The Sanctuary 
 by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira 

24 – Yom Kippur

Leviticus 16:7-10:

Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting.  He is to cast lots for the two goats — one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat.  Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering.  But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.

The most important feast in the Jewish calendar was Yom Kippur, what we call “The Day of Atonement.”  It was important to the Jews for two reasons:

  1. They looked on the Day of Atonement as the solemn day of judgment.

  2. It was the culmination of the ritual services of the sanctuary.

It was a day that pointed forward in reality to the culmination of the plan of redemption that God had purposed in Jesus Christ.  The Day of Atonement involves four things:

  1. It is the time when God will vindicate the saints.  Through the investigative judgment, Jesus Christ is going to vindicate the believers.

  2. It is a time when God will cleanse the heavenly sanctuary.

  3. It is a time when God will bring sin and the problems that go with sin to an end.  He will eradicate sin from this universe.

  4. He will usher in everlasting righteousness.

Numbers three and four will take place at the third coming of Christ.  We dealt with number one — the investigative judgment, when the saints will be vindicated.  In this study, we will deal with the cleansing of the sanctuary.

The cleansing of the sanctuary is one aspect of the Day of Atonement that has come under fire.  There are two issues involved in our presentation:

  1. Does the heavenly sanctuary really need cleaning?

    Is the sanctuary in heaven defiled that it needs cleaning?  Many are questioning this, even in our own midst.

  2. Was not the Day of Atonement fulfilled on the cross?

    This is one of the big questions that is in the minds of many.

We will look at each of these because they are important.

Number one:  Does the heavenly sanctuary really need cleaning?  Now, what you and what I think is not worth “two pence,” a good English phrase meaning it is not worth anything.  What the Bible teaches is the measuring stick of truth.  The Bible shows that both the type and the reality teach a cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.  In Leviticus, we see what it says about the type and what actually happened on the Day of Atonement.  Leviticus 16:33:

...And [the High Priest is to] make atonement for the Most Holy Place [Please notice the holy sanctuary where God dwelt was to be made holy or to be cleansed.], for the tent of meeting [not just the sanctuary complete but also the building of the congregation] and the altar, and for the priests and all the members of the community.

The Day of Atonement includes everything, not only the saints but God’s sanctuary and His name.  That is the type.  In Hebrews, we see the reality.  In this chapter, the writer of Hebrews is trying to contrast the sacrificial system of the sanctuary service with the blood of Jesus Christ.  One was a type, only a shadow; it had no salvic power, the other was the reality which is what counts.  Hebrews 9:22-23.  First, verse 22:

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

It is saying here is that, according to the law, there is no cleansing from sin without shedding of blood.  Blood simply means life laid down in death.  Without death, there can be no cleansing of sin.  Verse 23:

It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things [which is the earthly sanctuary] to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves [which is the reality] with better sacrifices than these.

What this text is saying is simply that as the earthly, which was the pattern or copy, had to be cleansed by the blood of bulls and goats, the heavenly sanctuary also needs to be cleansed, but it cannot be cleansed with the blood of bulls and goats.  It had to have something better which, of course, is the blood of Jesus Christ.  Here in the New Testament we are told that the heavenly sanctuary has to be cleansed.  So the Bible does teach that the heavenly sanctuary needs cleansing.  The question you may raise is, “Of what does it need cleansing?”  We will come to that shortly.

We will deal with number two:  “Was the Day of Atonement fulfilled at the cross?”  This was something that was brought up openly in October, 1980, at Pacific Union College by Desmond Ford.  Since then the question has been questioned by many minds.  There are many Seventh-day Adventists, especially ministers, who think that the Day of Atonement was fulfilled on the cross.

It is true that the cross of Christ does play a very important part in the Day of Atonement.  We must never ignore that because it is a fact.  But not all the rituals that were practised on the Day of Atonement in the earthly sanctuary were fulfilled at the cross.  That is why, in Leviticus sixteen, you will notice that the central service around the Day of Atonement was the ceremony that centered around the two goats.  These two goats were spotless and, when it was inaugurated, Aaron, the high priest cast lots:  one for the Lord and one for Azazel.  Now what happened to the Lord’s goat?  We are told that it was sacrificed and the blood of that goat was taken into the Most Holy Place and sprinkled on the mercy seat.  That was pointing to Jesus Christ’s blood so the cross of Christ does play a vital part on the Day of Atonement.

