“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).” Education, 125.
Another description of this plan is found in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“Christ was not alone in making His great sacrifice. It was the fulfilment of the covenant made between Him and His Father before the foundation of the world was laid. With clasped hands they had entered into the solemn pledge that Christ would become the surety for the human race if they were overcome by Satan’s sophistry.” The Youth’s Instructor, June 14, 1900.
In Patriarchs and Prophets, page 371, it says that this covenant “was simply an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will” where we can keep the commandments of God. The third angel’s message says, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God.” Revelation 14:12 KJV. These people followed Jesus into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and have been given strength from God to be free from sin. They were placed where they could obey God’s law and have right to enter the kingdom of glory, no exception.
“The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. They were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death [the second death]. To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death, and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 68.
The plan of redemption was given to separate us from sin. This message was given to Adam and he knew that the lamb he must slay represented Jesus Christ Who would come in the future. From the time Adam offered his first sacrifice until Jesus died on the cross approximately 2,000,920 lambs were sacrificed—one every morning and every evening to remind the people of the new covenant promise. The most important thing we can ever learn is to trust in the blood of Jesus to redeem us from sin.
God told Abraham to take his one and only son and offer him on Mount Moriah. Hence, Abraham was a representation of the Father and Isaac, the Son of God. Climbing Mount Moriah, Isaac said to his father, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Genesis 22:7 NKJV. And Abraham said, “God Himself will provide the lamb.” Verse 8. Isaac was strong enough that he could have resisted his elderly father when he found out what God had instructed Abraham, but he submitted to his father’s will.
Abraham was ready to bring that knife down when his hand was stayed. The plan of salvation was here illustrated to the universe through Abraham and Isaac. The lamb represented Jesus. God does everything He can to impress upon our minds the need of getting free from sin. For 4,000 years Abraham, Jacob and future generations continued these morning and evening sacrifices symbolizing Christ’s first coming.
At the Exodus God changed the patriarchal system to a sanctuary system to meet the needs of a larger group of people. The lamb was still to be sacrificed but the services were enlarged to give the people a clearer understanding of the new covenant and what Christ was going to do for them.
The sanctuary that Moses built was a copy of the sanctuary in heaven, which is the true tabernacle of God, the sanctuary of the new covenant. (See The Great Controversy, 413, 417.) Both sanctuaries were of the new covenant.
The seventy-week prophecy given to Daniel told the people exactly when they should expect the Lamb to come to ratify the covenant. They had the date for it. The shepherds and the wise men knew that the time was at hand, but the church did not. The prophecy stated that in the midst of the week the Lamb would be slain. At the beginning of the week, in A.D. 27, Jesus was anointed and they could have figured out exactly when the true Sacrifice would be made. But in the face of all this information, they were blinded with a misunderstanding of the Scriptures.
History shows that in 63 B.C., Pompey, the Roman general, took Jerusalem after a three-month siege of the temple area and massacred all the priests in the process of their service. This sacrilege incensed the Jews in such a way that they could neither forgive nor forget and a plan was devised by which they hoped to get free from the Romans. The prophecies of a coming king were taken and interpreted to say that Jesus was to come as a king to deliver them from the control of the Roman Empire. Over the next 50 to 75 years that interpretation became so ingrained in the Jews that they forgot the plan of God. They taught that the Messiah would come, not to deliver them from sin, but to deliver them from the control of the pagan Roman Empire. When Jesus came as a lowly peasant instead of a king, they found it necessary to destroy Him in order to uphold their false teaching. The Jews represented Jesus as an imposter and taught the people that His work and teachings would destroy their temple and its services. The temple and its services must be preserved at all cost, even if it was to deny Jesus and the messengers He sent. Such was the environment Jesus experienced at His first advent.
Jesus tried to correct this error and sent witnesses to the birth of John the Baptist. Zacharias had a vision while serving in the holy place of the temple. As a result of his unbelief he was struck dumb for nine months until the child was born. When he came out from that encounter with the angel everybody knew that something amazing had happened when he could not talk.
