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Then Shall the Sanctuary Emerge Victorious 9
To apprehend the importance of the heavenly sanctuary and its "cleansing" within the great controversy between Christ and Satan, we should bear certain things in mind. First, the heavenly sanctuary is the nerve center of God's program for dealing with the sin problem and the redemption of men. It alone is equipped to deal with sin and sinners. Second, because it is the center of divine operations, it is also the object of attack by Satan and his delegated powers on earth; hence the attack by the apostate little horn upon God's sanctuary and Christ's priestly ministry. Third, the Biblical doctrine of the cleansing of the sanctuary gives the key to God's final movements and unfolds to men the last phase of Christ's priestly work leading to the vindication of God and His people, and the eradication of sin and Satan.
This can be substantiated from the type. That most sacred of days, the Day of Atonement, the Jewish day of reckoning, promised that Christ would minister a final work of judgment to be climaxed with the Second Advent. Christ in His priestly work fulfills all aspects of the Levitical order. Since the typical removing of sin from the sanctuary once a year on the Jewish Day of Atonement did not really provide for the final blotting out of sin and its resolution, then we must expect the real solution to be effected by the final phase of Christ's priestly work at the antitypical Day of Atonement. (See Heb. 9:23; 10:3, 4; Lev. 16:18, 30.) This cleansing of the sanctuary, according to Daniel 8:14, began at the close of the 2300-year prophecy.
The Cleansing of the Sanctuary
Modern versions and translations of this text vary considerably from the King James. "'For two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state'" (R.S.V.); "Then shall the wrongs of the sanctuary be righted" (American Translation); "'Then the Holy Place shall emerge victorious'" (N.E.B.).
This verse is an answer to a question asked by one angel of another. Verses 9 to 12 provide a startling revelation of the nefarious work of the little horn in its opposition to God, His truth, His people, and His sanctuary. In verse 13 the first holy one asks: "'For how long will the period of this vision last? How long will the regular offering be suppressed, . . . and both the holy place and the fairest of all lands be given over to be trodden down?' the answer came, 'For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the holy place shall emerge victorious'" (N.E.B.). The clear implication is that at the close of the 2300 days this profane power will be overcome and God's sanctuary will be "restored," "cleansed," "emerge victorious."
To express this change the King James Version uses the phrase "then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." The Hebrew word for cleansed is tsadag. Its basic meaning is "to justify." The word is used forty-one times in the verb form in the Old Testament. It is rendered cleansed only in this verse. From the Hebrew root word and other derivations come the ideas of justification to be in the right, vindication. It describes a righteous judgment or verdict. (See Job 29:14; Ps. 37:6; Isa. 32:1.) Eighteen uses of the verb have the meaning "to be in the right, justified" (see Isa. 43:9, 26; Ps. 51:4, 6); also that of a judge giving a person the verdict of being just or righteous (Deut. 25:1; 1 Kings 8:32; Isa. 5:23; Prov. 17:15). One proper meaning then is "justified." Thus the sanctuary is to be justified, shown to be in the right. Out of the struggle with the little horn God will be vindicated in His dealing with the sin problem. Also, the true saints of God will be manifested, justified, and revealed as righteous. In relationship to God's sanctuary and its ministration, all men are said to stand before God. The sanctuary in its righteous judgment will emerge victorious and be restored to its rightful state.
But let us examine further this aspect of the great controversy, in the light that streams from the Word of God.
The Little Horn Attacks God's Truths and People
Historically and prophetically, the vision of Daniel 8 is closely related to, and further amplifies, the vision of Daniel 7. The repetition and similarities of chapter 8 are evidently intended as additional elucidation and emphasis. This is indicated in part by the deep anxiety that Daniel feels over the monstrous activities of the little horn, the apparent success of this power that has arrayed itself against God and His people, which Daniel did not understand. "As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart" (Dan. 7:28). Nothing will suffice but a further revelation from God.
Almost two years passed between the visions of chapters 7 and 8. Daniel is not primarily concerned with the lion of Babylon, the ram of Medo-Persia, and the goat of Greece. He could understand their destiny. The empire of Babylon was doomed. Its fate was sealed. Destruction at the hands of the Medo-Persians was impending. The succeeding world empires were to last only a short time. His intense desire was to understand the work of the little horn, particularly its attack upon the sanctuary of God. No power described in Scripture exceeded it in opposition to God and His people.
