Introduction to Objections Answered

There are numerous questions that have been raised about the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of the investigative judgment. This page lists of many of these challenges. But there are four fundamental questions that need proper recognition. They are the first issues of importance. And they are important in this order:

(1) Are the investigation and judgment of believers fundamental Bible doctrines? It should be obvious that this is the first question of importance. ----- If it could be biblically shown that God would not investigate a believer's faith and loyalty, then the doctrine of the investigative judgment could not possibly be true. This is the most important question of all concerning the investigative judgment doctrine. Nothing else matters more than this issue. If on the other hand it is found to be true that God investigates believers, all else must line up with--all Christian doctrine must harmonize with--this spiritual reality.

(2) How does this fit into an understanding of the everlasting Gospel? ----- Of all the doctrines that are affected by the existence or non-existence of an investigative judgment the Gospel is the most important. If God will not investigate believers then our preaching of the Gospel must conform to this reality. If the Bible tells us God investigates believers then our presentation of the Gospel must include the preaching of God's investigation--and an explanation of why there is an investigation.

(3) Is there a real connection between the day of atonement rituals and the prophecies of Daniel 8?
----- If God will not investigate believers the matter is settled and all other aspects of the Adventist investigative judgment doctrine are not worth pursuing. However, even if the opposite is true (God investigates believers), but it is found that Leviticus 16's rituals and Daniel 8's prophecy focus on two different or opposite subjects (as the critics maintain), then the Adventist understanding of the judgment cannot be taken seriously.

(4) Is there anything in the Bible that suggests that there is a judgment that begins some time before the Second Coming? ----- If the Bible explicitly denies, or somehow makes impossible the idea that believers are judged prior to the Second Advent, then Adventist's investigative judgment doctrine's timing is inaccurate and the idea that any sort of judgment began in 1844 is false.

----- In The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment these four issues are settled in ways favorable to and in harmony with the Adventist investigative judgment doctrine. Because of this, the issues that critics usually raise in their efforts to dismiss the doctrine of the investigative judgment have lost the decisive significance normally attributed to them. Nevertheless, other objections have been raised and since these are important to some people, several are addressed here.

----- Below you will first find many, if not all, the questions that have been raised in opposition to the doctrine of the investigative judgment. Scrolling further down you will find the list repeated with short answers to each objection. In some cases you will find references to published materials that have reasonable answers to that particular question.

1 What clear statements of the Bible teach an investigative judgment long before the Second Coming?

2. What connections exists between the rituals of the day of atonement (Leviticus 16) and the prophecy of Daniel 8:14?

3. How can Seventh-day Adventist believe that the sins of the saints are the focus of Daniel 8:14–isn't this an illogical jump from one subject (the atrocities of the little horn against the saints) to a completely different subject?

4. How can a Christian have assurance of eternal life if there must be an investigative judgment of their fitness for heaven?

5. Is there good reason to accept the day for a year principle?

6. Does blood defile and cleanse? Did the sins of the saints defile the earthly sanctuary?

7. Does the book of Hebrews make a latter day fulfillment of the day of atonement rituals impossible?

8. Is the date 457 B.C. well established?

9. Is the 457 BC decree of Ezra 7 the fulfillment of the prediction of Daniel 9 concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem?

10. Do we know the dates for Jesus's birth, baptism, and death?

11. Is Atiochus Epiphanes IV the fulfillment of the little horn of Daniel 8?

12. Is the judgment of Daniel 7, Daniel 8, and Revelation 14:7 only a judgment upon the wicked and not an announcement of a judgment of the saints?

13. Was October 22, 1844 the tenth day of the seventh month?

14. What answers do we have to Raymond Cottrell's Interpretation of Daniel?

15. What answer do we have to objections to the use of the word "cleanse", rather than "make right", in the King James Version of Daniel 8:14?

16. Has the investigative judgment been presented in a legalistic way?

17. Jesus and the writers of the New Testament indicate that the Second Coming, and therefore the judgment, should have occurred in the First Century. Doesn't this mean that a judgment beginning in 1844 would be out of the question?

18. Some have said that the investigative judgment happens in an instant just before the Second Coming. Can that be true? The answer to this question can be found by clicking here.

