LIKE most people today, Moses wanted to know the PLAN of Salvation. But before the Eternal explained it to Moses, he first had to listen to special instructions that would make it clear why we need salvation.
Why We Need Salvation
Did you know that you would not need to be saved from sin, if there were no sin? People who say they don't need salvation don't know what sin is, or what life eternal really means. Christ will not forgive us until we repent — quit sinning. We also need to know that we are mortal, subject to death, and that we need the Spirit of God as a gift to make it possible to live forever. So you see, we need to know what sin is and what man is. That is why God had to explain it to Moses before explaining all about salvation. This new instruction was given by God to Israel, through Moses, about the time the tabernacle was erected. Almost all of Leviticus, the third book of the Old Testament written by Moses, has to do with rules and laws that were meant to keep Israel the most outstanding, the wisest, the cleanest nation on Earth. In this, as in other books of the Old Testament, God also made known certain temporary rituals which were requited until the first coming of Christ. These were to teach the children of Israel 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 when Jesus died. But God also revealed part of His PLAN of Salvation in the book of Leviticus. A reading of the book of Leviticus should make it obvious to anyone that the laws of God, which explain what sin is, are wise, good, helpful rules that would be profitable for happy living for all people of all nations anywhere on this planet. But many different religions, supposedly based on the Bible, have sprung up down through the centuries. Most of them have little or no place for what are wrongly termed "Jewish laws." Their followers are encouraged to ignore God's rules in the Old Testament, and to regard Leviticus, for example, as only an account of the ancient "Laws of Moses." Today, more than ever, people regard the words law, Jew, Moses and Israelite with a certain indifference and often with contempt. Their religious leaders have either failed miserably in teaching them the truth or have deliberately withheld the truth from them. Those who have come with the truth — including Jesus Christ, the Creator of all men and all things — have been slain because that truth conflicted with the beliefs proclaimed by many religious sects. Human nature does not change. Men have always hated those who brought God's truth. (Matthew 23:29-35.) Whenever you hear anyone speaking lightly of the Commandments given to Israel at Mt. Sinai, remind yourself that those were neither "Jewish laws" nor "laws of Moses." They were God's living laws, still alive and in full, powerful effect. Those who turn their backs on them or who sneer at them are inviting upon themselves the terrible results of sin and the wrath of God.
What's Wrong with God's Laws?
Many laws were given to the Israelites, through Moses, in the days following the dedication of the tabernacle. There is nothing wrong with them. Because men have broken these laws Jesus had to die. Here are some of them: Everyone is forbidden to have anything to do with idols and foreign gods. (Leviticus 19:4.) Making marks on the body, such as tattooing, is forbidden. (Leviticus 19:27-28.) There are to be no evil sexual practices. (Verse 29.) No one is to marry anyone with whom he or she is closely related. (Leviticus 18.) Pagan holidays are not to be observed. (Leviticus 20:1-5.) In giving financial help to a fellow Israelite or anyone journeying with the Israelites, no interest is to be charged. (Leviticus 25:35-38.) No one is to go to a fortune-teller or medium to ask advice or to look into the future. No one is to have anything to do with a person discovered to be a wizard, for-tune-teller or medium — those in contact with demons. (Leviticus 20:6-7.) God again spoke to Moses, telling him to give more instructions to the people. For one thing, there were some who were still so influenced by the religious ways of
the Egyptians that they secretly sought to consume blood when they ate their meat. (Leviticus 17:12-13.) He made it very plain that the life of all 'flesh is in the blood. "Anyone who kills or catches any beast or fowl that may be eaten must thoroughly bleed the creatures and cover up the blood. After the blood has drained out of a clean animal or fowl, its meat may be eaten. Furthermore, no one must 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.
