February 8, 2024 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Ted Wilson (TW): Greetings, friends. Today we return to our series on The Great Controversy. This amazing book traces the course of Christian history from 70 AD all the way down to our time and into the future. In this video series, we are looking at the chapter highlights of The Great Controversy. I encourage you to follow along by downloading your free copy of the book at greatcontroversyproject.org where it is available in multiple languages.

Nancy Wilson (NW): Earlier in the series, we read about William Miller and the early Advent believers who, based on the prophecies found in the book of Daniel, looked for Jesus to come on October 22, 1844.

TW: The key verse upon which the Millerites based this belief is found in Daniel 8:14“And he said to me, ‘For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” During the mid-19th century, most people believed that “the sanctuary” referred to in this verse was the Earth, so the assumption was that the Earth would be cleansed by fire at the Second Coming of Jesus. 

NW: When Jesus did not come on October 22, 1844, marking the end of the prophetic 2300-days, there was great disappointment. However, those who truly believed the Bible continued to study God’s Word.

TW: Carefully reviewing the prophecies in the book of Daniel, they realized their calculations had been correct. All the events outlined in the 2300-day prophecy had so far been fulfilled right on time. Therefore, they reasoned, something important must have happened at the end of this longest-time prophecy of the Bible. 

NW: Eagerly, they searched the Scriptures until they found the key! The answer was in Jesus, who is now serving in the heavenly sanctuary as our High Priest. 

In the books of Exodus and Leviticus they read about the earthly sanctuary set up by Moses, following the pattern given to Him by God. In the book of Hebrews, they saw clearly that the earthly sanctuary was a type, or symbol, of the real sanctuary in heaven. They realized that to understand the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary, it was important to understand what took place in the earthly model. 

TW: While these services are described in detail in the Bible, The Great Controversy gives us a helpful summary, where we read: “Day by day the repentant sinner brought his offering to the door of the tabernacle and, placing his hand upon the victim’s head, confessed his sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the innocent sacrifice. The animal was then slain” (p. 418). This sacrifice was necessary because, as we read in Hebrews 9:22, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (ESV). 

NW: Following the sacrifice, the blood, representing the sin the innocent victim bore, was carried by the priest into the first apartment of the sanctuary, called “the holy place.” Inside the holy place, the priest sprinkled the blood before the second veil, which was just outside the most holy place where the ark of the covenant containing the 10 Commandments was located.

This symbolic service continued day after day, throughout the year, transferring the sins of Israel to the sanctuary. 

TW: In His instructions to Moses, God commanded that once a year the sanctuary was to be “cleansed” of the sins that had been figuratively transferred there through the blood of the sacrifices. We read about this special day in Leviticus 16, which describes in detail how two kid goats were chosen—one representing the Lord, the other representing Satan. The goat representing the Lord was slain as a sin offering for the people, then the priest would bring its blood into the most holy place and sprinkle it in front of and on the mercy seat, located on the ark of the covenant. The blood was also sprinkled on the altar of incense in the holy place.

NW: Then, as we read in Leviticus 16:21 and 22, the high priest would “lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions . . . putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness . . . the goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities.” 

This goat represents Satan, who will eventually bear the consequences for all the sins he caused the righteous to commit, but which they confessed and were forgiven. 

TW: “The whole ceremony,” writes Ellen White, “was designed to impress the Israelites with the holiness of God and His abhorrence of sin, and further, to show them that they could not come in contact with sin without becoming polluted” (The Great Controversy, p. 419).

 You see, friends, there are important truths we can learn from the earthly sanctuary services. For example, a substitute was accepted in place of the sinner who confessed his sin; but the sin was not canceled by the blood of the victim. Nevertheless, a way was provided for the sin, represented by the blood of the lamb (or other sacrificial animal) to be transferred to the sanctuary. 

NW: On the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the most holy place with the blood of a special offering, “and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat, directly over the law, to make satisfaction for its claims. Then, in the character of [a] mediator, he took the sins upon himself and bore them from the sanctuary. Placing his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, he confessed . . . all these sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and they were regarded as forever separated from the people” (The Great Controversy, p. 420).

TW: Brothers and sisters, these important ceremonies are not just some ancient rituals that took place thousands of years ago in the wilderness of Sinai. 

We read in Hebrews 8:1,2— “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

 In our next video we will delve more deeply into the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary. Until then, I again encourage you to download your free copy of The Great Controversy at greatcontroversyproject.org [Insert: greatcontroversyproject.org] and read Chapter 23, entitled, “What is the Sanctuary?” 

I invite you to pray with me just now.

Father in Heaven, Thank you for this amazing revelation given from heaven itself to Moses regarding the sanctuary, its services and its purpose. We’re so grateful for the plan of salvation that is shown in detail in the sanctuary service and that ultimately Jesus, who bore our sins and died for us as the true lamb and who was resurrected, will come in glory to take us home and sin will be put away into the wilderness, never to be appearing again. We praise Your name for this plan of salvation and for the Sanctuary service that shows us Jesus as our righteousness. In Christ’s name we ask it. Amen.

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