The vision of Daniel 7 revealed that God would end the historical succession of world powers and the little horn by a work of judgment proceeding from the divine sanctuary in heaven beginning after the end of the 1260 years. In Daniel 8 the divine intervention occurs at the close of the 2300 years, when the holy place was to "emerge victorious" (verse 14, N.E.B.).
Daniel first records the vision given to him (verses 3-14)the ram, the goat, the four horns, the little horn, and the 2300 days. Because of Daniel's increased concern and desire to know the meaning of what he had seen, the angel Gabriel is commissioned to make him "understand the vision" (verses 15, 16).
Gabriel briefly interprets the ram as Medo-Persia and the goat as Greece, and then describes the fall of the first great king. Quickly he moves to the central theme of the visionthe place and work of the little horn in history. He declares that the mystery of the little horn and the 2300 days will not be fully understood at that time, because it is for the "time of the end" (verses 17, 19). He closes with an emphatic declaration that the vision of the evening and the morning is for a distant age.
The central point of this vision is the little horn's defiant stand against and opposition to, the God of heaven. Its attack is fourfold: first, against Christ, the "prince of the host" (verse 11); second, against the truth of God"it cast down the truth to the ground" (verse 12); third, against the saints or the holy people (verse 24); and fourth, against the sanctuary of God, that divine center where God reigns and ministers salvation, treading down the sanctuary and its services (verses 11, 13).
The strongest language is used and superlative comparisons are made to describe the overpowering apostate activities of the little horn: ''exceeding great" "even to the host of heaven" (verses 9, 10), "magnified himself even to the prince of the host" (verse 11), "it practised, and prospered" (verse 12), "transgression of desolation" (verse 13), king of fierce countenance" (verse 23) "destroy wonderfully" (verse 24).
It is an appalling picture of a religious power in opposition to God. It is not surprising that all this brought great anxiety to the prophet.
The Little Horn and Antiochus Epiphanes
Frequently Biblical writers have interpreted this "little horn" as referring to Antiochus Epiphanes. In the religious history of the Jews, Antiochus Epiphanes is remembered primarily for one infamous event: he defiled the sanctuary at Jerusalem. It is for this one reason that Bible interpreters identify Antiochus with the little horn. Nothing was more sacred to the Jews than the Temple area, its sanctuary, and services. Antiochus invaded Jerusalem with his army, erected idol altars and pagan rituals on this sacred spot.
His profanation of the sacred sanctuary of Jehovah is called "the transgression of desolation" or the "abomination of desolation" (verse 13; chap. 9:26). Against such atrocities the Jews rose up in revolt, defeated and drove out the army of Antiochus, and won their independence for about one hundred years. These events were regarded by many as sufficient to explain the work of the little horn who was to tread down the sanctuary.
There are a number of important reasons, however, why Antiochus Epiphanes could not be the little horn of Daniel 8:
First, Christ, in Matthew 24:15, applied the term "abomination that maketh desolate" to the Roman armies which did destroy both the city and the sanctuary in A.D. 70. Jesus Christ at least included pagan Rome in this perspective, extending far beyond any literal interpretation of the 2300 days.
Second, Antiochus did not completely destroy the city or the sanctuary. He left them standing (Dan. 8:13; 9:26).
Third, the little horn was to exercise his destructive power until the close of the 2300 days. This is regarded by some as 2300 literal days; by others as 1150 days because of the two sacrifices offered evening and morning.
The phrase "evening and morning" is used in the first chapter of Genesis where the creation week is made up of six evening-morning units each constituting a day with two parts. Hence, 2300 evening and morning units constitute 2300 complete twenty-four-hour days. Neither of these periods of days reaches from the time when Antiochus invaded the sanctuary and stopped its services to the time when they were restored; the historical record is very clear and specific. From the time he desecrated the sanctuary to its restoration was 1940 days, 360 days short of the 2300 days and 790 days in excess of the 1150. (See 1 Macc. 1:20, 21; 4:53.) The dates of these actual events cannot be made to fit by any stretch of the imagination.
Fourth, the little horn is said to "wax exceeding great" (Dan. 8:9). When compared with either Medo-Persia which "became great" (verse 4) and Alexander who "waxed very great" (verse 8), or with all the other kings of the Seleucid dynasty, he ranked less than "exceeding great."
