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THE expiation of sin may be viewed from two different standpoints. A satisfaction to Divine Justice for Adamic sin is, first of all, necessary. The decree of the great Supreme Judge of the Universe—that the human race must die—went forth because of the disobedience of Adam; and no one can be released from death until that decree shall have been revoked because of its requirements being complied with. The annulling of that decree of Justice, however, will not make the individual at once a perfect man.
If a man had been put into prison for some offense, and after ten years someone should make satisfaction, should pay up his account and comply with the requirements of the law, the prisoner would be released—justice would be satisfied. But freedom from the restraint of prison life would not give back to the prisoner his clear vision, his teeth, his hair, his health, or anything that he might have lost or that had been impaired during his term of imprisonment. And likewise, whatever satisfaction of Justice is made for mankind, they will not, at the time they are awakened from the tomb, be free from the marks that Sin has placed upon them.
There will be no Divine disfavor holding over upon the world at that time, because the price for man's release will have been paid. But mankind at the beginning of the Millennial Age will still have the blemishes resulting from the fall. It will be the work of that Age to restore the human race, to lift them up out of imperfection and weakness. Man will be helped up from his fallen condition, because Justice will have been satisfied.
The world will be in the hands of Christ, who purchased them by the sacrifice of His own life. We are to bear in mind that the satisfaction of Justice does not bring about the restitution of humanity from imperfection, but this judicial satisfaction is merely the turning away of the disfavor of God, the annulling of the death penalty. This gives the opportunity for man to be restored to favor with God—to be brought into a condition worthy of Divine acceptance at the close of the Millennium.
As for this satisfaction of Divine Justice which must take place before the New Covenant can be inaugurated, it includes not only a satisfaction for Adamic sin, but it embraces also stripes for partially wilful sins, and satisfaction for certain gross injustices which mankind have committed when they had a knowledge of a better course and were in a measure responsible for their unjust words and actions. To an extent they were in ignorance, but often they were wilfully so, and in proportion to the measure of responsibility will Justice require a recompense.
At the close of the Jewish Age God had a reckoning with the nation of Israel, which was one of the most terrific times of trouble the world has ever known. The declaration of Jesus was, that of that Age—that generation then living—God would require expiation for all the righteous blood that had been shed from the time of Abel to the time in which He was speaking.—Matt. 23:34-36.
And these partially wilful sins of the world are not fully covered by the Sin-offerings. In so far as they have been wilful they must be expiated by punishment. These sins and trespasses are shown as placed upon the scapegoat class—the Great Company. In the great Antitype shortly to be enacted, these will be allowed to suffer for some of the partly wilful sins of the world—especially the sins of Babylon. All the blood of God's holy ones, from the beginning of this Gospel Age, will be required of the present generation, in the "great Time of Trouble, such as never was."
The martyrs of the past, "the souls under the altar," are represented symbolically as crying out for the vindication of Justice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood upon them that dwell on the earth!" They were bidden to wait until others of their brethren should be similarly killed, when the guilt of all will be avenged.—Rev. 6:9-11.
From the above we see that at the close of this Gospel Age there will be another squaring of accounts. A time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, and never will be afterwards, is to come shortly. (Matt. 24:21,22.) This is shown forcefully in many prophecies of Scripture. Our Lord is now again present, as the great Judge, and the storm clouds are rapidly gathering in this Day of His kingly presence.
Why require the full payment for all the wrongs of [R5463 : page 154] the two Ages—the Gospel Age and the one preceding, extending from the time the blood of righteous Abel was shed to the present time—at the closing of these Ages, is it asked? We answer, Because the chief light of each Age comes at its close, and because those who sin against such light are worthy of more severe judgment than similar evildoers preceding them, who had less light. The Scriptural argument is that to endorse the wrongs of the past in the light of the present is to multiply the responsibility and to deserve the plagues of the whole.
We have not far to look if we would see these iniquities, or inequities, of the world today, especially of Christendom. There is considerable light now shining upon the whole world, and more particularly upon its civilized portion. The principles of righteousness set forth in the Jewish Law, and subsequently amplified by the Lord and the Apostles, have enlightened the minds of the public in general in respect to justice and injustice, right and wrong, good and evil, so that there never was so responsible a generation as the one now living.
Notwithstanding this increase of knowledge, and notwithstanding that there are gross iniquities prevailing throughout the world, we find comparatively few willing to do anything toward a readjustment and equalization of the world's affairs, financial, social and religious. Rather, it seems that the majority of those possessing advantages are quite willing to hold to them, even though recognizing that they are inequitable, iniquitous.
We perceive also that much of the evil done against the Lord's holy ones of the past has thus far failed of the punishment due. Great systems which in the name of Christ persecuted the true Church have practised and prospered, but have not yet received their just recompense of reward. In the terrible trouble of the near future great Babylon will go down as a mighty millstone into the sea, when every man's hand will be against his neighbor in anarchy, when "there will be no peace to him that goeth out, nor to him that cometh in."
But it seems that the legal expiation of these sins must be accomplished by the scapegoat class, as shown in the type. (Lev. 16:20-22.) Israel here represents the world. In this scapegoat type, the Lord pictures the sending into the wilderness of isolation and persecution the Great Company who, after consecration, were unwilling to go voluntarily "outside the camp, bearing the reproaches" of Christ. They shared not in the Sin-Atonement, but will be permitted, yea, forced, to bear the weight of some of the world's wilful sins, and thus to become dead to the world, that their spiritual being may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus.
This class, particularly large in the present day, will be delivered over to the Adversary, to suffer in this great time of trouble. Such of them as respond to these tribulations, faithfully and loyally, will be counted as overcomers and be granted palms of victory, as shown in Revelation 7, and will be privileged to share in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and to be honorable servants of the Bride of Christ. If they fail to respond, and to wash their spotted robes in the blood of the Lamb, they will go into the Second Death.
