Tag Archives: Last days

This generation will not pass away (Matthew 24:1-51)

This is a study of Mathew 24:1-51 verse-by-verse. The context for this chapter is set in Matthew chapter 23:38, “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!“. Hearing Jesus’ warning about the impending destruction and desolation of Israel’s Temple, the disciples are shocked as they ponder the Temple’s magnificence. Leading up to this point, Jesus has been teaching and speaking in Israel’s temple and outer courts in Jerusalem. He has just completed pronouncing seven “woes” of judgment against Israel’s religious leaders (Matthew 23:13). He concluded with a declaration that He was officially abandoning Jerusalem, and the temple to coming judgment (Matthew 23:37–38). Jerusalem has refused to acknowledge Him as the Messiah and receive His protection. So the disciples heard all these things, and they leave, wondering how this whole place, all these big buildings, surrounded with walls, are going to come under judgement?  Starting in verse 1.

Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him (Matthew 24:1)

So as Jesus was coming out of the temple, the disciples came up to Him. Gazing at the temple buildings, they could not make sense how all these great temple buildings will be brought down. As they departing for the Mount of Olives, the disciples remind Jesus of the Temple’s magnificent splendor.

And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” (Matthew 24:2)

And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? All these things refer to the temple, and the holy city of Jerusalem itself.

Not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down. Jesus draws the disciples’ minds to the sobering reality of Jerusalem’s fate. Every magnificent stone will be thrown down.This is talking about the ruin to come upon Jerusalem. After the city was taken by Romans, Jewish historian Josephus, who fell into the hands of Romans at this time, says that Titus (before becoming Emperor, he gained renown as a military commander), “gave orders that they should now “demolish the whole city and temple”. This sad prophecy would come true in AD 70 when the Roman Empire attacked Jerusalem, dismantling the entire temple in the process.2

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3)

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately. The disciples were curious to know more about the destruction to come, so they came to Jesus privately. Jesus and the disciples have now come to Mount of Olives, from which they had a magnificent view of the whole city. The passage that begins with this verse is often called the Olivet Discourse. Christ is sitting on the Mount of Olives as He teaches. 

Tell us, 1) when will these things happen, and 2) what will be the sign of Your coming, and 3) of the end of the age? The apostles ask three questions, but it is clear they believe all of these events will occur at the same time. Though grossly mistaken, they cannot imagine Jerusalem’s being destroyed unless it is accompanied by some kind of catastrophic end of the world. Jesus overlooks the apostles’ misconceptions and goes on to answer their questions by dividing His response into two parts. First, He deals with the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1–35), and then He turns His attention to His second coming (Matthew 24:36–25:46). Some commentators apply the end of the age to refer to the end of the Jewish age culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem. While this is possible, however, Jesus’ response shows the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of history are two different things as we shall see.

And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you” (Matthew 24:4)

So Jesus begins to answer the first question regarding the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus cautions the disciples to beware of deception. They were to be constantly on their guard, because many would arise to deceive the people.

For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many (Mathew 24:5).

Many would lay claims to being the Messiah. Josephus (the Jewish historian) informs us that there were many who pretended to have divine inspiration; who deceived the people, leading out numbers of them into the desert.2This is the first sign, preceding the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem.

You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end (Matthew 24:6).

The forty years that intervened before the destruction of Jerusalem were full of these commotions in all directions. Four Roman emperors, Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, suffered violent deaths in the short space of eighteen months. In consequence of these changes in the government, there were commotions throughout the empire. Be not be alarmed when you hear of those commotions. The end of the Jewish economy; the destruction of Jerusalem will not immediately follow with these commotions, because the end of it is not yet.  

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes (Matthew 24:7)

For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. At Caesarea the Jews and Syrians fought about the right to the city, and twenty thousand of the Jews were slain. Italy was also thrown into civil war by the contests between Otho and Vitellius for the crown. 

Various places there will be famine. There was a famine foretold by Agabus (Acts 11:28), which is mentioned by historians Tacitus, Suetonius, and Eusebius. It was so severe in Jerusalem, Josephus says, that many people perished for want of food. Four times in the reign of Claudius (41-54 a.d.) famines prevailed in Rome, Palestine, and Greece.2

Earthquakes. In prophetic language, earthquakes sometimes mean political commotions. Tacitus mentions of an earthquake in the reign of Claudius, at Rome, and says that in the reign of Nero, the cities of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse were overthrown, and the celebrated Pompeii was overwhelmed and almost destroyed by an earthquake.

But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs (Mathew 24:8)

This is a metaphor. A woman having birth pains, or contractions, may still be far from delivering the baby. Those pains contribute to the eventual time of birth (new age to come), but they don’t mean the child has actually arrived.

Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name (Mathew 24:9)

They will deliver you to tribulation. From the calamities of the Jewish nation in general, afflictions will also come upon Christians in particular. 

Will kill you. Stephen was stoned (Acts 7:59); James was killed by Herod (Acts 12:2); and, in addition to all that the sacred writers have told us, the persecution under Nero took place before the destruction of Jerusalem, in which were put to death, with many others, Peter and Paul. Most of the apostles, it is believed, died by persecution.

Hated by all nations because of My name. The Romans seem to have placed Jews and Christians in the same category, and to have bestowed on Christians the hatred felt for the Jews.

At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another (Mathew 24:10)

Many will fall away. The words point primarily to those who were believers in Christ, and abandoned the faith, either due to persecution or in rejecting the new aspects of new covenant truth presented by the apostles, or due to the delayed coming of the Lord.

Betray one another and hate one another. The apostates, who would fall off from the Christian faith, would prove treacherous to true believers, and give in their names to the persecutors. Bitter hatred of the Judaisers against Paul, and Christians are evidence of this.

Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many (Mathew 24:11)

The later writings of the New Testament bear repeated testimony to this feature of the ten years that came before the destruction of Jerusalem. John speaks of false prophets (1 John 4:1), and many antichrists (1 John 2:18) already existing at that time. 

Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. (Mathew 24:12)

No word could more fitly represent the condition of Judea in the time just referred to: brigandage, massacres, extortion, assassination, came to be common things. Prevalence of evil within the Christian community will have the effect of cooling the brotherly love of the majority of its members. 

But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved (Mathew 24:13)

Christians shall patiently bear all afflictions, to the end of his life, or to the end of sorrows. Patience and perseverance shall be crowned at the last day. “The end” here means primarily the destruction of Jerusalem, and the salvation promised is safety in that day of peril. It is believed that no Christians perished in the siege. It is a historical fact that Cestius Gallus, the Roman general, for some unknown reason, suspended the siege against Jerusalem, ceased the attack and withdrew his armies for an interval of time after the Romans had occupied the Temple, thus giving every believer the opportunity to obey the Lord’s instruction to flee the city. Josephus, the eyewitness, himself an unbeliever, chronicles this fact, and admitted his inability to account for the cessation of the fighting at this time after a siege had begun.2

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Mathew 24:14)

This gospel of the kingdom. The good news of the coming of Messiah’s kingdom. The gospel is the same gospel as you find in Paul. It is what God has ordained through his eternal Son, to pay the price of sin, to take on the effects of the curse, to release his people, to gather and transform men and women from every tongue and tribe and nation. It is the good news. It is the gospel, the life-changing focus on who Christ is and what he has done. That is the gospel.

Shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations. By the “whole world” means the then known world. The faith of the Christians in Romans was spoken of throughout the whole world even during the first century. “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8). When the Jews rejected the Gospel from them, the apostles turned to the Gentiles; and before the destruction of Jerusalem, it was preached to all the nations under the visible heavens. Thus, Paul declares that it was preached to every creature “under heaven” (Colossians 1:6, Colossians 1:23)

Then the end will come. Not the end of the world but the end of the temple and city will come.

Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand) (Mathew 24:15)

When you see the abomination of desolation. Abomination of Desolation is literally, the abomination that causes desolation. In the Old Testament, “abomination” is an object of disgust, something that causes revulsion; an idolatrous offense or affront to the true worship of God. The Abomination of Desolation is referred to four times in Daniel 8:13; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11, which was fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes (a Syrian king), who slaughtered 40,000 Jews and plundered the temple in 168 b.c. He sacrificed a pig on the altar of burnt offering, sprinkled broth from the unclean flesh all over the holy grounds as an act of deliberate defilement. He then erected an image of Zeus above the altar. It was a sacrilege of indescribable proportions indelibly imprinted on the minds of the Jews in Jesus’ day.

Which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand). Jesus envisioned something of a repeat performance in his day of what happened in 168 b.c. under Antiochus. When he says “let the reader understand” he means “let the reader of the Old Testament book of Daniel understand” the true meaning and fulfillment of the coming Abomination of Desolation standing in the holy place, the holy city and the temple in Jerusalem. The pagan Roman armies surrounding the holy places, the holy city is the abomination that causes [Jerusalem’s] desolation. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.” (Luke 21:20).

Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains (Mathew 24:16)

“Judea” includes not only Jerusalem but also the surrounding province that will be most eminently affected by the cataclysmic events of Rome’s onslaught. The term “mountains” is a general phrase and probably refers to any of the nearby hills or mountains within reasonable traveling distance. The third century historian Eusebius also suggests many Christians fled to Pella, a city beyond the Jordan in the region of Perea, about seventeen miles from the Sea of Galilee.

Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house (Mathew 24:17)

Jesus says when Christians see the fateful hour upon them, they are not to come down from their housetops to take anything from within. Haste is the issue. Believers are not to worry about their material possessions nor to sort through their belongings so as to decide which “stuff” they will drag from the city. 

Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak (Mathew 24:18) 

Manual labor in the fields just outside the city gates is hot, sweaty work. Thus, the “outer garment” is often laid aside or perhaps even left at home in the city. If one in the field notices the “signal” for flight to safety, he is not to return to retrieve his clothing. He is to flee immediately without regard for his material possessions. 

But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! (Mathew 24:19) 

Travel under the best conditions will be difficult given the haste. But Jesus says it will be even more difficult for expectant and nursing mothers. For them, travel will be slow and difficult, and no doubt beset by inadequate shelter and provisions. For this group it is a time of “woe.” Unlike Matthew 23:13 (woe to you, scribes and Pharisees), Jesus uses the term here to express His deepest compassion and empathy.

But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. (Mathew 24:19) 

Pray. Jesus tells His disciples to “pray.” They are to entreat God that He will make this traumatic time as easy as possible. Even though believers are innocent of the crimes of Israel and the rejection of the Messiah that brings this doom to their city, they are not exempt from its terrible effects.

That your flight will not be in the winter. In Palestine during the winter, roads were practically impassible because of mud; harsh weather and cold temperatures would also slow down one’s journey and make mountain hideaways unbearable.

Or on a Sabbath. On the Sabbath, gates would be closed; it would be difficult to obtain provisions (Jews prohibited anything more than a one-day’s journey on the Sabbath); buying and selling were not permitted; one travelling on a Sabbath would receive no assistance from the Jewish populace. The Puritans (the English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries), and present day Seventh day/First day Sabbatarians refer to this statement as an indirect argument in favour of continued Sabbath observance. Note that this warning was given “to those who are in Judea” (verse 16), not to disciples in other parts of the world. Jesus gave the warning here because he knew that the Jews would not allow the kind of escape in troubling times on the Sabbath. His warning was not a command to rest on the Sabbath any more than it was a command to rest in winter. These were simply inconvenient times to flee. Even a gentile Christian congregation not observing the Sabbath would be exposed to hardship and danger if its people attempted to flee on that day in a Jewish environment, in Judea.

For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will (Mathew 24:21) 

For then there will be a great tribulation. The afflictions which befell the Jews can be classified as great tribulations. Joshephus writes: “The greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations . . . it appears to me that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to those of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were“.

