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The ultimate Christian experience

 

Query for the Month

of

January 2019

Next up-date: February 1st 2019 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

 

This article is available as a PDF file here.    Or as a WORD doc.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!
 

Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download and share amongst your friends.   It's called "Light through Darkness" and is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever read! 

In the meantime, try this site.   

 

Here's another great site on the character of God written in a way that's very easy to understand.

In this reply the old-fashioned words of the KJV have been modernised, and in some instances, the man-made punctuation has been altered for greater understanding.  Some of the comments are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.  All the ideas expressed in this article, right or wrong, are my own.   


 

Query:

 . . .  understanding all three characters, the good, the bad, and the in-between, you do the right thing in God’s eyes, the Ten Commandments, [if] we listen to the Holy Spirit, who warns and guides us.  With this, you are protected, as we have always been taught.  Satan cannot touch our life, but he can influence people who we love around us, he can cause things to happen that affect us, and we must remain strong in belief and faith, and not let our human character come in between ourselves and God. 

But you said today, whether we do the right thing or not Satan is going to cause us trouble!!!

What do you mean by that? ????????   

  

Response:

It is true that the closer we walk with the LORD, the more our lives can be protected, for we are better behaved in that situation.  But as we can see in Job’s experience, Satan is still able to cause great harm to those around us and will attempt to get us to give up our connection with God, for Job’s experience was NOT a special case (contrary to many commentators’ opinions), but it is just what can happen to anyone who follows his LORD.  After all, Jesus was persecuted from birth to death for the same reason.  Satan did try to kill Him many times, but was never successful.  Consider Luke 4:28-30.

His experience was just that:

    The Youth's Instructor, July 20, 1899.

Christ's heart was pierced by a far sharper pain than that caused by the nails driven into His hands and feet.  He was bearing the sins of the whole world, enduring our punishment -- the wrath of God against transgression.  His trial involved the fierce temptation of thinking that He was forsaken by God [that He had been pitched out of the car].    

His soul was tortured by the pressure of great darkness, lest He should swerve from His uprightness during the terrible ordeal.  {3SM 132.2} 

And we have these words:

    John 15:

19 If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  20 Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord.  If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; [but] if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. 

This is what happened to Job:

    Job 2:

4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life.  5 But put forth Your hand now [allow me to persecute him personally], and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse You to Your face.  6 And the LORD said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand [as all humans are once they have passed the level of their baby dependence on God]; but save his life

[Note that Satan is not able to kill Christians (separate us from God) directly, for it is sin which does that, in various ways. But it is like putting your arm out of the window of the car and being exposed to the elements.] 

7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to his crown [the top of his head]

8 And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.  9 Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity [faith]? Curse God, and die. 

10 But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. [But he was hanging out the window looking back, like Lot’s wife.  He had not realised that the situation was of his own making!  Job 42:5-6.] 

Job’s response sets the base for my answer today which will be a long one as befits the climax of Christianity.

There are many of us who are confused regarding the experience of Christianity and its purpose, so I will try to explain how I see it.  To do that will require going back over much that we should already be familiar with and trying to see into the depths of it.

We all accept that there are three aspects of human character shown in the Bible – “the good, the bad, and the in-between”.  Let’s put them in the right order now and examine them, keeping in mind that these three phases are universal conditions, affecting all humans.

First: 

We are all born bad (i.e. totally selfish) because we are contaminated by Adam and Eve’s sin which changed their relationship with God, and they have passed that on to us. 

This selfishness produces all the woes of the world, and, especially, all the deaths.

    Romans 5:

12  . . .  by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin [the two go together, for separation from the God of Life is the result of sin]; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13 (for until [or before] the law [of ceremonies] sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed [or classified] when there is no law [of ceremonies]

[If you hang out the window there is a chance

that the slipstream of the car’s motion will pull you out!]

14 Nevertheless [despite that] death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come . . .)

The offering of animal sacrifices after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden shows that the law of ceremonies was there, even if not openly published.     

    Genesis 4:

3 And in process of time it came to pass [when they had grown up and were priests for their own families], that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD [the family having been taught by their father to worship their Creator]. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. [It was a burnt offering.]  And the LORD had respect to Abel and to his offering:

5 but to Cain and to his offering he had not respect [for in his offering there was no picture of the “death” that sin brings to the Son of God, nor any indication that there was any change in his own heart].

    {Patriarchs and Prophets 71.3} 

The two brothers erected their altars alike, and each brought an offering. 

Abel presented a sacrifice from the flock, in accordance with the Lord's directions.  “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” Fire flashed from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. 

But Cain, disregarding the Lord's direct and explicit command, presented only an offering of fruit.  There was no token from heaven to show that it was accepted.  Abel pleaded with his brother to approach God in the divinely prescribed way, but his entreaties only made Cain the more determined to follow his own will.  As the eldest, he felt above being admonished by his brother, and despised his counsel. 

The first mention of an altar in the Bible was when Noah offered “burnt offerings” as sacrifices after the Flood (Genesis 8:20), but it is clear that Cain and Abel were also offering on altars, and that Noah’s descendants carried on the ritual.  (Genesis 12:7-8.) 

And there is written in the last book of the Bible a reminder to us that the Son of God began to die (i.e. separate from His Father) from the moment He became the Saviour.

    Revelation 13:8. 

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [Satan], whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from [not just at] the foundation of the world”. [It is a continuing experience.] 

And then, about 2,000 years later, (about 20 generations, many of whom [up to 7 generations] were alive at the same time), the Son of God had to add circumcision to the ritual of the burnt offering as a representation of the removal of the old life of the sinner, for that truth had been neglected.

    Genesis 17:

9 And God said to Abraham, You shall keep My covenant therefore, you, and your seed after you in their generations.  10 This is [the sign of] My covenant [Romans 4:11], which you shall keep, between Me and you and your seed after you; every man child among you shall be circumcised. 

11 And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt Me and you. 

It is all very clear in another version:

Romans 5:12-14 The Message (MSG)

12-14 You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in — first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. 

That sin [of Adam’s] disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses [about 500 years, or 7 generations after Abraham, as explained in Galatians 3:19].  So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. 

Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God.  But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.

What the ceremonies do for us is to show that God and the angels see them as indicators of what we know or have experienced of Christ’s life.

First there was a whole burnt offering picturing the reborn Christian’s dedication of his or her new life.  (See Leviticus chapter 1 and 6:8-13.)  It joins the daily (a 24 hour spread-out sacrifice) which was offered on behalf of all the people by the church officials, which typified the life of the Son of God being used up.

