“ ‘And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, “These things says He Who is holy, He Who is true, ‘He Who has the key of David, He Who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens’: “I know your works. See, I have put before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” ’ ”
Revelation 3:7, 8 NJKV
“The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God. … The burden of every book and every passage of the Bible is the unfolding of this wondrous theme—man’s uplifting—the power of God, ‘Which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ I Corinthians 15:57 KJV “He who grasps this thought … has the key that will unlock to him the whole treasure house of God’s word.” Education, 126
Judas did not understand the “unfolding” of the new covenant. He did not understand that the purpose of Jesus’ mission was indeed to give His life, to die for the forgiveness of sins, to shed His blood to ratify the covenant, and to provide the blood necessary for the opening of the “true tabernacle” in heaven. Judas did not study the Scriptures of his day, the Old Testament Scriptures, in the framework of the new covenant. He did not study each passage seeking to know what God was trying to teach in that passage about the “unfolding” of the plan of redemption.
There is a significant and very serious parallel to this situation in our day. We know that the Jewish nation as a whole did not have the understanding of Christ’s purpose. We are told in Inspiration what was the result. “Since the whole ritual economy was symbolical of Christ, it had no value apart from Him. When the Jews sealed their rejection of Christ by delivering Him to death, they rejected all that gave significance to the temple and its services. Its sacredness had departed. It was doomed to destruction. From that day sacrificial offerings and the service connected with them were meaningless. Like the offering of Cain, they did not express faith in the Saviour. In putting Christ to death, the Jews virtually destroyed their temple. When Christ was crucified, the inner veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, signifying that the great final sacrifice had been made, and that the system of sacrificial offerings was forever at an end.” The Desire of Ages, 165.
“ ‘In three days I will raise it up’ (John 2:19 NKJV). … By virtue of His death and resurrection He became the minister of the ‘true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man’ (Hebrews 8:2) …
“The sacrificial service that had pointed to Christ passed away; but the eyes of men were turned to the true sacrifice for the sins of the world. The earthly priesthood ceased; but we look to Jesus, the minister of the new covenant, and ‘to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.’ … ‘by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us’ (Hebrews 12:24; 9:8–12).” Ibid., 165, 166.
“The Jews who rejected the light given at Christ’s first advent, and refused to believe on Him as the Saviour of the world, could not receive pardon through Him. When Jesus at His ascension entered by His own blood into the heavenly sanctuary to shed upon His disciples the blessings of His mediation, the Jews were left in total darkness to continue their useless sacrifices and offerings. The ministration of types and shadows had ceased. That door by which men had formerly found access to God was no longer open. The Jews had refused to seek Him in the only way whereby He could then be found, through the ministration in the sanctuary in heaven. Therefore they found no communion with God. To them the door was shut. They had no knowledge of Christ as the true sacrifice and the only mediator before God; hence they could not receive the benefits of His mediation.” The Great Controversy, 430.
There was another major change 170 years ago, another shift or move in this great “unfolding” of the new covenant. And just as had occurred with the Jews, a misunderstanding will cause many to be lost. On October 22, 1844, a door was opened, and another, a different door, was shut. Revelation 3:7, 8 says, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He Who is holy, Who is true, Who has the key of David, Who opens and no one will shut, and Who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.’ ” Jesus moved from the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary—the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven. As He left the holy place, He closed that door. No one has access to Jesus through that door any more. When that door was closed, a new door was opened, the door to the most holy place. We must understand the difference between Christ’s ministration in the holy place and that in the most holy place.
“Those who, with a knowledge of the truth from the Scriptures, had also the Spirit and grace of God, and who, in the night of their bitter trial, had patiently waited, searching the Bible for clearer light—these saw the truth concerning the sanctuary in heaven and the Saviour’s change in ministration, and by faith they followed Him in His work in the sanctuary above. And all who through the testimony of the Scriptures accept the same truths, following Christ by faith as He enters in before God to perform the last work of mediation, and at its close to receive His kingdom—all these are represented as going in to the marriage.” The Great Controversy, 427, 428.
Let’s read a little stronger description between these two classes of people—those who followed and those who did not. The setting is a vision in which God the Father and Jesus move from the holy place to the most holy for the investigative judgment as described, among other places, in Daniel 7:9, 10, 13. The Father has already arisen, left the holy place and moved to the most holy place. Then Jesus arises, and we continue reading from Inspiration, “Those who arose when Jesus did kept their eyes fixed on Him as He left the throne and led them out a little way. Then He raised His right arm, and we heard His lovely voice saying, ‘Wait here; I am going to My Father to receive the kingdom; keep your garments spotless, and in a little while I will return from the wedding and receive you to Myself.’ Then a cloudy chariot, with wheels like flaming fire, surrounded by angels, came to where Jesus was. He stepped into the chariot and was borne to the holiest, where the Father sat. … Those who rose up with Jesus would send up their faith to Him in the holiest, and pray, ‘My Father, give us Thy Spirit.’ Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In that breath was light, power, and much love, joy, and peace.
