THE CLEANSING OF THE HEAVENLY SANCTUARY
I had a friend who was flabbergasted to hear that the Heavenly Sanctuary needs to be cleansed. Somewhat perturbed, she said, "There is no sin in Heaven! The Sanctuary does not need to be cleansed!" Oh, she was greatly troubled. Perhaps my friend could have benefited greatly had she the spirit and open-mindedness depicted in the following:
"...If a message comes that you do not understand, take pains that you may hear the reasons the messenger may give, comparing scripture with scripture, that you may know whether or not it is sustained by the word of God. If you believe that the positions taken have not the word of God for their foundation, if the position you hold on the subject cannot be controverted, then produce your strong reasons; for your position will not be shaken by coming in contact with error. There is no virtue or manliness in keeping up a continual warfare in the dark, closing your eyes lest you may see, closing your ears lest you may hear, hardening your heart in ignorance and unbelief lest you may have to humble yourselves and acknowledge that you have received light on some points of truth."
My friend was incorrect when she said that there is no sin in heaven. On the contrary, sin originated in Heaven with Lucifer. In Revelation, Chapter 12, we read that Lucifer and a third of the angels were kicked out of Heaven because of rebellion against God. Rebellion is sin. In this discourse, we will find out how sins get into the heavenly sanctuary, how God will remove them, and when God will remove them.
"In Exodus 25:8, God instructed Moses to build a sanctuary that He may dwell with man. The earthly sanctuary was patterned after the heavenly sanctuary. Every minute detail in the heavenly sanctuary was related to Moses to duplicate in the building of the earthly sanctuary--the furniture, the attire of the high priest, the services to be performed. Every type had its antitype.
In the building of the earthly sanctuary, God wanted erring man to know and understand that His Way is in the sanctuary. How He will deal with sin, how He has provided a remedy for sin, and how He will ultimately put an end to sin and to Satan once and for all are found in the sanctuary service. "Thy way, O God, is in the Sanctuary." Psalm 77:13.
In the typical sanctuary service, the blood of the sin-offering was sprinkled before the Lord transferring the sins of the penitent into the sanctuary. The confessed sins of all Israel accumulated during the year, and at the end of the year, on the day of atonement, the high priest went into the Most Holy Place to cleanse the sanctuary and remove all the sins of Israel. These sins were placed on the scapegoat which was led out to the wilderness by a fit man to die.
Today, we are living in the 'antitypical day of atonement' and Jesus Christ, our High Priest, is officiating in our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary. He hears our prayers and confessions and covers them with His blood. Before He comes to this earth, He will blot out all the accumulated sins of His people and place them on Satan who will be destroyed in the fires of the last day. The heavenly sanctuary would then be cleansed. Hebrews 9:23 confirmed this cleansing: "It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified...with better sacrifices than these."
How do we know that we are living in the antitypical day of atonement and when did it start? God has a time table, and events happened according to this time table. He gave us a wonderful prophecy in the book of Daniel so that we will not be in the dark concerning the things that are to transpire just before His return.
In the book, The Cross and Its Shadow by Stephen N. Haskell, we read the account of the longest time prophecy in the Bible--the 2300 day prophecy in the book of Daniel. The starting point of the prophecy was given, and the ending point marked the beginning of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. When every trace of sin is removed, Jesus will come to this earth with His reward to give to every man as his work shall be. "And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." (Dan 8:14).
Further, The Cross and Its Shadow pointed out the angel's interpretation of the vision Daniel had seen. Nations would rise and fall, the Roman Empire would play a key role in the history of the Christian Church, the time was given when the Messiah would come, and the time for the judgment of the dead and the living was also given. Here's from The Cross and Its Shadow:
"The daily round of service during the year typified the work of confessing sins and leaving them with Christ, our great Sin-bearer, in the heavenly sanctuary. But Christ will not always bear the sins of the world. There will come a time when He will blot out the last trace of sin from the books of heaven. Then the sins of the righteous will be laid upon Satan, the originator of sin, and he, with all sin and sinners, will be consumed in the lake of fire.
"God is a God of justice, and before either the sins of the faithful or the names of the unfaithful are blotted from the books of heaven (Rev 3:5), there will be an examination of the records,--an investigative judgment. The service in the second apartment of the sanctuary was a type of this work. It was called the day of atonement, or the cleansing of the sanctuary. The record states: 'On that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.' (Lev 16:30).
"When men and angels were placed on probation, a time of judgment was appointed when they would be judged. The resurrection of Christ is a pledge, or assurance, of the judgment. God, 'hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raise Him from the dead.' (Acts 17:31).
