names, and is equivalent to “the good little people,” or, “the dear little people.” It is applied to the whole people, just as a mother uses a term of endearment to her child. It reveals the tender affection of God for His people. It corresponds to the “little children,” so frequently used by the Saviour.”
“God has chosen Israel. But who are Israel? Israel is the prince of God, the one who overcomes. Does the Lord then choose as His favorites only those who have made a conspicuous success in life? Oh, no: the choice must necessarily be made before the struggle is ended. As we well know, Jacob was chosen before he was born. We are chosen in order that we may overcome. God has blessed us in Christ, “according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Eph. 1:3. All are chosen; we have only by submission to His will to make our calling and election sure.
It is evident that Israel means more than one man. The man Jacob, who was by the Lord named Israel, was dead hundreds of years before the prophet Isaiah wrote these words; they apply to all the children of Israel. And here appears some more of the comfort of God. God has taken away every ground for discouragement, in this promise to Israel. Notice that He uses both names, Jacob and Israel. Jacob is the supplanter, the deceitful schemer, the one whose character is anything but attractive. The Lord indicates that He has chosen Jacob from his birth. That means that He has chosen us from our birth. But we have a bad record. No matter, so had the original Jacob. He has chosen us, that He may make us better. So we need not mourn over our early life; God makes all that pass away in Christ. Every inspired prayer is a promise of what God will do; and in Ps. 25:7 we read: “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions.” That this is what God promises to do, we have already learned from the preceding chapter, where He says, “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgression for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy “sins.” He has chosen us, “that we might be holy and without blame before him.” Eph. 1:4. E. J. Waggoner, “The Gospel of Isaiah. The Gift of the Spirit. Isa. 44:1-8,” The Present Truth 15, 48 (November 30, 1899), p. 774.
Deut. 33:27: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.”
Deut. 33:28: “Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also His heavens shall drop down dew.”
 Deut. 33:29: “Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.”
For all who believe “the most precious message” is the beginning of the Elijah message, Hannah’s story is a great encouragement of how God will gloriously display His character to the world. It’s a quiet little secret in the Bible, but women play a pivotal role in the vindication of God in the great controversy. When Satan is accusing God and His people most vigorously saying that there is no one on earth who reflects back to God His self-sacrificing agape; they are all into God for the goodies He dishes out; God points to some poor soul who is a witness for Him.
Hannah is just such a woman. The state of the church in her day was pathetic. The priests Eli and his sons were corrupt. It was so bad that women were molested at the temple.
The books of Samuel depict a time of transition between the judges and the monarchy. Samuel was the last divinely-ordained prophet-priest-judge leader of Israel before the succession of kings ruled. Just how Samuel came to prominence during a time of vacuum in leadership among God’s people is the story of Hannah.
Elkanah was a priest-in-waiting who resided in Ramah about fifteen miles from Shiloh. Bigamy is a departure from God’s original plan for marriage. It is the source of conflict in Elkanah’s family (1 Sam. 1:2). Hannah is barren. Elkanah wants children. He takes Peninnah for the express purpose of continuing the family name.
The annual holy seasons were similar to campmeetings. They provided times of family unity in the worship of God. They were to be expressly times of refreshment and joy. There was feasting and drinking (vs. 4).
A high quality portion of meat was apportioned to Hannah, demonstrating his favoritism toward her (vs. 5). Hannah is faced with “the other woman” and her children. She shares a feast with a God who has persistently denied her children of her own.
Here is a barren woman who is loved and a fertile woman who is not (vs. 6). Penninah “taunts” (“provoked”, “fret”, vs. 7 “provoked”) Hannah with the reproach that God has caused her barrenness.
Hagar similarly treated Sarah in her barrenness. She persecuted the free woman who was promised the seed (Gal. 4:22-31). The old covenant generates a spirit of persecution within family systems and, yes, even in the church. Since faith has an egocentric motivation in the old covenant, it tends to ridicule, marginalize, and satirize new covenant faith which is motivated by God’s self-sacrificing agape.