The angel proclaimed the birth of Jesus to the shepherds and this was spread all over Judea. There was still no interest to research this matter. A year later the Magi came from the east asking, Where is the king of the Jews that was born? The Jewish leaders who had not followed the prophecies did not know because it did not fit their preconceived idea of being saved from the Romans.
When Jesus was dedicated in the temple, two prophets witnessed to His divine birth. The priest heard these things but refused to take notice. When John the Baptist came preaching in Jerusalem and all Judea to prepare the way for the Messiah to come in humility and to deliver them from sin, they still did not listen. The priesthood even sent a delegation to hear him, but John’s teaching was not in harmony with their expectation.
Jesus did not give up trying to get the attention of the people. At His baptism in A.D. 27, when He came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came in the form of a dove. They recognized that dove as a representation of the Holy Spirit and heard the voice of God the Father declaring, “This is My Son, Whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17. However, this was not the king that they wanted so they rejected Him.
From His baptism, Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days and fasted almost to the point of death. When He returned from the wilderness to the Jordan River where John the Baptist was teaching, John said, “Look, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29. Five of John’s disciples joined Jesus at the opening of His ministry.
Inspiration tells us that Jesus did not begin His ministry until the first cleansing of the temple.
“In the cleansing of the temple, Jesus was announcing His mission as the Messiah, and entering upon His work. That temple, erected for the abode of the divine Presence, was designed to be an object lesson for Israel and for the world. … In the cleansing of the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin—from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits that corrupt the soul.” The Desire of Ages, 161. The Jewish church rejected that message again.
There was a bright spot in His ministry a few days later when Nicodemus came for an interview with Jesus. “In the interview with Nicodemus, Jesus unfolded the plan of salvation, and His mission to the world. In none of His subsequent discourses did He explain so fully, step by step, the work necessary to be done in the hearts of all who would inherit the kingdom of heaven. At the very beginning of His ministry He opened the truth to a member of the Sanhedrin, to the mind that was most receptive, and to an appointed teacher of the people. But the leaders of Israel did not welcome the light. Nicodemus hid the truth in his heart, and for three years there was little apparent fruit.” Ibid., 176. Nicodemus passed the story on to the disciples after the crucifixion.
A year later at the next Passover, Jesus came back to the same subject again when He healed the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. It is believed that the man was healed on the Sabbath because he was so sick but Jesus had a greater plan when He deliberately told him to pick up his bed and walk on the Sabbath day. That afternoon the Sanhedrin called a council meeting and Jesus was called in for breaking the law. (See John 5.) By additional rules, the ten commandments by which we are judged had been corrupted and Jesus challenged the leaders saying that the teachings of the Pharisees were leading the people astray and depriving them of salvation through the new covenant.
Jesus had come to magnify the law and make it honorable. He was not to lessen its dignity, but to exalt it. The Scripture says, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth.” Isaiah 42:4 literal translation. He came to free the Sabbath from the burdensome requirements that had made it a curse instead of a blessing.
Inspiration tells us: “For this reason He had chosen the Sabbath upon which to perform the act of healing at Bethesda. He could have healed the sick man as well on any other day of the week; or He might simply have cured him, without bidding him bear away his bed. But this would not have given Him the opportunity He desired.” The Desire of Ages, 206.
“The Sanhedrin had rejected Christ’s message and was bent upon His death; therefore Jesus departed from Jerusalem, from the priests, the temple, the religious leaders, the people who had been instructed in the law, and turned to another class to proclaim His message, and to gather out those who should carry the gospel to all nations.
“The burden of Christ’s preaching was, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel’ (Mark 1:14). Thus the gospel message, as given by the Saviour Himself, was based on the prophecies. The ‘time’ which He declared to be fulfilled was the period made known by the angel Gabriel to Daniel. ‘Seventy weeks,’ said the angel, ‘are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy’ (Daniel 9:24).” Ibid., 232, 233.
