1. A SOLEMN MOMENT
a. In the Hebrew nation, what characterized the time when the high priest would officiate in the most holy place? Leviticus 16:29, 30.
“To lift that veil [at the entrance to the most holy place], and intrude unbidden into the sacred mystery of the most holy place, was death. For above the mercy seat dwelt the glory of the Holiest—glory upon which no man might look and live. On the one day of the year appointed for ministry in the most holy place, the high priest with trembling entered God’s presence, while clouds of incense veiled the glory from his sight. Throughout the courts of the temple every sound was hushed. No priests ministered at the altars. The host of worshipers, bowed in silent awe, offered their petitions for God’s mercy.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 437, 438.
“The high priest always entered it with trembling, while the people waited his return with solemn silence. Their earnest desires were to God for His blessing. Before the mercy seat, God conversed with the high priest. If he remained an unusual time in the most holy, the people were often terrified, fearing that because of their sins, or some sin of the priest, the glory of the Lord had slain him.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 274, 275.
“Let the church commence the work of purification before God by repentance, humiliation, deep heart searching, for we are in the antitypical day of atonement—solemn hour fraught with eternal results.”—Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 378.
2. AN ILLUSTRATION FOR US
a. How does the solemnity of the yearly atonement service reflect the present work of our High Priest in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary? 1 Corinthians 10:11; Zephaniah 2:1–3.
“We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 489, 490.
b. What admonitions of the Saviour especially apply today? Mark 13:33; Revelation 3:3.
“Solemn are the scenes connected with the closing work of the atonement. Momentous are the interests involved therein. The judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. For many years this work has been in progress. Soon—none know how soon—it will pass to the cases of the living. In the awful presence of God our lives are to come up in review. . . .
“When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death. Probation is ended a short time before the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. . . .
“The righteous and the wicked will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state—men will be planting and building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has been pronounced in the sanctuary above.”—Ibid., pp. 490, 491.
3. TAKING HEED
a. What truth must be deeply impressed in the mind of every Christian at this time in history? 1 Corinthians 10:12; 1 Peter 4:7.
“Those who accept Christ, and in their first confidence say, I am saved, are in danger of trusting to themselves. They lose sight of their own weakness and their constant need of divine strength. . . . Our only safety is in constant distrust of self, and dependence on Christ.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 155.
“Well would it be for us each to hold up the mirror, God’s royal law, and see in it the reflection of His own character. Let us be careful not to neglect the danger signals and the warnings given in His word. Unless heed is given to these warnings, and defects of character are overcome, these defects will overcome those who possess them, and they will fall into error, apostasy, and open sin. The mind that is not elevated to the highest standard will in time lose its power to retain that which it had once gained.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 537.
“By conforming entirely to the will of God, we shall be placed upon vantage ground, and shall see the necessity of decided separation from the customs and practices of the world. We are not to elevate our standard just a little above the world’s standard; but we are to make the line of demarcation decidedly apparent.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 289.
b. What warning should we take from the prayer of Jesus to His Father that reveals His plan for each one of us? John 17:17.
“If you sit down with the ease-loving ones, with the words on your lips, ‘I am saved,’ and disregard the commandments of God, you will be eternally lost. There is truth in Jesus that is terrible to the ease-loving, do-nothing ones. There is truth in Jesus that is full of soothing joy to the obedient. It is the joy of the Holy Ghost. Be persuaded, then, to open the mind and heart, that you may see every ray of light shining from the throne of God.
“This is no time to be indifferent and careless and pleasure-loving. Christ is coming with power and great glory. Are you ready? Are you putting away your sins? Are you becoming sanctified through the truth in answer to the prayer of Christ?”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 318.
4. ESCAPING THE SYNDROME
a. What attitude does Jesus identify as sadly typical in this last era of church history, as He ministers in the most holy place? Revelation 3:14–16.
“Messengers have been sent with warnings, reproofs, and entreaties. God’s servants have wept and prayed over the lukewarm state of the church. Some may arouse, but only to fall back into unconsciousness of their sin and peril. Passion, worldliness, malice, envy pride, strife for supremacy, make our churches weak and powerless. Some of Christ’s ambassadors are carrying a heavy burden on their souls, because their message is treated by so many as an idle tale. The eye of Jesus, looking down the ages, was fixed upon our time when he said, ‘If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace!’ It is still thy day, O church of God, whom He has made the depositary of His law. But this day of trust and probation is fast drawing to a close. The sun is fast westering. Can it be that it will set, and thou not know the things that belong unto thy peace? Must the irrevocable sentence be passed, ‘But now they are hid from thine eyes’? I tell you there is need to be alarmed.”—The Review and Herald, November 2, 1886.
b. What earnest plea does the Lord make to each of us? Revelation 3:17–21.
“It is time to seek God earnestly, saying with Jacob, ‘I will not let thee go except thou bless me.’ It will be of no avail to make a spasmodic effort, only to fall back into spiritual lethargy and lukewarmness. The past, with the slighted mercies, the admonitions unheeded, the earthly passions uncorrected, the privileges unimproved, the soul temple filled with desecrated shrines,—all is recorded in the books of heaven. But most solemn moments are still before you. Because of past neglect, the efforts you make must be the more earnest.
“The Saviour speaks to His people, ‘Be zealous and repent.’ It is not ministers whom you have slighted; it is not the warnings of men that you have rejected; it is not my delegated prophets that you have refused to hear, but your Redeemer, your only hope. If ye are destroyed, it is yourselves alone that are responsible.”—Ibid.
5. BOWING BEFORE THE LORD
a. How are Christ’s true followers contrasted with those in the world in the last days? 2 Timothy 3:2 (first part); James 4:10.
“Will our churches humble themselves before the Lord in this day of atonement? Will they put away the sins which defile their garments of character, and separate them from God? The present is our day of visitation. Look not to a future, more convenient season, when the cross to be lifted will be less heavy, when the inclinations of the carnal heart will be subdued with less effort. ‘Today,’ saith the Spirit of God, ‘if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.’ Today go about the work, else you may be one day too late. The impression that you have now may not be as strong tomorrow. Satan’s snare may close about you. The candlestick may be moved out of its place, and you left in darkness. ‘See that you refuse not him that speaketh.’ Says the true Witness, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.’ Every warning, reproof, and entreaty in the word of God, or through His delegated messengers, is a knock at the door of the heart; it is the voice of Jesus, asking for entrance. With every knock unheeded, your determination to open becomes weaker and weaker. If the voice of Jesus is not heeded at once, it becomes confused in the mind with a multitude of other voices, the world’s care and business engross the attention, and conviction dies away. The heart becomes less impressible, and lapses into a perilous unconsciousness of the shortness of time, and of the great eternity beyond. The heavenly Guest is standing at your door, while you are piling up obstructions to bar His entrance. Jesus is knocking through the prosperity He gives you. He loads you with blessings to test your fidelity, that they may flow out from you to others. Will you permit your selfishness to triumph?”—The Review and Herald, November 2, 1886.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why did the nation worry if the high priest delayed in the most holy place?
2. Why does the present day of atonement call for solemnity on our part?
3. Despite this reality, what is the attitude of most professed Christians?
4. How are we to be delivered from the problem of Laodicea?
5. In what ways has Jesus been knocking at the door of my heart?