Instead of venting her feelings on Penniah, Hannah turns inward and becomes silent. She hides herself in grief (vs. 8). Hannah experiences the pain of persistent childlessness. Elkanah knows the cause of her pain. Yet his crass insensitivity comes across as a reproach to her for not recognizing that he can fulfill Hannah’s void tenfold. Elkanah may love her but his arrogance reveals he thinks he is the center of her world.
Unable to get any help or sympathy from her husband she turns to the only one who can surely understand, and who can give her children (vs. 10). Hannah turns to God. She is the only woman, in the entire Bible to utter a formal prayer and have it recorded in the sacred text.
Hannah’s vow breaks her silence. She will now be given a “voice” throughout the rest of her story. Her prayer request is very specific in requesting a son; yet it is an extremely self-sacrificing vow. It reveals that she understands the very heart of God who “gave His only begotten Son” for the world. She most desires a son, not for herself but for the vindication of God. She will give the son to God forever (vs. 11).
Hannah’s prayer forever defines the genuine nature of a new covenant vow. She appreciates what it takes for God’s promise-covenant of salvation to be given forever to the world. It cost the life of God’s own darling Son. She offers her son to God as a mirror image of God giving His Son for her. She may or may not realize it, but she is a singular witness in a time of apostasy, when Satan is accusing God that there is no one among His people who serves God because they appreciate His character of agape.
God is silent. He was silent when His Son cried out, “Why hast thou forsaken me? The rules of the great controversy do not permit God to jump right in and give lavish assurances to His faithful ones in the midst of trials (vs. 12). But Eli “answers” her vow in a manner far removed from the answer she wants.
Eli is seated on his chair at the entrance to the temple. He sees her lips moving as she prays silently. He thinks she is drunk (vs. 13). Pilgrims to ancient Israel’s feasts often drank to excess.
Eli observes this woman’s distress, but displays no kindness at all (vs. 14). Eli takes more seriously the apparent drunkenness of a woman than the heinous crimes of his own sons.
Her protest is that she is not “a worthless woman” like Eli’s “scoundrels” (1 Sam. 2:12, “worthless men”) (vs. 16). This is a stinging rebuke to Eli, yet done most politely, in dissociating herself from the behavior of his sons. His moral authority is completely undermined.
Eli is so obtuse he doesn’t pick up on it. He doesn’t even know what she has prayed (vs. 17). But he blesses her in the blind. She will eventually place her little cuckoo in Eli’s nest, who will receive an epiphany in the night pronouncing the end of Eli’s family. This fool mistakes her distress for inebriation, fails to spot her veiled accusation, and unwittingly contributes to the blessing of her vow which will contribute to his downfall.
Eli has demonstrated no genuine compassion. However, his blessing has broken her isolation setting in motion her going back to family, assuaging her grief, restoring her appetite, setting up her restoration (vs. 18). With the brush of a wisp of hair, she departs saying, “May I find favor in your sight.” Hannah’s lowest ebb will now curve upward from this point on.
The deeper appreciation of God’s love has now paved the way for both Elkanah and Hannah to understand what it means to be “one flesh”. Something was missing in their love before. Now the Inspired writer portrays them as “one” worshipping the Lord and returning home (vs. 19). Because of “Elkanah’s choice” of Penninah his marriage is wounded. God comes in to bring healing. Now Hannah enjoys a greater intimacy with her husband. Her womb is healed with the words “the Lord remembered her”—the curing of Hannah’s barrenness. Genuine faith in God’s everlasting covenant does that. Here is God’s response to her vow in two words—“remembered her”. The course of church history could not be changed with a description of fewer words than that.
It’s entirely appropriate then that Hannah should name her son because she knows that he is God’s answer to her prayer. Samuel means “asked of God”.
