Then Shall the Sanctuary Be Cleansed

Chapter Four

IT'S TIME TO COLLECT OUR WITS

And so there have been serious misunderstandings among God's people down through the ages. The last remarkable one was with our own spiritual forefathers. Their church of Philadelphia did not see that another church was to come on the scene of action before the end could come. This is plain to us as we look back. There are other facts of our history which after a century and a half are not so plain.

No one would dare question that scientific knowledge is advancing at a pace which staggers the mind. Academic disciplines, and science in general, continue to become more specialized as each field of study increases the details known, which then opens new vistas to explore. Is it not reasonable to ask if the church has made a similar advance in spiritual discernment? Do we know any more than our pioneers who, by prayer and earnest study, dug out the truths that make us a people? After a century and a half we should understand that we have far more to offer the world than a sentimental egocentric plan of free room and board in heavenly mansions. Eternal principles are in the balance and we are called to make them plain.

Christianity has over the centuries taken unto itself certain tenets said to be fundamental. If we accept the Scriptures, we must face the fact that in the end-time these tenets will be corrupted to the point that "the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk" with false ideas (Revelation 17:2). Whatever might be listed as the "fundamentals" of the Christian world, one thing is clear, the Christian world will have no part in the sanctuary/judgment truth. This remains an asset peculiar to Seventh-day Adventists. Unfortunately, as yet we have not seen nor fully appreciated its value and herein is our poverty, the hallmark of Laodicea.
This truth which sets our church apart was the heart and soul of Hebrew life which led up to the Messiah's first advent. Its importance then remains its importance today. We have been counseled:

In the typical service, only those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the blood of the sin-offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service of the day of atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment, the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God.1

This should make us see our position. The remnant church has a special place to fill as verily as Israel of old. The work of cleansing the sanctuary and the message we have for the world is made plain in the counsel we have been given:

While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of the penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is a special work of purification, of putting away of sin among God's people on earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14. When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing.2

As a people we cannot escape our connection with the messages of Revelation 14. That means for us there is a "special work of purification, of putting away of sin." The first angel proclaimed the hour of God's judgment, which was the message of William Miller and his associates, and continues to this day. The second angel went forth and the believers were called out of the nominal churches before the disappointment that they be ready for His appearing. This work continues to this day. These two messages (Revelation 14:6-8) preceded that of the third angel who gave the most terrible message ever proclaimed to the human race. The third angel said: "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God" (Revelation 14:9, 10).

The sin that calls down the wrath of God must be a very real sin. Whatever Adventists may have said in the past about who the beast is and his image being apostate Protestantism and his mark, the spurious sabbath, there may be a more serious problem facing us. If we place anything ahead of the true God, or allow anything to overshadow His place, just so surely we are rendering worship to the beast. Any rejection of truth means a rejection of the Author of truth. Worship of the beast in its ultimate and most sinister form is none other than worship or homage paid to "self." This "self" is what psychology calls the "ego" and this has implications which are very large and very subtle and largely unknown.

Over the years it has been relatively easy to proclaim the messages of the first and second angel. The message of the third angel is progressively more difficult. This has a bearing on the cleansing of the sanctuary. The special relation that the third angel's message holds to the sanctuary cleansing may be seen in the following counsel:

Those who rejected the first message could not be benefited by the second; neither were they benefited by the midnight cry, which was to prepare them to enter with Jesus by faith into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. And by rejecting the two former messages, they have so darkened their understanding that they can see no light in the third angel's message, which shows the way into the most holy place.3

The third angel's message is therefore to be a key to unlock the door into the most holy place.