It is this great trouble-time which the Little Flock, the Lord's goat class of faithful sacrificers, will escape, and which the Great Company will not escape, but will share. They will come up out of this trouble with washed robes, made white in the blood of the Lamb. Their sufferings will not wash their robes, but in their sufferings they will learn to appreciate as never before their relationship to the Lamb of God and to His atoning merit, and will by faith be permitted to apply the same to their own cleansing. As we consider the experiences of these children of God, so soon to come, let us all the more manifest our love for the Lord, and all the more seek to lay down our lives faithfully in the service of our King, and in behalf of the Household of Faith.
It would not be correct to say that the scapegoat class atone for sin and thus make it possible for a certain part of humanity to be brought forth from the tomb. The tomb represents the penalty upon Adam for his transgression, and this penalty has been inherited by all of Adam's children. The Apostle says that "by one man sin [disobedience] entered into the world, and death by [as the result of] sin; and so death passed upon all men."—Romans 5:12.
The death of Jesus alone can cancel the sin of Adam. He only was the Redeemer, the Ransomer. He gave His life for Father Adam's life, and thus as a satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Those for whom Jesus advocates as the members of His Body become associated with Him and identified with Him in His work, not by virtue of their own merit, but because "accepted in the Beloved." These are Scripturally shown as having something to do with the cancelation of "the sin of the world," because of their association with the Head. The Great Company have nothing whatever to do with the cancelation of THE sin of the world.
"THE sin of the world" (John 1:29) was the sin of Adam; but there are other sins aside from Adamic sin, which was brought on the race by the fall. We may suppose that in every Age there have been sins committed against a measure of light. But the sinners were not begotten of the Holy Spirit, and therefore their sins against light would not involve them in the Second Death.
Nevertheless, in whatever proportion they had light and knowledge, they had also responsibility. And while Jesus died in order that all might have an opportunity of coming back from the tomb, and to perfect life, yet He did not die on account of any individual sin committed against light. For such sins the individual is himself responsible.
In the case of the Church class, wilful evil-doers will be cut off from life. The Apostle Paul says that some were delivered over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that their spirit might be saved. Every wilful sin, no matter by whom committed, or when committed, must be answered for by stripes or by the death of the sinner.
Nothing is to be atoned for by Christ's death but the sin of Adam. But other sins of direct responsibility, sins against light, must also be settled for. In olden times there were bitter persecutions of God's people, and those persecuted were obliged to dwell in caves and dens of the earth. (Hebrews 11:32-40.) The transgressions against these, in proportion as they were committed with a degree of light, were to be settled for by the transgressors.
God's providence squared off the account against the Jewish people in the end of the Jewish Age. There came upon that people wrath to the uttermost. The squaring of accounts for that nation, we understand, was completed A.D. 70. As for other nations, we must assume that God has dealt with them along similar lines—though not just the same; because they were not in covenant relationship with Him as were the Israelites.
Coming down to the Gospel Age, many sins have been committed which could in no way be covered by Christ's sacrifice—sins against a measure of light and knowledge. [R5463 : page 155] The chiefest of all these sins have been, according to the Master's words, against His people. He said that whoever would harm one of the "little ones" who believed in Him should have punishment; and that whoever would give even so much as "a cup of cold water" to one of these should have a reward.—Matthew 18:6; 10:42.
We read of terrible atrocities committed against the saints during the Dark Ages. They were covered with tar and burned; they were fed to wild beasts, their poor bodies being torn to pieces. They were tortured in innumerable ways. We are reasonably sure that some punishment is due to those who committed these atrocities. But the Lord has told us that we are not to judge before the time. In due time we shall be made judges of the world. Now we are to look to the Lord and wait for His judgment.
The Scriptures indicate that as there was a settling time, culminating in A.D. 70, with the Jews, so there will be a settling time with those claiming to be Christian nations. To whatever extent they have lent themselves to injustice, to whatever extent they have sinned against light, they are responsible. We do not know the extent of their responsibility—God knows! But in this Time of Trouble He will square all these matters, in order that the New Dispensation may be free from all accounts—that there may be nothing of this kind charged up to humanity. The sins committed nationally will be expiated nationally. And of course, as individuals suffered from the wrong-doing, so individuals will suffer in the expiation.
And how will God reckon with the injustice which He wishes to cancel, so that the world may come forth with a clean slate? We answer, the Great Company class will have a share in that trouble. And since they do not really deserve a share in the trouble, in the sense of having merited Divine wrath, what they will suffer will be in a measure a suffering the merit of which will go to others. It is not a punishment to get into the Great Company class. The Great Company will be a very blessed class. They will not be seated in the Throne, but will serve before the Throne; neither will they obtain the Divine nature. The Little Flock class will get the great prize of being associated with the Master, joint-heirs with Him in the Kingdom. The other class will get a reward on a lower spiritual plane—a spiritual plane, because they also were begotten of the Spirit.
So far as the Great Company are concerned, God's permitting them to share in the trouble at the end of this Age will be for their own development. Their Covenant was unto death; and unless they lose their lives in obedience to the Lord, unless they prove faithful unto death, they will not be worthy of any position of life on [R5464 : page 155] any plane. Hence it will be to their own personal advantage that they suffer in that time. They are said to suffer for the iniquities, the sins and transgressions of the people of the world as the antitypical scapegoat. (Leviticus 16:21,22. See TABERNACLE SHADOWS, pp. 68-72.) Instead of allowing that merit of the Great Company to go for nothing, the Lord makes a credit of it, as it were, to balance the world's account for wilful sins.