Reading No. 7 – Sabbath, December 13,2003
By Branko Cholich, U.S.A
In the prophecy of Ezekiel 34:25, we can find the promise that speaks about the covenant of peace which Christ will make with His people. The first 10 verses in this chapter portray the work of false shepherds, and the rest of the verses describe the work of the true Shepherd, Christ. David is used in this prophecy as a symbol of Christ. As a youth, David was a good shepherd who protected his sheep from wild beasts even though it meant risking his life. And because the Lord was on his side he was able to testify that no harm ever came to his flock
The last time Jesus entered Jerusalem as He was on earth, He was greeted as the Son of David. He was not ashamed to be called the son of that king. (1 Kings 15:5). David also wrote one of the most beautiful psalms in the Bible, Psalm 23 where he praises the Lord and calls Him his Shepherd. Both the Old and the New Testament describe David as an exemplary leader of God’s people. The first 10 verses of Ezekiel chapter 34 depict malicious treatment of God’s flock by false shepherds. In direct contrast with their evil work, is the righteous work of the true Shepherd- the Son of David, who willingly gives His life for His sheep and does everything possible to ensure their peace and safety.
A Covenant of Peace
After Adam was driven out of Eden, he and his descendants often returned to the gate of the garden (access into the garden was no longer permitted) to renew their covenant with God. This was only possible through the shedding of the blood of animals, a symbol of the blood of Christ.
After the flood, Noah also made a sacrificial covenant with God, and God with Noah and his family. And from that time to the time of Moses, and throughout the Old Testament, the covenant of God was renewed through the blood of animals, a symbol of the new covenant that God desired to make with His people. Jeremiah the prophet stated: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34.
The Apostle Paul quoted these verses in his Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 8:7-13). In all the Biblical prophecies found in the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Hebrews, a new covenant is mentioned, a covenant that will not pass away, unlike the one made on Mount Sinai. The new covenant is a covenant of peace, one in which the sins of the people of God will be remembered no longer. According to the prophecy of Ezekiel, there will be no more wild beasts (false teachers) to devour God’s sheep. After this covenant of peace there will be no more teaching the people of God, because they will all know the Lord. At the last supper, Christ introduced His new covenant to the disciples by offering them wine as a symbol of His blood. That memorable evening records the beginning of a new era for God’s people, known as the New Testament time. The aforementioned prophecies refer to the time when there will be no more remembrance of sins, and teaching will no longer be necessary. We eagerly await with great interest the time when that covenant of peace will be made between God and His people. One thing is certain-we all need to daily study the word of God so that we may gain a richer and more profound understanding of the prophecies that have been written for us. For the present, none of us can claim that our sins are not in the remembrance of God, and that our iniquities have been erased from His book. It is imperative that we understand that this process of making a new covenant between God and His people began with the gospel of Christ, when He declared that all must be born again of the Spirit. The law of God was written on tables of stone and kept in the ark of the covenant which was in the most holy place of the tabernacle in the Sinai desert, and later on in the temple at Jerusalem. 1 Kings 8:1-9.
In Old Testament times, all sacrificial laws symbolized the real service of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. We read in Galatians 4:4 that Christ came to this earth to offer His body as a sacrifice for man at the exact time provided by the plan of salvation. The time and manner concerning the coming of the Son of God to this earth had been provided for and registered “in the scriptures of truth.” Daniel 10: 21. By reading the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation we can know the time in which we are living, as well as our duty during the time of the investigative judgment, when the sins of God’s people must be blotted out from the heavenly sanctuary. We understand that this work started with those who first lived on this earth and whose names have been written in the book of life, namely with those who entered into the service of God by making a covenant with Him. But this covenant does not guarantee salvation to anyone just because their names are written in the book of life. The time is coming when the Lord will make His covenant with His people steadfast and sure and sins will be remembered no longer. Therefore we conclude that this investigative judgment has a beginning and an end. We read the following statements in the Spirit of Prophecy: “At the time appointed for the judgment the-close of the 2300 days, in 1844-began the work of investigation and blotting out of sins. All who have ever taken upon themselves the name of Christ must pass its searching scrutiny. Both the living and the dead are to be judged ‘out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.’
“Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner in the day of God. He may have committed his evil deeds in the light of day or in the darkness of night; but they were open and manifest before Him with whom we have to do. Angels of God witnessed each sin and registered it in the unerring records. Sin may be concealed, denied, covered up from father, mother, wife, children, and associates; no one but the guilty actors may cherish the least suspicion of the wrong; but it is laid bare before the intelligences of heaven. The darkness of the darkest night, the secrecy of all deceptive arts, is not sufficient to veil one thought from the knowledge of the Eternal. God has an exact record of every unjust account and every unfair dealing. He is not deceived by appearances of piety. He makes no mistakes in His estimation of character. Men may be deceived by those who are corrupt in heart, but God pierces all disguises and reads the inner life.
”As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance. The Lord declared to Moses: ‘Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.’ Exodus 32:33. And says the prophet Ezekiel: ‘When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, … all his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned.’ Ezekiel 18:24.
“All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life. The Lord declares, by the prophet Isaiah: ‘I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.’ Isaiah 43: 25. Said Jesus: ‘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.’ ‘Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.’ Revelation 3:5; Matthew 10:32, 33.” -The Great Controversy, pp. 486,483.
From the above statements, we understand that the blotting out of the sins of converted people will take place at the time of the investigative judgment, which began in 1844 in the heavenly sanctuary. At what precise time during the investigative judgment will the sins of converted people be blotted out from the books of God, never again to be brought to His remembrance? We find the answer in the Spirit of Prophecy: “The work of the investigative judgment and the blotting out of sins is to be accomplished before the second advent of the Lord. Since the dead are to be judged out of the things written in the books, it is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated. But the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins of believers will be blotted out ‘when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ.’ Acts 3:19, 20. When the investigative judgment closes, Christ will come, and His reward will be with Him to give to every man as his work shall be.” -The Great Controversy, p. 485.
“The time of refreshing” mentioned by the apostle Peter refers to the latter rain which God’s people will receive before the end of the time of mercy. We read the following statements in the book of The Great Controversy: “The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are ‘the times of refreshing’ to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said: ‘Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus.’ Acts 3:19,20….
‘”At that time shall Michael stand up, the great Prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the book.’ Daniel 12:1. ,,When the third angel’s message closes, mercy no longer pleads for the guilty inhabitants of the earth. The people of God have accomplished their work. They have received ‘the latter rain,’ ‘the refreshing from the presence of the Lord,’ and they are prepared for the trying hour before them.” -The Great Controversy, pp, 611,613.
The Time of Trouble
In the time of trouble, God’s people will be without sin for their sins have been blotted out before the time of mercy ends. We read: “Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of Himself: ‘The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.’ John 14:30. Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble.” -The Great Controversy, p. 623. These testimonies show that the people of God will still be on earth during the time of trouble but without sin. During the last seventh plague God will establish His covenant of peace with His people.
“Graves are opened, and ‘many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth … awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.’ Daniel 12:2. All who have died in the faith of the third angel’s message come forth from the tomb glorified, to hear God’s covenant of peace with those who have kept His law. ‘They also which pierced Him’ (Revelation 1:7), those that mocked and derided Christ’s dying agonies, and the most violent opposers of His truth and His people, are raised to behold Him in His glory and to see the honor placed upon the loyal and obedient.” -The Great Controversy, p. 637; Early Writings, p. 285.
This prophecy concerning the covenant of peace that God will make with His people, never to remember their sins, will soon be fulfilled. When Christ comes the second time, His people will be found without sin and shall receive everlasting life and be glorified. Our faith should be constantly strengthened by the knowledge that Christ is our righteousness.