From Contamination to Purification (2020, Quarter 1, Lesson 9)

by Tim Rumsey February 22, 2020

From Contamination to Purification (2020, Quarter 1, Lesson 9)

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Sabbath (February 22): From Contamination to Purification

This week’s lesson, “From Contamination to Purification,” covers Daniel 8. This chapter stands at the center of Seventh-day Adventist history, eschatology, doctrine, and self-identification as Revelation’s remnant church. It summarizes, through the typology of the sanctuary services, the core of Revelation’s Three Angels’ Messages, and it reveals fundamental and essential aspects of the plan of salvation. Finally, it points to the true purpose of God’s redemption plan—the restoration in the soul of the image, or character, of God. In an age where many Christians have forgotten this true purpose, the study and understanding of Daniel 8 proves to be of the utmost importance.

The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God. (Education, 125)

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Romans 11:26-27 and Matthew 1:21. What do these verses reveal about the extent of the plan of salvation? (God’s purpose, and His promise to humanity, is that He can save us from our sins.) How does the Bible’s phrasing of this promise differ from saying that God will save us in our sins? (The idea is a complete restoration of all that has been lost due to sin, rather than only forgiveness and pardon from sins committed. The difference is between a legal solution only, and a complete “rehabilitation” so that we are safe to be let free in the streets of New Jerusalem!)

  • Read Genesis 6:14. God instructed Noah to build and cover the ark on both the inside and the outside with “pitch.” The Hebrew word for “pitch” is kaphar, and usually in the Old Testament it is translated as “atonement.” What spiritual lessons might God use to draw from Noah’s covering of the ark with “the atonement”? (Answers will vary. Just like Noah and his family entered into the ark covered with pitch, God wants to cover us with the atoning blood of Jesus Christ on both the outside—perhaps representing external actions and legal pardon of sins—and on the inside, representing our will, motives, and heart.)

  • Read Exodus 25:10,11. How was this second ark in the Bible covered, and what might the spiritual significance be for us? (It was a wooden box covered with gold on the inside and the outside. The wood might represent humanity, and the gold may represent the character of Christ bringing both the external actions and the interior motives of the heart into line with God’s will.)

Sunday (February 23): The Ram and the Goat

Daniel 8 repeats, for a third time, the basic prophetic blueprint of world empires first laid out in Daniel 2. Yet, in this chapter, an angel interpreter clearly explains that the ram represents the kings of Media and Persia,” and the goat represents the “king of Grecia” (Daniel 8:20,21). This unmistakable identification of the first two symbols in this chapter not only guides us through our study of Daniel 8, but also confirms the repeated prophetic sequence of world empires found in Daniel. 
Discussion Questions:
  • Read Daniel 8:1-3, 20. It has often been noted that this vision begins with a representation of the Medo-Persian Empire, rather than the Babylonian empire as in Daniel 2 and 7. For what reasons might God have presented the vision to Daniel this way? (It has often been noted that the Babylonian empire was about to pass away, so God simply began the vision with the next empire. Another possible reason lies in the fact that this vision focuses on the cleansing and restoration of the temple and its services—two things that Babylon had attacked and destroyed. It was King Cyrus, a Persian, who first returned the Jews to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and ultimately begin its services once again. By beginning the vision with a focus on the empire under which the restoration of the earthly sanctuary took place, the vision’s overall emphasis on the cleansing and restoration of the heavenly sanctuary becomes more clear.
  • Read Daniel 7:4-7, 21. The ram and the goat are both described as being formidable and unbeatable foes—there was “none that could deliver” from either of them. In a vision that ultimately deals with what is happening in heaven, what point do you think the Bible is trying to make by focusing on the strength of these earthly powers? (In Revelation, God’s people are ultimately delivered by what God does in the heavenly sanctuary [compare Revelation 11:19 and 15:8; also Psalm 20:2]. This is a reminder of God’s ultimate power and authority over the kingdoms of this earth.)

