"Psalms Concerning" Jesus. Many of the Psalms are prophecies of experiences through which Jesus would pass during His life on earth - "things ... which were written...in the "Psalms concerning Me." Christ declared. Luke 24:44. In connection with His entrance into the holy place in heaven, we may look for a moment to Psalms 22, 23, and 24.
The twenty-second Psalm, called "The Calvary, or Golgotha Psalm," begins with the agonizing cry of Jesus, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Mark 15:34. It ends with, "He hath done this!" or, as the Hebrew has it, "It is finished!" John 19:30.
The twenty-third Psalm has been called "The Psalm of the Resurrection," because the resurrection follows His "walk through the valley of the shadow of death." It is a prophecy of the unspoken experiences of Jesus as He passed through the"valley." It expresses a marvelous triumph of faith, especially in its closing words:
I will fear no evil; for Thou art with Me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort Me.
Thou preparest a table before Me in the presence of Mine enemies; Thou anointest My head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and loving mercies shall follow me all the days of My life; And I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah forever. - R.V.
Following this is the twenty-fourth Psalm, which may be called "The Ascension Psalm." This Psalm of triumph is the climax of the two preceding ones. It foretells some of the wonderful experiences of Christ's ascension from the court of this earth to His entrance into the heavenly sanctuary - into "heaven itself." Heb. 9.24.
Their Fulfillment in A.D. 31. The experiences prophesied in these Psalms were fulfilled at the last divinely recognized Passover and Pentecost, in the crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and inauguration of Jesus, when the sacred significance of the work of the priests in the earthly sanctuary ended and the ministry of Christ as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary began.
In A.D. 31 two Passovers were observed - not only the one celebrated by the Jewish people generally, but the one Jesus and His disciples observed one day early. The former was prepared at the regular time, "in the evening" of Abib 14, and eaten the following night, the beginning of Abib
15. For fifteen long centuries, since the institution of the Passover at the time of the Exodus, this practice had been followed. From this, "Some have suggested that the meal Jesus and the Twelve ate together was not the regular passover repast; but the synoptic record makes clear that it was indeed the Passover they ate together. See Mark 14:12,16,17; Luke 22:7,8,13-15; DA 642,652." Raymond F. Cottrell, in R&H, June 9, 1955, page 18; Emphasis supplied. This statement should be remembered, for it is the key to other points sometimes misunderstood.
When was this last true Passover prepared and eaten? âWhen the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover,â Jesus told His disciples to "prepare...to eat the Passover." On the first day of the feast, âwhen they killed the Passover,â "they made ready the Passover." Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7,13. This preparation was made on Thursday, Abib 13, one day before the regular time, the historic time for slaying the paschal lamb being Abib 14. Ex. 12:6. "When the even was come (the beginning of Abib 14), He sat down with the Twelve, and they did eat." Matt. 26:20, 21. This also was one day before the regular time for eating the Passover. "According to the best aveil
able astronomical information, Nisan (Abib) 14 fell on Friday, April 27, in A. D. 31, the year of the crucifixion." Raymond F. Cottrell, in R&H June 9, 1955.
Why Jesus Observed this Passover One Day Early. Why did Jesus depart from an age-long and well-established custom? Apparently one reason for doing so was that His death might coincide with the slaying of the paschal lamb, and thus perfectly fulfill the type. Another reason: "Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father and because "He loved His own...unto the end." He desired to prepare them for that ordeal. John 13:1,19. Further, because the death of the paschal lamb symbolized the death of Christ as the Redeemer of the world, it was to be "an ordinance forever" Ex. 12:17, - the work of redemption was never to be forgotten. Now that the Passover type was soon to pass away, it was necessary that another ordinance be provided to take its place, thus perpetuating the memory of redemption. It is obvious, of course, that this be done at once, because when the day ended, He would be lying in the tomb, and in that event, an important link in the plan of salvation would be missing. For all these reasons, it was necessary that Christ eat the Passover one day before the regular time. These reasons are all comprehended in His words, "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." Luke 22:15.
The Lord's Supper Instituted. Knowing that the Passover as a sacred ordinance was about to pass away, Jesus now instituted the Lord's Supper "as a memorial of the same event of which the Passover had been a type." PP 539. The paschal lamb had pointed forward to His death; the Lord's Supper was to point back, commemorative of His broken body and His spilled blood. Luke 22: 16- 20.
Before the disciples were prepared to partake of the sacred emblems of the Lord's Supper, their hearts must be cleansed from all selfish ambition to be the greatest and from all unholy feelings toward one another. Each one must first "examine himself." I Cor. 11:28. For this, a preparatory service was necessary to teach humility and unselfish service. As a "type of the higher cleansing of the soul." DA 646, Jesus proceeded to wash the disciples' feet. The purpose of this humble service on the part of their Lord and Master was to remove from their hearts all evil thoughts, and implant a willingness for any Christian service. Without this cleansing the heart could not "enter into fellowship with Christ" and be "prepared to receive the communion of His body and His blood." DA 650. They would eat and drink "unworthily" and thus "be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." John 13:4-17; 1 Cor. 11.26-29. When Jesus finished this service, He instituted feet washing as a sacred ordinance to precede the Lord's Supper, saying, "I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you," John 13:15, an ordinance to continue until type reaches antitype, "the higher cleansing: when all the redeemed have been washed in the blood of the Lamb."
