Friday, December 06, 2013

“The Eschatological Day of Atonement”

Insights #10 Dec. 7, 2013
Fourth Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
The Eschatological Day of Atonement
For the week of December 7, 2013

Eschatology is that branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world and the final destiny of mankind. This involves beliefs concerning death, the end of the world and the ultimate destiny of mankind. This includes the doctrines concerning the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the Judgment.

In our lesson for this week the vision of the 2300 days is referred to as being fulfilled “many days in the future” (Dan 8:26) from the time of Daniel. The vision was sealed until the distant future. Because of this, Daniel did not understand the vision and became sick thinking about it (v. 27). He did understand the other vision concerning the pagan nations of Media-Persia and Greece that were represented by a ram and a goat (vv. 20-21).

Who gave the 2300 day prophecy to Daniel? How did it come about? Heavenly visitors were conversing about evil things that would one day transpire on earth. The question “How long?” was asked (Dan 8:13). This question was directed by one being to another heavenly Person who is called “that certain One.” The marginal reading in KJV names that “certain One.” His name is Palmoni. The term “Palmoni” is related the name of the Child to be born as prophesied in Isa 9:6. His name is “Wonderful.” This is Jesus, the Son of Man. He is Heaven’s Master Mathematician and the Revealer of Heaven’s mysteries. The fact that He is “the Wonderful Numberer” and the “Revealer” of this time prophecy suggests unusual importance concerning the 2300 day prophecy. Jesus turned to Daniel and answered the question of “How Long?” “For two thousand three hundred days,” said “the Wonderful Numberer, “then the sanctuary shall be cleansed” (Dan 8:14). This is the “testimony of Jesus” to us as well as to Daniel and the angelic host.

There are various meanings for the word translated “cleansed” in verse 14, as Tuesday’s lesson brings out: It “has three major meanings: in a relational context, it denotes restoration (Isa 10:22); in the context of the sanctuary, it denotes cleansing or purification (Job 4:17, 25:4 [also Heb 9:24]); and in a legal context, it denotes vindication (Job 34:5).” There is a fourth meaning. The word is also translated as “justify” and “righteous” 15 times each in the Old Testament. The cleansing of the sanctuary can never be separated from the doctrine and the experience of justification/righteousness by faith in Christ alone. Righteousness is in Jesus and cannot be separated from Him. We are made righteous by receiving Him. And His righteousness is His holiness. This cleanses us.

“Not by painful struggles or wearisome toil, not by gift or sacrifice, is righteousness obtained; but it is freely given to every soul who hungers and thirsts to receive it…. The righteousness of God is embodied in Christ. We receive righteousness by receiving Him.”  (MB 18).

Later, another time prophecy was given to Daniel. It is recorded in chapter 9:24-27. This is additional information about that part of the former vision of 2300 days of which Daniel had no understanding. The prophecy of Daniel 9 reaches to the time of the anointing of Christ Incarnate, at His baptism. This prophecy reaches also to the time of His crucifixion when He was “cut off” or crucified for us (Dan 9:26).

This was the prophecy Jesus referred to at the beginning of His public ministry when He began proclaiming the gospel. His words are recorded in Mark 1:14-15: “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’ The only time that could have been fulfilled is that which was revealed to Daniel and recorded in Dan 9:25-27. The first advent message was based on this time prophecy. And the time prophecy of Daniel 8 – the “2300 days” – refers to the time of the end. This is our time. Both the first and the second Advent Messages are based on the same time prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9.

Chapter 9:26-27, in pointing to the death of Christ, is the foundation for God’s judgment hour of cleansing foretold in chapter 8:14 and is concerned about the time when the final cleansing begins. Chapter 7 reveals the nature of this judgment which is investigative in essence (7:9-10). All of God’s judgments are investigative in nature. This investigation involves the minds of mankind. The books in heaven are records of authentic official copies of the minds of people on earth.  
There are three phases of the heavenly judgment. The first is the investigation of the minds of believers whose sins have gone beforehand to judgment (1 Tim 5:24; 1 Pet 4:17). These are confessed and forgiven sins. This is illustrated for us in Lev 4 where sins forgiven were placed on the horns of the altars with blood fingerprints (Lev 4:25, 30, 34). This was the recorded evidence of sins forgiven.

Both the record of righteousness and the record of sin are written in the human brain, as well as in heaven. According to Jeremiah, the record of committed sins was written on the horns of the altars and within the mind (Jer17:3). This same principle is followed for the record of forgiveness of sins. According to Moses the record of confessed and covered sin was recorded on the horns of the altars (Lev 4:6-7, 17-18, 25, 30, 34). This was evidence of sins forgiven and transferred and that were to be blotted out on in the great Day of Atonement. The finger print in blood also pointed to Christ who took the sin(s) of mankind upon Himself and exhausted the penalty of the broken law of God (1 Pet 2:24; Rom 5:23; 1 Cor 15:3; Rom 5:8).

