In this lesson we focus attention on Christ's ministry as our great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, as a basis for understanding its role in the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy.
The transition from ancient literal Israel to the new spiritual Israel had profound and far-reaching effects. A new covenant replaced the old, and a new revelation of the divine purpose was given, adapting the former revelation to the new situation.
The heavenly sanctuary on Mount Zion replaced the literal sanctuary on Mount Moriah as the place to which all who choose the worship and service of the true God were to come to find mercy and grace to help in time of need. The infinite priesthood of Jesus Christ replaced a human priesthood, to mediate between repentant sinners and God, and now all men might come directly to Him, by faith. The infinite sacrifice on Calvary superseded the animal sacrifices which pointed forward to it, and the worship of God in spirit and in truth replaced the formalism that often characterized worship through types and ceremonies.
Part 1: From Judaism to Christianity
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2:28-29)
The Jews, like Christians in many denominations today, had come to believe that no matter what they did they would always be God's people. The God that they believed in was one who was racially prejudiced. He favoured them because of their race, because they were "Abraham's seed," regardless of how they apostasized and betrayed God's cause. However, while God had promised that "Israel" would never be cast off (Jer. 31:35-37) His definition of Israel changed and this is the thing which until today, the Jews will not recognize and accept. The same is true of many organizations today which pride themselves on being "the true people of God" simply because they were used of God and were faithful to Him in the past. It is not what we were that counts with God, but what we are today.
What did the transition from Judaism to Christianity involve with respect to the chosen people, Jerusalem and the land of Palestine? Matt. 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9. 10; Acts 1:8; Rev. 21: 1, 2.
God's basic plan did not change, but when those who have been called refuse persistently to cooperate, God changes the manner in which He will eventually carry His plan forward to success and the human instruments He will use. The conflict which had been limited largely to Palestine, Spread to all nation's, and people everywhere became involved in the struggle. Now, Instead of a literal nation composed of the literal descendants of Abraham, the chosen people would henceforth be an international body, the church universal, a spiritual "nation" called out of all nations. The world replaced the land of Palestine as the stage for God's efforts in behalf of the human race, and the New Jerusalem in heaven replaced literal Jerusalem as the focal center of the believer's hope. Whereas God sent literal Israel into the land of Palestine and established them there, Christ sent His followers forth to all the world, which in the age to come would be their permanent home.
What did this transition involve with respect to the covenant? Heb.8:6-10.
The nature of man is contrary to the law. Man cannot of himself obey the commandments of God. Therefore, the old Covenant failed, for under it, God's people were a miserable failure. Under the new covenant, God's law is written in our hearts by the holy spirit. Our natures are changed so that we now love and willingly do what was once burdensome and impossible for us.
The only qualification necessary to be one of God's people is trust in Christ and to commit myself wholly to
Part 2: The Sanctuary in Heaven
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. (Hebrews 8:1-2)
"Here is revealed the sanctuary of the new covenant. The sanctuary of the first covenant was pitched by man, built by Moses; this is pitched by the Lord, not by man. In that sanctuary the earthly priests performed their service; in this, Christ, our great high priest, ministers at God's right hand. One sanctuary was on earth, the other is in Heaven." _ The Great Controversy, p.413
What did the transition from Judaism to Christianity involve with respect to the sanctuary and its services? John 4:21; Heb. 8:1, 2; 10:9 (last part).
The earthly sanctuary and its services were designed to represent, on a finite scale, the infinite realities of the plan of salvation. Its services all pointed forward to Christ, first as the sacrificial victim on Calvary, and then as the priestly minister of that sacrifice in heaven above. This earthly representation was imperfect. Nevertheless, God ordained the ancient sanctuary and its services, and through them we are able to understand better Christ's infinite ministry on our behalf.
"Jesus stands before the Father, continually offering a sacrifice for the sins of the world. He is the minister of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. The typical offerings of the Jewish tabernacle no longer possess any virtue. A daily and yearly atonement is no longer necessary. But because of the continual commission of sin, the atoning sacrifice of a heavenly Mediator is essential. Jesus, our great high priest, officiates for us in the presence of God, offering in our behalf His shed blood."-- The Youth's Instructor, April 16, 1903.