Such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Many insist that this “great tribulation” cannot refer to the events of 70 a.d. because worse and more severe tribulations have since followed (World War II and the Holocaust, Stalin, etc.). Once one grasps the dimensions of what occurred in 70 a.d., one realizes that the savagery, cruelty, and the monstrosities that occurred were beyond comparison. Also, never so high a percentage of one city’s population was destroyed. Everyone was either killed or sold into slavery. As noted earlier, approximations are that 1,100,000 people were killed and 100,000 were enslaved. “Such as has not occurred…nor ever will” is language framed in terms of prophetic hyperbole, a common apocalyptic device used by the writers of Scripture. For Example: “There shall be a great cry in all the land of Egyptsuch as there has not been before and such as shall never be again” (Exod. 11:6).

Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short (Matthew 24:22) 

Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved. Jesus notes that unless God shows His mercy, none from the nation of Israel will be saved. The term “no flesh” refers to the physical nation of Israel and her physical salvation from the Romans. 

But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Christians will be caught in the crossfire. For the sake of the elect, meaning Christians, however, the onslaught will be divinely curtailed. Historians note that if Rome’s siege had continued much longer, the entire Jewish race would have been destroyed.

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him (Matthew 24:23)  

Jesus says, don’t look for the second coming of Christ in the chaotic events surrounding Jerusalem’s fall. Such troublesome times would prove to be a golden opportunity for false prophets to lead people astray with false expectations of Christ’s appearance. Hence, Christ warns His disciples, that they are not to follow any imposter back into the doomed city of Jerusalem.

For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24)  

Christ’s apostles are to expect charlatans to arise and attempt to deceive believers with “signs and wonders.” Josephus gives anecdotal evidence for unusual occurrences about this time: a star resembling a sword that stands over the city and a great light that appears for a half hour around the Temple. Just as “false prophets” in the Old Testament are those who offer “alternative doctrines” or “false hope” in the face of doom, so these “false prophets” will do the same during Jerusalem’s final hours, even to mislead the elect – the Christians.

Behold, I have told you in advance.  So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them (Matthew 24:25-26)

Behold, I have told you in advance. The reason why he told them in advance of all these things was that they might be on their guard, and be prepared for those calamities.

So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms. Some might say the “Christ” has finally arrived to save Israel and He is hiding in the wilderness or in some secret room in the besieged city. Jesus wants His disciples to remember that He has already presented Himself to Israel as the true Messiah. Josephus actually records several instances of impostors who enticed people into the desert and elsewhere with promises of the Messiah’s appearance.2

For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Mathew 24:27)  

The coming of the Son of Man here is not the second coming of Christ, but His “coming” in judgment that appears like a destructive lightning bolt against Jerusalem. The direction of this judgment from the east may reflect the Roman armies marching toward Jerusalem from an easterly direction. Josephus’s record of the march of the Roman armies through Israel approaching from the east. Or it may mean that His judgment will come in a rapid and unexpected manner, like the lightning comes from eastward and flashes even westward, that those who witness it will not miss it. It is not a secret event.2

Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather (Mathew 24:28)  

The meaning here is that the Son of Man will bring judgment on Jerusalem, by means of the Roman armies. In the Old Testament, to give someone’s flesh to be eaten by the birds was an expression of total defeat and their being put to shame. “And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air.” (1 Sam. 17:46-47). Vultures easily ascertain where dead bodies are and hasten to devour them. With the Roman army approaching, Jerusalem was like a dead and putrid corpse. Hence, the disciples are not to expect any “Messiah,” not even Jesus, to appear personally and save Jerusalem.

But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken  (Mathew 24:29)  

But immediately after the tribulation of those days. The tribulation of which Jesus speaks is the same sufferings described previously, those that Rome will visit upon the Jewish nation (Matthew 24:19–22).

The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. In the Old Testament, such language was used to portray not what is going on in the heavens but what is happening on the earth. Natural disasters, political upheaval, turmoil among the nations, etc., are often described figuratively through the terminology of cosmic disturbances. In Isaiah 13:9-10 we read of the impending judgment of God on Babylon, which he describes in this way: “The stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light (Isaiah 13:9-10)”.

And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Mathew 24:30) 

And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky [heaven]. Jesus was not telling his disciples that He would appear in the sky. Rather, He told them that they would see a sign concerning “the Son of Man”. A sign, sēmeion in the Greek, is a symbol pointing to some reality. What is meant here is that the Son of man will give a proof of himself, whom Jews did not acknowledge: as proof, not in any visible appearance, but in judgment so visible from heaven, such that those who rejected Him shall be forced to acknowledge He is the resurrected Messiah, who is reigning in heaven.

Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn. The word translated “tribes” (phule) has the tribes of Israel in view. The Greek noun translated “earth” (ge) can refer generally to the tangible ground, the whole earth, or more specifically to a particular land area. In context, the land of Israel, i.e., Palestine (Mathew 2:20) is in view here. Hence, all the “tribes or people” of the land of Judea shall mourn at the great calamities coming upon them, and this is the proof that they rejected Him, and He has come in judgment upon them.

They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. This “coming” is not a visible, physical appearance by which Jesus returns to earth (although that will most assuredly occur at the end of history). Rather, the generation living at this time will “see” the Son of Man coming in judgement. Those who have refused to accept Him as King and Savior did indeed “see” Him come on the “clouds” of judgement. Coming in clouds represents God coming to earth in judgement. Isaiah 19:1 says, “Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.” Obviously, the Egyptians did not see the Lord in a personal, visible way, but in powerful judgment. Psalms 97:2-3 says, “Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about.” Power and great glory is manifested when the Lord comes on “clouds” of judgement.

And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other (Mathew 24:31)

And He will send forth His angels. Angels (aggelos in Greek) signify “messengers” such as found in Luke 7:24 or Luke 9:52. “After John’s messengers (aggelos) left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John” (Luke 7:24). This is a reference to human messengers such as the apostles, and their successors in the Christian ministry, that God will send.

With a great trumpet. The Jewish assemblies used to be called together by the sound of a trumpet. “Make yourself two trumpets of silver, of hammered work you shall make them; and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for having the camps set out” (Numbers 10:2). Here, Jesus, uses language familiar to the Jews, and describes the gathering together of His people, by alluding to a sounding of the gospel trumpet, by sending His messengers. Isaiah 27:13: “It will come about also on that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13).

They will gather together His elect. Elect means Christians. The chosen of God. God shall send forth his messengers, with the trumpet of the gospel – whatever he chooses: human messengers, or the angels themselves – and gather Christians into a place of safety, so that they shall not be destroyed with the Jews. Thus, Jesus is depicting a time when His disciples, His messengers, will go into the visible world, preach the gospel, and gather the “elect” into the church (Mathew 28:18–19). The “gathering together” of God’s elect here is not a reference to the end-time harvest but “to the world-wide growth of the church” that increased exponentially after the destruction of the temple and has been on-going since then to this present age. It is true that angels, trumpets, and the gathering of God’s elect shall be part of the final end (that is the Second Coming of Christ) is beyond question (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). But the context of these verses points to the destruction of Jerusalem.

From the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. The phrase ‘from one end of the sky to the other’ does not indicate that the place of the action is in the sky (or heaven) above. The phrase often signifies nothing more than from the uttermost parts of the earth to the uttermost parts of heaven or “horizon to horizon”. “If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee (Deuteronomy 30:4). Likewise Isaiah 45:22 says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Hence, this verse has no reference to Christ’s second coming but is prophetic of the time when salvation will be extended beyond the borders of Israel to outermost parts of the earth.  In Luke 13:29, Jesus said, “And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” Bringing together people from the four winds by God’s messengers is to show that the gospel dispensation will become universal in scope due to the fall of Judaism in A.D. 70.

“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near (Mathew 24:32)

Now learn the parable from the fig tree. Jesus says consider the fig tree. Because this discourse is given while Jesus is sitting on the Mount of Olives near the village of Bethphage (house of figs), the fig tree is appropriate to the illustration.

When its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves you know that summer is near. Just as a budding tree signals the nearness of summer’s warmth, the things Jesus predicts signal the heat of God’s judgement upon Jerusalem.

So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door (Matthew 24:33)

When you see all these things. “All these things” refers to all the things about which Jesus has warned so far: false Christs, wars, rumors of wars, famine, pestilence, earthquake, etc. It encompasses all that is connected with the fall of Jerusalem. It encompasses everything from verse 4-31.

Recognize that He is near, right at the door. When Christians see “all these things” coming to pass, they will know “it” is near.

Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place (Mathew 24:34)

“This generation” is the immediate generation under the sound of Jesus’ voice. Every event regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, the Roman atrocities toward the Jews, abomination of desolation, coming of the Son of Man in judgment, gathering of the elect by God’s messengers, and the advancement of God’s kingdom to the uttermost part of the then known world are to be fulfilled within forty years from the time Jesus spoke these things. Forty years is the time span generally used to mark a generation in Jewish thought.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away (Matthew 24:35)

Although to the human mind nothing seems more stable than heaven and earth, Jesus says His words are more sure. ‘By heaven and earth will pass away’ also may refer to the imminent end to the social, religious and economic structure of Israel’s covenant relationship with God. Based on Jewish understanding, the temple was far more than the point at which heaven and earth met. Rather, it was thought to correspond to, represent, or, in some sense, to be ‘heaven and earth’ in its totality. 

With this verse Jesus ends His discourse on the destruction of Jerusalem. In minute detail, He has answered the first question asked in verse 3, “When shall these things be?” In the next section, Jesus will turn His attention to events for which there will be no specific signs. Unlike the terror that is soon to befall Jerusalem, the end of time will come with no warning. In fact Jesus tells His disciples that of “that day and hour” no man can predict.

Remember, the question the disciples had asked Jesus back in verse 3 was a) When will “these things” be, i.e., the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple? b) When will you return and consummate the age? The disciples thought the two events would be simultaneous. Jesus says, “No, the destruction of Jerusalem will be in your lifetime, in your generation. I’ll even give you signs that will warn you of its nearness. But the day of my second coming will not be preceded by specific signs. It will come only after a period of delay of undetermined duration. Everyone of this present generation will be aware of when Jerusalem will fall, but no one knows the day or hour when the second coming will occur. Continuing from verse 36.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone (Mathew 24:36)

But. The use of the word “but” implies a contrast between verse 36 and what has previously been said. Our Lord is clearly moving from the subject of Jerusalem and its temple to that of his second coming.

That day and hour no one knows. In the first half of the sermon, Jesus gave specifics concerning events preceding and leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem; he gave instructions on how to escape; he even gave them one sign (abomination of desolation) in particular that would unmistakably indicate the imminence of the city’s fall. But now, in response to the second half of their question, he says: “No human knows or can know” the day and hour of His second coming.

Not even the angels of heaven. Even angels cannot reveal it.

Nor the Son but the Father alone. Jesus is not saying that He’s ignorant of the hour of His second coming, but rather, He simply will not reveal it neither will the angels, who generally announces God’s plans. The Greek word “eido” which is translated as ‘know’, can be translated as “cannot tell” or will not reveal. In the ancient Jewish wedding custom, the groom’s father arranges the wedding. During a period of betrothal, the groom prepares a bridal chamber at his father’s house while the bride waits at her house. It is only when the groom’s father is satisfied with his son’s preparations that he gives his permission to his son to go and get the bride, and bring her to the bridal chamber. With this custom, Jesus is saying that He cannot reveal it, neither can angels, because according to the wedding protocol, it is reserved for the Father only to announce that the preparations of his son are complete, and the time for the wedding has come.

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37)

Jesus now takes His disciples’ minds back to the familiar account of Noah (Genesis 6-9). In so doing, He establishes the veracity and historicity of the biblical account of the flood. 

For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark (Mathew 24:38)

All seems normal before the flood. People go about their daily activities of eating, drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage. The people conduct their daily lives as if no judgment will come, as if Noah is a crazy man, and as if they will live forever. 

