Living Like Daniel in the Middle of Babylon

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As Adventists, we believe that in the last days there will be a showdown between spiritual Babylon and those who have the seal of God, who reflect the character of Jesus. While Daniel had his haters, it amazes me how he seemed to thrive and even find favor among the leaders of Babylon and Persia. Daniel was not one to compromise his standards. The life of Daniel shows us that it is possible to live a life of uncompromising integrity and still get along with those of different beliefs and lifestyles. Years later, Paul wrote,

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, Titus 2:11-12 NLT

We can’t wait for heaven to live a righteous life. God’s grace empowers us to reflect Christ’s character in this evil world. Daniel is an example of how we can be like Jesus in the midst of corruption. Let’s take a look.

Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, “Don’t kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream.” Daniel 2:24 NLT

When Daniel received the vision the king had dreamed, his first thought was to save the lives of the wicked wise men. Jesus always put the salvation of others first, and  did Daniel too. The wise men in Daniel’s day were preserved by the integrity of Daniel. In Genesis 12:3, God said all the families of the earth (not just believers) would be blessed by the Messiah. Likewise, even the unbelievers of Daniel’s day were blessed by Daniel’s integrity. In the last days, I believe men and women of God will be a blessing to the evil world around them.

I marvel at Daniel’s humility. In Daniel 1:20, Daniel and his friends were found to be ten times wiser than the other wise men, but look at what Daniel says when he tells the king his dream.

And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart. Daniel 2:30 NLT

Daniel did not claim to have any special wisdom, and neither did Jesus. Jesus always pointed people to the Scriptures, instead of spouting off like a know-it-all. Daniel did not claim to have any special abilities, and neither did Jesus. Look at what Jesus says about Himself,

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. John 5:19 NLT

Look at what Jesus says about others who believe.

I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. John 14:12 NLT

Daniel lived a life of uncompromising integrity in the midst of Babylon and Persia. Amidst his haters, he more than survived; he thrived and found favor, even among wicked rulers. Some blame corruption in the workplace for why they were passed over for promotions, but God promoted Daniel right in the heart of all the corruption. God can promote you too, anytime, anywhere.

Jesus lived a life of uncompromising integrity, in the heart of the Roman Empire and a corrupt religious system. He too had His haters, but He too found favor “with both God and man” and was able to tell His Father,

I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. John 17:4

Daniel lived a life of uncompromising integrity, and thrived among all the corruption of Babylon. Jesus lived a life of uncompromising integrity, and thrived amid pagan Rome and a religious system that left a lot to be desired. So today, in the midst of spiritual Babylon, by God’s grace, we can live a life of uncompromising integrity, and make friends along the way, if we will depend fully on our Father God, just as Daniel and Jesus did.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

9: A City Called Confusion-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School Class, May 27, 2023.

Main Theme: While the first angel’s message tells us to worship God, the second angel warns us against a false system of worship.

Read in Class: Revelation 14:8 and Revelation 17:1-2. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What solemn announcement does the angel make, and what did Babylon do to warrant such an announcement?

Apply: Both leaders and the common people alike have been negatively influenced by this power. What’s our only protection? (Read Eph. 6:10-18).

Share: Your friend points out that Isaiah 21:9 mentions that Babylon has fallen, and asks what are the parallels of ancient and modern spiritual Babylon? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Revelation 18:1-4. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study:  How extensive is Babylon’s influence?

Apply: What role do those who proclaim the three angels’ messages have in being used by God to call “my people,” His people, out of Babylon?

Share: You friend asks, when people come out of Babylon where do they go? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Revelation 17:4-6, 14 and Matthew 16:18. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What do these verses teach us about the nature of this evil system?

Apply: How can we protect ourselves from the subtle influences of Babylon, such as the tendency, easy as it is, to depend upon ourselves and not wholly upon God?

Share: Your friend asks, If God is calling His people out of Babylon who do we warn them about the system of Babylon without condemning God’s people who are still in Babylon? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Revelation 12:17, Revelation 18:1-4 and John 10:16. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: When God’s people come out of Babylon, what is the remnant or fold that they come into?

Apply: How are you making sure your church is a safe place for God to bring His flock into? In what ways is your church more safe than Babylon?

Share: Is God leading you to give a friend or family member a call out of Babylon? Can you give that invitation this week?

