The earthly sanctuary service revealed three phases of salvation:
substitutionary sacrifice, priestly mediation, and judgment. The Bible teaches that all three phases of salvation are embodied in the ministry of Christ on behalf of sinners.
Just as animal sacrifices pointed to the death of Christ, the priestly ministry foreshadowed the true ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. In particular, the continual, or daily, ministry of priests in the Holy Place symbolized the access the sinner has to God through Christ’s ministry as Intercessor and Mediator in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb. 4:14-16).
Study Hebrews 9:23. How does the cleansing of things in the heavens relate to the priestly work in the earthly sanctuary on the Day of Atonement?
With the earthly sanctuary services in the background, Hebrews 9:23 points clearly to a cleansing ministry of Christ in heaven. This is a text that has baffled scholars for centuries, because it clearly teaches that something in heaven has been defiled and needs to be purified. For Seventh-day Adventists, with our understanding of the two phases of Christ’s heavenly work in our behalf, this cleansing is the antitype – the yearly cleansing of the earthly sanctuary on the Day of Atonement.
Think about atonement – what it means, how it is accomplished, and who alone can make atonement for us. Why, then, should the news that we are living in the ‘Day of Atonement’ be something positive and hopeful?