Parallel Temples
Lesson 35
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The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.

Hebrews 8:1,2


The above text indicates that Jesus serves in the true tabernacle that is located in heaven. The author of Hebrews used the word “true tabernacle” to contrast the sanctuary in Heaven with the “pseudo tabernacle” that Moses erected on Earth. (Hebrews 8:5) Did you know that certain processes or ceremonies in the heavenly tabernacle have direct parallels with the EARTH-LINKAGE-LAW.” Activity in the temple of Heaven and Earth are linked together by law! For example, did you know that more than fourteen end time events are synchronized with special ceremonies in Heaven’s temple? The book of Daniel and Revelation are based on ceremonies in Heaven’s temple; therefore, it helps to understand the ceremonies in Heavens temple to correctly understand Bible prophecy. The only way to properly understand the ceremonies that take place in Heaven’s temple is to examine the services that were conducted as a parallel on Earth. “This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’” (Hebrews 8:5)

Duel Purpose Palace

The ways of God are revealed in ceremonies that take place in His temples. Because we cannot attend the services in Heaven, God commanded Moses to create a parallel temple system on Earth. God’s temple in Heaven is a duel purpose palace. It is like a courthouse and a church. On Earth, church is a place where God’s will is studied and examined, and people are encouraged to obey God’s will. The courthouse is a place where social needs are codified and implemented through the force of law. To a great extent, the balance of power between church and courthouse defines the unique culture of every nation on Earth. The same is true in Heaven. Heaven’s temple functions as a courthouse and church. In Jesus, there is a perfect balance of church and state, He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the revealer of God’s will and He is the Executor of the justice of God. These are the privileges and the responsibilities of man’s Creator, Jesus Christ – the Alpha and the Omega.

God has unilaterally imposed the rule of His law throughout the universe. If there is no law, chaos would rule. The decisions and declarations of Jesus in Heaven’s temple are subject to law. God is not arbitrary. God’s rule of law does not have a political bias, nor is it temperamental in nature. Nothing less than “the whole truth” is accepted in Heaven’s court, so justice and fairness are always present. Because the truth is more important than winning an argument, God is open to the closest scrutiny. God has nothing to hide. In fact, each issue and investigation only magnifies the righteousness of God! Malice and mischief are not found in Heaven’s temple. During the temporal presence of sin in the universe, justice and fairness are faithfully maintained in Heaven’s temple. Highly intelligent angels observe God and they are delighted to serve Him. They never stop singing His praise because He is flawless and magnificent in everything He does.

A Working Model

Of all the concepts taught in the Bible, the services in God’s temple are among the most profound, intricate and beautiful. A proper understanding of these services ties all bible themes together and they provide a backdrop against which all conclusions about God’s will and the ways can be tested and verified. This is a crucial point. The truth about the ways of god may appear to be abstract (that is, not tangible or verifiable), but this is not the case. God remedied this problem a long time ago by commanding Moses to set up a careful parallel or shadow of Heaven’s process so that human beings could study, test and validate their understanding of His marvelous ways. Moses was warned to follow the pattern that God gave him. This makes sense for if the model were flawed, our study of Heaven’s temple would also be flawed.

Rituals Were Shadows

Few people know anything about the temple services God gave Moses. I suspect there are two reasons for this: (a) “because they are Jewish,” or (b) “they were nailed to the cross.” In my opinion, both reasons have contributed to the hopelessly confused state of Christianity today! Just because the Mosaic covenant with its shadows and parallels were nailed to the cross, this does not mean the significance of the shadows and parallels became useless after the cross. The first five books of the Bible are very valuable in helping us understand Jesus because He does not change. He is the same forever. Therefore, the temple services taking place right now in Heaven’s true tabernacle are still parallels of temple services that took place 3,000 years ago on Earth. The Old Testament sanctuary rituals had no divine efficacy or potent powers within themselves. (Isaiah 1:11-17; Hebrews 10:1-4) Contrary to what many religions teach today, religious rituals do not have value in themselves. Instead, God wants man to understand the object lessons that He illustrates through temple ceremonies or rituals. The temple rituals that God commanded the children of Israel to observe were shadows or parallels of actual processes that take place in Heaven.

