God’s Festivals in Scripture and History. Volume 2

Five of the eight chapters can be accessed by clicking their titles below:

Festival Typology

The Feast of Trumpets in the Old Testament

The Feast of Trumpets in the New Testament

The Day of Atonement in the Old Testament

The Day of Atonement in the New Testament

Order this book online--click here

GODíS FESTIVALS IN SCRIPTURE AND HISTORY VOLUME II: THE FALL FESTIVALS

Chapter 5

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University

Sometimes Christians wonder, What on earth is Jesus doing in Heaven? Almost two millennia have passed since He resurrected and ascended to heaven, and yet He has not returned. Has Christ, who loved us so much to give His life for us, forgotten us? Is Christ on vacation recovering from His exhaustive earthly redemptive mission? By no means! God has not abandoned the plan of salvation He carefully laid before the creation of this earth (1 Cor 2:7; Eph 3:9; 1 Pet 1:20).

One reason some Christians are confused about what Jesus is doing in heaven is their limited understanding of the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary, which is illustrated especially by the annual Holy Days. The Springs Feasts of Passover and Pentecost typify, as we have seen, the inauguration of Christís redemptive ministry, while the Fall Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles represent the consummation of His redemptive ministry. An understanding of the typological meaning of the annual Feasts can help us appreciate the fact that Christ is not on vacation. He is working intensively to bring to consummation the redemption obtained at the Cross (Heb 7:25). 

The Spring Feasts inaugurate Christís redemptive ministry with Passover, which is the Feast of our Redemption. The sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross as our Paschal Lamb (1 Cor 5:7) at Passover is the foundation and beginning of Christís redemptive ministry. The crowning of Christís Paschal sacrifice occurred at Pentecost when He was officially enthroned at the right hand of God (Acts 2:32; Rev 5:9-12) and began His intercessory ministry in the heavenly sanctuary on behalf of believers on earth: "God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31). On that occasion, Christ "entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption" (Heb 9:12). 

Pentecost celebrates the official inauguration of Christís ministry in the heavenly sanctuary which was made manifest on earth through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). Since Pentecost, Christ has been ministering as our intercessor, sustaining the Church (Rev 1:13, 20), mediating repentance and forgiveness to believers (Acts 5:31; 1 John 2:1-2; 1:9), making our prayers acceptable to God (John 16:23-24; Rev 8:3), providing us with the invisible and yet real assistance of His angels (Heb 1:14; Rev 5:6; 1:16, 20), and bestowing upon believers the essential gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). 

The three Fall Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles typify the three steps leading to the consummation of Christís redemptive ministry: repentance, cleansing, and rejoicing for the final restoration. The Feast of Trumpets, as we have seen in chapters 2 and 3, represents Godís last call to repentance while the destiny of Godís people is being reviewed by the heavenly court during the antitypical ten days preceding the Day of Atonement. We refer to this period as the "Pre-Advent Judgment." 

The Day of Atonement typifies Christís final act of cleansing that will be accomplished at His coming when He will cleanse His people of their sins and will place all accountability on Satan (Azazel). The cleansing accomplished by Christ at His Return makes it possible to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles which foreshadows the rejoicing of the saints at the inauguration of a new life in the new earth.

Objectives of the Chapter. This chapter examines the New Testament understanding of the Day of Atonement in the light of its Old Testament typological meaning and function. We have found that in the Old Testament, the Day of Atonement was the climactic Holy Day that cleansed the earthly sanctuary from the accumulated sins of Godís people. Our question now is: When and how does Christ accomplish the antitypical fulfillment of the cleansing of the sanctuary? 

To answer this question, one must address several important related questions. Is there a real heavenly sanctuary that needs to be cleansed like the earthly one? What is the nature of the heavenly sanctuary? What causes the defilement of the heavenly sanctuary? Does the New Testament teach that the typological cleansing of the Day of Atonement was fulfilled at the Cross or is yet to be fulfilled at the Second Advent? What is the meaning and relevance of the Day of Atonement for today?

We endeavor to answer these questions by examining the relevant information provided especially by the books of Hebrews and Revelation. These books provide us with the largest number of allusions to the sanctuary in general and the Day of Atonement in particular. We shall see that while Hebrews is concerned with the priestly functions of Christís ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, Revelation focuses on the divine activity in the heavenly sanctuary to the end of the world. We might say that while the major thrust of Hebrews is intercession, that of Revelation is judgment. 

This chapter divides into four parts. The first part endeavors to establish whether the New Testamentís references to the heavenly sanctuary should be taken metaphorically as symbolic of the spiritual presence of God, or literally as allusions to a real place where Christ ministers on our behalf. The second part considers the nature of the heavenly sanctuary by examining the vertical and horizontal correspondence between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries. The third part analyzes the allusions to the Day of Atonement in both Hebrews and Revelation. The aim is to ascertain the meaning and function of the Day of Atonement in the New Testament. The fourth part considers the relevance of the meaning and message of the Day of Atonement for the Christian life today.


PART I: THE HEAVENLY SANCTUARY
REAL OR SYMBOLIC?

The New Testament understanding of the Day of Atonement is closely related to its understanding of the heavenly sanctuary. The reason is that the cleansing of the Day of Atonement affected in a special way the sanctuary itself. What this means is that if the New Testament references to the heavenly sanctuary are taken to be metaphorical, that is, symbolic of the spiritual presence of God, then there is no actual heavenly sanctuary, no actual heavenly priesthood of Christ, and no actual Day of Atonement "cleansing" of the heavenly sanctuary. On the other hand, if the New Testament references to the heavenly sanctuary are taken to be literal, that is, allusions to a real, heavenly sanctuary, then there is in heaven an actual sanctuary with an actual priesthood of Christ, and an actual Day of Atonement "cleansing" of the heavenly sanctuary.

The Reality of the Heavenly Sanctuary. The existence and reality of the heavenly sanctuary is clearly affirmed in both the Old and New Testaments. In fact, the New Testament understanding of the heavenly sanctuary is dependent upon the Old Testament view of the same. The books of Hebrews and Revelation provide us with the clearest affirmation of the reality of the heavenly sanctuary.

In the book of Hebrews, Jesus is presented as "a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set not by man but by the Lord" (Heb 8:2). The reality of the heavenly sanctuary is established in Hebrews by means of the typological correspondence that exists between the earthly and heavenly sanctuary. The author affirms that the earthly sanctuary was "a copy (hupodeigma) and shadow (skia) of the heavenly sanctuary" (Heb 8:5). He supports this assertion by quoting Exodus 25:40: " For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, ĎSee that you make everything according to the pattern (tupos) which was shown you on the mountain" (Heb 8:5).

It is evident that the author of Hebrews derives the correspondence between the earthly and heavenly sanctuary from the original account of the construction of the tabernacle, where God instructs Moses, saying: "Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. According to all that I show you concerning the pattern [tabnit] of the tabernacle, and all its furniture, so you shall make it. . . . And see that you make them after the pattern [tabnit] for them, which is being shown you on the mountain" (Ex 25:8-9, 40).1

The Hebrews word tabnit ("pattern") which is used three times in Exodus 25:9, 40, is derived from the verb banah, "to build." The word occurs 23 times in the Hebrew Bible and conveys "the general meanings of Ďlikenessí (as in an image),2 Ďformí (as in an appearance),3 Ďmodelí (as used to make a copy),4 and Ďplaní (as in design or sketch)."5 From the usages of tabnit we may reasonably infer that Moses received not only verbal instructions, but also some kind of a model of the structure he was to build.

"The significance of the term tabnit (pattern)," as Frank Holbrook points out, "is not dependent on whether Moses was shown a model or simply architectural specifications, or both. The question rather is whether the term signifies only an idea in the mind of God or points to a higher reality with objective existenceĖnamely, a heavenly sanctuary, a heavenly dwelling place of the Deity."6

The Correspondence Between Earthly and Heavenly Sanctuaries. Two major facts indicate that the "pattern" (tabnit) shown to Moses reflected in some ways an objective heavenly sanctuary. First, is the Biblical understanding of a vertical correspondence between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries. In the Old Testament, this correspondence is expressed in a variety of ways. 

At the establishment of the first temple, God promised Solomon: "Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in my statutes . . . I will dwell among the children of Israel" (1 King 6:12-13). However, in his dedicatory prayer Solomon acknowledges that the real dwelling place of God is in heaven. "Hearken thou to the supplication . . . of thy people Israel, when they pray toward this place; yea, hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place" (1 King 8:30). These texts suggest that there is a correspondence between the dwelling place of God in the heavenly temple, and His dwelling place in the earthly temple. 

In the Psalms are numerous references where the heavenly sanctuary is placed in close parallelism with the earthly sanctuary. "The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lordís throne is in heaven" (Ps 11:4).7 Godís sanctuary is located in Zion: "May he send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion" (Ps 20:2). Yet it is also located in heaven: "Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and his power is in the skies [heaven]. Terrible is God in his sanctuary" (Ps 68:34-35).

On the basis of an extensive analysis of these and similar texts, Niels-Erik Andreasen concludes: "The relationship between the two sanctuaries is expressed through the idea of a pattern, according to which the earthly sanctuary is modeled upon the heavenly. The resultant correspondence between the two sanctuaries is not a strictly material and spatial one in the sense that the earthly could take the Ďplaceí of the heavenly. The relationship between them is functional rather than spatial and material. The heavenly sanctuary extends into the earthly, assuring it of efficacy or standing before it in judgment upon any empty formalities or idolatrous practices. The earthly sanctuary merges into the heavenly, providing a ladder connecting man with God and binding earth to heaven."8 

A second line of evidence is the common, ancient Near Eastern belief that an earthly temple is built as a copy of a heavenly original. "Behind Exodus 25," writes Leonhard Goppelt, "stands the ancient oriental idea of a mythical analogical relation between the two worlds, the heavenly and the earthly, the macrocosm and the microcosm, so that lands, rivers, cities, and especially temples have their originals."9 On a similar vein, Frank Cross, Jr., writes, "Probably the conception of tabnit the Ďmodelí (Ex 25:9), also goes back ultimately to the idea that the earthly sanctuary is the counterpart of the heavenly dwelling of a deity."10 Though the Bible is often countercultural in its teachings, and practices,11 in this area it agrees with ancient Near Eastern thought simply because there is a correspondence between the earthly and heavenly sanctuary.

The Heavenly Sanctuary in Hebrews. The book of Hebrews confirms the reality of the heavenly sanctuary which we found affirmed in the Old Testament. William G. Johnsson, who wrote his dissertation on the book of Hebrews, highlights the reality of the heavenly sanctuary in Hebrews, saying: "While he [the author] does not enter upon a description of the heavenly sanctuary and liturgy, his language suggests several important conclusions. First, he holds to their reality. His concern throughout the sermon is to ground Christian confidence in objective facts, as we have seen. Real deity, real humanity, real priesthoodĖand we may add, a real ministry in a real sanctuary."12 

The reality of the heavenly sanctuary is affirmed in Hebrews in three statements (Heb 8:2-5; 9:11-12, 2-24) which compare and contrast the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries. The earthly sanctuary was a human construction under the direction of Moses (Heb 8:5), while the heavenly sanctuary, is not set up "by man" (Heb 8:2), or "made with [human] hands" (Heb 9:11, 24).

