The Day Of Atonement


Right now we are living in the final phase of redemption history, during which God will bring final and full resolution in the sin problem.

Sealing and Opening

God is on the constant communication quest because He wants us to know what He’s up to in human history so we can be involved. In this study, we will consider a Bible prophecy about God’s current activity that invites our engagement.

Begin by reading Revelation 10, and then compare Daniel 8:14, 26; Daniel 12:4-10.

Then I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. 2 He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 and cried with a loud voice as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thundered uttered their voices. 4 Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” 5 The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, 7 but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. 8 Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.” 9 So I went to the angel and said to him, “give me the little book.” And he said to me, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.” 10 Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. 11 and he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” Revelation 10:1-11

And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” 26 “And the vision of the evenings and mornings Which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future.” Daniel 8:14, 26;

4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase,” 5 Then, IK Daniel looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. 6 And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?” 7 Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was about the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished. 8 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, My Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” 9 And he said, Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand but the wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:4-10

A correlation of these passages makes it clear that the two prophets, though separated by nearly 600 years, were addressing one and the same topic: the sealing and opening of Daniel’s prophecies. One of Daniel’s vision included a 2300-day time prophecy, which was of particular interest to him:

“For two thousand three hundred days; then the _________ shall be ________” Daniel 8:14.

When Daniel prayed for understanding of the vision he was told by an angel that it pertained “to many days in the future” rather than to his own time. “Therefore, seal up the vision,” the angel said. Later, Daniel was again told, “Shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” This odd terminology refers to an ancient method of study. The scrolls of Scripture were unrolled on long tables and the student would “run” back and forth comparing scripture with scripture. The angel is telling Daniel that his sealed “book” will be opened to understanding of “Many” who will search the scriptures during the end-time period of history.

The same angel told Daniel to “shut” his book appeared to the apostle John with “A little book open in his hand” (Revelation 10:2). Then the angel instructed John to enact a prophecy:

“Go, take the little _________ which is _________ in the hand of the angel . . . Take and ________ it: and it will make your stomach _________, but it will be as _________ as honey in your mouth” (verse 8-9).

At the end of time the book of Daniel would be eaten, or studied, and its sealed prophecies would be understood. And yet, there would be something both sweet and bitter about the experience.

Just as foretold, during the first half of the 19th century a unique Bible study phenomenon emerged on the scene of history with a specific interest in comprehending the prophecies of Daniel. “Many” were, indeed, running “to and fro” in Scripture. A key figure at the forefront of the movement was an American Baptist preacher named William Miller. Many preachers around the world understood what is commonly referred to as the day-for a-year principle of prophetic interpretation (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34). They knew that the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 represented 2300 years. Miller noticed that 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9 was actually a breakdown of events that would occur within the first 490 years of the larger 2300-year period (see study guide 6). This meant that the event given by Gabriel to mark the beginning of the 490-year prophecy also marked the beginning of the 2300-year prophecy.

2300 Days.png

The event was “the command to restore and build Jerusalem,” which was issued by the Persian King Artaxerxes in 457 BCE (Daniel 9:25: Ezra 7:11-12). With that starting date, Miller realized that the 2300-day prophecy would end in 1844.

This meant that something of extreme prophetic importance was going to happen in 1844. But what? William Miller and Bible students around the world concluded that the event to be expected must be the second advent of Jesus. The message went around the world, “Jesus is coming in 1844!” But he didn’t come, Just as John foretold, the experience that began as “sweet in the mouth” turned out to be “bitter in the belly.” The devastating experience became known as, “The Great Disappointment.” Miller and the Advent believers were wrong, plain and simple. It was all a huge mistake. Or was it?