Fifth, the little horn is said to arise "in the latter time of their kingdom" (verse 23); that is, the latter time of the four kingdoms into which Alexander's Empire was divided. They lasted from 301-31 B.C. Antiochus ruled from 175-163 B.C. Within his own dynasty, he is located about the middle of the years of this kingdom.
Sixth the little horn is said to stand up against Christ, "the Prince of princes" (verses 11, 25). If the reference is to the time when Christ lived on earth or even to Antiochus' opposition to God's kingdom on earth, Antiochus was not successful. As a consequence of his war with the people of Judah, an independent Jewish nation was the outcome. The desecrated Temple was restored and independence won within twenty years.
Seventh, the vision is stated to be for "the time of the end" (verses 17, 19). What end could this mean? Obviously, the vision as applied to him cannot mean the end of the Seleucid kingdom, or the end of Jewish independence, or the end of the age. The phrase seems quite meaningless when applied to Antiochus.
These are the actions and the characteristics which have nothing that correspond to Antiochus Epiphanes, and which are in fact contradictory to his character and rule. However, these characteristics do appear in frequent prophetic accounts of the Antichrist to come.
The Sanctuary Identified
The most striking feature of the little horn's apostasy and opposition is its attack upon the sanctuary and its services: "By him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down" (verse 11). "To give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot" (verse 13). What sanctuary is cast down and what "daily" is taken away?
First, the Bible reveals two sanctuariesthe earthly and the heavenly. The earthly is a type or pattern of the heavenly. The relationship between these sanctuaries is of great antiquity, going back to the time of Moses. The idea of a temple in which God dwelt arose when God gave to Moses a vision of it and a pattern to follow in the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness; and to David the plans for the more elaborate and permanent structures on the Temple site at Jerusalem. Belief in the sanctuary where God dwelt was given to Israel almost from the beginning of their history. Even today the area formerly occupied by the Temple is the most sacred spot for modern Jews. What Mecca is to the Moslems, Jerusalem and the Temple area are to the Jews. This was their center of worship and of communication with God.
Moses constructed the ancient tabernacle with all of its furniture according to the pattern and plan that God showed him while he was on Mount Sinai (Ex. 25:9, 40). God gave complete verbal instructions to Moses, which explains why subsequent Bible prophets and writers, including Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the apostle John, describe the heavenly sanctuary by using the typical imagery of the earthly. When Daniel speaks of the "daily" service, the mind is transported back across the ages to the earthly sanctuary, when the priests ministered the continual burnt offering. Morning and evening the lamb was slain, the blood sprinkled, and the body consumed on the altar in the temple court. Other personal sacrifices followed throughout the day. These were the ceremonies to which the later Bible writers refer. All these services pointed forward to Christ our High Priest, in both His sacrifice on earth and His priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.
So when Daniel speaks of "the daily" and "the sanctuary" and the 2300 "evenings and mornings," he is using the language of the type, as do other Bible writers when speaking of the heavenly sanctuary and Christ's ministration there. Because Daniel uses the language of the type, this does not exclude the heavenly sanctuary as part of the vision. The apostle John, writing twenty years after the destruction of the earthly sanctuary in Jerusalem, saw the seven golden candlesticks symbolizing the seven churches (Rev. 1:12, 20); "A Lamb as it had been slain" (chap. 5:6); "the altar" and "a golden censer" (chap. 8:3), which stood before the veil; the offering of incense, which symbolized the merits of Christ offered with the prayers of the saints (chap. 8:3).
John saw the temple of God opened in heaven and "there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament" (chap. 11:19). The only sanctuary in existence when John wrote the Apocalypse was the one in heaven, yet he uses the language of the type to describe it.
Second, Jesus identified the "abomination of desolation" description of the little horn with pagan Rome and its destruction of the city and the sanctuary in A.D. 70, from which it has never recovered or been rebuilt. The Temple site is now occupied by a Moslem mosque. The ancient sanctuary did not emerge victorious, nor was it restored or cleansed. A correct fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the sanctuary must be climaxed with its emerging victorious, its being restored to its rightful state.
Third, the prophecy and the divine perspective is eschatological. The angel told Daniel that "at the time of the end shall be the vision. . . . I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be" (Dan. 8:17-19).