The PLAN of Salvation Revealed
To Moses alone God now gave special instructions about the Plan of Salvation. "Moses," God said, "I want you to pass on to Aaron and the other priests the knowledge of my PLAN of Salvation for all mankind. To keep you always in mind of this plan, I am going to require you and all My people to keep holy certain days each year." Moses knew what God had in mind, because He had already commanded the children of Israel to keep the Passover each year. "Moses," God continued, "I want to explain to you about my yearly holy day called the Day of Atonement." The word "atonement" means to make "at one" — to bring about agreement and harmony. The Day of Atonement, Moses was told, was ordained by the Creator to fall on the tenth day of the seventh month, Tishri. Tishri ordinarily covers the last part of September and the first part of October on the man — devised Roman calendar the world is using. When Christ comes again He will restore the use of God's sacred calendar. Inasmuch as any day in God's reckoning starts at sundown, the Day of Atonement began at the sunset which ended the ninth day of Tishri and ended at sunset on the tenth day. It still does. During that period of twenty-four hours the people were not to work and were not to consume food in solid or liquid form. Very young children were the exceptions to this last rule. (Leviticus 23:26-32.) It was the one day of the year on which the high priest was to enter the inner room of the tabernacle, or Holy of Holies, on ceremonial business. The Day of Atonement was the only time he was to enter on priestly business having to do with sacrifices. God warned Moses to warn Aaron that if Aaron came into the holy inner room without God's permission, he would lose his life in the manner in which his sons had been struck dead. Ordinarily, in performing his duties as high priest, Aaron dressed in the elegant garments designed by the Creator. But for the special ceremonies on the Day of Atonement he was told to bathe and dress in spotless linen clothes that designated 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 held that day each year were planned by God to make clear to the people that they must, as sinners, come to Him, through His high priest, who represented the coming Saviour, to have their sins forgiven and to be reconciled to God. Otherwise, they wouldn't be considered worthy to continue living. Today Christ is our High Priest and Saviour. The first thing Aaron was to do was to sacrifice a bullock, or young ox, on the altar for himself and his family as a sin offering. He was to take some of the burning coals from the altar, sprinkle them with incense and bring them into the Holy of Holies so that the sweetened smoke would waft over the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. God told Moses that if the high priest failed to carry out this ceremony just as he was expected to, he would be subject to death. (Leviticus 16:12-13.) Aaron was also to take some of the blood of the bullock into the inner room and sprinkle it before and upon the mercy seat. This was an act of atonement for himself, his family and the other priests. Thus, first having his sins forgiven, he would be qualified to ask God to forgive the sins of all Israel. The high priest was then to be presented with two goats. One of the goats was to be put on his left side and the other on his right side. A bowl containing two coin-like emblems, called lots, exactly alike in size and color, was to be brought to him. On one of the emblems was to be inscribed FOR GOD. On the other was to be inscribed FOR AZAZEL. You may not know that Azazel was one of the names of Satan, the devil. In many Bibles the original inspired Hebrew word "Azazel" is mistranslated as "scapegoat." Satan is no scapegoat. He is actually guilty of his sins. The bowl was to be vigorously shaken, so that the positions of the lots inside it wouldn't be known to anyone. Aaron then was to reach into the bowl with both hands and take a lot in each hand. The one in his left hand was to be placed on the goat at his left. The lot in his right hand was to be placed on the goat at his right. Thus God, who controlled the manner in which the lots would be picked up, was the One who decided which goat would represent the Lord and be sacrificed. That goat on which the FOR GOD lot was placed was to be killed and presented as a sin offering for all the people. This represented Christ's sacrifice to reconcile the world to God. Again Aaron was to enter the Holy of Holies, this time to sprinkle the goat's blood before and upon the mercy seat. Thus he was to make atonement for all the sins Israel had committed. (Leviticus 16:14-19.) After coming out of the inner room and back into the court, Aaron was to place his hands on the head of the goat that had been marked FOR AZAZEL and confess over it before God all the sins of the Israelites. Thus all the wrongdoings of the people were to be heaped upon the head of the goat that represented Satan, since it is Satan who is the author of sin and who deceives the people. The goat was then to be given to one who would lead it far out into the desert and set it loose away from the people. This was to represent the banishment of Satan who will be taken by force from the presence of all the people when Christ returns to make atonement or make all the world at one with God. (Revelation 20:1-3.) The person who took the goat was to wash his clothes and bathe before he returned to camp. (Leviticus 16:20-22.) Aaron was then to take off his special linen clothes, bathe and dress in his ornate priestly garments. Thus attired, he was to give his personal burnt offering of a ram. Next he was to give a ram as a burnt offering for the people. (Leviticus 16:23-24.) All this was carried out for the first time just as God had said it should be done. Thus the Israelites, in spite of their weaknesses and sins, became aware that they were the only people to whom God was revealing His Plan of Salvation as pictured by these special holy days. God had chosen them for the special task of preserving His truth, and was mercifully willing to forgive them their sins.