The correspondence between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries is established in Hebrews by means of the relationship between copy and original, shadow and substance. The earthly sanctuary was a "copy [hupodeigma] and shadow [skia] of the heavenly sanctuary" (Heb 8:2-5). "Thus it was necessary for the copies [hupodeigma] of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites [animal sacrifices], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not in a sanctuary made with hands, a copy [antitupos] of the true one [alethinos], but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God in our behalf" (Heb 9:23-24). Because of this "we have confidence to enter the [heavenly] sanctuary by the blood of Jesus" (Heb 10:19).

Being "a copy" and "a shadow" of the original heavenly sanctuary, the earthly sanctuary plays an important role in explaining to both ancient and modern believers the outworking of the plan of salvation. Furthermore, by defining the earthly sanctuary and its services as a "shadow," it implies that these foreshadowed better things to come. In fact, the author speaks of the law with its ritual services as being "but a shadow [skia] of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities" (Heb 10:1; cf. Col 2:17). 

These statements concerning the reality of the heavenly sanctuary were intended to give assurance to the recipients of Hebrews. "Because of national and family opposition, the Jewish-Christian readers of Hebrews had suffered separation from the religious life of Judaism. And if, as seems likely, the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple was near, all the more would they need such assurances. These verses told them that they had access to a superior "temple"Ėan heavenly sanctuary where Jesus Christ ministered."13 

This message of reassurance is still relevant today. In an age of uncertainty and fear, when moral and religious values are largely rejected, we need the reassurance that "we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens" (Heb 4:14) and who "is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:25). 

The Heavenly Sanctuary in Revelation. The existence of the heavenly sanctuary is confirmed in the book of Revelation where the word naos, generally translated "temple," occurs 15 times. With the exception of two instances where the word naos (temple) may be used metaphorically to refer to the Christian community (Rev 3:12; 21:22), in all the other instances the term refers to the heavenly sanctuary. 

In Revelation 7:15, the heavenly temple is equated with the throne of God. Concerning the great multitude in white robes (Rev 7:9), John says: "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple" (Rev 7:15). This text clearly indicates that the throne of God is located in the heavenly temple, which is the dwelling place of God.

In Revelation 11:19, the opening of the temple reveals the ark of the covenant. "Then Godís temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of the covenant was seen within the temple."14 Since the ark of the covenant was located in the Most Holy Place (Heb 9:3-4), it is evident that John saw the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. This does not necessary mean that the heavenly sanctuary consists of a bipartite structure with a Holy and Most Holy Place like the earthly sanctuary. After all, we have seen that the ark of the covenant typifies the throne of God which is established on mercy (mercy seat) and justice (Decalogue inside the ark). Presumably, what John saw was a representation of the heavenly sanctuary through the typology of the earthly sanctuary.

In one place, Revelation clearly ties the heavenly temple-sanctuary to the earthly tabernacle-sanctuary: "After this I [John] looked and in heaven [en to ourano] the temple, that is, the tabernacle of Testimony, was opened" (Rev 15:5, NIV).15 The phrase "the Tabernacle of Testimony" is used in the Old Testament to designate the earthly sanctuary (Num 1:50), because it enshrined within its walls the tables of the Decalogue, known as "The Testimony." Within the heavenly temple, John also observed the seven-branched lampstand (menorah) of the earthly sanctuary (Rev 1:12-13; 4:5) and the golden altar [of incense] before the throne" (Rev 8:3; 9:13).

 Conclusion. In light of the foregoing considerations, we conclude that there is abundant Biblical evidence for the reality of a heavenly sanctuary. The tabernacle built by Moses is seen in the Bible as reflecting the heavenly sanctuary, the dwelling place of God. The book of Hebrews defines the earthly tabernacle as a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary. The apostle John testifies that he saw in vision the heavenly temple and some of its components. All of these indications point to the existence of a real sanctuary in heaven.


PART II: THE NATURE OF THE HEAVENLY SANCTUARY

Having concluded that the Bible affirms the existence of a real heavenly sanctuary where Christ ministers as our High Priest, we need to clarify the nature of such sanctuary. The question is: Should the Biblical references to the heavenly sanctuary-temple be interpreted metaphorically, that is, as figurative allusions to the presence of God, or literalistically, that is, as literal descriptions of a heavenly sanctuary which is a magnified and glorified version of the earthly sanctuary? Or should we avoid both extremes and interpret the references to the heavenly sanctuary-temple realistically, that is, as descriptive of a real heavenly sanctuary whose details, however, are not clear to us? The latter represents my view which I expound after commenting on the first two.

The Metaphorical Interpretation. Many modern authors deny any objective existence of a heavenly sanctuary. They believe that the heavenly sanctuary is simply a metaphor for the spiritual presence of God. Their view is based on the assumption that the conceptual world of Hebrews is that of Hellenistic Judaism, in particular the writings of the Jewish philosopher Philo (about 20 B. C. to A. D. 50). In an attempt to make the Jewish faith appealing to the Hellenistic world, Philo allegorized the Old Testament by using the dualistic and antithetical conception of the universe present in Platonic thought.

Philo allegorized the heavenly sanctuary and liturgy by making them symbols of the whole universe. He wrote: "The highest, and in the truest sense the holy temple of God is, as we must believe, the whole universe, having for its sanctuary the most sacred part of all existence, even heaven, for its votive ornaments the stars, for its priests the angels who are servitors to His powers, unbodied souls, not compounds of rational and irrational nature."16

Allegedly, Hebrews shares this conceptual world because the terms it uses to describe the relation of the earthly to the heavenly sanctuaryó "shadowĖskia," "imageĖeikon," and "exampleĖhupodeigma"óare used by Philo in a similar context.17 Moreover, Hebrews shares with Philo the cosmological dualism where the unseen is the real ("genuine" Ė Heb 8:2), while the seen the transient. To support this metaphorical interpretation, appeal is made to several texts (Heb 9:2, 3, 11,; 10:19-20) which allegedly spiritualize the heavenly sanctuary. 18

Evaluation of Metaphorical Interpretation. We cannot deny the presence of some resemblance between the conceptual world of Hebrews and that of Philo. Like Plato or Philo, Hebrews sees the heavenly and unseen realm as the genuine one (Heb 9:24). However, this is part of the Biblical view of reality. As stated in 2 Corinthians 4:18, "We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

The superficial resemblance between Hebrews and Philo must not overshadow the radical differences between the two. In his doctoral dissertation, Ronald Williamson has shown that the heavenly world of Philo or of Plato has no room for the historical Jesus who enters a real place of heavenly ministry.19 Similarly, the temporal emphasis of Hebrews on Christís incarnation, sacrifice, followed by a heavenly ministry, runs contrary to the Philonic model of an eternal, and unchanging heavenly realm, far removed and untouched by earthly events.20

Even more devastating to the Philonic interpretation is the thought that "heavenly things" need to be purified "with better sacrifices" (Heb 9:23). Such a thought is totally unacceptable to the Philonic or Platonic model, because the heavenly realm cannot be touched or contaminated by earthly beings.21 Furthermore, while Philo reasons allegorically, giving to the sacred text a hidden spiritual meaning that transcends its literal sense, Hebrews reasons typologically, seeing an analogical correspondence between the earthly type and the heavenly antitype. Sidney Sowers notes that "typological exegesis is totally absent from Philoís writings."22

The author of Hebrews derives his understanding of the typological correspondence between the earthly and heavenly sanctuary from the Old Testament itself, rather than from Philonic or Platonic philosophy. For the latter, heavenly things are incorporeal and eternally existent, and the earthly things are a simple shadow of the heavenly realities. But for the former (Hebrews), the earthly things are a shadow of concrete realities in heaven. The earthly sanctuary is a copy of a tangible heavenly reality, and not a "shadow of a shadow"23 or a "symbol of a symbol."24

The Literalistic Interpretation. According to the literalistic interpretation, there is a real sanctuary in heaven which corresponds to the earthly one not only in terms of services but also in terms of structural design. In other words, there is not only a functional, but also a spatial or structural correspondence between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries. 

In his monumental dissertation, Alberto Treiyer argues that the author of Hebrews sees not only a functional, "but also a spatial correspondence between the earthly and the heavenly sanctuaries. Just as the earthly sanctuary had two apartments, the Holy and the Most Holy, wherein the priest performed his ministry of atonement by virtue of the sacrifice that was offered outside, so also the heavenly one corresponds with two apartments, wherein Jesus fulfils His priestly ministry by virtue of His earthly sacrifice."25

It must be granted that this view does enjoy some scholarly support even outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In his article on "skeneĖTent or Tabernacle" in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Wilhelm Michaelis comments on Hebrews 9:11, saying: "It would seem that the heavenly sanctuary is also divided in two parts."26

In a similar vein, Richard Davidson concludes his study on the "Typology in the Book of Hebrews" suggesting that "(1) a basic continuity exists between the essential contours of the OT sanctuary type and the NT antitype; and therefore, (2) the earthly sanctuary may be regarded as instructive for clarifying essential features of the heavenly sanctuary, while at the same time recognizing the eschatological intensification that occurs between type and antitype."27 

Davidson speaks not of "spatial correspondence" like Treiyer, but of continuity of "essential contours" between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries. His wording is more guarded, but essentially expresses the same view, because he quotes the following statement from Ellen G. White: "I was also shown a sanctuary upon the earth containing two apartments. It resembled the one in heaven, and I was told that it was a figure of the heavenly."28

No attempt can be made in this study to examine Ellen Whiteís views regarding the nature of the heavenly sanctuary. It would seem, however, that the functional similarity between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries may have been more important in Ellen Whiteís mind, because she wrote: "The abiding place of the King of Kings, where thousand thousands minister unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousands stand before Him (Dan 7:10); that temple, filled with the glory of the eternal throne, where seraphim, its shining guardians, veil their faces in adoration, could find, in the most magnificent structure ever reared by human hands, but a faint reflection of its vastness and glory. Yet important truths concerning the heavenly sanctuary and the great work there carried forward for manís redemption were taught by the earthly sanctuary and its services."29 In this statement Ellen White minimizes the spatial correspondence and maximizes the function of the earthly sanctuary to teach "important truths" about Christís redemptive ministry.

Evaluation of the Literalistic Interpretation. The literalistic interpretation rightly affirms the existence of a real heavenly sanctuary where Christ ministers on our behalf. However, its attempt to establish a spatial or structural correspondence, even if only of "essential contours," between the earthly and the heavenly sanctuaries, raises some concerns. 

"Although," as William Johnsson perceptively observes, "the argument [in Hebrews] does not necessarily exclude the possibility that the heavenly sanctuary is a glorified version of the earthly, we should note: (1) The heavenly is the genuine, the true, so we should see the earthly in the light of the heavenly, rather than vice versa. (2) In Hebrews 9:24 we read merely of Ďheaven,í surely a very general sort of description [of the heavenly sanctuary]. (3) The lack of interest in drawing lines of comparison from the earthly to the heavenly is shown by the terse words in Hebrew 9:5. And (4) the emphasis in Hebrews 9:1Ė10:18 falls on the work Christ accomplishes; there seems to be no interest in giving details as to surroundings. It is therefore apparent that, while we may affirm the reality of the heavenly sanctuary in the book of Hebrews, we have comparatively little hard data about its appearance."30 Hebrews affirms the reality of the heavenly sanctuary, but it also suggests that there are crucial differences between the earthly and the heavenly sanctuaries. For example, the heavenly sanctuary was "set up not by man but by the Lord" (Heb 8:2). This suggests that the heavenly sanctuary does not have the limitations of an earthly structure.

