Christ Anointing The Mercy Seat
Please take a moment and view Diagram 3. The first few days immediately following the resurrection, Christ did something which is rarely mentioned, which makes it possible for the Christian to now go to Heaven. Let me restate, the Old Testament saved never went to Heaven, but to Paradise in Sheol. In the Old Testament, sins were never taken away, but only covered. This is the meaning of the Old testament word "atonement," as a covering. Atonement is not a New Testament word, since our sins are no longer covered by a blood sacrifice, but taken away by the blood of Christ. The word does appear once in the New Testament, but is a mistranslation. It is found in Romans 5:11,
"And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the ATONEMENT."
Atonement in this Verse is translated from the Greek word "katallage" which means "exchange or reconciliation." It is properly translated "reconciliation" in 2nd Corinthians 5:18,19. Christ did not cover our sins with His shed blood, but took them completely away. In other words, at salvation we are reconciled to God as our sins are exchanged for the righteousness of Christ. In 2nd Corinthians 5:21 we are told:
"For he hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (read Hebrews 9:26)
When the animal blood in the Old Testament was applied to the Holy Place within the temple or tabernacle, it covered the sins of the people. But for the saved to go to Heaven, the Holy Place there must have the blood of Christ applied. This is made clear from Hebrews 9:22,23:
"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
The earthly tabernacle was patterned after the heavenly tabernacle. The earthly was only a shadow of the heavenly (Hebrews 8:4,5). The lamb sacrifices in the Old Testament was only a shadow or type of the Perfect Lamb (Christ) which would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Therefore, the Old Testament lamb sacrifice made by faith would cover sin, but would never take the person to Heaven. You see, Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, had to apply His own blood to the Holy Place in Heaven before anyone could enter. This is why all the saved, prior to Christ's ascension, went to Paradise in Sheol. Here is the record in Hebrews 9:11-12:
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle (the one in Heaven), not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building." "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his (Christ's) OWN BLOOD he entered in once into the HOLY PLACE, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
With this background it becomes easy to comprehend the conversation between Christ and Mary after the resurrection as recorded in John, Chapter 20.
In John 20, we find Mary at the tomb crying, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him." In Verse 13, "When she turned around," the Lord immediately spoke to her and instructed her not to touch Him. The reason is given in Verse 17:
"Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."
The Lord Jesus would not allow Himself to be touched by human hands until He ascended to Heaven and purified the Holy Place within the temple with His own precious blood.
Notice that after eight days He appears to His disciples, but this time "Doubting" Thomas is with them. Previously the disciples had told Thomas about Christ being resurrected, but he would not believe it unless he saw Him. Now the Lord Jesus tells him in Verse 27 to "...Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless (weak in the faith), but believing." Somewhere within that eight days, He ascended to Heaven, anointed the Mercy Seat with His own precious blood and returned to earth.
In studying all the Gospels concerning the event immediately following the resurrection, one would find a lot of people coming to, and leaving the tomb. Between Christ's appearances to Mary and Thomas, He had appeared to others, including the eleven disciples (John 20:19,21,24). It appears that Christ's ascension to anoint the Holy Place probably took place immediately after talking to Mary and asking her to "...Go tell my brethren..." concerning His resurrection.
We are told in Leviticus 17:11, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood..." As our physical life is found in the blood, so our spiritual life is found in the blood of another, the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1st peter 1:18,19)
We were born a sinner, under the condemnation of God's wrath. One does not become a sinner because they sin; but, rather, sin because they are born a sinner.
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified (declared righteous) by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Romans 5:8,9)
He gave His life to save ours. If you have not received Christ as your Saviour, I hope you will do it right now, before it is too late.
One more portion of Scripture we would like to point out, which is found in John 14:1-3:
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Many times I have heard preachers say that, "If God could create this beautiful earth in six days, how beautiful must Heaven be since Christ has been preparing it for us for almost 2,000 years!" I know what I am about to say is going to spoil many a good sermon, but this is not what our Lord is referring to here. Remember, Heaven is already created. In Verse 2, "are many mansions" is in the past tense, showing they already existed when Christ spoke. Here Christ is referring to the cross, then His anointing the Mercy Seat in the Holy Place with His own blood. Thus making it possible for us now to go to Heaven. Remember, prior to this, all the saved went to Paradise in Hades. This portion of Scripture has a double reference, His death on the cross and His blood in the Holy Place. Now when a Christian dies, as Paul stated in 2nd Corinthians 5:1,
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
Therefore, the Christian can boldly say,
"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."
Since the Lord has prepared a place for us, by His death on the cross and anointing the Holy Place with His blood, His promise will be fulfilled, "...that where I am, there ye may be also," and "...so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (1st Thessalonians 4:17b,18).
We are now ready for Diagram 4.
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