After weaning Samuel she comes to Shiloh with a bull that is sacrificed representing God’s own Son “who should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9). And now she offers her son to God forever.
This is Hannah’s pilgrimage to Shiloh. It is unprecedented in all the Bible for a woman to make such an offering. It is comparable to Abraham offering up Isaac to God. It’s hard to respond adequately to Hannah’s sacrifice.
Hannah is a type of all those poor, weak, ridiculed voices calling for revival and reformation in the midst of an ease loving people who are steadily growing in favor with worldlings (vs. 27). God apparently is silent to the prayers of His people who are longing for the return of the Elijah’ message. However, prayers that are tuned into what God wants never fall on deaf ears. God may need you to stand “alone” in order to win His great controversy with Satan.
Did God “lend” His Son to the world or did He “give” His Son to the world? If God only “lent” His Son for a few short years, then we have no Saviour now. Rather, God has given His Son as a permanent gift, the divine-human High Priest who administers the benefits of the ever-present cross to us from the heavenly sanctuary. The ultimate meaning of the cross is the atonement. He is illuminating the cross in order to draw alienated hearts by His love revealed there so we might experience being at-one-with God’s heart.
Hannah’s word “lent” indicates that Samuel was a living sacrifice for her all the days of her life (vs. 28). She felt keenly the separation from her darling son; albeit, she could go up and visit him anytime she wished being only fifteen miles away. But this should not diminish the value of “Hannah’s sacrifice”. She and Samuel are a type of the sacrifice given by the Father and the Son. In this her message speaks eloquently as no other woman in the Old Testament to the self-denial of God.

Happy Are You, O Israel! by Pastor Paul Penno

Thursday, July 21, 2011

THE SANCTUARY AND WORSHIP (notes by Pastor Penno)

The question keeps popping up: “What does 1844 mean other than a mathematical puzzle?”
Unless this finds an answer, devotion to our Sanctuary message dries up. And if that happens, say goodbye to any meaningful Seventh-day Adventist message beyond that of the Seventh Day Baptists.
The challenge is constantly thrown at us: can you prove the SDA “Sanctuary message” (including 1844 and the “Investigative Judgment”) from the Bible alone, without using Ellen White as a crutch?
She said:
“The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith,” “our faith” being the unique teachings of Seventh-day Adventists that make us different from the Roman Catholic or Evangelical Protestant churches (Evangelism, p. 221).
“[It’s] the central pillar that sustains the structure of our position” (Letter 126, 1897).
She was right! If “the sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men,” then what Christ is ministering there (to those who will receive it) is the experience of justification by faith. That's the business He is doing in His “office.” Our concern is—how does the Sanctuary message relate to that special truth?
Baptized into Christ in this church, I have often pondered this problem. With no internal misgivings or doubts, I have used the naked Bible to present the Sanctuary message to non-SDAS as I have prepared people for baptism. I see it taught in the Bible (without calling Ellen White to bolster it up) as clearly as I see the Sabbath truth there. In fact, the Sanctuary doctrine came to us as a people before the Sabbath truth did.
Some may say, “You are naive, brainwashed.” Well, at least I like baptizing people who remain lifelong committed Seventh-day Adventists, rejoicing in the truths that made us a people distinct from the Sunday-keeping Evangelicals—and yes, our friends, the Seventh Day Baptists. (The seventh-day Sabbath is no longer a unique doctrine which we hold; numerous other churches also keep it.)
Why, for example, does the associate editor of our very fine Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary now repudiate it en toto? He says it’s a “liability,” and claims that many of our pastors and church leaders also inwardly doubt it, even though they stay in the closet as church employees. (He implies they like salaries and perks.)
What they have understood as the Sanctuary message has always been only a cold theological doctrine. It never became a heart-gripping, heart-melting truth. They never learned to love the message. It left them cold, and probably in many cases, worse than that—it left them dominated by nightmarish fear.
