Study of the Book of Hebrews
By E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
As you know, we have come under fire on this question of the cleansing of the sanctuary. In this chapter, we will go back to the text of Hebrews 9:23 which we touched in the last chapter. We will start at verse twenty-two to get the context:
And almost all things are by the law purged [taken away] with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified [cleansed] with these;
The earthly sanctuary had to be cleansed. “The patterns” referred to the earthly sanctuary.
But the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
In other words, you cannot cleanse the heavenly sanctuary with the blood of bulls and goats. You need something better. Verse twenty-four continues:
For Christ is not entered into the holy places [as I’ve already explained this refers to the heavenly sanctuary] made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
All that Hebrews 9:23 is saying is that the heavenly sanctuary needs to be cleansed, just like the earthly sanctuary was cleansed. The only difference is that the sanctuary in heaven cannot be cleansed with the blood of bulls and goats. Paul doesn’t explain to us here how and why the heavenly sanctuary is to be cleansed. I’ll tell you why. Please look at verse five. He has explained the earthly sanctuary in the first four verses and then he goes on to say in the second part of verse five:
Of which we cannot now speak particularly.
In other words, “I have explained the earthly sanctuary but I have not given you this outline of the earthly sanctuary so that I may give you its significance.” The purpose of Hebrews nine is simply to show that the reality, the heavenly sanctuary, is better than the earthly. The earthly was a shadow; the heavenly is the reality. The purpose of Hebrews nine is not to explain the details. All we get from verse twenty-three is that the heavenly sanctuary had to be cleansed, just like the earthly.
But why, how? Wasn’t it cleansed on the cross? Haven’t we received the atonement on the cross? Well, first of all, we must never use Hebrews 9:23 to explain Daniel 8:14. The contexts don’t agree. Daniel 8:14 is in the context of the Little Horn which has polluted the sanctuary, whereas Hebrews 9:23 is dealing with the heavenly sanctuary as the reality of the type or the shadow which is the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary. So, really speaking, we need to go to Leviticus sixteen to understand the cleansing of the sanctuary of Hebrews nine. Leviticus sixteen explains the details of the cleansing of the sanctuary.
Turn to Leviticus sixteen. We will not deal with the whole chapter. We will only deal with the issue of the cleansing of the sanctuary which is described in the ritual of the two goats in verses seven to ten and verse twenty to twenty-two. The question is, “Does the heavenly sanctuary need cleansing?” We have come under fire; the reason for this is that the blood of Christ, which He took with Him after the cross, doesn’t defile the sanctuary. We say that, in the earthly sanctuary, the priest or the sinner confessed his sin on the lamb. The lamb was slain and the blood was taken into the sanctuary. The record of the sins was kept in heaven. The problem is that, once a year, the curtain and the sanctuary had to be cleansed. What is it that transfers our sins from the earth to heaven? It is the blood. If the blood of Christ defiles the sanctuary that sounds blasphemous. So we need to deal with the issue. Look at verse seven. This is dealing with what the priest does on the day of atonement:
And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
We as a church take the position that the one goat which was chosen for the Lord represents Christ. The other goat represents Satan. We are unique in this position as a denomination. There are non-Adventist scholars who agree with us, but [as a whole] the other Christians take the position that both the goats represent Christ. So here is where the problem is. Look at verses twenty and twenty-two:
And when he had made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat [that’s the second goat]: And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel.
Keep in mind, the priest comes out of the sanctuary, he places his hands on the live goat, and he confesses all the iniquities of the children of Israel:
And all their transgressions and all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their [i.e., children of Israel] iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness:
If the live goat, which we say is Satan, bears the iniquities of the children of Israel, then aren’t we making Satan our sin bearer? That’s the accusation of the Evangelicals, and it’s also coming from within our church. So we need to settle what the issue is. Does the heavenly sanctuary need cleansing almost two thousand years after the cross? Let’s look at it step by step. Look at verse seven:
And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
What was the condition of those two goats? What were the qualifications of the two goats? Did the goats have to meet certain specifications? They had to be without blemish. One of them or both of them? Both of them had to be without blemish, so that you could interchange the goats. You cast lots and the lot falls on either this goat or the other. So we must be clear that the second goat doesn’t represent Satan as we know him but Lucifer as God created him, because both Christ and Lucifer were spotless.
Look now at the second goat for a moment. What is the name of the second goat in your Bible? In the KJV it is “Scapegoat.” In the original it is “Azazel,” and some of the modern translations will have that word. What does the word “Azazel” mean? In the Hebrew, words have meanings. What does the word mean? We do not know today because the Hebrew language changed in the ninth century and we do not know exactly what it means.