Why we Still Need the Weekly 7th-day Sabbath

A while back, I had a conversation with a former Sabbath keeping friend who had first turned away from the Sabbath, and then gradually started turning away from other Bible teachings as well. Sadly, this confirmed for me that the same logic some Christians use to do away with the Spirit of Prophecy and  the Sabbath, is the same logic atheists use to do away with the entire Bible. 

My friend told me that the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday in the Bible, without giving me any Scripture to back up his claim. In another breath, he told me the Sabbath was done away with altogether. I asked him why Constantine changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday in the third century, if it had already been done away with or changed, centuries earlier? He gave me no reply.

He told me the Sabbath was only given to the Jews, yet here is what I found in my Bible.

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. Genesis 2:1-3 NLT 

My friend told me that God kept the Sabbath at creation but Adam and Eve didn’t. He told me the Sabbath was never kept by man until Exodus 20:8-11. I answered with the question:  Did God Tell Adam and Eve to Keep the Sabbath, by pointing out that the Sabbath was made, when it was made at creation for all mankind, according to Jesus in Mark 2:27? Also, the Sabbath was already an institution in Exodus 16, before the law was given. As a matter of fact, while some argue that the law was done away with, which it was not, you still have the Sabbath at creation, before there was ever a Jew or the law was given to Moses. So, even if you could argue that the ten commandments were done away with, you still have the Sabbath long before the ten commandments were given. 

The argument came up, that the Sabbath was only given to the Jews, because it was a sign to them that they were God’s people, to which I replied, “I want to be a part of God’s people too!” Does that mean that I also need to keep the Sabbath? Was the Sabbath given to Jews only? 

“I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant.” Isaiah 56:6 NLT

Clearly, the Sabbath was not only given to the Jews, but is for everyone who wants in on the everlasting covenant. The Sabbath was not given as a sign that anyone was a Jew. It was a sign given to anyone who was a part of God’s people.

The claim was presented that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday as a memorial to the resurrection. While such a claim is found nowhere in Scripture, the book of Romans gives us a memorial to the resurrection. Baptism is the memorial to the resurrection, and not Sunday  observance.

Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:3-7 NLT

It was then said, that Jesus is our rest. If Jesus is our Rest, do we Still Need a Weekly Sabbath? The fact is that Jesus has always been our rest. We have never been saved by works or by the law. Just like we do not throw our country’s flag away because we have the country it represents, likewise we do not do away with the weekly Sabbath, which is a weekly reminder that Jesus is our rest. 

Exodus 20:8-11 tells us the Sabbath is a weekly reminder of our Creator.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11 NLT

Deuteronomy 5:12-15 tells us the Sabbath is a weekly reminder of our deliverance from bondage. 

“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. Deuteronomy 5:12-15 NLT

God has given us the weekly Sabbath as a constant reminder that we are twice His. First, at creation he made us, and then, at the cross He bought us. While atheism is gaining ground in much of the world, we need the weekly Sabbath now more than ever as a constant reminder of our Creator. As we battle legalism in the world, and even in the church, we need the weekly Sabbath now more than ever as a constant reminder that only God’s grace can save us from the bondage of sin. We need that weekly reminder that Jesus is our Sabbath rest. 

We also need the Sabbath for physical as well as spiritual rest. People talk about how much longer health-conscious Seventh-day Adventists live because of our diet, but I believe our longevity is also due to the fact that we have a weekly Sabbath rest. We need a break from worldly cares and stress, as we rest on the Sabbath and devote time to God and His family. It is interesting to me that many people who want to say that we are not  “bound” to keeping the Sabbath, say so as if that is good news. I am wondering why it would be good news to someone who loves Jesus to say that we don’t “have” to spend an entire day with Him? If we can’t be happy dedicating an entire day to God, how could we possibly be happy spending all eternity with Him? Why would someone who loves God consider the Sabbath a burden? Do people tell their spouse that going on a date with them is a burden? 

The Sabbath is not a burden. It is a gift.

