by Lawrence M. Nelson
Chapter Seven – Christ The Answer
As we have pointed out in our study, once a year, the earthly sanctuary was to be cleansed. The day on which this event took place was called the Day of Atonement. It was a great and solemn day for the children of Israel. It was particularly holy also, for no one was permitted to do any work on this day. It was the keystone of the sacrificial system. Any man, woman, or child who did not make the needed preparation in afflicting his soul, making sure that his every sin had been taken into the sanctuary and separated from him, was to be cut off from the people of Israel. We read of this in Leviticus 23:29, “For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.” And so the Day of Atonement was a solemn occasion, for everyone had to examine himself to make sure that every sin in his life had been carried within the sanctuary.
In a short review, let us quickly enumerate once more the steps by which sin was separated from the sinner, and carried into the sanctuary. You remember, first the sinner must experience true contrition and repentance, represented by bringing a specified animal for sacrifice to the door of the tabernacle. There, he placed his hands upon its head, and confessed his sin, thus transferring his sin to the lamb. Then, with his own hand, he had to take a knife and slay the victim, for the innocent victim must die for his sins. Next, the priest would bring a bowl and take of the blood from the Iamb, which now in type carried the sin, which he then brought within the sanctuary, and sprinkled it upon the veil. In this way, the man’s sin was forgiven, and transferred into the sanctuary. You can readily see that during the year, with a great number of people, that there was an enormous accumulation of sin within the tabernacle. But once a year, God purposed that these sins would be removed from the sanctuary by a cleansing process. In our last study, we learned that the priest would take the blood of the sin offering, and enter within the most holy, and there sprinkle the blood upon the mercy seat. Thus signifying that the terms of the broken law had been satisfied. Then, symbolically, he would gather the sins and take them out of the sanctuary, and place them all upon the head of the scapegoat, which would be led away from the camp of Israel into the wilderness to die. In this manner, the sanctuary was cleansed on the great Day of Atonement.
We have discovered that the Lord Jesus Christ entered the heavenly sanctuary’s most holy place within the veil in October 1844, to conduct a final atonement process in the heavenly sanctuary since that date. This has been taking place for over 150 years now, and this work, I believe, will soon be finished. Any individual who has not made sure that every sin is confessed and forgiven will be separated forever from God when the final act of atonement is made; for Jesus will stand up and declare, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and He that is filthy, let him be filthy still, and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” Revelation 22:11. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ’s power to enable a sinner to overcome sin. Thus Christ is the only answer to the sin problem.
But, today Satan is spreading abroad a new philosophy which is completely contrary to the sanctuary services and its teaching. He is leading men to think that their sin will be winked at by God, or will not be discovered before Jesus comes. ln Numbers 32:23, we are admonished with words that would be well to ponder, “Behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.”
Some years ago, a traveling newspaper correspondent observed a man carrying an old cane with some peculiar carvings on it. He thought very little of it, until two months later he was in the same vicinity and learned that an elderly man and his wife had been beaten to death. No one seemed to know why the murders had been committed, for the elderly couple had been loved by all. This man and his wife had been beaten to death with some kind of a stick. The correspondent went to the authorities, and gave them a description of the man he had seen with a strange looking cane. Six months later, the police found the man and brought him to justice. The judge was seated, the jury chosen, but the man had an alibi for every indictment. It seemed that the court couldn’t prove a thing against him. The judge was actually beginning to believe that maybe they had the wrong man, and the jury felt likewise. Until, the door of the courtroom opened and the newspaper correspondent walked down the aisle, in his hand he carried the blood-stained cane that he had found in the woods near the victim’s home. When the man who was accused of this brutal slaying saw the cane, his face suddenly turned white, and he began to tremble. Then everyone in the courtroom knew that he was guilty . . . be sure your sin will find you out!
There are many today who think that they can give a reasonable answer as to why they don’t surrender their sins to Jesus, and ask Him to plead their case before God. These individuals are also able to convince their pastors that they are pretty good and they are headed for the kingdom. But, God knows! And there are wives who deceive their husbands, leading them to think that they have been true to their marriage vows; but God knows! And there are some sons and daughters who convince their parents that they are just about perfect; but God knows! Some even have the ability to convince themselves that they are quite religious, and somehow will be saved when Jesus comes; but God knows! The Lord declares, “Shall not God search this out? For he knoweth the secrets of the heart.” Psalm 44:21.
