Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"The Eschatological Day of Atonement"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Sanctuary
Lesson 10: "The Eschatological Day of Atonement"
This week's lesson poses the question (Sunday), "None of us is immune to the danger of trying to play God. How might you, however subtly, be doing the same thing?" This serious question should be pondered frequently both by individuals as well as our corporate church.
The eighth chapter of Daniel uses the Hebrew word gadal (Strong's 1431) to describe the actions of four powers that enlarge themselves and assert their power and wills over others. The word connotes self-pride and disregard for the rights of others in favor of self-interests. This spirit of gadal is most specifically described in reference to the little horn power (Dan. 8:9-14). The chapter also attributes it to Lucifer's attitude which caused his fall to the earth (vs. 10). When Lucifer gave in to thoughts that he would ascend to heaven and raise his throne above the stars of God, he decided to make himself like the Most High (Isa. 14:13-14). In his heart of hearts, Lucifer must have known he didn't have the power to create, but as his ego strengthened, Lucifer cast logic aside in favor of asserting himself over others. With this, he produced an entire system of self-deception that rebels against the simple logic that God is God and He alone creates.
A system that substitutes anything in place of God, regardless of its logic, is exhibiting this spirit of gadal. Paganism makes no apologies for teaching that man must do something to attract and manipulate the gods. The subtly is that while men are not capable of doing what the gods require, they are capable of manipulating the gods to do it for them.
The Bible teaches that "there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12NASB). Even though we objectively know the way of Jesus is the only way, we are easily tempted to look to ourselves and our behavior to assure us of salvation. Even our beloved Seventh-day Adventist Church has had difficulty understanding this. Very sincere and respected teachers have fallen into a works trap, fearing that grace will always give way to license. There are those who have taught that works are produced by beholding Jesus and being influenced by His great love for us as manifested by the cross. That allows Him to give us a "graced in ability" to keep His law, and it is our law keeping that entitles us to heaven. Thus, we think that we have maintained a proper "balance" between grace and works. We have done our part, (satisfying our gadal) and God has done His, and our flesh is now holy by our combined efforts.
Since gadal is a trait common to all, God gave Israel the sanctuary system to demonstrate His and our roles in the plan of salvation. The sinner must humble himself and bring a sacrifice which bears his sins after he confesses them. After he kills the sacrifice, the remainder of the process is carried out by the priest. The sinner is not even allowed to watch once the priest takes the sacrificial blood within the veil of the Holy Place. This ritual was carried out by the priests on a continual basis throughout the year. This reinforced that confessed and forever forgiven sin was constantly transferred into the throne room of God, symbolized by the Most Holy Place.
Wonderful as that is, David asked for more: "According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" (Psalm 51:1, 2). Even John contemplates more than just a forgiveness transaction, if I confess, He forgives (1 John 1:9). God wants to go way beyond just forgiveness, He wants us to cleanse us. How does the sanctuary symbolism portray this? We have already looked at the continual priestly functions, assistance with the sacrifices, renewing the lampstand, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense, but a special service took place once a year called the Day of Atonement,Yom Kippur. This required participation by each person in the camp. The idea was that both harbored and hidden sin rendered the camp "corporately" unclean. A cleansing on a corporate scale was required.
The process is described in Leviticus 16 and 23. Time and space prevent us from exploring the significance of each detail, but it is rich in showing us the mind of God. The continual sacrifices demonstrated Christ's willingness to be the sin bearer for all sin. The special rituals of the Day of Atonement signify the final cleansing process. Israel has long understood this to have end time implications rather than just an annual event. When the Seventh-day Adventist Church passed through the Great Disappointment in 1844, they began to understand its role in the end time events as participants in the process Israel referred to as "afflicting the soul."
Most people are afraid of this process because they believe it will reveal yet another thing they must overcome. They are right, but the only reason to dread this is because they think they must do it themselves. Christ used the metaphor of putting on a wedding garment, which He supplies to describe the cleansing of our characters before His coming for His bride. It is only the spirit ofgadal that prefers our filthy garments, because that's the best we can muster.
Why can't God just let us keep sinning until He comes and then resolve everything? What if the church never corporately becomes willing to submit? Christ answered the latter question when He said that "no one" knows the day nor the hour except the Father (Mark13:32). This is a statement of hope, because the Father retains His omniscience and can see the future. The end will come.
But again, why is this cosmic Day of Atonement necessary? We find an example in the world of sports. For many years it was considered impossible that the record of running a mile in four minutes would never be broken. Then, in 1954 Roger Bannister did the impossible, he beat the record. In a similar way, the last generation of God's people will pass judgment on the entire human race of past ages as well as all the living. They will verify that there is no reason for failure and sin. They will prove the truth of the cleansing of the sanctuary and confirm that a people can stand before God without embarrassment, having come up to the standard outlined for Adam before the fall. All cases will be decided when Laodicea, the last church, comes to see herself as she really is. Then the repentance of the ages can take place and she be granted the "white raiment" and spiritual discernment that has long been proffered. Probation can close when, in humble repentance, the church accepts the wedding garment and opens the door to her Divine Lover. [1]
--Arlene Hill
See Donald K. Short, "Then Shall the Sanctuary Be Cleansed,"chapter 7, "The Cleansing of the 'True Tabernacle'" (especially p. 78).
--------------------------------------------------------Please forward these messages to your friends and encourage them to subscribe. 

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: http://1888mpm.org
To subscribe send an e-mail message with "subscribe" in the body of the message to sabbathschooltoday@1888message.org