They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you… Exodus 16:29 NLT

God has given the Sabbath as a sign that we are His people. The Sabbath was never a sign given to the Jews that they were Jews. It was a sign given to the Jews and everyone else choosing to be in on the everlasting covenant that we are all His people. Satan would love to have us forget the Sabbath, so that we will forget God. If Satan can make us forget God, then he can set up his own counterfeit Sabbath. We need the weekly Sabbath today, more than ever, as a weekly constant reminder that we have a Creator who loves us. We need the weekly Sabbath now, more than ever, to remind us that we are not saved by our works or by legalism. The Sabbath is a constant reminder of salvation by grace and the rest we have in Jesus. We need the weekly Sabbath now, more than ever, to give us a weekly rest from all the stress and cares of this life. 

8: The Sabbath at the end-Sabbath School lesson Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class on May 20, 2023.

Main Theme: The Sabbath is an everlasting sign that God is our Creator and Redeemer.

Read in Class: Revelation 14:7, Romans 14:10 and James 2:8-13. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What does judgment imply about issues such as accountability and responsibility? How are the judgment, the commandments of God, and worship linked?

Apply: How does our understanding of Creation influence our behavior? What relationship does heredity and environment have to the choices we make daily? How can we, by God’s grace, overcome character defects that we didn’t choose to have in the first place?

Share: Your friend says that all religions are made up by man as a way to manipulate and control others. The Bible is not real. Religious leaders just made it all up as a way to use guilt and some make believe heaven as a way to manipulate and control people. What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: Why would you connect Sabbath worship with this call in Revelation 14:6,7 to worship Him who made the heavens, earth, and everything in them? Also how is the Sabbath linked to both creation and redemption? See Twice Mine.

Apply: How is the Sabbath commandment hinted at in Revelation 14:6, 7, and why is it important to our end-time message? (See Exod. 20:8-11).

Share: Your friend asks why Seventh-day Adventists make such a big deal about the Sabbath? And what’s the big deal if we keep Saturday or Sunday? What do you tell your friend? See Why Does it Matter Which Day we Keep.

Read in Class: Psalm 33:6,9 and Hebrews 11:3. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What do these clear Bible passages tell us about how God created the world?

Apply:  What significance would the Sabbath have if God did not create the world in six twenty-four hour periods of time? Can one be an evolutionary Creationist and a Seventh-day Adventist? 

Share: Your friend asks if the world was created in six literal days or if it could have been a thousand years for each day? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 66:22, 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: How does keeping the Sabbath point us forward to eternity?

Apply: How can you personally make the Sabbath a foretaste of heaven in your own life and your family?

Share: Can you think of someone you know who you could invite to church next week and spend the entire Sabbath with so you can share the joy of Sabbath keeping?

Why Worshiping God has to be a Choice and not an Addiction


Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. Jonah 2:8 NLT

Over the last 30 years of studying the Bible with people I have had a few conversations that have have gone like this.

Friend: I am so bored right now I wish there was something to do, anything! I am just tired of being bored.

Me: Hey would this be a good time for a Bible study?

Friend: Maybe when things settle down a little bit. My life is a whirlwind right now. 

Granted the last time this happened was during the COVID quarantine but it has happened other times also. It is sad people will do everything they can to avoid worshipping God, while He is the only One who can bring true purpose and satisfaction. In John 4:1-42, Jesus tells the woman at the well that He is the Living Water which will never make her thirsty again. After 5 failed relationships she needed to know that a relationship with Jesus is the only relationship that brings true satisfaction. So today, many worship immoral sex, and other addictive vices such as drugs that never quench their thirst and never satisfy. You have heard the definition for insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. I believe the reason many of us have addictive vices is not because the addictions satisfy but rather because the addictive behavior does not satisfy, but we keep expecting it to satisfy each time we repeat the behavior even though it never does. So we keep repeating the addiction over and over expecting it to bring us satisfaction that we can only obtain by worshiping God. This is insanity. I had a pastor back home in Oklahoma who would often say, “sin is insanity.” I believe he is right. When I get thirsty my body needs water, but sometimes I may try to tell myself what I really need is a cold glass of iced sweet tea or a soda. Reality is those other drinks dehydrate me and leave me even more thirsty. Thinking that tea and colas will quench my thirst is insanity. Only water will quench my thirst. My taste and cravings may make me think I need a cola but my tastes and cravings are a lie. They are insanity. Logic tells me what my body needs is water. 