But, after the high priest had done that, and he had reconciled the sanctuary in terms of the blood of Christ, he came out and laid his hands on the live goat.  Leviticus 16:7-10 is only the introduction:

Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting.  He is to cast lots for the two goats — one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat.  Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering.  But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.

The blood of Christ, we are told in verse Leviticus 16:16, makes an atonement for all the uncleanness of the children of Israel:

In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been.  He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness.

Look at Leviticus 16:20:

When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat.  He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites — all their sins — and put them on the goat’s head.  He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task.  The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.

Notice the three words relating to sin.  In the Hebrew Bible there are twelve words for sin and we can squeeze them into three categories:

Everything is cleansed.  The sins, the iniquities, and the transgressions are placed upon the live goat in the Day of Atonement.  Continuing in Leviticus 16:21:

He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites — all their sins — and put them on the goat’s head.  He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task.

The someone here “appointed for the task” represents Jesus Christ.  He will send this live goat into the wilderness.  Leviticus 16:22:

The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.

The priest comes out of the tent and he places his hands on the live goat, confesses the sins of Israel (the believers), and the live goat is sent into the wilderness.  Now here is where the problem lies.  We, as a church — I am not talking about individual scholars, but as a church denomination — we are about the only denomination that teaches that Azazel represents Satan.  Most Christian denominations take the position that Azazel represents Christ.  That is, both the goats, they say, represent Christ.  They say that they represent two phases of Christ’s atoning work.

We do not agree.  The Lord’s goat represents Christ and the Azazel represents Satan.  It began with a Danish scholar who first accused us and since then many others have.  If Azazel bears the sins of Israel, if he bears, ultimately, the sins of the believers, then aren’t we making Satan our sin bearer and, therefore, our Saviour?  That’s the accusation and we have to defend ourselves.  Look at the word “Azazel.”  Hebrew scholars are not exactly sure what the word means.  The Hebrew language died and was resurrected in the nineteenth century.  According to the Hebrew scholars (that is, non-Christian Jewish scholars, Hebrew language scholars), Azazel is the name of the devil.  So we have at least the Hebrew scholars on our side.

You know that we don’t have the original manuscripts of the Bible.  One of the oldest that exist are Syriac manuscripts.  These manuscripts interpret “Azazel” as “the angel who revolted.”  Most Christians identify Azazel with “scapegoat,” which simply means the one who takes the blame.  In fact, the NIV Bible translates “Azazel” as the “goat of removal.”

One of the biggest problems that God faces before He can eradicate sin is the issue of responsibility.  Legally, when you deal with sin, it is “the transgression of the law.”  When you deal with sin in a legal sense, there are three things:

The question is, “Who is responsible for sin?”  This is one of the issues that was not dealt with on the cross, that is to be dealt with on the Day of Atonement.  Let me put it this way, which may solve the problem that is in the minds of many Christians.  God is sovereign.  That’s the clear teaching of the Bible in the Old and New Testament.  That means that nothing happens in this world or in the universe without His permission or His consent.  He is the Lord!  He is the one that created all things.  Nothing happens without Him.  That’s what it means to be sovereign.  Because God is sovereign, He must assume the blame for what happens in His kingdom.

The Bible teaches that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.  Exodus 10:20:

But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.

[You can also view Exodus 4:21, 7:3, 9:12, 10:27, 11:10, 14:4, 14:8, or 14:17.]

You will find another statement which says, “Pharaoh hardened his own heart.”  Exodus 8:15 [also see Exodus 8:32 and 9:34]:

But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.

Which text is correct?  Both are from the Bible.  Well, both are correct.  It is actually Pharaoh who hardened his own heart but, because God is sovereign, He assumes the blame until the Day of Atonement.  In other words, God could have stopped Pharaoh from hardening his heart.  He is sovereign.  He could have done it, but He did not.  Therefore, He assumes the blame.  God says in the Old Testament, “I have created evil.”  Did He actually create evil?  No.  All these texts that give you problems in this regard are simply saying, “Because I’m sovereign, I’m assuming the blame.”

If I see a toddler, two years old, walking toward a cliff and I do nothing about it, I know that he is going to die.  I could have stopped that baby but I did not, so I have to take some of the blame.  And this is what God is saying, “I will assume the blame.”

When Adam sinned God came up to Adam and said, “Why did you eat of the forbidden fruit?”  Adam did not deny the sin, he admitted it, but he never took the blame.  He passed the blame onto Eve and, ultimately, to God.  “This woman that you gave me....”  Genesis 3:12:

The man said, “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

“Don’t blame me!  Why did you give me this woman?”

