The Inexpressible Gift - Part 1
“…then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:14
How Does this Apply to Me in My Life Today?
By Vance Ferrell
THE GIFT OF GOD’S PRESENCE
It is satisfying. It meets every need, every real problem:-and it is all found in the little tent God instructed Moses to make. “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8), God said. God wants to dwell among us and in us. He wants us as much as we want Him. Our deepest emotions can but faintly express the yearning that God has that this desire be fulfilled.
It is through this building and its service that God reveals how He is going to dwell with us-in us-in our very souls (Exodus 29:42-46; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19).
This plan for the indwelling of God is a marvelous Gift-the first of a chain of gifts that is so wondrous that it is almost incomprehensible. The disappointments and grief’s are so many in this life, that it is hard to believe that these living promises are true. And yet they are more than true. You can, in your own life, begin tasting them as living realities.
Now, let us look at the plan. Though it is revealed through simple things yet, at the same time, it is mind-shaking; for in it we see Divinity reaching down and taking hold of humanity-and changing humanity.
The work of the Sanctuary was divided into a daily and a yearly service. In the daily service, a man who had sinned would come with a lamb or other animal. Then, at the large Altar of Burnt offering in the Outer Court of the Sanctuary, he would place his hands on the head of the animal and confess his sin. He then slew it, and it was consumed on the smoking altar. In connection with these daily sacrifices, some of the blood was taken into the first of the two apartments of the Sanctuary and there sprinkled before the dividing veil. Thus the man’s sin was symbolically transferred to the Sanctuary. On the basis of this confession and transferal of sin, the man could hold communion with God.
The Bible tells us what has separated us from God. It is sin (Isaiah 59:2). This explains the purpose of the Sanctuary, and why, through it, God can again dwell among us-because it is through the Sanctuary service that God intends to take sin out of our lives.
Jesus was the “Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Like the little animal, He also bore sin-our sin (Isaiah 53:12; 1 Peter 2:24). He was led to the altar and there slain (Isaiah 53:7). Can we imagine such a depth of love? It is deeper and wider than any on earth (John 3:16).
By His blood Christ purchased redemption for every man (1 Peter 1:18-19). The Sanctuary is a living picture of the Atonement, of God’s plan to remove sin from our minds and souls. And this atonement can only be started, carried through, and completed, with blood (Leviticus 17:11). Your sin and my sin is so deep that it took God’s blood to meet the price.
The blood redemption had been purchased for every man-now it must be applied. Before the atonement that fully restores us to God’s presence can be completed, Christ must take this blood into the Sanctuary and apply it individually on behalf of all who will receive it.
Following His death and resurrection, Christ ascended to heaven (Luke 24:51). But where did Christ go when He went to heaven? It is a vital truth that, in Jesus and His work for us, our faith must center. God desires that we know where He is and what He is doing, that we may fix our eyes and our faith even more firmly upon Him.
In the mount, Moses was told to make the Sanctuary according to the pattern shown him (Exodus 25:7-8; 40). The earthly Sanctuary, then, was only a copy of the great pattern,-the original was in heaven. Into this Sanctuary-the heavenly -Jesus entered when He ascended out of the sight of the disciples. This is where He is today (Hebrews 8:1-2).
Do we not have abundant reason for rejoicing? Jesus, our Lamb, has ascended to heaven; and, now as our great High Priest, He is mediating on our behalf in the Sanctuary (Hebrews 2:17). He went to heaven to intercede for each one of us before the Father (Romans 8:34).
We have seen the daily service in the Sanctuary and the great sacrifice and intercession of Christ that it represents. But what about the yearly service? When did this begin, or has it yet begun? What is its purpose for our lives? To understand this, we must briefly view the second of God’s special gifts-the Gift of God’s Word.
THE GIFT OF GOD’S WORD
It is in the gift of the Word that God reveals His Plan for our lives (Deuteronomy 29:29; Amos 3:7).