With the individual burnt offering the LORD expected a grain offering (called a “meat” (food) offering in Leviticus chapter 2 and 6:14-18) which represented all the worldly goods of the dedicated one, presented in various ways according to the offeror’s desire.  It was shared amongst God and the priests.  (He has also given His all.)

Then, of course, as in all transactions with God, there is a Thank You offering called the peace offering.  Its blood was sprinkled around the altar, and the fat burnt on it, but the rest of the carcase and the other parts of the meal were shared amongst the needy in the nation.  See Leviticus chapter 3 and 7:11-21.  (There is peace between Them.  Zechariah 6:13.)

The three things together was the normal Christian offering.  (In this article “Christian (Christ-like)” is a word used to describe one who connects with Christ, whether before the incarnation or after has no significance.)

It was only after offering this triple sacrifice that the reborn one could come again within the courtyard fence which represents Christ’s righteousness and present a sin offering, of which there were several degrees – unknown, willingly ignorant, could have known, should have known, trespass and deliberate.  All of these have their own particular rituals which can teach us things about our God and/or ourselves, and we should decide in advance which of them is the reason that we are approaching God to apologise.

But that was not the end of the personal rituals – they continued on a daily basis for individuals with other objectives such as guidance and blessings, until they all joined with the church formalities, and this came on the 10th day of the 7th month in the autumn.  (The religious year was only seven months long to avoid travelling in the winter.)

We need to digress at this point and learn that, like the Ten Commandments which were written on two stones depicting the ways to respect God and our fellowmen respectively, the law of ceremonies had also two streams.  The first was the personal one we have just looked at as a passenger in the car, and the second was a set of rules, rituals and feasts which applied to a group – a church, as in a bus.  We can look more closely at this later. 

So, although we may not have not committed the same physical sin as Adam, we have been born into the condition of being separated from God (i.e. without spiritual Life) and should by all rights be physically “dead”.  Why aren’t we?  Because as soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour willing to cover it, and He keeps us alive (or rather, in existence) till we choose (or refuse) to change, or until we wear ourselves out!

    Hebrews 1:

1 God [the Father], who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days [of the Jewish nation] spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir [manager] of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.

3 Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4 being made [proved] so much better than the angels [in their eyes], as He has by inheritance [God’s word] obtained a more excellent name [position] than they. 

    {Desire of Ages 210.2} 

The priests and rulers had set themselves up as judges to condemn Christ's work, but He declared Himself their judge, and the judge of all the earth.  The world has been committed to Christ, and through Him has come every blessing from God to the fallen race. 

He was the Redeemer before as after His incarnation.  As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour.  He has given light and life to all, and according to the measure of light given, each is to be judged.  And He who has given the light, He who has followed the soul with tenderest entreaty, seeking to win it from sin to holiness, is in one its advocate and judge [Guide and Driver].. 

From the opening of the great controversy in heaven, Satan has maintained his cause through deception; and Christ has been working to unveil his schemes and to break his power.  It is He who has encountered the deceiver, and who through all the ages has been seeking to wrest the captives from his grasp, who will pass judgment upon every soul. 

    (Ibid.  [Review & Herald], March 12, 1901)

As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour.  Christ knew that He would have to suffer, yet He became man's substitute.  As soon as Adam sinned, the Son of God presented Himself as surety for the human race, with just as much power [at that moment] to avert the doom pronounced upon the guilty as when He died upon the cross of Calvary[He did not have to wait till Calvary to be able to give salvation.]  {1BC 1084.8} 

Remember Revelation 13:8?

Which leads us on into the next part of our experience – living the Christian life, and this applies to the people of the Old Testament times as well as those in the New Testament period.

    Ephesians 2:

1 And you has He quickened [made spiritually alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2 wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [the arch-rebel Satan], the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. 

3 Among whom also we all had our conversation [conduct] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath [cut off from God], even as others [the non-Christians]

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us [made us spiritually alive] together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) [this is His unmerited gift] 6 and has raised us up together [joined us in unity, John 17:19-26], and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 

Here is the The Message version (MSG):

1-6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin.  You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live.  You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience.  We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.  It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us.  Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us.  He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ.  He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.  Saving is all his idea, and all his work.  All we do is trust him enough to let him do it.  It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role.  If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing!

No, we neither make nor save ourselves.  God does both the making and saving [justification and sanctification].  He [re-]creates each of us by [the Man] Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H.  Peterson

Therefore, at any time in our worldly “dead” lives we can listen to God and accept His word that He can rectify that first problem [by inviting us into the car]

That remedy brings us to what is really the last part of the query – where we are classed as “righteous”, or “good”, but what about in between?

Second:

But (and it’s a big but) what do we do when we find that we are not always “good”, but “in between”, sometimes good and sometimes bad?  

This is like going off with a “Hagar” of our own, being enticed out of the car for a while! (If you remember, the suggestion came from Abraham’s wife!)

    Galatians 4:

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh [human works]; but he of the freewoman was by promise [from God].

24 Which things are an allegory [a metaphor]: for these are [like] the two covenants [the earthly and the heavenly]; the one from the mount Sinai, which genders [leads] to bondage [slavery], which is Agar [Hagar]25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to [or depicts] Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. [Ishmael etc. Close to the truth but not in it.]

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 

27 For it is written, Rejoice, you barren that bears not; break forth and cry, you that travails not: for the desolate has many more children than she which has a husband.  [Isaiah 54:1.] 

28 Now we, brothers [and sisters], as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 

29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 

30 Nevertheless what says the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.  31 So then, brothers [and sisters], we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free [and can choose to obey or disobey, listen or reject]

When the apostle John was an old man and confronted with that problem among the people in his church, he wrote:-

    1 John 2:

1 My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not [which is a perfectly possible situation and God’s preferred option.  Yes, it is!] 

And if any man sin [we don’t have to], we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 and He is the propitiation [appeasement] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world [God has no favourites] . . . 

7 I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning [for this has been the goal right from the start]

So whenever we sin as Christians (i.e. after we are born again into the new life) we are assured that we will be forgiven without any qualification except repentance [saying “Sorry”], if we really want that.  We can get back in the car anytime for He has stopped the car and is waiting for you.  And we are assured that Satan will (as did Ishmael and Esau) persecute us without ceasing.

What is written below in the Old Testament rituals (the law) explains to us what actually happens when we, as Christians, do repent and come and ask for forgiveness for an action of sin, for the purpose of the Jewish rituals was to explain and magnify our experiences with transgression and its aftermath.

So let’s read some of them:

    Leviticus 4:

1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, 

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them . . . 

[Not just unknown sins, but even known and deliberate ones are covered:]

                    Leviticus 6:

1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 

2 If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie to his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or has deceived his neighbour; 3 or have found that which was lost, and lies concerning it, and swears falsely; in any of all these that a man does, sinning therein [all of which are conscious and deliberate sins involving other humans]: . . . 

