The Cleansing Of The Sanctuary

Meade MacGuire

"I saw that none could share the “refreshing” unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. ... Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence."

EW 71.2

General Conference Session, Sermon, Tuesday, June 10, 11 A. M., 1930

I want to introduce the Bible study by reading from the seventy-seventh psalm, verse 13: 

"Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary." Psalms 77:13

This verse has impressed me very much, because it has set going in my mind a new train of thought. We have all studied the sanctuary question, of course, ever since we first heard this great second advent message; but for many years I thought of the sanctuary question mainly as it is brought to view in the Old Testament Scriptures, and I regarded the old sanctuary, or tabernacle, as a means by which, the Lord sought to bring to a people who had just come out of idolatry, darkness, and ignorance, the simple truths of how to be His children, how to preach God, and be saved in a way they could grasp and understand; that the tabernacle, with its furniture and its services, was a kind of object lesson to set before an ignorant people in a very simple way the means of access to God, and how they could be forgiven and accepted of Him; but this verse brought to my mind quite a new idea of what the sanctuary means. It says, "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary."

And as I took that as a basis of the study of the question, it was wonderful to me to discover that this is God's method; that God had an eternal plan, hidden in the mind of God, as Paul says, from times eternal; and that plan of redemption through Christ is unfolded and revealed in the sanctuary; that the whole revelation of God comes to us from the sanctuary, which is His dwelling place, so that the sanctuary was not merely a means to reveal the truth to those people back there, but it reveals God's eternal purpose for this race, and for all the people for all time. As they viewed the services of the sanctuary, they saw the representation there graphically set before their eyes of the whole plan of redemption as it is wrought out in the sanctuary above.

The whole sanctuary service centered around three leading figures,—the offerer, the offering, and the priest. Those are the three leading figures around which center all the sanctuary services. And it is necessary to remind ourselves often just what each of these represents, in order to obtain the benefit of the work of God which is taking place in the sanctuary in our behalf. So we shall glance at these three, figures.

First, the offerer. Man had sinned, and his sin had separated him from God. He was alienated from the life of God.

Sinful Men Helpless and Hopeless

He was lost, and there was no hope for man unless his sins could in some way be atoned for, and he be reconciled again to God. Man in his sinful condition could not approach God, he could not bring any offering for himself to God to atone for his sins, because a holy God could not deal with an unholy man, so he could not even have access to God to bring an offering to atone for his sins. Hence his situation was hopeless unless some other means could be found for reconciling him to God. Some one must make atonement who could have access to God. Some one with whom God could deal, and also some one who could justly and properly represent man.

An angel could not do this, for while an angel might have access to God, he could not represent a lost man; he could not enter into the understanding and needs of a man. A being from another world could not represent fallen humanity, in this world. So in this great plan devised in heaven and to be wrought out in the sanctuary, it was agreed that Jesus, the Son of God, should come down here and be born of woman, and become a man, become one of the human race, so that He could represent humanity in making a reconciliation of humanity with God.

In 1 Corinthians 15:45, 47, we read: "It is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven."

So Jesus came from heaven, and became the second man, not the Son of a man, but the Son of man, the great representative man, the all-inclusive man, the man who could stand for the human race when He became one of the race. He could represent humanity, and at the same time, because of His inherent holiness and purity and sinlessness, it was possible for Him as a man, and the representative man, to approach God and make an offering for man. We read in Hebrews 10:12-14: "This Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His foot-stool. For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."

This Man, it says, after he had offered one sacrifice—so it is apparent that in considering these three leading features of the sanctuary service, the offerer, the offering, and the priest, Jesus is the offerer. He is the one, and the only one, who can bring an atoning sacrifice to God as man's representative. Every other man is unholy, and has no access to God. He alone is holy, and has access to God; and yet He is man, and so as our representative and a member of the human race, and loving us and having made the sacrifice, He brings the offering.

A Saviour Comes

The second figure in the sanctuary service was the offeringJustice demanded, the divine law demanded, the death of the sinner, and the law could not be maintained unless the penalty was inflicted upon the transgressor.

There was no possible way for man to escape the just penalty for his transgression of that law, because he could not atone for his own sin. The only possible way would be for an atonement to be made by some one apart from himself.

So we read in Isaiah 53:6: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

Again in 1 Peter 2:24: "Who in His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree."

And again in 2 Corinthians 5:21: "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."

So He was not only the offerer, the representative of man, the one who represented all of us in His own person, as the Son of man, but He was the offered. He took all our sins upon Himself, and God laid them all upon Him by agreement. Then, bearing all our sins in His own body, He went to the cross, and yielded up His life as an atoning sacrifice for those under sin.

Hebrews 9:24-26 declares: "Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others: for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."

So Jesus was not only the offered, but He was also the offering. He was not only the offerer represented by the sinner who brought his lamb from time to time to make an offering for his sins,—that man was represented by Jesus. It was a type of Jesus coming and making the true offering at the throne of God in His own behalf as the representative of all men; and that sacrifice, the lamb that the sinner brought and offered there, its life taken and its blood poured out, was a type of Jesus, the Lamb of God, so that He also is the offering. As the Son of man, and man's substitute, He laid down His life, "thus providing an offering that God could accept as a perfect atonement for all our sins." Therefore Christ is also the offering.