"The day of judgment is a definite time set apart in which to perform a specific work. It is a period of time. 'God shall judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose, and for every work.' (Eccl 3:17). God did not leave the work in darkness in regard to the time of the day of judgment of which the day of atonement, or the cleansing of the sanctuary, was a type; but through the prophet Daniel He foretold when that even would take place.
"In the eighth chapter of the book of Daniel, we read that in the last days of the Babylonian kingdom, the prophet was given a prophetic view of the history of the world from that time until the end of all earthly kingdoms. He saw a ram having two horns; and a rough goat with a notable horn between his eyes, came from the west and overcame the ram and trampled him under foot. Then the goat grew very strong; and when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and in its place came up four notable horns. 'Out of one of them came forth a little horn which waxed exceeding great,' until 'he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host;' that is, claimed to be equal to the Prince of the host.
"While the prophet was watching this little horn persecuting the people of God on the earth, his attention was arrested by a conversation between two heavenly beings, which he records as follows: 'Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto the Numberer of secrets, or the Wonderful Numberer, which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And He [the Wonderful Numberer, the Prince of hosts] said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.' (Dan 8:1-14). Daniel did not understand the vision, and One having authority over the heavenly forces commissioned the angel Gabriel to make him understand it. Gabriel then gave the following brief explanation:
"'The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia, and the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king [Alexander the Great].'
"He then said that the four kingdoms into which Grecia would be divided, represented by the four horns, would not be as strong as Grecia, but that the kingdom represented by the little horn; viz., the Roman kingdom, which grew out of one of the four horns, would destroy the people of God, and would even stand up against the Prince of princes Himself when He should come to the earth. This last view was more than Daniel could endure. When he saw that this power would even take the life of the Prince of princes, he fainted; and when Gabriel said, 'The vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true,' he found it was useless to proceed, as Daniel was not able to comprehend. (Dan 8:20-27).
"Daniel was sick for some days, but soon began to pray for a full explanation of the vision. We have his prayer recorded; it is not long. When he began to pray, God in heaven commissioned Gabriel to go and answer the prophet's prayer, and before he had finished praying the angel touched him. (Dan 9:1-23). Heaven and earth are brought very near together by the prayer of faith. The one who holds on by simple faith until an answer is sent from heaven, is beloved by the Lord. (Dan 9:23).
"Gabriel assured Daniel that he was come to give him 'skill and understanding,' and told him to 'consider the vision.' All had been made plain except the question asked the 'Wonderful Numberer,' and His reply. All heaven is interested in the work of God on the earth, and it was not idle curiosity but intense interest which prompted the question, 'How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden underfoot?' The word 'sacrifice' is given in italics in the authorized version of the Bible, showing that it 'was supplied by man's wisdom, and does not belong to the text.'
"At the time the question was asked, the sanctuary, or temple built by Solomon, lay in ruins, and God's people were in captivity in a foreign land. The vision had revealed to the angels as well as to Daniel that far down in the future a power would arise that would bring a worse persecution upon the people of God than they had ever experienced, which was fulfilled in the twelve hundred sixty years of papal persecution, known in history as the Dark Ages. (Dan 8:23-25). This persecution could not affect the heavenly sanctuary, as no earthly power can reach heaven; but it trod underfoot the host who worshipped toward the heavenly sanctuary, and by depriving the people of the word of God, it obscured the correct knowledge in regard to the heavenly sanctuary for a long period of time.
"When the Wonderful Numberer answered the question, He directed His words to Daniel instead of to the one who asked the question. None but the Father or the Son could reveal the time appointed for the great court of judgment to convene in the heavenly sanctuary. It was Christ then, who numbered the years to intervene before the opening of the great judgment. He is truly called the Numberer of Secrets, or the Wonderful Numberer. (Dan 8:13, margin).
"When Daniel was told to consider the vision, no doubt the words addressed directly to him would come into his mind: 'Unto two thousand and three hundred days [evening, morning]; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.' (Dan 8:14, margin). As Daniel's mind reviewed these words, Gabriel began the explanation of the portion of the vision he had been unable to explain during his previous visit.
"The prophecy regarding the two thousand three hundred days of Dan 8:14 is one of the grandest prophecies in the entire Bible. There are other lines of prophecy that foretell the rise and fall of nations, but the two thousand three hundred days definitely locates two of the greatest events in the history of all mankind; viz., the time when Christ would come to the earth and offer Himself as a ransom for the lost race; and the opening of the great tribunal in heaven, when the Judge of all the earth will decide the eternal destiny of every soul that has ever lived upon the earth.