Jesus Fulfilling the Types of the Passover Supper. Nisan 14 was a long day of agonizing suffering culminating in His crucifixion. That same night, the chief priests, seeking "how they might take Him by craft, and put Him to death" before the Passover, Mark 14:1,10,11,43-46, bribed Judas to betray Him - Judas, whose feet Jesus had washed only an hour or so before! "For envy they had delivered Him" Matt. 27:18, to a band of officers from the chief priests who, having sought false witnesses against Him, bound Him and led Him to the high priest. John 18:3,12,13. From the high priest's palace, as soon as it was day, He was taken before the council where, because He said He was the Son of God, the high priest accused Him of blasphemy and therefore guilty of death. Luke 22:66-71; Matt. 26:63-66.
While it was still early, He was led into the judgment hall, where the priests themselves went not lest they be "defiled" and thus disqualified to participate in the Passover. John 18:28. They seemed not to understand that the things which defile a man come from the heart - evil thoughts, murders, false witness, blasphemies, etc. John 18:28; Matt. 15:18-20. Because they could not enter into the judgment hall, they persuaded the multitude, whom they had influenced, to regard Christ as
an imposter, a deceiver, to cry out, "Crucify Him," a cry in which they themselves joined "with loud voices" when He was brought forth. Matt. 27:20-25,63; John 19:6; Luke 23:18,23.
During and following His trial, He was scouraged, reviled, derided, and railed upon. His persecutors spit on His face and smote Him on the head. They put on Him a crown of thorns and a purple robe, and mockingly cried, "Hail, King of the Jews!" Matt. 26:27; 27:28-31. All this and much more, He calmly endured, and instead of being overwhelmed by such cruelty and injustice, He was not thinking of Himself but for others, one of His last acts being to provide for the care of His mother. John 19:25-27. Even when He was nailed to the cross, His enemies continued their insults and abuse, yet still as He hung there amidst all His agonizing sufferings, He had no unkind feelings toward them, but prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:33,34. In these bitter afflictions, Jesus completely fulfilled "both as to the event and as to the time," GC 399, the types of the Passover Supper - the "bread of affliction," Deut. 16:3,4, and the "bitter herbs," He Himself being the lamb "roast with fire." "Let the imagination grasp each scene. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we are saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross." DA 83.
It seems almost incredible that the Jews, and especially the leaders of the temple service, should be guilty of having any part in putting to death Him to whom all the rites of their sacrificial service had for centuries pointed, to show their faith in Him as their Redeemer. But they were "the whole council," or Sanhedrin, Mark 15:1, determined to put Him to death before the Passover, for "if the trial and crucifixion were not brought about at once, there would be a week's delay on account of the celebration." DA 703. See diagram.
The Secret of His Victory. Under these most trying conditions, how could Jesus be so completely without sin? Was it not because He was familiar with the Scriptures? He knew that His hour was come when He was to be "brought as a lamb to the slaughter," and though "oppressed and afflicted," He was not to open His mouth. Isa. 53:7. He knew that Judas would betray Him for "thirty pieces of silver" which was "a goodly price." Zech. 11:12,13. He knew that "for envy" and "by craft" the chief priests would deliver Him to be crucified. Ps. 69:4; Mark 15:10; Matt. 27:18. He knew that in His thirst He would be given vinegar to drink. Ps. 69:21. In fact, from the Scriptures, He understood the whole situation. Therefore, when He was unjustly accused of the chief priests and elders, "He answered nothing .... never a word." Matt. 27:12, 14; Mark 15:3,5.
He knew what death He must die, John 12:32,33; 18:11., and that the Scriptures must be fulfilled, Matt. 26:52-56; John 13:18, and with a calm faith and steadfast trust in God, He unresistingly submitted Himself to His persecutors. All this He did for your salvation and for mine. It was "for the joy (the joy of seeing souls saved) that was set before Him (that He) endured the cross, despising the shame." Heb. 12:2. He was about to become our "merciful and faithful High Priest" and it was through suffering that He was made perfect. Heb. 2:10,17. Because He was "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and He is able to succor them that are tempted. Heb. 4:14,15; 2:18. Jesus died, not entirely from crucifixion, for when the soldiers came to hasten the death of the malefactors, He was dead already. John 19:33. He died of a broken heart, for of Him it is written, "Reproach hath broken My heart." Ps. 69:20.
Our time of test and trial is just ahead, and if day by day we follow the example of Jesus, making the Scriptures our safeguard, we shall come off more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Rom. 8:35-39.