Consider the illustration. A $5.00 bill (U.S. Federal Reserve Note) has no value within itself. It is merely a small piece of paper with writing on both sides. However, it is a symbol of value and most people think of it, use it and treat it as though it had value, even though it does not. As long as the United States government will exchange something of value for a $5.00 bill, it will have value. My point is that $5.00 bill is a symbol of value, even though it is only a piece of paper. But if the U. S. government ever decides to terminate the use of the $5.00 bill, then all $5.00 bills in the world would be worthless. Some currencies are worthless pieces of paper because the government who initially printed the currency is unable to back it with anything of value. For those worthless currencies, the old saying is true, “it not worth the paper it is printed on.” In like manner, temple rituals have no value within themselves. They are symbolic of real things that God has done, is doing and will do for the salvation of the human race. In terms of a working model on Earth, God required the Old Testament rituals to function until the reality appeared.  So, when Jesus came to Earth and died on the cross, the rituals came to an end, even though the processes they represent are still ongoing. Even though the rituals are now null and void as far as God is concerned, they contain the keys that explain the ways of god in Heavens’ temple. Therefore, a basic understanding of the earthy temple rituals remains vitally important today.

The Tabernacle

The earthy temple built by Moses primarily consisted of seven items: the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of the Presence (also called the Table of Showbread), the Alter of Incense, the Alter of Burnt Offering, the Lamp stand, the Laver and the Tent of Meeting (the tent building was about 18 wide by 55 feet long). God designed each piece of furniture and gave the pattern to Moses. The purpose and function of each item offers insight into the ways of God. For example, the Bible teaches that even though God forgives sinners, He does not blot out the sin. Instead, He transfers the guilt of the sinner to the Alter of Burnt Offering. This may sound confusing at first, but here is how it works: The wages of sin or penalty for sin is death by execution and there are no exceptions. God’s law is not subject to change (an omniscient God is quite capable of declaring an everlasting law.) If the sins of Adam and Eve could have been forgiven (blotted out, ignored or overlooked), Jesus would not have had to die. Think about it. If there had been any other means to save Adam and Eve from the penalty of sin, the Father would not have allowed Jesus to die. But within the Plan of Salvation, God allows the penalty for sin (which is death by execution) to be transferred away from the sinner through the death of a perfect substitute. This transfer occurs under specific conditions (faith). So, sinners who put their faith in Jesus can be set free of the condemnation of death (Romans 8:1-5) even though their specific sins are never forgiven! (Please do not throw any stones at me just yet. Hear me out!)

To understand this point a little better, consider the sin offering ceremony that took place in the earthy temple. Sinners were required to bring a perfect lamb to the Alter of Burnt Offering at appointed times. The innocent lamb on the alter served as a perfect substitute for the penalty of sin which requires death by execution. (Keep in mind that the wrongdoer should only seek God’s forgiveness at the temple after he has voluntarily made restitution to the victim of his wrong actions. Exodus 22; Leviticus 6; Matthew 5:24) When the sinner presented his lamb at the Alter of Burnt Offering, it was firmly secured so that it could not escape (certain death). Then, the sinner placed his hands on the head of the lamb and stated his sin. Then, the sinner executed the lamb by cutting the jugular vein with a knife. As blood spilled from the throat of the dying lamb, an attending priest captured some blood in a small bowl. The priest dipped a branch of hyssop into the bowl and applied the warm blood to the four corners of the alter – one horn on each corner on the alter. The priest also sprinkled some blood on the alter. This ritual confirms a truth that most Christians do not understand; sin is not forgiven. Instead, the sinner’s guilt was transferred by the death and the blood of the lamb to the horns of the alter. This transfer made the Alter of Burnt Offering unclean and it remained defiled all year long until the Day of Atonement took place. On the Day of Atonement, the alter was restored to a pure state by the shedding of blood (the Lord’s goat) and the guilt that had accumulated upon the horns of the alter all year long was transferred once again, this time to the head of the scapegoat. The scapegoat was then taken out into the desert to die a very slow and painful death.

