Lesson 6

*May 4 - 10

The Eschatological Day of Atonement

Sabbath Afternoon   May 4

READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Exod. 25:8; Leviticus 16; Dan. 7:9-11, 13, 14; 8:14; 9:24; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25.

MEMORY TEXT: "It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these" (Hebrews 9:23, NIV).

ALL THE VISIONS IN DANIEL CULMINATE IN THE VICTORY of God, through Christ, over the forces of evil. Daniel 2 shows the victorious end that comes when the kingdom of God is, finally and forever, established. Daniel 7 reveals that this kingdom will be preceded by a work of judgment in which the Son of man is shown approaching the Father (vs. 13). Daniel 8 emphasizes the priestly work of the Son of man in the heavenly sanctuary; in Daniel 9, the emphasis is on His sacrificial death. In all His roles, Jesus, the Son of man, remains at the center of our salvation.

The Bible stresses two main aspects of Christ's ministry in our behalf: His work as a substitutionary Sacrifice for our sins and His work at the right hand of God in the heavenly sanctuary as our High Priest.

This subject, that of Christ's heavenly ministry, deserves the attention of every Christian, because it deals with the crucial theme of just what Christ has done and is doing in our behalf as both our Sacrifice and our High Priest.  

*(Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, May 11.)

Sunday  May 5


"Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount" (Heb. 8:5).  

What pattern was Moses shown when God told him to build an earthly sanctuary? In other words, what was Moses' model for the earthly sanctuary? See Exod. 25:8, 9; Ps. 11:4; Heb. 8:2; Rev. 15:5.  

To some extent, the earthly sanctuary had for the Israelites the same function as the heavenly has for the rest of the universe. First, both sanctuaries are God's dwelling place among His people. God said to Moses, "make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them" (Exod. 25:8, NIV); the heavenly sanctuary, in contrast, is the place in the universe where God has located His presence within creation, where His throne is (Ps. 11:4; Dan. 7:9, 10; Rev. 4:2-7).

Second, both sanctuaries are a meeting place for God and His servants. In the earthly, He met with the Israelites, and they worshiped Him (Exod. 29:42-45; Ps. 43:3, 4). The heavenly is the place where God meets with celestial beings who come to serve and praise Him (Job 1:6; Ps. 103:19-22). God localized Himself there in order to be accessible to heavenly beings, and, from there, His presence is projected throughout the universe.

Third, God rules as King from both sanctuaries: "The Lord reigns... enthroned between the cherubim" (Ps. 99:1, NIV). "The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all" (Ps. 103:19, NIV).

When did Christ inaugurate His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary? Dan. 9:24; Heb. 9:11, 12; 10:19, 20.  

Hebrews indicates that after His ascension, Jesus "opened/dedicated/inaugurated" (NIV, NRSV) a way for us to have access to God (Heb. 10:20). This passage teaches that after His ascension, Christ initiated His priestly work in the heavenly sanctuary. Daniel 9:24 places this inauguration, or anointing (Exod. 40:9-11), within the time frame of the 70 weeks.

Why should it be comforting to know that Jesus is ministering in your behalf in heaven?  What is your understanding of that ministry, and what does it mean for you individually?  

Monday  May 6

DAILY SERVICES (Dan. 8:11, 12; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 5:1; 7:25).

What was the most fundamental task of the priest in the Israelite sanctuary? Heb. 5:1.  

The priests represented the people before God, and they represented God before the people. Every day they performed the daily services, which consisted primarily in the offering of sacrifices on behalf of the Israelites. "The repentant sinner brought his offering to the door of the tabernacle, and, placing his hand upon the victim's head, confessed his sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the innocent sacrifice. ... The blood was carried by the priest into the holy place and sprinkled before the veil, behind which was the ark containing the law that the sinner had transgressed. By this ceremony the sin was, through the blood, transferred in figure to the sanctuary."—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 354. God, through the process of atonement, forgave repentant sinners by assuming upon Himself responsibility for their sins.

Who is our High Priest, and what does He offer? Heb. 7:27; 8:1, 2.  

Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He came to give His life and His blood as a ransom for the souls of many (Mark 10:45). He who had no sin was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21) and "redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13, NIV).

What has Christ been doing in the sanctuary since His ascension? Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34.  

In Christ's atoning self-sacrifice, God assumed responsibility for our sins, and in the heavenly sanctuary Christ applies the benefits of His sacrifice to those who, by faith, come to Him seeking forgiveness. In the heavenly sanctuary, Christ performs, in reality, what the daily service taught in symbol, which is that, as our High Priest, Jesus continually mediates forgiveness for us (Eph. 4:32), cleanses us from sin (1 John 1:9), and grants us access to God (Eph. 2:18).

Benny loves the Lord and wants to do what is right, but time and again he falls into sin, which he hates with a passion.  What is Christ doing in heaven that could give Benny hope that God will not cast him off, even when he fails?  