They saw Christ’s ministry in the Most Holy Apartment as a court trial where our very existence is jeopardized. A rejection slip in the Investigative Judgment was a consignment to hell. So this distorted view of the doctrine was not mere theological trivia; its side effect to them was spiritual terror.
But the issue could not be more important to understand. The most disturbing statement Ellen White ever made makes simple common sense. It is a brief passage where she says that if we reject a change in Christ’s sanctuary ministry in 1844, we lay ourselves open to a deception of the false christ posing in place of the True One, putting on a show that is complete with miracles. By now, the counterfeit has become extremely sophisticated.
Yet we face the influence of former prominent Seventh-day Adventist thought leaders who repudiate these insights about a difference in Christ’s high priestly ministry. It may not be their fault that they feel this way. Ministers and leaders in our past generally have taught them the Sanctuary message divorced from the special enlightenment of the 1888 message. The most precious message was hijacked when the Lord “sent” it.
Ellen White told us in 1896 that “by the action of our own brethren [the light] has been in a great degree kept away from the world” and “from our own people.” So let’s be charitable to these current Sanctuary message rejectors, and “consider others lest we also be tempted.” These people among us who today are rejecting the Sanctuary message very likely never grasped the 1888 message. They grew up and went through academy, college, and university without anyone teaching them either the message or its history. To this day none of our schools offers a course in the 1888 message. Anyone who gets it does so by accident.
The message lifts the unique Seventh-day Adventist Sanctuary message out of confusion and perplexity and clothes it in the bright garments of Christ’s righteousness, that is, the gospel seen as very Good News. The dear Lord in His providence placed in my hands (apparently by accident) two books that warmed my heart through unique Sanctuary ideas in the 1888 message:
(1) Waggoner’s The Glad Tidings is where I learned the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. I discovered that the Gospel is very Good News, much better than in the 9 years of Adventism I had ever heard it presented. It gripped my heart—it still does. I see justification by faith as far more than a cold theological formula. It’s Good News far beyond pastors and leaders who don’t see the Sabbath truth, nor the Sanctuary doctrine, nor the truth about sleeping saints awaiting the resurrection “in Christ.” God has many people in the Sunday-keeping churches living up to all the light they have (I came out of one such church). They simply don’t see the 1888 idea of justification by faith because they don’t see that in death man sleeps until the resurrection, and they don’t know to follow Christ in His closing work of atonement in the Most Holy Apartment. Both ideas are essential to justification by faith as it is “present truth” today.
(2) A dog-eared copy of A. T. Jones’ The Consecrated Way. There I discovered a new perspective.
Was I dumb and naive? Maybe so: the heavenly sanctuary can never be “cleansed” until first of all the hearts of God’s people are cleansed. That’s simple! And it’s far more than a legalistic accounting trick whereby God looks the other way while we continue sinning. The missing factor is supplied by a new and clearer grasp of justification by faith, which Ellen White saw makes the 1888 message become “the third angel’s message in verity.”
“Faith” believes when some women tell you on Sunday morning that Jesus is risen from the dead, and you haven’t seen Him. Faith doesn’t wait to put your fingers in the holes in His hands or in His side, as Thomas insisted. According to 1 John 4:16, truth requires a greater commitment than mere intellectual conviction: “We have known and believed.” That’s how we follow the true Christ in His ministry in the Most Holy Apartment—convincing objective evidence plus a heart appreciation of it.
Let’s note a few items:
(1) Please look at #191 in the hymnal, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.” John and Charles Wesley sensed the need for something not yet clearly understood in 1747. Look at stanza 4: “Finish, then, Thy new creation; / pure and spotless let us be; / let us see Thy great salvation / perfectly restored in Thee.” There’s how the sanctuary is to be “cleansed”!
The Wesleys were trying to get their fingertips on the special truth that informed the 1888 message—that message of Christ’s righteousness. It will yet lighten the earth with glory. In the 1888 message the Wesleys could have realized what they were looking for, but they were too early.