Many worship immoral sex and drugs and such thinking that it will bring satisfaction but it never does, and thus the repeated addictive behavior, expecting drugs and sex to do for us what it has never done before.  By the way, later in the story in John 4:1-42 Jesus tells His disciples that His food is to do the will of His Father. I think what Jesus meant was that His satisfaction does not come from food, or drugs or immoral sex for that matter. His satisfaction comes from worshiping the Father and doing His will. Sure Jesus repeats this behavior of worship, but not as an addiction but rather because it is truly satisfying and exactly what He needs. After all God always gives us free will and free choice when it comes to worship. Worshiping God is a choice we make every day, and not an addiction. This is why Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23 to take up the cross every day, because every day we have to make that choice. It will never become an addiction. Only Satan uses addictions. Jesus died to free us from all addictions and only accepts worship done every day by free choice, as we choose every day to take up our cross and follow and worship Him. 

God knows worshiping Him really does bring true satisfaction and purpose so there is no reason for Him to make it addictive. God knows if we taste and see that the Lord is good we will freely choose to worship Him every day. He does not have to trick us by making it addictive. Satan on the other hand knows sin does not satisfy or give us purpose. Murder, lying, stealing, lust,  coveting and so forth have never been a logical solution for any problem. Thus Satan has to make these behaviors addictive in order to make us repeat them, because the fact is they do not bring satisfaction or purpose. Sin and sinful addictions are insanity like my pastor said. If that sounds too harsh, then lets just say sinful addictions are not a logical solution for any craving. Only Jesus satisfies. 

We worship because we are created to worship by nature. The only question is what or who do we worship? Like in my illustration at the beginning of this article, many people will do all they can to avoid worshiping God-even when they are bored and feel a void. I’ve had people tell me they don’t have time to study their Bible or worship God because they are too busy making money, or practicing other hobbies or just too busy watching sports and TV. Fact is they have plenty of time to worship. Its just that they are so busy worshiping everything else that they don’t have time to worship God. By the way do you know how I know that worshiping God truly satisfies? Sometimes I will plan on watching a ball game and will tell myself that I can do my Bible study before the game, but I often fall so in love with what and Who I am studying that by the time the game comes on I don’t desire to watch the game anymore. I want to keep studying, because I choose to because worshiping God is truly quenching my thirst, and giving me satisfaction so that I feel no need to watch the ball game. I am not addicted to the Bible. I keep studying because I want to and not because I am addicted. Again God does not want us to worship Him because we are addicted. We can stop worshiping Him anytime we want. He is not an addiction. He only accepts worship that comes by choice and not by addiction. But when I find how satisfying God is and how unsatisfying my addictions are, I then choose to worship God instead of my addictions, and God gives me the freedom to choose Him instead of my addictions when it is my sincere choice. 

In closing, I believe in my heart the reason many make themselves drunk with the cares of this life or with literal drugs and alcohol is so they can ignore the sobriety of life. They use drugs and alcohol which leads to death as a way to escape this world. Oh how I pray they find out soon there is a better way to escape the pains of this world and life. Jesus, offers us a way out of this world of misery, but His way out is not drinking yourself to death. His way out is the opposite of death, it is eternal life. A more fulfilling and satisfying life that will remove us from this world of misery and sin and give us eternal life in paradise with Him. Satan wants us to get so drunk with our addictions that we no longer think about life. He wants us to be numb to the realities of life and just drift away to a peaceful death. Let’s all wake up! instead of being drunk and numb to the realities of life and drifting off into a peaceful death, let’s be sober and worship God and accept the everlasting Gospel which will help us drift into a peaceful eternal life. 

PS Earlier I mentioned that our sinful addictive cravings are a lie. I want to help make this idea practical. Many times I have walked into a convenience store thinking I needed a cola, but walked out with a bottled water instead, after praying and telling myself that my desire for soda was a lie. When I think I need a soda, I have found myself drinking water instead by praying and then telling myself I was lying to myself when I told myself I needed a cola. I tell myself the truth is I want water. It also helps to stop and ask myself, did drinking cola really satisfy anything last time I drank it? No. Did water satisfy my thirst last time I drank it? Yes! Now I am free to make a sane and logical choice. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

7: Worshiping the Creator-Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School class, May 13, 2023.

Main Theme: Our natures are created for worship. We all worship something. The only question is what do we worship? Only God deserves our worship.