Jesus the True Paschal Lamb. Jesus, the true Paschal Lamb, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," John 1:29, was crucified the sixth hour of Nisan 14, and He died the ninth hour, 3:00 p.m., in the evening," Ex. 12:6; Mark 15:33-37, literally "between the two evenings," a perfect fulfillment "not only as to the event but as to the time," GC 399, of the paschal lamb slain between 3:00 p.m. and sunset. "When the loud cry 'It is finished' came from the lips of
Christ, the priests were officiating in the temple. It was the hour of the evening sacrifice. The lamb representing Christ had been brought to be slain .... The earth trembles and quakes .... With a rending noise the inner veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom by an unseen hand. Matt. 27:50,51. The most holy place of the earthly sanctuary is no longer sacred .... Type has met antitype in the death of God's Son." DA 756,757. And yet, even though they, the temple leaders, witnessed all these things, their spiritual eyesight was so blinded that they did not recognize them as the end of the temple service. They were indeed "blind guides." Matt. 23:13-16.
With His blood, Jesus had signed "the emancipation papers of the race." MH 90, and "the death knell of Satan was rung." GC 503. His death was Heaven's announcement that the Passover was now fulfilled in 'Urist our Passover." I Cor. 5:7. From that time the Passover "lost its significance," DA 723; PP 539, and its observance henceforth would be but an empty form, a mere farce. The whole system of offerings included in the ceremonial law was done away. The Passover Jesus ate with the Twelve was indeed the last Passover divinely recognized.
Ceremonial Sabbaths Abolished. In this connection it is important that we understand the difference between the 'sabbaths" of the yearly ceremonial feasts, and the "sabbath of the Lord thy God" which is part of His eternal law, the Ten Commandments. Of the former there were seven each year. Of the latter there were and still are fifty-two, one each week. Because each of the former came once a year, they are sometimes called "yearly sabbaths." The latter is the "weekly Sabbath" coming the seventh day of every week. The weekly Sabbath is a memorial of creation. Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11. It is not a type pointing to the death of Christ, as were the sacrifices of the ceremonial or yearly Sabbaths. It has no connection whatever with the seven "yearly sabbaths." These latter are "beside the Sabbath of the Lord." Lev. 23:38. They are all listed in Leviticus 23:
Two with the Passover, one on the first day of this feast, the other on the last. Lev. 23:4-8.
One on the Day of Pentecost, the fiftieth day from the morrow after the Passover was eaten. Vs. 15,21.
Two connected with the Day of Atonement - the first at the blowing of trumpets on the first day of the seventh month to announce its approach, vs. 24,25; the other on the Day of Atonement, the lenth day of the seventh month. vs. 27-36.
Two at the Feast of Tabernacles; one on the first, the other on the last day of that feast. vs. 34-39.
These days were called "sabbaths" because concerning each the command was, "Ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein." "It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest." Lev. 23:7,8,32.
From this list it will be seen that while the weekly sabbath always comes on the seventh day of the week, these yearly 'sabbaths" came not on any regular day of the week, but on a certain day of the month, and, like December 25, or July 4, or one's birthday, the day of the week on which they fell varied from year to year. Whenever a ceremonial "sabbath" fell on the regular weekly "Sabbath," as it would about once in seven years, being a double sabbath, it was called "an high day." John 19:31.
Many sincere but uninformed Christians have been taught that the weekly Sabbath - "the Sabbath of the fourth commandment," Ex. 20:10 - was "nailed to the cross" at the death of Christ, and that in honor of His resurrection on the first day of the week, Sunday thereafter became the weekly Sabbath of the New Testament. But nowhere in the Bible is there any authority for this supposed change. Beware of it, for it is one of "the wiles (sly tricks, Webster) of the devil," Eph. 6:11, to turn men away from obedience to the eternal law of God.
The 'sabbaths" observed in connection with the yearly feasts were part of the ceremonial law which prefigured the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, and when at His death they met their antitype they automatically came to an end. These are the "sabbaths" that were "nailed to the cross" and abolished. Not so with the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, which being part of God's eternal law will never cease; it will be observed by all who enter in through the gates of the Holy City, and who finally have an eternal home in the new earth. Rev. 22:14; Isa. 66:23.
Jesus the True Waive Sheaf. As the Sabbath drew on, Luke 23:50, the body of Jesus was tenderly taken down from the cross and laid in Joseph's new tomb. John 19:38-42. Here He quietly rested,over the sacred Sabbath. His persecutors and murderers had accomplished their wicked design, and while Jesus lay in the tomb, they were having "an high day" celebrating a Passover that had lost its significance. As Israel had a day of great rejoicing when delivered from Egyptian bondage, singing, "The Lord hath triumphed gloriously," Ex. 15:1,21, even so, when Christ rested "from the work of redemption," "all Heaven triumphed in the Saviour's victory." DA 758,769. "A shout of triumph rang through every world." PP 70.
Early Sunday morning, Abib 16, (see calendar) "while it was yet dark," the women came to the sepulchre with sweet spices to anoint the body of Jesus; but He was not there. 'Two angels stood by them in shining garments," Luke 24:4. One of them, the angel Gabriel, who had rolled away the stone, told them that He had risen. Matt. 28:1-6; DA 780. Quickly, they carried the news to the disciples. As soon as the soldiers recovered from the dazzling light of the angels which had caused them to fall as dead men, they went to the chief priests and told them all the things that were done. The priests, trembling, gave them "large money" bribing them to say, "The disciples came by night and stole Him away, while we slept." Matt. 28:11-15; DA 782. Truly, what they had feared, had come to pass, so that their last error was indeed worse than the first. Matt. 27:62-66.