"During Gabriel's first visit to Daniel, he explained the symbols of the ram, the rough goat, and the four horns, and gave an account of the work of the little horn; but Daniel fainted before he had explained the two thousand three hundred days; therefore when he returns to give the prophet skill and understanding and asks him to consider the vision, he immediately introduces the subject of time. His first words are, 'Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon the holy city.' The word 'determined' signifies cut off from some longer period of time. The only time period under consideration is the two thousand three hundred days. Therefore, seventy weeks were to be cut off from that period, and allotted to the Jews and their holy city. (Dan 9:24-27).
"A day in prophetic time represents a year of real time. (Num 14:34; Eze 4:6). Seven years make a week of years. (Gen 29:27). Seventy weeks would be 70 x 7 = 490 years. Four hundred and ninety years were determined upon the Jewish people to accomplish six things; viz.,
"1. 'To finish the transgression,' to commit the crowning act of all transgression,--take the life of the sinless Son of God.
"2. 'To make an end of sin.' Christ partook of death, 'that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil,' and thus forever end all sin. (Heb 2:14).
"3. 'To make reconciliation for iniquity.' Christ 'made peace through the blood of His cross,' and reconciles 'all things unto Himself.' (Col 1:20).
"4. 'To bring in everlasting righteousness.' The death of Christ opened the way by which every son and daughter of Adam could obtain everlasting righteousness if he desired it.
"5. 'To seal up the vision.' Events transpired within those four hundred ninety years that sealed, or established, the entire vision of the two thousand three hundred years.
"6. 'To anoint the most holy.' When the time came to begin the service in the earthly sanctuary, the entire sanctuary was anointed; (Ex 40:9) and when Christ entered the heavenly sanctuary to perform the work of which the earthly service was a type, the heavenly sanctuary was anointed, before He began His ministry in the first apartment. The heavenly sanctuary is spoken of as most holy to distinguish it from the earthly.
"Wonderful changes were wrought in the history of the church during that four hundred ninety years. After the angel had enumerated the events to take place during that period, he told Daniel where to locate it in the history of the world, by announcing the date of the beginning of the period; 'Know, therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.' (Dan 9:24, 25).
"The long period of two thousand three hundred days from which the seventy weeks, or four hundred ninety years, were cut off, began with the going forth of the great threefold commandment (Ezra 6:14) to restore and build Jerusalem, which went forth 457 B. C. This decree did not go into effect until about the middle of the year, (Ezra 7:9) which would make the exact date for the going forth of the decree 456 1/2 B. C.
"Gabriel divides the seventy weeks into three division; viz., seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week. (Dan 9:25-27). The prophet Nehemiah gives an account of the rebuilding of the walls during troublous times.
"The seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks, or sixty-nine weeks in all, were to extend to Messiah the Prince. Sixty-nine weeks equals 69 x 7 = 483 years. This taken from 456 1/2 B. C. brings us to 26 1/2 A. D. In the spring of A.D. 27, or 26 1/2 A. D., Jesus at His baptism was anointed with the Holy Ghost, and henceforth was the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed One. (John 1:41; Luke 3:21,22; Acts 10:38, margin).
"After the seven weeks and the threescore and two weeks passed, Messiah was to 'be cut off, but not for Himself.' He died to atone for the sins of the world. After stating that the Messiah would be cut off, Gabriel adds, 'He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.' (Dan 9:27). Christ's ministry after His baptism continued three and one-half years, or half a prophecy week.
"Christ was cut off in the midst of the seventieth week, but the entire seventy weeks had been 'determined' upon the Jews. Christ directed His disciples to begin their work at Jerusalem, and it was not until the stoning of Stephen in A.D. 34, or three and one-half years after the crucifixion, that the gospel went to the Gentiles. The covenant was confirmed by the disciples, (Heb 2:2,3) for they confined their labors to the Jews until 34 A. D., the close of the period allotted to that people. (Acts 8:1-4).
"The seventy weeks, or four hundred ninety years, ended in A. D. 34. Four hundred ninety years taken from the entire period of two thousand three hundred years, leaves eighteen hundred ten years of the period remaining in A.D. 34 [2300 - 490 = 1810]. This added to A.D. 34 brings us to eighteen hundred and forty-four A. D. [34 + 1810 = 1844].
"'Unto two thousand and three hundred days [years]; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.' (Dan 8:14). The earthly sanctuary ceased to exist long before this date; but the time had come for the antitype of the cleansing of the sanctuary, the work performed on the day of atonement in the earthly sanctuary, to begin in the heavenly sanctuary. In 1844 the great Court from which there is no appeal convened in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary.
"This wonderful prophecy of two thousand three hundred years began with the restoration of God's people to their earthly possessions, and the rebuilding of the holy city Jerusalem; but again the Jews proved unfaithful to their trust, and the land of promise with the holy city passed from their control into the hands of the heathen.