In other words, seventy weeks were decreed to ratify the covenant and for Jesus to open the new covenant sanctuary in heaven. They should have known that Jesus was going to die and the third day go to open the sanctuary in heaven. But the whole plan of redemption was rejected, cutting off all the people from the hope of salvation.
“Calling the twelve [disciples] about Him, Jesus bade them go out two and two through the towns and villages.” Ibid., 350. The disciples’ message was the same as John the Baptist and of Christ Himself, the kingdom of God is at hand, the seventy-week prophecy is fulfilled. The Messiah had come to give His life to ratify the covenant. So they went through Galilee with this message. And what a harvest they gained through their ministry! By the end of that year there were thousands of people ready to accept Jesus and be called His disciples.
Just before His crucifixion Jesus again sent seventy of His disciples throughout the whole area of Galilee and Judea and any place where people would listen. They were to call attention to the sacrifice that He was going to make in a few weeks. (See The Desire of Ages, 488.) The Lamb of God was about to ratify the covenant so pay attention.
Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51. The Desire of Ages, 389, explains: “To eat the flesh and to drink the blood of Christ is to receive Him as a personal Saviour, believing that He forgives our sins.” We are complete in Him. The new covenant is simply an arrangement to bring us back in harmony with God.
It is by beholding His love, by dwelling upon it, by drinking it in, that we are to become partakers of His nature. What food is to the body, Christ must be to the soul. Food cannot benefit unless it is eaten and it becomes part of our being. Christ is of no value to us if we do not know Him as a personal Saviour. We must feed upon Him and receive Him into the heart so that His life becomes our life. His love, His grace must be assimilated.
“It was by His word that Jesus healed disease and cast out demons; by His word He stilled the sea, and raised the dead; and the people bore witness that His word was with power. He spoke the word of God, as He had spoken through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament. The whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ, and the Saviour desired to fix the faith of His followers on the word. When His visible presence should be withdrawn, the word must be their source of power.” The Desire of Ages, 390. [Emphasis added.] Though His visible presence has been withdrawn from us it is His word that is to be the source of our power and our salvation.
Those who believe the Bible will also believe the Spirit of Prophecy. Revelation 12:17, says, “The dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.” The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. In Revelation 19:10, we read, “I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!” [Emphasis added.] Here it is evident that if a person accepts the whole Bible they will also accept the whole Spirit of Prophecy.
“By looking constantly to Jesus with the eye of faith, we shall be strengthened. God will make the most precious revelations to His hungering, thirsting people. They will find that Christ is a personal Saviour. As they feed upon His word, they find that it is spirit and life. The word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus.” The Desire of Ages 391. Jesus wants to free you from sin when you come to Him and give you the needed strength to keep from sinning. All who participate in the latter rain are going to be free from sin and sealed for eternity.
Jesus said, “You destroy this temple, and in three days I’ll raise it up.” John 2:19 literal translation. The Desire of Ages, page 164, explains: “In these words His meaning was twofold. He referred not only to the destruction of the Jewish temple and worship, but to His own death—the destruction of the temple of His body.” When the Jews crucified Jesus, they destroyed His body and destroyed the temple. “As referring to the temple at Jerusalem, the Saviour’s words, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,’ had a deeper meaning than the hearers perceived. Christ was the foundation and life of the temple. Its services were typical of the sacrifice of the Son of God. … The entire plan of sacrificial worship was a foreshadowing of the Saviour’s death to redeem the world.” Ibid., 165.
“In putting Christ to death, the Jews virtually destroyed their temple.” Ibid., 165. The very thing they wanted to prevent, they did. When Christ was crucified, the inner veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom signifying that the great final sacrifice had been made. The sacrificial lamb escaped and the system of sacrificial offerings was forever at an end along with the feast days.
