The Bible Story - Volume II
The Plan of Salvation GOD'S great plan for man's future has to do with salvation — being spared from sin and death and being given the gift of eternal life. Moses wanted to know about this. God explained it to him so that he could pass on the vital information to the Israelites.
Why Man Needs Salvation If there were no sin, man wouldn't have to be saved from it. People who say they don't need salvation don't know what sin is or what eternal life means. Man should know he is mortal, subject to death, and needs the Spirit of God as a gift to make it possible to live forever. God made this plain to Moses about the time the tabernacle was erected. Most of the book of Leviticus, written by Moses, has to do with the rules meant to keep Israel the wisest and cleanest nation on Earth. God also made known the rituals required to teach the Israelites the need of a Saviour and the habit of obedience. These temporary ceremonies are called "the works of the law" in the New Testament. They ceased to be needed at Jesus' death.
The book of Leviticus makes it obvious that God's laws, which explain right from wrong, are helpful in making all people much happier. But down through time many religions have sprung up who ignore those rules by labeling them "Jewish laws," and referring to Leviticus as an account of the ancient "laws of Moses."
Many people regard the words LAW, JEW, MOSES and ISRAELITE with contempt. Their religious leaders unknowingly have either failed to teach them the truth or have deliberately withheld the truth from them. Those who have brought the truth, including Jesus Christ — the Creator of men and all things — have been slain or ridiculed because the truth they announced conflicted with the beliefs of many religious sects. Men have always hated those with God's truth. (Mat. 23:29-35.) Those who sneer at the Commandments given to Israel are inviting on themselves the miserable results of sin.
What's Wrong with God's Laws? There is nothing wrong with the laws given to the Israelites through Moses. Here are some of them. Because they were broken, Jesus had to die.
Having anything to do with idols or foreign gods is forbidden. (Leviticus 19:4.)
No marking, such as tattooing, is to be done on the body. (Leviticus 19:28.)
There are to be no evil sexual practices. (Leviticus 18.) No one is to marry anyone to whom he or she is closely related. (Leviticus 18:6.)
Pagan holidays are not be observed. (Leviticus 20:1-5.) No interest is to be charged in giving financial help to an Israelite or anyone journeying with the Israelites. (Leviticus 25:35-37.)
No one is to go to a fortune teller or medium for advice. No one is to have anything to do with a wizard or sorcerer or anyone in contact with demons. (Leviticus 20:6.)
God reminded Moses that the Israelites, who had been influenced for centuries by the Egyptians, should refrain from consuming blood in their meat. (Leviticus 17:12-13.) He made it plain that the life of all flesh is in the blood. "Anyone who kills or catches any beast or fowl for food must thoroughly bleed the creature and bury the blood. No one is to eat any creature that dies of itself or is killed by other beasts." (Verse 15, first part.)
The only use of blood was as an atonement, by sacrifice, to remind Israel of their human sins and of the death of Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Plan of Salvation Revealed Israel's God told Moses the Plan of Salvation for mankind was so important He would require the people to observe certain annual holy days as reminders. He had already given in Egypt a time to keep Passover, which foreshadowed the death of the Messiah to pay for sin. The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which followed, symbolized putting away sin out of one's life. Another special time, celebrated when Israel's God spoke the Law at Sinai, was the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost. This feast signified that only a few are being called to salvation now. They are the firstfruits of God's spiritual harvest. Then came the Feast of Trumpets, foretelling God's intervention in world affairs. The Day of Atonement, or harmony, followed. It was ordained by the Creator to fall on the tenth day of the seventh month, Tishri. That is in September or October of the man-made Roman calendar, which will soon be replaced by God's correct calendar. God reckons days from sundown to sundown, so this whole day was to start at sundown on the ninth of Tishri and end at sundown of the tenth. During those twenty-four hours the people weren't to work or consume food in solid or liquid form, although very young children could nurse. (Leviticus 23:26-32.)
It was the only day of the year on which the high priest was to enter the inner room of the tabernacle on ceremonial business. God told Moses to warn Aaron that if Aaron otherwise came into the room without God's permission, he would lose his life in the way his sons had lost theirs.
In performing his duties as high priest, Aaron ordinarily dressed in the elegant garments designed by the Creator. But on the Day of Atonement he was to be especially clean bodily and dressed in spotless linen clothing designating simplicity and humility rather than high office. Only then could he approach God in the inner room where the ark and mercy seat were placed. (Leviticus 16.)