People were to have complete understanding of the vision only after "many days," even at "the last end of the indignation" when the little horn was to be "broken without hand" (verse 25); that is, not by force of arms and men but by God's judgment and action, when the heavenly sanctuary was to emerge victorious. Gabriel closes with an emphatic assertion that the vision of the evening and the morning is true. All these phrases, such as "the time of the end," "many days," point Daniel to the far-distant future. The full understanding of this part of the vision would not come until a distant age, at the close of the 2300 years. The only sanctuary to be involved-beyond A.D. 70 is the heavenly sanctuary.
Fourth, the phrases concerning taking away the daily and casting down the sanctuary are repeated in connection with all the prophetic time periods of Daniel. In Daniel 8 it is tied to the 2300 days. In Daniel 11 it is tied with the persecution of the saints, the Dark Ages, when many shall "fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. . . . and some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end" (verses 31-36). In Daniel 12 taking away the "daily" is linked with the 1260, 1290, and 1335 years:
All these scriptures have one thing in commonthey involve the attack on the sanctuary and its ministry and are inevitably tied to these prophetic time periods that extend to the time of the end. The visions of Daniel 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12 involve this one power, the apostate little horn. In all cases, so far as the sanctuary is concerned, God wins His case, and His ministration from the sanctuary emerges victorious along with His saints.
Fifth, both time periodsthe 2300 years of Daniel 8 and the 490 years of Daniel 9constitute parts of the same vision, to which frequent reference is made. Both begin at the same time, during the kingdom of Medo-Persia. Both center in the attack on God's sanctuary, on His truth, and on His people. Both reveal the agonizing eagerness of Daniel to understand the vision. Both involve Gabriel's effort to make Daniel understand it.
A careful examination of chapters 8 to 12 reveals how much they complement and parallel one another, reaching from Daniel's day to the time of the end.
"By him [the little horn] the daily sacrifice was taken away" (Dan. 8:11). The Hebrew word for daily is tamid, meaning "continual," "perpetual." The Revised Standard Version reads "the continual burnt offering," and The New English Bible, the "regular offering." The emphasis is not upon sacrifice, but upon the continual nature of the priestly ministration. It refers to the whole temple service offered daily by the priests to mediate forgiveness and redemption. "every priest stands performing his service daily" (Heb. 10:11, N.E.B.). The "daily" services typified God's continual and complete provision in Christ's priestly work for those who come seeking forgiveness and salvation.
In comparing Christ's priestly ministration with that of the Levitical, we must not think of it as being like that in the earthly sanctuary. Because the incense offered with the prayers of the saints symbolizes the merits of Christ, we must expect Christ to offer those merits and not to burn incense. Because the seven "lamps of fire" symbolize the Holy Spirit (see Rev. 4:5), we must expect Christ to minister to us the Holy Spirit and not to be engaged in lighting lamps.
Moses, Daniel, and John represented the divine realities by literal earthly aspects because man as a sinner could not behold the realities of the divine, and in order to see the eternal through the visible, symbols are used. Thus we are instructed concerning God's program of redemption and judgment.
The sacrifice and the priestly ministry of Christ are to be conceived of as fulfilling all the symbols and services of the Levitical sanctuary and priesthood. At the very center of the Christian faith stands our High Priest who shed His blood for mankind, and who sits at the right hand of God as our eternal Mediator.
We are purchased with His blood, redeemed through His blood, and have forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace. (See Eph. 1:7; 2:13; Col. 1:20; 1 Peter 1:18, 19.) Thus Christ made a full, perfect, and sufficient oblation for the sins of the whole world. In Him all our sins are expiated. They no longer bar our admission to the divine Presence and favor. Christ never ceases to be the Mediator between God and man. No other mediatorial work is acceptable to God.
The work and ministry of Christ is to save men. He does this not only by His death on the cross but also by His life (Rom. 5:10). Christ mediates to all who come to Him the spiritual realities and consequences of redemption accomplished at the cross.
Christ offered His own blood to God and entered upon His priestly ministry in "a greater and more perfect tabernacle" (Heb. 9:11). He alone is the "mediator of a better covenant" "of the new covenant" (chaps. 8:6; 12:24). The new covenant rests upon the divine forgiveness of sins (chap. 8:12; chap. 10:16, 17). Therefore Christ is called "a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (chap. 2:17), to break the power of sin (chap. 7:11, 19). He alone can lead sinful men into that communion with God. One of the most distinguishing marks of Christ's priestly ministry is to secure our access to God's presence, to all "who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us" (chap. 6:18). Before God, sin and disobedience is no trifle. Christ opens the door of the sanctuary to let men see the ark of His covenant that contains the law of God (Rev. 11:19). Jesus Christ, our High Priest incorruptible, leads men to honor both the law and the gospel. To remove sin and disobedience, to restore the image of God in man, is the foremost service Christ renders to mankind.