Monday (February 24): The Rise of the Little Horn

As in Daniel 7, the little horn makes an appearance in Daniel 8. While Daniel 7 contains numerous helpful identifying characteristics of this symbol, it is Daniel 8 that reveals how the papacy ascended to political and religious power, and what exactly made it so destructive. Additionally, the angel interpreter provides valuable insights into the character and modus operandi of the papal power.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Daniel 8:9. The ram is described as “great” (verse 4), and the goat as “very great” (verse 8). How is the little horn described? (It is called “exceeding great.”) In what ways was this true historically? (The pagan Roman Empire was stronger, bigger, and longer lasting than any previous world empire.) The fourth beast of iron with 10 horns in Daniel 7 seems to be skipped, or at least glossed over, in Daniel 8. Instead, the vision jumps directly to the little horn, which represents a later phase of the Roman Empire. For what reasons might God have presented Rome in this way? (Remember that the focus of this vision is on restoration from sin and the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. By jumping directly to the papal power, the vision remains focused on the spiritual realities being communicated, rather than simply on the succession of world empires that has already been delineated twice in Daniel.)

  • Read the passage that follows and discuss the reasons that popery has held such an unbreakable sway over humanity for so long:

A large class, even of those who look upon Romanism with no favor, apprehend little danger from her power and influence. Many urge that the intellectual and moral darkness prevailing during the Middle Ages favored the spread of her dogmas, superstitions, and oppression, and that the greater intelligence of modern times, the general diffusion of knowledge, and the increasing liberality in matters of religion forbid a revival of intolerance and tyranny. The very thought that such a state of things will exist in this enlightened age is ridiculed. It is true that great light, intellectual, moral, and religious, is shining upon this generation. In the open pages of God’s Holy Word, light from heaven has been shed upon the world. But it should be remembered that the greater the light bestowed, the greater the darkness of those who pervert and reject it. {GC 572.1}

  • Some people argue that the little horn points to a man named Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Hellenistic king of the Seleucid Empire that reigned from 175 BC to 164 BC. His name means “God Manifest,” and he persecuted the Jews of Judea and Samaria and desecrated the temple services by offering a pig on an altar. What reasons can you think of that disqualify this interpretation of the little horn in Daniel 8?

    • The little horn power appears in the middle of an apocalyptic prophecy that extends all the way to Christ’s second coming and the final judgment (Daniel 7).

    • The little horn appears after the emergence of the Roman Empire and its disintegration into 10 parts in 476 AD (Daniel 7:7,8).

    • The angel tells Daniel that the vision of which the little horn is a part concerns “the time of the end” (Daniel 8:17).

    • The little horn has aspects of its activity that are delineated by prophetic time, which would not be appropriate if referring to only one man (Daniel 7:25).

    • The little horn power is destroyed supernaturally (Daniel 7:11,26; 8:25).

    • The little horn power appears to successfully attack Christ in heaven and His work in heaven’s sanctuary, something far beyond the scope of a single person (Daniel 8:9-12).

Tuesday (February 25): The Attack on the Sanctuary     

Daniel 8:11-12 makes it clear that the little horn attacks both the truth in general and Christ’s work of intercession in the heavenly sanctuary. The fact that it “stamped upon” heavenly things (verse 10) reveals the ferocity and intensity of the papacy’s opposition to God, the Bible, and those who serve God. The vision also contains additional clues as to what sanctuary is attacked by the little horn, and, therefore, what sanctuary must be “cleansed” in Daniel 8:14.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Daniel 8:10-12. What activities of the little horn make it so destructive? (It takes on a spiritual or religious aspect and ends up attacking Jesus Christ, the “Prince of the host,” His heavenly sanctuary, and the truth.) According to verse 12, how successful is the little horn in its destructive mission? (It is very successful! The Bible says that it “practiced” and “prospered.”)

  • Read Psalm 77:13. How does this verse help explain why Satan, working through the little horn, has attacked heaven’s sanctuary so relentlessly? (God’s way of salvation is explained and enacted through the sanctuary. To attack the sanctuary is to hinder the plan of salvation, delay the second coming, and prolong the devil’s existence.) In what ways were the truths connected with the sanctuary attacked by the little horn? (Every item of the sanctuary was counterfeited, as outlined below.)