"The coming of Christ and His death on Calvary, like a great seal, fixes definitely the entire prophecy, and insures the inheritance of the earth to the faithful; and the judgment which opened at the close of that wonderful period of prophetic time will give to the faithful a 'court title' to the eternal inheritance and the city of God, the New Jerusalem."
"The events below definitely located by the two thousand three hundred years:
"Baptism of Christ - Dan 9:25; John 1:41, margin; Luke 3:21.
"Death of Christ. Dan 9:26, 27.
"Anointing the heavenly sanctuary. Dan 9:24.
"Gospel going to the Gentiles. Dan 9:27; Hebrews 2:3; Acts 8:4.
"Opening of the investigative judgment. Dan 8:14." --The Cross and Its Shadow.
In the typical service, the day of atonement was a most solemn event. It was a time for confession, repentance, and contrition and humbleness of hearts before God. It was a time for fasting and cessation of labor. It was a holy convocation. It was a day of judgment. Today, we are living in the antitypical day of atonement--a day of judgment, a time for heart-felt confession and repentance and humbleness of hearts before God. Solemn are the times for spiritual Israel.
More from The Cross and Its Shadow:
"In the antitype, the individual who realizes that the judgment is going on in the heavenly sanctuary, and that his name will surely be presented before that great tribunal, will search his heart and pray earnestly that God will accept him. We need often to meditate upon the work of our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, lest by having the mind filled with earthly thoughts, we, like the foolish virgins, will find when too late that the bridegroom has come, the door is shut; that the work is finished, and we have no part in it.
"In the typical service, the congregation in the court listened for the tinkling of the golden bells on the robes of the high priest, and in that way followed him in his work. Our High Priest has given signs in the heavens, in the earth, and among the nations to mark the progress of His work; and he said that when we see these signs fulfilled we are to know that He is near, even at the door.
"The antitypical day of atonement covers a period of years. In the type there was a fast of twenty-four hours required. During this one day there was to be complete control of the appetite; and it was a type of the self-control to be exercised during the antitypical period of years...
"God calls upon His people to be masters of their appetites instead of slaves to it, that they may have clearer minds to comprehend divine truth and follow the work of their High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary.
"How few are willing to deny themselves the things their appetite craves, even when they know the claims of God! The prophet Isaiah, looking down through the ages, describes the state of things as follows: 'In that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: and behold, joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine.' What a vivid picture of the present condition of the world! God calls upon His people to afflict their souls, to control their appetites, to partake of food that will give good blood and a clear mind to discern spiritual truths; but instead of obeying, they engage in 'eating flesh and drinking wine.' The prophet records the final result of this course: 'It was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die.'
"The Saviour gave special warning against the evil of giving loose rein to the appetite during the time when the records of human lives are being examined and individuals are being accounted worthy or unworthy of eternal life: 'Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that they come upon you unawares...watch ye therefore, and pray always that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. The warning is against 'surfeiting'--overeating, and 'drunkenness'--eating injurious food. In other words, the Saviour designs that His people, during the antitypical day of atonement, shall take heed to both the quantity and the quality of their food. One can becloud the mind and ruin the health by overeating of the best of food. The glutton and the drunkard are classed together: 'Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh; for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty.
"Our first parents failed on the test of appetite; but where they failed, Christ triumphed. And it is possible for a Christian, with the indwelling Christ in the heart, to be complete master of his appetite,--to abstain from all food that is injurious, however much the natural appetite may crave it, and not to overeat of good food.
In the typical service the congregation was to "'offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.' The offerings made by fire were consumed upon the altar. In the antitype we do not offer burnt-offerings of bullocks and rams; but God expects us to fulfill the antitype of the offering consumed upon the altar. He desires that the 'whole spirit and soul and body' be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; that the entire life of the Christian be laid upon the altar, ready to be used as the Lord directs. None can do this who do not daily accept Christ as their sin-offering, and know what it is to be 'accepted in the Beloved.'
"The day of atonement was kept as a ceremonial sabbath by the ancient congregation. All work was laid aside, and the entire thought was given to seeking God and serving Him. God's work was given the first thought during the entire day. Such was the type; but it does not follow that on the antitypical day of atonement no one should attend to personal business, for God never intended His people to be 'slothful in business.' He promises to bless them in temporal things if they fulfill the antitype by looking after His work and service first, and their temporal interests second. This was beautifully taught by the Saviour's words: 'Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with...cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.'" --The Cross and Its Shadow by Stephen N. Haskell.
I hope that this document helps you gain an understanding and appreciation of the work that is going on in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf. I also hope and pray that we will all realize the solemnity of the hours that we live in in this great antitypical day of atonement, when the heavenly sanctuary is being cleansed, when the sins of spiritual Israel in the books in Heaven are being blotted out and removed forever, never to be remembered anymore.
Approach, My Soul, the Mercy Seat Midi