For "who can forgive sins but only God?" (Mark 2:7). "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins" (Isa. 43: 25). Christ our High Priest ministers to "save them to the uttermost. . . seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25). If Christ had not risen from the dead to do His priestly ministry, we could not be saved (1 Cor. 15:17, 18). Because of His ministration in the heavenly sanctuary, the Holy Spirit came:
Furthermore, because Christ ministers in the sanctuary above, the work of the everlasting gospel is advanced in the earth:
By virtue of His continued ministry, Christ will also come again:
Christ's priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary means everything to the world and to the church. In that true sanctuary Christ is the center of unrestricted and unlimited merit, mercy, love, and power. He alone is the author of man's salvation, the one High Priest before the Supreme God of the universe, in perfect harmony with God and sympathy with sinful man (Heb. 2:16-18).
God the Father must and will heed our Saviour' s intercession and accept the merits of Christ in our behalf, and of none other. Christ our High Priest procures for His people all the riches and the blessings that flow from His complete atonement at the cross. Nothing else avails in heaven. Trusting in His merits alone, not those of saints or angels, we draw near to God's throne of grace. Christ mediates for us an eternal inheritance (chap. 9:15). He is the Captain of our salvation; He brings many sons into glory by His ministry (chap. 2:10). Thus He teaches men to look unto Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith. In His priestly office He claims His people as His right. Believers may walk the earth as citizens of heaven.
This ministry of Christ must never be obscured by traditions, counterfeits, erroneous judgments, and verbalizations of sinful men. For erring man to assume or usurp this right, which belongs to Christ alone, is the work of antichrist. Men need an incorruptible priesthood, after the power of an endless life (chap. 7:16). Christ as true God and true man is fully equipped for the office and work of High Priest.
To understand and commit one's life to the saving ministry of Christ from the heavenly sanctuary means to know Him whom to know is life eternal (John 17:3). To follow Christ in the sanctuary above, to look to the living Christ alone, can grant men certainty and security for salvation and ultimate victory. The fundamental need is for the living Christ to be at the center of our life and work. The problem of the church throughout most of its history is that Christians have not allowed Him to occupy His rightful place.
Taking Away the Daily
Those who believe that Daniel 8, verse 11, refers to the literal earthly sanctuary interpret this to mean a literal defilement of the sanctuary by an invasion of its sacred places, by erecting idol shrines to pagan gods, and by stopping the Jewish daily services and sacrifices for a literal period of 2300or 1150actual days.
Those who believe that the sanctuary and the daily refer to the heavenly sanctuary see the issues in terms of a conflict between opposing religious systems, ideas, and doctrinesthe kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Prince of light, against the kingdom of the prince of darknessa conflict between Christ and antichrist.
The reference to the "daily" and the "casting down of the sanctuary" is evidently the same as that mentioned in Daniel 11:31 to 35 and 12:9 to 13. From the time periods mentioned in connection with this sanctuary, the 1260, 1290, 1335 days, we may infer that the 2300 evenings and mornings symbolize years. This is further evidenced from the 70 weeks of years of Daniel 9, which are literal time, and the 1260 prophetic days of Revelation 12 and 13. Hence there is good reason for the belief that these numerical figures constitute prophetic time; that the sanctuary referred to is the heavenly and not the earthly, which ceased to exist after A.D. 70.
Furthermore, it appears impossible to explain satisfactorily the great issues portrayed in these visions in terms of literal days. The various visions and prophecies involved reach far into the future. The close identity and scope of these visions are among the most convincing evidence that these days represent years and that we are concerned with the true sanctuary in heaven. The sealing of the vision of the daily and the sanctuary until the time of the end, the promise to Daniel to stand in his lot when the time for the full revelation should come, looks far beyond the day when he heard those words.
