The Sanctuary Cleansed
Lesson 23

That the sanctuary to be cleansed, referred to in Daniel 8:14, is not the sanctuary in Jerusalem, is evident by the fact that the prophecy pointed forward to a time for its fulfillment centuries after the sanctuary in Jerusalem was destroyed and had ceased to exist. The key to understanding Daniel 8:14 is found in Hebrews 8–10. Not only do we find an earthly sanctuary and service reviewed there, but also a heavenly sanctuary where Christ ministers in our behalf is revealed.

1. Of what was the earthly sanctuary a shadow, or type?

Hebrews 8:5
Hebrews 8:5

Note: The sanctuary in heaven, in which Jesus ministers in our behalf, is the great original, of which the sanctuary built by Moses was but a copy. God placed His Spirit on the builders and the artistic display was evidence of divine wisdom, reflecting to human vision the glories of the heavenly temple where Christ ministers for us. The great truths regarding the heavenly sanctuary and the work there carried on for man’s redemption were taught in the earthly sanctuary and its services.

In order to better understand the work of Christ, on our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary, we will examine the symbolic service that took place in the earthly sanctuary.

2. When a person had sinned and desired forgiveness, what was he required to do?

Leviticus 4:27–29
Leviticus 4:27–29

Note: The person himself had to slay the animal, but before doing so, he placed his hands on the head of the animal and confessed his sins there. In this way he symbolically transferred his sins to the animal. The animal then became his substitute and died for his sins.

3. When it was a priest who had sinned, and for whom an atonement was to be made, what was done with the blood of the sacrifice?

Leviticus 4:3–6
Leviticus 4:3–6

Note: For obvious reasons the blood from all the sacrifices could not possibly have been sprinkled in the holy place; so when the common people brought their sacrifices, God said that the priest should sprinkle some of the animal’s blood on the large altar in the court.

4. When the blood was not taken directly into the sanctuary, what was the priest required to do?

Leviticus 6:25–26
Leviticus 6:25–26

Note: When the priest ate a portion of the meat, symbolically, he, like Christ, bore the “iniquity of the congregation” in his own body. See Leviticus 10:17. When the priest again offered a sacrifice for himself, he carried into the holy place blood that now represented the people’s sins as well as his own. Thus in one way or another a record of everyone’s confessed and forgiven sins was preserved in the holy place of the sanctuary.

It is important to realize that while forgiveness of sins could only be accomplished by the shedding of blood (see Hebrews 9:22), that was not enough; it was also necessary that there be an application of the blood. Some of the blood had to be applied to one of the altars by one of the priests in order for the symbolic ritual to be complete. In some cases only the applied blood is referred to when speaking of the atonement. See Exodus 30:10.

5. Was it possible for the blood of the animal sacrifices to actually atone for the sins that had been committed?

Hebrews 10:4
Hebrews 10:4

Note: Despite the fact that the blood of animals had no ability in itself to atone for the sins committed, when the person who desired forgiveness offered the sacrifice, his sins were truly forgiven, and an atonement was made. See Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31, 35. For, though there was no value in the blood of the animal itself, it had value as an expression of faith in Christ’s death for sin. See 1 Corinthians 15:3.

6. In another place, what does Paul say saves us?

Romans 5:10
Romans 5:10

Note: The high-priestly ministry of Jesus Christ in the heavenly sanctuary is just as essential to our salvation as was His death on the cross. In Hebrews 9:12 we are told that “He entered once for all into the Holy place, taking . . . His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” RSV; emphasis supplied

Many Christians think that Jesus only died in order to provide justification by faith. Romans 4:25, however, says that He was “delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” NIV; emphasis supplied.

7. Following the round of yearly services and the accumulation of the sins of the people in the sanctuary, what service took place?

Leviticus 23:27; 16:29–30
Leviticus 23:27; 16:29–30

8. Why was this atonement necessary?

Leviticus 16:16
Leviticus 16:16

Note: Until this point the sanctuary service had been concerned with the removal of sins from the people and their transfer to the sanctuary. Sin is so heinous, however, that even the record of confessed sin contaminated the sanctuary. Thus, by a special service on the Day of Atonement, the sanctuary was to be cleansed of the accumulated record of sins.

9. For what, besides the sanctuary, was an atonement to be made?

Leviticus 16:30–33
Leviticus 16:30–33

10. While this was going on, what was required of the people?

Leviticus 23:26–30
Leviticus 23:26–30

Note: There was a special work of co-operation required of the people during this solemn time. While the high priest was making an atonement in the sanctuary, there was to be a work of putting away of sin from the lives of the people. While sin was being removed ceremonially from the sanctuary, it was to be truly removed from the people. They were not to be confessing individual sins; this was to have been done at the time the act had been committed; but they were to turn from sinfulness, that they might be fully sanctified— a holy people. All lightness, trifling, merriment, even though acceptable at other times, were to be set aside during this sacred and solemn period. The Day of Atonement was a life-and-death issue for the people of Israel. Those who did not participate were to be cut off from the congregation, and, in a very real sense, this was a day of judgment for Israel.

11. Is there anything in the heavenly sanctuary to be cleansed?

Hebrews 9:22–23
Hebrews 9:22–23

Note: Phillips translation says: “It was necessary for the earthly reproductions of heavenly realities to be purified by such methods, but the actual heavenly things could only be made pure in God’s sight by higher sacrifices than these.”

As the sins of Israel were transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant sinner are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary, where a record is kept of all that takes place upon the earth. Just as there was a cleansing of the earthly sanctuary for the removal of those sins that had been symbolically transferred there, so the heavenly sanctuary was to be cleansed of the record of confessed and forgiven sins. As in the earthly sanctuary, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary involved more than the sanctuary itself.

12. Looking forward to this time, what admonition did the apostle give to the believers of his time?

Acts 3:19
Acts 3:19

Note: While a prompt and ready forgiveness has always been available to the repentant sinner, the blotting out of the record was yet a future event.

13. Besides forgiving our sins, what does Christ desire to do for us?

1 John 1:9
1 John 1:9

In times past men looked forward to a future day of judgment after their death (see Hebrews 9:27–28), but now the day of judgment will occur while men are living on the earth. Over and over the Bible warns against postponing one’s decision for salvation in order to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a little while longer. This delay has always been serious business, as death may occur unexpectedly, fixing forever one’s destiny. The day is coming, however, when there will no longer be opportunity to change one’s destiny. Jesus used the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 to illustrate the seriousness of the issues facing the generation that will be alive upon the earth when He comes again.

When Christ leaves the heavenly sanctuary, men’s destinies are forever fixed. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:11–12

Those only will be able to meet Christ in peace when He returns who have participated in the work of their great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, allowing Him to cleanse them of all sin in their lives. “And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.” Revelation 22:4

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