The Bible is the great lesson book of the ages, given to men that they might know of the thoughts and ways of God: that, in learning of the promises and in claiming them, they might become like God (2 Peter 1:2, 4).
But, in addition to this, the Bible is the great prophecy book of the ages, given to men that the fullness of God’s wonderful plan, still in the future, might be opened to their understanding (2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
The central theme of the Bible is the work of Christ to redeem us from sin. The Sanctuary reveals the three main parts of this plan-Christ’s work in the outer court, in the first apartment, and in the second apartment of the Sanctuary. In these three are given the beginning, the daily application, and the conclusion of the Atonement. Did you know that they are so important that the very year in which each began is prophesied in Scripture before it occurred?
We do not have space here to observe, in detail, this entire prophecy as it is found in Daniel 8 and 9; we can only observe the main points. The cleansing of the Sanctuary was to occur at the termination of 2300 prophetic days, or years (Daniel 8:14; a day in prophecy stands for a year: Numbers 14:34; Ezra 7). At the end of 7 weeks, or 49 years, the rebuilding of Jerusalem was completed, in 406 B.C. (Daniel 9:25).
The first 70 weeks, or 490 years, of this prophecy were to be “determined upon,” or, in the Hebrew, “cut off for,” or “allotted to,” the Jewish nation as final probationary time of God’s special people (Daniel 9:24). At the beginning of the final week of the 70 (82 weeks, or 434 years, from 406 B.C.), the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, His baptism in the Jordan, and the beginning of His 3 ½-year ministry began. In the midst of the last week of the 70 (the last 7 years of the 490), Jesus was crucified for us in A.D. 31 (Daniel 9:26). At that time (A.D. 31), the “sacrifices and oblations ceased” to have further meaning in the eyes of God, for the great Antitype-the Lamb of God-had been slain, and had begun His priestly work in the Sanctuary in heaven (Daniel 9:27). Then, 3 ½ years after the death of Jesus, Stephen was stoned to death (A.D. 34), and the gospel was carried to the Gentiles. This event brought to a close the 70 weeks, or 490-year period, and left 1810 years more to bring to full completion the end of the 2300 years. The prophecy then reaches to A.D. 1844, spanning the years from 457 B.C. and culminating with the declaration: “Then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed” (Daniel 8:14).
Thus, through the gift of the Bible-the Gift of Prophecy-God reveals to men events over 2,000 years in the future. And, through this gift, He reveals to us today that this special yearly work of cleansing-the great antitypical Day of Atonement, the final application, the conclusion of the Atonement, has begun in heaven! The longest prophecy in the Bible-the great 2300-year timetable-reveals that we today are living in the closing hours of this earth’s history!
THE GIFT OF GOD’S BLOOD
The Sanctuary reveals the Gift of God’s Blood, and the story of this Gift is the story of the Atonement. It is the work of this atonement to cleanse our lives of all sin, and this atoning work can only be carried out with blood (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). It is only upon the basis of the blood sacrifice that we can be lifted from the pit of sin (Zechariah 9:11). The plagues of Egypt reveal that it is only the sprinkling of blood that protects God’s people in the day of destruction (Exodus 12:13; Romans 5:9). We have been “purchased with His blood” (Acts 20:28), and we must never forget the fact.
The path of the atonement is a path of blood-Christ’s blood-and it runs all the way through the Bible, from the Fall of man, in Genesis, to the final full restoration in Revelation. This is a most precious gift, for the gift of God’s blood is, in reality, the gift of His Son-to live with us, to die on our behalf, to intercede for us.
At the cross this blood was provided-and it occurred when prophecy said it would, in A.D. 31, and there applied on behalf of all who would receive it. But as we have seen, there was, in addition to the daily service that entered “beyond the veil” into the first apartment, a yearly service that entered, beyond the second veil, into the second apartment.