“I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, ‘Father, give us Thy Spirit.’ Satan would then breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace. Satan’s object was to keep them deceived and to draw back and deceive God’s children.” Early Writings, 55, 56.
My friends, if we want to avoid thinking we are praying to God, when in reality we are praying to Satan, we must understand Jesus’ change of ministration described in these paragraphs. What we must understand is something that we cannot see, touch, feel, hear; it is principles and ideas, concepts that we must understand. There is a clear and distinct difference between Jesus’ ministration in the holy place, and His ministration in the most holy place. This is taught and exemplified in the services of the earthly sanctuary. We are going to briefly study what Jesus’ ministration was in the holy place of the new covenant sanctuary in heaven, and what is His ministration in the most holy place of that same sanctuary.
Remember, understanding these concepts is the difference between praying to the God of heaven, and praying to Satan—the difference between eternal life, and eternal death.
In the holy place Jesus was doing four things:
- pleading His blood before the Father in behalf of repentant sinners
- presenting before the Father with the precious fragrance of His own righteousness, the prayers of penitent believers
- securing their pardon with the Father
- securing their acceptance with the Father
These four things Jesus continues in His ministration in the most holy place for individuals whose records have not been examined. But in addition, there is a very important and critical change that took place when He moved from the holy to the most holy place. This is the work of the final atonement and investigative judgment, the blotting out of the confessed sins of His true followers, the ones who, through faith in His new covenant have not only confessed their sins and had their records cleansed, but have also gained the victory over sin.
These individuals are the “wise virgins” of Matthew 25; they are the “saints” of Revelation 14:12; they are the faithful church of Philadelphia.
This is such a critical understanding. Not a one of us knows when our record is going to come up in review. If your record is reviewed while you are still lingering in sin, at that point it is all over; it is too late to change. There will be no second chance, no other opportunity.
In addition, there is going to be a period of time after the close of probation when God’s true followers will still be on this wicked, sinful earth, which is still under the usurped dominion of Satan, the archenemy of God. Are you ready? Are you pleading with the Saviour for power to develop the character required in order to stand in that day? Inspiration tells us: “Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.” This is so critical at this point in time because God’s true followers, after the close of probation must “stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator.” The Great Controversy, 425.
This truth about Christ’s ministration in the most holy place concerning confession and overcoming is absolutely critical to understand. If we limit our understanding of Christ’s ministration to a holy place message, to only that of Christ’s pleading His blood before the Father in behalf of repentant sinners, presenting before the Father the prayers of penitent believers, of His securing pardon and acceptance with the Father, we will not complete the vital preparation needed.
The importance of acquiring this knowledge is shown in the services of the sanctuary on earth. “In the service of the earthly sanctuary, which, as we have seen, is a figure of the service in the heavenly, when the high priest on the Day of Atonement entered the most holy place, the ministration in the first apartment ceased. God commanded: ‘There shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when He goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until He come out’ (Leviticus 16:17). So when Christ entered the holy of holies to perform the closing work of the atonement, He ceased His ministration in the first apartment.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 428, 429.
For the Israelites it was a physical presence that was forbidden in the holy place. For us it is the understanding of the difference in ministration, and making sure that our sins are confessed, and that we gain the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). This is stated very clearly in The Great Controversy, 430, where it says, “It is those who by faith follow Jesus in the great work of the atonement, who receive the benefits of His mediation in their behalf, while those who reject the light which brings to view this work of ministration, are not benefited thereby.”
Oh, my friends, our time on this earth is truly running out. This “unfolding” of the new covenant is almost complete. Have you studied the Word through the lens of the new covenant? Do you understand the events in their order? Do you know where Jesus is, what He is doing, and how that relates to your life?
Stupendous events are just ahead of us. We must understand them if our desire is to not betray our Lord. Today, choose to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV). How do we do that? We study one passage until its significance is clear to our mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident. May God and the Holy Spirit be your teacher and your guide as you seek to obey His will in the study of His Word in preparation for the closing scenes of this mighty and marvelous new covenant.
Brenda Douay is a staff member at Steps to Life. She may be contacted by email at: email@example.com.