And they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:39)

Those of Noah’s day heard and understood the warning, but they did not believe God was serious. “Took them away” refers to the wicked of Noah’s day. It is not “Noah and his family” who are taken from the earth but rather those who refuse to heed his preaching. This point is vital in understanding the next two verses. Those “taken away” in the following verses are the wicked, not the righteous.

Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. (Mathew 24:40-41)

Jesus here gives two examples of activities of daily living. One picture is of two farm workers tending crops in the field. The other picture is of two women, one on each side of a grinding wheel, preparing flour from grain. While people may be intimately connected by their jobs and daily activities in this life (that is, in the field, at the mill), judgment will find each on his own. The second coming will come so suddenly that no last minute preparation will be possible. The wicked will be taken away to meet their doom just as the flood took the wicked of the then known world.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming (Mathew 24:42)

Because there will be no harbinger for Jesus’ second coming, He enjoins vigilance. The Greek word “watch” (gregoreite) means more than simply looking at something. It means to be awake, to be on guard as a soldier assigned to a night watch. The three parables that follow masterfully illustrate this point.

But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. (Mathew 24:43-44) 

On a moral level Jesus has nothing in common with a thief. Yet the illustration is appropriate because just as the thief gives no advance warning so Jesus’ coming will be unannounced. The only way a homeowner can rest assured is to be on guard constantly.

 “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? (Mathew 24:45)

The faithful and wise servant is the one who is vigilant. This man is just a servant, but he has been given great responsibilities as well. So, the picture is not merely that of a steward over material goods but one who is in charge of other servants as well. 

Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions (Mathew 24:46-47)

God did not design man to be idle either physically or spiritually. Work is necessary in both the temporal and spiritual realms. Those whom the Lord will reward are those who are vigilant and who are diligent in the work of the Lord. Moreover Jesus will promote them to positions of greater responsibility in the kingdom that He will establish after His second coming in the new heavens and new earth that He will create.

But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards (Mathew 24:48-49)

Jesus raises the possibility that the same servant who has the potential for faithfulness has the same for being a scoundrel. The choice is up to the servant, and what he chooses to do in his lord’s absence is up to him. In this case, the same servant abandons goodness and follows the evil that apparently is in his heart all along. He begins to carouse at the master’s expense instead of keeping the household in order and exercising a prudent economy. He seemingly forgets that someday there will come a day of reckoning.

The master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know (Mathew 24:50)

Jesus says, “at an hour which he does not know.” This statement is further proof that Jesus’ second coming will not be accompanied by specific warning signs. Therefore, constant preparedness is vital. Every day must be lived as if it were the day of the Lord’s return. 

And will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:51)

Jesus may be using hyperbole because He goes on to say this evil servant will have his portion with the hypocrites and will be cast in a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Presumably then he will still be alive. Some scholars believe “cut him in pieces” refers to severe scourging or perhaps to mutilation of some other sort. Whatever the case, the meaning is that this wicked servant will experience the most excruciating punishment. What awaits this wicked servant is “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46).

Final thoughts: It may well be that future events associated with the second advent of Christ at the end of the age are prefigured by the destruction of the temple and the city in 70 a.d. The mistake that many make, however, is in trying to project the historical details of 70 a.d. into a comparable and proportionate conflagration in literal, historical Jerusalem at the end of the age. They fail to realize that the events of 70 a.d. are a prototype on a microcosmic scale of what will occur on a macrocosmic scale when Jesus returns.

Referenced & Adapted:

  1. Storms, Sam. (MATTHEW 24 AND THE OLIVET DISCOURSE: https://www.samstorms.org/all-articles/post/matthew-24-and-the-olivet-discourse—part-i).

2. Study light commentary. (MATTHEW 24: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/matthew/24.html

Truth About the Sanctuary Truth

SDAs teach that, “What was done in type in the ministration of the earthly sanctuary is done in reality in the ministration of the heavenly sanctuary(GC420)”. Does Jesus’s ministry in heaven follow the pattern of the Old Covenant Sanctuary ministry? Does such a belief withstand biblical investigation and testimonies from the word of God? The purpose of this section is to review the sanctuary doctrine of the SDA church.

1. Earthly sanctuary is a “shadow” of the heavenly, not a duplicate

Nearly 2,500 years after Adam, Moses was shown “an example and shadow” (Heb 8:5) of the heavenly things to teach an object lesson to the Israelites. What Moses was shown was not an exact duplicate of the heavenly sanctuary itself. According to the blueprint given to Moses, they were to make ten curtains of “fine twined linen,” each one four by twenty-eight cubits; and eleven curtains of goat’s hair, each four by thirty cubits; and then a covering of “rams’ skins dyed red;” and another covering of badgers’ skins.  In front of the tabernacle was to be placed the altar of burnt offerings with its grate, shovel, tongs etc. What Bible student will contend for a moment that in heaven there is a structure made of wooden boards overlaid with gold, held together with bars and covered with red goats’ skins and badger pelts? If the layer and the altar of burnt offerings were not patterns of things in the heavens, then what right has any one to contend that any of the furniture or service was an exact duplicate of the heavenly?

2. Do SDAs truthfully teach that Jesus is following the Old Testament Sanctuary pattern in Heaven?

If Jesus is following the pattern of the earthly sanctuary, then it should be obvious from the New Testament Scriptures, and the teachings of the SDAs. However, Seventh-day Adventists are really not that seriously interested in teaching pattern-fulfillment except when it involves their own view of the Day of Atonement. Notice the following:

  • The earthly sanctuary, which was a shadow of the heavenly, places the ark or throne of God in the holy of holies, or second apartment, while the priest was ministering in the first apartment. Guess where SDA’s place it? SDA’s place the throne of God in the first apartment while Jesus was apparently ministering in that same apartment before 1844, in violation of the type.
  • The earthly sanctuary represents the high priest as going from the court where the Lord’s goat was slain directly into the holy of holies, on the day of atonement. SDAs teach that Christ went from his ministry in the first apartment, and not from the earth where he died, into the holy of holies on the day of atonement which they begin in 1844.
  • The earthly sanctuary sends the high priest directly through the first apartment into the holy of holies as soon as he has in his hands the blood of the Lord’s goat, or the blood that pays the penalty of sin. SDA’s view stops our great High Priest in the first apartment when he has his own blood which paid the penalty of sin.
  • In the Old Covenant sanctuary, the Bible says that the entire sanctuary was cleansed on the Day of Atonement and not merely the Most Holy Place (Leviticus 16:20). Yet in the Adventist sequence, Jesus (at least) ministered in the Holy Place until 1844. This would have required that the Holy Place be cleansed first long before 1844. SDA to fit their theology only cleanses the Most Holy Place in violation of the pattern.

The above facts are plain enough to show that SDAs do not live up to their claim that, what was done in type in the ministration of the earthly sanctuary is done in reality in the ministration of the heavenly sanctuary. They will only speak of pattern-fulfilment when it suits their view of atonement.

3. Jesus is not a Levitical priest who follows the earthly pattern

Now if what is done in type is done in realty, then we can expect Jesus to do things like Aaron did, like a Levitical priest. If we think of Jesus as the anti-typical high priest doing the ongoing work of the anti-typical “Day of Atonement” during the investigative judgment, we then have no trouble believing that Jesus is following the earthly pattern just like the Levitical priesthood. However, instead of following the Old Covenant pattern of Levitical priesthood, Jesus “descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests” (Hebrews 7:14). In fact, regarding Christ’s ministry in heaven, the book Hebrews teaches “pattern-dissolution,” not “pattern-fulfillment”. Christ was out of Judah “who has come, not according to a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an endless life” (Hebrews 7:16), meaning that His ministry is not patterned according to the Old covenant law. While the Bible is clear that Jesus is not a Levitical priest, Adventism shows us that He is. Because there was a change of priesthood, “there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” (Hebrews 7:12). Christ coming from an entirely different priesthood and serving under an entirely different law, cannot be confined or limited to the Levitical law governing the priesthood. At the crucifixion of Christ, the Levitical priesthood came to an end and the law governing the priesthood ceased to operate. Then why should anyone insist on explaining the priesthood of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary be after the pattern of the Levitical priesthood which not only ceased to have authority, but even the law governing that priesthood became inoperative?

4. SDA assumptions

The whole system of SDA sanctuary doctrine rests on the false supposition and assumption that the confessed sins of God’s people were carried into the first apartment of the sanctuary in the blood and sprinkled before or on the vail, thus defiling the sanctuary, and consequently requiring a service of cleansing on the day of atonement. Essentially, the SDAs teach that the blood from “daily” sacrifices defiles the sanctuary, whilst the blood of the sacrifice, pertaining to the yearly Day of Atonement, cleanses the sanctuary. Let’s see if the Bible teaches such a teaching.

5. Only sins of ignorance when it is remembered were confessed

The book of Leviticus makes it clear that (normally) only “sins of ignorance” or unintentional non-high-handed sins committed accidentally (when remembered) could be atoned through individual confession and sacrifice. In other words, only general and accidental sins were daily confessed in the sanctuary.

  • If a person shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD…( Lev. 4:2)
  • When a ruler has sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD ….( Lev 4:12)
  • And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty (Lev. 4:13)
  • Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcass of an unclean beast, or a carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty (Lev. 5:2)

The only kinds of sins which were brought to the sanctuary for atonement were: sins of ignorance committed either inadvertently or accidentally (Lev. 4-5; Num. 15); sins of omission where one failed to do what was right (Lev. 6); theft requiring restitution (Lev. 6); sins of obligation where one was forced into defilement such as touching a dead relative (Lev. 11); leprosy (Lev. 13-15); other minor trespasses against God’s standards of holiness (Lev. 19), and jealousy over suspected marital infidelity (Num. 5). This discussion of what kinds of sins were actually brought to the sanctuary is not found in the Adventist sanctuary doctrine.

6. Not Presumptuous sins

Presumptuous, pre-meditated, intentional, willful sins could not be atoned by daily sacrifices. Premeditated (willful, deliberate, high-handed) sins were NOT brought to the sanctuary for atonement under the statutes and ordinances of the Law because pre-meditated sins could not be atoned by daily personal sacrifices, but the guilt had to be borne by the sinner.

“But the person that does anything presumptuously [defiantly], whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproaches the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. [Note that no sacrifice was prescribed.]. Numb. 15:31 Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken his commandment, that person shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him”(Numb. 15:30)

When a serious high-handed deliberate sin had been committed, death, or cutting off, was often the penalty, or consequence. The judges declared a “life for life, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” No sacrifice was acceptable! Death not a sacrifice was the punishment for idolatry (Ex. 22:20), blaspheme of God’s name (Lev. 24:16); adultery (Lev. 20:10), incest (Lev. 20:11), homosexuality (Lev. 20:13), working on the Sabbath Day (Ex. 31:14); cursing parents (Lev. 20:9), child sacrifice (Lev. 20:2), sex with animals (Lev. 20:15) and witchcraft (Ex. 22:18). The guilty persons “bore their own iniquity.” See Numb. 5:31; 30:15 ; Eze. 18:20.

Unlike the old covenant, however, the new covenant takes care of presumptuous and willful sins as explained in Acts 13:39. Our practice of confessing and receiving forgiveness of all sins (high-handed, deliberate, willful, general and accidental) does not follow the Old Covenant sanctuary pattern at all. Yet the book of Leviticus makes it clear that (normally) only unintentional non-high-handed sins committed accidentally or in ignorance could be atoned through individual confession and sacrifice. Where another’s property was involved, confession required restitution plus an offering (Lev. 5:16; 6:4-5). Therefore, when Seventh-day Adventists include confessed and forgiven deliberate sins among those which (they say) defile the most holy place during the daily ministration of the sanctuary service (Old and New Covenant) they blatantly misunderstand and misrepresents the nature of the sins involved.