When Jesus by His death fulfilled the type of the paschal lamb, redemption was secured to all who accept the Sacrifice. But, although secured, it was not at that time completed. It will be completed when the decree goes forth, "He that is righteous, let him be righteous still, and he that is holy, let him be holy still." Rev. 22:11,12. At His resurrection, Christ fulfilled the type of the waive sheaf of first fruits. Lev. 23:16. He was the true waive sheaf, the "first fruits of them that slept." I Cor. 15:20, and the resurrection of them who die in the Lord was secured. It will be completed at the first resurrection, Rev. 20:6. Both these types were fulfilled "not,only as to the event, but as to the time." GC 399.
The Forty Days After His Resurrection. Early on the morning of His resurrection, Christ ascended to His Father. John 20:16,17. He had fulfilled His pledge to give His life a ransom for fallen man. The Father accepted the sacrifice, and ratified the covenant He had made with His Son in their "counsel of peace." Zech. 6:13. When this compact was sealed Christ "entered upon His mediatorial work." DA 819. Then He returned to His followers in a world of sin.
For forty days after His resurrection, Christ remained on this earth, "showing Himself alive
.... by many infallible proofs ... and speaking (to the disciples) of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Acts 1:3. As this time neared its close, He commanded the disciples "that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait until they should be baptized with the Holy Ghost," and receive power for witnessing, vs. 4,5,8. This was the fulfillment of the promise he had given them before His death. "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if 1 go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, 1 will send Him unto you." Henceforth the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, was to be Christ's representative on earth. John 16:7,13,14. These forty days ended on the 25th day of the second month. (See calendar).
Entering the Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary. After forty days, He again ascended, this time to enter upon His work "as Priest and Advocate in the heaven of heavens." DA 757; Heb. 4:19,20; GC 420. In triumph, such as no earthly conqueror ever knew, He ascends. Nor does He go alone. 'Vhen He ascended up on high, He led a multitude of captives," Eph. 4:8, margin, - those who came out of their graves "after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Matt. 27.50-53. Christ is "the first begotten of the dead." Rev. 1:5; that is, the first to rise from the dead by His own power, John 10:17,18, and these redeemed ones are trophies of His triumph whom He presents to His Father. Rev. 5:8-10; DA 829,834. We do not know who these honored ones were, but we do know that they were raised out of graves in countries where Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, John the Baptist,
and other noble worthies were buried before Christ Himself was laid in the tomb. "They were chosen and holy ones of every age, from creation down even to the days of Christ." EW 184. They were redeemed "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Rev. 5:8-10.
As He ascended from the court of earth, "a cloud (of angels) "a living cloud" received Him out of their sight." Acts 1:9. With songs of joy they escorted Him to the Father in heaven. Two angels, "the most exalted of the angel throng," the same two "who had come to the tomb at His resurrection and... had been with Him throughout His life on earth," lingered for a moment to comfort the disciples who were left behind, the assurance that He would come again and receive them unto Himself. John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; DA 831. One of these angels was Gabriel, the "angel of the Lord," Luke 1:11,19, "he who fills the position from which Satan (Lucifer) fell," "he who on the hills of Bethlehem proclaimed Christ's birth," and who rolled away the stone at His resurrection. DA 779,780.
At Heaven's Gates. As the procession reaches the gates of the heavenly city, the question is asked, doubtless concerning the accompanying redeemed multitude:"
'Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place?"
Promptly comes back the answer:
"He only who has clean hands and a heart unstained, Who never sets his mind on what is false,
Who never breaks his word." Ps. 24:4, Moffatt.
With this answer, these highly favored ones "receive the blessing of the Lord," vs. 8. - their graduation diplomas and credentials, if you please, preparatory to entering into the City.
The Welcome Home Song. Then begins that wonderful welcome home song. With rapture and confidence the angels sing out to those within, "Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the KING OF GLORY shall come in!"
The angels within joyfully ask, 'Who is this KING OF GLORY?" Back comes the answer from those who attend Jesus, "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. (The Eternal, conquering from the fight. - Moffatt.) Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the KING OF GLORY shall come in!"
Again the angels from within ask, 'Who is this KING OF GLORYV' And the answer comes ringing back, "The Lord of hosts, He is the KING OF GLORY. Selah." Ps. 24:7-10. And so, as in antistrophe, they sing back and forth until all heaven echoes and re-echoes with their joyous music.
"Selah!" This wonderful anthem closes with the word selah, which, in the musical nomenclature of the Hebrews, is so full of beautiful meaning that it should never be omitted in reading. One authority states that it is an exclamation like Hallelujah, and corresponds to the Amen which closes many of our modern anthems. Another says it indicates that what has been said deserves to be remembered always, that it is a word of emphasis used to give weight and importance to, and to indicate the truth of, that which is sung or spoken. In this sense it is like Amen. Still another states that it indicates a pause in the music when the voices are silent while the instruments or orchestra "burst in more strongly during the silence of the song." Probably all these authorities are correct, depending, to some extent at least, on the setting of the word, the general idea being - here is something of exceptional interest and importance; pause and meditate upon it and remember it always.
