What constitutes true fellowship? Is it not perfect trust, love, and appreciation one for the other? God has declared: “These people I have formed for Myself that they may proclaim My praise.” Isaiah 43:21 “For the Lord delights in His people.” Ps 149:4 And Jesus said, “I will come again, so that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3
Amazing thought is the atonement. God wants to be at-one with us! He longs for intimate fellowship with us. Like Enoch, who walked with God, till God took him home then and there to continue that walking and talking for eternity. “Before his translation Enoch had the record that he pleased God” Heb. 11:5. He made God happy! He met the heart need of the Infinite One, and there are many Enochs today! (COL 332)
GOD LONGS FOR FELLOWSHIP, BUT SIN SEPARATES.
But there is one huge, sometimes seemingly insurmountable problem which destroys this fellowship and separates us from God. THAT PROBLEM IS SIN.
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden and ran away to hide when they heard God’s voice calling them to come and walk with Him in the cool of the evening, sin has separated people from God. “Your sins have separated between you and your God.” (Is 59:2)
God hates sin, He cannot tolerate sin. Sin has caused unspeakable pain and anguish to the creatures God has created and loves. Sin is a poisonous plague that brings untold misery and ultimate death. God cannot forever live with sin, He must eradicate it, but how can He do that when he loves and yearns for our fellowship? How can he destroy sin without destroying the ones He longs to save? How does one save sinners without perpetuating sin?
The answer is in the sanctuary. The truths of the sanctuary reveal the sacrifice for the atonement, the cleansing blood of Jesus, and the reunion this atonement makes possible for any sinners who answer the heart call from the infinite God to come and find at-one-ment with God.
“Have no other God’s before Me” God declares. Sin is setting up other gods, setting up things and desires that come between us and the only One who really loves us. Sin must be gotten rid of. That wall that barricades us from the very source of all that alone can meet the deepest needs of the human soul, must be cast aside as we hasten into the warmth of fellowship of the One who has the complete “at-one-ment” for each of us.
God said, “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8) God’s purpose for the sanctuary is that he may dwell with us! Awesome thought! The sanctuary is God’s call to us who are agonizing behind the dark, hideous wall of sin which stands like a huge formidable barrier between us and any hope of satisfying the soul with the fellowship with our Creator for which the heart craves.
Basic to the plan of bringing human’s back into “at-one-ment” with God is Christ’s sacrifice which provides for all the atoning requirements. The Sinless Creator of the human race was the only One Who could step in and take the punishment of the rebellious treason of His creation.
Yet to really understand the WHOLE wonderful plan of God to bring mankind back into union with His Creator, one must look at the pattern shown in the sanctuary.
Let’s visit the sanctuary in the wilderness, which was a pattern of Christ’s work in the plan of our salvation.
THE LAMB IS SLAIN
There is a man leading a sacrificial animal. We see him approach the altar. The innocent victim is tied to the horn of the altar as the sinner places his hands upon his head and confesses his sins. “And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering (Lev. 4:33.) The genuine confession is specific. Leviticus 5:5 points out: “He shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.”
Thus the sin is transferred to the sacrificial animal. And since the wages of sin is death, the one who bears the sin must die.
Who slays the sacrificial animal? “If any one of the common people sin…He shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats…a lamb…he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and he shall slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering.” (Leviticus 4:27-33)
The man who came for forgiveness took the life of the sacrifice.
So we bring our sins to Jesus and lay them upon His head. Here we can find true repentance as we look at Calvary and see “Him whom we have pierced, …” (Zech. 12:10) For He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
As we confess our sins with the full realization that these sins put Jesus on the cross, something happens inside our hearts. To be cleansed from sin we need a heart change. That heart change comes as we behold what our sins have done to Christ. If we want to have the power of sin broken in our lives, if we want a heart change, we must do what repentant sinners did back there. We must place our sin on the innocent sacrifice, which is Jesus Himself. We must behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
THE PRIESTS ROLE IN THE ATONEMENT
Full provision for the atonement was made at the cross, however the atonement is not applied until the priest makes the atonement. The lamb does not make the atonement, the lamb only provides the blood and sacrifice by which the atonement can be made. Several steps are required before the atonement is complete.
- The sinner must first transfer, that is confess, his sin upon the head of the substitute. If he does not confess the sin remains upon himself.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
- The lamb is slain. Christ has died because of those sins. Full provision for atonement is made.
- The priest then makes the atonement for sinner.
Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35, Lev. 5:6, 10, 13, 16, 18 Lev. 6:7 (and more) STATES THAT:
“and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.”
Leviticus relates important details concerning the priest’s role in making an atonement. In 4:13- 20 we see the sin being transferred from the people to the substitute. Then the animal is killed. Yet this is not the end! Many people want to stop the atonement at this point saying that once the sacrifice dies the atonement is complete. But no, the work has just begun. The priest takes some of the blood into the sanctuary and sprinkles it seven times before the Lord, in front of the veil that separates the holy from the most Holy place. Then he touches the horns of the altar of incense with the blood. This is all part of making an atonement for the sinner.