Read in Class: Revelation 1:9, Matthew 13:21 and Acts 14:22. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What’s the message here for all who seek to follow Jesus in this world?

Apply: Have you ever been persecuted or inconvenienced because of your beliefs? If faithful servants of God, like John, face suffering and tribulation, what makes us think we, ourselves, won’t face trouble either? (See 1 Pet. 4:12-15).

Share: Your friend says, the reason the church does not see more persecution is because the church fits right in with the rest of the world. Is your friend right? Why, or why not?

Read in Class: 2 Corinthians 5:17, Acts 17:27, and Colossians 1:17. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What do these verses teach us about the closeness of God?

Apply: How can we learn to draw hope and comfort from understanding the immanence of God? Or does it scare you, because God knows your darkest secrets? How should the gospel give you peace in that context?

Share: Your friend asks you how you know God is real? Have you seen Him actually work in your won life where you knew without a doubt it was God? What do you tell your friend?

Read in Class: Ephesians 3:9, Romans 5:17-19, Colossians 1:13-17 and Revelation 4:11. Define the common thread of these passages.

Study: What do these texts teach about Jesus as Creator and Redeemer?

Apply: Why is Jesus worthy of your worship? Why is no one else worthy of your worship?

Share: Your friend says God must be on some ego trip to want everyone to worship Him all the time? What do you tell your friend? See also, Why worshiping God Must be a Choice and not an Addiction.

Read in Class: Revelation 14:6-7. What is the main idea of this passage?

Study: What does worship have to do with the everlasting Gospel? What reason does the angel give for worshipping God and what commandment do these words remind us of? How is that commandment linked with the everlasting Gospel?

Apply: Earlier we talked about being persecuted for our beliefs, but is it always just beliefs we are persecuted for? How do your actions and acts of worship set you apart from the rest of the world?

Share: How can you share the everlasting Gospel with your actions as well as words this week?

6: The Hour of His Judgment- Sabbath School Lesson Teaching Plan

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Prepared by William Earnhardt for Sabbath School Class, May 6, 2023.

Main Theme: The cleansing of the Sanctuary justifies God’s people as well as His character of love.

Read in Class: Daniel 8:14, and Daniel 9:24-27. Discuss the link between these two passages.

Note: Gabriel tells Daniel that 490 years are “cut off” (the literal meaning of the Hebrew word chathak, sometimes translated “determined”). Cut off from what? It could be the only other time prophecy alluded to here: the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14. These 490 years, a time prophecy, is directly linked back to the time prophecy of Daniel 8:14, the only part of the vision left unexplained in Daniel 8 and the only time prophecy in Daniel 8, as well. Thus, we can see that Gabriel with this prophecy is coming to help Daniel understand what he didn’t understand in the previous chapter: the 2,300 days.

Study: What was to happen at the end of the 2300 days?

Apply: Why is it significant that the death of Jesus, as revealed in Daniel 9:24-27, is directly linked to the judgment, in Daniel 8:14? What great truth is taught here by this link?

Share: Your friend says there is no reason for an investigative judgment because God already knows everything. What do you tell your friend? See also The Cleansing of the Sanctuary in Scripture.

Read in Class: Leviticus 16:7-9, 15-22. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What did the priest do with the blood? What did he do with the sins? Who does the scapegoat represent? See The Sanctuary and the Scapegoat.

Apply: How does this segment of the cleansing of the sanctuary and Jesus dying on the cross help you to see that God is love and not the evil tyrant Satan wants us to believe He is? See Was the Atonement to Appease an Angry God or an Angry Race.

Share: Your friend says that the scapegoat cannot be Satan because Satan does not make an atonement. What do you tell your friend. See The Sanctuary and the Scapegoat.

Read in Class: Leviticus 23:27-30. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What are God’s people to be doing during this time? What happens to those who do not repent and turn from open sin?

Apply: How might Galatians 5:19-26 help us to understand what it means for us to “do not work” during the literal atonement we are in today?

Share: Your friend asks, how does God’s people being purified help others to see God as a God of love? What do you tell your friend? Hint: An ancient philosopher once told a group of Christians, “If you want me to believe in your Redeemer, you are going to have to start looking a lot more Redeemed.”

Read in Class: Hebrews 4:14-16. Define the main idea of this passage.

Study: What assurance does this passage give us in the investigative judgment and cleansing of the sanctuary?