Whichever meaning we choose to accept, its setting in this twenty-fourth Psalm leads us to the conclusion that when the ascending procession reaches the gates of the City, there is a reverent
pause and a short period of silence. Then "the portals of the City of God are opened wide, and the angelic throng sweep through the gates amid a burst of rapturous music." DA 835.
As the angels accompanying Jesus join those within the City, they form a united chorus of "ten thousand times ten thousand and 'thousands of thousands"' of voices. Then in a note higher, and with all the pleasing variations of the closing strains of a mighty oratorio, all heaven seems to overflow with joy and praise as they sing their grand finale: Se-lah! Se-lah! Hal-le-lu-jah! Hal-le-lu- jah! A-men and A-men! With such a display of exultant musical nower, we may be sure that this closing burst of vocal and instrumental music gave "weight and emphasis" to this, one of the finest musical compositions ever written.
A Royal Reception. As the "everlasting doors" swing open and the risen Saviour crosses the threshold of the heavenly sanctuary, what a multitude awaits the meek and lowly One! What a reception! Not only the "innumerable company of angels," Heb. 12:22, are assembled to honor their adored Commander, but here also are "the representatives of the unfallen worlds .... the heavenly council before which Lucifer had accused God and His Son .... and over which Satan had thought to establish his dominion, - all are there to welcome the Redeemer, eager to celebrate His triumph." DA 833,834.
Here to the "door" of the heavenly sanctuary, antitype of the door to the holy place of the earthly sanctuary, the very gate of heaven, the Father Himself has come to welcome His only-begotten and well-beloved Son. Seated on His magnificent throne of indescribable glory encircled by the rainbow of promise, and surrounded by cherubim and seraphim, He eagerly awaits the arrival of the Conqueror. In this exalted position, He is the most prominent figure in that vast assembly.
Here Christ "entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." He entered not into "the holy places made with hands, which are a figure of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Heb. 9:12,24.
God's Throne a Moving Throne. Do you ask how it is that God's throne at this time appears in the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary instead of in the most holy place, as symbolized in the earthly sanctuary? Being only a type, the earthly could not fully represent the heavenly, because its parts, such as the ark, the golden altar, the candlestick, etc., had no inherent power, while their antitypes in the heavenly sanctuary are full of life and activity. God's throne, the antitype of the ark with the mercy seat, is a living, moving, throne. Sometimes it was seen at the "threshold of the house" - at the door-and again it "stood over the cherubim." Eze. 9:3; 10:18; Rev. 4:1-6. 'Whither the Spirit was to go." that is, wherever God desired to go, the throne went. Eze. 1:12,20. We must therefore conclude that when Christ at His ascension entered the holy place to begin His work as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, God with His living throne, moved to "the threshold of the house," that is, to the door of the holy place, to welcome His Son.
When Christ began His work of Judgment in the most holy place, God's throne was moved, or placed, "over the cherubim" in the most holy place. Dan. 7.9. When Christ comes back to this earth, He is on the Father's throne, "sitting on the right hand of power." Matt. 26:64. And finally, in the redeemed earth, "the throne of God" will be in the City, where Christ will sit down with the Father "in His throne." Rev. 22:3; 3:21. So, from the beginning of Christ's work in the heavenly sanctuary until "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ," Rev. 11:15, the throne of God is not fixed in one place, but changes its location as His work requires. This agrees with the exposition of such reliable authorities as Uriah Smith, S. N. Haskell, and others.
A Living Throne. The throne of God is the center of life and power, from which heavenly messengers speed on divine errands like a ",whirlwind" and a "flash of lightning." Eze. 1:4,14. They
are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation." Heb. 1:14. They are sent forth from Him who is on the throne, for "out of the throne proceed" not only "lightnings," but also "thunderings and voices" "as of a trumpet." Rev. 4:5; 1:10.
"In the midst of the throne" - "on each side of the throne, all around it" (Moffatt) are four living creatures who, like burning coals of fire, and like lamps "ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning." Eze. 1:13,14. They are full of eyes "before and behind." Eze. 10:12; Rev. 4:6. And "their wings (are) joined one to another." Eze. 1:5,9. This would indicate that each one is a group of beings. John says the first group was like a lion, king of beasts, representing Him as king, the ox as servant, the man representing His humanity, and the flying eagle His divinity.
These four groups have been redeemed from the earth. Rev. 5:8-10. The only Bible record of a redeemed multitude who are now in heaven are those who came out of the graves after His resurrection," Matt. 27:52,53, and ascended with Christ to associate with Him as priests in the closing work of redemption. Rev. 5:9,10. Accompanying each was a wheel, a living wheel, "for the spirit of the living creature was in them." Eze. 10:9,17. They were "so high that they were dreadful." Their rims and spokes were "full of eyes all round." Eze. 1: 18, Moffatt. They "were as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel. Their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had." Eze. 10: 10,12. From this it would seem that the four wheels, like the four living creatures, are groups of celestial beings arranged in the form of wheels, or else a part of the living creatures themselves. However this may be, surely wings and wheels, whirlwinds and lightnings are far from suggesting immobility.