One of the problems in interpretation centers in the use of the term sanctuary, whether the earthly or the heavenly sanctuary is what Daniel had in mind. Salvation history begins with the earthly and moves to the heavenly as antitype fulfills type. This is apparent in the sacrifice and ministry of the Levitical priests as compared with Christ's sacrifice and priestly ministry. Daniel's vision embraces both, for they are part of the plan and purpose of God in Jewish and Christian history.
If Daniel 8:9 to 14 refers merely to the literal desolations at Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jews, then deliverance would come by the exercise of a stronger military force, to be followed by a literal restoration of the daily services. But the angel's communication with Daniel clearly implies that the issues move beyond the reality of the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly.
What is it that the wicked will not understand if all that is involved is the literal restoration of the sanctuary and its services? Is not understanding contingent upon a spiritual grasp of the religious forces and supernatural issues to be revealed at the time of the end, when these time prophecies terminate? Who then will be able to prevail when Michael stands up (see verse 1)? Who can stand the test from the sanctuary of God, stand His judgment, His investigation? It is truth that has been cast down, not the physical structure. It is the saints who have been destroyed, not the city. It is the ministry of Christ that has been obscured, not the cessation of religious services. The attack of the little horn is against Christ, the Prince of princes, against the truth of God, against the redemptive activity of our great High Priest, against the law of God, and against the people of God.
The related visions in the book of Daniel that parallel chapter 8 also reveal the controversy and the outcome to be spiritual. In the great image vision of Daniel 2, the stone that is cut out of the mountain without hands decides the issue. In Daniel 7 the long history of man's opposition to God is resolved by a judgment of God from the heavenly sanctuary. In Daniel 8 we learn that the power of the apostate little horn shall be broken without hands. Daniel 11 tells us the king that magnifies himself against the God of gods will come to his end and none shall help him. According to Daniel 12, it is only when Michael the archangel stands up that men are delivered, and God emerges victorious. The vindication of God and His people is accomplished, not by human methods but by the divine. The issue is truth against error, light against darkness. Victory is achieved, not by the presence or power of worldly armies or human decrees but by the truth and the power of the living God. This is the triumph that these great prophetic visions anticipate and require.
In Daniel 8 what is at stake is the vindication of God and His people over against the forces of evil. The message from the sanctuary inquires concerning the sin problem, concerning faith and obedience toward God who rules and mediates from His dwelling place. Can the reality of Christ's ministry in the heavenly sanctuary conquer the unrighteous judgments of men and the forces of darkness, and cause the righteous to "shine as the brightness of the firmament.., for ever and ever" (Dan. 12:3)?
John the apostle, writing within the setting of this time of the end, spoke of measuring the temple, the altar, and the worshipers (Rev. 11:1, 2). No building contractor or tailor was called in to take measurements. No such literalism can bring the truth of God into focus. To measure the sanctuary is to understand its priestly ministry, its work of redemption and judgment. To measure the altar means to understand and proclaim the true atonement. To measure the worshipers means to examine in order to determine who are the true worshipers. By this symbol of measuring, sinners are pointed to Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world and to Christ as man's Mediator in the heavenly sanctuary.
The Right to Forgive and Judge Cases
Because Daniel's vision centers in the heavenly sanctuary and Christ's mediatorial work, what then is meant by the statement "by him [the little horn] the daily was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down" (Dan. 8:11)? Obviously, the apostate little horn had no way of gaining access to the heavenly sanctuary. But it did deprive men of the true knowledge of saving righteousness and judgment through the one Mediator between God and man by usurping the place and ministry of Christ. Men could not avail themselves of what they were ignorant of.
The little horn claims to have the right and the power to forgive sins, to decide cases and judge men, to pardon or not to pardon, to decree eternal life or eternal damnation. This claim, accepted by men, obscures the ministry that belongs to Christ. As man's High Priest, Christ ascended to the heavenly sanctuary to give repentance and forgiveness of sins. God has given Him the sole right to judge the lives of men and render a final verdict.
The continual ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is void of all significance and efficacy when any man or system presumes to usurp the place of Jesus Christ. The loss of the knowledge of Christ's priestly work keeps men in sin and darkness. Such a system puts Christ outside the saving process. The belief that priests on earth can forgive sin and decide cases for weal or for woe, however generously you construe that intention and action, does not free men from either their sins or their guilt. No saints, no mother of Jesus, no earthly priests, can intercede for us before God. The Christian is not left to the decisions and judgments of men. It is idolatry to commit our eternal destiny to any human being. In Christ we have the very God for our portion.