The Church Has a Unique Place

Adventists must not melt into the crowd and become one among many. Unless we retain our unique place as the "remnant," we have no need to exist. God's interest in a special people is clear from the Scriptures. "We" are the "house" of God "if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Hebrews 3:1-6). Likewise the "house of God . . . is the church of the living God" (1 Timothy 3:15). This "house" has had a Divine Architect: "Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH . . . he shall build the temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the Lord" (Zechariah 6:12, 13). "There was a tabernacle made . . . which is called the sanctuary" (Hebrews 9:2). The Architect is concerned that His "church," His "house," His "temple," be built on a heavenly foundation without defects:

His church is to be a temple built after the divine similitude, and the angelic architect has brought his golden measuring rod from heaven that every stone may be hewed and squared by the divine measurement, and polished to shine as an emblem of heaven, radiating in all directions the bright clear beams of the Sun of Righteousness.4

Can we appreciate our special place? The "house of God," the "church of God," the "temple of the Lord," the "tabernacle," and the "sanctuary," are all divine projects under the care of the Master Builder. When He works on one, He works on all for they are the same under His care—a place for Him to abide. Any undertaking in the most holy place must also have some connection with the church of God. It is this church which is to proclaim the third angel's message, and it is this message which shows the way into the most holy place. This means that the "cleansing of the sanctuary" must have a close relation with the church. William Miller caught a glimpse of this truth long ago.

Does the Church Know Its Sin?

The whole sanctuary service came into being because God's plan had been sabotaged. The Creator had made every provision for His children. Physically and mentally they would be sustained in health and happiness. They were to be a part of the heavenly family and the family association would grow mutually more satisfying throughout eternity. They were to enjoy communion with God and with holy angels. "So long as they remained loyal to the divine law, their capacity to know, to enjoy, and to love, would continually increase. They would be constantly gaining new treasures of knowledge, discovering fresh springs of happiness, and obtaining clearer and yet clearer conceptions of the immeasurable, unfailing love of God."5 But God's plan was thwarted. The saboteurs took over.

The record in the Scriptures is clear. One day Adam found delight in talking face to face with God. On the next day following his disobedience he fled from the face of God. It was the same Creator God and the same physical Adam. The change had come in the thinking of Adam. The basis of this change is found in the sophistry of the serpent in which Adam trusted. He believed that he would be as God (Genesis 3:5, margin) and in this there is revealed the very root of sin.

Obviously there is no way that man could be as God unless he was able to get rid of God, that is, to kill Him. The logic of this is clear for it was Christ who said that the devil "was a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). This simply means that Satan offered to Adam the prospect of getting rid of God and man accepted the offer. It is unlikely that man consciously understood this, indeed he probably did not understand it. But this does not alter the end result. In the same way, Lucifer undoubtedly did not understand the depths of his sin and all its terrible results when he first began to question the right and authority of God.6 However, this does not change the fact that the moment he agreed to the mental proposal, he "was a murderer."7

As the serpent had promised, the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened. They knew they needed some clothing and the Lord in His mercy, even in the hour of their sin, came to their rescue. He provided clothing made from skins and this meant the death of some innocent creature. The next step for man as he began to understand "good and evil," was to take the life of a creature by his own hand—take life which only God could give. "To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony."8 It was the first time he had witnessed death. He trembled at the thought of his sin being so great as to shed blood. But he began to be instructed with regard to offering living sacrifices and there unfolded to him the foundation of the sanctuary service that was not to be known by the children of Israel until many centuries later. The terrible truth that sin caused death began to be unfolded.

The evidence tells us that the people did not really understand. To see in the death of each sacrifice the root of the first sin, the desire to be as God, was outside their usual thinking. Their understanding was so immature that the true Lamb of God was not recognized when He came. This gives deep significance to the prayer of Christ as He hung on the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Amazingly, the sin of the ages was an unknown sin. As the whole universe began watching the sanctuary services, they began to learn that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin," and the problem would be crucial to the end of time, as Jesus pointed out: "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Romans 14:23; Luke 18:8). Man's transfer of faith from God to himself brought sin to this world and with it "time" and the detour God never intended man to travel.

This detour will continue as long as God's children retain their enmity against Him. This enmity causes the world to worry about the second coming of Christ and hope the event will be at some remote future time. It is this enmity that causes willful sin. It is this enmity which gives Adventists the jitters about when their name will come up in the judgment. Paul brings this into focus in Romans 8:6: "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

We need to see that the "carnal mind is enmity against God" and there is really no reason for the jitters because to be "spiritually minded is life and peace." This means that "redemption" cannot be complete until this enmity is eradicated and God's people are freed from what Crosier calls "the subjection [to] and consequences of sin." God's character being what it is, He agreed to place His Son in the hands of man who demanded His place. He was willing to pay the ultimate price that His children demanded. He wanted them to know that sin is the will to kill God.