What relationship does the sanctuary in heaven sustain to its ancient counterpart on earth? Heb. 8:5; 9:23.
"The sanctuary in heaven, in which Jesus ministers in our behalf, is the great original, of which the sanctuary built by Moses was a copy. God placed His Spirit upon the builders of the earthly sanctuary. .
"The matchless splendor of the earthy tabernacle reflected to human vision the glories of that heavenly temple where Christ our forerunner ministers for us before the throne of God. . . [The earthly copy was] but a faint reflection of its vastness and glory. Yet Important truths concerning the heavenly sanctuary and the great work there carried forward for man's redemption were taught by the earthly sanctuary and its services."" _ The Great Controversy, p.414
While many Christians emphasize only what Christ did at Calvary, those who follow Christ by faith will look to
Part 3: Our Great High Priest
But Christ being come an 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 building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Hebrews 9:11-12)
While the ministration of the levitical priests dealt with the forms and symbols of salvation, they could not in themselves provide salvation. They were intended to be a lesson book from which, as the Israelites participated day by day in the rituals, they could learn the truths of the greater realities to which they pointed, and by faith partake of their benefits. In the life and heavenly ministration of Christ, however, we no longer deal with symbols. It is the reality with which we are involved. Faith has become sight.
Ascending to heaven forty days after the resurrection, upon what phase of His ministry did Christ enter? Heb. 7:25; 9:24; 10:12.
On Calvary Christ fulfilled the role of the sacrificial victim in the ancient sanctuary service, providing the vicarious atonement necessary to reconcile all sinners to God. In heaven above He fulfills the role prefigured by the ministration of the priests in the earthly sanctuary, ministering to us individually the infinite benefits of that one vicarious sacrifice. According to the Epistle to the Hebrews, both aspects of His ministry are essential to our salvation.
How is Christ's priestly ministry in heaven related to His sacrificial ministry on Calvary? Heb. 9:11, 12; 10:12, 14.
A priest must have an offering to present to God on the sinner's behalf. The Saviour provided that sacrifice by His own death on Calvary.
As our great High Priest, what does Christ do for us? What gracious invitation does He extend to us? Heb. 4:16; 7:25; 10:19-22. See also 1 John 2:1.
What does the present work of Christ in heaven mean to me in a practical way? What effect does it have on
Part 4: Christ and Antichrist
(Dan 8:11) Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
Satan cannot interfere directly with Christ's ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, but he has been eminently successful in keeping from men a knowledge of that saving ministry, and thereby has prevented them from benefiting by it. For practical purposes, the effect is the same. Such was the result of the great apostasy that began in the early Christian centuries. The Dark Ages were dark because the light of heaven had been effectively shut out from the minds and hearts of men.
In what other ways does the Bible speak of this same work of the Antichrist in seeking to replace Christ? Dan. 8:11, 25; 11:22. Compare Matt. 2:13, 16; Luke 23:44-46; Rev. 12:4, 7-9.
Throughout His life on earth Satan sought to destroy Jesus. He began from the time of His Infancy, and continued throughout His life seeking to accomplish his goal through several means, including temptation, and by the hands of those who hated Him. But Christ was "caught up unto God, and to His throne" (Rev. 12:5), and Since that time Satan has been unable to touch Him directly. By attacking His work as our High Priest, however, Satan has effective made the life, death resurrection and ministry of Christ of none effect as far as millions of people are concerned, both now and for the greater part of the last two thousand years. Christians today like to speak of the "finished work of Calvary" and speak of "looking to Calvary." This is good. However, we cannot stop there. We need to recognize that the work of Christ on our behalf did not end at Calvary, but that he continues a work in heaven, equally as important as that which He accomplished on the cross. It is this work that the devil has sought to obscure and to some extent has been very successful in accomplishing, by means of the antichrist.
What would the antichrist's policy be with respect to the heavenly sanctuary and its ministration? Dan. 8:11, 13. Compare 1 Tim. 2:5; Eph. 2:8, 9.