Again, no presumptuous, premeditated, high-handed sin was ever brought to the sanctuary for sacrifice and atonement. Since those sins were punished instead of forgiven, they would not be entered into the books of heaven. How did they get to heaven? Why does not SDA theology explain where these sins are in their Investigative Judgment scenario?

7. Sacrificial Blood carried no sin, but was the proof of payment for sin

Here’s a verse-by-verse explanation of the daily Jewish sanctuary service from Leviticus 4:16-20

And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord: and the bullock shall be killed before the Lord (Leviticus 4:15)

And the elders of the congregation. In this situation, as the whole congregation could not lay their hands on the victim, their representatives (elders) had to perform this act. Besides this sin offering there was only one other congregational offering upon which there was this laying of hands: i.e., the scape-goat (Leviticus 16:21) ritual on the day of atonement.

Lay their hands upon the head of the bullock. Laying hands represented confession of sins, transferring guilt and identifying with the sacrifice as their substitute. The bullock shall be killed in the court near the altar of burnt offering, either by a priest, or Levite, or by a butcher.

And the priest that is anointed shall bring of the bullock’s blood to the tabernacle of the congregation (Leviticus 4:16)

The appointed priest brings the bullock’s blood to the tabernacle of the congregation. The blood of the sacrifice represented the substituted sinless life of Jesus which effected the atonement. Sinless blood paid the price for sin.

And the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, even before the vail (Leviticus 4:17)

Dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it. The blood was not to be poured out there but sprinkled only. The cleansing virtue of the blood of Christ was sufficiently represented by sprinkling. Moses “sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry, and almost all things are by the law purged [cleansed] with blood.

The blood did not transport any sins into the sanctuary, nor did it defile the sanctuary as SDAs teach. The blood was brought inside the sanctuary not to defile it, but as a proof (receipt of payment rendered) that the redemption price had already been fully paid, and to symbolize that “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Once again, see what sprinkling of blood does. “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh” (Hebrews 9:13). Sacrificial blood is the redemption price for sin (Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:12). Redemption blood brings the sinner “near” to God by reconciliation—not by defiling God’s dwelling place (Eph. 2:13). God could not declare “peace through the blood” if that same blood had separated him from God by defiling his throne (Col. 1:20).

Sprinkle it seven times before the Lord. Seven is a number of perfection, so this signified the perfect satisfaction the blood made on behalf of the sinner, and the complete cleansing of the souls of the faithful by it. By the way, there is absolutely no difference between the sin offering of the Day of Atonement and the sin offering on other days. “And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it [the whole sanctuary] with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel (Leviticus 16:19). Blood always cleanses the sinner, never defiles the sanctuary. The priest announces to the penitent that “an atonement for him before the LORD” had been made and that he was “forgiven” of his “trespass” (Lev. 4:20; 5:6; 6:7).

“And he shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the Lord, that is in the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall pour out all the blood at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation (Leviticus 4:18)

In the case of sin of the high priest (4:1-12) or of the whole nation (13-21), some blood from the sacrifice was poured out on the altar of burnt offerings, and some was taken into the Holy Place, where it was sprinkled in front of the veil and placed on the horns of the altar of incense. This was to show that approach to God, previously hindered through sin, was possible again, because atonement had been made. Once again, the blood is a “cleansing” agent. Atoned sins did not defile or transfer sin into the sanctuary.  This is an SDA assumption without support in the Bible. SDAs had to invent this idea to support their investigative judgement doctrine.

And he shall take all his fat from him, and burn it upon the altar. (Leviticus 4:19)

The fat was the only part of the animal which was offered on the altar; for the carcass, it was carried outside the camp, into the place where the ashes were deposited, and there consumed with fire (Lev. 4:21). When people saw this being done, people knew that the ritual was over: sin had been judged,  and fellowship with God was restored.

And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them” (Leviticus 4:20)

By the way burnt offerings, cereal offerings and peace offerings were not compulsory; people made them voluntarily to express their devotion. The sin offering, however, was compulsory whenever people realized they had committed some (accidental) sin that broke their fellowship with God. In the other offerings there was an element of atonement (for sin affects everything that people do), but in the sin offering, atonement was the central issue. Continuing from verse 20:

Priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. When the sin offering is completed, it is said, atonement is made, and the sin shall be forgiven. This formula recurs with all the sin-offerings (with the exception of the one for the high priest). See: Leviticus 4:26, Leviticus 4:31, Leviticus 4:35, Leviticus 5:10, Leviticus 5:13; Numbers 15:25-26, Numbers 15:28; also, with the trespass-offerings, Leviticus 5:16, Leviticus 5:18; Leviticus 19:22.

Sin offerings in the daily sanctuary service presented for defilements “cleansed” (taher) the sinner as the effect of the atoning sacrifice (Leviticus 12:7-8; Leviticus 13:20, Leviticus 13:53; Numbers 8:21). Taher is the word used for “cleanse”, which is the same word used on the day of atonement ritual (Leviticus 16:19).

“And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed (taher) from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering (Leviticus 14:19)

SDA’s have neglected the everyday cleansing atonements in the daily sanctuary service. Forms of “cleanse”, or the Hebrew word taher (used on the day of atonement ritual), are extremely common, occurring in descriptions of the everyday sanctuary routines over 60 times in Leviticus alone.

Summary: When the sacrifice died as a sin offering at the entrance of the sanctuary, the payment for the confessed sin was complete. The priest announced to the penitent that “an atonement for him before the LORD” had been made and that he was “forgiven” of his “trespass” (Lev. 4:20; 5:6 and 6:7) and “cleansed” (Leviticus 14:19).

The blood was brought inside the sanctuary (sprinkling), not to defile it, but as a proof (receipt of payment rendered) that the redemption price had already been fully paid, and symbolize blood cleanses the repentant of all sin. Therefore, contrary to what SDAs teach, there is no Bible text which says that atoned sins were transferred into the sanctuary through blood or transferred sin through blood defiled the sanctuary!!! Contrary to SDA theology, sacrificial blood always “cleansed” or “washed away” sins of people in the daily ministry. Sacrificial blood did not transfer sin to another place (to be dealt with later). SDA assume the confessed sins were transferred through the blood into the sanctuary to support their investigative judgement doctrine, but the text says no such thing. The atoned sins were washed away by the sinless blood of the sacrificial animal, a type of Christ. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Blood of Jesus does not carry our sins into the sanctuary to defile the sanctuary and then cleanse it later! Why would believers want to boldly “enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” if that “holiest” contained the accumulated sins of every believer since Adam thus making it the most unholy and most sinful place in the entire universe (Heb. 10:19 cf GC418-421)? Now if the atoned sins did not defile the sanctuary, what defiled the earthly sanctuary?

8. The sanctuary was defiled by un-atoned sins and ceremonial uncleanliness.

While SDAs emphatically stress that the sanctuary was defiled by the confessed, forgiven and atoned sins of God’s people, exactly the opposite is true! The sanctuary was defiled by un-atoned sins. In fact, the atoned sins were the only ones that did not defile the sanctuary!

  • ‘Thus you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they defile My tabernacle that is among them. This is the law for one who has a discharge, and for him who emits semen and is unclean thereby (Leviticus 15:31-32)
  • Do not defile the land which you shall inhabit wherein I dwell. For I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel (Numb. 35:34)
  • That the land does not spit you out also when you defile it, as it spat out the nations that were before you. (Lev. 18:28; 18:1-28.)
  • Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that has an issue [of blood] and whosoever is defiled by the dead. Put out both male and female. Put them outside the camp that they do not defile their camps in the MIDST whereof I dwell (Numb. 5:2-3)
  • Whoever touches the body of anyone who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD. That person shall be cut off from Israel. He shall be unclean, because the water of purification was not sprinkled on him; his uncleanness is still on him (Numbers 19:13)

Leviticus 15:25-31 teaches that Israelite women who do not ritually purify themselves from their “issue of blood” “defile the sanctuary”. Leviticus 18:28 and Numbers 35:34 teach that the land itself was defiled by deliberate willful sin (which could not be brought into the sanctuary as unintentional sins). Like unclean women, Numbers 5:2-3 also teaches that lepers defile the camp. Yet, as long as they remained leprous, there was no sacrificial offering for them in the sanctuary. Fourth, in Numbers 19:13, 20, a person who touched dead animals or persons “and does not purify himself defiles the tabernacle.” 

Therefore, the sanctuary required a yearly cleaning, not because of confessed sins and not because (as SDAs teach) the priests had been transferring sin into the most holy place, but simply because of its location on earth in the middle of a sinful people. Therefore, contrary to what SDAs teach, there is no Bible text which says that atoned sins defile the sanctuary!!! The land, the camp and the tabernacle were all defiled by either deliberate sin or other sins or ceremonial uncleanliness which could not be atoned by sacrifice in the daily sanctuary service! Thus, exactly the opposite of what SDAs teach is true.

Let me repeat. There is no single Bible text (thus saith the Lord) which says that atoned or confessed sins defile the sanctuary or transfers sin into the sanctuary through the blood.On the contrary, the Bible teaches very plainly that God’s sanctuary was defiled by the sinning of the people that was not atoned.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Again, thou shalt say unto the children of Israel. whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.” Lev. 20:1-3.

This scripture plainly teaches that when a man in Israel offered his children in sacrifice to the idol Molech, this sinful act defiled the sanctuary of the Lord and profaned his holy name, because his name was associated with his sanctuary. Such a sin was not atoned through the sanctuary service, instead was punished by death.

9. Were the blood of animals always taken into the first apartment?

There were but only three cases when the blood of an animal was carried in and sprinkled before the vail. In each case it was the blood of a bullock, and not the blood of a lamb or goat. The first was when the high priest committed a sin and repented; he brought the blood of a bullock and sprinkled it before the veil. (Lev. 4:3-6). The second was when the whole congregation sinned; a bullock was offered whose blood was sprinkled before the vail (Lev. 4:13-17). The third time the blood was taken into the first apartment was by the high priest in preparation for his entering into the most holy place on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:3-6).

Read the first nine chapters of the book of Leviticus, noting in part the burnt sacrifice (Lev. 1:3-5); the peace offering (Lev. 3:1-8); the case of the ruler committing sin (Lev 4:22-25); the common people (Lev 4: 27-34); the trespass offering (Lev 5:6-9). In every case, with the three above excepted, the blood instead of being carried into the first apartment of the tabernacle, was sprinkled on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and poured at the foot of the same altar. It never entered the holy place. Hence, when a ruler or a common Israelite took a sin-offering to the sanctuary the blood of the animal, a male goat (in the case of a ruler), or a ewe or a female goat (in the case of a common citizen), “was placed on the horns of the altar of burnt offering in the courtyard”, which means that not even one droplet of it ever entered the holy place. 

10. The Day of Atonement ritual only removed general sinfulness which remained & the entire Sanctuary needed cleansing on the day of atonement, not only the Most holy

SDAs teach that only the Most Holy Place required cleansing from the defilement of sacrificial blood which had carried confessed and atoned sins into it.However, Leviticus 16:15-20, 30, from the Day of Atonement’s most important chapter prove that exactly the opposite is true. Here’s a verse-by-verse explanation.

Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, 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 (Leviticus 16:15 KJV)

Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering: The goat that was sacrificed was also like Jesus, in that the goat was spotless, was from the people of Israel (Leviticus 16:5), was chosen by God (Leviticus 16:8), and the goat’s blood was taken to the Most Holy Place to provide atonement.