The death of Jesus proves that sin cannot be forgiven (overlooked, erased or forgotten). If Jesus could have excused Adam and Eve from the penalty of sin, He would not have had to die. The stain of animal blood on the horns of the Alter of Burnt Offering confirms that sin is not forgiven, but instead is transferred. This is very good news. God allows the penalty for my sins to be transferred from me to the horns of the Alter of Burnt Offering through the death of Jesus, the flawless Lamb of God. The blood of animals symbolizes the actual price of God’s grace (the blood of His own Son). Keep in mind; the blood of animals did not actually transfer the guilt of sin. The sin offering is a parallel of how God deals with sin. The reality to which the sin offering pointed occurred at Calvary. Jesus, the Lamb of God, died for our sins and if put faith in Him, our guilt is transferred to the Alter of Burnt Offering in Heaven’s temple. (Hebrews 8:1-5; 10:1-4; Romans 8:1-8)

Two Alters

There were two alters in the earthy temple because there are two alters in Heaven’s temple. The Alter of Burnt Offering was located near the entrance of the courtyard that surrounded the Tent of Meeting and the Alter of Incense was located in the front room of the tent, or the Holy Place. There is two alters for atonement because God is concerned with two levels of sin: individual sin and corporate sin. The Alter of Burnt Offering was covered with bronze and the alter of incense was covered with gold. This difference in medals indicates there is a difference in processing these two types of sin. The bronze Alter of Burnt Offering served the needs of individuals, and the golden Alter of incense served a higher purpose, the needs of the whole community. Both altars had four horns jutting from their four corners. Throughout the Bible, horns symbolize an entity of power. (Psalms 75:10; 112:9; Jeremiah 48:25; Luke 1:69; Revelation 17:12) Within the context of these altars, the four horns represent the omnipresent work of the Holy spirit throughout the four corners of Earth: North, East, South, and West. (Zechariah 1:18-21; 4:6; John 16:7-11) He is everywhere at once!

Do Not Sin Against the Holy Spirit

Since the beginning of sin, the Holy Spirit has had an indispensable role in God’s administration of grace. The Spirit must soften the human heart before repentance can occur. The Holy Spirit does much more than impress the conscience. In fact, the only sin that cannot be forgiven is rejection of the Holy Spirit! (Matthew 12:31) Carefully consider this point: A sinner could present his offering at the Alter of Burnt Offering because the law of Moses required it, or a sinner could present his offering at the alter because he was sorry for his sin and wanted to be free of the condemnation that was upon his head. The motive makes a big difference. In the latter case, if a sinner was sincerely repentant, he proved his sorrow for sin by voluntarily making restitution for his sin before he came to present his sacrifice to God. Again the essential point so many people overlook on this topic is that killing animals never atoned for sin. (Hebrews 10:1-4) In other words, presenting a sacrificial lamb at the alter did not guarantee that God would accept the sacrifice and allow the transfer of sin even though the external requirements of the sin offering were met. “The sacrifices of God are not a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalms 51:17) God is not impressed or moved with religious rituals. Not until the Holy Spirit produces a heartfelt sorrow for sin is the guilt of sin actually transferred. (1 John 1:9; 1 John 2:1-6) When people conclude that atonement with God is possible through some religious ritual, you can be sure that apostasy has taken place!