"The words Ďcopyí (hupodeigma), Ďshadowí (skia), and "patterní (tupos) in Hebrews 8:5 likewise indicate that the earthly sanctuary should not form the basis for attempting a detailed reconstruction of the heavenly sanctuary. The earthly sanctuary is but a shadowy representation of the heavenly reality. While some general conclusions about the heavenly sanctuary may be reached by studying the earthly, care should be taken not to press these points too far."31

In Hebrews 9:24, we are told that "Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself." The contrast between "a handmade sanctuary" and "heaven" suggests that the heavenly sanctuary does not have the spatial limitations of the earthly sanctuary. This is supported by Johnís vision of the countless multitude that stands "before the throne of God and serve him day and night within his temple" (Rev 7:15). Such a description of countless multitudes serving God within the temple hardly allows for a two-apartment division of the heavenly sanctuary. We should not forget that only the priest could officiate within the earthly temple.

Based on his study of the sanctuary in the Old Testament, Niels-Erik Andreasen rightly warns us that the "correspondence between heavenly and earthly sanctuaries should not be taken as a brick for brick, cubic for cubic, beam for beam correspondence. The Old Testament warns us against such a strict material, spatial parallel when it cautions on theological grounds that the God of heaven cannot ever be contained in an earthly structure (2 Sam 7:4-11; 1 King 8:27). What then is the function of the earthly sanctuary? One answer represented particularly by Deuteronomy and the historical books (JoshuaĖ2 Kings) is that the earthly sanctuary/temple is the place where Yahweh makes his name to dwell (cf. Deut 12:5, 11; 1 King 8:29). An even stronger statement is made in Isaiah 66:1, ĎHeaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house [temple] which you would build for me?í A correspondence, involving a reality but not an identity of material and space, exists between the two sanctuaries."32 

The Realistic Interpretation. According to the realistic interpretation, there is a real sanctuary in heaven, but its correspondence to the earthly sanctuary is more functional than spatial or structural. The earthly sanctuary with its daily and yearly services typifies important aspects of Christís heavenly ministry. 

It is important for us to remember, as Frank Holbrook points out, that "When we speak about heaven and the heavenly sanctuary, we are talking about celestial things that are far beyond human comprehension. Hence, in order for God to communicate to us, He must do so by representing those heavenly realities in human terms and symbols familiar to us. The heavenly sanctuary-temple and its activities are, therefore, represented to the prophets (and thereby to us) in the forms of the earthly sanctuary and symbols."33

For example, Jesus is portrayed in Revelation as "a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth" (Rev 5:6). The ministry of the Holy Spirit is represented by "seven torches of fire" burning before the throne (Rev 4:5). Christís intercession is depicted by an angel mingling incense with the prayers of Godís people at the golden altar of incense (Rev 8:3-4). The temple of God in heaven is shown through the symbol of the "tabernacle of the Testimony" (Rev 15:5, NIV). All of these symbols are effectively used to portray a reality that transcend the symbols themselves, namely, the existence in heaven of a real temple, with a real Savior who is engaged in a real intercessory ministry.

In a sense, the plan of salvation is an abstract truth. To help us conceptualize some of its vital aspects, God has provided us in the sanctuary a pictorial representation of the redemptive ministry of Christ. For example, the altar of burnt offering portrayed the great atoning, substitutionary death of our Lord. The two-phase priestly ministration in the earthly sanctuary foreshadowed Christís ministry of intercession and final cleansing of sin in the heavenly sanctuary.

"It is not the physical nature of either sanctuaries that is important," observes Frank Holdrook. " Both are real in their respective spheres (earth or heaven). As far as the Biblical doctrine of the sanctuary is concerned, it is what the structures represent or teach about the great controversy between Christ and Satan and about the plan of salvation that matters. The dwelling places of the Deity propose to teach us spiritual truths, and we must not miss those truths by undue attention to the medium, either earthly or heavenly."34

Some of the spiritual truths of the heavenly sanctuary are taught in the book of Hebrews by means of vertical and horizontal correspondence between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries. Vertically, the heavenly sanctuary is presented as the "true tent" (Heb 8:2), the "perfect tent" (Heb 9:11; cf. 9:24), of which the earthly one was a "symbolic" pattern (Heb 9:9; cf. 8:5; Act 7:44; Ex 25:40). Similarly, the priestly services and sacrifices of the earthly tabernacle are seen as a "copy and shadow" (Heb 8:5) of the "more excellent" (8:6) High Priestly ministry conducted by Christ in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb 7:24-25; 8:4, 11-13; 10:11-21).

Horizontally, the past (before Calvary) typological services of the earthly sanctuary (Heb 9:6-9) are viewed as fulfilled and superseded by the present heavenly intercession and mediation of Christ (Heb 9:9, 11-14). These provide to believers what the blood of animals could not doĖa permanent and total purification from sin (Heb 10:1-4; 9:11-14). 


PART III: THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

The meaning of the Day of Atonement in the New Testament can best be understood in the light of the typological correspondence that exists between the priestly ministry in the earthly sanctuary and Christís ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. In the earthly sanctuary, the priestly ministry consisted of two phases: (1) a daily service of intercession in the Holy Place, and (2) an annual service of cleansing in the Most Holy on the Day of Atonement. These two phases of intercession and cleansing find their correspondence in Christís ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.

Intercession. The first phase of Christís ministry of intercession began at the time of His ascension to heaven and installation at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33-34; 7:56; Heb 8:1-2). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is seen as the evidence of the official enthronement of Christ to His heavenly ministry (Acts 2:33). The installation of Christ to His heavenly ministry is reflected in those passages which speak of His sitting at the right hand of God (Acts 2:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2).

The meaning of "sitting" as intercessory ministry is explained especially in Hebrews 8:1-2, where Christ is presented as the "high priest, . . . seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent." Through His intercessory ministry, Christ sustains the Church (Rev 1:13, 20), mediates repentance and forgiveness to believers (Acts 5:31; 1 John 2:1-2; 1:9), makes prayers acceptable to God (John 16:23-24; Rev 8:3), and provides us with the invisible and yet real assistance of His angels (Heb 1:14; Rev 5:6; 1:16, 20).

Many fail to appreciate the importance of the intercessory ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary because they assume that Christ did it all on the Cross. Not surprisingly, they cannot figure out what on earth Christ is doing in heaven. Their problem is their failure to understand how sin was atoned in the earthly sanctuary. We noted in chapter 4 that in the Levitical system atonement for sin was accomplished during the daily service, not only through the sacrifice of an animal, but also through the blood ritual in the Holy Place. It is only when all the ritual of sacrifice in the court (the Cross) and blood manipulation in the Holy Place (mediation in the heavenly sanctuary) was concluded that the Bible says: "In this way the priest will make atonement for them, and they will be forgiven" (Lev 4:20, NIV).

Most Christians limit the expiatory ministry of Christ to His death on the Cross. This ignores the typological correspondence between the earthly priestly ministry performed by means of the blood ritual in the Holy Place, and the heavenly ministry carried out through "the better blood" of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. Alberto Treiyer warns us that unless we read Hebrews "with authentic Biblical eyes, all of these details will continue to be ignored, and the correspondence that is made there between the systems will be limited arbitrarily to the Cross."35 

Christís work of intercession at "the right hand of God" does not exclude the possibility of a two-phased heavenly ministry for Christ. The fact that Christ at the ascension entered within the immediate presence of God ("within the veil" Ė Heb 6:19), does not mean that He began the final phase of His redemptive ministry typified by the cleansing of Day of Atonement. Those who reason in this way fail to understand the typological function of the Day of Atonement. We have found that this includes the final disposition of sin represented by the sending of the scapegoat into the wilderness and the final separation between the saved and unsaved. It is evident that these events did not occur at the Cross, but they will be realized at the Second Advent. 

Cleansing. The second and final phase of Christís heavenly ministry involves, as in the earthly Day of Atonement, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary by means of the removal and disposition of the sins of Godís people. This final phase of Christís heavenly ministry represents not a replacement of but an addition to the work of intercession. The special sacrifices of the Day of Atonement were offered in addition to the "continual [daily] burnt offering" (Num 29:11).

Intercession is intrinsically related to the final cleansing of sin typified by the Day of Atonement because the positive or negative response to the gift of salvation offered through Christís intercession presupposes a final cleansing or retribution that reveals what each response has been. Both present intercession and future final cleansing are the work of the same High Priest. Intercession is Christís work in actualizing His redemptive love manifested at the Cross. The final cleansing of sin is Christís work in realizing His redemption in a final and conclusive way at His Second Advent which is the antitypical Day of Atonement. Thus the difference between the two is one of perspective: intercession is the work of Christ viewed form the perspective of His First Advent. The final cleansing of sin is the work of Christ viewed from the perspective of His Second Advent.

Views on the Cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary. The final phase of Christís heavenly ministry typified by the Day of Atonement, is mentioned in a unique way in Hebrews 9:23: "Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things [the earthly tabernacle and its vesselsó Heb 9:21-22] to be purified with these rites ["bulls and goats" Ė Heb 10:4], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these" (9:23).36 There is an unmistakable allusion to the Day of Atonement because the passage continues comparing Christís entrance into "heaven itself" with "the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own" (Heb 9:24-25. NIV).

This passage boggles the mind of commentators on Hebrews. The notion of impurity in connection with the heavenly sanctuary is considered by many scholars as something "without sense,"37 "fantastic,"38 "an "unhappy comparison."39 How is it possible, they argue, for things in heaven to require purification when heaven is a place of perfection? Some try to make sense of the passage by reasoning that "the author is speaking poetically or metaphorically."40 

Others try to link this passage to the preceding verses (Heb 9:15-22) which speak of the inauguration of the Mosaic covenant and of the tabernacle, thus concluding that the cleansing refers to the atoning death of Christ on the Cross.41 This linkage is not convincing, because while verses 19-22 describe the inauguration of the tabernacle, verses 24-28 deal with the mediation of Christ in the presence of God. "The strongest argument against this view," writes William Johnsson, "is the authorís terminology. He uses katharizein ("to purify") not egkainizein ("to inaugurate"). These terms are not equivalent; they are not to be collapsed together."42 

Still other commentators suggest that the cleansing of heavenly things has to do with the cleansing of the "consciences" of the sinners mentioned earlier in Hebrews 9:13.43 This hardly seems possible because the text says that "the heavenly things themselves" (Heb 9:23) must be purified, not the people. "The expression, Ďthe copy of heavenly things,í as used in connection with the old worship, involves the sanctuary and its ministry which have been established to resolve the problem of sin and impurity of the people, but not the very people (Heb 8:5). The purification of this copy happened only on the Day of Atonement because only then was the sanctuary and its ministry cleansed. For this reason, it is not possible to relate the cleansing of Ďthe heavenly thingsí with the cleansing of consciences and of the human heart."44 

The Meaning of the Cleansing. What, then, is the meaning of the cleansing of "the heavenly things"? The answer is not difficult to find if the passage is read in the light of its typological correspondence. The cleansing of "the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices" is placed in a typological correspondence to the annual cleansing of the earthly sanctuary ("copies of the heavenly things") with animal sacrifices (Heb 9:23). Just as the earthly sanctuary needed to be cleansed through the ritual of the blood on the Day of Atonement from the accumulated sins of Godís people that had been symbolically transferred into the sanctuary, so the heavenly sanctuary needs to be cleansed through the better blood of Christ from the sins that have been symbolically transferred there.