But here is what we have from the best of the scholars. According to the Hebrew scholars (these are not Christian scholars, but Jewish scholars), “Azazel” is the name of the devil. So the Hebrew scholars back us up. We do have not the Hebrew manuscript but we do have the Syriac manuscript, which is one of the oldest manuscripts. The Syriac manuscript for “Azazel” has this phrase “the angel that revolted.” Very interesting and a very reliable manuscript. Most Christian scholars interpret Azazel as the Scapegoat. What does scapegoat mean? If you looked it up in a dictionary, what does it mean? We use it in our English language.
Someone has to take the blame. That is the issue! When you deal with sin in a legal sense, as a transgression of the law, there are three things involved. First there is guilt. Then there is punishment. Then there is responsibility.
We were driving once with the president of our union who is a Swede. We were driving in a Volkswagen in Ethiopia. There was a man walking on the side of the road. We were keeping the speed limit and he turned around and saw his friend. Without looking he just turned on the road. There was no way we could stop him. He turned right into our car and his head hit the windscreen. He died instantly. Of course, the parents of this man took us to court. We had to admit that it was our car that killed him. We couldn’t deny that. The witnesses that saw the whole thing all agreed that this man crossed the road without looking. We killed the man, but who was responsible for his death? He was responsible. Therefore we were set free, even though we were involved in the man’s death.
The thing is this: who is responsible for sin? One of the clear teachings of the Bible is the sovereignty of God. That means that nothing happens in the universe without the permission of God. That’s what it means. God is sovereign. Did God know that Lucifer would sin? Yes. Then why did He create him? That’s one of the big questions.
If God is sovereign, then He has allowed Satan to come in. He has allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve. This has created a problem and this was not solved on the cross. Let me give you an illustration. When Adam sinned and God came to visit him, what did he say to God when God asked why did you sin? He said, “This woman, whom You gave....” So upon whom was he putting the blame? On God. Today you will hear it all the time: “If God is love why is He allowing all the sicknesses and problems? If God is love, why is He allowing a drought in America?” These are the kind of questions that have to be solved if the great controversy is to come to an end.
So what does God do? God actually assumes the blame! He assumes the blame until the Day of Atonement. There is a text which I want you to look for, it’s in the Old Testament, where God is speaking. He says, “I have created evil.” You will find many texts in the Bible where God assumes the blame for many things. For instance God said, “I have hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” These texts cause a lot of problems to many Christians. You wonder why those texts are there. Well, it’s because God assumes the blame until the Day of Atonement. Because He’s sovereign and He allows things to happen, He has to assume the blame. Does He assume the blame for a good reason? Yes. But we will not know it until the judgment.
There is another text and I want you to look for this one too. I’ll give you a little more help, this in the Psalms. David says:
I will praise your name with uprightness of heart when I know of your righteous judgment.
Even in the minds of Christians, there are questions. Now we see through a glass darkly but then, face to face. When the Day of Atonement is over every knee will bow down, including Satan, and admit, “God you are right.” Every knee will confess. The purpose of the Day of Atonement is to put the blame where it belongs. And that is on Satan. Turn to Ezek. 28:15:
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created [That’s Azazel. He was blameless. He was perfect.], till iniquity was found in thee.
How can sin come out of something that is perfect? That’s a mystery. It is called the mystery of iniquity. The word “mystery“ means something that can be seen and can be known but cannot be explained. How can a sinless being produce sin? I can’t explain that. We cannot explain the fall. But it is a fact. Neither can we explain how God can produce righteousness out of sinful flesh. That’s also a mystery. Can God do it? Yes.
Lets go back to Leviticus sixteen. The next question I want to bring before you is, “Why did God instruct Moses and the Jews that they had to use goats instead of sheep?” If you look at your Bibles you will discover that goats represent or symbolize sin. Look at Matt. 25:33:
And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
He divides the human race. The sheep are on one side and the goats on the other. Who are the sheep? The righteous or the sinners? The righteous. Please notice the goats represent sin. Look also at verse forty-one:
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Notice that is referring to the goats. Goats always symbolize sin in the Bible .
Back to Leviticus sixteen. Who created this world? Who actually did the speaking? Christ. We have Christ the Creator and Lucifer the originator of sin. The issue is, “Which of these two are to blame for sin?” That’s the issue in the Day of Atonement. Who is to blame for sin?