By depreciating Christ's sacrifice and priestly ministry and substituting a counterfeit system of its own devising, the Church of Rome has. in effect, profaned the sanctuary in heaven above. She has so effectively deprived millions of people of a knowledge of these fundamental Bible truths, and thus of the benefit of their saving power, that for them the plan devised in heaven has, for practical purposes, ceased to exist.
The gifts and abilities which God gives to men should never lead us to put them in the place of God.
Part 5: Christ's qualifications
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (Heb 2:17-18)
Inside of every man there is the innate desire for better things than this world has to offer. We all somehow have a desire for a relationship with the Almighty. However, because of sin, man finds it very difficult to approach God. The sense of the greatness and holiness of the Creator fills men with a sense of awe and an awareness of his unworthiness. Men, by nature are afraid of God and this creates a barrier which it is very difficult, if not impossible for men to break through. This is the reason why Jesus had to come down to our level in order that He could become our Representative, our Mediator before God. While we find it difficult to relate to a Being who is infinite in power, wisdom, glory and majesty, one who is altogether beyond our comprehension, it is not difficult for us to relate to Jesus, because He was just like us. He sat at our tables, slept on our ground, wept our tears, ate our food, experienced our trials, felt our pain. For this reason, we find it easy to relate to Him, and this is one of the major reasons why God gave Him to us, and why He is eminently qualified to be our High Priest.
How did Christ qualify to serve as our great High Priest? Heb. 4:15; 8:3. Compare Heb. 7:27.
A priest is man's representative before God. As man's intermediary, he must have a sympathetic understanding of those whom he represents, in order to be merciful as well as just. To qualify as our High Priest, Christ became one of us. lived with us, and fought the battle against sin and temptation as we must fight It. He was tempted in all points as we are tempted, yet without sin.
In order for Him to truly pass through our experiences, what critical factor was necessary in the incarnation of Christ? Heb 2:16; Rom 8:3
". . . . It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man's nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life." _ Desire of Ages, p. 48
In Jesus, God has provided a Saviour and a Mediator who is perfectly fitted to the needs of sinful men.
Part 6: Confidence in Christ
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16)
"Though now He has ascended to the presence of God, and shares the throne of the universe, Jesus has lost none of His compassionate nature. Today the same tender, sympathizing heart is open to all the woes of humanity. Today the hand that was pierced is reached forth to bless more abundantly His people that are in the world. . . . . The soul that has given himself to Christ is more precious in His sight than the whole world. The Saviour would have passed through the agony of Calvary that one might be saved in His kingdom. He will never abandon one for whom He has died. Unless His followers choose to leave Him, He will hold them fast." _ Desire of Ages, p. 480
What assurance has Christ given us to comfort us, especially during those times when we are feeling alone, friendless and forsaken? Heb 13:5
"Through all our trials we have a never-failing Helper. He does not leave us alone to struggle with temptation, to battle with evil, and be finally crushed with burdens and sorrow. Though now He is hidden from mortal sight, the ear of faith can hear His voice saying, Fear not; I am with you. "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore." Rev. 1:18. I have endured your sorrows, experienced your struggles, encountered your temptations. I know your tears; I also have wept. The griefs that lie too deep to be breathed into any human ear, I know. Think not that you are desolate and forsaken. Though your pain touch no responsive chord in any heart on earth, look unto Me, and live. "The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." Isa. 54:10. _ Desire of Ages, p. 480-3
What fact assures us of the reality that notwithstanding the great gap between God's holiness and the natural degradation of our human nature, we are accepted by God? Heb 7:25; Rom 8:3
There is nothing in the entire universe as offensive to God as sin. This is what He hates the most. It follows then that the most degraded thing in the universe is a sinner. Such a being is a misfit in a holy universe, a disease which needs to be eradicated, fit only for everlasting destruction. Yet the love of God has found a way, through His only begotten to Son to bridge the gap between Himself and poor hopeless sinners so that we can boldly and confidently claim the gift of eternal life and fellowship with God the Father and His Son.
No matter what we have been or what we have done, when we come to Christ we may be confident that we are fully accepted, in the Beloved, as true Sons of God