    • The gate. People were taught that the church, rather than Jesus Christ, possessed the power to save people.

    • The altar of burnt offering. Penance and human satisfaction for sins replaced faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

    • The laver. Various forms of sprinkling, pouring, etc, replaced baptism by immersion.

    • The table of showbread. The Bible was kept away from the common people in the “dead” Latin language.

    • The candlestick. True missionary efforts nearly ceased during the middle ages.

    • The altar of incense. Human priests replaced and obfuscated Jesus Christ’s work as heaven’s High Priest.

    • The Ark of the Covenant and law of God. The second commandment was done away with and Sabbath sacredness was supposedly changed to Sunday.

  • Read the passage below and discuss the underlying reasons why the papal system has been so successful in turning people away from truth and from Jesus Christ. What warnings should we take from this history?

The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened. Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their mediator, and that none could approach God except through him, and, further, that he stood in the place of God to them, and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed. A deviation from his requirements was sufficient cause for the severest punishment to be visited upon the bodies and souls of the offenders. {SR 331.1}

Thus the minds of the people were turned away from God to fallible, erring, and cruel men—nay, more, to the prince of darkness himself, who exercised his power through them. Sin was disguised in a garb of sanctity. When the Scriptures are suppressed, and man comes to regard himself as supreme, we need look only for fraud, deception, and debasing iniquity. With the elevation of human laws and traditions was manifest the corruption that ever results from setting aside the law of God. {SR 332.1}

Wednesday (February 26): The Cleansing of the Sanctuary

The annual Day of Atonement in the Hebrew religious calendar was the most solemn day of the year for the Hebrews, and for good reason. It was regarded as the Day of Judgment, when the accumulated sins of the nation—stored symbolically in the sanctuary—would be “cleansed” from the camp, or, later, the nation. This impressive ceremony has much to teach us about concluding events in the plan of salvation leading up to Christ’s second coming.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Hebrews 9:22,23. These verses plainly refer to the cleansing of an earthly and a heavenly sanctuary. According to these verses, why is that process so important? (Without the shedding of blood, and the cleansing that it brings, there is no forgiveness of sins.)

  • Read Hebrews 9:14. In addition to providing forgiveness of sins, what does Christ’s blood accomplish in the life of the repentant sinner? (It “purges your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”) What does that mean? (Answers will vary. Christ’s blood provides a way for God and the repentant sinner to come back into such a close relationship that obedience to God’s law is rendered out of a loving and thankful heart.)

  • Read Leviticus 16:29,30. What was the end result of the yearly Day of Atonement for Israel? (They were to stand clean from all their sins before God.)

  • Read Ephesians 5:25-27. What parallels do you see between God’s purpose for the Day of Atonement, and this prophecy about how Christ’s people will be when He returns? (The Bible promises that Christ will have a “glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle,” but “holy and without blemish.”) This sounds a lot like the “perfect” sacrificial animals used in the sanctuary services. What is the Bible trying to tell us in this passage? (Answers will vary. Apparently, these people have so identified themselves with Jesus Christ that His righteousness has become theirs.)

Thursday (February 27): The Prophetic Timetable

Daniel 8:14, more than any other single Bible verse, fueled the Advent Awakening leading up to 1844. It continues to provide the reason for the Advent Movement today. Its importance goes much further than merely providing a date for the start of the pre-advent judgment. It also reveals “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16) and provides hope for every faithful servant of God in a world that has almost completely given itself over to the power of evil.

Discussion Questions:

  • Read Daniel 8:13. What significant change occurs in Daniel’s vision in this verse? (He “hears” a question and then in verse 14 “hears” the answer. Compare this auditory part of the vision with the earlier portion [verses 2-12] where Daniel sees the actions of the ram, goat, and little horn unfolding.) Given that the fulfillment of Daniel 8:14 takes place primarily in the heavenly sanctuary, why is it important to realize that Daniel only hears what is happening there, and doesn’t see it? (Human beings have been able to witness with their eyes the fulfillment Daniel 8:2-12, as these symbols point to events and powers unfolding on earth. However, verses 13 and 14 refer to events that take place in heaven, and so it is fitting that he only hears about them. He, like us, must follow them with the “eyes of faith.”)