Commentators have generally backed away from this typological correspondence. Anglican Bishop Brooke Westcott, however, alludes to it in his classic commentary on Hebrews. "The whole structure of the sentence [Heb 9:23] requires that Ďcleansedí should be supplied in the second clause from the first, and not any more general term as Ďinaugurated.í In what sense, then, can it be said that heavenly thingsí needed cleansing? The necessity for the purification of the earthly sanctuary and its vessels came from the fact that they were to be used by man and shared in his impurity (cf. Lev 16:16). Agreeably with this view it may be said that even Ďheavenly things,í so far as they embody the conditions of manís future life, contracted by the Fall something which required cleansing."45 

This statement needs clarification because what defiles the heavenly sanctuary is not the sinful human condition per se, but sinful acts which are symbolically transferred to the sanctuary by means of the ritual of the blood. We noted in chapter 4 that the blood of the substitutionary victim had an ambivalent function. On the one hand, it cleansed the sinner, while on the other hand, it defiled the sanctuary by transferring the atoned sin into the sanctuary where it was deposited until its removal on the Day of Atonement. We found that the reason for maintaining the records of forgiven sins in the sanctuary was to allow for their review by the heavenly court during the 10 days that preceded the Day of Atonement.

In the same way, through the better blood of Christ, sinners are purified from sin (Heb 9:13-14); but their forgiven sins are remitted to the heavenly sanctuary where they are kept until they are first judged by the heavenly court and then removed by Christ at His coming . This is why "the heavenly things themselves [need to be purified] with better sacrifices" (Heb 9:23), because the record of forgiven sins is kept there until the antitypical Day of Atonement, the Day of Christís Coming. George W. Buchanan notes this point when he observes that there is provision "to cleanse the heavenly thingsí . . . since the heavenly archetype functions just as its earthly imitation."46

It should be pointed out, however, that the concern of the author of Hebrews is not to define the time and manner of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, but rather to emphasize the superiority of the cleansing power of Christís blood. William Johnsson rightly points out that the real issue in Hebrews 9:23-25 is not the Day of Atonement as such, but the superiority of Christís blood. "The argument is that the Old Testament services, even at their high point [the Day of Atonement], were inadequate. They provided woefully limited access to God (one man alone) and their very repetition showed their failure: ĎOtherwise, would they have not ceased to be offered?í So even the annual Day of Atonement hammered home Israelís need: limited access, no finality in purging sins."47

The fundamental problem with the Day of Atonement of the earthly sanctuary was that it did not eradicate the presence and consciousness of sin, simply because "it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins" (Heb 10:4). Though the worshippers were symbolically "cleansed," there still remained the "consciousness of sin" (Heb 10:3). By contrast, Jesus "by a single sacrifice has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Heb 10:14).

 The Day of Atonement and the Cross. The importance that Hebrews places on the superiority of Christís blood and ministry has led many to conclude that Jesus fulfilled the antitypical work of the Day of Atonement when He ascended to the heavenly sanctuary. According to this view, Hebrews teaches that the ministry typified by the Day of Atonement has been fulfilled by Christ in heaven at or since His ascension. Consequently, contrary to the Old Testament system which placed the Day of Atonement at the conclusion of the religious year, in the New Testament the typological function of the Day of Atonement has been fulfilled at the inauguration of Christís heavenly ministry. 

The implication is that for Christians the cleansing of the sanctuary accomplished on the Day of Atonement is a past event already fulfilled by Christ at His First Advent, and not a future event to be fulfilled by Christ at His Second Advent. If this were true, the typological meaning of the Day of Atonement would be essentially the same as that of Passover, because the latter also was fulfilled at the first Advent when Christ was sacrificed as our Paschal Lamb (1 Cor 5:7). Such a duplication of the antitypical fulfillment of Passover (Spring Feast) and Day of Atonement (Fall Feast) would destroy the progressive unfolding of the plan of redemption typified by the annual feasts.

Not surprisingly, the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is strewn with controversy over this issue. Early in this century Albion Foss Ballenger (1861-1921), a minister who left the church in 1905, published a book Cast Out for the Cross of Christ. In it he argues that the antitypical fulfillment of the Day of Atonement took place upon Christís ascension, when He began His ministry "within the veil" (Heb 6:19), that is, within the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. To prove his thesis Ballenger made an extensive survey of the use of the term "veil" both in its Hebrew (paroket) and Greek (katapetasma) forms, concluding that the phrase "within the veil" can only refer to the Most Holy Place.48

Recently, Desmond Ford, an Australian Bible teacher, produced a lengthy manuscript (about 1000 pages) arguing along the same lines of Ballenger that the typological function of the Day of the Atonement began at the ascension.49 Outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church, this view is held by numerous scholars.50 Support for this view is generally based on three main phrases found in Hebrews: "within the veil" (Heb 6:19; cf. 10:20), "throne of grace" (Heb 4:16), and "the right hand of God" (Heb 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). These phrases, they argue, indicate that Christ has been officiating in the Most Holy Place since the ascension and, consequently, He has accomplished through His death and heavenly mediation the purification of sin typified by the Day of Atonement. The implication is clear. There is no reason to look for an End-time cleansing of the Day of Atonement because it was already accomplished at Calvary or at least since then.

Evaluation of Interpretation. Two major problems exist with the above interpretation of the Day of Atonement. The first concerns the nature of Christís ministry in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. Ballenger saw in Christís entrance "within the veil" of the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary, the antitypical fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. His reasoning was based on the then prevailing Adventist view that in heaven there is a bipartite sanctuary and that Christ did not enter the Most Holy section until 1844. By arguing that Christ entered "within the veil," that is, in the Most Holy Place, at His ascension, Ballenger concluded that Christ fulfilled the antitypical Day of Atonement already at His ascension. 

Unfortunately, Ballenger was right in his argument but wrong in his conclusion. His all-consuming concern to prove that Christ entered "within the veil" of the Most Holy Place prevented him from seeing the broader scope of Christís heavenly ministry which includes, as we have seen, both intercession and final cleansing. Part of the problem with Ballinger is that he was reacting to a bipartite understanding of the heavenly sanctuary with Holy and Most Holy sections, a view that largely has been abandoned by Adventists today. We have seen earlier that most Adventist authors see a functional rather than structural correspondence between the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries.

The second problem relates to a misunderstanding of the typology of the Day of Atonement. Those who see the Day of Atonement fulfilled at Calvary fail to realize what the day stands for. The Day of Atonement typifies the consummation of Christís redemptive ministry at His Second Advent, when He will dispose of sin by saving believers, punishing the unbelievers, and placing upon Satan (Azazel) the responsibility for all the sins he has instigated. The question is: Did Christ accomplish these closing acts of His redemptive ministry at the Cross or at His ascension when He entered "within the veil" to inaugurate His redemptive ministry? Or will Christ realize them at His Second Advent? The answer is self-evident. It is unfortunate that the failure to understand the typology of the Holy Days, such as the Day of Atonement, has resulted in needless controversy and gross misunderstanding of the unfolding of the Plan of Salvation.

An "Already" and a "Not-Yet" Fulfillment. In a sense, the Cross does represent an "already" fulfillment of the Levitical Day of Atonement, since through it Christ "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb 9:26). Moreover, with Christís entrance into the presence of God "a new and living way" (Heb 10:20) of access to God has been created. By virtue of Christís access into the presence of God, believers now can "enter into the inner shrine behind the curtain" (Heb 6:19). What this means is that the unique experience of coming into direct contact with the presence of God on the Day of Atonement can now be shared by all believers.

This partial fulfillment of the Day of Atonement does not lessen the "not-yet" future and final antitypical realization. The principle of a double fulfillmentó"an already and not-yet"óis common in the New Testament. The author of Hebrews recognizes that the Cross does not exhaust Christís redemptive ministry, because he explains that Christ not only "appeared" in the past "to put away sin" but also appears now in the present before Godís presence and "will appear" in the future to save.

Hebrews recognizes a past, a present, and a future aspect in Christís removal of sin represented by the Day of Atonement. In the past, Christ "has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (9:26). In the present ("now"), Christ "appears in the presence of God on our behalf" (9:24). In the future, Christ "will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him" (9:28).51

The past, the present, and the future ministry of Christ are in Hebrews ideologically connected because they are all dependent upon the same "once for all" sacrifice on the Cross. It is the same atoning sacrifice that enables Christ to fulfill the two phases of His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary: intercession and judgment.

The ministry of Christ "in the presence of God on our behalf" (9:24) includes both a work of intercession and a work of judgment and cleansing. Regarding the first, Hebrews says that Christ "always lives to make intercession for them" (7:25). Regarding the second, Hebrews suggests that the judgment and cleansing will occur in conjunction with Christís Return. This suggestion is made by means of the following comparison: "And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him" (9:27-28).

In this passage, the author correlates human death which is followed by the final judgment (cf. Heb 10:26-27) with Christís atoning death which is followed by His Second Advent. In this correlation, the judgment is placed in correspondence with the Second Advent. Why? Presumably because at His coming Christ executes the judgment typified by the cleansing of the Day of Atonement. It is a judgment that brings salvation to believers and punishment to unbelievers. This explains why Christ "will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him" (Heb 9:28). The reason Christ does not deal with sin at His Second Coming is because He comes, like the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, not to atone for sin but to execute the final judgment, which is to save believers and punish unbelievers. 

The Day of Atonement and The Second Advent. The appearance of the High Priest out of the sanctuary at the end of the Day of Atonement revealed to the Israelites their verdict. Those who had repented of and confessed their sins, offering the specified sacrifices, saw their sins removed and figuratively placed on the Azazel goat which was led away to perish in the wilderness. Those who had not repented of their wrongs and refused to humble themselves before the Lord were "cut off" from Godís people and executed. So it will be at Christís appearance at the end of the antitypical Day of Atonement. Those "who are eagerly waiting for him" (9:28) will be saved, but those who "deliberately keep on sinning" will experience "a raging fire that will consume the enemies of God" (Heb 10:25, NIV). 

In view of the prospect of the Advent judgment, the author of Hebrews admonishes believers to "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, . . . encouraging one another, all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Heb 10:23, 25). "The Day" that is drawing near could well refer to the antitypical Day of Atonement, because this was its common designation among the Jews, a designation which must have been familiar to the "Hebrew-minded" recipient of the book. Both in the Mishnah and Talmud, the treatise devoted to the Day of Atonement is simply called Yoma, which means "The Day." 