Our High Priest In The Heavenly Sanctuary

The third figure was the priest. It was necessary that one who was acceptable to God should minister in the sanctuary in behalf of the sinner who seeks pardon. That is, while Jesus laid down His life as a perfect offering to atone for all the sins of mankind, and then ascended up to the right hand of God, and there in His presence in the heavenly sanctuary presented Himself as a perfect and acceptable offering in behalf of man, yet all that occurred two thousand years ago, and today, when you come to God, to the throne of grace, and ask for mercy, it is necessary that the priest shall be there to bring that atoning sacrifice before God, and present it in your behalf. And so there must be a priest.

It was necessary that there should be a priest who was acceptable to God, and who could also minister the perfect offering in the presence of God, in behalf of sinners.

"The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." Ps. 110:4. This was the word that the Father spoke concerning Christ. Christ was the only man acceptable to God, who was able to represent the human race as their priest, and so God appointed Him.

We think of Jesus in His three offices in the great plan of salvation, as prophet, and priest, and king. These offices are not simultaneous, they are successive. Jesus, when He was here on earth, was our prophet, but He was not then our priest, nor was He our king. It is truth that in a certain sense, when He was born a babe in Bethlehem He was born a king, but He did not take the throne of His father David at that time to reign forever. That time is still in the future. So Jesus did not begin His office as a priest until He finished His office as the prophet. And He will not take His office as king until He finishes His office as priest.

It is very essential that we should study Jesus in His wonderful ministry as that prophet, and it is very essential that we should study and know Jesus in that wonderful future when He shall be the

King of kings and Lord of lords. But perhaps it is more essential than anything else that we should study Jesus in His present ministry as our high priest. That is where Jesus is today in the sanctuary. That is what He is doing this morning, and nothing can be more important than that you and I should know exactly what that ministry means to us, which is going on in that sanctuary of heaven at this hour.

"Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Heb. 2:17. 

What is His ministry as our high priest in heaven? In that wonderful study yesterday morning, Professor Prescott pointed out some of these important truths brought to view in the book of Hebrews, and especially Christ's high priesthood, which is emphasized all through the book, the theme of the book.

Atonement Made

Turning back to Leviticus 16:15, 16, we read about that annual service which finished the regular round of service for the year. Of course I am assuming that every one here is familiar with the general outlines of the sanctuary truth, which all Seventh-day Adventists know, and so I am not going into detail about that, but just getting the picture before us, and then I want to draw some conclusions and make some earnest suggestions.

Here in Leviticus 16:15, 16, it says, "Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, 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, 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."

We recall that day by day the ministry in the sanctuary went on, and the men and women who sinned came and confessed their sins, which were in figure transferred to the sanctuary, and then at the end of the year there was a day of atonement. That was a very special day, a day of judgment, so that in a certain sense it could have been said back there, The hour of God's judgment has come. Once every year they came up to that day of atonement, that judgment day, and they were given very explicit and solemn instructions about it, because, as I have just read, that was the day for the taking out of and away from the sanctuary all the uncleanness and all the transgressions and sins that had been brought in during the year.

In the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus, beginning with the twenty-seventh verse, are these explicit instructions about the attitude of the people on that day:

"Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be a holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God, For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in the same day, he shall be cut off from among his people."

There are three facts here that we must never lose sight of: First, a man was to cease from his work; second, he was to afflict his soul; third, if he failed to do these two things, he was cut off, that is, his name was taken off the record of God's chosen people. He was cut off, and ceased to be regarded as one of the family of God. Now that was a terribly solemn thing, and those conditions were repeated again and again.

Afflicting his soul meant crying to God for mercy and pardon, for the revelation of his sins, and for God's Spirit to help him turn from them wand hate them and put them away, that his heart might be utterly and absolutely cleansed from unrighteousness.

This point is extremely important: the finishing of the work in the sanctuary on the day of atonement was a finishing of the work of God in the hearts of the people. The two necessarily went together, for the Israelite who did not let God finish the work in his own heart, was cut off, he was left out, he was lost, he was separated from the people of God. On that day there was a typical disposition of all the sins of the people who took part in the service on that day, and those who did not take part were cut off and separated from the people of God.

In Hebrews 9:6-9 we have a description of this, and the statement is made in the ninth verse: "Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience."

All that was just a figure for the time then present. In other words, that was an annual representation of the reality, for it enacted before their eyes in the daily round and in the final atonement day the whole plan of redemption as God was working it out in the sanctuary above.

Now, what was the object of all these ceremonies, these services, which took place in the sanctuary? I shall read now from the ninth chapter of Daniel and the twenty-fourth verse:

"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy."