Sinners are Forgiven

Many Bible writers speak about our sins being forgiven (Leviticus 5:13; Romans 4:7), but it is sinner who is forgiven, not the sin. This distinction is so important because we need to understand that God has a process to deal with the disposal of sin. The disposal of sin involves a legal concept called vengeance. God’s vengeance is a twofold process that will finally culminate at the end of the 1,000 years of Revelation 20.  God’s vengeance involves the extraction of restitution from those people unwilling to provide appropriate restitution (judicial equilibrium), and His vengeance also involves destroying everyone who refused the indwelling authority of the Holy Spirit. Judicial equilibrium is the balance between our behavior towards others and our accountability for the welfare of others. Judicial equilibrium is found in the golden rule: “As you do unto others, the same shall be done unto you” and “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged.”(See Matthew 7:2,12) God’s kingdom is not a republic or a democracy. It is a monarchy.

Sin is Not Forgiven

Sinners can be freed from the penalty of their sins even though their sins are not forgiven. At first, this statement may appear contradictory. Many Christians believe that Jesus died for us and that somehow all of our sins have been forgiven! But there is much more to the disposal of the toxic waste of sin that is commonly known. All sinners are under the curse of eternal death unless our guilt is removed. The wages of sins death. (Romans 6:23) Sin is the transgression of God’s law. (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28; 1 John 3:4) However, if a person is ignorant of a specific sin, God does not hold that sinner accountable for that sin until the sinner becomes properly informed. (Leviticus 4; 1 Timothy 1:13; James 4:17) When a person commits any sin, he or she violates the whole law. (James 2:10) Sinful acts cannot be recalled or erased because they are a matter of record. The unrelenting claim of God’s law is this: “Once a sinner, always a sinner.” This is why God evicted Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:22-24) The consequences for violating God’s moral law occur whether we are knowledgeable or ignorant of the offense. This is why the Bible says,”Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23) Do not let this discourage you because the Plan of Salvation offers a way out of condemnation. The Father has provided a perfect substitute to receive the guilt of our sins and through the blood of Jesus; our guilt can be transferred to the horns of Heaven’s Alter of Burnt Offering! The result is that repentant believers who put their faith in Jesus are no longer under condemnation. (See Romans 5 and 8:1-12.)

The Sin Offering

When God gave Moses the earthy temple pattern, God defined categories of offerings for different categories of sin. Different offenses required different methods of atonement or resolution. Each offering helps us understand how God deals with various issues involving sin. Because there are different types and variations of sacrificial offerings, the following examples demonstrate a typical process. Although every temple service is not explained in the Old Testament, we can be sure that God has preserved the essential details so we can understand the larger process in Heaven’s temple. Likewise, while the New Testament does not contain everything that Jesus said while He was on Earth, we can be sure that God preserved what was essential. (John 21:25.) Do not become overwhelmed by the sheer number of rules and offerings used in the earthy temple services. Concentrate instead on God’s orderly and consistent ways in dealing with sin. I have found that diligent study on this topic brings great rewards. As you study system surrounding the earthy temple services, you will begin to see the beauty of the Plan of Salvation unfold. God’s ways are truly marvelous to behold!

Unintentional Sin

The sin offering covers two types of personal sin. Willful and unintentional sin. Notice what the law says about unintentional sin: “If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering for the sin he committed a female goat without defect. He is to lay his 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 alter of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood [into a small basin] at the base of the alter.” (Leviticus 4:27-30, insertion mine.)

If a person is aware that he had committed an unintentional sin, he had to appear at the Alter of Burnt Offering with the required sacrifice. If he could not afford to offer the required animal, items of lesser value, such as birds or even flour, were acceptable to the Lord. (Leviticus 5:7) A priest, ever present and willing to serve, received the sinner’s substitute. The priest examined the sacrificial animal very closely. He was concerned about the condition of the animal as well as the sinner’s restitution and heartfelt confession. The sacrificial offering had to be perfect, without defect or blemish for it represented God’s Son. After the sinner killed the animal, the priest placed the animal’s blood on the horns of the alter as a record of sin. (Leviticus 4:7)  Although the sinner could not escape the guilt of sin, he was at least free of condemnation until he sinned again. (Leviticus 4:26)