This yearly service was a most important service, for it concluded the application of the blood atonement. The antitypical Day of Atonement is now going on in heaven. Soon it will be completed. When it is, sin will have been blotted out of the lives of all who have prepared for its solemn work, and human probation will cease.
The yearly Day of Atonement was the day when sin was finally cleansed from Israel. The service that took place on this day is carefully explained in Leviticus 16.
Throughout the year the sins of Israel were forgiven and transferred, through the daily service, to the Sanctuary. But then came the time, once a year, when all the people were to gather to the Sanctuary for a special service. It was a very solemn day, and whoever was not prepared for it was forever cut off from Israel (Leviticus 23:27-30).
On this day the priest went all the way into the second apartment, and made the final application of blood before the Ark of the Covenant. By this service, the record of the sins of Israel was finally removed-cleansed-from the Sanctuary. This completed the atonement (Leviticus 16:25-27, 33-34).
“Unto two thousand three hundred days, and then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed” (Daniel 8:14).
The prophecy of Daniel 8 and 9 reveals that, in 1844, Jesus, our High Priest, entered the second apartment of the Sanctuary in heaven to begin the final atonement for His people. To the Jews, the yearly service was known as the Day of Atonement, the Day of Cleansing, and the Day of Judgment; and, on this day, all these events occurred. The final investigative Judgment of the lives of all who have ever professed faith in Jesus Christ has now begun in heaven. The record books of heaven are being examined. On the basis of it, those who are shown to have claimed the merits and the blood of Jesus, have their sins blotted out of the books of heaven.
Each one of us has a soul temple (Exodus 29:44-46; Leviticus 26:11;26:11-12; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6;16). It is the work of the atonement to forever cleanse the Sanctuary, where these sins are recorded, and our hearts and minds as well, where the sins originated (Leviticus 16:30).
As we would expect, when the investigation and atonement are completed, Jesus will return to earth for His people. The Bible reveals that this Investigative Judgment (Daniel 7:9-10, 26) and the victory over the power of Satan (Revelation 7:11, 26) precedes the coming of Jesus for His elect (Revelation 7:13-14, 27).
It is the work of the Investigative Judgment to examine the records and determine who will inherit eternal life and who will inherit eternal death. Then follows the Second Coming of Christ and the Executive Judgment, when Jesus will execute, or begin to carry out, the sentences previously decided upon (Jude 14). Jesus returns to “execute upon them the judgment written” (Psalm 149:9). And begins to give out the rewards (Mark 8:38; Revelation 22:12). At that time every man will begin to receive his reward-the righteous (Philemon 3:20, 21; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Corinthians 15:51-55) as well as the wicked (Revelation 1:7; 6:15-16; Matthew 3:12).
As His people are gathered at the entrance to the Sanctuary and are, by faith, following Him in His work, Jesus, our High Priest, stands before the golden mercy seat. This mercy seat covers the Ark of the Covenant, within which is the holy Ten Commandment Law which we have transgressed. Above the mercy seat is the Presence of the Father. Jesus sprinkles some of the blood on the mercy seat and some of it “eastward”-toward the people (facing the ark. He is facing westward (Leviticus 16:14); the people are gathered at the entrance to the outer court [Joel 2:15-17; Exodus 27:13-17]). By this final sprinkling of blood, both the people responsible for the sin and the Sanctuary, containing the records of sin-are cleansed (Leviticus 16:29-34).
The Gift of the Blood-the blood of the Lamb-will bring eternal purity and holiness to all who will afflict their souls, to all who seek God with prayer, confession, and earnestly petition Him to put away sin from their lives, in preparation for the final judgment-hour cleansing-to these will the blood be applied.
THE GIFT OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS
God is holy and He wants His people to be holy. The Gift of God’s Righteousness is the gift of His Law, which He intends, through the atonement to write in our hearts. The Ten Commandment Law is the standard of the righteousness which God wants to give us. This can only be done through the atonement. Sin will eventually destroy us, if we cling to it. Jesus knows this, and He is working now in heaven to remove it from the lives of all who will accept His intercession.
