The Cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary: Christ's final
atonement and judgment
As we see in study: ‘The Sanctuary in Heaven’ the sequence of events in the earthly Sanctuary depict the events in the Heavenly Sanctuary.
Thus the once yearly event in the earthly Sanctuary, the Day of Atonement (see study: ‘The Day of Atonement’), prefigured the one-time final atonement in the Heavenly Sanctuary - this event is known as the cleansing of the Sanctuary, which we address here.
2. The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary
Da 8:14 Unto two thousand and three hundred days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed [Strong’s H6663, to be right].
Note. The 2300 days is addressed in study: ‘The 2300 days prophecy’, which establishes autumn 1844 AD as the start of the end time in Heaven, during which Christ completes His saving ministry by cleansing the Heavenly Sanctuary of sin.
2.1 The need for cleansing
We see in study: 'The Sanctuary on Earth' that the daily (continual) sacrifices transferred sin to the Sanctuary, where it remained until the annual cleansing on the Day of Atonement (see study: 'The Day of Atonement').
This was a figure which was counted as sufficient for the time, but it could not actually eradicate sin (He 10:4). Furthermore, it dealt with sin for one year only. Following the Day of Atonement the process began again: the daily sacrifices continued until the next Day of Atonement, and so on.
We need a cleansing from sin which is sufficient for eternity, never needing to be repeated. This is provided in the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary.
2.2 Conducting the cleansing
In order to conduct the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary, in 1844 AD the Father and the Son entered into the Most Holy in Heaven (see study: 'Entering the Most Holy in Heaven').
Now that they are enthroned in the Most Holy, the Father and the Son are conducting their most solemn work: the final and full eradication of the sin of the repentant faithful.
2.3 The nature of the cleansing
As we see in Da 8:14 above, ‘cleansed’ is translated from Strong’s H6663, ‘to be right’. Thus the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary is in the sense of putting things right, i.e. Christ makes penitent sinners right with God (see 2Co 5:21), eradicating their sin and restoring them to God's righteous universe.
The eradication of sin is foretold in Scripture:
Ps 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Mic 7:19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Full restoration requires an atonement which is not a figure but which can actually take away sin, discussed next.
2.4 Christ’s Blood sufficient
As we have seen the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin (He 10:4) but was accepted for the time as a figure for the sacrifice of Christ to come.
Christ our true eternal High Priest offers His own blood as atonement for the sin of mankind:
He 9:11,12 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
The sacrifice of Christ
All sacrifices in the earthly Sanctuary were involuntary - the sacrificed animals did not lay down their own lives. Christ, however, sacrificed Himself - no man took his life, He laid it down voluntarily (Jn 10:17,18), rendering His sacrifice all the more powerful.
The power of Christ's blood
The power of Christ’s own blood is sufficient for all eternity; by it mankind may enter with Christ into the Heavenly Sanctuary: first into the Holy in Heaven (see study: ‘The Sanctuary in Heaven’,3.1), and now into the Most Holy in Heaven (see study: ‘The Sanctuary in Heaven’,3.4).
Wherever Christ resides, with Him are those who are joined to Him by Faith (see study’ The Day of Atonment’,3.7):
He 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
3. The final atonement / judgment
The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary involves both atonement for sin, and judgment - if their sin is to be eradicated, individuals must be examined and found worthy.
Da 7:10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
This judgement is referred to as the investigative judgment. Additionally, because this investigation (judgment) is conducted before the second advent of Christ, it is known as the pre-advent judgement.
Note. Some believe that God is too loving to destroy the wicked. However, scripture tells us plainly that while God is long-suffering, He will not acquit the wicked:
Nah 1:3 The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked:…
3.1 Witnesses to the judgment
The purpose of the investigative judgment is not to inform God - He knows all things and sees the end from the beginning (Is 46:9,10).
Its purpose is to inform, to witness to, all the unfallen universe about God’s Grace and perfect judgment.
Also witnesses to the investigative judgment are those few from mankind who are in Heaven.
There is Enoch who was translated without seeing death (Ge 5:24; He 11:5); there is also Elijah who was taken to Heaven in a fiery chariot (2Ki 2:11), and Moses, who was resurrected (De 34:5; Jude 1) - the latter two appeared with Christ in His transfiguration (Mt 17:3; Lk 9:30).
The 24 elders
There are also 24 elders who were redeemed out of ‘every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation’ (Re 5:8,9). Thus the 24 elders represent the whole human race in the Heavenly Sanctuary.
