Friday, November 14, 2008

“Atonement in Symbols: Part 2”

God would rather die for us than live without us.

The Day of Atonement is evidence that God did not institute the sacrificial system to be a perpetual, endless cycle of fall, confession, and forgiveness without any conclusion.

The services performed daily for the corporate body of Israel provided for the transfer of sins into the temple, which by its many facets represents Christ. The Israelites were not expected to be present for the daily morning and evening sacrifices the priests offered for the entire camp. During the year, the only active participation was when the individual brought an animal to sacrifice for specific forgiveness. In both instances, the significance was the transfer of sin into the temple. Thus, it became defiled over the course of the year.

Similar to the daily ministry, at the cross almost the entire world was unaware of the existence of the event, and few of those who were aware understood its significance. Yet, on Him was laid the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:6), regardless of our presence or identification with its significance. Mary Magdalene may have understood, but her statements in the garden on Sunday morning reveal she was not aware there would also be a resurrection.

The Day of Atonement was different from the daily ministry in that Israel was to afflict their souls, humble themselves and do no work (Lev. 16:29-31). This process started when the Feast of Trumpets began ten days before the Day of Atonement. Why the difference? It involves cleansing of the individual soul temple from sin, something God will never force. There will be a conscious and informed participation where the penitent will acknowledge his willingness for the Holy Spirit to do His work convicting of sin. The penitent will acknowledge his sin and acquiesce in the removal and transfer of those sins into the temple.

The camp was thus divided into two groups, those who participated by afflicting their souls, and those who did not. Logically, those who belonged to each group must be identified by a judgment, because the accuser of the brethren continually claims all of earth’s inhabitants as his. It was this concept of judgment that alerted the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to the proper explanation of the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8:14. It is after this process in the cosmic antitypical day of atonement that Christ declares: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me ...” (Rev. 22:12). Their decisions have all been made, and Christ has sealed His Bride. Those who refuse to participate in the cleansing process will receive the results of their choice (to be “cut off”).

Those who accept at-one-ment with Christ and allow Him to wash their robes will be given the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the City (Rev. 22:14). They are victorious over the beast, his image, and his number by submitting to the refiner’s fire and are entitled to stand on the sea of glass mixed with fire surrounding the throne of God (Rev. 15:2).

The Psalmist declares, “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary” (Psalm 77:13). The Day of Atonement demonstrates that new and living way, which Christ through His flesh has consecrated for us. He, coming in the flesh, identifying Himself with mankind in the flesh, has for us who are in this flesh consecrated a way from where we are to where He now is, at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens in the holiest of all.

The sacrifices and the service of the earthly sanctuary could not take away the sins of men, and so could not bring them to this perfection. But the sacrifice and the ministry of the true High Priest in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle do accomplish this. This does take away utterly every sin. And the worshiper is so truly purged that he has “no more conscience of sins” (Heb. 10:2).

Isaiah experienced a personal Day of Atonement (Isaiah 6). In his vision, he saw God sitting on His throne (mercy seat) with six-winged seraphim (the ark). After recognizing his sin he confessed it, fearing that he was “undone.” Another expression for “I am undone” is “I am cut off,” the punishment for those who refused to participate in the Day. Isaiah submitted to the cleansing process where a burning coal was touched to his lips. This was declared to have taken away his iniquity and forgiven his sin.

Those who have overcome the beast’s system of self-worship are entitled to stand on the sea of glass (Rev. 15:2-4). They have exercised faith to follow Christ along the way He consecrated into His second apartment ministry. When the censor is cast down, there is no need for a mediator because in Christ they are already standing in the presence of God. They are now sealed “at one” with Christ, and in Him they are entitled to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Let us all eagerly welcome the refining process that results in at-one-ment.

Arlene Hill