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.