Bring his blood within the vail, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat. The blood of this sin offering had to be sprinkled on the mercy seat, which was the lid to the ark of the covenant. The idea was that God’s presence was above the mercy seat (I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat, Leviticus 16:2), and as He looked down upon the ark of the covenant, He saw the sin of man. Man’s sin was represented by the items in the ark of the covenant: Manna Israel complained about, tablets and book of law Israel broke, and a budding almond rod given as a response to Israel’s rebellion. Then, the high priest sprinkled atoning blood seven times on the mercy seat – covering over the emblems of Israel’s sin. God saw the blood cover over the sin, and atonement was made. As we saw, sprinkling of blood in the sanctuary (daily or yearly) was to “cleanse” and forgive the sinner, and not to defile the sanctuary!

And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness (Leviticus 16:16)

He shall make an atonement for the holy place. Here the place within the veil, the holy of holies is in view, and atonement is made because of?

Because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel. This is in reference to theun atoned ceremonial uncleanness of Israel during the year, which defiled the sanctuary, and needed atonement (reconciliation).

Because of their transgressions in all their sins. This is in reference to the unatoned transgressions of Israel during the year, which defiled the sanctuary, and needed atonement (reconciliation). Hence, this was a general, all-inclusive, general cleansing of ALL of the remaining un-atoned sins of Israel. Since only non-high-handed sins “sins of ignorance” were allowed to be atoned through daily blood sacrifices, these texts are not referring to those specific sins which had already been forgiven, cleansed and atoned, during the daily sanctuary service, as we saw already. God does not require two different atonements for the same sins.

So shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. Again, it’s the entire tabernacle including the courtyard, holy place that required cleansing because it was located in the “midst of,” in the middle of their uncleanliness or transgressions. The atonement was made for the entire sanctuary contrary to SDA explanation that only the Most Holy place required cleansing.

And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel (Leviticus 16:17)

This was commanded for the greater reverence to the Divine Majesty, then in a more special manner appearing, and that none of them might cast an eye into the holy of holies as the high priest went in or came out.

And he shall go out unto the altar 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 goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about (Leviticus 16:18)

The high priest shall go out unto the altar that is before the Lord – that is, the altar of burnt sacrifice in the court, standing in front of the tabernacle, not the altar of incense.

And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel  (Leviticus 16:19)

The High priest then sprinkled with his right finger, seven times, upon the altar of burnt sacrifice that was in the courtyard.

 And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat (Leviticus 16:20)

Reconciling the holy place, the tabernacle, the altar. The three things mentioned here indicate the order in which the atonement was made—for the holy place (i.e. the Holy of Holies); the tent of meeting (the outer part of it) and the altar (outside the tabernacle).SDAs pattern-fulfillment theology must ignore this Bible truth that the Holy Place (the first tent) and the altar of burnt offering also required the cleansing ritual. They must ignore this in their explanation because Christ had already been ministering inside the Holy Place since his ascension. Moreover, the Adventist doctrine fails to explain why the Bible says that the entire sanctuary was cleansed on the Day of Atonement and not merely the Most Holy Place. Yet in the Adventist sequence, Jesus (at least) ministered in the Holy Place until 1844. This would have required that the Holy Place be cleansed first long before 1844. Why did not SDA theology pick this up? The answer is obvious but you decide!

He shall bring the live goat. The ritual of the scapegoat was not preformed after the sanctuary had been cleansed, but the ritual of the scapegoat BEGAN when the congregation chose two equally qualified goats to present to God as ONE sin offering. As part of the ritual, when the tabernacle itself was cleansed, Aaron then dealt with the sin of the people through the transference of sin and release of the live goat. The choosing of the goat “for Azazel” was an essential part of the removal of sin determined BEFORE the shedding of blood.

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 goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:21)

A few verses earlier, we were told about the two goats: “And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering” (Leviticus 16:5). Both goats were to constitute a single sin offering, and were for different aspects of one and the same atonement. Both goats had been chosen by the congregation from among the most spotless sacrificial animals which were all types of Jesus Christ. And both goats had been ritually cleansed by washing before being present “before the LORD” at the doorway of the sanctuary. This could not be said of Satan. It is blasphemy to equate Satan with a sin offering as some Christian and Jewish authors have done!

“And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.” (Leviticus 16:8). Either goat could have been chosen because both were equally qualified. This is not true of Satan. It is unfortunate that the Authorized Version (KJV) guessed and translated the obscure Hebrew word rather than leaving it un-translated. The RSV leaves it as Azazel. Many linguists prefer to interpret the term as merely “complete removal.”

Back to Lev. 16:21: The high priest with his unwashed blood-stained hands still fresh from the sacrificed goat, now puts his hands upon the live goat, and through the confession, transferred the sins of the nation to the goat as their substitute. As both goats were intended for a single sin-offering, the sins of the nation were confessed upon both.

Shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. The guilt-laden animal was then entrusted to a man previously appointed. As both goats were intended for a sin-offering, the sins of the nation were confessed upon both. Sacrifice came first; then the removal of sin was symbolised by the sending away of the second goat. There is an evident reference to this sequence in the words ‘without shedding of blood there is no remission.’ The two goats represent Christ’s work; the one in its essence, the other in its effect. The complete removal of sin by the living goat was the proto-type of the New Covenant promise of Jeremiah 31:34 and Hebrews 8:12; 10:17. There are two precedents for allowing sin-offerings to live after they have participated in atonement.

In Leviticus 14:1-7 two clean birds were used to cleanse a leper and one of the birds was released alive.

Lev 14:49 “And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop.”

Here again, two birds used for ONE offering of sin cleansing. Also in 14:49-53 two birds were taken to “cleanse” a house from mold or mildew.

Like the second goat, the second bird of Leviticus 14:49 was not sacrificed, yet they constituted one sin offering in spite of one being not killed. Its purpose was to point out that God does not remember sins after Calvary per Hebrews 8:12. None of these sin offerings represented Satan.

Adventists try to point that the type of atonement for the scapegoat is similar to when a blasphemer was stoned, the congregation first laid hands on him Lev. 24:14. There is no goat or sacrificial animal involved here. Adventist simply cannot see the precedent where two birds are used for one sin offering and one is released alive.

Again:

  • Two kids of the goats for a sin offering” (Leviticus 16:5).
  • The scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him” (Lev. 16:10)

The rite involving the scapegoat BEGAN when the congregation chose two equally qualified goats to present to God as ONE sin offering and not when the sanctuary was cleansed!

The Jews write, that this [live] goat was carried to the mountain called Azazel, whence the goat is so called, Leviticus 16:10; and that there he was cast down headlong; and that the red string by which he was led turned white when God was pleased with the Israelites, otherwise it remained red; and then they mourned all that year. And the ancient Hebrews write, that forty years before the destruction of the temple, which was about the time of Christ’s death, this red string turned no more white” (Mathew Poole)

Summary: The day of atonement ritual was a general, all-inclusive, general cleansing of ALL of the remaining un-atoned sins of Israel. It provided a new beginning for the new year. Unlike the heavenly sanctuary, the one on earth was surrounded by millions of sinners who regularly committed both presumptuous and ignorant sins. These sins un-atoned defiled the sanctuary. In Numbers 5:3, those who had been defiled by unavoidable and un-atonable uncleanness were forced to leave the camp “that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell.” In Leviticus 15:31 God said, “Separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them.” And Deuteronomy 23:44 adds “For the LORD thy God walks in the midst of thy camp.” Since only “sins of ignorance” were allowed to be atoned through daily blood sacrifices, these texts are not referring to those specific sins which had already been forgiven, cleansed and atoned. God does not require two different atonements for the same sins. Unlike the heavenly sanctuary, the earthly sanctuary required this cleansing because it was located in the “midst of,” in the middle of, a wicked and perverse nation. The presumptuous, pre-meditated un-confessed sins had not been daily confessed and had not been specifically atoned. The Day of Atonement was preceded by the “affliction of soul” (Lev. 23:27-34). The days leading up to it were final opportunities to recall non-presumptuous sins which had prevented full fellowship with God (1 Jn. 1:9). They were residual sins which had not been previously cleansed by sacrificial blood. 

Therefore, the sanctuary required cleansing not because (as SDAs teach) the priests had been transferring sin into the holy place, but simply because of its location on earth in the middle of a sinful people, and defilement caused by unatoned sin of the people. This end-of-the-year final cleansing is not a new idea. Barnes Notes; the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary; Keil and Delitzsch CommentaryMatthew Henry Commentary, and the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary all agree that the cleansing was for residual sins rather than a second cleansing of sins which had already been atoned by the daily sacrifices.

Unger’s Bible Dictionary says “..Many sins and defilements would still remain unacknowledged and therefore without expiation. This want was met by the appointment of a yearly, general, and perfect expiation of all the sins and uncleanness that had remained un-atoned for and un-cleaned in the course of the year (Lev. 16:33)” 

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary adds “The only fasting period required by the Law (Lev. 16:29; 23:31), the Day of Atonement was a recognition of man’s inability to make any atonement for his sins.”

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia adds “The atonement takes place for the sanctuary which has been defiled by the contamination of the Israelites.”

For honest and simple minded Adventist, we ask, where does Leviticus 16 intimate that the rituals of the Day of Atonement were related to sins that had already been forgiven and atoned for throughout the year? If sins of ignorance was confessed, was it forgiven and atoned for through the offering of a sin-sacrifice during the year, or was it not? Leviticus 4 says repeatedly it was forgiven and atoned for. If it was atoned for, as Leviticus 4 says it was, is there any evidence in Leviticus 16 that says otherwise? If it doesn’t say it, is it possible that the Day of Atonement had something to do, at least, with sins that couldn’t legally be ritually atoned for by means of the daily ritual?  If all these possibilities exist, and they most certainly do, what necessity is there of inventing the notion that the Day of Atonement took care of something that had already been taken care of, sort of sin revisited? Is that not heresy?



11. SDA’s blend sin with the blood of the Sacrifice

Ellen White says, “As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin-offering, and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ, and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary”.

Ellen White further says, “The sins of Israel being thus transferred to the sanctuary, the holy places were defiled{FLB 198.2}

Note that Ellen White clearly states that it is through the blood sins are transferred, and that blood defiles the sanctuary. However, there is no theological basis to blend sin (Leaven) with the blood of (His) the sacrifice.

“Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning” (Ex 34:25)


The priest was given specific instruction to not defile the sanctuary in any way:

And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name” (Leviticus 20:3)

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’. (1 Cor 3:17)

Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord God; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity” (Ezekiel 5:11)

“Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the Lord do sanctify them” (Lev. 21:23)

Scriptures confirms that it was unconfessed sins that defiled the holy temple. However, if the SDA sanctuary doctrine is accurate, then consequently Aaron and the penitent sinner should or will be destroyed by God, because collectively they have defiled the sanctuary.

On the contrary, the Sanctuary is Holy and Sin and Holiness cannot co-exist in God’s Presence. The perception that sin and defilement has procured a place in the presence and divine glory of God, by any means, is alien to scripture and contrary to the gospel of our salvation. “NOTHING UNCLEAN” will enter heaven (Revelation 21:27) Instead, through the blood the sacrifice removed the iniquity by payment of death and was never transferred to the sanctuary.  By all reasoning if the second apartment of the sanctuary were to be defiled by sin how could it be called the “most holy place”?

Only the high priest was allowed access to the Holy and Most Holy Place in the temple, after he had meticulously followed the purification process of offering up sacrifices for his own sins and that of the people. The penitent sinner was left standing near the door of the tabernacle, which is, in itself, a witness to the fact that sin has no place in the presence of God. The process of purification found in the Lord Jesus Christ’s blood allows all sinners to come into the presence of God, free from guilt and shame, having their robes washed in his blood. For the Christian, their hope is anchored to Jesus Christ’s cleansing, purifying, holy and sinless blood which is the receipt of his atoning death, having paid in full our transgression of God’s holy law, as our divine saviour when He took our place on Calvary.