What does the priest do with the goat upon whom the lot fell for the Lord? Look at verse nine:
And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.
The Lord’s goat is Christ who takes the guilt and the punishment of our sin. Did the cross deal with the issue of blame? The answer is No. The cross did not deal with the blame. Who was to blame for sin? The cross only took our guilt and our punishment. As far as we are concerned, there is an atonement between us and God through the blood of Christ. But the issue now is, “Who is to blame for sin?” Let me give you another text, Romans 7:19-20. Who is Paul talking about? Is he talking about believers or unbelievers? That is not the issue here. But listen to what He says in Romans 7 in two places, Romans 7:19-20:
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
What is he saying here? “I want to do good but instead I’m doing evil.” As far as the choice is concerned, what choice is Paul making in verse nineteen? Good or evil? I’m not dealing with performance now but with choice. He chooses to do good. But in performance he does evil. Look at verse twenty:
Now if I do that I would not [if I’m doing what I did not choose to do], it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Who is Paul putting the blame on? Sin that dwells in me. We call that indwelling sin. Look at the next verse:
I find then a law [principle] when I would do good, evil is present with me. [I want to keep the law, but instead I’m not keeping it, I’m breaking it. And you will find this in the next verses.] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Who put that law of sin in you? When God came to Adam whom did Adam blame? He blamed Eve and then God. Then God went to Eve. Who did Eve blame? The serpent. Please notice that God did not go to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Why? Because the Day of Atonement is going to settle this. In the Day of Atonement, God will say to Satan, “You are to blame.” And he will admit it because all the evidence is there.
So what is happening on the day of atonement is that the priest will go into the sanctuary and cleanse the sanctuary. He will cleanse the people, the congregation from the guilt and punishment. Then He will take the blame for sin and He will lay it on Satan.
Here is a question: When you accepted Christ did you make a decision not to sin? Did you promise God to be good? I’m not asking about your performance. Supposing you could carry out your choices, would you sin tomorrow? So as far as your choice is concerned, would you chose to sin? No. But we are sinning. I’m doing it. Why are we sinning? Because we have what we call the law of sin in our members.
Who put that law of sin there? Do you blame God or do you blame Lucifer? Who is the one that originated it? Lucifer took that sin and injected that sin into mankind through Adam and Eve. The result is this that the world today is blaming God for the mess that we are in on this earth.
No one is talking about deliberate sin. That’s why I said that we cannot explain the fall. Why did Adam sin? Why did he think he sinned? What did Adam say? He said, “This woman that You gave me.... Don’t put the blame on me, I had no intention of eating that forbidden fruit, but this woman....” He actually put the blame on God. Eve put the blame on the serpent. But who is to blame? God or the serpent? That is what the Day of Atonement will settle. The great controversy cannot come to an end unless the heavenly sanctuary is cleansed from the blame of sin. That’s why the word “Azazel” means, “The angel that takes the blame.”
So what happens is that the Lord’s goat takes the guilt and punishment; Azazel takes the blame. Please notice that the Azazel goat is not killed. What do you do with it? He is taken into the wilderness. Why? For one thousand years, Satan will have the opportunity to investigate his own case. For that thousand years, he has no one to tempt because no one is there. He has a thousand years when he will be able to contemplate what he has done to this world.
The Lord’s goat shed blood but the scapegoat shed no blood because he has to contemplate what a mess he’s made. Let us approach this from another angle. When Lucifer sinned, did he think he was doing a good thing? Or did he think he was doing a bad thing?
He said that he was trying to improve the lot of the angels. There’s something here that is very important and we need to understand it. The love of God, which is the basis of His government, has no self in it. “Love seeketh not her own.” When you look at it philosophically, the love of self sounds very convincing. “You cannot be happy unless you love self.” So the idea of self-love sounds right. There is that text is Proverbs that says, “There’s a way that seems right.”
So Lucifer felt that his way of self-love was better than God’s way where there is no self. So God said, “Go ahead, I will allow you to develop sin,” because that’s what the meaning of sin is. Sin is turning toward self. God said, “I will allow you to develop this world on the principle of self.” This world has been developed on the principle of self for the last six thousand years. Has the world improved? No. If you look at the history of this world, the moment you lift up the principle of self, what happens to society? Does it become better or does it become worse? It becomes worse. After two thousand years, the world had become so terrible that the knowledge of God was almost wiped out. God said, “I will destroy the world and give it a new start.”