(2) The cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary makes a difference in practical day-by-day living. If it’s impossible for the sanctuary in heaven to be “cleansed” or “justified” or “made right” (different meanings of the Hebrew verb translated “cleansed” in Daniel 8:14) until the hearts of God’s people on earth first are cleansed, then that has an important conclusion: Christ as our High Priest is specializing now in convicting His people of previously unknown sin. As each is seen and forsaken for His sake day by day, the special work of cleansing goes on. The High Priest plans for it to become complete. And He wants it to be soon. He’ll do it if His people don't resist Him.
(3) This is not merely a legal “assumption” on God’s part, something He knows well is not yet reality. When Revelation 14:12 declares, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God”—it has to be true. These people have “overcome, even as [Christ] overcame” (Rev. 3:21). They have not merely been legally accounted so, contrary to reality. The objective gospel has at last become totally subjectively demonstrated. Don’t ridicule this solemn truth as so many do, for if you do you’ll be like “the lord on whose hand the king leaned” who ridiculed Elisha’s prophecy of a miracle “tomorrow about this time.” He got to see it, but never participated in the blessing.  
When Ellen White speaks of the “eighteen hundred years” of Christ’s ministry in the First Apartment, at no time did He have a corporate body of believers on earth whose faith had thus matured. No one was translated during those long centuries. But now comes a change in His ministry; He’s in the Second Apartment. It’s the cosmic Day of Atonement. The heavenly sanctuary is at last “cleansed” in that now He has a body of people whose hearts have been healed of every root of alienation from God. The “atonement” becomes a reconciliation with Himself, complete on the antitypical Day of Atonement.
When John and Charles Wesley were trying to get a grip on this, they were bitterly opposed, even by Augustus Toplady, author of our lovely hymn, “Rock of Ages.” The very idea of overcoming fully “even as [Christ] overcame” was considered fanatical, and labeled “perfectionism.” Even today there are devout people (even as Toplady) who see the 1888 idea of the cleansing of the sanctuary as an impossible “perfectionism,” discouraging to think of. The reason is that there’s a missing link in their understanding.
(4) The 1888 idea of the cleansing of the sanctuary is not that God’s people do the work. The High Priest does it; and His people stop resisting Him “in His office work” (to borrow Ellen White’s expression). They let Him do it. They take away the roadblocks in His way. Never does the Bible say that the ancient Israelites had to cleanse the sanctuary. Their high priest always did it.
Prominent in the 1888 message is this idea of ceasing to resist our Lord. Not until after the 1888 Conference did Ellen White state it so clearly: “The sinner may resist this love, may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus . . . in repentance for his sins.”  To stop resisting Jesus—that’s the essence of this cleansing of the sanctuary idea. Apparently Ellen White picked up the idea from Jones and Waggoner.
It’s Good News better than most Adventists have ever thought it is. In early 1890 Ellen White was moved to write a series of articles for the Review that linked together this idea with the work of Christ in the Most Holy Apartment. And she directly linked it all to the 1888 message (January 21 through April 8):
“We are in the day of atonement, and we are to work in harmony with Christ’s work of cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people. Let no man who desires to be found with the wedding garment on, resist our Lord in His office work” (January 21).
“Christ . . . is cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people. What is our work? . . . To be in harmony with the work of Christ. . . . A people is to be prepared for the great day of God” (January 28).
“The mediatorial work of Christ, the grand and holy mysteries of redemption, are not studied or comprehended by the people who claim to have light in advance of every other people on the face of the earth” (February 4).
“Christ is cleansing the temple in heaven from the sins of the people, and we must work in harmony with Him upon the earth, cleansing the soul temple from its moral defilement” (February 11).
“There are many among us who are prejudiced against the doctrines that are now being discussed. They will not come to hear” (February 18).