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?” (Heb 9:14)

12. The Priests eating flesh did not defile the Tabernacle

SDAs also teach that the sins of those who made confession, were taken into the tabernacle by the priest eating the flesh of the sacrifice in the first apartment. This also is contrary to scripture. The expression “holy place” very frequently refers to the court of the tabernacle. The priests were instructed to boil the flesh of certain offerings in the holy place (Ex. 29:31), and to wash their garments in the holy place (Lev. 6:27); also, to take a bath in the holy place (Lev. 6:26) and to pour out wine in the holy place (Num. 28:7). No Bible student will contend that the first apartment of the tabernacle or temple was used as a kitchen to boil meat, or as a laundry to wash clothes, or a bathroom in which to take a bath or to dump a flagon of wine; neither was it used as a dining room. The scriptures define plainly where they were to eat the flesh of the offering. Lev. 6:26, “The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation.”

EGW concluded by quoting only the last half of Leviticus 10:17: “‘God hath given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation.’ Both ceremonies alike [eating and/or sprinkling the sin offering] symbolized the transfer of the sin from the penitent to the sanctuary (Great Controversy p. 418).

The entire verse of Leviticus 10:17 is, “Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God has given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD?” In the context of the entire verse, the sin offering was “most holy.” EGW took words out of context and described bearing sin as bearing sin into the sanctuary to defile it, which the text does not say!

As soon as the Old Testament priest received the sin offering, that sin offering became most holy (Numb. 18:9). And merely touching the dead flesh of the sin offering also transferred more holiness to the priest (Lev. 6:27). Therefore, instead of transferring sin into the sanctuary via the priests (as SDAs teach), the most holy sacrifice actually transferred more HOLINESS to the priests and into the sanctuary! The holy priest was only allowed to touch, handle and work with holy things and most holy things! Contrary to what SDAs teach, the priest did not “transfer sin” into the sanctuary. Like Christ, he typically bore the GUILT (or punishment) of sin for the sinner. The priest was performing a sanctified and necessary act of reconciliation–not defilement. Shockingly, SDA theology teaches that Jesus Himself was, and still is, the greatest polluter of the heavenly sanctuary because he bore, and is still transferring sins into it.

Besides, SDAs are ignorant of the fact that the flesh had been fully bled. If atonement is in the blood (Lev. 17:11), what cultic import does the consumption of flesh carry? SDAs also skipped over the other passages (Lev. 6:29; 7:6; 10:12-15; 21:16-23; 22:11) that indicate that the flesh was not just consumed by the priest himself, but by his whole family, including women, children, males ineligible for the priesthood because of mutilation or castration, and even slaves. If a private citizen’s sin was somehow transferred to the sin-offering, how did it manage to defile the sanctuary if not one drop of its blood entered the holy place? And how could the consumption of its flesh by someone in the priest’s household, or by the priest himself, effect the transfer of sin to the sanctuary if the flesh didn’t carry the sin that, supposedly, was in the blood? In any case, which Bible passage teaches that someone’s sin can be transferred to a sin-offering? Which Bible passage teaches that sin-offerings, even those of a priest or the whole congregation, defile the sanctuary?

13. The New Testament does not teach that the Old Covenant sanctuary service provided a must-follow “pattern,” “example,” “copy” or “shadow” for Jesus’s ministration in heaven. In fact, in context, it teaches exactly the opposite! The book of Hebrews teaches that the Old Covenant sanctuary patterns ended at Calvary! It proves its point by contrasting Christ’s ministry which is much “better” in the heavenly sanctuary with that of the Old Covenant sanctuary. See the evidence given below.

14. A verse-by-verse study of Hebrews 8:13-9:28

When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is about to disappear (Hebrews 8:13)

When He said, “A new covenant” He has made the first obsolete. The use of the word “new” implies that the one which it was to supersede was “old.” The first covenant is now obsolete. The “Mosaic Covenant”, the “first covenant”, the “old covenant” has lost its authority and binding force; and so, by God’s instituting another, He has abrogated the “first covenant”.

But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is about to disappear. The very fact that it is obsolete and growing “old” is an indication that it will soon be gone. What did the first covenant contain? We should expect an answer from the following verses starting from chapter 9.

Now even the first covenant had regulations for divine worship and the earthly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:1)

Now even the first covenant had regulations for divine worship. The meaning here is the first covenant or old covenant, or former arrangement had religious laws, rites and services regulating the worship of God.

And the earthly sanctuary. The term “worldly,” applied to “sanctuary,” here means that it pertained to this world rather than to heaven. This earthly sanctuary was the blueprint God gave the Israelites because it pictured a greater reality in the heavenlies.

For a tabernacle was equipped, the outer sanctuary, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the sacred bread; this is called the Holy Place (Hebrews 9:2)

The outer sanctuary.  The first room on entering the sacred edifice is called the “outer sanctuary”. The apostle then proceeds to enumerate the various articles of furniture which were in this room. 

The lampstand. There was this lamp stand with seven branches out of it. It was lit. There were little cups of oil, and they would put the wicks in the oil and it was the light in this portion of the tent.

Table and the sacred bread. On the table were twelve loaves of bread.

This is called the Holy Place. The first room is called the Holy Place.  The author of Hebrews does not say that the candlestick, and the table of showbread, and the other furniture that follows were designed to adumbrate some particular truth or had a designed spiritual meaning. There are other passages in Scriptures that allude to their meaning which will not be elaborated here.

Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 9:2)

This is the second room. This second veil divided the holy place from the most holy, as the first veil did the holy place from the courts. This represented the visible symbol of His presence.

Having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron’s staff which budded, and the tablets of the covenant (Hebrews 9:3)

Having a golden altar of incense. The Greek must not be translated as “altar of incense,” for it was not in “Most Holy” place “after the second veil,” but in “the holy place”; but as in 2 Chronicle 26:19, and Ezekiel 8:11, “censer”. This GOLDEN censer was only used on the day of atonement. Alternatively, the writer of Hebrews probably meant that at the veil, not the Most Holy place, had the altar of incense and the ark of the covenant connected with it (Hebrews 9:3; cf. 1 Kings 6:22).

The ark of the covenant. This is often called “the ark of the testimony,” i.e., the ark containing the tables of the Ten Commandments, which were the symbol of the covenant of God with Israel. (See Exodus 25:10-16.)

In which was a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron’s staff which budded. The golden pot holding the manna and Aaron’s rod that budded were not said in the Pentateuch to have been placed in the ark of the covenant; but no objection can be lodged against the statement in Hebrews to that effect, because such a keeping place would have been perfectly in line with God’s instructions that they were to be “laid up before the Lord” (Exodus 16:33), and “before the testimony” (Numbers 17:10). 

And the tablets of the covenant.  The stones on which the decalogue or ten commandments were written are called “the tables of the covenant” (Deut. 9:9), which were a handful of ten laws from the law of Moses, which outlined a handful of duties towards man and God, and this was placed inside the ark of the covenant. The author of Hebrews does not appear to go into all the details (Hebrews 9:4), but there was also the book in which the law was expanded and applied for the Jews (613 commandments including the ten) called “the book of the covenant” (Ex. 24:7), and this was placed by the side of the ark (Deut. 31:26) in the Most Holy place. The first or “Old Covenant” (now obsolete) included an earthly sanctuary, ceremonial aspects, and also the “tablets of the covenant”. It cannot be any clearer. Efforts to dissociate the tablets of that covenant from the annulment (obsolescence) that fell upon it fail in the light of such clear identification as this.

And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the atoning cover; but about these things we cannot now speak in detail (Hebrews 9:4)

And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the atoning cover. Above the ark of the covenant were glorious cherubim (plural). The atoning cover is translated elsewhere as the mercy seat. This was the ornate “lid” for the ark of the covenant, made with the designs of cherubim upon it. The blood of sacrifice was sprinkled upon it for the forgiveness of Israel’s sin on the Day of Atonement (Exodus 25:17-22). As God looked down into the ark, He saw the symbols of Israel’s sin, rebellion and failure. But when the blood of sacrifice was applied to the mercy seat, the blood of sacrifice had provided atonement for Israel’s sin.

About these things we cannot now speak in detail. The writer declined to speak of the tabernacle furnishings in more detail as we saw earlier (Hebrews 9:3) because his main purpose is not to give details of the first covenant and the earthly sanctuary but to contrast the two rituals and the two covenants.

Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship (Hebrews 9:6)

Now when these things have been so prepared. The earthly sanctuary was prepared and set up exactly as how God wanted.

The priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle, performing the divine worship. So, the priests could go into the holy place (outer tabernacle), and they had various functions on a daily basis (continually). 

But into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance (Hebrews 9:7)

But into the second, only the high priest enters once a year. But only the high priest and only once a year was he allowed to go behind the veil (Most Holy place) and only with blood in order to make payment for sin.  This was a day of utter terror for the people of Israel as they stood and waited, wondering if the high priest would come out alive.  If he came out alive, it indicated that God had accepted the offering for another year.  

Not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people. The atoning blood was first for his own sins and then for the sins of his people.

Committed in ignorance.Sins of ignorance were the specific aim of the Day of Atonement. It is known that known sin would be taken care of (atoned, cleansed, forgiven) through regular sin offerings and the daily sacrifices. Sins of ignorance (unatoned) were the specific aim of the Day of Atonement.

The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time (Hebrews 9:8-9a)

The Holy Spirit is signifying this. The Holy Spirit is unveiling this.

The way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed. The way into the heavenly sanctuary or heaven itself was not revealed. 

While the outer tabernacle is still standing. When the earthly sanctuary is still standing and functioning according to God’s design in a way that’s pleasing to God, it indicates that the Messiah has not yet come. If the Messiah had come, then the purpose of the earthly tabernacle, the covenant and the temple would be fulfilled and completed. Then the way into the heavenly sanctuary would be unveiled. In other words, the continuing activities at the first (old) covenant tabernacle were “signifying” that the way into the entire heavenly sanctuary, was not yet ready until the Old Covenant ended. From God’s perspective these activities ended at Calvary (Mt 27:51; Mk 15:38; Lk 23:45). At His ascension Christ’s New Covenant ministry in the heavenly sanctuary began (Ps 110:1; Acts 2:33-34).

Which is a symbol for the present time. The things of the earthly sanctuary were a shadow, a picture, a temporary figure, it was for that present time only till the earthly sanctuary stood. Once the heavenly sanctuary is unveiled, the earthly pattern is abolished, and ought not to be revived. Again, the patterns given from heaven concerning the (old) covenant sanctuary were only “a figure for the time then present.” They were NOT “a figure for the future” as SDAs argue. They do not depict reality in heaven.

Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food, drink, and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:9b-10)

Gifts and sacrifices. Thank-offerings and bloody offerings. All kinds of offerings to God were made there in the earthly sanctuary.

Cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience. That could not take away sin, and remove the stains of guilt. Since gifts and sacrifices were outward and ceremonial rites, and even when offerings were made for sin, the conscience was not relieved. And the fact that they had to do it every year made us constantly conscious of our guilt.

Since they relate only to food, drink, and various washings, regulations for thebody. Since under this old covenant system, food, drink, various washings, and regulations were limited to the outwardand external cleanliness,they could not change the consciences of the ones who participated in them.

Imposed until a time of reformation. The idea here is that those rites and ceremonies (old covenant) were only temporary in their nature and were designed to endure until a more perfect system should be introduced. That is until the new covenant.  “Until the time of reformation” refer to the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ (Gal 3:19). The Old Testament pattern of sanctuary service ended when the “time of reformation” arrived. SDAs part with the majority of Christians at Hebrews 9:9-10. The truth is that all of the patterns, examples and shadows given to Moses in the Law were only temporary blueprints of Old Covenant pre-Calvary reality!

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands, that is, not of this creation (Hebrews 9:11)

But. But here stands for contrast with what happened in type. 