“ ‘In three days I will raise it up.’ … From the rent sepulcher of Joseph, Jesus came forth a conqueror. … 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.’ … ‘The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing … but Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands …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.
Throughout the book of Hebrews it is seen that Paul was relentless in pointing the Jews to the sanctuary in heaven that they had rejected so that they could see Jesus and His ministration there. For the three years of His earthly ministry the prophecy the temple would be destroyed, that He would die and be raised on the third day, and the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven would be opened was before the people.
In the setting of the resurrection morning the disciples were all confused. Going to the tomb they found it empty and wondered what happened. Their hope and faith was gone. Then Jesus appeared to Mary, and “in His own familiar voice He said to her, ‘Mary’ Now she knew it was not a stranger who was addressing her, and turning she saw before her the living Christ. In her joy she forgot He had been crucified. Springing toward Him, as if to embrace His feet [in worship], she said, ‘Rabboni.’ But Christ raised His hand, saying, Detain me not ‘for I am not yet ascended to My Father’ (John 20:16, 17). …
“Jesus refused to receive the homage of His people until He had the assurance that His sacrifice was accepted by the Father. He ascended to the heavenly courts, and from God Himself heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, that through His blood all might gain eternal life. The Father ratified the covenant made with Christ, that He would receive repentant and obedient men.” Ibid., 790.
Christ immediately returned to earth, and that evening He walked to Emmaus and explained to two of His disciples how the Old Testament sacrificial system pointed to His sacrifice. They finally began to understand why Jesus had to die. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down and told the disciples that Jesus had been inaugurated as their High Priest, and that they were to take this message to the world. Christ was now ministering for them in the heavenly sanctuary. The Lamb of God had been slain. They could go directly to Christ in the heavenly sanctuary to confess their sins. He would hear and give them power to separate from sin.
The Desire of Ages, 834 says that when Jesus ascended to heaven, “They [the hosts of heaven] are eager to celebrate His triumph and to glorify their King.
“But He waves them back. Not yet; He cannot now receive the coronet of glory and the royal robe. He enters into the presence of His Father. He points to His wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet; He lifts His hands, bearing the print of nails. … Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Father and the Son had united in a covenant to redeem man if he should be overcome by Satan. They had clasped Their hands in a solemn pledge that Christ should become the surety for the human race. This pledge Christ has fulfilled.”
Praise the Lord! The pledge has been fulfilled and Jesus is in heaven today ministering on behalf of His people. “From that scene of heavenly joy, there comes back to us on earth the echo of Christ’s own wonderful words, ‘I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.’ John 20:17.” Ibid., 835.
“The Pentecostal outpouring was Heaven’s communication that the Redeemer’s inauguration was accomplished. According to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers as a token that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people.” The Acts of the Apostles, 39.
This was the message of Jesus’ disciples during the early rain. The message of God’s church during the latter rain will be that Christ has moved into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and is investigating the records of His people to see who has washed their sins in His blood and are fit to be clothed in the wedding garment and ready to go into the wedding banquet. What a tragedy it would be to be weighed in the balance of the sanctuary and be found wanting when such a sacrifice has been made for our salvation.
How important it is for us today to go to the world with this message of hope. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light. Seeking Him in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary is our only hope. He alone can give the power to set us free from the sins that separate us from the Father. This last message of mercy must go to the whole world and then Jesus will return for those who love Him and “keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12 literal translation.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New International Version.)
Maurice Hoppe is Director of the Steps to Life training programs and a member of the Steps to Life Board. The Training Program for Ministers and Church Leaders is a correspondence course that prepares individuals to serve as pastors or Bible workers. Preparing for the Final Conflict is a correspondence course for the laity. Both of these courses teach present truth that will be an anchor for the soul during the storm of opposition and persecution just ahead. He and his wife also have a correspondence course offered through Revelation Ministry. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.