Alberto Treiyer perceptively observes that Christís priestly ministry in heaven will conclude as in earthly sanctuary "with an antitypical Day of Atonement, Ďthe judgmentí (Heb 9:27; cf. v. 23). This is why the apostle, after dealing with the inauguration of the heavenly ministry of Jesus and his tamid-[daily] priestly ministry which was performed in the Levitical system during the year in the Holy Place (Heb 10:19-24), announces the approaching of the eschatological Yomah [Day] (Heb 10:25), making outstanding Ďthe Day,í as the Jews used to call the Day of Atonement at that time. On this Day, there remained Ďno further sacrifice for siní for those who Ďdeliberately keep sinning,í Ďbut only a fearful expectation of judgment and a flaming fire to consume the adversary of Godí (Heb 10:25-31; cf. Lev 23:29-30). This Day also projected a positive scope. As the High Priest left the sanctuary after concluding its cleansing, with nothing more to do with the sin of the year but to bless His people (Lev 16:23-24), so also Jesus Ďwill appear a second time, without [relation to] sin, to bring salvation to those who are waiting for himí (Heb 9:28)."52 

Several authors link the Return of Christ with the exit of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.53 F. F. Bruce, for example, writes: "The Israelites who watched their High Priest enter the sanctuary for them waited expectantly for his reappearance; that was a welcome sign that he and the sacrifice which he presented had been accepted by God. His reappearance from the holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement was a specially welcome sight. . . . So our author [of Hebrews] thinks of Jesus as going into the heavenly holy of holies, to reappear one day in order to confirm finally to His people the salvation which his perfect offering has procured for them. Meanwhile they wait expectantly for His parousia [Second Advent]. This presentation of the return of Christ in terms of the High Priestís emergence from the sanctuary was in Frances Ridley Havergalís mind when she wrote:

ĎComing! In the opening east
Herald brightness slowly swells;
Coming! O my glorious Priest,
Hear we not Thy golden bells?í54

Conclusion. The allusions to the Day of Atonement in Hebrews presuppose that the "Hebrew-Christians" to whom the book is addressed were attracted to Jewish ceremonial observance of this important annual Holy Day. The main intent of the author is not to condemn its observance, or to define the time and manner of its observance, but rather to emphasize the superiority of Christís blood in cleansing Godís people from their sins. The work of cleansing and removing sins has a past, a present, and a future aspect. The last of these is accomplished by Christ at His Second Advent when He will appear, like the High Priest at the close of the Day of Atonement, not to atone for sins but to save the believers and punish the unbelievers.

The certainty and the nearness of "the Day" provide added reasons ("all the more"Ė Heb 9:25) to "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful" (Heb 10:23). The allusions in Hebrews to the Day of Atonement and its linkage to Second Advent reveal that the author saw the ultimate fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, not in the past when Christ atoned for our sins on the Cross, but in the future when Christ at His coming will remove permanently the "consciousness of sin" (Heb 10:2; 9:28). What this means is that for Christians, the Day of Atonement is a spring of hope and encouragement because it reassures us that "the Day [is] drawing near" (Heb 10:25) when Christ "will appear a second time [like the High Priest appeared at the close of the Day of Atonement], not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him" (Heb 9:28).

The profound eschatological meaning of the Day of Atonement brought out by the author of Hebrews presupposes that the day was observed in the Christian community, though, most probably in a ceremonial, Jewish way. As with the Sabbath (Heb 4:1-10), the concern of the author is not to argue in favor or against the observance of such days, but rather to show their proper meaning in the light of the Christ event. 

A Comparison Between Hebrews and Revelation. The allusions to the Day of Atonement in Revelation differ from those in Hebrews in two significant ways. First, Hebrews bases its arguments principally on Mosesí tabernacle; Revelation connects its visions mostly to Solomonís Temple. For example, while Hebrews speaks of the "curtain" or "veil" of the tabernacle (Heb 6:19; 9:3; 10:20), Revelation mentions the "door" of the temple (Rev 3:8; 4:1). Second, Hebrews focuses on Christís ministry of intercession and cleansing in the heavenly sanctuary; Revelation describes especially Christís judgment activity emanating from the heavenly temple, but manifested on this earth (Rev 11:19; 14:15; 15:6, 8; 16:1, 17).

The two perspectives are reflective of two different concerns. Hebrews is concerned to exhort Christians who were tempted to abandon the Christian faith and to return to the religious rituals of Judaism. The author deals with the problem by inviting his readers to focus on the living Christ who now ministers in the very presence of God in the heavenly sanctuary. He is the only One who can permanently purge away the sins of believers and provide free access to God.

The concern of Revelation is to reassure Christians who were persecuted for their faith and who were wondering how long they would have to suffer (Rev 6:9-10). John provides this needed reassurance through glorious visions of God in His holy temple, vindicating His people and punishing their adversaries. We shall see that the judgment language and theme of the Day of Atonement is pervasive, especially in the second half of Revelation.

The Day of Atonement in Revelation. In our study of the Feast of Trumpets in Revelation, we found that the blowing of the seven trumpet echoes (Rev 8:2 to 11:19) the Feast of Trumpets which announced the beginning of the heavenly judgment that led up to the Day of Atonement. As Jon Paulien points out, "The Feast of Trumpets itself, falling on the first day of the seventh month (corresponding to the seventh trumpet) ushered in the time of judgment that led up to the Day of Atonement (cf. Rev 11:18-19). There is an increasing focus on the concept of judgment from that point on in the book."55

It is noteworthy that it is within the seventh trumpet that we find the first explicit use of judgment terminology in Revelation: "The time has come for the dead to be judged" (Rev 11:18). The outcome of the judgment is the rewarding of the righteous and the destroying of the ungodly. "[The time has come] for rewarding thy servants, . . . and for destroying the destroyers of the earth" (Rev 11:18). This points to the executive phase of the final judgment accomplished by Christ at His Second Advent, which is the antitypical fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. 

The announcement of the judgment in Revelation (Rev 11:18) is followed immediately by the opening of the most Holy Place of the heavenly temple where the ark of the covenant is seen . "Then Godís temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of the covenant was seen within the temple" (Rev 11:19). This is the first and clearest allusion to the Day of Atonement because only on that day the door to the Most Holy Place was open and the High Priest could see "the ark of the covenant" while he officiated in front of it.

The opening of the Most Holy Place of the heavenly temple on the Day of Atonement is accompanied by the manifestation of the cosmic signs of the Second Advent. "There were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail" (Rev 11:19; cf. Rev 16:18; 6:12-14). The association of the cosmic signs of the Second Advent with the ritual of the Day of Atonement suggests that Christís coming is seen as the antitypical fulfillment of the disposition of sin typified by the Day of Atonement.

The Importance of the Day of Atonement. The vision of the Day of Atonement in Revelation 11:19 plays a pivotal role in the structure of Revelation. It functions as a dividing point between the first half of Revelation which reflects more the daily liturgy of the temple, and the second half of the book which mirrors more the annual ritual of the Day of Atonement. Jon Paulien perceptively observes that beginning with the vision of the Day of Atonement (Rev 11:19), "there is repeated focus on the naos or inner sanctum of the temple where the central activities of Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement] took place. Judgment language and activity, a central theme of Yom Kippur, is also a major concern of the second half of the Apocalypse.

"The visions of the second half of Revelation, furthermore, portray a division of all humanity into two groups. There are those who serve the true God, represented in Revelation by the true trinity (introduced in Rev 1:4-5). The true God is portrayed as sending out three angels of proclamation to the whole world (Rev 14:6-12), calling for decision (Rev 14:7). On the other hand, there are those who serve a counterfeit trinity (the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet; Rev 16:13), which are portrayed as sending out three demonic spirits to gather representatives of the entire inhabited world to the place called in Hebrew Har-Mageddon (Rev 16:13, 14, 16). A final battle between these worldwide forces results (Rev 17:14). The solemn appeals of Revelation 14:6-12; 16:15; and 18:4 also imply a spiritual division of humanity. 

"Such a division along spiritual lines took place also in relation to the lots cast over the two male goats on Yom Kippur. On that day individuals chose between two types of atonement, the one offered by the service and the one represented by their own ultimate death. In the Apocalypse the entire world is represented as facing such a life-and-death decision (cf. Lev 23:29, 30). The above evidence suggests that the heaven/earth dyad [contrast] related to the Hebrew cultus in Revelation is accompanied by a daily/yearly dyad in which the first half of Apocalypse is subtly modeled on the daily liturgy of the tamid [daily service] while the latter portion of the book reflects the annual liturgy of Yom Kippur."56

The same division is proposed by Richard Davidson who writes: "In contrast to the focus upon the daily service in the first part of the book, Revelation 11 shifts the emphasis to the annual liturgy of the Day of Atonement. This Yom Kippur motif is sustained throughout the latter portion of the book as far as chapter 20. . . . The fourth sanctuary scene (Rev 11:19) explicitly portrays the opening of the Ďinner templeí (naos) or Most Holy Place and focuses upon the ark of the covenant. The immediate judgment context of this scene (cf. Rev 11:18) supports the Day of Atonement setting, and also the larger context points in this direction."57 

"The immediate judgment context" to which Davidson refers is the announcement of the time of judgment at the blowing of the seventh trumpet (Rev 11:18). We noted that this event corresponds to the antitypical fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets which inaugurates the final judgment that culminated on the Day of Atonement with the salvation of believers and punishment of unbelievers. Thus, the sequential order in Revelation, namely, announcement of the judgment, opening of the Most Holy Place, and the Second Advent, corresponds to the progression from the typology of the Feast of Trumpets to that of the Day of Atonement.

The Day of Atonement and Revelation 14. The thematic progression from the typology of the Feast of Trumpets to that of the Day of Atonement is present also in Revelation 14. We noted in chapter 3 that Revelation 14 contains three distinct visions, each introduced by the phrase: "Then I looked . . ." (Rev 14:1, 6, 14). The first vision presents the 144,000 singing the song of triumph before Godís throne (Rev 14:3). The second vision describes three angels flying in mid-heaven, proclaiming with "a loud voice" three judgment messages (Rev 14:7-11). The third vision portrays dramatically the execution of the final judgment by Christ at His coming by means of the imagery of the harvest (Rev 14:14-20).

It is noteworthy that the harvest of the earth is preceded by the announcement that "the hour of his judgment has come" (Rev 14:7). This sequential order corresponds to the Levitical system where the judgment was announced on the Feast of Trumpets and executed ten days later on the Day of Atonement. The harvest of the Second Advent stands in typological correspondence with the radical separation between the saved and unsaved that occurred on the Day of Atonement.

"The Second Advent of Christ," writes Mario Veloso, "is for the execution of judgment. It will have two parts [like on the Day of Atonement]. Its first part will be accomplished by Christ who comes in a white cloud with a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand (Rev 14:14). He comes to reap the summer fruit, which represents those who accepted Christís mediation in the heavenly sanctuary (Rev 14:15). In the typical service the High Priest, having made atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the congregation. So Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear Ďnot to deal with sin but to saveí (Heb 9:28) and to bless His waiting people with eternal life.

"The second part of the execution of the judgment is symbolized by the gathering of Ďthe cluster of the vineí (Rev 14:18) which was done in the autumn. This judgment falls upon the wicked who are cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God (Rev 14:19)."58 

In the typical service of the Day of Atonement, the wicked were "cut off" (Lev 23:29) when the High Priest came forth from the sanctuary. The radical separation between the saved and unsaved accomplished by Christ at His coming, stands in typological correspondence to the separation that occurred on the Day of Atonement.