When Christ appeared as a high priest. Now that the Messiah has come as a High Priest. We cannot doubt that these words are contrasting between the true High Priest and the High priest on earth. Christ came as a High Priest from Judah after the king-priest rank of Melchizedek (Heb 7:11-18). He did not come as an Old Covenant Aaronic High priest from Levi who was required to follow the Law-patterns.

Of the good things having come. A more perfect system has been already introduced by which the conscience may be made free from guilt. Good things are now already here when Christ appeared as a High Priest.

He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle. He’s not entering the earthly tabernacle; He is entering the true tabernacle in the heavenlies.

Not made by hands, that is, not of this creation. The meaning is, that the place where he officiates is not made by human power but it is the ultimate presence of God. It’s the heaven itself.

And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12)

And not through the blood of goats and calves. Christ did not offer the blood of bulls and goats, that is bulls and goats offered on the day of atonement (Leviticus 16:3,11) which had no real power to make anyone clean—but would actually offer Himself.

But through His own blood. Christ would offer His own blood as payment for sin.

He entered the holy place [ta hagia] once for all time. The Greek word here is literally “holies.” The Septuagint uses it repeatedly in Leviticus 16 for the most holy place. The word itself can mean the sanctuary as a whole, or it can mean the first apartment, or it can mean the second apartment. You can prove nothing from the Greek, because it has these possibilities, but from the context it is obvious. It is speaking about a place that the high priest alone went once every year with the blood of bulls and goats. Here, Jesus entered the most holy place (heaven itself) once for all time. Having died “once for all” (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:10) He was able to enter God’s presence “once for all.”

Since our high priest entered into heaven once for all, and has obtained not a yearly respite, but eternal redemption, he need not make an yearly entrance into the presence of God, or every 100 year entrance into the presence of God or an 1844 entrance into the presence of God. He entered once for all time into the heavenly sanctuary, heaven itself, the presence of God, in opposition to the annual entering of the high priest into the holiest of all, with the blood of the yearly victim. Note again. In the earthly type, daily and yearly sacrifices were made. Instead of following the type pattern by dying many times, Christ fulfills the type by having died “once for all”. In the earthly type, the priest entered the sanctuary many times (daily and yearly). Instead of following the type pattern by entering the sanctuary many times (daily and yearly), Christ fulfils the type by entering the heavenly sanctuary, heaven itself “once for all”.

Having obtained eternal redemption. As long as the ultimate High Priest lives, His payment for sin is valid, and because He is eternal, then His payment for sin is eternal—so the redemption that He provides is an eternal redemption.

Andre Reis, current SDA theologian writes: “The book of Hebrews explicitly negates the notion that Jesus has engaged in a two-phase ministry since his ascension, with the final phase to be commenced sometime in the future. Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:12, 25; 10:19 are full of verbal parallels drawn from the sanctuary ritual culminating with the yearly Day of Atonement to explain Jesus’s sacrifice and subsequent activities as the Heavenly high Priest” (source: https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/10/22/perspective-1844-pillar-faith-or-mortal-wound ).

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh (Hebrews 9:13)

For if the blood of goats and bulls. Referring to blood of sacrificial victims.

And the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled. The heifer was sacrificed, and the ashes were used to make people clean when they had become unclean.

Sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh. If these things are adequate to restore a man to ceremonial cleanness which was a type of moral purity.

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)

How much more will the blood of Christ. If the blood of an animal had any efficacy at all, even in removing ceremonial pollutions, how much more virtue must there be in the blood of Christ, to cleanse us from all sin?

Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God. Through his own eternal God-head, offered “himself” without blemish, meaning the great sacrifice was “perfect”.

Cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. The weakness of the sacrifices, “akin to dead works” made by earthly priests is that they could not really give us a clear conscience to serve the living God. They were a reminder of our sins that God had not completely dealt with our sin. And the fact that they had to do it every year made us constantly conscious of our guilt. But Jesus Christ has now purified our consciences for having to not offer “dead works”, instead we have peace that our sins have been cleansed (forgiven, blotted out, cancelled) to serve the Living God under the new covenant.

 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15).

For this reason. Because all this is true that was said before this verse about Jesus and His once and for all sacrifice, and once and for all entrance into the Most Holy place, heaven itself.

He is the mediator of a new covenant.  It does not carry the idea that Jesus is somehow negotiating terms between a holy God and sinful people.  It rather carries the idea of this layer between a holy God and sinful people.There was this clear understanding that the presence of God dwelt in the Holy of Holies, and that could only be accessed by the high priest, and only once a year.  So, the people were very clear that there was this layer, this mediation layer (sanctuary, sacrifices, High priest system) between them and a holy God in the Old Covenant. So, Christ is now the mediator of a new constitution between God and the whole human race, distinguished here from the old covenant between God and the Israelites.

Since a death has taken place for the redemption of the violations that were committed under the first covenant. Because of Jesus, this long-awaited redemption and atonement for transgression has already taken place for those under the old covenant or first covenant, as those sins could not be really atoned from the blood of bulls and goats.

Because of its repetition, the old covenant ministry could not convince the worshipper that his/her confessed sin had actually been cancelled and “cleansed” (Heb 10:1-11).  Their conscience was not clean. However, that blemish is not carried over into the New Covenant. Christ has already redeemed every daily sin and every Day of Atonement residual sin confessed in the Old Testament (and also the New Testament). This makes Ellen White’s often repeated “The blood of Christ..was not to cancel sin” nonsense.

Those who have been called. All people under the old and New covenant who are called to be his children.

May receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. This knowledge of receiving the promise of eternal inheritance is a present reality for the believer and not a fact that needs to be determined based on a future investigation (1844) as SDAs teach.

For where there is a covenant, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when people are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.  (Hebrews 9:16-17)

Covenant used here is like what we would say a last “will” or a testament. When somebody creates a will, that will may be full of promises, but those promises do not have legal force. They are not fulfilled or acted upon until that person dies.

Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood (Hebrews 9:18)

The first covenant had to be initiated, inaugurated, dedicated, sanctioned, consecrated, with the blood of animal. We should expect to hear how the new covenant is inaugurated as well very soon as the author is contrasting the old and new.

For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” (Hebrews 9:19-20)

For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law. That included all the law including the ten commandments.

He took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop. Blood of “the sacrificial victims”, and “water and scarlet wool and hyssop” used for purification is what is meant here.

Sprinkled both the book itself and all the people. In Exodus 24:8 no mention is made of the sprinkling of the book, only of the people. Sprinkling upon the altar, upon which the book of the covenant might lie is probably meant.      

This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you. This is the blood by which the covenant is ratified. 

And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood (Hebrews 9:21)

He sprinkled both the tabernacle. Probably not at the same time that he sprinkled the book and the people, for then there was no tabernacle; but afterwards, at the time that it was set up.

All the vessels of the ministry with the blood. All the furniture employed in the service of God. The altar, the laver, the censers, dishes, bowls, etc (Exodus 40:10-11).

And almost all things are cleansed with blood, according to the Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22)

And almost all things are cleansed with blood. For some things were purified by fire and water (Numbers 31:22-23), but almost all things are cleansed with blood. Cleansed (katharizō) implies not only purification from sin, but also dedication or consecration like when Moses sprinkled with blood both the “book”, and “tabernacle” and “all the vessels” to consecrate them, and to inaugurate them, to initiate the earthly sanctuary service. After all, there was no sin in the “book” or “vessels” to purify from blood. 

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. The bottom line is there is no salvation but through the sacrificial death of Christ, and to prefigure this, the law itself would not grant any remission of sin without the blood of a victim.

Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these (Hebrews 9:23) 

Therefore. “Therefore,” is given based on everything mentioned in the previous seven verses concerning the shedding of the blood of the covenant-victim and the purification or dedication of the things associated with the tabernacle, people, its implements, and its rites. If the earthly tabernacle was dedicated in type by blood, we can expect something to be said about the heavenly things themselves in the following words.

It was necessary. According to the appointment of God, it was necessary. There was no other way.

For the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these things. It is the heavenly which is the pattern, and it is the earthly which is a copy.  These “copies of the things in the heavens,” meaning the earthly tabernacle, people and associated implements, “should be cleansed (katharizō) with these things.” The word “these” is speaking of the blood of dedication obtained from the covenant-victims. It was necessary for the earthly sanctuary to be initiated, inaugurated, cleansed, consecrated with blood of sacrificial victims.

But the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. However, to inaugurate and initiate the heavenly things themselves, where the ultimate presence of God is, it required better sacrifices than the blood of animals.In the actual presence of God, to actually make payment for sin, what would be required would be more than that! It would take something more than merely the blood of bulls and goats.  It would take the long-awaited death of the Messiah. Therefore, this verse is teaching that the Old Covenant inauguration needed to be fulfilled by a better inauguration sacrifice in order to bring in a New Covenant.

Moreover, under the Old Covenant, the author has already said that all things were sprinkled with blood in order to purify them, including “both the book itself and all the people” (Hebrews 9:19). As we are the purpose of Christ’s coming, meaning the redemption of man, then it is necessary that the people be purified by Christ’s shed blood. Hence, the heavenly things required not only the perfect sacrifice to inaugurate the new covenant, but also Christ presented Himself before the Father to purify or cleanse those things which will be accepted into His eternal realm. That is all His people, who are being built into “a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). When did this happen? From the resurrection of Christ, not in 1844.

Hence, the “cleansing of the sanctuary” is not about removing sin from the sanctuary per the old covenant pattern. Because “Nothing unclean” can enter heaven (Revelation 21:27). Hence, this verse is not speaking of cleansing heaven from defilement of sin or anything unclean that entered heaven. Rather it is about a new pattern which cleanses the believer [the temple of the living God] with the sinless blood of Christ (which happened when Christ inaugurated the heavenly sanctuary, not in 1844).

There is not a single Bible verse anywhere in the Old or New Testament that says that confessed sins are transferred into the heavenly sanctuary and then defile the sanctuary in any way.

For Christ did not enter a holy place made by hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us (Hebrews 9:24)

For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands. So Jesus did not come to be assimilated into the old covenant tabernacle or the temple like a Jewish high priest.  Jesus would not simply go into the tabernacle and go through the routine of the Levitical Priestly system. That’s what a high priest would do who entered into a sanctuary made by hands.

A mere copy of the true one.The earthly sanctuary was just a picture of the true one, not the exact thing, and was so formed as in some sense to correspond to it.

But into heaven itself. For the sanctuary into which Christ entered is not a copy or a token of the things in the heavens, but heaven itself. Since Christ is the veil (Heb 10:20), there are no separate “rooms” in God’s dwelling place. No sane person would quote this text to prove that God lives in a 2-room house in heaven.

Now to appear in the presence of God for us. We cannot doubt that these words continue the contrast between the true High Priest and the high priest on earth. As the Jewish high priest appeared before the shekinah, the symbol of the divine presence in the most holy, so Christ appears before God himself in our behalf in heaven itself at the ascension. The “presence of God” means exactly what it literally says. Contrary to the Old Covenant pattern, God’s throne room in Revelation contains a rainbow, 24 elders, 7 Spirit-lamps of fire before the throne, a sea of glass and 4 creatures surrounding the throne — all in contrast with the Old covenant patterns (Rev 4:2-8). The 1844 theology of two rooms or two phases is pure nonsense and cultic (Heb 9:24).

Nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year by year with blood that is not his own (Hebrews 9:25) 

As the high priest enters the Holy Place year by year with blood that is not his own. Again, this is talking about the once-a-year entrance of the Jewish High Priest into the most holy place. The earthly high priest had to offer sacrifices often to enter the Most holy place, but Jesus does not have to offer himself often to enter (not the holy place but into) the most holy place. That is the whole point this verse and the next verse is showing.The sacrifice of Christ is not like that of the Jewish high priest, which must be offered every year to enter the Most holy place. If Christ sacrifice is like bulls and goats, then he would have to suffer often.