Let’s bring this closer home to us as individuals. Imagine with me that there is a certain young man who has a wife and two children. This young man–we’ll call him Jim–is a good looking fellow; he has an excellent job and is a fine citizen. He pays his taxes, is well thought of in the community, he may even go to church. But, all the time he is under the conviction that he should come to Jesus and confess his sins, so he can be cleansed with His blood. However, Jim never gets around to doing what he knows he ought to do. Why? Well, maybe it is the Sabbath. He knows that the Bible teaches that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord his God. He knows that it’s a part of the divine law and he should keep it. But, there is a problem, maybe it just isn’t convenient to honor God’s day. Maybe he is having a struggle over returning tithe to God. He knows that ten percent of his income belongs to the Lord. Jim has so many blessings, a beautiful wife and two little girls, a car, a lovely home, but he also wants many other things. He feels he just can’t afford to pay tithe; or so he thinks. Maybe he has a problem with some secret bad habit, like smoking, or having an occasional drink with the boys after work. He doesn’t think anybody knows about this, but you see, God knows! Or it could be the love of some pleasure that in his heart he knows is contrary to God, but he just can’t seem to give it up. Perhaps the real issue in his mind is that he has never been baptized. He knows what God’s word says in John 3:5, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” But he has continued to put it off. The issue here is–a young man with sin in his life.
Now, let us suppose that one day something happens that Jim didn’t plan on. He might have been thinking deeply about his work, and without looking, he starts across the street. Suddenly he is hit by a car, and his life is instantly snuffed out! The funeral is held in the church which is filled to capacity with many of his friends. The pastor, thinking that Jim was ready for the kingdom, presents a wonderful eulogy; but what do you think? Can God accept this young man? Can Jim, now dead, do anything to correct his faulty, sinful record left on the books of heaven? What does God say about our condition when we are dead? For “the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they anymore a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. . . . Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10.
The word of God has made it very clear that since Jim is dead he cannot do anything to correct his past mistakes. He’s dead, he’s buried; but is this the end? Oh, no! We read in God’s word that this man must now be judged. In the book of Hebrews 9:27, are these words: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
Now we have arrived at the crucial issue having to do with the judgment and the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.
In the autumn of 1844, when Jesus Christ stepped in before the throne of God within the most holy place the judgment proceedings began. There are no words in the Bible that are more striking than those describing this judgment scene. “I beheld till the thrones were cast down (placed) and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9, 10.
Consider what happened when this great court of God convened in heaven in the year 1844. The first case would be that of Abel, who had been murdered by his brother Cain, for he was the first man to die in this world. Abel was a sinner, for–“all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Yet, he believed in the Savior, and did as God had required. He took a Iamb and confessed his sins over it transferring them to the Iamb, and then with his own hand, he slew the sacrifice. When the books were opened, in which were recorded the sins of Abel, Jesus Christ was standing before God, pleading for Abel. “I have covered his sins with my blood. I want him to live in heaven with us.” God looks at Jesus, and then speaks those wonderful words: “Retain his name in the Book of Life.”
Next case, . . .we don’t know whose name came up next, but eventually Cain died and let us suppose that his name came up next. Was Cain a religious man? You would hardly think so, since the Bible says he murdered his brother. But, look a little closer. You will find that indeed he was quite a religious man. Cain thought himself righteous and came to God with a thank offering. Only he made no confession of sin. Instead of bringing a lamb for a sacrifice for his sins, he decided that he would go out to his garden and dig up some vegetables for his sacrifice. He built an altar, and placed the fruit of his labor upon the altar as an offering. Then he knelt down and prayed, asking God to accept his offering. But, God would not accept this substitute for sin. No one can ever earn salvation by his self righteousness. Remember the words of Hebrews 9:22, “Without the shedding of blood is no remission.” Cain presumed upon God’s mercy and grace. He did not bring a sacrificial lamb, representing Christ. And God will never accept a counterfeit. Since God would not accept his counterfeit sacrifice Cain became so angry that he killed his brother, Abel. All this is recorded in the books of heaven. As the books were opened and the record was revealed, could Jesus stand up as Cain’s advocate? As far as we know, He could not. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that Cain ever accepted Jesus. He did not obey the requirements of Christ as outlined in the sacrificial system of the sanctuary. Can you imagine the sorrow of Jesus as God says, “Put Cain’s name in the book of death.”