[however, if he fulfils certain conditions,

doing practical things to illustrate the spiritual]

6 he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram [a trespass is a more serious offence] without blemish out of the flock, with your estimation [a fine], for a trespass offering, to the priest: 7 and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he has done in trespassing therein. 

27 And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance [not knowing it is a sin], while he [or she] does somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and [then knows himself to] be guilty; 28 or if his [own] sin, which he has sinned, come to his knowledge [at some later time]: then [in these two cases] he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has sinned.

[You will have noticed that the offering is NOT the male lamb

that so many teachers of the gospel tell us about!!

(There is a big difference in God’s eyes.) 

The offering needs to be female to illustrate that the sinner

(as the “wife” of Christ)

recognises what he or she has really done – killed Him in their place.]

[The male lamb experience is quite different to the confession one.]29 And he [the sinner] shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering [confessing the particulars of the sin in detail, not just making a general statement, and transferring to it, in figure, the guilt and shame of what he/she has done], and [then the offeror shall] slay the sin offering in the [same] place of the burnt offering [on the north side of the altar – the side of blessing, believing that He still loves them]

30 And the priest shall [catch the blood in a bowl, and] take [some] of the blood [the evidence of death] thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering [in the courtyard which represents the earth], and shall pour out all [the remainder of] the blood thereof at the bottom of the [brass] altar [of burnt offering, for dealing with burnt offerings was its main function].

[You will have noticed that none of the blood goes into the sanctuary building

which represents heaven.]

31 And he [the priest] shall take away all the fat thereof [as Abel had], as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings [for fat represents the place of accrual of the bad effects of sin, like dirt on the feet, John 13:1-10]; and the priest shall burn it upon the [brass] altar [in the courtyard] for a sweet savour to the LORD [it should not be eaten as the rest of the body will be]; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him [and he/she shall be clean before God again].

32 And if he bring a lamb for a sin offering [a second-best choice, but still acceptable because of the wide-spread deception on this point], he shall bring it a female without blemish.  33 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering [the original and most important of the offerings]

34 And the priest shall take [some] of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar: 35 and he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire to the LORD: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him[Both ceremonies are identical and have the same effect.]  

This was all done physically and ritually to show us what happens spiritually when we come close to God in repentance.  We end up realising that we have just killed our Saviour or rather, added to His dying!

Then something special happened to the rest of the body of the offering.

    Leviticus 6:

24 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 

25 Speak to Aaron and to his sons [the priests], saying, This is the law [ritual] of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering [of life dedication] is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy[holy = dangerous] 

26 The priest that offers it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place [in a special room on the side of the temple] shall it be eaten; [or] in the court of the Tabernacle of the Congregation [if the ceremony was in the sanctuary]

[This is a ritual “eating of a portion”, for no one man can eat a whole animal,

and the remainder becomes part of the other priests’ meals.  See verse 29.]

 

[The ordinary priests were all stand-ins for the high priest

who in turn represented Jesus our Saviour.

Thus we have been taught that our Saviour takes the guilt and shame

of our confessed sin(s)

into His own life and bears them for us.]

27 Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy [become contagious like a leper and require cleansing]: and when there is sprinkled of the blood thereof upon any garment, you shall wash that whereon it was sprinkled in the holy place [i.e.  the courtyard]28 But the earthen [clay] vessel wherein it is sodden [boiled] shall be broken: and if it be sodden in a brazen [brass] pot, it shall be both scoured, and rinsed in water.  [Even the cooking utensils were to be treated with caution, for sin is very contagious.]

29 All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy.

30 And no sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten: it shall be burnt in the fire. 

That last verse tells us that there was blood from a sin offering which did go into the sanctuary building, but that was NOT for the common man or woman.  When that occurred the flesh was NOT eaten. 

Let’s look at that detail in passing, so that we are very clear on this point.

    Leviticus 4:

3 If the priest that is anointed [one who is on duty in the sanctuary] do sin according to the sin of the people [by ritually eating a portion of one or more of their animals, thus transferring the results of the sins to himself]; then let him bring for his sin, which he has sinned, a young bullock without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering [when he has finished his time of duty]4 And he shall bring the bullock to the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation before the LORD [in the courtyard which represents the earth]; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock's head, and kill the bullock before the LORD.  [Everyone can see what he is doing.]

[Remember that he is standing-in for the high priest

who is the representative of Christ our Saviour,

and this is also a picture of the crucifixion.]

5 And the priest that is anointed shall take of the bullock's blood, and bring it to [the first apartment of] the Tabernacle of the Congregation: 6 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the LORD, [on the ground] before the [second] veil of the sanctuary [which is between the first and the second apartments]7 And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the [golden] altar of sweet incense [this is the prayer altar which is] before the LORD, which is in the Tabernacle of the Congregation [the first room];

and shall pour all the [remainder of the] blood of the bullock at the bottom of the [brass] altar of the burnt offering [into the drain], which is at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation [out in the courtyard].

[There is no mention of forgiveness for him, for there is none!! 

This ceremony simply draws the universe’s attention to the fact

that He now carries the burden for those souls.]

8 And he shall take off from it [i.e.  from the body] all the fat of the bullock for the sin offering; the fat that covers the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, 9 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away, 10 as it was taken off from the bullock of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of the burnt offering [in the courtyard]

[Remember the dirt on the feet ceremony?]

11 And the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards, and his dung, 12 even [the remains of] the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt [because it no longer has any significance in the process.  Only the blood (the evidence of death) is required.]  

We have just seen that the ONLY blood (evidence of a death) to enter the sanctuary (heaven in picture form) is the blood of the priest’s bullock

And that was all that was used.  Therefore Christ’s earthly body was no longer needed, and He received a new one at His resurrection.

What does all this mean?

It tells us that we need to be in a certain frame of mind when we come and ask for forgiveness, and that we need to understand what we should do and what our Saviour will do for us.  We should see that He takes the guilt and shame of our confessed sin onto Himself by eating its flesh (as He did in another picture at Calvary where He showed what He would do for all the world) and that He bears the guilt and the shame and the separation of it until the end of His ministry for us.

That leaves us FREE from the guilt and shame and the separation!  And also leaves us with the understanding that we can come to God to say “sorry” as often as we desire.  However, it is usually only after the sin action when we get the twinges of conscience (the voice of the Holy Spirit in condemnation) and feel remorse, that we want to do anything about it.  But that very remorse is often very selfish over what we have lost, and we need to change our attitude if we would really like to live a restful life.  The Son of God tells (and shows) us that it is only when we do things for others that we can be really happy.