Tuesday  May 7


Read Leviticus 16:30; see also Hebrews 9:23.  

During the daily services sin was, symbolically, transferred to the sanctuary through the sacrificial system. Once a year, the sanctuary itself was cleansed from the sin and impurity accumulated there throughout the year. Yet, according to Leviticus, not only the sanctuary was cleansed, but the people were too. At the consummation of this service, both the people and the sanctuary were cleansed from sin.

A clean sanctuary, a clean people. No wonder that, at the end of the day, the Hebrew nation was at peace with heaven. (See The Desire of Ages, p. 448.)

According to Scripture, however, the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary was only a symbol of a greater reality, a greater cleansing. What is that? See Heb. 9:23.  

Bible students have been surprised by the statement that heavenly things need to be cleansed (Heb. 9:23). How is it that something in heaven, so far away, needs to be cleansed? What could have defiled it?

The answer is best grasped once it is recognized that the entire earthly service was a shadow, an image of the heavenly service (Heb. 8:1-5). Just as the earthly was defiled by sin, so is the heavenly. For this reason the Bible, in Hebrews 9:23, talks about the need to cleanse even the heavenly sanctuary. What else would it need to be cleansed from other than sin, even if sinners do not enter directly into it any more than sinners (with the exception of the priest) entered into the earthly sanctuary?

Hebrews 9:23 is, actually, referring to the Day of Atonement. The verse does not state, however, that this cleansing took place immediately after Christ's ascension; the point, instead, is that, at some point in salvation's history, heavenly things themselves needed to be cleansed.

According to Revelation, Christ performed in the Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary a work of mediation (Rev. 8:3, 4). Yet, Revelation teaches that He also is performing a particular work in the Most Holy Place. The beginning of this work is introduced in Revelation 11:19, where the Most Holy Place is visible, and it closes, in Revelation 15:8, where there is no longer access to it.

What does it mean to say that we are now living in the great Day of Atonement?  Should we be afraid, or should we rejoice?  Hint: What is atonement, and how is it accomplished?  

Wednesday  May 8


"And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (Dan. 8:14).

"It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these" (Heb. 9:23).

What link exists between these two verses?  

According to Daniel, at the end of the 2,300 years (1844), the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary was to begin. The term he uses for "cleansed," nitsdaq, usually rendered "be restored, be cleansed, be vindicated," comes from a root that refers to the restoration of the rights of a person who had been falsely accused. In this particular context, Psalm 7:8 and Psalm 9:4 use that same word, translated in these texts as "righteousness" and "right."

The term is also a synonym for salvation (Isa. 1:27). In the context of the sanctuary, the verb conveys the idea of cleansing and is a synonym for "purity" (for example, see Job 4:17). The restoration or vindication of sinners takes place through cleansing (Isa. 53:11). The verb, then, combines legal, salvific, and cleansing ideas, which, no doubt, is why it was used in Daniel 8:14. The Lord wanted to convey the broadness and large scope of what was happening in the chapter.

Daniel 7

Daniel 8







Rome (pagan/papal)

Rome (pagan/papal)

Judgment in heaven

Cleansing of sanctuary

God's kingdom

God's kingdom

Study the parallels between Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 on this chart.  Notice the parallel between the judgment scene in Daniel 7 and the cleansing of the sanctuary in Daniel 8. They are the same event. Read carefully what happens in the judgment (particularly Daniel 7:22).  From what these texts say, why is the judgment, the cleansing of the sanctuary, good news for God's people?  

Thursday  May 9


What was the purpose of the goat for the Lord and of the goat for Azazel (scapegoat) in the Day of Atonement service? Lev. 16:7-10, 15-22.  

Azazel was a personal being, as indicated by the parallelism between "for the Lord" and "for Azazel" (Lev. 16:8, RSV). The name most probably means "a strong god" and refers here to a demonic being. Sin was removed from the sanctuary through the blood of the goat belonging to the Lord. Once the atonement was over, the live goat carried sin to Azazel, to the wilderness where he symbolically resided. Thus, sin and impurity were returned to its ultimate originator and instigator, Azazel, making him responsible. Although the Lord had assumed responsibility for the sins of His people, He was not the originator of sin, which ultimately had to be removed from His presence.

What is the relationship between the sending out of Azazel and the experience of Satan during the millennium? Also, what is the relationship between the all-encompassing cleansing of the Day of Atonement and the new earth? Rev. 20:1-3, 9, 10, 12-15; 21:1-5.  

The Day of Atonement emphasizes several aspects of the salvific work of God through Christ:

1. It points to the last aspect of Christ's work in the heavenly sanctuary. In order to encourage and prepare us for the final conflict, apocalyptic prophecies inform us about the precise moment when the work of judgment and cleansing is to begin.

2. It reveals the extermination of sin. Christ's work in the heavenly sanctuary announces that He will soon return (Heb. 9:28), that the true Azazel will be identified (left in the wilderness of a desolate planet for 1,000 years [Rev. 20:1-3]), that sin will be eradicated, and that our world will be recreated (Rev. 21: 1-5).