The precise identity of these elders is not revealed. However, it is reasonable to believe that they are from amongst those who were raised with Christ (see study ‘The Cross’,4.2), and who were almost certainly taken to Heaven with Christ at His ascension.
3.2 With whom the judgment begins
The investigative judgment begins at ‘the house of God’:
1Pe 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
The ‘House of God’ are those of all ages who have made a profession of faith. These are they who are of the greatest interest to all the unfallen witnesses to the judgment because Satan’s malign accusations are centred on all who profess faith.
The investigative judgment involves the examination of books.
4. The Heavenly books
Re 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Two books are used in the judgment: the Book of Life, and a book in which is recorded the life’s record, the Book of Deeds:
2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Note. Our understanding of the Heavenly books is confined to our limited grasp of Heavenly things. God does reveal these things to us - though they are expressed in ways related to our experience.
4.1 The Book of Life
When a person repents and makes a profession of faith, their name is entered into the Book of Life.
Once a name is entered in the Book of Life it cannot be removed unless the reason for doing so is made plain - God’s justice must be transparent.
Thus every name remains in the Book of Life until the final investigative judgment. This includes those of all faiths and religions who live/have lived according to the light given them from Heaven - all written in the Book of life are recorded based on that light.
Only those who are written in the Book of Life are judged.
Those not written in the Book of Life
Those not written in the book of life have never repented and are thus condemned already, by their own hand. They continually rejected Christ’s call of mercy:
Pro 1:24,25 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
4.2 The Book of Deeds
As we have seen, the Book of Deeds records every work, both good and bad. Clearly, the repentance of those who are truly sorry for sin and have been obedient to God is recorded.
The repentant have ‘pardoned’ recorded against their name.
4.3 The Book of Remembrance
This is a special book containing the record of those who are zealous for God (Mal 3:16).
4.4 The Books and the repentant faithful
Every case in the Book of Life is examined. The Books of Deeds is consulted, and if ‘pardoned’ is found against a name, that name is retained in the Book of Life.
Re 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
(This text confirms that some of those who are entered in the Book of Life are unfaithful).
Of course, God knows without consulting the books who is redeemed, but the process of examination is for the transparency of the judgment.
The redeemed can enter the Kingdom of Heaven only when their sin has been eradicated.
The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary eradicates their sin and endows them with the Righteousness of God (2Co 5:21), which makes the redeemed fit to join the unfallen beings in eternal joy, praise and worship.
4.5 The Books and the unfaithful
The backslidden and false professors
As we have seen, all those who have professed faith are written in the Book of Life. However, if a name is found to be unfaithful, i.e. to not have ‘pardoned’ entered in the Book of Deeds, that name is removed from the Book of Life.
This applies both to those whose profession was initially genuine, but who later repudiated their faith, and to those whose profession was initially false.
It may seem a contradiction to us that the Book of Life contains names who are not amongst the saved, but once again, for the transparency of the judgement this has to be the case.
Those who never repented
Those who have never professed faith are condemned already because their names are not (nor ever were) written in the Book of Life.
All who are found finally unfaithful must then face what is written against them in the Book of Deeds, and suffer condemnation and destruction:
Re 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
The end of the finally unfaithful is addressed in study: ‘The end of sin and sinners: judgement and eternal death’.
5. At the close of the cleansing
The cleansing the Heavenly Sanctuary is the final act of mercy and redemption on behalf of all mankind.
When all cases have been decided, the fate of the whole human race is fixed. At that point Christ declares that probation for the whole human race is closed (see studies: ‘The mark of the beast and the Seal of God’ and ‘The end of human probation’).
After the close of the cleansing, there will be no opportunity to repent:
Pro 1:27-29 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:
The scene is then set for the redemption of the redeemed: the second advent of Christ (see study: ‘The second advent of Christ’).
Thus the events taking place in Heaven now are of critical importance to all.
This study has addressed the events taking place in Heaven at this moment.
Since 1844, Christ our High Priest has been cleansing the Heavenly Sanctuary by conducting the final atonement for sin, examining each name written in the Book of Life, either for eternal life or eternal death.
All who have professed faith in saving Grace are entered in the Book of Life. Those who subsequently repudiated their faith, together with those who were false professors, are removed from the Book of Life.
Those who never repented are not entered in the Book of Life, and are thus condemned.
At the close of the cleansing, all cases will be decided for eternal life or eternal death.
All whose names are removed from the Book of Life, and those who refuse Grace, are lost by their own hand. The choice is ours.