But it is NOT over for Him when our goat is killed and its blood sprinkled, although it is for us as individuals, and He has to do something very special with a goat to remove that burden from Himself.  In the meantime, He relieves the weight (but does not remove it) by bringing the evidence as close to God as he can safely go with a bullock’s blood.  This is a dangerous thing to do, for normally only the high priest in full colour uniform can go right into God’s presence, and this is being done by an ordinary priest (picturing Christ in an ordinary human body with only a veil between them).

It also tells us that God would like all this to cease (“My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not”), not just to stop our agony; not even to stop the agony of His Son; but for a greater objective still. 

And all that explains to us the second category of our query: that of the in-betweens.

But why do we sin as Christians? 

First because we like it and want to do it; 

Second because we are tempted into it by circumstances,

           (or Satan, it matters not which);

And third because it seems easy. 

Although we are automatically forgiven (listen carefully to the following verses) should we just accept that? 

What about the Son of God’s condition?

    Psalm 85:

2 You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people, You have covered all their sin.  Selah [which means: think carefully and prayerfully on what you have just read]

    Matthew 12:

31 Wherefore I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven to men. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of man,  it shall be forgiven him: but whoever speaks against the Holy Ghost [by rejecting Him], it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.  [See note 1.] 

It all seems straightforward and that is why He says that His way “is easy”!!

But that leaves us with the “good character” doing “bad” things occasionally, and that won’t work in heaven, for the Spirit has said: “What do you imagine against the LORD?  He will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time”.  Nahum 1:9. 

But where is the guarantee? 

All through the controversy God has vowed to PROVE His words to the people of the universe.  He was able to show them Satan’s character at Calvary where that creature and his followers publicly demonstrated that they wanted to kill the Son of God, but the Spirit has yet to convince all mankind that all the rejecters want to kill all the acceptors.  So what is the purpose of the third state?  Why can’t we continue in the second condition until the Second Coming, as some of our teachers are telling us we can?

The third:

We now need to look at the ceremony which merges the individual’s daily with the church’s yearly.  This took place on a specific day and because it only occupied a few hours of that period there was time BEFORE the ritual for last-minute confessions of sin.  The Hebrew day started at sunset in what we think of as the day before, so there was all night, and because we are not told when the ritual began there would have been some daylight hours in the morning also. [We are living in the daylight hours of that DAY today.]

The high priest simply waited until there was no one left in the queue asking for forgiveness before beginning the ritual.  Sadly, God is not rushed in this department although there is an increase on the Day. (I believe that a compassionate God is waiting until the last Christian confesses his or her last sin!  So He is waiting for us!!)

    Hebrews 9:

6 Now when these things were thus ordained [set up], the priests went always [continually every day] into the first tabernacle [the first apartment], accomplishing the service of God. 

7 But into the second went the high priest alone once [on one day] every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people.  8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest [made available], while as the first tabernacle was yet standing [being used in the daily]: 9 which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience [the spiritual aspect].

10 Which stood only in [physical] meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal [earthly] ordinances, imposed on them until the Time of Reformation [in the last days]

11 But Christ being come a High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this [earth’s] building; 12 neither by the blood of goats and calves [yearling bulls], but by His own blood [the evidence of His death] He entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a [red] heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh [is of use on earth]: 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 

    Leviticus 16: The verses in this chapter have been re-arranged to fit the facts.

1 And the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered [polluted fire] before the LORD, and died [Leviticus 10:1-2]; 2 and the LORD said to Moses, Speak to Aaron your brother, that he come not at all times into the Holy Place within the veil before the Mercy Seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the Mercy Seat [it was His earthly throne]

[On the tenth day of the seventh month, Leviticus 23:23-25:]

3 Thus shall Aaron come into the Holy Place [the second apartment]: with [the blood of] a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a [later] burnt offering . . . 

[We have moved on a bit]

6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house [his family, or Christ and His Christians.] . . .

[We have moved on a bit more]

11 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make a [final] atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself [laying his hands on the animal as a priest would for a common sinner’s sins, confessing all the year’s confessed sins onto the animal].

[There have been other atonements during the daily rituals,

but this is the last of them.]

12 And he shall take a [portable] censer [which is normally stored in the second room, Hebrews 9:2-5] full of burning coals of fire [which had come] from off the [incense] altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small [to produce a great cloud of smoke], and bring it within the [second] veil: 13 and he shall put the incense upon the fire [in the censer] before the LORD [on the Mercy Seat], that the cloud of the incense may cover the Mercy Seat that is upon the testimony [the Ten Commandments], that he die not.  [This means He wants lots of prayers from us!]         

[He will need to make numerous journeys into the second room on that day,

carrying many sins and other objects, so He needs a lot of protection. 

He needs our prayers and awareness of the danger in what He is doing.]

14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the Mercy Seat eastward [in the front]; and before the Mercy Seat [on the ground] shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times [thus in figure transferring all the sins of the daily in to the second room into the presence of God the Father] . . . 

What is that like, for us?  We need to look carefully at the details because it is being done on His behalf and of a particular group (his family), or rather on behalf of a group of people who may be physically scattered far from each other, while doing the same thing at the same time under the influence of the Holy Spirit, as well as for all the Christians of all time, all of whom will be dead lying in their graves waiting for the time when this ritual will be performed in reality. (There is only ONE person (other than the high priest) who can move about in the courtyard while this ritual is being processed.)

To digress slightly for a moment:

Perfection, in the sense of sinlessness, is a very hotly debated topic, and is even positively rejected by many popular and dynamic teachers of the gospel today.  Yet the man Christ Jesus – He who took on Him the nature of Abraham’s seed – was completely sinless, and we are told that He is our example and we need to walk as He did!

    1 Peter 2:

20 For what glory is it [to God], if, when you be buffeted for [punished by] your faults, you shall take it patiently? [You deserve it!] 

But if, when you do well, and suffer for it [from an outside source], you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God [for this is what He wants, nay, needs]

21 For even hereunto were you called [to do well and suffer for it]: because Christ also [did well and] suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: 23 who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously: 24 who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness:

by whose stripes [wounds] you were healed.  25 For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 

The dead are not contributing any new confessions, and providing that they have connected with Him in the Passover, they are covered.  But there is a group of living people mentioned in the Bible (actually twelve groups of them), and of these it is also written that they are without fault.

    Revelation 14:

1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him a hundred forty-four thousand [twelve character groups of twelve thousand each, Revelation 7], having His Father's name [character] written in their foreheads [in their minds].