Willful Sin

The process of atonement for willful sin is more serious than that of unintentional sin. Before an individual could seek atonement at the tabernacle, he or she had to make generous restitution to the victim Notice what God said: “Say to the Israelites: ‘When a man or woman wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Lord, that person is guilty and must confess the sin he has committed. He must make full restitution for his wrong, add one fifth to it and give it all to the person he has wronged. But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for him.’” (Numbers 5:6-8)

Defiance Not Tolerated

Obviously, a person cannot continue very long in a pattern of willful sin and be able to meet the financial demands for restitution required by law. This is why Paul wrote: “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” (Hebrews 10:26) It is interesting that God does not see willful sin in the same light as defiant sin, although the penalty is the same in both cases. Notice that defiant sin demands immediate action. “But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from the people.” (Numbers 15:30) The term “cut off” meant exile, total banishment from the camp. In the wilderness, banishment meant starvation. So, it is important to understand the meaning of defiant sin. According to Webster, defiance means open and bold rebellion. God declares that there is no other God beside Himself. (Isaiah 45:5) God is King, the owner/master of man and naturally; He would interpret defiance as a willful act of insubordination. Therefore, He told Moses, “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.” (Exodus 22:20) God is a jealous God! (Exodus 20:5) In His great wisdom, He knows that defiance is rebellion and defiant rebellion is unforgivable. (1 Samuel 3:14; Matthew 12:31) God did not offer a plan of salvation for Lucifer and his angels because of their open defiance.

One Sin Contains Two Violations

Temple services reveal that one sin can contain two violations. When a person sins against his neighbor, he or she sins against God as well! Therefore, the sanctuary service demonstrates that God requires a two-step process when we sin against a neighbor. First, the Lord required that a sinner make restitution to the victim, and then, the sinner could make atonement for the sin committed against God at the tabernacle. The amount of restitution varied. In minor cases, amount of restitution 20%. (See Numbers 5:6-8) In more severe cases, the amount of restitution could be as high as 500%. (See Exodus 22.) When Zacchaeus became a “born again” believer in Christ, he gave 50% of his wealth to the poor, and then he restored 400% to anyone that he had wronged! (Luke 19:8) The purpose of restitution is very important in God’s government. In fact, the earthy tabernacle teaches that at a future appointed time, God will ensure that every wicked person suffers appropriately for every wrongful deed, plus an added penalty. The golden rule is an ironclad rule of God’s kingdom and universe. At the end, God will ensure that everyone is treated just like they treated others. (Matthew 7:12) This is the larger meaning of vengeance or judicial equilibrium.

For personal injuries, notice the following decree: “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:19-21; Deuteronomy 19:18-21) The basic idea of punitive law in the Old Testament is judicial equilibrium. In other words, if someone plans to maliciously harm another person, the law demands complete restitution before he or she can make atonement before God. For personal injury, the offender must experience the same pain he or she willfully inflicted! Restitution retards the growth of sin, so God placed man under the operation of the golden rule. The rule states: “It will be done to you as you intentionally did to your victim, plus interest and penalty.” When Jesus was on Earth, the Jews twisted the golden rule for self-serving purposes. They used it as legal justification for personal revenge, especially against their hated enemy, the Romans. Jesus rebuked them for not understanding the intent of the law when He said, “You have heard it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39) Jesus was affirming an important truth, revenge belongs to god and He will extract every ounce of the restitution that His law demands, plus interest. Paul wrote, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) This verse should be especially meaningful for people who have been victims of a painful injustice. God ensures that judicial equilibrium will be extracted from the wicked before He creates a new Heaven and a new Earth.

Reviewing the Sin Offering

The services at the Alter of Burnt Offering lays a conceptual foundation for other temple services, so keep the following seven points in mind as we progress through this study:

  1. The bronze Alter of Burnt Offering served the needs of individuals.
  2. The sinner was required to make restitution before presenting a sacrificial offering.
  3. The guilt of the sinner was transferred to the lamb by confession and death of the lamb transferred the guilt to the horns of the alter.
  4. The blood on the horns of the alter was a record of sin. Until the alter was cleansed on the Day of Atonement, the temple was in a state of desecration.
  5. Excess blood from the sacrifice was poured into a small basin at the base of the alter. (Leviticus 4:25)
  6. Sin, whether unintentional or intentional, requires atonement.
  7. Defiant sin cannot be forgiven (atoned for).