“The slumbering Church must be aroused. . . . The people have not entered into the [most] holy place ... There is spiritual drought in the churches. . . . They oppose they know not what” (February 25).
“We shall have to meet unbelief in every form in the world, but it is when we meet unbelief in those who should be leaders of the people, that our souls are wounded” (March 4).
“For nearly two years we have been urging the people to come up and accept the light and the truth concerning the righteousness of Christ, and they do not know whether to come and take hold of this precious truth or not” (March 11).
“You have been having light from heaven for the past year and a half. . . . These men who refuse to receive truth, interpose themselves between the people and the light. . . . How long will those at the head of the work keep themselves aloof from the message of God?” (March 18).
“Our churches are dying for the want of teaching on the subject of the righteousness of Christ” (March 25).
It seems that no one in Battle Creek grasped what she was saying. Guess what her reward was for these articles in the Review? “Exile” to Australia the next year (Waggoner shortly thereafter was sent to England).
(5) To answer our initial question in very simple terms: the difference between Christ’s ministry in the First Apartment and in the Second is what He does in His believers. Up until 1844, it was totally in preparing believers to die, so they could be “accounted worthy” to come up in the first resurrection. And that is a great work for our High Priest to do. If any of us are called to die, may we be prepared!
But when looked at in context, His ministry in the Second Apartment is intended especially to prepare a people to be translated without tasting death. While they are still in the flesh, they must see Jesus, must meet Him face to face, which only “the pure in heart” can endure. These must be “alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord. . . . and shall be caught up together with [the resurrected saints of all ages] to meet the Lord in the air.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Sanctuary message makes special sense in the light of Christ’s Matthew 24 sermon. It was Heaven’s purpose that the second coming be within the “generation” of those who saw the last of the celestial “signs” of His near return—the falling of the stars. That’s how the pioneers understood it, and that’s what the words of Jesus actually say. The otherwise inexplicable delay is the result of “resisting our Lord in His office work.” The gospel commission in the light of Revelation 18:1-4 could have been accomplished within a few years of 1888.  The delay in finishing the work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary is not due to computer backlogs in the heavenly offices, or to any angelic inefficiency. The problem lies with “us.”
(6) The 1888 idea also relieves minds of perplexity about what Christ is doing now. Is He vacationing? Or absorbed in some other corner of His great universe? What He does is obviously “work,” for the great controversy with Satan is still going on, and the great enemy is working very hard. There is no time for Jesus to take a vacation. Battles more real than any fought with weapons are going on. It’s only right that God’s people sympathize with Christ in these contests. That’s what Ellen White means about following Christ into the Most Holy Apartment.
(7) The 1888 idea of the cleansing of the sanctuary also imparts to those who understand it a new motivation for following Christ. Fear of the Investigative Judgment is “cast out.” This again is part of the cosmic Day of Atonement—a time for at-last-realized oneness with Christ. It delivers from fear as much as He Himself was delivered from fear in His life on earth. Our natural self-centered concerns for salvation are sublimated in a higher concern for the triumph of Christ. This again is a result of the Day of Atonement oneness with Him.
(8) The Sanctuary truth leads directly to the Bride of Christ making herself ready. That “oneness” is something that has never happened in all past history—“the marriage of the Lamb is come, for His wife hath made herself ready.” Something special is ready for those who are invited to “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:6-9). As individuals, all (including those of the last days) are “guests at the wedding.” But as a corporate body, the church of the great Day of Atonement becomes the Bride of Christ.
Our first natural reaction is, “it’s too good to be true.” Anticipating our temptation to doubt, the angel told John, “Write: for these words are true and faithful” (Rev. 21:5).
(9) The message of the True Witness to the “angel of the church of the Laodiceans” turns out to be the Sanctuary truth itself. This message has not become a museum piece in our denominational attic; it grips hearts worldwide today wherever it is presented. The Holy Spirit impresses souls who seek to follow Christ of His much more abounding grace for overcoming.