19. Does the investigative judgment involve an illogical time consuming consideration of the believer?

20. Seventh-day Adventists have interpreted the day of atonement ritual concerning the goat for Azazel as being a representative of Satan. Our fellow Christians question how Azazel/scapegoat could be Satan. They say, You are making Satan your savior. And we say, Heaven forbid! Click here for seven reasons why it is reasonable to believer that the goat for Azazel is Satan.


Biblical Answers and Resources


1. What clear didactic statements of the Bible teach an investigative judgment long before the Second Coming?
See, The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment, Chapters 1, 3, 6, 11.

2. What connections exists between the rituals of the day of atonement (Leviticus 16) and the prophecy of Daniel 8:14?
See, The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment, Chapter 7

3. How can Seventh-day Adventist believe that the sins of the saints are the focus of Daniel 8:14–isn't this an illogical jump from one subject (the atrocities of the little horn against the saints) to a completely different subject?
See, The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment, Chapter 8; Clifford Goldstein, Graffiti in the Holy of Holies, pp. 63 - 66

4. How can a Christian have assurance of eternal life if there must be an investigative judgment of their fitness for heaven?
See, The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment, Chapters 2,4,5

5. Is there good reason to accept the day for a year principle?
Yes, see Williams Shea, Selected Studies on Prophetic Interpretation, Revised ed., Daniel and Revelation Committee Series, vol. 1, pp. 67 - 110; Clifford Goldstein, Graffiti in the Holy of Holies, pp. 104 - 113

6. Does blood defile and cleanse? Did the sins of the saints defile the earthly sanctuary?
This matter is a question of the Adventist view that the blood produced by sacrifices offered by the people defiled the earthly sanctuary. There are various matters involved in this challenge that I will not address here. It seems to me that there is one fundamental issue which should be our focus: Did the earthly sanctuary need to be cleansed? If so, a need for cleansing the heavenly sanctuary would be possible. And, of course, we know that Hebrews 9:23 speaks of such a cleansing.

But many believe that the book of Hebrews teaches that this cleansing happened in AD 31. See next question for further discussion of this point. See, Frank Holbrook, The Atoning Priesthood of Jesus Christ, pp. 101 - 105

7. Does the book of Hebrews make a latter day fulfillment of the day of atonement rituals impossible?
Desmond Ford argues that Hebrews sets the time for the fulfillment of the day of atonement in AD 31, but he then weakens this position with his conclusion that the day of atonement applies to both AD 31 and to the last days (D. Ford, Daniel 8:14: The Day of Atonement and the Investigative Judgment, pp. 67-69). The fact is that the Adventist's latter-day application of the day of atonement has abundant support. For example, Ford admits that there is ample evidence in Revelation that the day of atonement addresses the last days (D. Ford, Op. cit., p. 3). Since we agree that the day of atonement has latter day application, the only thing left to discuss is which aspects of the day of atonement rituals still apply. Is there a latter-day cleansing or righting? Yes. Hebrews uses Old Testament texts in a way that is best understood as, what I would call, "inspired accommodation." This means that the Old Testament passages are not quoted as proof. Instead they are adapted, perhaps even reinterpreted (e.g., Heb 1:5,8,9). Here the inspired author of Hebrews is not interpreting (telling us the meaning of) an Old Testament passage. Paul is not implying, in his use of these passages, that their meaning or fulfillment have been exhausted. We should remember this as we read the reference to cleansing in Hebrews 9:23. Indeed, the day of atonement cleansing rituals were not exhausted of their meaning in AD 31; for, Daniel 12:10 &
Malachi 3:2,3 indicate a last-day cleansing of the saints and Daniel 8:14 indicates a last-day cleansing or righting of God's sanctuary.

8. Is the date 457 B.C. well established?
Yes. See, Clifford Goldstein, Graffiti in the Holy of Holies, pp. 98-103; Siegfried Horn and Lynn Wood, The Chronology of Ezra 7

9. Is the 457 BC decree of Ezra 7 the fulfillment of the prediction of Daniel 9 concerning the rebuilding of Jerusalem?
Yes. See The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment, Chapter 11

10. Do we know the dates for Jesus's birth, baptism, and death?
Yes. See, Clifford Goldstein, Graffiti in the Holy of Holies, pp. 98 - 103; C. Mervin Maxwell, God Cares, Vol. One, pp. 215-219,226,227