A Glorious High Throne. Describing the throne of God, Jeremiah says, "A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary." Jer. 17:12, and Isaiah says it was "high and lifted up." Isa. 6:1. But Ezekiel gives the most complete picture. He says that over the heads of the living creatures with their wheels, was "the likeness of the firmament," and "above the firmament
.... was the likeness of a throne .... and as the appearance of a man above upon it." Eze. 1:22,26.
This "Man" can be none other than the great Jehovah or the man Christ Jesus who occupies the throne with the Father.
All about the throne is inconceivable brightness and glory, resplendent with brilliant colors, having the appearance of devouring fire, the color of amber, yellow. Eze. 1:4,26. Moses said it rested on "as it were a paved work of sapphire stone (sky blue), and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness." Ex. 24:10. The "wheels" were the color of beryl, a greenish blue, and "their feet .... sparkled like the color of burnished brass." Eze. 1:7-28.
Round about the throne is a rainbow, Rev. 4:3, - a rainbow more glorious and resplendent than any ever seen in earthly sky. When Paul was caught up into Paradise, he said of the things he saw and heard, "it is not lawful for a man to utter," or, as Moffatt puts it, "no human lips can repeat." IICor. 12:4. And surely a study of Ezekiel, especially chapters one and ten, and Revelation chapter four, will convince anyone that no human language can portray the marvelous intricacy and glory of the throne of God. To us it may seem confusion, but in reality all is perfect order and harmony. Here, before this magnificent throne, the throne of the Father, in the presence of all the angels of heaven and representatives of unfallen worlds, the angel escort presents the Son of God.
Christ's Inauguration and Coronation. At His ascension, Christ's inauguration into holy office began. One of its most outstanding features was His coronation. He âwho was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death .... that He .... should taste death for every man,â He who only a short time before had worn the shameful crown of thorns, symbol of the curse of sin which He bore for the human race, is now seated on the throne at the right hand of the Father of glory." Eph. 1:17,20. In this exalted position, He is "crowned with glory and honor,"Heb. 2:9, and proclaimed "THE KING OF GLORY." Ps. 24:7-10. This was His first coronation.
In the beginning, Adam was made "a little lower than the angels," but not for the suffering of death; he also was "crowned with glory and honor," Ps. 8:5,8, and was given dominion over all the earth. Through disobedience he lost dominion over all the earth. Through disobedience he lost both his crown of glory and his dominion, and came under the power of death. Then Jesus, "the Lord from heaven," fulfilling His covenant with the Father before the world was, became the second Adam. I Cor. 15:45,47. When on Calvary the victory was won, and He afterward ascended to the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, all Heaven welcomed Him as the 'KING OF GLORY." At this time, as the second Adam, He was formally made "King over all the earth." Zech. 14:9. When this earth is made new, heaven will be transferred to this planet, and the New Jerusalem where God's throne is, will be its capital, the seat of His universal government. GC 426, 427. Then the lost "dominion" will be fully restored, the second Adam will take possession, and "the government shall be upon His shoulder." Isa. 9:6. As King of the new earth, He will reign forever and ever.
Amidst the adoration of the assembled multitude, Christ is enthroned with the Father, and from this time He "shares His Father's throne." Mark 16:19; Col. 3:1; DA 832. As the Father receives Him and proclaims Him King, His arms encircle âHis Son, and the word is given, âLet all the angels of God worship Him.ââ Heb. 1:6; DA 834. At this proclamation that vast host of angels "prostrate themselves before Him, while the glad shout fills all the courts of heaven. 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.? Rev. 5:11,12. All heaven rings as their voices in lofty strains proclaim, "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever." Rev. 5:15; DA 834,855. "Being by the right hand of God exalted," Acts 2:33, Christ is indeed glorified with the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. John 17:5. This was Heaven's second celebration of His triumphal work in behalf of man's salvation.
The Anointing of the Holy Spirit. The closing event of Christ's inauguration was His anointing and the anointing of the Most Holy. Dan. 9:24. When this took place, the Holy Ghost descended on the disciples "in rich currents," AA 38, which to them "was Heaven's communication that the Redeemer's inauguration was accomplished." AA 39. This indicated that the work of redemption, typified in the earthly sanctuary, was now fully transferred to the sanctuary above.
The anointing of Christ for holy office in heaven, and the anointing of the church to be co- workers with Him on earth, are correlative events. When the church of believers - "the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty" Acts 1:13-15 - when "they were all with one accord in one place," the Holy Spirit overflowed on "the church" AA 38, "the whole congregation" COL 121, and "filled all the house where they were sitting," and "cloven tongues like as of fire ... sat upon each of them." Acts 2:1-4. This was the fulfillment of His promise, "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" - a baptism that would give them power to be "witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:5,8. This baptism took place "when the day of Pentecost was fully come." The night had passed, and it was now "the third hour" of the day, about 9:00 a.m. Acts 2:15. The day had "fully come."
