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    19 CLEANSING OF THE EARTHLY SANCTUARY

    OUR last chapter closed with the query, What was further done with the sins which were borne into the sanctuary? The Bible fully informs us. Their transfer from the sinner to the sanctuary was not the final disposition of them. They were not borne into the sanctuary either to remain there forever or to be considered as blotted out and removed. But they were treated as still in existence, and as hateful and evil things, respecting which a further ministration must take place, in order that the camp of Israel might become forever free therefrom.STTHD 205.1

    We have already noticed the service through which the sins of the people were borne into the sanctuary. We now come to notice that by which they were taken out. This work was performed only once a year, and was fixed invariably to the tenth day of the seventh month. The work itself was called the cleansing of the sanctuary, or the atonement; and the day upon which it was performed was called the day of atonement.STTHD 205.2

    To accomplish this, an apartment of the sanctuary, into which no man through all the year had been permitted to enter on pain of death, was solemnly laid open, and the ministry of the high priest transferred thereto. So Paul says that into the second apartment of the sanctuary, or most holy place, “went the high priest alone, once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people.” Hebrews 9:7. When this was accomplished, a complete round of service in the sanctuary had been completed. Then the most holy place was closed again to mortal presence for another year, and the work in the first apartment, or holy place, went on as before till the next tenth day of the seventh month.STTHD 206.1

    The description of this special or yearly ministration in the most holy place, which constituted the cleansing of the sanctuary, is found in Leviticus 16. Let us look briefly at some of the principal features of the scene. Through Moses the Lord gave the following instruction to Aaron the priest: “Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy-seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat.” Leviticus 16:2.STTHD 206.2

    The Lord sometimes met with his people in other places; Exodus 29:42, 43, etc.; but in the earthly tabernacle, the place over the mercy-seat, between the cherubim, may be considered as the place where God generally manifested his presence, and from which he had ordained to commune with them. At all events, he promised to meet the priest there on the great day of atonement.STTHD 207.1

    To come thus into the immediate presence of God was an act of fearful solemnity, and was not to be performed without suitable preparation, and certainly in no trivial or careless manner. Therefore the priest was to offer a young bullock for a sin-offering, and a ram for a burnt-offering, and make atonement for himself and his house. Leviticus 16:6, 11-14. Having thus, so far as that service could go, become free from sin himself, he was prepared to act in the remaining solemn services of that day, as mediator between God and the people.STTHD 207.2

    He was then to take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Verse 5. One of these goats was to be slain, and his blood ministered in the most holy place; the other was to be the scape-goat. But which of these it should be was not left to Aaron to decide: the Lord determined that by the lot which Aaron was to cast for this purpose. Verse 8. This being decided, he was to slay the goat upon which the lot fell for the Lord, for a sin-offering for the people, and bear his blood within the vail, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy-seat eastward, and before the mercy-seat seven times.STTHD 207.3

    Two special purposes are stated for which this blood was offered: 1. To make an atonement for the transgression of the children of Israel in all their sins. 2. To cleanse, or make atonement for, the holy sanctuary. These vital facts are clearly stated in Leviticus 16:15-22, a portion of which, for the benefit of the reader, we here transcribe:—STTHD 208.1

    Verse 15. “Then shall he kill the goat of the sin-offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy-seat, and before the mercy-seat. 16. And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins; and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17. And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.... 20. And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat; 21; and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness; 22; and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited; and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.”STTHD 208.2

    The margin of this last verse reads, instead of a land not inhabited, a land of separation. This goat was separated from the people. He came no more into the camp. And with him, the sins he bore upon himself were considered as forever separated from the people, to appear no more against them. Tradition has it that this goat was hurled from a precipice, and so dashed in pieces. However this may be, beyond question he in some way miserably perished; and with him, also, perished the load of guilt he had borne away from Israel. The man who led away the scape-goat was obliged to wash both himself and his clothes with water before returning into the camp. The whole service was calculated to impress the Israelites with the holiness of God and his abhorrence of sin, and to show them that they could have no contact with it without becoming greatly defiled.STTHD 209.1

    With the sending away of the goat, the people were free from the effect of those sins to which the atonement related. Till then, they were not. For every man was to afflict his soul while the work of atonement was going forward; and whoever refused to do this, was to be cut off from among the people. Leviticus 23:29, 30.STTHD 210.1

    The work of the priest in the cleansing of the sanctuary is again summed up in Leviticus 16:29, 30, 33, 34: “And this shall be a statute forever unto you; that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you; for on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” “And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the Lord commanded Moses.”STTHD 210.2

    The view of the subject here presented suggests some pertinent thoughts relative to the forgiveness and remission of sin. The acceptance of a substitute for the sinner was not for the purpose of making in the body of that substitute an end of the punishment due to the transgressor’s sin, but simply to remove the guilt from the sinner. The pouring out of the blood of that victim was not to cancel the sin, but to provide a means of its transfer to still some other object or party. Through the blood of the victim, the sin was transferred to the sanctuary. So far, the sinner’s work was an acknowledgment to the law, through blood, of his guilt, and a desire for pardon through faith in a substitute.. But he was as yet only relatively or conditionally free. The law still held him, and unless its claims should be more directly satisfied, the remission of his sins would not be secured.STTHD 211.1

    On the day of atonement, the priest, taking an offering from the people, appeared with the blood of this general offering for the people, and sprinkled it upon the mercy-seat directly over the law, to make full satisfaction for its claims. Its demands being thus met, the law released its hold of all the sins in the sanctuary, and through them of the sinners from whom they had come. Then the high priest, if we may so express it, gathered the sins all upon himself and bore them from the sanctuary. Placing his hands upon the head of the scape-goat, he confessed over him all these sins, thus transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and with him they perished.STTHD 212.1

    Remission means a sending away. Remission of sins is that absolute disposal of them that removes them forever, so that they can no more appear against the sinner. Pardon of sin was secured through the sinner’s offering; remission, only through the atonement. Pardon was conditional; remission, absolute.STTHD 212.2

    We have now before us a general outline of the ministration and cleansing of the earthly sanctuary. This was performed, says Paul, unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. From this service, we are, therefore, to reason concerning the ministration and cleansing of the sanctuary in Heaven.STTHD 213.1

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