And so, the judgment goes on for all people who ever lived on this earth. Everyone is judged according to the records in the books of heaven. Each individual is accepted or rejected as determined by the answer to one question: Has the blood of Christ covered his/her sins?
Now let’s go back to the funeral of this young man, Jim, who was killed by an automobile. A person may live a fairly good life, but not obey God in his daily living. What happens to him in the judgment? Did Christ do everything for Jim that he might be saved? Watch Jesus as He points to the nail prints in His hands, and to the wound in His side, and then says, ‘Father, I gave my life for that young man. Father, I died on Calvary, what more could I have done for him? But, he would not obey; he would not accept my sacrifice as provided. Therefore, I cannot cover his sins with my blood.” Slowly, but surely God says, “Put his name in the book of death.”
Am I making this too real? The sanctuary services are simple to understand. Friend, this is exactly what is going on in the heavenly sanctuary today. The cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven is real!
“Soon, none know how soon, the judgment will pass to the living.” Great Controversy, 1888 Edition, pg. 490.
lt makes us think seriously, doesn’t it? Are we ready for our names to come up before God?
There is more to the story of Jim’s experience even though his name was blotted out of the book of life. This is not the end for Jim as we shall see.
When Jesus comes the second time a resurrection will take place. “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” I Thessalonians 4:16, 17. In this first resurrection, when Jesus returns to this earth, Jim will not come forth from his grave. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will be raised in the first resurrection.
Now, what about Jim’s family? Let’s say that as time went on, his wife and daughters lived faithfully; keeping the commandments of God, making sure every sin was confessed and covered by the blood of Jesus until the day they, too, went into the grave. When Jesus comes in the clouds with ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of angels, He looks upon the graves of His sleeping saints and calls for the righteous to come forth. This mother and daughters will come out of their graves clothed in immortality. No doubt, Jim’s wife will look around for her husband, and the girls will be looking for dad. When they see that his grave beside theirs has not been opened, tears fill their eyes, but God says that He shall wipe away all tears. Then with overwhelming joy they are lifted up by the angels to meet the Lord in the air and taken to heaven where they will spend the next one thousand years. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6.
But, what about Jim–where is he–what will happen to him? Regarding the second resurrection, Revelation 20:5 says, “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” At the end of the thousand years, Jesus is going to come back to this earth the third time with all His living saints, and He will also bring with him that great city, the New Jerusalem. As Jesus descends to the earth, the second resurrection of the dead takes place. It is the resurrection of the wicked. The Bible speaks of them as the sands of the seashore, or humanly speaking, they are without number! These still have the same spirit of rebellion and resistance to God’s requirements as they had while living on the earth.
Picture with me, Jim, as he comes forth in this final resurrection. He looks around, and sees the city of God, the New Jerusalem. He is troubled, and says, “That’s strange, this isn’t like what I used to read in my Bible.” and then, he sees the wicked of all ages milling around, what a sight! Something is wrong. Then he remembers that he did not obey God, and follow Christ in the way of salvation as taught in the sanctuary service. He did not repent and confess his sins. He did not transfer his sins to Jesus and accept His death for his sins. He did not allow Christ to take his sins into the sanctuary, and separate those sins from his sinful heart.
Therefore, Christ was unable to be his advocate before God. Christ would have gladly covered his sins with His blood and blotted them out. So the scripture is finally fulfilled, “Be sure your sins will find you out,” as fire comes down from God out of heaven, and devours Jim with his unforgiven sins.
But this need never happen to you or me–not when Christ has provided such a wonderful way of escape. Remember, there is no one in this world who has gone too far in the depths of sin but Jesus can forgive and save. Isaiah tell us, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18. There is hope for every one of us. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25.
Yes! Jesus is the answer. He alone can save us. In His righteousness He can present your case before the Father, and He can pronounce you as one who has never sinned. This may sound too good to be real, but it is true. Do not hesitate–come boldly to Jesus. The Savior will make an atonement for you and be your personal Advocate. Remember, Christ is the answer to all your sins and to all your needs.