The Sanctuary message that “the Lord in His great mercy sent” to us must yet lighten the earth with glory. Thank God, it will. And that, soon.
(10) From the Most Holy Apartment of the heavenly sanctuary is ministered the gift of repentance. In order for the dilatory Bride to “make herself ready” for the “marriage of the Lamb,” she must welcome that disclosure of her true need. The Bride is a corporate body; therefore, her repentance is a corporate repentance.
(11) Because she overcomes “even as Christ overcame,” she shares fully by faith His own experience of repentance. He repented in behalf of the human race; so does she. He “tasted death” for every man; she identifies with Him on His cross as He does so. Thus she too would rather die eternally than bring shame and disgrace on Him.
As a “body,” she learns in the Day of Atonement an intimate fellowship with Christ that few individuals in history have known, such as Job, Moses, or Jeremiah. In the Day of Atonement, she learns to “grow up unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
(12) Although our great High Priest cleanses the sanctuary and we let Him do it, He cannot make the Bride to be “ready.” No bridegroom in history can make any bride to be “ready”! That’s something she alone can do. The new agape motivation, the new concern developed for the honor of Christ in the great controversy, the New Covenant experience of identifying with Christ on His cross, prompts the world church to a new awareness of her unique duty today. It’s not a “work” performed in order to be saved; it’s a concern for Christ like that of a bride for a husband who needs her. The idea of Christ being in need is implicit in the Sanctuary message.
(13) The 1888 idea of the Sanctuary truth clarifies our prayers. It is futile to pray, “Lord, make your Bride get ready!” He can’t do that. It's also probably futile for us to pray that He will give His people the gift of repentance; He has been trying to give it to them for over a century. If we pray for the latter rain (which is good), respect for the Lord would require that we recognize that He gave us its “beginning” over a century ago, and “we” would not have it. To keep begging a friend to give you a gift when he’s been trying to give it to you, would be rude.
We can pray that the Lord will give us individually the gift of repentance insofar as we receive the gift today. We can pray individually that He will enable us to understand what was the initial gift of the latter rain—a message of objective truth. But we are told that the corporate refusal initially to receive the gift constituted an “insult” to the Holy Spirit. Should not our prayers now be especially reverent and respectful?
To come back to the initial question we are considering: what is the difference between the work of the great High Priest in the First Apartment, and that in the Second?
(14) Before the cosmic Day of Atonement, the great High Priest could cleanse human hearts only of all known sin. But there is a deeper layer in all human hearts of unknown sin. For example, King Hezekiah, the “perfect” king (well, he said he had served the Lord “with a perfect heart”) had that layer of unknown sin beneath his awareness. He was sure that “I . . . have done that which is good in Thy sight.” And he was utterly sincere when he said it (2 Kings 20:3). “Hezekiah prospered in all his works. Howbeit,” as a lesson for us about the reality of unknown sin beneath the surface of our awareness, “God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chron. 32:30, 31).
Unknown to himself when Hezekiah had turned his face to the wall to cry, pleading his marvelous righteousness as why he should not be left to die, there was deep sin hidden therein. It came out at the end of his life.
(15) The Day of Atonement message to Laodicea pinpoints that same “thou knowest not” problem. The High Priest would disclose it all to us now. That’s His specialty on this Day of Atonement.
What’s beneath our awareness is the sin of crucifying the Lord of glory (Zech. 12:10 to 13:1). And bound up with that sin is the corporate sin that the whole world shares. We kneel before we go to sleep at night and “confess,” and according to 1 John 1:9, the Lord forgives and “cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” But the point of the cleansing of the sanctuary is that He cannot “cleanse” from a sin that we are not aware of, and therefore cannot “confess” meaningfully.
The Sanctuary message that “the Lord in His great mercy sent” to us must yet lighten the earth with glory.