2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 and they sung as it were a new song [of their experiences with Him] before the throne, and before the four beasts [who represent the redeemed from the grave.  See Revelation 5:8-10], and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth [not the grave]

4 These are they which were not defiled with women [they were never strongly attracted to the earthly churches even when they joined them for a time]; for they are virgins [waiting for Him].  These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goes.  These were redeemed [alive] from among men, being the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.  5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God

Here is our proof; here is the proof needed by the inhabitants of the universe.  [See note 2]

These twelve groups of twelve thousand each, 144,000 individuals, some alone, some in small groups, had shown that they did not need an Intercessor to save them when assailed by Satan’s determined attack.  Like the people of the universe and the loyal angels of heaven, they had taken all that he could throw at them and beaten it back in a period the Spirit calls “Jacob’s trouble”, a season of temptation such as never was before except just after Christ’s baptism, which was only for one Person.  Now there are twelve times twelve thousand witnesses!

We have the picture:

    Matthew 4:

1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil [it was deliberate][Note who did what.]

2 And when He had [after He had] fasted forty days and forty nights [which was a test in itself], He was afterward an hungered [a starving person]

3 And when the tempter [Satan] came to Him, he said, If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread [it was a great temptation]

4 But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God [for to do otherwise is to do our own works, so He waited for God to supply His needs because He had led Him into this situation]

5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, and set Him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, If you be the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone [which is a mis-reading of the scripture, Psalm 91:9-12].

7 Jesus said to him, It is written again, You shall not tempt the LORD your God [and presume that He will be able to look after you when you choose the bad].

8 Again, the devil took Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world [past, present and future], and the glory of them; 9 and said to Him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.  10 Then said Jesus to him, Get you hence, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only shall you serve.  [There is only one God.]

11 Then the devil leaves Him [gave up in despair], and, behold, angels came and ministered to Him. 

All this, and He remained sinless, as a man! 

That was His first “Jacob’s trouble”, for He had more to come!

This is how it was for Jacob:

    {Education 147.1 to .4}

To gain the birthright that was his already by God's promise, Jacob resorted to fraud [his own works, which was a great sin], and he reaped the harvest in his brother's hatred [for forgiveness of a sin does not remove the consequences].  Through twenty years of exile he was himself wronged and defrauded [for what we do often comes round to bite us], and was at last forced to find safety in flight; and he reaped a second harvest, as the evils of his own character were seen to crop out in his sons -- all but too true a picture of the retributions of human life.  {Ed 147.1}

But God says: “I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.  For the iniquity of his covetousness [his self-will] was I wroth, and smote him: I hid Me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly [stubbornly] in the way of his heart [as Christians so often do] [Yet] I have seen his ways [seen into his heart], and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners [if he lets Me] . . . Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.” Isaiah 57:16-19.  {Ed 147.2}

[How can God do this lawfully?]

Jacob in his distress was not overwhelmed [but he was hard-pressed]

He had repented [he had confessed his great trespass sin years before, and], he had [recently] endeavored to atone for the wrong to his brother [part of his trespass confession].  And when threatened with death through the wrath of Esau, he sought help from God [by trusting in His word].  “Yea, he had power over the Angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication [on behalf of others].”  “And He blessed him there.” Hosea 12:4; Genesis 32:29.  In the power of His might the forgiven one stood up, no longer the supplanter, but a prince with God. 

He had gained not merely deliverance from his outraged brother, but deliverance from himself [from his self-doubts and self-will] [It was seen by him and the universe that] the power of evil in his own nature was [completely] broken; his character was [totally] transformed.  {Ed 147.3} 

[What changed?  Something had!]

At eventide there was light.  Jacob, reviewing his life-history, recognized the sustaining power of God – [and said] “the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil [did this].”  Genesis 48:15, 16.  {Ed 147.4}  [He had “grown-up as a Christian!”

The great questions are:  WHEN does He do this?  And what is He waiting for?

    {The Great Controversy 618.1 to 619.1} 

Satan had accused Jacob before the angels of God, claiming the right to destroy him because of his sin; he had moved upon Esau to march against him; and during the patriarch's long night of wrestling, Satan endeavored to force upon him a sense of his guilt in order to discourage him and break his hold upon God.  Jacob was driven almost to despair; but he knew that without help from heaven he must perish.  He had sincerely repented of his great sin, and he appealed to the mercy of God [for he did not know that God had already accepted that].  He would not be turned from his purpose [which was?], but held fast the Angel and urged his petition with earnest, agonizing cries until he [knew that he had] prevailed [but that was not until it was all over, as Christ had to wait for His resurrection to find out the verdict on His final “Trouble”.  Consider John 20:16-17].  {GC 618.1} 

As Satan influenced Esau to march against Jacob, so he will stir up the wicked to destroy God's people in the time of trouble. 

And as he [Esau] accused Jacob, he [Satan] will urge his accusations against the people of God.  He numbers the world as his subjects; but the little company who keep the commandments of God are resisting his supremacy.  If he could blot them from the earth, his triumph would be complete.

[What caused this confrontation? 

Jacob had left Midian and come back into his own country,

and this disturbed Esau greatly. 

So we could say that Jacob precipitated it by returning to his roots!]

He [Satan] sees that holy angels are guarding them, and he infers that their sins have been pardoned; but he does not know that their cases have been decided in the sanctuary above [for probation has closed, although they do not know that either].  He has an accurate knowledge of the sins which he has tempted them to commit, and he presents these before God in the most exaggerated light, representing this people to be just as deserving as himself of exclusion from the favor of God. 

He declares that the Lord cannot in justice forgive their sins and yet destroy him and his angels [for that is what he believes is going to happen]

He claims them as his prey and demands that they be given into his hands to destroy.  {GC 618.2} 

[The contrast between Satan and the Christians is obvious – he wants to destroy and they want to save.]

As Satan accuses the people of God on account of their [past] sins, the Lord permits him to try them to the uttermost [as with Job, but without an Intercessor, see note 1.]                [What was Job doing?  Consider Job 1:5.]

Their confidence in God, their faith and firmness, will be severely tested.  [For they will get no help from the Spirit in answer to their prayers.  As He had with Christ, the Spirit has led them there for that experience!]  As they review the past, their hopes sink; for in their whole lives they can see little good.  They are fully conscious of their [present] weakness and unworthiness. 

Satan endeavors to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away [and their petition denied].  He hopes so to destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations and turn from their allegiance to God, [but they, like Jacob, are fearful for their families and friends who have been torn from them by death, as well as all the Christians who have died over the millennia.]   {GC 618.3} 

Though God's people will be surrounded by enemies who are bent upon their destruction, yet the anguish which they suffer is not a dread of [personal] persecution for the truth's sake; they fear that every sin has not been repented of, and that through some fault in themselves they will fail to realize the fulfillment of the Saviour's promise: I “will keep thee [every Christian] from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world.” Revelation 3:10. 

