An Unchangeable Law
God's Law in the Heavenly Sanctuary
“The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.” Revelation 11:19, KJV. The ark of God’s testament is in the holy of holies, the second apartment of the sanctuary. . . . Those who by faith followed their great High Priest as He entered upon His ministry in the most holy place, beheld the ark of His testament. As they had studied the subject of the sanctuary* they had come to understand the Saviour’s change of ministration, and they saw that He was now officiating before the ark of God, pleading His blood in behalf of sinners. . . .
*Note: In the early and mid nineteenth century, Bible students around the world saw special importance in the study of the prophecies related to the cleansing of the sanctuary mentioned in Daniel 8:14. It was in connection with their study of this passage that God brought to their attention a fuller understanding of the heavenly sanctuary (as mentioned in the books of Daniel, Revelation, and Hebrews) and the work that Christ is doing in that sanctuary.—Editors.
The law of God in the sanctuary in heaven is the great original, of which the precepts inscribed upon the tables of stone and recorded by Moses in the Pentateuch were an unerring transcript. Those who arrived at an understanding of this important point were thus led to see the sacred, unchanging character of the divine law. They saw, as never before, the force of the Saviour’s words: “Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law.” Matthew 5:18. The law of God, being a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, must forever endure, “as a faithful witness in heaven.” Not one command has been annulled; not a jot or tittle has been changed. Says the psalmist: “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” Psalm 119:89. “All His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever.” Psalm 111:7, 8.
In the very bosom of the Decalogue is the fourth commandment, as it was first proclaimed: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11.
The Spirit of God impressed the hearts of those students of His word. The conviction was urged upon them that they had ignorantly transgressed this precept by disregarding the Creator’s rest day. They began to examine the reasons for observing the first day of the week instead of the day which God had sanctified. They could find no evidence in the Scriptures that the fourth commandment had been abolished, or that the Sabbath had been changed; the blessing which first hallowed the seventh day had never been removed. They had been honestly seeking to know and to do God’s will; now, as they saw themselves transgressors of His law, sorrow filled their hearts, and they manifested their loyalty to God by keeping His Sabbath holy.
Many and earnest were the efforts made to overthrow their faith. None could fail to see that if the earthly sanctuary was a figure or pattern of the heavenly, the law deposited in the ark on earth was an exact transcript of the law in the ark in heaven; and that an acceptance of the truth concerning the heavenly sanctuary involved an acknowledgment of the claims of God’s law and the obligation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. . . .
Judged by the Law
Those who had accepted the light concerning the mediation of Christ and the perpetuity of the law of God found that these were the truths presented in Revelation 14. The messages of this chapter constitute a threefold warning which is to prepare the inhabitants of the earth for the Lord’s second coming. The announcement, “The hour of His judgment is come” (see Revelation 14:7), points to the closing work of Christ’s ministration for the salvation of men. It heralds a truth which must be proclaimed until the Saviour’s intercession shall cease and He shall return to the earth to take His people to Himself. The work of judgment which began in 1844 must continue until the cases of all are decided, both of the living and the dead; hence it will extend to the close of human probation. That men may be prepared to stand in the judgment, the message commands them to “fear God and give glory to Him,” “and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” Revelation 14:7. The result of an acceptance of these messages is given in the word: “Here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. In order to be prepared for the judgment, it is necessary that men should keep the law of God. That law will be the standard of character in the judgment. The apostle Paul declares: “As many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law . . . in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” And he says that “the doers of the law will be justified.” Romans 2:12-16. Faith is essential in order to the keeping of the law of God; for “without faith it is impossible to please Him.” And “whatever is not from faith is sin.” Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:23.
By the first angel, men are called upon to “fear God, and give glory to Him” and to worship Him as the Creator of the heavens and the earth. In order to do this, they must obey His law. Says the wise man: “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, KJV. Without obedience to His commandments no worship can be pleasing to God. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” 1 John 5:3. “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” Proverbs 28:9.
The Great Controversy, pp. 433-436
Next part: God’s Unchangeable Law, Part 2: Our Duty to Worship God
All Scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version, including those originally quoted by Ellen White from the King James Version.—Editors