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Second Quarter 2018 April • May • June
COMMENTARY—PREPARATION FOR THE END TIME
Week 3: April 14–20
COMMENTARY ON "Jesus and the Book of Revelation"
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
This week’s lesson does a cursory look at Revelation and makes a point to put Jesus into the “heavenly sanctuary” according to the description in Ellen White’s Great Controversy paradigm. The fact is, Jesus is not conducting any sort of judgment in heaven. He did NOT enter the out compartment at His ascension and enter the Most Holy Place in 1844.
In reality, the book of Revelation is profound and intensely reassuring, using imagery from the Old Testament and demonstrating that God keeps His promises to Israel as well as to the church (and the church is NOT “spiritual Israel”).
For the sake of brevity, we will address only a couple of significant point in this lesson—but significant enough to show that the great controversy/investigative judgment motif is unfounded.
First, Adventists believe and teach that there is a literal sanctuary with compartments in heaven. Horrifyingly, the investigative judgment teaches that Jesus only entered the Holy Place when He ascended after His resurrection.
The idea that Jesus was in the “first compartment” corresponding to the outer sanctuary in Israel is horrifying and implies that Jesus’ sacrifice was not sufficient and His atonement was not complete when he said, “It Is Finished!” and then died.
Jesus did not have to wait until 1844 to enter the presence of God. He entered heaven itself and the very presence of God! Hebrews tells us this truth in different ways:
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:23–25).
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:24–26).
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:11–14).
The earthly sanctuary was a shadow of the heavenly reality. No metaphor nor shadow can adequately represent a complex reality; thus, the earthly sanctuary system has many details all of which foreshadowed Jesus. It did not act out what Jesus was going to act out in Heaven. Rater, the earthly sanctuary service “acted out” what Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was going to do.
The levites and priests represented Jesus. The sacrifices represented Jesus. The showbread represented the bread of life; the candlesticks were the light of the world. The mercy seat is Jesus; the law is what is within Jesus; in fact, the entire temple represents what is IN JESUS. He Himself told the Pharisees,
Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here (Matthew 12:5–6).
Jesus was saying that He was greater than every single thing represented in the temple. All it contained is actually IN JESUS. Even the law, even the Sabbath, is IN JESUS. He is greater than the temple.
The One who fulfills and embodies every shadow contained in the temple and the law cannot have entered a temple with heavenly show breads and candlesticks to putter around and do outer-court ministry. NO. He entered heaven once for all, now to appear in the presence of God for us!
There are no compartments in heaven. The presence of God IS the Most Holy place. Jesus sat down, and His once-for-all sacrifice has taken away sin for all time for those who believe.
The lesson briefly discusses the resurrection in Thursday’s lesson. The lesson begins with a quote from Ellen White and then says, “Without this particular hope [the resurrection], what hope is there?”
Adventists believe the resurrection is the creation of a new body for each person when Jesus comes again. They believe that God retains the memory of people’s personalities and experiences in His own mind, and when He makes the new body, He essentially “downloads” that remembered information into the new body to make that “resurrected” person into the person who had died.
Biblically, the resurrection is NOT God pouring data into a new body. The Bible is explicit that the dead in Christ do not cease to exist, even for a moment. Rather, they go to be with the Lord. Notice what Paul says:
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him (2 Corinthians 5:1–9).
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account (Philippians 1:21–24).
From a Christian, biblical worldview, resurrection is when God reunites our conscious spirits which have been with Him with our new bodies. A resurrected person is not a re-created person; it is a person, on the other hand, who has NEVER CEASED to exist but who has received a new, immortal body!
Adventism, however, teaches that there is no ontological connection between the person alive on this earth and the “resurrected” person God will deliver at the end. the lesson even emphasizes this belief.
On page 36 is says at the end of the third paragraph, “Yes, Jesus is the beginning and the end. He created us in the beginning, and He will re-create us in the end.”
There it is, in black-and-white: Adventism believes that God “re-creates” people. They may be exactly the same as the original person, but it will not be “them”. The essential “them” died. In fact, Adventism teaches that when a body ceases to breathe, the person ceases to be a “living soul”. Like a switch turning off the electricity in a light bulb, when a person ceases to breathe, he ceases to exist, in exactly the same way the light ceases to exist when the switch is turned off.
The Bible, however, teaches that the essential “US” never dies! Our spirits go to the Lord, and He knows us and is not separated from us even by death (Rom. 8:38–39).
When we are resurrected, we are not newly created people like clones of our former selves. We are a continuation of ourselves…selves that have never ceased to exist! Our bodies will be glorified, but our spirits will still be US. We are not a collection of electrons, molecules, and electrical impulses activated by breathed air. We are spirits created by God and housed in mortal tents that are awaiting our eternal, heavenly dwellings which God has prepared for us!
I recommend two offerings on YouTube to help round out this lesson. The first is the talk by Colleen Tinker given at the 20018b FAF Conference entitled, “What Happened To The Law?” This talk explains what is wrong with the Adventist conception of Jesus as a levitical high priest in heaven and shows from Hebrews that He is a different Jesus from the one Adventism teaches. The link is here: https://youtu.be/w6w0gOHmVQU
Finally, I recommend the inductive, verse-by-verse study through the book or Revelation done by Gary Inrig at Loma Linda Word Search. Go to FormerAdventist on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/user/FormerAdventist/featured. Click on “playlists” and select “Word Search”. The Revelation series includes videos numbered 48 through 98.