If they could have the assurance of pardon they would not shrink from torture or death; but should they prove unworthy, and lose their lives because of their own defects of character, then God's holy name would be reproached [and the revolution would succeed!] {GC 619.1}

So you see that if you do the will of God He will still lead you into the same “trouble” that Jacob was in – where he had to confess explicitly how bad he had been so that he could get the blessing for the others he was praying for, for this final state is a picture of how the Son of God will be able to finish the controversy and prove His point, which is that the resurrected ones will be just as sinless in heaven, and that the living ones are concerned for them. 

 

How do we know this?

                   [Then He will do the other ritual of the Day of Atonement]

    Leviticus 16:

4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments [NOT his formal coloured attire as high priest where he carries the nation in picture over his heart – the twelve jewels on his chest, the attire he used during the daily]; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.

[Now the Son of God will be operating as one of us (a Christian human)

and preparing to take on the most dangerous part of His work of salvation – transferring all the guilt and shame and separation onto the devil and his cohorts.]

5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a [one] sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering . . . 

7 And [now] he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation [in the courtyard]

[To do this he had changed into a special set of clothes,

plain white and without bells.  See verse 23. 

The intercession on the Day of Atonement has finished,

and the cleansing has begun.]

8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat [so God was seen to be the Chooser, for there would be lots of observers in the courtyard]. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering [without confessing any sins over him]

[Remember that Aaron is a symbol of Christ Himself

and that this will all take place in the future

while the tabernacle/temple does not exist on earth any more. 

So we are expected to visualise this as happening in heaven and in Him

See note 3.]

10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be [later] presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement [another kind of expiation] with him, and to let him go [free] for a scapegoat into the wilderness [the first goat represents the Son of God: - the second goat pictures Satan as the scapegoat.  The second goat is NOT killed!]] . . . 

15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering [God’s chosen one] that is for the people [he does not confess any sins onto this one for they are all in the sanctuary and there is no more confessing being done], and bring his [sinless] blood within the [second] veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the Mercy Seat, and before the Mercy Seat: 16 and [by doing this] he shall make an atonement for the Holy Place [the second room, which means that he picks up the record of the sins and removes them from God’s presence], because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins [which he had placed there with the bullock’s blood]:

and so shall he do for the [first room of the] Tabernacle of the Congregation, that remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness [by cleansing the altar of prayer].

[He is now bearing all the confessed sins of all the repentant ones –

a great burden for the Son of man.]

17 And there shall be no man in the Tabernacle of the Congregation [no other priest to help him] when he goes in to make an atonement in the Holy Place, until he come out [into the courtyard], and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel [with the scapegoat].

              [All this is done for us by Christ Himself

as He cleanses the sanctuary in heaven (in the minds of the angels and men)

for that building is a picture of what He is

See also Isaiah 63:3-5.]

18 And he shall go out to the [brass] altar [in the courtyard] that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the [sinless] goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about [showcasing the results of the confessed sins again, and then moving them for the last time]. 19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it [the altar] with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.

[This latter detail He also does inside Himself,

(and publicly by the 144,000)

and the Spirit relies on our understanding of that.]

20 And when he has made an end of reconciling the Holy Place [where the presence of God is], and the Tabernacle of the Congregation [heaven], and the [brass] altar [earth], he [the fit man, who represents the living Christians] shall present the live goat: 21 and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the [second] goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit [capable] man [representing the 144,000] into the wilderness.

22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities to a land not inhabited [the earth during the 1,000 years]: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness [it is NOT killed]

23 And Aaron shall come [back] into the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and shall put off the [special plain white] linen garments, which he put on when he went into the Holy Place, and shall leave them there. 24 And he shall wash his flesh with water in the Holy Place, and put on his normal garments [for the Son of God it is the garments of a King], and come forth, and offer his burnt offering [of dedication, the ram], and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people. 

25 And the fat of the sin offering [the first goat] shall he burn upon the altar [this ends the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement.  The Son of God is now recognised as Prophet, Priest and King.] 

[The high priest resumes his normal uniform,

which in the Son of God’s case are His kingly robes

on top of His humanity!]

26 And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat [the fit or capable man] shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp [without delay, meaning that they will be translated without seeing death now that they have finished their “Trouble”]

27 And the [bodies of the] bullock for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall one carry forth without the camp [to the ash heap]; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung. 

28 And he that burns them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp.  [This has no special significance that I can see, unless it has something to do with the new bodies for the resurrected ones.]  

29 And this shall be a statute for ever to you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourns among you: 30 for on that day shall the priest make a [final] atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

31 It shall be a Sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. 

[A further instruction:]

32 And [as time goes by] the priest, whom he [the high priest] shall anoint [his eldest son], and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement [on the due date], and shall put on the [special] linen clothes, even the holy garments [which represent a normal human body]: 33 and he shall make an atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and for the altar [in the courtyard], and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. 

34 And this shall be an everlasting statute to you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year.  And he [Aaron] did as the LORD commanded Moses.

 There will be 144,000 individuals, of all nationalities, gender and age, all of whom have become sinless and who have followed in the footsteps of He who was relentlessly persecuted and tempted all His life.  He never gave in, while they have had relapses and confessed them, and were always forgiven and cleansed so that they were victorious in the last battle, where they brought the scapegoat to the eyes of the watchers and holy ones to receive the results of the sins he has caused God’s people to commit. 

    1 John 1:

6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 

    Romans 8:

15 For you have not received the spirit of bondage [slavery to the power of sin] again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption [which brings the freedom to choose], whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 

16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature [creation] waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.

20 For the creature [creation, our solar system] was made subject to vanity [useless repetition], not willingly, but by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope, 21 because the creature [our solar system] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. 

    Romans 8:15-25 The Message (MSG)

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God [at your rebirth] is not a timid, grave-tending life.  It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” [It’s a life of adventure and exploration.]  God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.            We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.     And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance!  We go through exactly what Christ goes through.  If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

18-21 That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times.  The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next.  Everything in creation is being more or less held back.  God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead.  Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation.  The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs.  But it’s not only around us; it’s within us.  The Spirit of God is arousing us within. 

We’re also feeling the birth pangs.  These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance.  That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother.  We are enlarged in the waiting.  We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us.  But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H.  Peterson

Paul also wrote:

    Philippians 3:

12 Not as though I had already attained [the third state], either were already perfect: but I follow after [that path], if that I may apprehend [catch] that for which also I am apprehended of [offered by] Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers [and sisters], I count not myself to have apprehended [attained]: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect [cleansed], be thus minded: and if in anything you be otherwise minded [by choosing to go back into state 2], God shall reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained [as individuals], let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

17 Brothers [and sisters], be followers together of me [get in the bus], and mark them which walk so as you have us for an example [and compare them with us]18 (For many [professed Christians] walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19 whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 

Let’s finish with a very clear translation: one I heartily agree with.