The Day of Atonement and Revelation 19. The last and climactic judgment visions of Revelation 19 and 20 reflect in a unique way the typology of the Day of Atonement. Like in the previous judgment visions of Revelation 14 and 15, the redeemed sing praises to God "for his judgments are true and just" (Rev 19:2). This last vision, however, has a sense of finality because the announcement of the judgment and of the marriage of the Lamb are followed by a description of Christís coming to smite the wicked, to bind Satan, and to resurrect the saints. These events remind us of the outcome of the Day of Atonement.

Just as the High Priest wore a special white linen robe on the Day of Atonement, so Christ wears a special robe at His coming. "He is clad in a robe dipped in blood" (Rev 19:13), a reminder of the blood used by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement to cleanse the sanctuary. Christ does not carry blood like the High Priest, but wears a robe dipped in blood because it is His own blood that cleanses the sins of His people. The latter is indicated by the fact that those who accompany Christ are "arrayed in fine linen, white and pure" (Rev 19:14).

The outcome of the coming of Christ is also similar to that of the Day of Atonement. Christ destroys the wicked by His "sword" (Rev 19:21), a reminder of the impenitent who were "cut off" on the Day of Atonement (Lev 23:29). Satan is bound and thrown into "the pit" (Rev 20:3), a reminder of the sending of Azazel into the desert (Lev 16:21). The righteous are resurrected and reign with Christ, a reminder of the cleansing of Godís people on the Day of Atonement which resulted in the jubilee celebration of new beginnings (Lev 25:9). This amazing correspondence between the typology of the Day of Atonement and its antitypical fulfillment at Christís Return, shows how important is the Day of Atonement in the New Testament for understanding the events associated with the coming of Christ.

The allusions to the annual feasts, and especially to the Day of Atonement, in Revelation suggests, as noted in chapter 3, the observance of a Christianized form of the feasts in the apostolic church. John could hardly have used profusely the typologies of the annual feasts in describing Christís redemptive ministry, if by the time of his writing at the end of the first century their observance were a thing of the past. If that were the case, the many allusions to the feasts would have been incomprehensible to the readers of Revelation. It is more reasonable to suppose that the many allusions to the annual feasts reflects, as several scholars recognize, a Christianized form of their observance. 

The Day of Atonement and Acts 27:9. An incidental reference to the Day of Atonement is found in Acts 27:9 in the context of Lukeís description of Paulís perilous voyage to Rome. The first part of the sea voyage along the coast of Asia Minor was delayed considerably by adverse winds. In fact, contrary winds forced them to seek shelter in the small bay of Fair Havens, in the south of Crete. As they waited there for a change of wind, it soon became clear that they would not complete the voyage to Italy before the onset of winter. The dangerous season for sailing began by the middle of September.

"As much time had been lost," writes Luke, "and the voyage was already dangerous because the fast had already gone by, Paul advised them" (Acts 27:9) not to undertake the voyage. Translators and commentators agree that "the Fast" mentioned by Luke is the Day of Atonement because, as we noted in chapter 4, the day was commonly called "the Fast." Some versions, like the NIV, provide this marginal explanation, "that is, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)." The name "the Fast" derives from the observance of the Day of Atonement as a day of rigorous fast. In fact, it was the only annual Holy Day that was observed by strict fasting. 

In describing Pompeyís invasion of Jerusalem (63 B. C.), Josephus records that the event took place "on the day of the fast."59 The same is true of his description of the sack of Jerusalem by Herod and Sossius which occurred "on the solemnity of the fast."60 Abraham Bloch explains that "Due to the prominence of Yom Kippur, there was no need to identify it by name, and a mere reference to Ďthe fastí was sufficient. Even in Acts of the Apostles of the New Testament, most likely written by a contemporary of Josephus, Yom Kippur is referred to simply as Ďthe fast.í"61

In a similar vein F. F. Bruce writes: "By the ĎFastí he [Luke] means, of course, the Great Day of Atonement, which falls on Tishri 10. Lukeís remark has point only if that date fell rather late in the solar calendar that year. In A. D. 59 it fell on October 5, but in all the neighboring years from A. D. 57 to 62 it fell earlier. A late date for the Day of Atonement is required also by the subsequent time notes of the journey to Italy."62

Our concern here is not to establish the date of the Day of Atonement but to consider the implications of Lukeís use of such a day as a time reference for Paulís voyage. Does Luke use the "the Fast" as a time reference only because it was a well-known Jewish festival in the Roman world? Or also because the Day of Atonement was observed as "the Fast" among the Christians as well?

The latter appears to me to be the most plausible explanation for two reasons. First, we have seen in chapter 3 that Luke portrays Paul as eager to observe the law in general (Acts 21:24) and the annual Holy Days as Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost in particular. About the last feast, Luke says that Paul bade farewell to the believers in Ephesus, saying: "I must by all means keep this feast [Pentecost] that cometh in Jerusalem" (Acts 18:21; KJV). In the light of Lukeís aim to show the continuity in the Christianís use of the Jewish religious calendar, it seems feasible to conclude that Lukeís incidental reference to "the Fast" presupposes that the Christians also observed the Day of Atonement as a day of fasting and prayer. 

Second, if by the time of Lukeís writing (about A. D. 59), the Day of Atonement was no longer observed by Christians, the time reference to "the Fast" would hardly have been understood by the majority of Christians. Yet, Luke assumes that his Christian readers understood what he meant, because he refers to "the Fast," incidentally, without a word of explanation. In the light of these considerations, it seems plausible to conclude that Lukeís incidental reference to "the Fast," presupposes the observance of this important Holy Day among Christians. Support for this conclusion is also provided by the allusions to the Day of Atonement that we have found in the Book of Hebrews and in Revelation. These allusions presuppose, as several scholars acknowledge, that Christians observed a Christianized form of the Hebrew calendar during the Apostolic Church.


PART IV: THE MEANING OF THE DAY 
OF ATONEMENT FOR TODAY

In the light of the preceding survey of the Day of Atonement in the Old and New Testaments, let us ask What is the meaning and relevance of this important Holy Day for our Christian life today? Was the Day of Atonement meant to be observed only by the Jews? Has the typological meaning of he Day of Atonement already been fulfilled at the Cross? Do Christians need today, like the Jews, an annual day "to afflict" their souls (Lev 16:29) by praying, fasting, repenting and confessing their sins, individually and corporately? The answers to these questions are largely determined by oneís understanding of the typological meaning of the Day of Atonement and its antitypical fulfillment.

No Meaning for Dispensationalists. For Dispensationalists, who believe in a radical distinction between Godís plan of salvation for the Jews and that for the church, the Day of Atonement has no meaning for Christians today. Their reasoning is that "The seven annual feasts predicted the redemption of Israel as a nation and did not in any way contemplate the church."63 Consequently, Dispensationalists believe that "The Feast of the Day of Atonement is quite incongruous with the life of the church, for it foreshadows a national repentance by the Remnant of Israel."64 Such a national Jewish repentance will allegedly take place during the Tribulation when the church is already in heaven and consequently will not be affected by events taking place on this earth.65 

This interpretation of the Day of Atonement reflects the fundamental problem of Dispensationalism, namely, their arbitrary and radical distinction between Godís plan of salvation for the Jews and that for the church. Such an arbitrary distinction is foreign to the New Testament and destroys the very oneness of Jews and Gentiles that Christ has realized. Paul explains to the Ephesians that Christ "is our peace, who has made us both [Jews and Gentiles] one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility" (Eph 2:14). Unfortunately, Dispensationalists choose to rebuild the dividing wall of separation that Christ has broken down.66

Dispensationalists read the Old Testament as if Christ had never come and as if the New Testament had never been written. The promises concerning the people of Israel, the land of Palestine, the Davidic reign, the temple, and the animal sacrifices are taken to be literal and self-contained prophecies, applicable only to the Jews and not as an integral part of Godís progressive revelation of His plan of salvation for mankind.

This literalistic interpretation ignores the witness of both the Old and the New Testaments. The former explains that the promise of the land was conditional to obedience (Gen 17:8, 9; 18:18; Lev 26: 40-42; Deut 4:25-31) and was historically fulfilled several times (Josh 21:43-45; 24:8-13; 1 Kings 8:56; Jer 32:21-23). The latter interprets Godís promise of land and blessings to Abrahamís posterity as fulfilled, not through a restoration of national Israel in a future millennium, but through the coming of Christ Who is the content and the intent of Godís covenant with Abraham (Acts 3:25-26; Rom 4:13).

Dispensationalists ignore also the many allusions to the Day of Atonement which are present in the books of Hebrews and Revelation. Our study of these allusions has shown that the antitypical fulfillment of the Day of Atonement will be realized by Christ when He comes to save the believers, to punish the unbelievers, and to dispose of sin in a final and permanent way. These themes of the Day of Atonement have a universal import and cannot be limited to a national repentance of by a Remnant of Israel during the Tribulation.

The Day of Atonement and the Cross. For most Christians, the Day of Atonement has a relative importance because they believe that it was fulfilled and terminated at the Cross. For example, David Baron writes: "Every Christian who is at all instructed in the Word of God knows that the true Day of Atonement is the Day of Calvary."67 This popular view is based on the assumption that the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross represents the antitypical fulfillment of the sacrifice of the bull and Lordís goat on the Day of Atonement.

We noted earlier that in a sense, the Cross does represent an "already" fulfillment of the Levitical Day of Atonement, since through it Christ did "put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb 9:26). This partial fulfilment of the Day of Atonement, however, does not lessen the "not-yet" future and final antitypical realization. We have found that Hebrews recognizes a past, a present, and a future aspect in Christís removal of sin represented by the Day of Atonement. The three are ideologically connected because they are all dependent upon the same "once for all" sacrifice on the Cross. 

Those who identify the Day of Atonement with the Cross see no essential difference between Passover and the Day of Atonement, because for them both feasts were fulfilled by Christís sacrifice on the Cross. Such a view violates the very design and purpose of the feasts and ignores their different typological functions. If the Day of Atonement foreshadowed the death of Christ, then its function would have been redundant, for this was already typified by Passover.

The Worldwide Church of God used to explain the difference between Passover and the Day of Atonement by making the former the symbol of individual forgiveness and the latter of national reconciliation with God. "Passover focuses on individual forgiveness and escape from death; Atonement focuses more on communal reconciliation with God."68 This view is maintained by the United Church of God, the largest church newly formed from the recent split in the Worldwide Church of God. In the United Church of God booklet What is Your Destiny, the comment is made that in some respects the Day of Atonement is "similar to the Passover since Jesus Christ is our Passover and our Atonement. But its emphasis in ancient Israel was on cleansing the nation of its sins (Lev 16:32-34)."69

The United Church of God interprets the cleansing of the Day of Atonement as the cleansing of humanity from sin that begins after Christ binds Satan for 1,000 years at His Second Advent. "To cleanse humanity from sin, God must first depose Satan, who constantly tempts us to sin (Matt 4:3). Then all men and women can receive the atonement of Jesus Christ to cleanse them from all their sins. For this reason, one of Christís first acts at His second coming will be to bind Satan for 1,000 years (Rev 20:1-3). Then the reconciling of the world through the atoning sacrifice of Christ can begin in earnest. With Satan out of the way, all people will enjoy Godís healing peace."70

There are two fundamental problems with this interpretation. The first is the failure to distinguish the typological difference between Passover and the Day of Atonement. The two feasts are not redundant. Although each involved a sacrifice and application of blood, the similarity ended there. Not one of the features of the Day of Atonement noted above are to be found in the Feast of Passover. To confuse the two by blurring their distinctive characteristics and purposes means to completely misunderstand their distinctive function in foreshadowing the unfolding of the Plan of Salvation. 