The Day of Atonement was then and there started as an annual Sabbath of rest, with fasting to be observed by all the people on and on, forever, into the future. (Leviticus 23: 31.) This is what all the people were to do on this special holy day. The priests alone were to perform the temporary physical act of sacrificing an animal. Their duties were only to last until Christ came.
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 who died because of the sins of all the people of this world. (Hebrews 10:4, 10-12 and 18.) When Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself there ceased to be any need to sacrifice animals as a reminder of sin. (Hebrews 10:3.) Nevertheless, the Day of Atonement still remains a holy period of twenty-four hours during which God told His people to rest and fast. Why isn't it observed today in the churches of this world? If you were to ask any number of those in authority in the churches, you would receive just about the same answer: "That is one of those ancient Jewish days. Is was only for the Jews. We aren't to observe it because we are not Jews." If you were to ask who the Jews are, you would probably be told that they were the people known as the Israelites who ca me out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. Then, if you were to remark that Jews are only of the tribe of Judah — one very small part of the twelve tribes of Israel — and that most Israelites are not Jews, either the conversation would end right there or you would receive anyone of a number of stock answers, most of them rather evasive. You see, most people have never really thought who the "lost" ten tribes of Israel might be or where they are. God purposely had their identity hidden until these latter days. The Bible tells us that we would learn, in the latter days, just which nations have descended from those ten tribes. Today, the "lost" ten tribes of Israel can be identified! Now this matter is crystal-clear to several millions of people who have found in their Bibles this truth. But religious groups in general refuse to recognize this discovery because it doesn't fit in with what they have taught for so long. It is time that our people be told who we are, though it could be startling to a Frenchman, a Swede, an American or an Englishman to be suddenly accosted with the words: "You are an Israelite!" The immediate reply would ordinarily be: "You are mistaken! I am not Jewish! " The erroneous popular opinion now, as it has been for centuries, is that the two main kinds of people on the Earth are Gentiles and Jews, and that anyone who is not a Jew must be a Gentile. But this is not true. Sooner or later all the world must learn that the nations are made up of two general groups of people — Israelites and Gentiles. The Jews are of Judah — only one tribe of Israel. Being Israelites we are to do the things God commanded Israel to do forever. And any Gentiles who become converted are also to do what God commands. That is why you read of "the fast" — the Day of Atonement — being commemorated by the true Christians in Acts 27:9. For the genuine Christian, the Day of Atonement pictures the very near future 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. But in the meantime many things must occur before Christ comes to rule on Earth. Today, there are hundred s of false prophets who are crying out that Christ has already arrived or that H e is about to arrive at any moment. They don't know God's true timetable and His Plan of Salvation because they have forgotten to keep holy the days He made holy.
Seven Steps to Plan of Salvation
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 D ay 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 Cor. 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 when He was accepted by God the Father as the perfect sacrifice and as the very first of the first-fruits from the dead. (Compare John 20:17 with Matthew 28:9.) Very few people know that Christ ascended to Heaven and returned on the day after His resurrection. Fifty days later, always on a Monday in Mayor June on the calendar we use, Pentecost was to be observed. Even the Apostles were keeping it after the Law of Moses ceased. (Acts 2:1.) This day points to the time when the Holy Spirit first came, after Christ's death, and 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, was to be observed on the first day of the seventh month, Tishri, in the fall. (Leviticus 23:23-25.) 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 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 1000 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), was ordained to last for seven days. It is a time when God told His people to get together to worship Him after the last crops were harvested. The first day was (and still is) a holy day of rest. This festival fore-shadows 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 to eternal life. (Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 11.) Millions not yet born will be saved during the millennium when Satan isn't around to deceive them. After the seven days, there followed another special holy day of rest. Today most people never think of observing the eighth, or Last Great Day, as a time of rest, 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 life 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 the truth of God's great Plan. ( II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:4.) Everyone will be dealt with in absolute justice by God. ( Romans 2:11.) Everyone 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.) Many have already had their one and only opportunity today. There is no second chance. Finally, the Earth will be enveloped in such a consuming fire that everything on its surface will be burned up. 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 people refuse to believe what the Bible says about this shining city, whose dimensions will be 1,500 miles. Nevertheless, all things are possible with God, and from then on that mammoth, jewel — like 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.)