Apply: How has God’s grace and mercy changed your behavior and attitude towards others?

Share: How can you help your friends see the love of God in the cleansing of the sanctuary and investigative judgment?

For further resources see The Cleansing of the Sanctuary in Light of the Cross.

The Cleansing of the Sanctuary in Scripture

When people ask me why Adventists do not keep the feast days, I tell them we do – literally! At the cross we had the literal Passover. Ever since 1844 we have been living in the literal Day of Atonement. When Jesus returns it will literally be the Feast of Trumpets. As Colossians 2:14-17 points out, we do not need to keep the feast sabbaths which were a shadow of things to come, because now we had the literal Passover when Jesus died on the cross. Now we are living in the literal Day of Atonement.

I have heard people say there is no such thing as a literal Day of Atonement, but that makes no sense to me, because how can there be a shadow to something that doesn’t even exist? Also the sanctuary building itself shows me there has to be a literal Day of Atonement and cleansing of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is an illustration of the gospel. Many try to tell me the gospel ended at the cross. If that is so then the sanctuary would have ended in the courtyard where the sacrifice was slain. The fact that the sanctuary continues to a holy and most holy place, tells me the gospel goes beyond a literal cross into a literal holy and most holy place. Besides, if the Passover had a literal cross and the Feast of Trumpets has a literal second coming then reason tells me the Day of Atonement must have a literal Day of Atonement as well.

A friend pointed out to me that there was no reason for a literal Day of Atonement beginning in 1844 because sins were forgiven and cleansed right away. There was no need for a cleansing of the sanctuary. Yet Peter refers to a future day of refreshing or cleansing of sin still to come.

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. Acts 3:19 KJV

Still I have heard people say there is no reason for a Day of Atonement or investigative judgment because God already knows everything and does not need to investigate. However in Genesis 3 God comes into the Garden of Eden to investigate after Adam and Eve disobeyed. Again in Genesis 18:21 God investigates Sodom and Gomorrah. So we cannot say there is no investigation because God already knows. Besides, all arguments aside, Daniel 8:14 says after 2300 days (a day for a year Ezekiel 4:6) the sanctuary shall be cleansed. The prophecy of Daniel 8 and 9 mesh together. If you try to make the cleansing of the sanctuary in 2300 literal days then you have to make the coming of the Messiah in 483 literal days which would make it impossible for Jesus to be our Messiah and Savior. But as Daniel 8 and 9 clearly teach, in A.D. 27 at the beginning of the 70th week, Jesus came as our Messiah and in 1844 He entered the Most Holy Place in heaven to complete the Gospel with the Day of Atonement and Cleansing of the Sanctuary.

Since the Old Testament Day of Atonement was a shadow or illustration of what would occur during the literal Day of Atonement when Jesus entered the Most Holy Place for us, let’s review what happened in that service:

What was to happen at the end of the 2300 days?

The other replied, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the Temple will be made right again.” Daniel 8:14 NLT And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. Daniel 8:14 KJV

Note: The Bible refers to two sanctuaries, one on earth and the other in heaven.

After what, was Moses to build the sanctuary?

“Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you. Exodus 25:8- 9 NLT

Where is the location of the original?

Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle,the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. Hebrews 8:1-2 NLT

They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:5 NLT

How many apartments did it have?

Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.Exodus 26:33 NLT

When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. Hebrews 9:6 NLT

How frequent was it in the second apartment?

But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:7 NLT

When did the high priest do this?

“On the tenth day of the appointed month in early autumn, you must deny yourselves. Neither native-born Israelites nor foreigners living among you may do any kind of work. This is a permanent law for you. Leviticus 16:29 NLT

What was he doing?

On that day offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the Lord’s presence from all your sins. Leviticus 16:30 NLT

How did he do it?

Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. Leviticus 16:7-9 NLT

What did he do with the blood?

“Then Aaron must slaughter the first goat as a sin offering for the people and carry its blood behind the inner curtain. There he will sprinkle the goat’s blood over the atonement cover and in front of it, just as he did with the bull’s blood. Through this process, he will purify the Most Holy Place, and he will do the same for the entire Tabernacle, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites. Leviticus 16:15-16 NLT

What did he do with the sins?

“When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat. He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land. Leviticus 16:20-22 NLT

Note: For more on the scapegoat click here.