Christ has died for us. Then He arose from the dead and returned to heaven as our High Priest. By His own blood He enters the sanctuary of heaven to cover our sins with His blood. The only way sin can get into the sanctuary is for the priest to take it there, but Jesus will never take your sin unless you ask Him too. He will not grab your sins from you, you must confess them just as the repentant Israelites confessed their sins upon the head of the sacrificial lamb. When we do this Christ will “sprinkle” His blood and cover those sins. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Psalm 32:1)
Where are your sins now? Are they still upon you or have they been confessed and through Jesus’ blood transferred and covered in the sanctuary of heaven?
The record is in the books of heaven. When we give those sins, through confession, to Christ He takes them into the sanctuary and covers them with His blood. The books then show these sins to be covered, pardoned. They are no longer against us, we are forgiven and justified.
The altar of incense represents our prayers of petition. Christ’s blood purifies our prayers and makes them acceptable to God.
“And the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him.” (Lev. 4:35)
THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
God desires not only to cover sin but also to blot out all sin forever.
Some have scoffed at the idea that the heavenly sanctuary must be cleansed of the sins placed there by repentant sinners. Yet Hebrews 9:22,23 tells us that “It is needful that the copies of the things in heaven should be cleansed in this way, but the heavenly things shall be cleansed with better blood.”
It is evident that the blood ritual on the day of atonement is different from the blood ritual of sin offerings. In the sin offerings the blood being sprinkled in the sanctuary means the transferring of sin and uncleanness into the sanctuary. In these cases the blood is not the detergent for cleansing the sanctuary. It is plainly declared that “atonement is made for the sinner” (4:20) and not for the sanctuary.
On the day of Atonement, the cleansing is of the sanctuary. (16:16) as well as for the altar of burnt offering (16:18) The blood of the sin offering carries sins into the sanctuary. The animal which was slain had sins confessed upon it’s head, the sins which were then transferred into the tabernacle. On the day of atonement no sins were confessed upon the sacrifice. It’s blood was not sin laden.
Christ’s blood was once and for all and covers all requirements for the complete process. When we come to Him confessing our sins Christ covers them with His blood. Yet, He Himself is perfect and sinless therefore His blood not only covers but also cleanses.
What is the difference between the sprinkled blood in the holy place and the sprinkled blood in the most holy place? The first provides for the covering of sin, the forgiving of the repentant sinner, the second for the blotting out of sin when the final decision is made.
Why does not God blot out sins as soon as they are confessed?
Micah 7.18-19 asks the amazing question:
“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardons iniquity,… because he delights in mercy? He will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and He will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Yes, God will forgive, He delights in mercy, He will forgive “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9) He will help us overcome and He casts our sins far away and will look upon us as if we had never sinned. But He never removes from us the power of choice. If we wish to go out and pull our sins back out of the depths of the sea and continue in them He will not forcibly prevent us.
In Ezekiel 18.21,22 God promises:
“If the wicked will turn away from all his sins that he has committed, and ..do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him.”
His sins are covered. His sins will not be remembered by God. He shall live!
For Ezekiel continues to tell us in (18.23) that God doesn’t have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? But that he should return from his ways, and live? However the next text states (18.24) “But when the righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does the things that the wicked man does, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.”
The purpose of the Day of Atonement was the removal of sin, from the sanctuary and from the people. They were to afflict themselves before God. This was a very serious day, of deep spiritual self-examination to be sure everything was made right before God. Everyone was to be sure their sins were in the sanctuary and covered. Those who chose to hang on to their sins were “cut off”. It was a day of judgment.
Those whose sins are covered are declared righteous, those who clung to their sins and refused to afflict themselves, are cut off. (Lev. 23:28) The priest then transfers the sins from the sanctuary and places them on the scape goat. (Lev. 16:21) All sins are then sent out of the camp. The scape goat is sent into the wilderness. Those who refused to take the day of atonement seriously are also sent out of the camp, “cut off” from the people of God. Thus the sanctuary and the people are clean. (Lev. 16:30, 19)
Revelation 22:11-15 gives the final fulfillment, the reality — the ending of Christ’s work in the Day of Atonement in heaven, when He comes forth from the sanctuary declaring: “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me to give to everyone according to his work, Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are the immoral, murderers, idolaters and whoever loves and practices a lie.”
Thus the totality of the atonement process is achieved with finality in an irrevocable manner. People are either forgiven and cleansed, or they bear their own sins unto destruction. Now God has a community of believers to stand before Him from all ages, tribes, nations, and tongues who are in complete communion with Him. They have been separated from their sins and united in fellowship with their God. They will have the right to everlasting life with Christ their Savior, their Lord, and best Friend. They are a people “at one” with their God, Who declares:
“They shall be my people, and I will be their God.”