  • Read Daniel 8:14. It has often been observed that this is the longest time prophecy in the Bible. Indeed, it covers over one-third of earth’s history, according to the Biblical timelines. What reassurance does this particular prophecy give you regarding God’s knowledge of the future? What reassurance does it give you regarding His purpose for your life? (Answers will vary.)

  • Read the passage below from the book The Great Controversy and discuss the importance of understanding, and participating in, the judgment taking place in heaven right now:

The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects and be able to give an answer to everyone that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them. {GC 488.3}

The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. … {GC 489.1}

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. If those who hide and excuse their faults could see how Satan exults over them, how he taunts Christ and holy angels with their course, they would make haste to confess their sins and to put them away. Through defects in the character, Satan works to gain control of the whole mind, and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed. Therefore he is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome. But Jesus pleads in their behalf His wounded hands, His bruised body; and He declares to all who would follow Him: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29, 30. Let none, then, regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to overcome them. {GC 489.2}

Friday (February 28): The Time of the End and the Year 1844

Many skeptics, both inside and outside the Seventh-day Adventist church, have questioned the validity of the year 1844 as an ending point of the time prophecy in Daniel 8:14. A common argument cites the fact that an “invisible” prophetic fulfillment taking place in heaven is impossible to disprove, and therefore can’t be regarded as legitimate. However, it should not be forgotten that one of the core messages in the book of Daniel is that earth and heaven are connected, and things that happen in one affect the other. This also holds true with the year 1844. A number of significant world events happened, or began, in 1844.

  • Frederich Engels and Karl Marx began forming working societies, which were the forerunners of the communist ideology. On November 19, 1844, Engels wrote to Marx:

“We are at present holding public meetings all over the place to set up societies for the advancement of the workers…These meetings are arranged on the spur of the moment and without asking the police…we succeeded at two meetings in thoroughly trouncing the pious; by a huge majority, everything Christian was banned from the rules…Christianity, which according to their own assertions forms the basis of the society, must nowhere be mentioned in the rules.” (http://marx.libcom.org/works/1844/letters/44_11_19.htm)

            A few years later, in 1848, Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto.

  • In 1844, Max Stirner, a German philosopher, wrote a book titled The Ego and Its Own, in which he helped lay the philosophical groundwork for many aspects of postmodern culture. One reviewer wrote of the book:

“He provides a sweeping attack on the modern world as dominated by religious modes of thought and oppressive social institutions, together with a brief sketch of a radical ‘egoistic’ alternative in which individual autonomy might flourish…Stirner's book can plausibly be claimed to…have influenced the tradition of individualist anarchism.” (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/max-stirner/)

  • In 1843 Margaret Fuller, a forerunner of the feminist movement and the sexual revolution that exploded in the 1960s, wrote a series of articles that broke many social norms of the times. In 1945 these articles were published in a book called Woman in the Nineteenth Century. The Encyclopedia Britannica says of the book, “The book’s unprecedented and frank discussions of marriage and relations between men and women also scandalized many” (britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/221891/Margaret-Fuller#ref197247).

  • In 1844, Robert Chambers, an English scientist, wrote Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. This book provided a theological and philosophical stepping stone from creationism to evolution as the accepted view of origins. Charles Darwin wrote in the introduction to Origin of Species (published in 1859), “After five years’ work I allowed myself to speculate on the subject, and drew up some short notes; these I enlarged in 1844 into a sketch of the conclusions, which then seemed to me probable…”

  • In 1844 the Bahá’í Faith—which is influential in the United Nations—began. Its founder, Siyyid `Alí-Muhammad, became known as the Báb after he announced that “He was the bearer of a message destined to transform the spiritual life of humanity” (http://www.bahai.org/the-bab/). According to an official Bahá’í website, “At the time of the appointed hour in 1844 after the prescribed time allotted of the 2300 evenings and mornings (years) had passed away, the Bab arose…” (http://www.uhj.net/the-bab.html).

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