Read Revelation 10:11 and discuss what this meant for the disappointed Advent believers and what it means for us today:

And He said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” Revelation 10:11

“And he said to me, Thou must _________ ________ before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” Revelation 10:11

The Sanctuary

A handful of scattered advent believers regrouped and began to retrace their steps through scripture. Two things became clear:

First, they had assumed that the cleansing of he sanctuary foretold by Daniel must point to the cleansing of the earth by fire at the second coming of Jesus. But now they saw that there was no biblical evidence to suggest that the earth was the sanctuary. That was their mistake. The time for the prophecy to be fulfilled was undeniably solid, but they had expected the wrong event.

Second, they discovered that the ancient sanctuary built by Israel was a symbol of eh true tabernacle in heaven, where Jesus ministers as our Great High Priest. Read and discuss Hebrews 8:1-5 and Psalm 102:19 to discover this connection for yourself.

Now this is the main point of things we are saying: We have such a high Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore, it is necessary that this One also having something to offer. 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:1-5

For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; From heaven the LORD viewed the earth. Psalm 102:19

They discovered that the sanctuary served as a symbolic outline of the plan of salvation that would unfold in three historical phases: (1) the life and death of Jesus, correlating to the Courtyard. (2) the resurrection and ascension of Jesus as our mediator to minister the benefits of His atoning sacrifice, correlating to the Holy Place. (3) the final resolution of the sin problem by Jesus as our High Priests, correlating to the Most Holy Place.


In the ancient symbolic sanctuary, the daily sacrifices would be slain in the Courtyard and burned on the altar, pointing forward to the sacrifice of Christ. Some of the blood from each sacrifice would then be taken into the Holy Place and sprinkled seven times on the veil before the Most Holy Place, symbolizing that the sacrifice of Jesus would provide continual atonement after His resurrection.

And then came the grand climax of the entire symbolic system.

On the tenth day of the seventh Jewish month, called Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter the Most Holy Place to make a final application of the atonement with the blood of a sacrificial goat. Then he would send away a second goat, called “the scapegoat” or Azazel, into the desert, thus signifying the final end of evil and its instigator, Satan.

So, it was the Day of Atonement ceremony pointed forward to the final resolution of the sin problem. Daniel’s prophecy indicated the time when the great antitypical Day of Atonement would begin, and John foretold the bittersweet experience of the Bible students that would made this discovery. The Day of Atonement and the cleansing of the sanctuary, they realized, were one and the same event. In 1944 Jesus had entered into the climatic phase of the plan of salvation. He was not presiding as High Priest over the final resolution of the sin problem preparatory of His second coming.


As our heavenly High Priest, Jesus ministers for us as the “one Mediator between God and man” (I Timothy 2:5).

There are life-transforming benefits available to us as we look to Jesus Christ as our great High Priest. He “sympathizes with our weaknesses” and invites us to “come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). He also opens the way of us to enter by faith to “the Presence behind the veil,” into a sense of “strong consolation” before God (Hebrews 6:18-19). “Consolation” means comfort, the opposite of discomfort. Wow! So Jesus is leading us to a position of strong comfort before God, resolving in us everything that makes us uncomfortable with Him. He also accomplishes in us the reality of the new covenant by writing His law in our minds and hearts and freely forgiving “our ins and lawless deeds” (Hebrews 8:10-12). He cleansed our “conscience from dead works” – works rendered from a sense of guild in order to earn salvation – so that we can “serve the living God’ free from all sense of need to earn His favor (Hebrews 9:14). And finally, by virtue of His “once for all” sacrifice for all sin, Jesus has entered the Most Holy Place for us all, “having obtained eternal redemption” so that we can stand in “the judgement” knowing that He has “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 7:27, Hebrews 9:12, 26-28).


Knowing that we are living in the Day of Atonement is both sobering and exciting.

It is my purpose to lodge all my hope for confident standing before God in the sacrifice Jesus make on my behalf. I look to Him alone as My Mediator and High Priest, inviting Him to cleanse my conscience from all sense of need to merit God’s favor and I ask Him to write His Law of love in my mind and heart. Knowing and believing His great love for me is what gives me boldness in the Day of Judgment (I John 4:16-18).

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