And you have the same trend for the next two thousand years when God gave the gospel to the Jews. Did the Jews improve the situation even though He gave them the oracles of God? The Jews had the explicit knowledge of God. Did it help them? What happened to them? It became worse and worse and worse.
Then Christ came and redeemed us and established the Christian Church. Has the church been getting better and better? What’s the history of the Christian Church? Take the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when God allowed the world to increase in knowledge — scientific knowledge, technology. Has science solved our problem? It has solved our problem in terms of amenities of life. Now I can press a button and my dishes are all washed. In that sense, it has improved. But as far as the situation of the world is concerned, is it a better place in which to live? Has crime decreased? No. So has science solved the problem? No. Everything that has been tried has failed because self, sin doesn’t improve things. It makes it worse.
But the thing is this, that the Day of Atonement will put the blame of sin where it belongs. Christ accepted the guilt and punishment and paid for it on the cross but the responsibility, the blame for sin will be placed upon Satan. He will not be killed. He will be sent into the wilderness for one thousand years. Does Lucifer repent after the one thousand years? He acknowledges that God has been right in the controversy but he still operates on the self-sin principle when he leads his army of angels and men against the city of God.
Satan and his angels are a solidarity so they operate as one and reap the same results of rebellion. No human being is present during the thousand years. And he has no permission to go beyond this earth during that time. He can only remain here on this earth. He cannot go beyond it. In that sense, he is bound. Remember that he will have a thousand years to contemplate what he has done to this world, but does he repent? No, he does not repent. Therefore, he himself admits that sin must be destroyed. At the end of the thousand years, Satan and his angels will be destroyed.
The word “law” in Romans seven [“the law of sin”] is used in the same way that we use the law of gravity. It’s a force. The human will is not a law because the human will is changeable. A law means a constant unending force, just like the law of gravity. It’s a constant force that is existing day and night, seven days a week, all the year round. In our human body, there is a force towards sin. Paul calls it “the law of sin.” And this force is constant. You can defy that force by your willpower but you can never conquer it. For example, at the end of a camp meeting, you may make a resolution. You may say, “From now on I am not going to do this.” What are you doing? You are defying the law of sin. Five days later you become tired. You are back to normal, the environment has changed back to a normal environment, and the will becomes weak and the law of sin remains constant, and when the will is weaker than the law of sin the law of sin takes over.
Romans 7:22 mentions the law of God, which refers to a principle. Please remember, God’s law is a principle and the principle is love. That’s why God’s love is constant. Human love is not a principle. God’s love is constant. He loves you whether you are good or bad.
In Romans 7:22 Paul is saying:
I delight in the law of God.
In other words, “I delight in love.” And, of course, love is manifested in the Ten Commandments. “I want to love God, I want to love my fellow men. I delight in that principle. But there is another principle in my members.” Where does he delight in the law of God? In the mind. Where does the law of sin dwell? In our nature. So look at the last verse of chapter seven:
...So then [he says, “This is my condition”] with my mind I serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Of these two forces, which is greater: the law of the mind or the law of sin? Since the fall, which is stronger?
This is the struggle of Romans seven. I chose to do right but I find that I am doing wrong. Please remember that Romans seven is not dealing with Christ or the Holy Spirit. It is dealing with sinful flesh which has the law of sin, and the mind which wants to do good. These two forces, the law of sin and the law of the Spirit, met in Christ. Now there are three laws: the law of your mind, the law of sin, and the law of the Spirit. The law of the Spirit is found in chapter eight, verse two. In chapter seven what Paul is saying is that the law of sin is greater, stronger, than the law of the mind. The mind cannot conquer the law of sin.
Did God create man with the law of sin? No. Who injected the law of sin in our members? Satan. Satan put the virus into Adam through Eve. First Satan deceived Eve, then he used her as a tool to get Adam. Then, through Adam, we all were born with the law of sin. Please remember that when the law of the Spirit and the law of sin meet — both are constant forces — which is stronger? The law of sin or the law of the Spirit? The law of the Spirit is stronger. That is in chapter eight of Romans. This chapter is dealing with the law of the Spirit against the law of sin. Paul says the law of the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin in Christ. But chapter seven is not dealing with Christ. It is dealing with the law of sin versus the law. Who is to blame for the law of sin? That blame is what Lucifer has to take. If God takes the blame for our law of sin then the great controversy can never come to an end. So sin will eventually be wiped out, but God will do it in a righteous and a just way so that even Satan will admit that sin is not good. But he will not repent. Because he will not repent, he has to be destroyed.