We note that a remaining span of 1,810 years brings us to the end of the 2,300-year prophecy. The terminal year is a.d. 1844.
According to Daniel's prophecy, that is the date for the sanctuary to be cleansed. The prophet had eagerly expected the yearly Day of Atonement services to be restored in the Jerusalem temple, but now he could see that Gabriel had properly placed it far into the future. It was obvious that the prophecy extended hundreds of years beyond the coming of the Messiah.
But now we face a perplexing question. How could the record of sin be cleansed from the most holy place of the sanctuary in l844? History reveals that there was no earthly sanctuary in existence at that time. The temple had been destroyed for the last time in a.d. 70. True! But was there another sanctuary besides the earthly temple? Indeed, Moses had copied the earthly from the pattern in heaven. It was the true tabernacle, and it was just as real as the two-apartment copy which Israel had fabricated in the wilderness. Therefore, it had to be the heavenly sanctuary which was cleansed in 1844. According to the type, or shadow, the high priest was to accomplish a final atonement or a work of judgment during that solemn annual visit into the holy of holies. The antitype fulfillment required the true High Priest, Jesus, to do the same thing in the pattern temple above.
The book of Hebrews assures us that all which was foreshadowed in the earthly sanctuary must be carried out in the heavenly sanctuary by the heavenly High Priest. "We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man" (Hebrews 8:1, 2).
Here is an important question: Did the prescribed services in the earthly sanctuary relate to the work Jesus would perform in the true temple in the heavens? Hebrews describes the Levite priests as those "who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God, when he was about to make the tabernacle: for see, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount" (Hebrews 8:5).
Here the inspired writer explains why God required Moses to carefully copy the pattern revealed in the mountain. The earthly was to serve as an "example and shadow" of the ministry of Christ before the Father. By observing the work of the priest in the two apartments here on earth, men would understand the special intercessory work of Christ after He ascended back to heaven. In Hebrews 9:1-10 we read in much detail how the daily service and the once-a-year cleansing service was conducted in the earthly sanctuary, which was an example and shadow of the heavenly. Here, after describing the solemn entry of the high priest into the most holy place on the Day of Atonement, Paul wrote: "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing" (Hebrews 9:8).
Clearly, this verse is saying that Christ's ministry in the true heavenly sanctuary would only begin after the earthly had fulfilled its typical role as an example and pattern. When He ascended, Jesus entered the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary as evidenced by John's description of Him walking among the candlesticks (Revelation 1: 13). This fulfills the example of the holy place ministry on earth. When He entered into the heavenly holy place,
He did not carry the blood of lambs or goats, "but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:12).
But just as surely as He fulfilled the type of the daily ministry in the holy place, Christ also must fulfill the example of the most holy place mediation. Paul wrote: "Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:25-28).
Do not overlook the connection of that word "judgment" with what Jesus does in the most holy place. He did not need to go in every year but only once "in the end of the world." His work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary of the record of sin was absolutely necessary to fulfill the example and shadow of the earthly type Day of Atonement. The biblical statement to this effect is unequivocal and undeniable. "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:22-24, emphasis added).
What was necessary? That the patterns in heaven be cleansed, just as the earthly was cleansed. But cleansed of what? The record of sin, of course. That record was made in the earthly tabernacle through the sprinkled blood. It is made in the heavenly sanctuary through the books described in that great judgment scene of Revelation 20:12, "And the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
When was the earthly record cleansed? On the annual Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, and it was called the great judgment day. When is the heavenly sanctuary cleansed? It would be cleansed when Christ our High Priest would pass from the holy into the most holy place of the temple above. When does the prophecy indicate that this cleansing would occur? "Unto two thousand three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (Daniel 8:14). Without question we have proven that the 2,300 day/year prophecy ended in a.d. 1844. What a solemn thought that since that year we have been living in the time of the judgment! Christ has now entered His most-holy-place ministry, and the record of every individual must come into review during this time of judgment.
Someone might ask why such a pre-advent judgment is necessary. Why did Paul declare that "It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified"? Because the record of sin must be examined to determine who will be saved. Remember that "the dead were judged out of those things written in the books." This investigative judgment must take place before He comes to execute the sentence. At His coming the wicked are slain by His bright glory. A separation is made between the saved and the lost at that moment. Obviously, the books had to be investigated before that time to determine who would be saved and who lost.
When Jesus leaves the most holy place, the final atonement has been made. Probation closes for the world, just as it closed for the Jews on the Day of Atonement after the high priest finished his work in the earthly sanctuary. Then Christ will lay aside His priestly garments and put on His kingly robes. Then the edict goes forth, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he which is righteous, let him be righteous still ... And behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be" (Revelation 22:11, 12).