The special ceremonies that day were to make it clear to the people that sinners must come to God through His high priest. The human high priests of the family of Aaron typified the coming Saviour who would die to forgive sins. Today, our high priest and Saviour is Christ.
Aaron was first to sacrifice a bullock or young ox for himself and his family as a sin offering. He was to sprinkle some live coals from the altar with incense. Then they were to be taken to the Holy of Holies so that the sweetened smoke would waft over the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. If he failed to carry this out properly, he would be subject to death. (Leviticus 16:12-13.)
He also was to take some of the bullock's blood into the inner room to sprinkle it on and before the mercy seat as an act of atonement for himself, his family and the other priests. Having his sins forgiven, he would qualify to ask God to forgive the sins of all Israel. The priests and all the Israelites were to be in a repentant state of mind, not only this day but all year, even if they were not promised the Holy Spirit and eternal life.
The high priest was then to be presented with two goats. One was to be placed on his right and the other on his left. He was to take a bowl in which there were two identical coin-like emblems called lots. One was marked "FOR GOD" and the other "for AZAZEL," one of Satan's names. In many Bibles the word Azazel is mistranslated SCAPEGOAT. Being guilty of sin, Satan is no scapegoat.
After the bowl was shaken, Aaron was to put each of the lots on a goat. The goat on which the "FOR GOD" lot happened (by God's choosing) to be placed was the one to be used for a sin offering for the people. It represented Christ's sacrifice to reconcile the world to God. The goat's blood was to be sprinkled before and upon the mercy seat as atonement for all the sins Israel had committed. (Leviticus 16:15-19.)
On returning to the court, Aaron was to confess the sins of Israel over the goat marked "FOR AZAZEL." Thus the wrongdoings of the Israelites that were motivated by Satan were to be heaped on the animal representing Satan, the author of sin. The goat representing Satan was to be led into the desert to portray the banishment of Satan, who will be removed from mankind when Christ returns to make the world at one with God. (Revelation 20:1-3.) The person who took the goat was to wash his clothing and bathe before returning to camp. (Leviticus 16:20-22, 26.)
After these ceremonies Aaron was to exchange his special linen clothing for his ornate priestly garments, and give a personal burnt offering of a ram and another for the people. (Verses 23 and 24.)
All went well in carrying out these things. In spite of their weaknesses, the Israelites became aware that they were the only people to whom God was revealing His plan pictured by the holy days. In choosing them to preserve His truth, He was mercifully willing to forgive their sins even though He did not promise them eternal life at that time.
The Day of Atonement became an annual Sabbath to be observed forever by all people (Leviticus 23:31), but the sacrificial acts of the priests were required only until Christ came to die for the sins of the world.
No More Need of Sacrifices The sacrificing of animals on that day was no longer necessary after Jesus Christ was sacrificed, many centuries later, as the Lamb of God to die for the sins of this world. (Hebrews 10:4, 10-12, 18.) When Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself there ceased to be any need to sacrifice animals as a reminder of sin. (Hebrews 10:3.)
The Day of Atonement remains, however, a holy period of resting and fasting, but most church authorities ignore it. They claim that it is an ancient Jewish day. If one asks who the Jews were, one would ordinarily be told that they were a people known as Israelites who came out of Egypt under Moses' leadership.
That answer wouldn't be very factual. Most people have never thought about who the "lost" ten tribes of Israel might be or where they went after their nation was taken captive into the ancient land of Assyria, or where they are now. God purposely hid their identity until these latter days. Yet it was to these people, as well as to the Jews, that God commanded the keeping of the seven annual festivals!
These ten tribes can at last be identified! The matter is crystal-clear to millions who have found the truth in their Bibles. However, religious groups in general refuse to recognize this discovery because it doesn't fit with what they have taught for so long.
For centuries there has been an erroneous belief that the Earth has two kinds of people — Jews and Gentiles. They are actually ISRAELITES and Gentiles. The Jews are of Judah, only one of Israel's twelve tribes. Israelites of today, which include peoples of Northwestern Europe and their descendants in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, should be doing the things God commanded them to do, and converted Gentiles should be obedient in the same way.