What were the people to be doing?

“Be careful to celebrate the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of that same month—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets. You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves and present special gifts to the Lord. Do no work during that entire day because it is the Day of Atonement, when offerings of purification are made for you, making you right with[the Lord your God. All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people. Leviticus 23:27-29 NLT

What happened to those living willfully in open sin?

All who do not deny themselves that day will be cut off from God’s people. And I will destroy anyone among you who does any work on that day. Leviticus 23:29-30 NLT

Note: Jesus has begun the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary or the blotting out of the record of confessed sins there, as well as from our lives here.

What pronouncement will Jesus soon make?

Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.” “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. Revelation 22:11- 12 NLT

What happens to those still sinning willfully?

And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 NLT

What happens to the righteous?

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT

Which group will you be found in?

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:21-27 NLT

What should we be doing in this time of judgment?

“Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” Revelation 14:7 NLT

What assurance do we have?

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT

Related reading: Was the atonement made to appease an angry God or an angry race?

You may study this week’s Sabbath School Lesson here.

Jesus is the Sinner’s Advocate

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 1:1-2 NKJV

An advocate speaks up for others and looks out for them. A teacher friend of mine told me about a student who was getting bullied. Another student saw this and it made her mad, so she took her bullied classmate to the teacher to find some justice in the situation. The other student had nothing to gain personally by stepping in as an advocate, but she could not just watch this happen and do nothing to help. 

Another teacher friend of mine told me about a student who is always leaving his assignments on his desk, forgetting to turn them in. Another student will often see the other student forgetting to turn in his work and will pick it up and turn it in for him. The thoughtful student has nothing to gain by his kindness. He is simply looking out for his forgetful classmate. The thoughtful student is an advocate for his forgetful friend. You may think the forgetful student just needs to remember to turn in his work, and you are right, but hasn’t Jesus acted as an advocate for you, even when you were undeserving?

How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How He fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, He does not turn from us and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not our Saviour…. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, He knows how to succor [assist or aid] those who are tempted. Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of the Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The Lamb slain is our only hope. Our faith looks up to Him, grasps Him as the One who can save to the uttermost, and the fragrance of the all-sufficient offering is accepted of the Father. If you make failures and are betrayed into sin, do not feel then you cannot pray … but seek the Lord more earnestly. The blood of Jesus is pleading with power and efficacy for those who are backslidden, for those who are rebellious, for those who sin against great light and love. Satan stands at our right hand to accuse us, and our Advocate stands at God’s right hand to plead for us. He has never lost a case that has been committed to Him. We may trust in our Advocate; for He pleads His own merits in our behalf…. He is making intercession for the most lowly, the most oppressed and suffering, for the most tried and tempted ones. With upraised hands He pleads, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16. I would I might sound the glad note to earth’s remotest bounds. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Oh, precious redemption! How broad this great truth is—that God for Christ’s dear sake, forgives us the moment we ask Him in living faith, believing that He is fully able! –Ellen White, Our High Calling, Page 49

Jesus is not just our advocate when we are righteous; He is our advocate when we are sinning against great light! Jesus is truly a friend of sinners. In Psalm 32:1-6, David writes about confessing his sin to Jesus and finding forgiveness. Then he says,

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

David does not call God his hiding place when he is doing everything right, but in the context of when he is doing everything wrong. The sanctuary is a safe place. The sanctuary is a safe place for sinners. In the sanctuary service, sinners find forgiveness and healing from sin. Satan offers the sinner no safety, no forgiveness and no healing. Satan’s plan is to destroy sinners. Jesus is the sinner’s only friend, as Jesus offers a safe place in His sanctuary. Jesus offers forgiveness and healing from sin. When you sin against great light, Satan is not your friend! Jesus is the sinner’s only friend. 

The Bible is chock full of promises like 1 Corinthians 10:13, promising us we do not have to give in to sin. The Bible is clear there is no excuse for sin. John writes in 1 John 2:1 that we are not to sin. John goes on to tell us, though, that if we do sin — Go to Jesus! Jesus is your advocate. Jesus is the one pleading your case when you fall victim to the bully Satan. Jesus is the one looking out for you when you forget your homework or forget to claim a Bible promise keeping us from sin. Jesus is the sinner’s friend and advocate. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.