Exhortations From the Sanctuary
Memory Text: "And since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10: 21, 22, NASB).
The book of Hebrews borrows a lot on Sanctuary imagery. Many believe it was written to give Christian Jews a correct understanding of the Sanctuary. This understanding had Christ at the center. The sanctuary was a representation of Christ and His plan of redemption. He was the lamb. The blood shed was Christ's. Christ was the priest; indeed, even the High Priest.
This correct understanding must never be divorced from Christ becoming humanity. As Levi was in Abraham when Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedech, we were in Christ when Christ lived, died, and was resurrected.
Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Since, objectively, and by faith, we are already in the presence of the Father, we should have no problem approaching Him in prayer. Paul says,
Hebrews 10: 19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Hebrews 10: 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,
Hebrews 10: 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God,
Hebrews 10: 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10: 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
Hebrews 10: 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
As we can read in this passage the implications are many. But, Ellen White perhaps sums it up best,
"From the Holy of Holies, there goes on the grand work of instruction. The angels of God are communicating to men. Christ officiates in the sanctuary. We do not follow Him into the sanctuary as we should. Christ and angels work in the hearts of the children of men. The church above, united with the church below, is warring the good warfare upon the earth. There must be a purifying of the soul here upon the earth, in harmony with Christ's cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven. There we shall see more clearly as we are seen. We shall know as we are known." 15MR 24.
Hebrews 9 and 10 describe His High Priestly ministry as cleansing the hearts of His people, "putting away sin," "purging the conscience," preparing a people to "receive the promise of eternal inheritance," "purifying" hearts and minds and lips, to "make the comers thereunto perfect," to render obsolete any "conscience" or "remembrance of sins," to "take away sins," to "perfect forever them that are sanctified," to write His "laws into their hearts ... [which are] sprinkled from an evil conscience," to "provoke [motivate] unto love and good works," to "believe to the saving of the soul."
He naturally wants His people to understand why what He is doing is so incomparably important, and second, He would appreciate our cooperation because He can accomplish nothing without you. Your cooperation means you stop interposing a rebellious will to counteract what He is seeking constantly to do for you!
In other words, through His Vicar (the Holy Spirit) Christ as High Priest is constantly pressing upon His people the conviction of sin buried deeper than they had imagined it to be; and when the conviction is welcomed and the sin is gladly surrendered and put away, the heart is more closely reconciled to Him. This process is called "atonement," or becoming at-one-with God. In Romans 5:11 it is "receiving the atonement" or "reconciliation." Thus, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is a "final atonement."