Christ who was "once offered to bear the sins of many . shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation." At that time He will not be our sin-bearer. His work as Mediator will be ended, and He will come "without sin"
to bring His rewards and execute the judgment determined by the books.
What, then, has been the work of Christ since l844? Daniel described the dramatic scene in these words: "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, 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).
You and I will not be present in person while this investigative phase of the judgment is taking place. It is all done out of the books. It is going on right now. Soon—very soon—the last case will be considered, the last record of sin blotted out of the book of deeds. Then, the investigation can only focus on the book of life, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15, emphasis added). Daniel declared, "At that time thy people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the book" (Daniel 12:1, emphasis added).
There is no more dramatic scene in the entire Bible than this courtroom description of Daniel chapter 7. The awful grandeur of the Father's majestic throne and glorified person dominates the sanctuary setting of books and judgment. Myriads of angels are standing by as the witnesses. Then in verse 13, the defense attorney is brought forth to represent those whose records will be examined. Daniel "saw ... one like the Son of man came ... to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him" (Daniel 7:13).
Whose names will be considered in that "cleansing of the sanctuary" judgment that is now transpiring in the throne room of heaven? All who have made a profession of Christ and have had their names inscribed in the book of life. Paul wrote about his faithful co-workers as those "whose names are in the book of life" (Philippians 4:3). John makes it very clear that other books will also be scrutinized. "And the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books" (Revelation 20:12).
Here in the books are the life records of all individuals who have claimed the saving merits of Christ. From the first man who died to the last one living before probation closes, the profession is compared to the record of words, thoughts, and deeds. The Master Himself said, "Not everyone that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that do-eth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21, emphasis added).
Now the books reveal with terrible exactness whether the sins have been confessed and forsaken. Those who have received Christ in all of His saving fullness of faith and cleansing have been written in the books as forgiven. In this work of final atonement, that record of sin must now be blotted out and their names retained in the book of life, or else their names must be blotted from the book of life and their sins retained in the book of deeds. John wrote, "He that overcometh ... I will not blot out his name out of the book of life" (Revelation 3:5).
Let us picture the beginning of that judgment as it focuses upon Abel, the first faithful one to die among men. When his name is considered, the record of his sins is exposed in the books, but by each one is found the word "forgiven." Abel had faith in the coming Redeemer and showed that faith by bringing a lamb for a sin offering. Jesus, the Advocate, steps before the Father, extending His hands, and presents His blood in behalf of faithful Abel. The record of his sins is blotted out of the book and his name is retained in the book of life.
The next name called might well be that of Cain, who also made a profession of faith in a Savior. His sins also are recorded in the book of deeds, but there is no record of forgiveness beside those sins. Cain did not show faith in a divine substitute. Instead of a lamb he brought fruit from his garden, and "without the shedding of blood there is no remission." The Intercessor longs to step forward in behalf of Cain, but He cannot plead His blood for one who sought acceptance by some other means than the atoning death of a substitute. Sorrowfully, Cain's name is blotted from the book of life and his sins retained in the book of deeds.
This cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary has been in progress since 1844 and will continue until the great High Priest stands up and proclaims, "He that is filthy, let him be filthy still, and he that is holy, let him be holy still" At that time, the destiny of all, both living and dead, will be sealed and settled on the basis of that judgment.
What should our attitude be in this special time when our cases are pending in the great heavenly tribunal? During the typical Day of Atonement in Israel it was a time of afflicting the soul, praying and fasting, and solemn heart-searching. Surely this spirit should characterize all those today who recognize that we are living in the antitypical Day of Atonement. The perfect atoning sacrifice has been made in the death of Jesus. A complete forgiveness has been ministered by our faithful High Priest since He ascended back to heaven. That ministry continues to this day. But since 1844, a work of judgment has been carried forward in the most holy place that affects each one of us. In this cleansing of the sanctuary, only those sins can be blotted out which have been confessed and forsaken. Faith in the blood alone will bring vindication and deliverance. Our Lawyer has never lost a case. He is committed to clearing your record and mine before the universe, but He can only accept the cases of those who have faith in the blood. "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).
What a comfort and encouragement to know that the Mediator is really on our side, ministering in our defense and for our vindication. Because He was once a man in this world, with our human nature, He is capable of total empathy for our temptations and stresses. Let us rejoice in the glorious truths we have learned about our mighty defense Attorney who "ever liveth to make intercession for us," and who also, at this moment, may be claiming the merits of His atoning blood to blot out your sins or mine. What a Savior! What a Lawyer! What a Friend!
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