After preaching the imminent return of Jesus for over 160 years, His continuing delay is creating a credibility crisis and dilemma for believers in the Three Angels Message. We have pointed to the many signs in the world as a fulfillment of end-time Bible prophecies. When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our pulpits rang out with the news that the end of this world was very near. Christ was coming back very soon to destroy those who destroy the earth. That was over seventy years ago, yet we are still here. What is causing the delay? Do we need more calamities or wars or crime in this world. Hardly. It must be our unreadiness for Christ’s coming that is causing the delay.
The nagging, inescapable question is ’Why are we still here? Has Christ no faithful followers on the earth at this time? No doubt Christ has His ‘seven thousand’ in Israel today who are sincerely seeking to prepare their lives for His coming. So where is the problem? Inspiration indicates that it lies in our limited understanding of the great truth that gives reason for our existence as a church. That truth is encapsulated in Daniel 8:14. The Lord’s messenger tells us that this truth, as expanded in the Three Angels Message, is the most solemn, the most important message ever given to mortals. That transcends even the glorious messages heralded by the Apostle Paul and the other apostles (9 Testimonies p. 19). In 1 Selected Messages p. 67-68 we are told that “God had committed to His people a work to be accomplished on earth. The third angel's message was to be given, the minds of believers were to be directed to the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ had entered to make atonement for His people.” And then it goes on to say that if that truth had been received, the work would have been accomplished long ago and Christ would have come for His people.
A Vital Missing Link
What is it in Daniel 8:14 that we have been missing? How will a fuller understanding of this truth prepare us as individuals and as a church for the close of probation and the second coming? We are told in 5 Testimonies p. 575 that “The great plan of redemption, as revealed in the closing work of these last days, should receive close examination. The scenes connected with the sanctuary above should make such an impression upon the minds and hearts of all that they may be able to impress others. All need to become more intelligent in regard to the work of the atonement, which is going on in the sanctuary above. When this grand truth is seen and understood, those who hold it will work in harmony with Christ to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God, and their efforts will be successful.”
So by deduction, we can say that the reason we as a people have not been prepared for the end-time events and Christ’s coming is because this grand truth has not been clearly seen and understood. Over and over again we are directed to have our eyes focused on the sanctuary and make it a matter of careful study.
“God's people are now to have their eyes fixed on the heavenly sanctuary, where the final ministration of our great High Priest in the work of the judgment is going forward,--where He is interceding for His people ” Evangelism p. 223.
Until we thoroughly understand this grand truth and cooperate with Christ in His work of cleansing the sanctuary, ten thousand evangelistic efforts and hundreds of thousands of baptisms, as wonderful and important as they may be, will not bring Christ down to earth for the redemption of His people. So what needs to happen?
“The slumbering Church must be aroused, awakened out of its spiritual lethargy, to a realization of the important duties which have been left undone. The people have not entered into the holy place, where Jesus has gone to make an atonement for his children.” Review & Herald, Feb.25, 1890.
It is the cleansing of the soul temple that is taking so long to accomplish. Christ does not have to delay His second coming because the heavenly sanctuary has not yet been cleansed. He could do that cleansing in a moment.
1 John 1:9 Not The Same As Daniel 8:14
The greatest challenge facing our great High Priest since 1844 is to get His people to understand His work in the most holy place and cooperate with Him in His effort to cleanse, not only the sanctuary in heaven, but the temple of the soul. Firstly, He wants to save His people from continuing to sin knowingly. This is His first work, to cleanse the conscious mind from all wrong habits or cherished sins. This is the cleansing of 1 John 1:9. Sin is the only thing that can separate us from Him and prevent a complete at-one-ment. It is the only thing that can frustrate His love for us so that He cannot do for us what He earnestly desire to do. Then He also wants to convince His people that they need to have their subconscious mind cleansed from the bad recordings that past sins have left there. This is the cleansing of Daniel 8:14.