    Philippians 3:12-21 The Message (MSG)

12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made.  But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.  Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.  I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

15-16 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.  If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet!  Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

17-19 Stick with me, friends.  Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal.  There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them.  I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again.  All they want is easy street.  They hate Christ’s Cross.  But easy street is a dead-end street.  Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

20-21 But there’s far more to life for us.  We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own.  He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

             Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H.  Peterson

 

Conclusion:

There are three aspects of character shown in the human race. 

The first is a state from which we need to be rescued;

The second is one in which we waver and often fall under temptation;

The third is one where we remain steadfast no matter what happens.

And Christianity has only one main purpose – to train 144,000 individuals to be able to stand victorious in “Jacob’s Trouble” all at the same time.


 
 

Note 1:

{Counsels for the Church 81.1}

The Unpardonable Sin

What constitutes the sin against the Holy Ghost?

It is willfully[1] attributing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit. 

For example, suppose that one is a witness of the special work of the Spirit of God.  He has convincing evidence that the work is in harmony with the Scriptures, and the Spirit witnesses with his spirit that it is of God.  Afterward, however, he falls under temptation; pride, self-sufficiency, or some other evil trait, controls him; and rejecting all the evidence of its divine character, he declares that that which he had before acknowledged to be the power of the Holy Spirit was the power of Satan. 

It is through the medium of His Spirit that God works upon the human heart; and when men willfully reject the Spirit and declare it to be from Satan, they cut off the channel by which God can communicate with them.  By denying the evidence which God has been pleased to give them, they shut out the light which had been shining in their hearts, and as the result they are left in darkness. 

Thus the words of Christ are verified: “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:23.  For a time, persons who have committed this sin may appear to be children of God; but when circumstances arise to develop character and show what manner of spirit they are of, it will be found that they are on the enemy's ground, standing under his black banner.  92 [Testimonies Volume 5:634]   BACK

 

Note 2:

{Early Writings 280.2} 

It was impossible for the [seven last] plagues to be poured out while Jesus officiated in the sanctuary; but as His work there is finished, and His intercession closes, there is nothing to stay the wrath of God, and it breaks with fury upon the shelterless head of the guilty sinner, who has slighted salvation and hated reproof.  In that fearful time, after the close of Jesus' mediation, the saints were living in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor.  Every case was decided, every jewel numbered

[Click here for an explanation of that last phrase.]

{The Great Controversy 614.1} 

When He leaves the sanctuary, darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth.  In that fearful time the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor.  The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent [and can still tempt the saints, but temptation is NOT sin as we read in the next quote]. 

{Volume 3 Selected Messages 132.3} 

Unless there is a possibility of yielding, temptation is no temptation.  Temptation is resisted when man is powerfully influenced to do a wrong action; and, knowing that he can do it, resists, by faith, with a firm hold upon divine power. 

This was the ordeal through which Christ [and the 144,000] passed.  BACK

 

Note 3:

In this explanation we are looking at physical rituals which took place on earth in a specific building situated in a specific area of land, and which were performed by specific people, the priesthood.  What do we do now that none of these exist anymore?

Right from the beginning it was the Son of God’s intention that the humans involved should have a spiritual grasp of these matters, for without this the ceremonies would not have any significance, so we should seek out these meanings.  See Acts 26:12-18; Romans 1:17; 3:28; 9:32.

We are told to live by faith in God’s word (which means to listen to Him), and because certain parts of this yearly process in the church’s rituals have already been achieved by the Son of God on our behalf – the Passover, the Wave Offering, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Day of Pentecost, and now the Blowing of the Trumpet on the 1st day of the 7th month (spiritually, see Leviticus chapter 23): so we must believe that the as-yet unfulfilled ones will be satisfied as they were, on time and in the right place.  It is our Saviour who will do all these things and we can trust Him to do them when the times are right, even if we have got some details wrong!

    {Great Controversy 344.4 to 346.1} 

Though the finite minds of men are inadequate to enter into the counsels of the Infinite One, or to understand fully the working out of His purposes, yet often it is because of some error or neglect on their own part that they so dimly comprehend the messages of Heaven. 

Not infrequently the minds of the people, and even of God's servants, are so blinded by human opinions, the traditions and false teaching of men, that they are able only partially to grasp the great things which He has revealed in His word. 

Thus it was with the disciples of Christ, even when the Saviour was with them in person.  Their minds had become imbued with the popular conception of the Messiah as a temporal prince, who was to exalt Israel to the throne of the universal empire, and they could not understand the meaning of His words foretelling His sufferings and death.  {GC 344.4} 

Christ Himself had sent them forth with the message: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15.  That message was based on the prophecy of Daniel 9.  The sixty-nine weeks were declared by the angel to extend to “the Messiah the Prince,” and with high hopes and joyful anticipations the disciples looked forward to the establishment of Messiah's kingdom at Jerusalem to rule over the whole earth.  {GC 345.1} 

They preached the message which Christ had committed to them, though they themselves misapprehended its meaning [as Adventists have done since 1844]While their announcement was founded on Daniel 9:25, they did not see, in the next verse of the same chapter, that Messiah was to be cut off.  From their very birth their hearts had been set upon the anticipated glory of an earthly empire, and this blinded their understanding alike to the specifications of the prophecy and to the words of Christ.  {GC 345.2} 

They performed their duty in presenting to the Jewish nation the invitation of mercy, and then, at the very time when they expected to see their Lord ascend the throne of David, they beheld Him seized as a malefactor, scourged, derided, and condemned, and lifted up on the cross of Calvary.  What despair and anguish wrung the hearts of those disciples during the days while their Lord was sleeping in the tomb! [It was similar to their experience on the lake, which was given them to prepare them for the latter one.  Matthew 8:23-27.]  {GC 345.3} 

Christ had come at the exact time and in the manner foretold by prophecy.  The testimony of Scripture had been fulfilled in every detail of His ministry.  He had preached the message of salvation, and “His word was with power.” The hearts of His hearers had witnessed that it was of Heaven.  The word and the Spirit of God attested the divine commission of His Son.  {GC 346.1} . . . 