One might question why it is necessary for the blood to be brought all the way into the Most Holy Place (the second apartment) of the Sanctuary before the atonement can be completed, human probation can close, and Jesus can return for His people. It is necessary because of the nature of sin. “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), and “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The atonement cannot be completed until the blood representing the death of Jesus is brought before the moral code-the Ten Commandments-which have been transgressed.
The moral law is not only the standard of righteousness, but it is also the great standard of the judgment (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Psalm 96:13; 119:142). The lives of all men will be compared with its ten principles of conduct. It is the statute book of the court of heaven (James 2:10-12; Psalm 119:43-46).
The tables of stone rest beneath the Shekinah Presence of God. They are the basis of His government, as surely as the Constitution is the basis of ours. As it is on earth, so it is in heaven-lawbreakers are judged according to the law they have broken. How thankful we can be that God knows that, of ourselves, we are powerless to resist Satan and to render the obedience that the law requires. To meet the demands of the broken law and to enable us to render perfect obedience to all of its requirements, through faith in the merits of the blood of Christ-this is the purpose of the atonement. Through faith in Jesus, His grace is imparted to us, and we are enabled to render this obedience.
The moral law-the great standard of God for our lives-is a written expression, or transcript, of His character. God is holy, God is love; and His law is holy, His law is love. It tells us what we will be like through His grace. It is a law of love. It is not negative. Its “Thou shalt nots” are not intended primarily to be “you had better not, or else,” but rather, “you should not.” Properly understood, the law is ten promises of what our lives will become like, as we look to Jesus our righteousness. “Righteousness,” in the original Biblical Greek, means “right doing,” and Christ is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30; Jeremiah 23:6). Beholding His glory, we are changed (2 Corinthians 3:18). He writes His law upon our hearts (Hebrews 8:6-10); and we, by enabling grace, keep His commandments, and thus He dwells with us (1 John 3:24).
This eternal standard, written on stone, Jesus makes into an experience of obedience written upon hearts over flowing with repentance and love. The very righteousness of God is imparted to us that we might be brought back to our lost condition of godliness-Godlikeness. This marvelous gift is ours-through the blood of the Covenant.
THE GIFT OF GOD’S DECISION
We live in an hour of “good news.” “Gospel” means good news, and the angel of Revelation 14:6-7, who proclaims the message of the judgment, is said to be giving the “everlasting gospel.” The judgment is good news for those who are seeking it. It is news to rejoice at, for Jesus is preparing to remove all sin from the lives of His people, and then He is going to return for them! Eternal deliverance from sin and wickedness! Can there be better news!
But for the wicked, the judgment has a far different meaning. They are joined to their idols. They do not desire it or want it. They would rather believe that it does not exist (Proverbs 28:4-5; Jeremiah 5:4). Their words are “Where is the God of Judgment?” (Malachi 2:17). And their lives match their words. To them the judgment will bring, not good news, but “the strange act” (Isaiah 28:21),-”the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16; Psalm 76:7-9).
Decisions must be made in the judgment regarding who shall live and who shall die. We may thank God that He makes the decision! The fact that God makes the decision in the judgment is a precious gift. At first it may not seem like a gift- indeed, it may not even seem necessary. But it is.
Decisions must be made regarding who shall live and who shall die. The atonement cannot go on forever. God’s people must be purified; sin and sinners must finally be destroyed. It has to be;-for our sake and for the sake of the entire universe.
Thank God that the work of judgment is His work. He who created us, Jesus, has been appointed to be our Judge (Acts 10:42; 17:31; Romans 2:16; 14:10). He who created us and who died to redeem us is the One who will decide whether each one will inherit eternal life or eternal death. The thoughts and feelings of Jesus are deeper than any that we have ever experienced. He loves us more deeply than we love ourselves. Oh, the pain that every decision of death will cause our precious Saviour!