The apostate little horn has competed as it were, for the saving ministry from the sanctuary and for deciding who is fit for salvation. How then is the sanctuary of God to emerge victorious, to be ultimately justified? This is no arbitrary action by God. Not by decree or by force will God defeat His opposers. Nevertheless, God Himself condescends to make His decisions and judgments public and available throughout the universe. God opens the books of heaven for all to see. God created His creatures free to think, to decide and determine which celestial leader to followChrist or Satan. God honors that freedom by placing the truth about Himself and His program of redemption before men, and permitting them to choose for themselves. The ultimate verdict from the sanctuary will vindicate both God and His saints.
All forgiveness and judgment must rest on a righteous foundation, universally and individually acknowledged. When they come from Christ our High Priest, Saviour, Judge, we can be sure. The day of that revelation of the righteous judgments of God is now here. Christ's judgments from His sanctuary will be the only right verdict. From divine headquarters comes the whole perfect action of the Godhead concentrated in forgiveness and judgment by the one person, Jesus Christ, "on the day when God judges the secrets of human hearts through Christ Jesus" (Rom. 2:16, N.E.B.).
Ellen G. White places the above event at the time of the end and the breaking of the seals as the opening of the books of record revealing the destinies of men and the triumph of God:
By this revelation from the sanctuary the decisions of the apostate powers of the little horn over the lives of men will be proved false. Their decisions will be reversed. All their pronouncements of forgiveness and decisions for life or death will be rejected by the God of heaven. Nothing but the righteous judgment of God from His sanctuary can accurately decide the fate of men. Having all judgment committed unto Him, Christ alone can make known to the universe the forgiveness that matches true repentance, a judgment that fits the character, a salvation that cannot be retracted. Every forgiveness granted, every judgment given by Jesus Christ over every life, will be shown to be completely in the right.
It is for this reason that the "investigative judgment" at the close of the 2300 years takes on universal significance in the great struggle between truth and error. The universe will honor and stand by God's judgment and not by that of men on earth, regardless of their position and power. The unrighteous and feeble judgments of men will be rejected. The truth from the sanctuary is the unfolding of Christ's final word as to the condition and destiny of all men. The decisions made by men on earth can never be just and they can never be final.
The investigative judgment is a loving revelation from Christ of the righteous decisions in favor of those who have trusted in Him. The scarlet woman, Babylon, is the mother of a worldwide false system of worship that is in opposition to the truth and the law of God, to the children of God, to the atoning and redeeming work of Christ who is the sinner s only High Priest and Mediator before God (Rev. 17:1-5). Through the years this apostate church has blasphemously claimed the right to speak for God and minister His saving grace to those on the earth, and to decide between the saved and the lost. But no right method or righteous judgment has ever been effected by man. Men are so easily deceived by appearances and by words. Sin is more than an outward act. It is also a state of mind and heart. Only Christ can read the minds of men. Faith is man's vital response to Christ. Only God can judge that faith. The hour of God's judgment will test every man's work.
From the true sanctuary in heaven Christ ministers with love and power to translate His redeeming work on the cross into human regeneration and growth into His likeness. By His Spirit He restores the image of God in those who trust in Him. That which is to stand for eternity is not based on human work or decision. Redemption and judgment are God's own actions on behalf of His children, which no man can possibly effect. In Him and through Him can men know the assurance that God's judgments are forever true and irreversible. The hour of judgment will reveal this.
These actions from the sanctuary are so personal and so just that the final result will be universal at-one-ment. Such a verdict is not at any time within the claims and the judgment of men. To restore the truth about God and His final movements for a dying world, the hour of His judgment has come. To restore true worship in trust and obedience, God speaks to us from the sanctuary. God alone will resolve the sin problem and justify His sovereign rule throughout the universe.
In connection with the closing work of the gospel upon the earth John saw the temple (sanctuary) of God opened in heaven, "and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail" (Rev. 11:19).
All this was not accomplished by the Reformation, for the law and the sanctuary were still trodden under foot. The church at that time received "a little help" (Dan. 11: 34).
If we need ask about repentance, salvation, judgment, vindication, the answer must come from God and not from man. What is required is One who is Himself our Saviour, our Judge, our Mediator, our Intercessor and High Priest; one whose judgments cannot be gainsaid, whose confession of us before the Father and before the universe can only be praised and never denied. Here alone is the unanswerable moral judgment of God.