Then we have these words on the Old Testament rituals:

    {Great Controversy 399.1 to 399.4} 

Arguments drawn from the Old Testament types also pointed to the autumn [September/October in the northern hemisphere] as the time when the event represented by the “cleansing of the sanctuary” must take place.  This was made very clear as attention was given to the manner in which the types relating to the first advent of Christ had been fulfilled.  {GC 399.1} 

The slaying of the Passover lamb was a shadow of the death of Christ.  Says Paul: “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:7. 

The sheaf of first fruits, which at the time of the Passover [in the Festival of Unleavened Bread] was waved before the Lord, was typical of the resurrection of Christ.  Paul says, in speaking of the resurrection of the Lord and of all His people: “Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming.” 1 Corinthians 15:23.  Like the wave sheaf, which was the first ripe grain gathered before the harvest, Christ is the first fruits of that immortal harvest of redeemed ones that at the future resurrection shall be gathered into the garner of God.  {GC 399.2} 

These types were fulfilled, not only as to the event, but as to the time. 

On the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month, the very day and month on which for fifteen long centuries the Passover lamb had been slain, Christ, having eaten the Passover with His disciples, instituted that feast which was to commemorate His own death as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” [It became the LORD’s supper, or Communion.]

That same night He was taken by wicked hands to be crucified and slain.  And as the antitype of the wave sheaf our Lord was raised from the dead on the third day, “the first fruits of them that slept,” a sample of all the resurrected just, whose “vile body” shall be changed, and “fashioned like unto His glorious body.” Verse 20; Philippians 3:21.  {GC 399.3}

In like manner the types which relate to the second advent must be fulfilled at the time pointed out in the symbolic service. 

Under the Mosaic system the cleansing of the sanctuary, or the great Day of Atonement, occurred on the tenth day of the seventh Jewish month (Leviticus 16:29-34), when the high priest, having made an atonement for all Israel, and thus removed their sins from the sanctuary, came forth and blessed the people. 

So it was believed that Christ, our great High Priest, would appear to purify the earth by the destruction of sin and sinners, and to bless His waiting people with immortality.  The tenth day of the seventh month, the great Day of Atonement, the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary, which in the year 1844 fell upon the twenty-second of October, was regarded as the time of the Lord's coming. 

This was in harmony with the proofs already presented that the 2300 days would terminate in the autumn, and the conclusion seemed irresistible.  {GC 399.4} . . . 

                        BUT

    {Great Controversy 403.1-2} 

Carefully and solemnly those who received the message came up to the time when they hoped to meet their Lord.  Every morning they felt that it was their first duty to secure the evidence of their acceptance with God.   

Their hearts were closely united, and they prayed much with and for one another.  They often met together in secluded places to commune with God, and the voice of intercession ascended to heaven from the fields and groves.  The assurance of the Saviour's approval was more necessary to them than their daily food; and if a cloud darkened their minds, they did not rest until it was swept away.  As they felt the witness of pardoning grace, they longed to behold Him whom their souls loved.  {GC 403.1} 

[But they had no thought for the dead saints, or the living people of the world, for they had a misguided doctrine of “a shut door”.  See note 4.]

But again they were destined to disappointment [as so many will be this time!]  The time of expectation passed, and their Saviour did not appear [but instead there came their “Jacob’s trouble”].  With unwavering confidence they had looked forward to His coming, and now they felt as did Mary when, coming to the Saviour's tomb and finding it empty, she exclaimed with weeping: “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.” John 20:13.  {GC 403.2} 

We just need to “listen” as our High Priest moves about (the high priest had bells and pomegranates (which contain a lot of seeds) on his garments. Exodus 28:32-35). 

When those sounds are no longer heard then we should be even more aware of what He is doing, for it means that He has shed His priestly garment and assumed the plain garb of the Atoner!
BACK

 

Note 4:

The “Shut Door” Defined

    {Volume 1 Selected Messages 63.1 to 63.10}

For a time after the disappointment in 1844, I did hold, in common with the advent body, that the door of mercy was then forever closed to the world.  This position was taken before my first vision was given me. 

It was the light given me of God that corrected our error, and enabled us to see the true position.   {1SM 63.1}

I am still a believer in the shut-door theory, but not in the sense in which we at first employed the term or in which it is employed by my opponents.   {1SM 63.2}

 There was a shut door in Noah's day.  There was at that time a withdrawal of [rejection of] the Spirit of God from [by] the sinful race that perished in the waters of the Flood.  God Himself gave the shut-door message to Noah:  {1SM 63.3}

“My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3). {1SM 63.4}

There was a shut door in the days of Abraham.  Mercy ceased to plead with the inhabitants of Sodom, and all but Lot, with his wife and two daughters, were consumed by the fire sent down from heaven.   {1SM 63.5}

There was a shut door in Christ's day.  The Son of God declared to the unbelieving Jews of that generation, “Your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).   {1SM 63.6}

Looking down the stream of time to the last days, the same infinite power proclaimed through John:  {1SM 63.7}

“These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” (Revelation 3:7).   {1SM 63.8}

I was shown in vision, and I still believe, that there was a shut door in 1844.  All who saw the light of the first and second angels' messages and rejected that light, were left in darkness.  And those who accepted it and received the Holy Spirit which attended the proclamation of the message from heaven, and who afterward renounced their faith and pronounced their experience a delusion, thereby rejected the Spirit of God, and it no longer pleaded with them.   {1SM 63.9}

Those who did not see the light, had not the guilt of its rejection. 

It was only the class who had despised the light from heaven that the Spirit of God could not reach.  And this class included, as I have stated, both those who refused to accept the message when it was presented to them, and also those who, having received it, afterward renounced their faith.  These might have a form of godliness, and profess to be followers of Christ; but having no living connection with God, they would be taken captive by the delusions of Satan. 

These two classes are brought to view in the vision -- those who declared the light which they had followed a delusion, and the wicked of the world who, having rejected the light, had been rejected of God.  No reference is made to those who had not seen the light, and therefore were not guilty of its rejection.   {1SM 63.10}   BACK

 

Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.  Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library.  Recognition is not always given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.

 

Next query.  To be discussed from 1st February 2019. 

Query:

I heard recently that praying for others gives God more right to interfere in others’ lives than He normally has?   Is God limited?   Does He need us to give Him power that He does not possess?   Where does it say that in the Bible?

For contact:

mail to:  nonconformist@mail.com  (Copy and paste if necessary)

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To see past queries and my responses, click here.


 

[1]  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/willful

refusing to change your ideas or opinions or to stop doing something:

https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/willful

There is no precise definition of the term willful because its meaning largely depends on the context in which it appears.  It generally signifies a sense of the intentional as opposed to the inadvertent, the deliberate as opposed to the unplanned, and the voluntary as opposed to the compelled.  After centuries of court cases, it has no single meaning, whether as an adjective (willful) or an adverb (willfully).

 


 

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