The human brain records choices we make, emotions we experience, thoughts we think, words we utter, actions we perform and habits we form. Every thought is generated in, routed through, and stored within the brain, and recorded in heaven. “Nothing we ever do is, in strict literalness, wiped out,” wrote William James, Psychology, p. 150. “The hell to be endured hereafter,” he continued, “of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioning our characters in a wrong way. Could the young but realize how soon they will be walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in their plastic state. We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone. Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves never so little scar.” Ibid.

The pre-advent phase of the judgment contains the records of believers who receive the forgiveness of their sins. There are also recordings about those who reject God’s forgiveness in Christ; those who apostatize from God’s grace and wilfully continue to crucify Christ afresh (Gal 5:4; Heb 6:4-6).

When the pre-advent judgment ends, probation for the human race closes. It is then that Jesus lays aside His priestly garments and is clothed in His kingly robes and returns to earth to receive His people.

In the typical service, confessed and forgiven sins were removed from the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In the type those sins were placed on the head of the goat of Azazel (often translated as “scapegoat”) who was then led into the wilderness. Azazel “is an abstract noun meaning …‘destruction’ or ‘entire removal….’ ” The wilderness was considered as “one of the usual abodes of demons.” (The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary). This goat had absolutely nothing to do with justification, sanctification, or cleansing. So it will be in the antitypical removal of sin.   

The removal of the record of forgiven sins from the heavenly temple and from the people of God will be placed on the head of Satan and he will be led into the millennial wilderness of the destroyed and chaotic abyss of earth. Consider the following intriguing statement:

“While the plagues are falling, the Scape Goat [Satan] is being led away. He makes a mighty struggle to escape, but he is held fast by the hand that leads him. If he should effect his escape, Israel would lose their lives. I saw that it would take time to lead away the Scape Goat into the land of forgetfulness after the sins were put on his head” (Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 2).

Then comes the second phase of God’s judgment. This takes place in heaven during the millennium. Like the pre-advent judgment, it too is investigative in nature. It involves the investigation of the mind of the lost by the eternally redeemed in Christ, who were cleansed during the pre-advent judgment. Not only human minds will be investigated during the millennium, but even the minds of devils ((1 Cor 6:2,3; Rev 20:4).

The final phase of the judgment will be at the end of the millennium when the scrolls that record the thoughts, words and works of the lost will be presented (Rev 20:11-15). The records of the sins in the books of heaven are “Xerox” copies of the unforgiven sins of unbelief in the minds of the lost (Rom 14:23). This third phase of the judgment is investigative in nature as are the first two phases. There is a difference, however. In this investigation, every lost person will investigate his own mind. Jesus looks into the minds of the lost and His piercing studious gaze causes each person to see precisely where he/she turned from Him. Notice this insight:

“As soon as the books of record are opened, and the eye of Jesus looks upon the wicked, they are conscious of every sin which they have ever committed. They see just where their feet diverged from the path of purity and holiness, just how far pride and rebellion have carried them in violation of the law of God. The seductive temptations which they have encouraged by indulgence of sin, the blessings perverted, the messengers of God despised, the warnings rejected, the waves of mercy beaten back by the stubborn, unrepentant heart—all appear as if written in letters of fire” (GC 666; see also PP 498 and RH Nov 4, 1884).

And again: “As the Holy One upon the throne slowly turned the leaves of the ledger, and his eyes rested for a moment upon individuals, his glance seemed to burn into their very souls, and at the same moment every word and action of their lives passed before their minds as clearly as though traced before their vision in letters of fire. Trembling seized them, and their faces turned pale. . . . There is quaking of heart. In anguish of soul each declares his own guilt and with terrible vividness sees that by sinning he has thrown away the precious boon of eternal life” (4T 385).
So, in closing, it is good always to remember what E.J. Waggoner wrote about the judgment and salvation: “God has wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the majority spurn it, and throw it away. The judgment will reveal the fact that full and complete salvation was given to every man, and that the lost have deliberately thrown away their birthright possession. Thus every mouth will be stopped. (The Glad Tidings, p. 23; present edition, p. 14).

The only hope for salvation that we have is in the Pre-Advent investigative judgment where we have Christ as our Mediator who give us His mind and who is for us, representing us. He receives the kingdom in our behalf and then gives it to us (Dan 7:13-25, 18, 22, 27). What a day that will be!!

-Jerry Finneman