For the genuine Christian, the Day of Atonement pictures a better era not far away, when sin will be placed on the one who originated it. That is Satan. Not until then will man come into true accord with his Creator. That time is only a few years away. Meanwhile, many things must occur. Even now false prophets are proclaiming Christ has already arrived or is about to arrive at any moment. They don't know God's timetable and His Plan of Salvation because these don't keep the holy days.
Seven Steps to Plan of Salvation In summary, the seven steps in God's Plan are pictured by seven special holy periods of time. These special days are Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Festival of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Festival of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day. People who have forgotten these days have forgotten the TRUE PLAN of Salvation which these days picture. They have come to believe in a COUNTERFEIT plan!
We have already learned the meaning of Passover when we read about the Exodus.
The Days of Unleavened Bread picture putting sin out of our lives. (I Corinthians 5:7-8.) Leaven is a type of sin. A wave sheaf offering was made during the Days of Unleavened Bread after the Israelites reached the land God had promised them. (Leviticus 23:10-11.) This sheaf of grain pictured the ascended Christ being accepted by God the Father as the perfect sacrifice and as the very first of the firstfruits from the dead. (Compare John 20:17 with Matthew 28:9.) Very few people know that Christ ascended to Heaven and returned that same day.
On the fiftieth day after the resurrection, always on a Sunday in May or June on the calendar in use by today's world, Pentecost is to be observed. Even the Apostles were keeping it after the law of Moses ceased to be needful. (Acts 2:1.) This day points to the time when the Holy Spirit was first made available to mankind since Eden. It could not come until after Christ's death, except for those few prophets, judges, priests and kings whom God specially called. This festival also points to the time of the FIRST HARVEST of souls — to be reaped at the return of Christ. Those who have forgotten this day have forgotten that this is only the time of the first harvest.
The Festival of Trumpets, another day of rest, is to be observed on the first day of the seventh month, Tishri, in the fall. (Leviticus 23:2325.) It pictures the time mentioned in the book of Revelation when the last of seven trumpets will sound, and when Christ will come to meet in the air those who will be resurrected to rule with Him on Earth. (Revelation 11:15-17; I Corinthians 15:52.) Not every nation will give in at the very hour Christ arrives, but every nation and government will soon be made aware that there is no choice but to accept Christ's perfect, loving rule. (Zechariah 14:16-19.)
Next is the Day of Atonement. It pictures Satan imprisoned, no longer deceiving the world, for 1,000 years. Then comes the final time of harvest of souls pictured by the Festival of Tabernacles.
The Festival of Tabernacles, beginning on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (sometime in September or October), is ordained to last for seven days. It is a time God's people come together to worship Him after the summer crops are harvested. The first day was (and still is) a holy day of rest. This festival foreshadows the thousand-year period when Christ and the resurrected Christians will rule the Earth. (Revelation 5:10; 20:4, 6.) People such as Noah, Abraham, Moses and David, dead and with no knowledge of anything over many centuries, will be among those resurrected in the first resurrection to eternal life. They will rule with Christ in the Millennium. (Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 11.) Millions not yet born will be saved in the great spiritual harvest during the Millennium when Satan isn't around to deceive them.
After the seven days, there follows another special holy day of rest.
Today most people never think of observing the eighth, or Last Great Day, as a time of rest, not realizing that it is to commemorate the period after the Millennium when millions who have died in the past who have not had any opportunity to understand the truth, will be brought to physical life in the second resurrection and be given their first opportunity to come to the knowledge of salvation. Just think of the joy to be experienced by those who never before heard or knew the truth. Those who do overcome will eventually join the joyous ranks of the immortal saints who will have met Christ at His Second Coming more than a thousand years before! (Revelation 20:11-15; Matthew 12:42; Isaiah 65:19-25.)
Every human being who has ever lived or ever will live must have the opportunity of learning of God's great Plan. (II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4.) God will deal justly with everyone. Each person (Romans 2:11) will have a full understanding of the right way and must make his own decision as to whether he will obey God. (Hebrews 8:11.) Some have already had their one and only opportunity today. There is no second chance.
Finally, the Earth will be enveloped in a fire that will consume everything on its surface. Even the seas will be completely evaporated by the intense heat. (II Peter 3:10-12; Revelation 21:1.)
Then God will come down from heaven in His gigantic holy city, which will descend to Earth. Many doubt Bible statements about this jewel-like city. From then on this mammoth city will be the headquarters and dwelling place of God and His children — now spirit beings — who will help Him rule the universe forever. (Revelation 21:2-8.)