The Sanctuary Cleansed
Introduction: Last week we ended our study with a number of questions unresolved. We agreed that the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 had to be symbolic days (meaning a day equals a year), not literal days. So, what happens at the end of this 2,300 years? What does it mean for the sanctuary to be reconsecrated? What sanctuary are we talking about? Is this the end of the world? Is it the beginning of the first judgment in heaven that we discussed in connection with Daniel 7? We agreed that we would pick up our study of this mystery this week. So, let's jump into our study!
- The Sanctuary
- Read Daniel 8:13-14. Put yourself in Daniel's place. If you had a short "wish list" about the future, what would be on it? (Recall that Daniel had been taken from his home when he was a very young man. He would want to return to his native country, Judah.)
- What would come to Daniel's mind when the sanctuary was mentioned in his vision? (Daniel would surely think about the sanctuary (temple) that was built by Solomon. See 1 Chronicles 22:17-19.)
- Did Solomon's temple exist at the time of Daniel's vision? (No. The Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon's temple. This was part of the tragedy of his youth. He had been taken captive, and the important institutions of his country had been destroyed. This included the city of Jerusalem and Solomon's temple, the center of Jewish worship.)
- When Daniel heard that the sanctuary would be "reconsecrated" (NIV) ("cleansed" NKJV) what would he logically think was going to happen? (It is logical to believe his first thoughts were that Solomon's temple would be rebuilt. This vision of the future could be about one of Daniel's most dearly held hopes - that the Jewish worship center would be back in operation.)
- What other possibilities might come to Daniel's mind when he heard about the sanctuary being reconsecrated? (Read Psalms 102:19, Exodus 25:8-9 and Hebrews 8:1-5. Moses had originally been given "the pattern" so that the sanctuary in the wilderness was modeled after the sanctuary in heaven. Solomon then built a permanent version of the sanctuary to house the ark of God and to continue the worship and the sacrificial services. Only the copy on earth had been destroyed. The heavenly original still existed. Since the sanctuary on earth had been destroyed, Daniel might have thought this had something to do with the sanctuary in heaven.)
- Living in 2004, we know that thereafter the temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt and for hundreds of years Jews held their daily sacrifices and worshiped God in the sanctuary. We also know that in 70 A.D., the Romans destroyed the sanctuary. Given our knowledge, what sanctuary do you think is being referred to in Daniel 8:14? (Read Daniel 8:17. Since this is a vision "of the end," and since we know the sanctuary on earth was destroyed almost 2,000 years ago, that leaves only the sanctuary in heaven as the subject of this vision.)
- What argument can you make that the vision might refer to a sanctuary that is again rebuilt in Jerusalem before the world ends? (Such an argument would deny that Jesus is the Messiah. It would ignore Jesus' High Priestly ministry in heaven referred to in Hebrews. If the Jews rebuilt a temple in Jerusalem it would be to continue the same sacrificial system which Jesus fulfilled by His life and death.)
- Read Hebrews 9:8-12. What does this suggest about the possibility of a new temple being built in Jerusalem? (Hebrews tells us that the temple on earth was both an illustration and an impediment to Jesus work for us in heaven. The idea that it would be rebuilt at sometime before the Second Coming of Jesus is completely at odds with Hebrews and the entire concept of Jesus fulfilling the symbolism of the sanctuary service.)
- The reasonable conclusion, based on what we know about history, and our understanding of the gospel, is that the sanctuary to be reconsecrated (cleansed) is the heavenly sanctuary.
- The Nature of the Cleansing
- If Daniel 8:14 is about reconsecrating (cleansing) the sanctuary in heaven, the logical question is, "Why would it need to be cleaned?"
- Read Leviticus 16:32-34. These three verses describe in summary form a yearly event for the Jewish people. Can you tell me about this event? (Throughout the year the people would come to the temple to sacrifice an animal for the forgiveness of their sins. Symbolically, the shed blood of the animal transferred the sin from the person to the sanctuary. Then once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the sanctuary itself was cleansed of all of these sins which had accumulated over the year. On that day the High Priest entered the Most Holy place of the sanctuary.)
- What about the sins of the people? Were they completely taken care of during the year? (Read Leviticus 16:29-30. It appears that the cleansing of the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement was the final act in the removal of the sins from the people.)
- Recall that the sanctuary on earth was patterned after the sanctuary in heaven? Do you think there is a parallel activity in heaven? If so, what is it? (According to the text in Hebrews that we previously read ( Hebrews 9:11-12), Jesus is the sacrifice for the heavenly sanctuary. He is also the High Priest who enters the Most Holy Place.)
- When Daniel 8:14 tells us that the sanctuary will be reconsecrated (cleansed) could it mean that after the 2300 day period the Day of Atonement in heaven will take place? (That seems to be precisely what is meant. Since the sanctuary could not be the sanctuary on earth, it must be the sanctuary in heaven. Hebrews tells us that Jesus will enter the Most Holy place of the heavenly sanctuary - so it makes perfect sense that this is the meaning of Daniel 8:14.)
- Read Daniel 2:34-35. What is the end of the story of this vision?
- Read Daniel 7:21-22, 25-27. What is the end of the story of this vision?
- Read Daniel 8:14, 24-26. What is the end of the story of this vision?
- Are these visions generally parallel?
- Are the endings generally parallel?
- If so, what is the common ending? (In each one of these endings God wins. But, there is more to the end than that. The win in chapter 8 comes after the sanctuary is cleansed. The win in chapter 7 comes after the court opens and judgment is entered. The win in chapter 2 comes supernaturally. Thus, God wins and so do His saints after a procedure is followed (the judgment or the sanctuary cleansing).
- The Meaning of the Day of Atonement.
- Read Daniel 8:26-27. Did Daniel understand what it meant to reconsecrate the sanctuary in heaven?
- Notice that verse 27 says that Daniel did not understand the vision. Did he not understand any of it? (This is the Ram/Goat/Horn vision we discussed in detail last week. Gabriel told Daniel about the meaning of the Ram and the Goat. It was only the horn and the 2,300 days that was not specifically explained. Since Daniel calls the this (v.26)"the vision of the evenings and mornings" it must be the 2,300 days that most specifically create the mystery.)
- What do you think is the Day of Atonement in heaven represents? Is this the beginning of the judgment? The end of the judgment? The Second Coming of Jesus? (We know from the parallelism in the visions we have studied that the end of the world starts with a judgment of the righteous and ends with the Second Coming of Jesus. All of that, the judgment and the "conclusion" to sin, occurred within the Day of Atonement.)
- If we could determine the date for the ending of the 2,300 day prophecy, would this be the start or the ending of the judgment? (Now you know why Daniel thought it was "beyond understanding." Stay tuned for our next two studies to see if we can figure out the answer. Next week we will find some more clues.)
- Friend, are you ready for the judgment?
- Next week: God's Timetable.