The church has a continuing need to understand this. The real "time of trouble" will not be physical pain, thirst and hunger, all of which the martyrs suffered, but rather the terrible awakening when conscience comes to understand that sin kills. Such an understanding could only come at the end of time when the sanctuary is to be cleansed.

God Wants His Church to Know Its Sin

The Lord provided the sanctuary service to help us see exactly what He was willing to do for us. Every animal slain by the hand of the sinner was to be a miniature Calvary. It was to reveal the deep-seated enmity the sinner held against God. It was to prove that God held nothing back, not even His Son, if by any means He could get man to see the rebellion buried so deeply in his mind. The service was to be a catalyst to melt the proud and stubborn heart. Nothing less than "blood" could wash away such deeply hidden unconscious sin—the will to kill God.9

For those who might contend that man has never had such a deeply hidden enmity against God, and that it is quite preposterous that man should think of murdering God, we need only listen to the words of Christ in Matthew 21:33-44. Here Christ relates a parable of a man who planted a vineyard, hedged it about, and then let it out to husbandmen while he went into a far country. When the time of fruit drew near the householder sent his servants to receive the harvest. They, however, were badly mistreated.

When a second group of servants were abused, the householder sent his son with the hope that he would be respected. Jesus Himself was the Son sent to receive the fruits of the vineyard, but when He told His hearers that even the son would be despised and in the end killed in order to get "his inheritance," or in reality his place, they sought the more to "lay hands on him" for "they perceived that he spake of them." They were loath to accept the implications of the sin buried deep in their own hearts.

This parable was but the prediction or rehearsal of the actual experience that was to follow. However, before the ultimate crime at Calvary, there was a further drama of reality which should have opened the eyes of the Jews to the unconscious enmity hidden in their hearts.

In John 8:33 and onwards, Christ is speaking to His brethren the Jews. In the dialogue they insist that they are the seed of Abraham; he was their father and they were never in bondage to anyone╤not perceiving that Jesus meant that committing sin equals being a slave to sin. Jesus told them that they sought to kill Him, and if they were Abraham's children as well as the children of the "Father, even God," which they also professed, then they would love Christ. He went on to tell them that they were of their father "the devil." They replied that Jesus was of the devil, but He answered, "I have not a devil; but I honour my Father," and He further told them they did not know the Father, but that He knew the Father. The end of the passage confirms all that Jesus said for it points out, "they took up stones to cast at him."

What Jesus said to them should open our eyes. His hearers had merely carried out in action the hatred buried deep in their hearts. They were unaware of this enmity. Jesus had tried to bring to their consciousness the fact they were servants of sin, the children of "the devil," bound by enmity against God's Son and representative. Their failure to understand has been written for "our admonition."


NOTES:

  1. Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p.480.
  2. Ibid., p. 425.
  3. Ellen White, Early Writings, pp. 260, 261.
  4. Ellen White, General Conference Bulletin, 1893, p. 408.
  5. Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 51.
  6. Ibid., chapter 1, pp. 35, et seq.
  7. It is of interest to note that at this point eternity was disrupted. A "beginning" had come into existence and this implies an "ending" and thus "time" and its results of "death" became a fact when Lucifer agreed to rebel.
  8. Op. cit.
  9. Note: The great truth of the atonement has been immeasurably corrupted. All "religions," including Christianity in general, have come to believe that the death of Christ, or in pagan beliefs the death of some notable personage, will in some way appease an angry God and keep Him in good humor. This is the essence of Roman Catholicism and it has been borrowed by Protestantism. However, it is the antithesis of the true gospel as John 3:16 makes clear. Consequently when the third angel's message is truly proclaimed, Roman Catholicism, which is none other than the incarnation of the beast and paganism, will be brought to "judgment." Thus the "loud cry" of Revelation 18 will be proclaimed with world-shattering results as portrayed therein, and every false doctrine will be exposed for what it is—a glorification and worship of self.

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