This judgment will give satisfaction and everlasting certainty to all God's creatures, and assurance that sin shall not rise again. In Christ's priestly ministry God executes redemption and judgment in behalf of His children that can never again be called into question.
The call to come out of Babylon is a call to study the mediatorial ministry of Christ and to look to Him alone. The cleansing or justification of the sanctuary also means that God has taken action into His own hands to judge His people and decide their destiny, and thereby expose the falsity and worthlessness of this apostate system. There is a continuing work of atonement or reconciliation effected by Christ in heaven that He has not delegated to any religious power on earth. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1).
How serious to look to a church or an institution on earth and not look to Christ! How alarming the thought of allowing any power on earth to come between us and Christ! If it is fatal to lose sight of salvation at the cross, it is equally fatal to accept a human mediator between the sinner and God.
Therefore there is laid upon us the responsibility to look to Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith:
We are called upon to trust His judgment and love. Neither the devil nor the impotence of men can destroy our confidence, undermine our peace, and dispel our assurance. Let us look up to the incomparable righteousness of our Saviour and our Judge for that eternal verdict that guarantees to us heavenly places in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is the divine answer to the machinations of demons and men and the powers of darkness, the answer to those who have set themselves against God, who have cast the truth to the ground, who magnified themselves even to the Prince of the host, who through the centuries have destroyed the mighty and holy people, and who have taken away the daily ministration of Christ from the minds of men and trodden down the place of His sanctuary. The divine judgment is implicit in the statement "he shall be broken without hand" (Dan. 8:25).
God Himself will judge this powerits arrogant defiance of Himself, its attacks against His saints, its self-worship and utter disregard for truth and justice. In this judgment Christ claims His people, those clothed with His righteousness, those who "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Rev. 14:12).
In these great prophecies, at the center of the controversy, stand those who dwell on the earth. Celestial powers vie for their loyalties. The battle for the souls of men is vast and its importance tremendous, because the eternal destiny of men and of our world is at stake. Much of the history of man involves a pessimistic outlook in terms of the many who have sided with Satan and the remnant who have sided with Christ. The church has an urgent need to capture men for Christ and prepare them to stand as the books are opened in the judgment. When Christ returned to His Father, He commissioned His followers:
What bearing does this have upon the "cleansing of the sanctuary," "the restoring of the sanctuary to its rightful state"? For one thing, it means calling the attention of men to the one Source of forgiveness, redemption, sanctification.
You are in Christ Jesus by God's act, for God has made him our wisdom; he is our righteousness; in him we are consecrated and set free (1 Cor. 1:30, N.E.B.).
It will also mean that a righteous judgment of men is available nowhere else. The judgment that considers the cases of men in the heavenly sanctuary is the only one that counts. That judgment will abide forever. Beyond the claims of men there is the judgment of God.
This is why, in Daniel 8, the emphasis is upon the cleansing, the restoring, the triumph, of the sanctuary. Here and here alone will the character of the saints be able to stand in the light of God's presence. For this reason God will bring His people to the judgment seat. It is essential to the triumph of the sanctuary and Christ's priestly ministry. It will prove God righteous in all His judgments. It will complete the redemptive purpose of God for man. It will make possible the return of Christ to give to His saints everlasting life.
Such a triumph cannot be accomplished by the apostate powers on earth. Christ will reverse the judgment of the little horn. The restoring of the sanctuary is a victory of God's judgment over that of men.
Suffice it to say that both the righteous dead and the righteous living will enter the glory of God's everlasting kingdom through the closing ministry of Christ. It is the judgment of exultant hope, of emerging victory.
After the saints have stood, as it were, before that judgment seat in the splendor of Christ's righteousness, they will then be raised and translated to live and reign with Christ for a thousand years. They will belong to that order of truth wherein Christ is everlasting King, and ever present with His people. The judgment must take its place in the period before the return of Christ, for this is the gateway that leads beyond the grave in the first resurrection, and that is reserved for all who have been vindicated at the bar of God.
The message from the heavenly sanctuary is sure. The vision of the 2300 days is true. Nothing can negate the righteous judgment of God, for all the accounts are kept to the uttermost farthing. Let us go with Christ, for now is the time to stand in our lot in these last days.
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