What The Ministry Of Christ Jesus Means To Man

Here are four statements made in regard to what the sanctuary service was designed to do for us. The other part we are not concerned with just now. It is self-evident that this whole sanctuary service as revealed to us is God's plan for saving lost men and women, not the world as such, but individuals. Jesus made Himself an offering for you. He is there as a high priest, representing you in a personal way, and therefore the design of all this ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is God's design for you personally. Now, what is it? "To finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness." That is the design of the service of Christ in the sanctuary above.

The whole great divine plan of human redemption is revealed in this ministry of the sanctuary, and it is for you, personally. The one supreme object of it all is in you, in your life, in your heart, to make an end of sins, to finish the transgression, to make reconciliation for every sin that has ever stained your life, and to bring unto you everlasting righteousness, and so fit you for a home in God's kingdom.

It seems to me, dear brethren and sisters, that we cannot place too much emphasis on this. The whole ministry of Jesus is to accomplish that thing in your life and mine. What about our daily lives? We have heard so much here in our testimony meetings morning by morning of a longing to come to an end, of sins, to reach the place where we stop habitually practicing those evil habits that have long dominated in our lives, that have controlled us. O, how thankful we should be that it is the purpose and design and determination of our High Priest to finish the transgression in my life and and in yours, to make an end of sin forever; to make entire reconciliation for every iniquity, and to bring everlasting righteousness into our lives here and now in this world. That is the design of the sanctuary.

It says that seventy weeks were determined upon the Jewish people. He gave them 490 years more in which to let God do this great work and perfect this great divine ministry in the lives and hearts of those people, and they refused to let it be done. Then the prophecy says, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days [or years]; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."

Back there, when the cleansing was finished for those who took part, all the others were cut off. So now we all recognize that when the true sanctuary service is finished, the work for lost humanity is ended. Nothing more will ever be done for the unsaved, when that work of the

cleansing of the sanctuary is finished. By the confessions of the people and the ministry of the priest a stream of sins is pouring in. As long as the stream goes up and Jesus ministers, the sanctuary cannot be cleansed and the work up there finished. It must be finished right here; it must be finished in your heart and my heart.

It seems to me very necessary to put emphasis upon this, because there seem so many who cannot grasp the idea that there is any possibility of ever stopping our habitual sins. Well, those in ancient times who did not afflict their souls and get the experience on that day of entering into that atonement service so it could be finished in their lives, were cut off. So it surely must be down here in these last days.

Again and again we might read, if we could take the time, statements to the effect that that service back there never made anybody perfect. It was not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin, or for the ministry by men back there actually to bring anybody to perfection or complete deliverance.

But it is possible for men through Christ's ministry in the sanctuary above to be perfected, perfected forever. To have that ministry bring about such a transformation in your life is what God is desiring to do for you today.

Conditions On Which He Will Finish His Ministry In Us

Now we must meet the conditions upon which God is able to finish this sanctuary ministry in our lives. There are conditions, and we must learn those conditions and meet them, and then trust in the divine Spirit to carry out His purpose and do a complete work in our lives.

We are living in the great day of atonement. It is such a solemn time, it is so dangerous to make any compromise with little sins, and then go on day after day repenting and then sinning again. We cannot go on indefinitely in this life of sinning and repenting, if we hope to have the work finished in our lives.

You know not how soon your name may be taken on the lips of Christ, and when He speaks your name, that ministry will be completed, that ministry of your High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary must be completed, and He must be able to announce there that He has been able to finish the transgression in your life, to make an end of sins in your life, and that He has made a final atonement, or reconciliation, for your sins, and has brought into your heart everlasting righteousness.

My heart cries out to God today to stir me out of lukewarmness and spiritual lethargy and indifference, and arouse in my heart a constant cry that the Lord Jesus will finish His work in my heart before He has to finish it up there and leave me out. I want Him to make an end of sins in my life. I cannot, but I know that Jesus Christ is able to bring all sins in my life to an end. Glory be to His name! I believe in that Saviour who is able to come into human flesh and live His divine life again in humanity, and make an end of sins and produce everlasting righteousness in a poor, weak, helpless man.

That solemn work is going on this day in the sanctuary above, and while we look upon the great work represented in this General Conference, and our hearts thrill as we see men and women representing the progress of the work in so many different lands, let us not forget that we each have a case pending up there. I know not just what hour my name may be taken on the lips of Jesus. O Lord, make an end of sin in my life, make reconciliation for the last iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness, that righteousness of Jesus, which is the wedding garment we must all have on before the Holy Spirit is poured out.

We are told that the Holy Spirit will not come upon men and women unless they have victory over every besetment and are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. May God help us quickly to come to that experience that Jesus wants to make real in our lives.

Forty years ago, I think, or more, came that solemn admonition from the Lord through His servant, "Get ready, get ready, get ready." But dear friends, it will not be enough the day Jesus takes your name upon His lips, if you are still getting ready. We cannot continue forever to be getting ready. It is time to be ready. May the Lord do His work for us, may our glorious High Priest be able to finish the work in our lives, so that He can finish it up there in the sanctuary above.

Meade MacGuire, “The Cleansing of the Sanctuary,” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, June 26, 1930, Vol. 107, No. 37.


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