None of the eschatological features of the Day of Atonement (salvation of believers, punishment of unbelievers, and confinement of Satan) are found in the typology of Passover. The reason is simple. Passover typifies the inauguration of redemption accomplished by Christís atoning sacrifice on the Cross, while the Day of Atonement represents the consummation of redemption realized by Christís at His Return through the permanent removal and disposition of sin. 

The second problem is the failure to recognize that the Day of Atonement typified, not the beginning of a new cleansing of humanity to take place during the millennium, but the completion of the cleansing process of Godís people which resulted in the final disposition and removal of sins, represented by the sending of the scapegoat to the wilderness. Our study of the ritual of the Day of Atonement has clearly shown that the only sins that were cleansed, that is, removed from the sanctuary, were those which had been repented, confessed and atoned for. No second chance was offered to impenitent sinners. They were simply "cut off," that is, executed. They atoned for their own sins with their own death. The ritual of the Day of Atonement, as we have shown, typifies the drastic separation that takes place between the saved and the unsaved at Christís Return. 

To make the Day of Atonement the inauguration of a new redemptive ministry of Jesus designed to give a second chance during the millennium to those who did not accept salvation before His Return, means to destroy the finality of the consummation of redemption typified by the Day of Atonement. In chapter 4, we noted that twice Leviticus uses the phrase "all their sins" (Lev 16:16, 34) to describe the inclusive nature of the cleansing completed on the Day of Atonement. All the sins brought into the sanctuary during the daily services were removed from the sanctuary in a final and permanent way on the Day of Atonement. 

The binding of Satan for 1,000 years represents not the beginning of the cleansing process for humanity, in general, but the final act of removal of the sins of Godís people, in particular. Typologically, Azazel carried away into the wilderness the sins already forgiven as a punishment for his own guilt (Satan) in instigating them. The attempt to build a remedial plan of salvation to go into effect during the millennium for those who did not accept Christ before His Return cannot be supported by the typology of the Day of Atonement, nor by the general teachings of the Bible. 

Good News of Final Cleansing and Restoration. The meaning of the Day of Atonement for today can be defined eschatologically and existentially, that is, in terms of its future fulfilment and of its present impact in our lives. Eschatologically, we have found that the Day of Atonement points to the glorious Day when Christ "will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him" (Heb 9:28).

Just as the Israelites eagerly waited for the appearance of the High Priest out of the sanctuary at the end of the Day of Atonement to hear the good news of their final cleansing and restoration, so we must eagerly wait for Christís appearance at the antitypical Day of Atonement to receive final cleansing from sin and restoration to an harmonious relationship with Him.

The Day of Atonementís message of final cleansing and restoration is particularly relevant today when moral, social, and ecological pollution prevails. At a time when this world seems to be in the hands of some mad, blind forces bent on promoting evil and destruction, it is reassuring to know that the Day will soon come when Christ will appear to cleanse this world with fire (2 Pet 3:10), and "to consume the adversaries" (Heb 10: 27). 

At a more personal level, the Day of Atonement reminds us that we cannot flaunt Godís moral principles with impunity because the Day is coming when impenitent sinners, as in the typical service, will be "cut off" (Lev 23:29) and "shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might" (2 Thess 1:9). The reality of the executive judgment typified by the Day of Atonement and carried out by Christ at His coming makes all our actions and decisions significant because they have both immediate and ultimate consequences.

Like the Jews in Old Testament times, we Christians today need to hear the trumpet call that the Day of Atonement is coming, when our destiny will be revealed. On that Day, Christ, like a shepherd, will separate "the sheep from the goats" and will say to the former "Come, . . . inherit the kingdom . . ." and to the latter "Depart from me . . . into the eternal fire" (Matt 25:32, 33, 34, 41). The consciousness that "the Day [is] drawing near" (Heb 10:25) when our destiny will be revealed gives seriousness to our living. It constantly remind us that the life we live today, with all our thoughts, words, actions and attitudes, counts for eternity.

A Basis for Hope and Confidence. The Day of Atonement has a message of hope for Christians today because it stands for freedom and liberation from the crushing isolation of guilt and restoration to an harmonious relationship with God. "On this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord" (Lev 16:30). Rabbi Irving Greenberg observes that "Yom Kippur does more than lift the burden of evil. Forgiveness alone would leave the individual still alienated. This is the day of atonement, which means restoration to the wholeness of community and roots. It means a new reconciliation and a new unification of impulses and values, of individual and community, and of God and the human."71

For Christians, the promise of liberation, restoration, reconciliation of the Day of Atonement is based not on rituals but on the fact that Christ has already appeared "to bear the sins of many" and will appear a second time to save believers and to punish unbelievers (Heb 9:27-28; 10:26-27). The Day of the second appearing of Christ is an event to be anticipated with solemnity and joy. Solemnity because on that Day our eternal destiny will be revealed. Joy because on that Day our fondest hopes and aspirations will be fulfilled.

The pain, the sorrow, the frustrations, the disillusionments, and the tensions of this life constantly tempt us to give up hope in a future divine solution to our present problems. The message of the Day of Atonement is not to give up hope but to hold fast, because soon Christ will appear to bring an end to sin and suffering. Satan himself, the originator and instigator of sin, will be bound for a thousand year while waiting for his eternal destruction. The author of Hebrews speaks specifically of the encouragement to be derived from the promise of Christís soon coming: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Heb 10:23-25).72

It is noteworthy that the need to assemble together for worship and mutual encouragement is presented in this passage as all the more pressing "as you see the Day drawing near." We noted earlier that "the Day" most probably refers to the Day of Atonement, since it was commonly called "the Day." The approaching of the antitypical Day of Atonement calls for greater mutual encouragement because the nearer we draw to the Return of Christ, the more intense will be Satanís efforts to undermine the work of God in our lives and in this world. "Woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" (Rev 12:12). The inspiration and encouragement we receive from worshiping together with fellow believers can help us to hold fast to our faith and hope in the soon-coming Savior.

Free Access to God. In the New Testament, the Day of Atonement is a generator of hope and confidence because it reassures us that Christ has opened for us a free and direct access to God when He entered into the presence of God. In the Levitical Day of Atonement, only once a year the High Priest had access to the presence of God manifested in the Most Holy Place above the ark of the covenant. Now, all Christians have direct access to God because of Christís entry into Godís presence. 

Hebrews assures Christians that on the strength of two unchangeable thingsóGodís promise (Heb 6:15) and His oath (Heb 6:17)óthey are guaranteed free approach to God through Jesus Christ. He calls this assurance "a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul" (Heb 6:19a). This anchor is "a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Heb 6:19b-20).

What all of this means is that for believers, the Day of Atonement embodies not only the hope of the future cleansing and restoration to be accomplished at the Second Advent, but also the assurance of the present free access to God because Christ has gone into the very presence of God as our forerunner. "Consequently, he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:25). 

Living with a Forward Look. The promise of cleansing, restoration, and final disposition of sin, typified by the Day of Atonement and realized by Christ at His second Advent, can and should motivate Christians to live looking forward to that glorious Day. Peter urges this forward look, saying: "Set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 1:13).

To live looking forward to the antitypical Day of Atonement when Christ will appear to cleanse us from sin, means to view our present life as a pilgrimage, a journey to a better land. The writer of Hebrews notes that Abraham and all past true believers were pilgrims with no permanent home on this earth. "They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better countryóa heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them" (Heb 11:13-16, NIV).

To live with a forward look does not mean that Christians must have a world-denying attitude and live like hermits. Christ had a vivid sense of the imminence of the End, yet He enjoyed food and fellowship to the extent that His enemies characterized Him as "a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" (Matt 11:19). Christ recognized that while His Kingdom was not of this world, yet this world is still Godís world. To live with a forward look means to enjoy the goodness of Godís creation still present in this world, without loosing sight of the new world that Christ will establish at His coming. In chapter 7 we show how the Feast of Tabernacles is designed to remind us that we are pilgrims journeying to the Promised Land.

Christ-Centered Lives. To live looking forward to the Day when Christ will appear, like the High Priest at the close of the Day of Atonement, "to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him" (Heb 9:28), means to focus our attention on Christ rather than on ourselves. Often we tend to think mostly about our own needs, desires, and problems. But the more we focus our attention on ourselves, the less we think of God and His Kingdom. 

The message of the cleansing of the Day of Atonement challenges us to keep Christ at the center of our lives. When we think of His appearance, we are constantly reminded not only of what He has done in redeeming us from the penalty and power of sin but also of what He will do for us at His coming by cleansing us from sin and restoring us to a new relationship with Him. Faith anchored in Christís past, present, and future accomplishments enables us to be "more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Rom 8:37).

Looking forward to the future cleansing of the Day of Atonement means to seek the cleansing power of Christís grace in our daily life. This truth is clearly expressed by John: "Beloved, we are Godís children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3). This purification process is not a human achievement, but a divine outworking in our lives through the influence of the Holy Spirit: "We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:18).

Becoming increasingly Christ-like in character used to be called "holiness," a concept which is no longer popular today. Some find this goal so out of reach that they choose to settle for lesser standards. To strive for a lesser goal means to doubt the power of the Holy Spirit to produce within us a character fit for the new earth. John Wesley remarks: "Repentance is the porch of religion, faith is the door of religion, holiness is religion itself. . . . None shall live with God but he that now lives to God; none shall enjoy the glory of God in heaven but he that bears the image of God on earth."73 And we would add, none will experience the final cleansing of the Day of Atonement, but he who seeks now the forgiveness and cleansing from sin (1 John 1:9).

An Annual Call to Corporate Repentance. For the Jews, the Day of Atonement was and still is the annual call to corporate repentance. Although heart repentance was implied in the observance of the other feasts, on no other occasion is repentance so central as in the Day of Atonement. The Biblical basis for the emphasis on repentance and confession of sins is evident in the Biblical instructions: "And it shall be a statute to you for ever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves, and shall do no work" (Lev 16:29; cf. Lev 23:27, 29, 32).

The "affliction of soul" is generally understood to mean fasting. The emphasis, however, is on the correct attitude of the heart. Keil and Delitzsch explain that "The fasting for this day, the only fasting prescribed in the law, is most intimately connected with the signification of the Feast of Atonement. If the general atonement made on this day was not to pass into a dead, formal service, the people must necessarily enter in spirit into the signification of the act of expiation, prepare their souls for it with penitential feelings, and manifest this penitential state by abstinence from ordinary enjoyments of life."74

Fasting is designed to curb bodily appetites to heighten the awareness of spiritual needs. Fasting is accompanied by prayer, self-examination, and confession of sins. On the Day of Atonement, devout Jews still take their annual inventory of their spiritual life. The high point of the liturgy is the corporate confession of sins. We noted in chapter 4 that the Jews confess their sins ten times during the day-long service and each time they confess their sins in the plural, "we have sinned." The focus is not merely on the sins of society, but primarily on the changes needed in oneís personal life. 