Pentecost the Conclusion of the Passover. "Pentecost was not an insulated day. It stood as an integral part of the Passover. The waive sheaf of the Passover and the two waive loaves at Pentecost tie these two feasts together, making Pentecost the culminating point of the Pentecostal season." Smith's Bible Dictionary, 1914, article Pentecost. "The Jews called Pentecost the concluding assembly (the conclusion) of the Passover." Fausset's Bible Encyclopedia, 1914. The fact that Christ's entrance into the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary marked the end of divinely recognized service in the earthly sanctuary and the beginning of Christ's ministry in the sanctuary above is one of the high points in the work of redemption. Therefore we do well to study it carefully from various viewpoints.
First, from the Viewpoint of the Regular Prescribed Service for Pentecost as recorded in Leviticus 23:16-20, thus: "A new meat offering" (two waive loaves); the first fruits of the harvest (vs. 16,17).
Seven lambs, one young bullock, and two rams for a burnt offering, with their meat offering and their drink offerings (v. 18).
One kid of the goats for a sin offering (v. 19). Two lambs for peace offerings and a waive offering (vs. 19,20). This seems a full day's service, and yet the Bible makes not a single mention of it - never a word - in connection with the Pentecost of Acts 2. Instead of these typical offerings, all of which were done away at the cross, the whole day was devoted to the gift and work of the Holy Spirit, events entirely different from the regular Pentecostal service as given in Leviticus.
Second, from the Viewpoint of Consecutive Events. As already noted, the Pentecost of Acts 2 was the conclusion of the Passover Jesus ate with the twelve which "was indeed the last divinely recognized Passover for A.D. 3l. Following the events from the Passover Jesus ate on Nisan 14, one day early, to Pentecost of Acts will help to make this clear. On the night of this Passover, Jesus was betrayed. The closing chapters of all the gospels are devoted to a record of His sufferings connected with His trial and crucifixion, also His burial and resurrection. The first chapter of Acts continues with a recital of the forty days after His resurrection, His ascension, and the appointment of Matthias by the church - as they were assembled in "an upper room" "With one accord." Acts 1:3,9,13-15,26. Acts 2 follows with a record of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost as "they (the church of believers, AA 38) were all with one accord in one place." Acts 2:1. From all these consecutive and closely related events, does it not seem evident that the Pentecost of Acts 2 was indeed the "culminating point" of the Passover Jesus ate?
Third, from the Viewpoint of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. It is certain that the Holy Spirit did not come on the unbelieving Jews. Had these leaders been thus guided, they would not have bribed Judas at a "goodly price" to betray His Lord; they would not have cried, "Crucify Him" to the officers in charge of His trial; they would not have paid the soldier guards "large money" to lie about His resurrection; nor would they have put the apostles in prison, Acts 4:1-3, because they preached a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour.
Fourth, from the Historical Viewpoint. The term historic as applied to these ordinances, means the regular established dates in Bible history for their observance. Nisan 14 was the historic date for slaying the paschal lamb, Nisan 15 for eating the Passover supper, Nisan 16 for offering the waive sheaf. Fifty days from offering the waive sheaf was counted to Pentecost. Lev. 23:15,16. While all these dates are Biblically correct, and for fifteen long centuries they have never varied, we must remember that the ordinances governed by them were done away at the cross. The Passover had met its antitype in Christ our Passover, I Cor. 5:7; the waive sheaf of first fruits had met its antitype in His resurrection, I Cor. 15:20; Pentecost met its antitype when, on the fiftieth day from the morrow after Christ ate the last true Passover, He sent His representative, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to the early believers, John 16: Acts 2:1-3. At the death of Christ, the whole ceremonial law was abolished, and because of this, none of these ordinances observed by the unbelieving Jews in A.D. 31 are mentioned in the Bible. They had "lost their significance" and were no longer divinely recognized. This fact marked the end of the Hebrew church and the ushering in of the Christian generation of the church.
As we have just seen, the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church of believers locates the Pentecost of Acts 2 as the "culminating point" of the Passover Jesus ate with the Twelve, which Pentecost came on the fiftieth day from Nisan 15, the "morrow after" Jesus ate the Passover. This is the only recorded instance in Bible history when the regular time for observing these ordinances
varied. But, as already noted, this change was necessary on account of circumstances surrounding the death of Christ.
As to the day of the week on which the Pentecost of A.D. 31 fell, there are differences of opinion; but instead of entering into these differences, since God wants His people educated to be "thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men's thoughts" Ed. 17, would it not be better for the reader to decide this question for himself as to which day of the week the Pentecost of A.D. 31 occurred, remembering the promise, "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5.
It is true that for many years the unbelieving Jews continued the formal routine of these ordinances. This is shown in Acts 20:16 and I Cor. 16:8, the only two places, aside from Acts 2, where the word Pentecost occurs in the Scriptures. Both relate Paul's determination to meet with the Jews on Pentecost. His purpose for so desiring was, not to observe Pentecost which he well knew had been done away as a divine ordinance, but because at this time multitudes of the Jews were assembled, thus affording him a rare opportunity to preach the gospel to large numbers, and if possible win some to Christ. They have no bearing on the question before us.
This last Pentecost was one of the most remarkable in the history of the church, comparable only to the one when God spoke His law in the first Pentecost.