Well, when God first gave Eve to Adam, do you know what he said?  Genesis 2:23:

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

He was excited when he got Eve, but, after he sinned, he forgot the excitement.  He said, “This woman that you gave me.”  He was putting the blame on God and God never argued with Adam.  He assumed it.

He went to Eve and said, “What about you?  Who do you blame?”  Well, she blamed the serpent by implying, “The serpent that you created.”  Genesis 3:13:

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

God did create the serpent — not as it was then, but as a beautiful being.  He did not go to the serpent and say, “Who do you blame?”  because God knew Satan blamed God, too.  God had assumed the blame all along.

If God doesn’t clear His name on this issue, then sin can never come to an end.  He can never eradicate sin.  There will always be questions in the minds of the universe.  That is why, in the judgment, God will not only vindicate the saints, but He will clear His name.  He will cleanse the sanctuary of the blame.  So, on the Day of Atonement, the Lord’s goat takes our punishment and guilt but not the responsibility.  Responsibility for sin must ultimately go to Satan.

Now let’s go to the issue.  There are two goats.  Both of them are spotless.  Is Satan spotless?  No.  Azazel doesn’t represent Satan to start with.  He represents Lucifer.  Look at Ezekiel 28:15:

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness [bent towards self] was found in you....

Who invented sin?  Who is responsible for sin entering the universe?  In the Bible, goats always represent sin.  In Leviticus 4:22-31, goats represent sin:

When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the Lord his God, when he realizes his guilt and the sin he has committed becomes known, he must bring as his offering a male goat without defect.  He is to lay his hand on the goat’s head and slaughter it at the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered before the Lord.  It is a sin offering.  Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar.  He shall burn all the fat on the altar as he burned the fat of the fellowship offering.  In this way the priest will make atonement for the leader’s sin, and he will be forgiven.

If any member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, when they realize their guilt and the sin they have committed becomes known, they must bring as their offering for the sin they committed a female goat without defect.  They are to lay their hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering.  Then the priest is to take some of the blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar.  They shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the fellowship offering, and the priest shall burn it on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the Lord.  In this way the priest will make atonement for them, and they will be forgiven.

In Matthew 25 where Jesus separates the sheep and the goats, the goats represent the sinners.  Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’

“...Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’

“...Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Why are those sinners lost?  Does God say, “You are cursed,” because they are bad?  No, God is not blaming them for being sinners.  God is blaming them for rejecting His gift, Jesus Christ.  He tells them that they are to be burned in the fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels:  “Not for you.  I prepared for you salvation but you refused, so you must take the ultimate blame.”  Paul says in Romans 10 that Israel must take the blame for their condition because they have deliberately, persistently, willfully rejected the Messiah.  Romans 10:1-4, 16-21:

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.  For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.  Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.  Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

But not all the Israelites accepted the good news.  For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.  But I ask:  Did they not hear?  Of course they did:  “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Again I ask:  Did Israel not understand?  First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.” And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

We see then, that goats represent the issue of who is to be responsible for sin.  Goats are always a symbol of sin.  Christ He bears our punishment.  He becomes one with us.  He’s our sin bearer in the sense of punishment and that’s why the blood was shed for our sins.  But He assumed responsibility until the Day of Atonement.

On the Day of Atonement, He is going to cleanse the sanctuary, not only in the eyes of the angels and the universe but in the eyes of the saints during the thousand years.  The saints are to judge for a thousand years because nothing is to be left undone.  Every knee will confess, “God you are right.  Now we see no longer through a dark glass, we see clearly that your ways are best.”  Psalms 119 shows that even Christians sometimes ask God, “Why did you allow this?”  Those who heard Joy Swift’s story can see why any of us can ask, “Why did you allow this?”  She has been a tremendous witness all over this country.  See Psalms 119:7:

I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.

Here David is praising God.

In Romans 14:10-12, Paul says:

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister?  Or why do you treat them with contempt?  For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.  It is written:  “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

“Please don’t judge each other now.  Wait till the judgment.  (Then he quotes from Isaiah 45:11.)  Every knee will bow and confess, ‘God you are right.’”  Because Satan will be so clearly exposed, even though he doesn’t want to admit it, he will have to say, “God, you are right.”  He will do it reluctantly, but he has to admit it.  Every knee will confess that God is right.

So the purpose of the Day of Atonement is that God’s name may be vindicated.  God cannot wipe out sin and usher in everlasting righteousness until He has exposed not only the character of sin but the originator of sin.  That’s what Azazel represents.  He is to take the blame.  He is the scapegoat in the sense that he is responsible for sin.