The Alter of Incense

The golden Alter of Incense was physically located in the first room of the earthy temple called the Holy Place. Like the Alter of Burnt Offering, this alter also had four horns, one on each corner of the alter. However, there are several significant differences between the two altars. For example, it was the priests’ responsibility to keep the fire on the Alter of Burnt Offering burning around the clock (Leviticus 6: 12,13), but it is believed the Alter of Incense burned perpetually. Miraculously, God Himself ignited and sustained the fire on the golden Alter of Incense and it never went out.

(Note: This conclusion is reached by harmonizing the following two points: Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, carried “foreign” or man-made fire into the Holy Place and God struck them dead for it. (Leviticus 10:1-3) Further, the Bible does not indicate that the priests maintained the fire on this alter as it does for the other alter. These two points suggest the fire on the Alter of Incense was sustained by divine power.)

Evening and morning, the priests burned a special formula of incense on the Alter of Incense. God forbade anyone from duplicating this incense. (Exodus 30:34-38) In the wilderness, the Israelites could smell the distinctive aroma of this incense, depending upon the wind, at the limits of the camp. (Exodus 30:7,8) Like the Alter of Burnt Offering, the Alter of Incense was named according to its primary purpose that was the continual burning of incense.

Corporate Atonement

The services at the golden Alter of Incense represent a higher level of atonement than those at the bronze alter in the courtyard. These services are a little more difficult to understand at first because they are shadows of a larger process that takes place in Heaven. The Alter of Incense was reserved for corporate atonement, that is, intercession on behalf of the whole community. Priests conducted services at the Alter of Incense, evening and morning, every day of the year. God required continual atonement, night and day. This was done so that Israel could dwell in His continual presence. In other words, atonement for sin was ongoing, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If an individual or a group of individuals sinned, the continual sacrifice on the Alter of Incense provided atonement for everyone until they could present their necessary sacrifices at the Alter of Burnt Offering. The daily atonement made on the Alter of Incense allowed the Israelites to dwell in God’s continual presence without being destroyed. (Exodus 25:8) The object lesson found within this service is stunning. We know that sinners cannot approach God or live in His presence without mediation or atonement. (Numbers 8:19) But through the sacrifice of Jesus, God extends much grace to us, hoping that we will eventually show up at the Alter of Burnt Offering for the purpose of reconciliation with Him and be saved. The beauty of grace can be observed here since we are not consumed while wandering about in foolish rebellion! “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10)

Called the Daily or the Continual

The evening and morning services presented on the Alter of Incense were called “the daily” or “the continual” because they were administered evening and morning – every day of the year – continually. The services included the sacrifice of a perfect one-year-old lamb each evening at twilight and each morning just after sunrise. After the priest killed the “daily” lamb on the Alter of Burnt Offering (in the courtyard), he carried some of its blood to the alter of Incense and applied it to the horns and sides of the alter. Then the priest placed a scoop of the special incense (using God’s specifications) on the glowing coals of the alter. Then the fragrant incense flowed freely throughout the tabernacle. In addition to the blood and incense, priests also placed small servings of wheat or barley flour, oil and wine before the Lord as offerings. (Exodus 29:40,41; 30:9) The reality in Heaven which is represented by the daily services at the golden alter on Earth is very meaningful. Whereas the sin offering on the Alter of Burnt Offering pointed forward to the death of Jesus as the Lamb of God at Calvary, the service on the Alter of Incense pointed backwards to the day sin began. On that day, the Father and Son established a mutual covenant to save the whole world! (Palms 2)