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26) 

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often. But Jesus wasn’t going to offer Himself year after year after year (he offered once and for all). Otherwise, He would have to die every year since the foundation of the world. If Christ had not ended the patterns, then he must repeat them! If Christ did not end the daily sacrifices, then he must still die daily. If Christ did not end the yearly sacrifices (Day of Atonement), then he must still die yearly. Because he offered once and for all, He entered the most Holy place. Notice again..

But now. “Now” refers to the first century, it is a reality when the apostle is writing these words. “Now” the Old Covenant sanctuary had already been replaced by “heaven itself.” The Aaronic priesthood had already been replaced with the non-Hebrew Melchizedek priesthood (Heb. 7:11-18). The everyday shadow rituals of the literal altar of burnt offering, the water laver, the loaves, the candlestick, and the altar of incense had all ended in the reality of Christ. Christ does not have to offer often as the High priest. Therefore.

Once. Once for all; once in the sense that it is not to be repeated again.

At the consummation of the ages. This is referring to the days of Christ’s ministry on earth called the last days (Hebrews 1:2), the end of the ages (1 Corinthians 10:11), the fulness of the time (Galatians 4:4), when Christ appeared at His first coming.  This is saying it was time for the old covenant to be fulfilled, to usher in a new age, a new covenant through Christ our High Priest. 

While SDAs proclaim 1844 as the heavenly Day of Atonement and as a last day event warning about the nearness of the end of the age, they ignore 9:26b which clearly places the event at the “now” of Calvary. This same “end of the age,” “fullness of time” and “these last days” application of Calvary is also found in Acts 2:17; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10; Hebrews 1:2 and First Peter 1:20 — and none of these refer to 1844.

New Covenant believers need to stop thinking about the New Covenant using Old Covenant terminology. “Christ is not” in a tiny building in heaven that has compartments like that of the Old Covenant. “Christ is not.” Again, He “is not.” He is “in heaven itself.” Since the first century He is “now” already in the “presence of God for us” –- in the Most Holy since his ascension to the right hand of God.

He has been revealed. He revealed himself as God in flesh at His first coming.

To put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. That’s a legal term. It means to render sin void.  Literally for the “the annulment of sin”. How? By the sacrifice of Himself. Hebrews 9:25-26 clearly tells everybody (except SDAs) that “now” Christ “cleansed” all of the heavenly things, not in 1844, but at His death, ascension and enthronement, and is now in the very presence of God. No body can have a clear conscience under the SDA doctrine of investigative judgement, or pre-advent judgement, because like the Old Covenant sanctuary pattern, sins have not been completely dealt with. On the contrary, Jesus has appeared to put away sin “now”, not in 1844. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John `:9). “The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18)

And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27)

Destined for people to die once. Just as certainly as we die once.

After this comes judgment. Every single person will die, and you will stand face to face with a holy God and give an account whether we accepted Christ’s perfect sacrifice or not (this is the final judgement or white throne judgement (Rev. 20:12). If there was an investigative judgement going on now to determine who will receive the eternal inheritance, the author would have said “Just as it is destined for people to die once, and before this comes judgement”. No! Those who disobey the gospel are judged already (John 5:24). According to the Scriptures, God doesn’t require any further judgement to decide who are his children before we die. After we die, we will face the final judgement. In that moment, do you really think it will be adequate to say, “I was very religious; I did some rituals; I did some activities; I did some good works?”  Do you really think that’s going to cut it in that moment?  What the writer of Hebrews is saying is that has never been the basis of salvation. From Genesis three on, there has always been a message that someone will have to die. The consequence of sin is death.  Someone had to die our death for God to grant us forgiveness.  

So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:28)

So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many. Just as certainly as we die once and then face judgment, so Jesus only had to die once (not repeatedly, not continually) to bear our sins.

Will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin.That is, when be comes again he will not make himself a sin-offering; or will not come in order to make atonement for sin.Rather to usher them to the salvation of the new heaven and the new earth.

All the Biblical evidence points to Christ fulfilling the symbology of the Day of Atonement when He died on the cross and then ascended into heaven:

  1. Christ came as a High Priest to His temple (Heb. 9:11).
  2. He entered by His own blood (Heb. 9:12).
  3. He purified the heavenly copies with His blood (Heb. 9:23).
  4. He appeared in the Most Holy Place before the presence of God (Heb. 9:24).
  5. His blood cleansed His people from their sin (Heb. 9:14).
  6. The atonement is a finished work and Christ “sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12)

By His sacrificial death and ascension into the heavenly sanctuary Christ fulfilled every one of the aspects of the Day of Atonement as described in Leviticus 16! His work of atonement is complete and finished “for ever”, and to symbolize the completeness of His task, Hebrews says that Christ “sat down on the right hand of God.” It is finished!

The idea that confessed sins are transferred to the heavenly sanctuary and are defiling it is not found anywhere in the Bible or the passage of Daniel 8. Look at what various Seventh-day Adventist scholars have written regarding this problem:

C.L. Price: “What has defiled the sanctuary and made necessary its ‘cleansing’ is its defilement by the little horn. Confessed sins are not referred to at all; that is an alien thought, wholly brought in by the Adventist writers themselves.”  Source: C. L. Price, “Should a Question be Answered? A Study of Daniel 8:14 in New Light on Old Problems (1973).

Dr. Raymond Cottrell: “Coming again to the Book of Daniel I determined to try once more to find a way to be absolutely faithful to both Daniel and the traditional Adventist interpretation of 8:14, but again found it impossible. I then formulated six questions regarding the Hebrew text of the passage and its context, which I submitted to every college teacher versed in Hebrew and every head of the religion department in all of our North American colleges—all personal friends of mine. Without exception they replied that there is no linguistic or contextual basis for the traditional Adventist interpretation of Daniel 8:14.” (Raymond F. Cottrell, The “Sanctuary Doctrine” ? Asset or Liability?)

Andre Reis, another SDA theologian writes: “The book of Hebrews explicitly negates the notion that Jesus has engaged in a two-phase ministry since his ascension, with the final phase to be commenced sometime in the future. Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:12, 25; 10:19 are full of verbal parallels drawn from the sanctuary ritual culminating with the yearly Day of Atonement to explain Jesus’s sacrifice and subsequent activities as the Heavenly high Priest. For the author, Jesus went “within the veil” in the same manner that the High Priest used to go “within the veil” on Yom Kippur. The expression in Greek is the same used in Lev 16. Jesus went “within the veil,” “with his blood,” “once and for all.” This occurred when he ascended to the Father

“The bias for interpretative tradition in regards to 1844 is illustrated by an interesting episode I witnessed not long ago. I recently visited a certain Adventist seminary and stumbled upon a class on Hebrews. The teacher was a prominent author of DARCOM and the subject was the “inauguration” of the heavenly sanctuary which the teacher used to justify the fact that, although Hebrews 6 undeniably places Jesus inside the Most Holy Place at his ascension, this entering in the Most Holy Place was merely to “inaugurate” it. In other words, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place at the ascension, inaugurated it, left it and then went in again 1844.

I was disturbed to see that he was presenting views that had been debunked by another Adventist scholar in an exchange they had in one of our printed magazines. Never did he mention his dialogue with the other scholar. I raised my hand and asked him where in the OT do we see blood going into the Most Holy Place in any of the OT inauguration passages. By his reaction, I suspected he knew that there is no such OT passage. He hesitated for a second and then appealed to the book of Hebrews. In other words, the book of Hebrews proves that in the same book Hebrews Jesus inaugurated the sanctuary with blood, even though none of the OT passages mention blood within the sanctuary, let alone the Most Holy Place. I didn’t press the issue and I doubt his students understood the implications of my question. The fallacy of the argument is disappointing, if not dishonest.

This encounter shows me that, at the end of the day, the viability of 1844 as a prophetic marker continues to depend heavily on isolated proof-texts. It seems Adventist scholars who defend 1844 as an unmovable rock are satisfied with finding tiny hooks in a few chosen verses that appear to (albeit remotely) support our position. That is no longer an acceptable way to construct theology”. (Source: https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2015/10/22/perspective-1844-pillar-faith-or-mortal-wound )

15. Does Acts 3:19-21 teach a future blotting out?

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Repent ye therefore.  As he did in his first sermon (Acts 2:38), Peter called upon the crowd to repent. He told them to turn around in their thinking and actions.

Be converted.  Peter knew the necessity of conversion, of God’s work of bringing new life to us. Being a Christian is not “turning over a new leaf,” it is being a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Be converted is better translated, “turn to God”. The turning to God is the consequence of the change of mind (repentance).

That your sins may be blotted out.This was the first benefit of repentance Peter presented to them. The one who repents and is converted is forgiven their sins, and the record itself is erased. Blotted out has the idea of wiping ink off of a document.  Peter said that God would wipe away our record of sin just like that. The blotting out of the sins of penitents, immediately follow repentance and conversion.

When the times of refreshing shall come. The word hopōs incorrectly and unfortunately rendered “when,” in the KJV only in this instance, but it is always rendered “that” elsewhere in the KJV in every other instance (see here). The Greek conjunction never has the force of “when.”It is rendered “that” in NKJV, NASB, ESV, YLT etc.  Hence, it should be read, not when but “that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”. This was the second benefit of repenting and turning to God. The word for “refreshing” is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but the cognate verb meets us in 2 Timothy 1:16: “The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain”. The word rendered “refreshing,” anapsuxis, denotes “any kind of refreshment, as rest, or deliverance from evils of any kind.” It is the times of refreshing grace, rest, peace that results from repenting and turning to God. Both the blotting out of the sins of penitents, and divine refreshment immediately follow the acts of repentance.

From the presence of the Lord. The Greek can be translated literally as “From the face of the Lord.” The expression means that God was “its author.”Refreshing grace comes from the Lord Himself for those that repent and turn to God because their sins were blotted out.  SDA’s use acts 3:19 to teach a future blotting out of sins at the investigative judgement. The Greek of Acts 3:19 however does not substantiate their teaching that the blotting out of sins will take place as a separate, future event. Both the Old and the New Testament presents blotting out as a past event upon repentance: “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” (Isaiah 44:22). “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). The seasons of refreshing from the Holy Spirit’s presence is an immediate and frequent blessing to every Christian, and not a future event associated only with the coming of the Lord. One who has never experienced a “season of refreshing from the Lord” and is putting it off till the Master comes, knows little of the joy of the Christian life.

And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you (Acts 3:20)

And he shall send Jesus Christ.The Lord is not slack concerning his promise [of Jesus’ coming], as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. This, therefore, was an argument why people should repent and turn to God, so that they might be ready when Christ comes and escape the day of judgment.

Which before was preached unto you.The arrival of the Messiah was proclaimed to you. 

Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21)

Whom the heaven must receive. The meaning of the expression “whom the heavens must receive,” is that it was fit or proper that Jesus Christ should ascend to heaven and will remain in heaven until…

Until the times of restitution of all things. Better translated as restoration of all things, i.e. at Christ’s second coming. Times of restoration of all things will happen when Christ comes the second time. Until then, until the times of restoration, Christ will remain in heaven.

Which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Restoring all things, the consummation of God’s literal kingdom have been revealed, and are recorded in the Old Testament.

See our Revelation Commentary here

Commentary on the Book of Daniel

Check out our commentary on the Book of Daniel.

The compilation of this Daniel’s Commentary was an attempt to conduct a verse-by-verse exegesis of this inspired Book. The primary objective was to spiritually enrich my soul. As an SDA, I was immersed in the SDA interpretation of the Book of Daniel and Revelation. Since leaving Seventh-day Adventism, I wanted to relook at the Book of Daniel from a fresh perspective. The result is this commentary. Now I want to share this commentary with anyone who is passionate about deep diving into God’s word.