When I was baptized many years ago in Nairobi, Kenya, I was young and I was green.  I have learned better since then, but I promised God never to sin again.  Have you ever done that?  I promised God, “From now on, I will not sin.”  Three days after my baptism, I entered into a cinema, not because I wanted to, but I discovered something that I did not know.  I was not taught in my baptism class that we have a nature that is sold as a slave to sin.  It took me five years to learn that all our promises are like ropes of sand.

I spent four years at Newbold College.  Every year we had three weeks of prayer.  We had some excellent speakers, like Minchin from Australia.  He could stir up the young people and pour tears out of even the strongest man.  I would promise, “Never again, God.  I goofed up in the past but never again.”  It lasted three days, four days, sometimes two weeks, depending on how strong my will power was.

After I graduated and came to Andrews University, I thought maybe another degree would help me.  I don’t care how many Ph.D.s you have, you cannot conquer sin.  Paul says to the Romans, “You have conquered the world, you are boasting of military power, of architectural power, but I tell you one thing — you can’t conquer sin.  I am writing this book to you Romans:  I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is the power of God unto salvation.”  Romans 1:16:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes:  first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

In Romans 7:15 he says:

I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

If you have a problem, listen to Romans 7:17:

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.

Paul is saying, “I am not to blame for this, it is sin that put it there.”  Who put it there, God or man or Satan?  It can’t be man, because David says [Psalm 51:5]:

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Did you become a sinner when you committed the first sinful act or were you born one?

When does an apple tree become an apple tree, when it produces apples?  They tell me it takes three years for it to produce apples.  An apple tree is an apple tree right from the beginning.  The apples simply prove what it already is.  And our sin simply proves what we already are by nature.  Who made me that way?  I read in Romans 7:22-23:

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

Who is responsible for that?  Romans 7:20 tells you:

Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

I thank God Romans 8:1-2 says that God condemned the sin in the flesh and set me free:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Then who is to blame for sin?  God may assume it for a while but if He takes the blame for sin, then sin can never be eradicated.  So I thank God that in the Day of Atonement — which is going on now — and before He comes the third time and eradicates sin, every knee, including Satan will confess to God, “You are right.”

“You are right, I am responsible for sin,” is what Satan will have to say.  So one of the things God will do with Satan is give him a thousand years in the wilderness of this desolate earth to have an opportunity to investigate his own case, while we do it in heaven.  Satan will sweat.  I can imagine that during those one thousand years his angels will come to him and say, “Satan, you are the rascal who deceived us.  You have brought us into this mess.”  But Satan will never fully and truly repent.  When the unbelievers are resurrected he will say, “Let’s try it again!”  That is also the war of Armageddon.

The war of Armageddon has nothing to do with the Middle East.  It has nothing to do with the Arabs and the Jews.  It has to do with God’s people against Satan’s people.  It is the final war, which is a part of the Day of Atonement issue.  Jesus Christ will ultimately win.  He is the conqueror and He is going to finally point His finger to Satan and say, “I rebuke you, Satan.  You are to blame.”

And Satan will have no choice because, in the Day of Atonement, God is going to bring to the open every hidden thing and all the world will know that he is a murderer from the beginning.  That is why the Day of Atonement wasn’t settled on the cross.  Yes, Jesus died on the cross.  The Lord’s goat was sacrificed on the cross for our sins, but the Azazel issue was left until the final Day of Atonement.  And when Satan is cast into the wilderness and we are taken to heaven, and God’s name is cleansed and vindicated, then God will usher in everlasting righteousness because every knee will confess, “God, you are right.”

You have a choice in this Day of Atonement.  To which camp will you belong?  If you choose Satan, the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning, then you will have to join him who will be exterminated.  If you join Jesus Christ, He will vindicate you in the judgment.  He will vindicate His kingdom.  The truth will triumph and His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom.

It is my prayer that every one reading this will accept Jesus Christ, Who will triumph in the end and who will cast off Satan into the pit for a thousand years and then will exterminate him.  Nothing can be left undone.  Before God can bring sin to an end, every stone has to be overturned, every issue has to be dealt with.  While God has for the last six thousand years assumed the blame of sin and suffering and death, while He assumes the blame for forty percent of the world today starving, while He assumes the blame for all the tragedies that we see, ultimately it is Satan who is responsible.  He must take the blame and nobody else.  And may God bless us that we will be in the right camp.

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