3. The connection of judgment and cleansing during the Day of Atonement testifies to the fact that God is the moral Arbiter of the universe. Everyone is accountable to Him. Those who remain loyal to their faith-commitment to Christ will be vindicated in the judgment and the record of their sins will be blotted out forever from the universe. Since the judgment is a public event, God, through the judgment will reveal His righteousness in cleansing the cosmos from sin and from impenitent sinners. (See lesson 3, "The Son of Man and the Final Judgment.")

Friday  May 10

FURTHER STUDY:  Ellen G. White, "What Is the Sanctuary?" The Great Controversy, pp. 409-432; "Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary," Seventh-day Adventists Believe. . . A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines (Silver Spring, Md.: Ministerial Assoc., General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1988), chap. 23, pp. 312-331.

1. Nature of the heavenly sanctuary. No building on earth could reflect the glory and vastness of God's heavenly sanctuary. (See Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 414.) Because the earthly sanctuary was built after the pattern of the heavenly, there must be a correspondence of functions, at least, of the basic structural concept. The basic architectural concept was that of a two-compartment structure, suggesting that the heavenly will have at least two compartments. To say less or to say more is only to speculate. The heavenly sanctuary seems to be the place where the Infinite One touches the finite in order to be accessible to His creatures.

2. The cleansing of the sanctuary and the little horn. The attack of the little horn against the sanctuary resulted in profanation (Dan. 11:31). In the Old Testament, rebellious profanation of the sanctuary was redressed through the extermination of the sinner and not through expiatory blood. For instance, the Babylonians destroyed and desecrated the temple (Ezek. 7:22; 25:3). How was this profanation redressed? The Lord destroyed them (Jer. 51:11), and later the temple was rebuilt. Israelites who profaned the temple were put to death (Ezek. 23:39, 46-49). Atonement took place, so to speak, through the death of the culprit (for example, see Num. 35:33). The little horn is treated as a desecrating power, and at the end it is destroyed (Dan. 8:25).  

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:  Read the following statement and discuss the questions: "The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844. It opened to view a complete system of truth, connected and harmonious, showing that God's hand directed the great advent movement."—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 423.
1. How did the sanctuary message shed light on Daniel 8:14? 
2. How did the subject of the sanctuary lead to other truths, such as the Sabbath, the law, and justification?  
3. The sanctuary message is really a pictorial representation of the plan of salvation. Explain how the gospel is taught in the sanctuary service.  


InSide Story

Maria's Celebration of Joy

J. H. Zachary

When Maria Brozozek retired from her work as a tailor in Poland, she had a burden to help people m her hometown. Her life took a new direction when she learned about a poor family that was not able to pay the rent for their apartment. The owner was about to evict them. Maria asked people in the community to donate used items to be sold and requested the funds be given to this family so they could remain in their apartment.

Her efforts were a success, and Maria began looking for others she could help. She developed a plan to designate a special day for what she called a Celebration of Joy. Then she organized activities that were open to the community. Children prepared a play based on a Bible story; the community was invited to bring used items for an auction following the play. The funds raised were set aside to help the poor.

On one occasion Maria made arrangements for an art exhibition in the city's castle. One of the city's artists provided his art collection for sale. On another occasion actors performed for a benefit show. The proceeds of these events were given to a fund to help the poor.

Maria's program has done a lot to change the attitude of the city's residents toward the Adventist Church. The local Catholic priest has given his blessing for his congregation to support the Celebration of Joy. He even invited the Adventists to present a musical concert in his church to raise funds for the poor.

When people ask Maria why she does this, she tells them how God's love changed her life, and she wants to help change others' lives, as well. Television and radio stations have featured Maria's mission, and the newspaper has begun a column listing places where people in need can go for help. Clothing is collected to be given to needy children, and poor children are taken on special field trips.

Many people in Maria's city want to know more about Adventists as a result of Maria's work. Maria is studying the Bible with 10 people who might never have become interested had it not been for her Celebration of Joy.

Maria Brozozek (left). J. H. Zachary is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour and a special consultant for the General Conference Ministerial Association

Join the SSNET moderated email discussion group.  You are also warmly invited to join a group discussion of this lesson Sabbath morning with your local Seventh-Day Adventist congregation.

Editorial Office:  12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributor:  Anngel Manuel Rodriguez
Editor:  Clifford Goldstein
Associate  Editor:  Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti
Editorial Production Manager:  Soraya Homayouni Parish
Art and Design:  Lars Justinen
Pacific Press Coordinator:  Paul A. Hey

Copyright © 2002 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist.  All Rights Reserved.

This page is Netscape friendly.
SSNET Web Site Home page.
Directory of adult SS quarterly Bible Study guides.

Prepared for the Internet by the SSNET Web Team
Last updated March 31, 2002.