He who makes these decisions will be the One who also executes them. At the Second Coming, the wicked are destroyed by the brightness of His coming, and the righteous are taken to heaven (2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; John 14:1-3). Then, during the 1,000-year millennium, the righteous review the records of the wicked (Revelation 20:4; 1 Corinthians 6:1-3). Every question that could ever arise regarding the nature and working out of sin is forever settled in this vast review of the age long controversy between Christ and Satan. How sin began, what it is, what it must inevitably lead to, why some reached heaven and others did not,-all such questions will be forever resolved during this thousand-year period.
Following this, the wicked come up in the second resurrection (Revelation 20:5-7, 13), and they are consumed in the lake of fire until they are entirely destroyed-”both root and branch” (Malachi 4:1)-Satan, the root, and his followers, the branches. Nothing remains, following the work of hellfire, but ashes (Malachi 4:3).
We may thank God that Jesus makes the decision and executes it. And we may also thank Him that He has created us with free wills, and that there is still probationary time in which to make our decision. Our decision regarding us. Make it now, as you read this. How often we put off many of the important matters of life till another day,-but a more favorable time to accept Jesus as your Sacrifice and your Priest may never come. Do not wait. Come now, while the blood is still being applied.
THE GIFT OF GOD’S LIFE
God’s life is eternal life,-and this life-the very life of God-He wishes to give to you! “Sin pays its servants: The wage is death. But God gives to those who serve Him. His free gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23, Phillips).
The word, “immortal,” is used only once in the Bible, and is applied to God (1 Timothy 1:17). The word, “immortality,” is used five times in the Bible, and we are told that God alone has it (1 Timothy 6:16). We are to seek it (Romans 2:7); it is brought to light, or revealed, through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10), and it will be bestowed upon God’s saints at the Second Coming (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).
We are, by nature, “mortal” (Job 4:17), that is, subject to death-eternal death. Our sins have separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2); and, apart from God, we have no life (1 John 5:11-12). During probationary time He grants us probationary life. We are given time enough to make our decision for eternity,-and then it is all over.
God so loved-the world-that He gave-His only begotten Son-that whosoever believeth-in Him-might not die-but have life-eternal life (John 3:16). This gift of eternal life is the gift of God’s life. Only He has it, so only He can give it. The probationary life we now have, as well as the life we can choose to have for eternity, was provided at the cost of the very life of Jesus, our God. Christ received wages He did not deserve-the wages of sin-death, that we might, through Him, receive the gift we do not deserve-the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
This gift of eternal life is claimed only as we follow in the symbolic path revealed in the Sanctuary service, and accept and trust in the Sacrifice of Jesus-the Intercession and the Blood Atonement of Jesus.
Why must the life be received only through shed blood? Because-and we must never forget it-the blood represents the poured-out life of Christ.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood…for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”-Leviticus 17:11.
The purpose of redemption, the purpose of the atonement is to give us life-eternal life-the very life of God (1 John 5:11-12; John 3:16). It is God’s purpose that, through a daily offering on your part, you are to become heir to that life.
Morning and evening He intends that you search your heart and seek His face, that you put away the desire for self-supremacy and be filled with the desire for His righteousness.
Daily He intends that the Burnt Offering experience be your experience-an entire renunciation of self-will, of self-love, of self-righteousness, and a full submission to the Divine will, the Divine love, the Divine righteousness.
It is offered to you, just now. Come make it your own! Christ can forgive you and enable you to obey His Ten Commandment Law.
Thus, dying daily to self (1 Corinthians 15:31) and living daily in Christ (Galatians 2:20), you may, night by night, look up at the eternal stars and know that you will live as long as they will,-for that day you have again chosen to hide your life in the One who made them and who continually guides them in the timeless circuits of eternity.
Praise God for His inexpressible Gift-eternal sinless life,-in Jesus.