Psalms 2

When Adam and Eve sinned, Jesus entered into a covenant with the Father agreeing to die as man’s substitute. (Psalm 2; Genesis 3:15; Romans 5:19; Matthew 26:28; John 17:4) When Jesus submitted to the terms and conditions required in the Plan of Salvation, He agreed to overcome the power of sin by living a perfect life and dying the death of a condemned sinner. (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21) In fact, from the very day that Adam and Eve sinned, Jesus was called the “Son” of God. “I will proclaim the decree of the Lord [the Father]: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.’” (Psalms 2:7-9, insertion mine.) The word son means “one subject to” or “one in submission to someone like himself.” Consequently, Adam is called the “son of God” and so are the believers because we are created in God’s image. (Luke 3:38; Matthew 5:9; 1 John 3:1 [KJV] The covenant between the Father and Jesus to save man stopped the destroying angel who was about to execute Adam and Eve. On the basis of an agreement between the Father and Jesus, Jesus became man’s intercessor the day sin began and He remains in this position even on this very day. (Hebrews 7:25)

The daily intercession of Jesus in Heaven’s temple is reflected in the daily ministry of the priests on Earth. “The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.” (Hebrews 8:1,2) The Father allowed Adam and Eve and their offspring to live because of the daily intercession of Jesus.  The corporate benefits to Christ’s atonement for the whole world became effective immediately the day sin began.  The covenant to save man is called the Plan of Salvation and it remains intact to this very day. The corporate intercession of Jesus on behalf of the whole world will continue until the beginning of the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation begins when Jesus declares the end of His corporate intercession. (Revelation 10:6) When this happens, the censer at Heaven’s golden Alter of Incense (Revelation 8:2-5) will be cast down indicating the services required at the alter are finished. A few days after the censer in Heaven is cast down, the long-delayed wrath of God for the whole world will begin. God’s wrath will come in two phases, seven first plagues and seven last plagues. Although the corporate intercession of Jesus comes to an end at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, the door of salvation remains open for individuals because Jesus continues to intercede on behalf of individuals for 1,260 days – until the time of the seventh trumpet.

Corporate Process

The idea of corporate atonement is new to many Christians, so a short study may be helpful. Notice this text: “If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty. When they become aware of the sin offering and present it before the Tent of Meeting. The elders of the community are to lay their hands on the bull’s head before the Lord, and the bull shall be slaughtered before the Lord. Then the anointed priest is to take some of the blood and sprinkle it before the Lord seven times in front of the curtain. He is to put some of the blood on the horns of the alter that is before the Lord in the Tent of Meeting. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the alter of burnt offering at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.” (Leviticus 4:13-18)

Two points regarding corporate sacrifice stand out: First, it was possible for the whole community to sin against God unintentionally! Again, ignorance does not mean innocence. God’s universal laws have no boundaries. When the community becomes aware of its sin, God requires the whole community to make atonement and this atonement is presented at the corporate Alter of Incense, not the Alter of Burnt Offering. Second, a sacrificial bull is required for corporate atonement for sin of an entire community. A bull was the most valuable animal in the herd. This points to the fact that the Father gave His most valuable gift, the blood of His only Son, to redeem the whole world! Many Christians believe John 3:16 is the most beautiful text in the Bible, but notice what the text really says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, italics mine.) Did you notice that this text is actually a “corporate” text? “For God so loved the world…” To appreciate the entire scope of the Plan of Salvation, we must understand that it is much larger than an individual matter. The plan involves all of the descendants of Adam and Eve, and in order to include all the nations of the world, the plan has to include the entire human race over a period of 6,000 years.

When the community sinned, the bull’s blood was sprinkled seven times on the front of the veil (or curtain) that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place in the temple. This action signified that as a community, Israel has violated the law that was written on tablets that were behind the veil on the Ark of the Covenant. (The high priest could not enter the Most Holy Place except on the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 16:2) In order to provide atonement for the community, the priest sprinkled the blood as close to the law as possible. Then he placed blood on the four horns of the Alter of Incense and the crimson record of sin defiled the Alter of Incense until the cleansing that occurred on the Day of Atonement. (Leviticus 4:7,18)

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