The challenge of the Day of Atonement to take an annual spiritual inventory of our lives and to acknowledge and forsake our sinful ways is most needed today when sin is excused, explained away, and relativized, rather than being acknowledged, confessed, and forsaken. "In a culture striving for permissiveness," writes Irving Greenberg, "the self-critical mood of Yom Kippur strikes a note of jarring counterpoint. The traditionís answer is that guilt in its right time and place is healthy; it is crucial to conscience. Moral maturity lies in a willingness to recognize oneís own sins . . . Concrete acts can be corrected; bad patterns can be overcome. Against the brokenness of guilt and the isolation of sin, Yom Kippur offers the wholeness of living, the oneness of community. To this end there is repeated confession of sins on Yom Kippur."75 

Christians, like the Jews, need today the annual summon of the Day of Atonement to self-examination, repentance, and cleansing. We need to search our hearts and see if the sins we have confessed and asked to be forgiven have also been forsaken. If we sense the presence of sinful tendencies in lives, the Day of Atonement offers an annual opportunity to seek and experience divine forgiveness and cleansing. 

In a sense, this is the message of the Day of Atonement for Christians today. It is the message of holy living in the present life in order to experience the final cleansing and renewal in the future Day of Christís coming. Only those Jews who had repented, confessed, and forsaken their sins experienced the final cleansing and renewal of the Day of Atonement. In the same way, only those Christians who repent, confess, and forsake their sins now will experience the final cleansing and removal of the "consciousness of sin" (Heb 10:2) when Christ will appear on the antitypical Day of Atonement.

Conclusion. The Day of Atonement in the Old and New Testaments embodies the Good News of Godís provision for the cleansing of sins and restoration to fellowship with Him. "On this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord" (Lev 16:30). What a marvelous provision God has made for His people to experience an annual cleansing and a new beginning through His atonement! 

The cleansing and new beginning of the Day of Atonement is made possible through Christís atoning sacrifice. "Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come" (2 Co 5:17). The ultimate fulfilment of the precious promise will be realized at the antitypical Day of Atonement when Christ will dispose permanently of our sins and make all things new. 

The promise of cleansing of the Day of Atonement has both a present and future phase. In the present, the Day of Atonement summons us to search our hearts and forsake our sinful ways by the power of Christís blood which can purify our lives (Heb 9:14). The moral cleansing we experience in the present reassures us of the future and final cleansing from the presence and consciousness of sin that will be accomplished on the antitypical Day of Atonement, when Christ "will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him" (Heb 9:28).

At a time when many are experiencing the crushing isolation of sin, the Day of Atonement has a message of hope. It reassures Christians that Christ will soon appear the second time, like the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, to punish unbelievers, to bind Satan, to cleanse believers and restore them to an harmonious relationship with Him. Such a hope gives us reasons to encourage "one another, and all the more as . . . [we] see the Day drawing near" (Heb 10:25). 


NOTES ON CHAPTER V 

1. Emphasis supplied.

2. Deut 4:16-18; Ps 106:20; 144:12; Is 44:13; Ez 8:10; Hos 13:2.

3. Ez 8:3; 10:8.

4. Jos 22:28; 2 King 16:10.

5. 1 Chron 28:12, 18. The quote is taken from Niels-Erik Andreasen, "The Heavenly Sanctuary in the Old Testament," The Sanctuary and the Atonement. Biblical, Historical, and Theological Studies, eds., Arnold V. Wallenkamf and W. Richard Lesher (Washington, DC, 1981), p. 69. 

6. Frank B. Holbrook, The Atoning Priesthood of Jesus Christ (Berrien Springs, MI, 1996), p. 18.

7. Emphasis supplied.

8. Niels-Erik Andreasen (note 5), pp.78-79.

9. Leonhard Goppelt, "Tupos as the Heavenly Original according to Exodus 25:40," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Friedrich (Grand Rapids, MI, 1974), vol 8, pp. 256-257.

10. Frank M. Cross, Jr., "The Priestly tabernacle," The Biblical Archeologist Reader (Missoula, MT, 1975), vol. 1, p. 220. For a detailed analysis of tabnit, see Richard M. Davidson," Typology in the Book of Hebrews," Issues in the Book of Hebrews, ed., Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Spring, MD, 1989), pp. 156-169. 

11. An example is the exclusion of women from the priesthood, a practice that was very common in pagan religions.

12. William G. Johnsson, In Absolute Confidence: The Book of Hebrews Speaks to Our Day (Nashville, TN, 1979), p. 91.

13. Alwyn P. Salom, "Sanctuary Theology," Issues in the Book of Hebrews, ed., Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Spring, MD, 1989), p. 206.

14. Emphasis supplied.

15. Emphasis supplied.

16. De specialibus legibus, I, 12, 66, in Loeb Classical Library, Philo, vol.7, p. 139. 

17. See W. F. Howard, The Fourth Gospel in Recent Criticism and Interpretation (London, 1955), p. 115; James Moffatt, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (New York, 1924), pp. 104-106.

18. For an exegetical analysis of these texts, see William G. Johnsson, Defilement and Purgation in the Book of Hebrews (Ph. D. dissertation, Vanderbelt University, 1973), chapter 4. For a briefer discussion by the same author, see "Defilement/Purification and Hebrews 9:23," Issues in the Book of Hebrew, ed., Frank B. Hollbrook (Silver Spring, MD, 1989), pp. 79-103. 

19. Ronald Williamson, Philo and the Epistle to the Hebrews (Leiden, Holland, 1970), pp.1-10.

20. See George W. Buchanan, To the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI 1964), pp. 134-135. 

21. See C. Spicq, LíEpître aux Hébreux (Paris, 1952), vol. 2, p. 267.

22. Sidney G. Sowers, The Hermeneutics of Philo and Hebrews: A Comparison of the Old Testament in Philo Judaeus and the Epistle to the Hebrews; Studies of Theology, No. 1 (Basel, 1965), p. 91.

23. F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI, 1952), vol. 2, p. 34.

24. L. D. Hurst, "Eschatology and ĎPlatonismí in the Epistle to the Hebrews," in Seminar Papers, Society of Biblical Literature, Annual Meetings (Scholar Press, Chico, CA, 1984), p. 49.

25. Alberto R. Treiyer, The Day of Atonement and the Heavenly Judgment (Siloam Springs, AR, 1992), p. 382.

26. Wilhelm Michaelis, "Skene," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed., Gerhard Friedrich (Grand Rapids, MI, 1971), vol. 7, p. 376. 

27. Richard M. Davidson, "Typology in the Book of Hebrews," Issues in the Book of Hebrews, ed., Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Spring, MD, 1989), pp. 185-186. Emphasis supplied.

28. Ellen G. White, Early Writings (Washington, D C, 1945), pp. 252-253.

29. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, CA, 1954), p. 414.

30. William G. Johnsson, "The Heavenly Sanctuary: Figurative or Real? Issues in the Book of Hebrews, ed., Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Spring, MD, 1989), p. 51.

31. Alwyn P. Salom (note 13), p. 206.

32. Niels-Erik Andreasen (note 5), pp. 69-70.

33. Frank B. Holbrook (note 6), p. 22.

34. Ibid.

35. Alberto R. Treiyer (note 25), pp. 425-426.

36. Emphasis supplied.

37. C. Spicq (note 21), p. 160.

38. J. Moffatt, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Edinburg, 1924), p. 132.

39. H. W. Montefiore, The Epistle to the Hebrews (New York, 1964), p.160.

40. N. R. Lightfoot, Jesus Christ Today. A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI, 1976), note 9, p. 175.

41. J. C. Verrecchia, Le Sanctuaire dans líÉpître aux Hebreux. Etude exégetique de la section centrale (Strasbourg,France, 1981), pp. 192-194; L. D. Hurst (note 24), pp. 65-67.

42. William G. Johnsson, "Defilement/Purification and Hebrews 9:23," Issues in the Book of Hebrews, ed., Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Spring, MD, 1989), p. 96.

43. J. W. Thompson, The Beginning of Christian Philosophy: The Epistle to the Hebrews (Washington, DC, 1982), pp. 108-109; C. C. Wickham, The Epistle to the Hebrews (London, 1910), pp. 74.

44. Alberto R. Treiyer (note 25), p. 428.

45. Brooke F. Wescott, The Epistle to the Hebrews (London, 1892), p. 270.

46. George Wesley Buchanan, To the Hebrews (New York, 1972), p. 162. 

47. William G. Johnsson, "Day of Atonement Allusions," Issues in the Book of Hebrews, ed., Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Springs, MD, 1989), p. 118.

48. For an insightful analysis of Ballengerís arguments, see William Johnsson (note 47), pp. 107-120. 

49. For a concise report and analysis of Desmond Fordís views, see the special issue of Ministry, August 1980.

50. For a listing of supporters of this view and an analysis of their views, see Alberto R. Treiyer (note 25), pp. 436-444.

51. Emphasis supplied..

52. Alberto R. Treier (note 25), pp. 435-436).

53. See, for example, S. J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, 1984), p. 267; Brooke F. Wescott (note 45), p. 280.

54. F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI 1981), pp. 223-224.

55. Jon Paulien, "Seals and Trumpets: Some Current Discussions," Symposium on Revelation, ed., Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Spring, MD, 1992), p. 191.

56. Jon Paulien, "The Role of the Hebrew Cultus, Sanctuary, and Temple in the Plot and Structure of the Book of Revelation," Andrews University Seminary Studies 33 (1995), p. 257.

57. Richard M. Davidson, "Sanctuary Typology," Symposium on Revelation, Book I, ed., Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Springs, MD, 1992), pp. 113-114.

58. Mario Veloso, "The Doctrine of the Sanctuary and the Atonement as Reflected in the Book of Revelation," The Sanctuary and the Atonement. Biblical, Historical, and Theological Studies, eds., Arnold V. Wallenkamf and W. Richard Lesher (Washington, DC, 1981), p. 410.

59. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 14, 4.

60. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 14, 16.

61. Abraham P. Bloch, The Biblical and Historical Background of the Jewish Holy Days (New York, 1978), p. 28.

62. F. F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of Acts (Grand Rapids, MI, 1983), p. 506.

63. Terry C. Hulbert, "The Eschatological Significance of Israelís Annual Feasts," Doctoral dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, TX, 1965), p. 293.

64. Ibid., p. 225.

65. Ibid., p. 3.

66. My analysis of the method of prophetic interpretation used by Dispensationalists is found in The Advent Hope for Human Hopelessness (Berrien Springs, MI,1986), pp. 204-240.

67. David Baron, The Ancient Scriptures and the Modern Jew (London, 1901), p. 56.

68. Godís Festivals and Holy Days, Worldwide Church of God (Pasadena, CA, 1992), p. 31.

69. What Is Your Destiny? United Church of God (Arcadia, CA, 1996), p. 13.

70. Ibid.

71. Irving Greenberg, The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays (New York, 1988), p. 207.

72. Emphasis supplied.

73. A. Outler, John Wesley (New York, 1964), p. 378

74. C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI, 1959), vol. 2. pp. 405-406.

75. Irving Greenberg (note 71), p. 212.


Home | About Author | Books | Order Online | Print Order Form | Scholars comments