Through this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the death and resurrection and ascension of Christ were proclaimed with such convincing and convicting power, that "the veil that had prevented them (the Jews) from seeing to the end of that which had been abolished, (the types of the ceremonial law) was now removed." "The traditions and superstitions inculcated by the priests were swept away from their minds, and the teachings of the Saviour were accepted." AA 44. As a result, about 3,000 souls were added unto them the same day. And later, the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly, and a great number of the priests were obedient to the faith. Acts 2:41; 6:7.
Because of this, and because the apostles preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead, and because of the miracles they wrought through His name, the rulers of the temple were "grieved" Acts 4:2, they were "greatly enraged" AA 40; therefore, at eventide "they laid hands on them, and put them in hold until the next day," Acts 4:2,3. This was the end of the day of Pentecost described in Acts 2, the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out on "the church," "the whole congregation" of believers.
The day following, the priests and rulers of the temple were gathered together at Jerusalem. Acts 4:5,6. Since this was the historic time for them to celebrate Pentecost, did they assemble for that purpose? The Bible does not say, but whether they did or not, since the Pentecost historically due on Sivan 6 had been abolished, the Bible makes no mention of its celebration.
The Former Rain and the Latter Rain. Before the second coming of Christ, there will be another outpouring of the Holy Spirit, "similar to Pentecost," upon the true believers in the church, "and with greater power." "The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the former rain, but the latter rain which ripens the harvest will be more abundant." COL 121; Joel 2:23; Hosea 6:3; GC 611,612.
The latter rain is represented by "another angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory." Rev. 18:1. This angel will "unite his voice with the third angel, (of Rev. 14:9,10) and give power and force to his message" as it swells into the loud cry EW 277,271, when again the church around the circle of the earth will speak with "tongues of fire."
"Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness and alienation from God that exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the great body of Christ's true followers are still to be found in their communion." GC 390. These, says Jesus, are the "other sheep ... which are not of this fold; them also 1 must bring." John 10:16. When the loud cry of the third angel reaches these sincere Christians who are hungering and thirsting for the truth of God's Word, they will accept the message of the third angel and come into the fold of the Good Shepherd, "and there shall be one
fold, and one Shepherd." "Like the stars of heaven, which appear only at night," they are "the firmament of chosen ones" whom "God has in reserve ... that will yet shine forth amidst the darkness, revealing clearly to an apostate world the transforming power of obedience to His law." PK 188,189.
The Holy Spirit in Our Lives Today. When Christ and the heavenly sanctuary were anointed and the Holy Spirit overflowed on the disciples, the promise to the early Christian believers was, "Repent, and be baptized,...and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:28. This promise is not alone for these early believers; it is for every truly,converted person today who repents and is baptized in the name "of the Holy Ghost." Matt. 28:19.
In Paul's day, "certain disciples" who had been baptized "unto John's baptism" "with the baptism of repentance" confessed, âWe have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost,â but when "they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" "they spake with tongues," Acts 19:2-7, and, like the disciples of Acts 2, they were prepared to be ambassadors for Christ.
As Christ was about to ascend, His very last words to His disciples were, "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:8. This gift of the Holy Spirit was, and still is, "the promise of the Father" v. 4, to His disciples, and the commission given by Christ to carry the gospel to all the world was given, not only to the early disciples, but to His followers to the end of time. Would it not be well for each of us to check on our individual Christian experience, remembering that God is more willing to give us the Holy Spirit than parents are to give good gifts unto their children? Luke 11:13.
When the inauguration of Christ was accomplished, and He began His ministry in the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, He sent His followers the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, to abide with them forever. With His abiding presence, we shall bear the fruit of the Spirit; "love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Gal. 5:22. If this seems too high a standard the Holy Ghost will help our infirmities. John 14:16,17; Rom. 8:26. He is also the "Spirit of Truth" John 16:13, to teach us all things. On our part, this means faithful, prayerful study of the Bible and cheerful obedience to all its teachings, "for the perfecting of the saints...till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,...that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine .... But speaking the truth in love (we) may grow up into Him in all things." Eph. 4:12-15. Our measuring up to this standard and our sincere devotion in extending "this gospel of the kingdom... in all the world for a witness unto all nations," is the measure of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Jesus Our Forerunner. When Christ began His working the heavenly sanctuary He was our "Forerunner" - Heb. 6:20 - He"entered for us in advance." Moffatt. The purpose of a forerunner is to announce the approach of someone of distinction. He is always hailed with joy, but when he has passed by, the attention of the onlookers is directed toward the one for whom he is the forerunner. So when the inauguration of oux Forerunner was accomplished, the attention of all Heaven was directed toward His church on earth. From that time it has been the center of attraction
- the object of all Heaven's solicitude and care. Christ "ever liveth" to encourage and strengthen His followers on earth. Heb. 7:25. Redemption now "engaged the attention of our Lord and Saviour." Ed. 136. This fact makes the "hope" of all who have fled for refuge, "sure and steadfast," "an anchor of the soul," Heb. 6:18-20. Since He entered within the first veil as our Forerunner, heaven and earth are closely united. But not until the redeemed stand on the sea of glass will He "see of the traveil of His soul, and ... be satisfied." Isa. 53:11.