Daniel 8:14 does not deal with the conscious mind. The purification of the conscious mind has been a daily process since the fall of Adam and Eve. The cleansing of the subconscious mind, the blotting out of sins, was not available before Christ went to the most holy place in 1844. In the type, no one in the congregation of Israel could receive the day of atonement cleansing until the 10th day of the 7th month. The frequent calls for us to cleanse our soul temple from all moral defilement which we read about in Inspiration is a call to cleanse the conscious mind from all besetting sins. That is something we do in cooperation with the Holy Spirit and through His power. But the cleansing of the subconscious mind is done by Christ if we consent to have Him do that for us.
Christ has shown us in the Word of Inspiration the peril that our past experience in sin causes, and how it mars and defiles even our obedience and prayers and best service for Him (see 1 SM 344). Christ Object Lessons p. 55 tells us “ It is true that some may see their folly and repent. God may pardon them. But they have wounded their own souls, and brought upon themselves a lifelong peril. “ The soul temple needs cleansing of both apartments before anyone can stand without a mediator and be ready for Christ’s coming. Sins are not only recorded in the books of heaven, but more importantly, in the subconscious mind. As stated in Jeremiah 17:1, “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart. . . “
It is because of this that “ Temptations from without find an answering chord within the heart, and the feet turn imperceptibly toward evil“ (Ministry of Healing p. 451). But it also tells us in the next paragraph that “As the sacrifice in our behalf was complete, so our restoration from the defilement of sin is to be complete.”
Christ longs to deliver us from the defilement of sin. He longs to end His work as sin-bearer and come back as King of kings and Lord of lords to take His people to the mansions He has prepared for them. But His people seem to be content to have Him continue to bear their sins and to pick them up when they fall. So He continues to stand at the door and knock, trying to get the cooperation of His people in order to finish the at-one-ment, and make an end to sin. To accomplish that, He needs not only to forgive their sins and give them the victory, but He also needs to blot out their sins. But He can’t do that until His people will desire that to be done. And His people will not desire to have that done until they see the necessity for it. And they will not see the necessity for it until they see themselves, still clothed in filthy garments, needing the constant intercession of a mediator to cover their imperfection of character.
As stated in Christ Object Lessons p. 158, “We must know our real condition, or we shall not feel our need of Christ’s help. We must understand our danger, or we shall not flee to the refuge. We must feel the pain of our wounds, or we should not desire healing.”
In order to see our spiritual condition, we need to look at the work going on in the most holy place. Then, like Isaiah, we will exclaim, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips...for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).
Commenting on Isaiah’s experience, Ellen White wrote; “Isaiah had denounced the sin of others; but now he sees himself exposed to the same condemnation he had pronounced upon them. . . His view of himself might be expressed in the language of the apostle Paul, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?. . . The vision given to Isaiah represents the condition of God's people in the last days. They are privileged to see by faith the work that is going forward in the heavenly sanctuary. . . As they look by faith into the holy of holies, and see the work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, they perceive that they are a people of unclean lips . . . Well may they despair as they contrast their own weakness and un-worthiness with the purity and loveliness of the glorious character of Christ. But if they, like Isaiah, will re-ceive the impression the Lord designs shall be made upon the heart, if they will humble their souls before God, there is hope for them. The bow of promise is above the throne, and the work done for Isaiah will be performed in them. God will respond to the petitions coming from the contrite heart” (4 Bible Commentary p. 1139).
Restoration of The Edenic Mind
The whole purpose of Christ coming down to this earth was “ that He might restore to man the original mind which he lost in Eden through Satan's alluring temptation" (7 Bible Commentary p. 926). That is “present truth” which needs to go to our churches before the loud cry can enlighten the whole world. We have at the present time 16-18 million Seventh-day Adventists, but how many understand the “present truth” of Christ’s ministry in the holy of holies and what it is all about?
Inspiration reveals the high and holy purpose of the salvation that Christ has provided so abundantly for us. Christ Object Lessons p. 266 tells us that
“It is the purpose of redemption, not only to blot out sin, but to give back to man those spiritual gifts lost because of sin's dwarfing power.”
This will be the experience of the 144,00 who are sealed with the seal of the living God. That is what Christ is offering us in this end time.
“Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand" (Maranatha p. 241).
Floyd Sayler attended Walla Walla College as a music major and completed his diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music, University of Toronto. Along with apassion for Bible study & research, Floyd also enjoys writing for Creation Illustrated and the Adventist World magazines.