11. Is Atiochus Epiphanes IV the fulfillment of the little horn of Daniel 8?
No. See Williams Shea, Selected Studies on Prophetic Interpretation, Revised ed., Daniel and Revelation Committee Series, vol. 1, pp. 31 - 66; Clifford Goldstein, Graffiti in the Holy of Holies, pp. 21-44. Nowhere does Des Ford (and those that argue against our Adventist pioneers understanding of Daniel 8:14) have a weaker case than on this point. It seems that the strength of Ford's argument rests on the fact that Jews and early Christians--who obviously knew nothing of the papacy--believed Atiochus best fulfilled the prophecy of Dan 8:14. It does not seem to occur to Ford (et al) that these same people might have changed their interpretation if they lived to see the papal persecutions of the saints, its attacks on God's sanctuary, and its efforts to change God's times and laws.

12. Is the judgment of Daniel 7, Daniel 8, and Revelation 14:7 only a judgment upon the wicked and not an announcement of a judgment of the saints?
The judgment of the church is pictured in each. See The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment, Chapter 7

13. Was October 22, 1844 the tenth day of the seventh Hebrew month?
Yes. See Williams Shea, Selected Studies on Prophetic Interpretation, Revised ed., Daniel and Revelation Committee Series, vol. 1, pp. 165-171

14. What answers do we have to Raymond Cottrell's Interpretation of Daniel?
The late Raymond Cottrell's thoughts on Daniel have not been widely circulated in the Adventist church. However, his concerns and doubts about the Adventist position on the prophecies of Daniel, in particular Daniel 8:14, have circulate widely enough to have a significant effect on our discussion of the investigative judgment.

It is no doubt that Elder Cottrell should be respected for his accomplishments in mastering the Hebrew language. It is a fact that his understanding of the Hebrew text of Daniel led him to conclusions that did not support the doctrine of the investigative judgment.

How shall we address his concerns?
1. While we do not want to simply dismiss brother's Cottrell's expertise, it must be admitted that It is beyond the ability of most lay members to properly judge his conclusions. Simply put, few read and understand Hebrew. We are on dangerous ground if we leave it to one person to tell us what the Bible means. "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation" 2 Pet 1:20. Those who make Dr. Cottrell the final word on Daniel and the Adventist doctrine of the investigative judgment are making him the final word--their private irrefutable interpreter. I honestly doubt that he would have wanted people to elevate him to the level of infallible interpreter of Scripture. Therefore, our first answer to Dr. Cottrell's concerns is that 99% of those who read his writings or listen to recordings of his presentations cannot know for certain that he is right.
2. The second response to Dr. Cottrell is this: In The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment there is sufficient evidence to show that the doctrine of the investigative judgment is biblically sound. There is also in this book powerful evidence that shows that the pioneers were correct in their understanding that there was a connection between the prophecy of Daniel 8 and the day of atonement rituals of Leviticus 16.

15. What answer do we have to objections to the use of the word "cleanse", rather than "make right", in the King James Version of Daniel 8:14?
We may rightly wonder if the translators of the King James Version, or at least those who prepared the manuscripts that it was taken from, felt there was a connection between the prophecy of Daniel 8 and day of atonement rituals of
Leviticus 16. For, they chose to use the word "cleanse" instead of the term "justify," or "make right" in rendering Daniel 8:14. Perhaps they understood that making the sanctuary right was accomplished in its cleansing on the day
of atonement. If these able scholars did make this connection, we have a third reason to be cautious in accepting a private interpretation of Daniel (See answers to Cottrell).

16. Has the investigative judgment been presented in a legalistic way?
Yes, it is true that the presentation of the investigative judgment by some has been mixed with legalism as well as a distorted view of Christian perfection (Matt 5:48; Heb 12:14). The investigative judgment of the living has been presented as an unknown time when God checks to see if all sins are confessed, forsaken, and overcome. The idea has been given that if, at the moment one's name comes up before the court, that person is in anyway transgressing the eternal verdict goes against them. This misguided presentation has left Adventists feeling hopelessly discouraged and lost. It is no wonder that some Adventist pastors and lay members have tended to avoid or even oppose this doctrine over the decades. Think of the implications of this legalism: The legalistic presentation says, God is going to come to your name at a time when you think not. An occasional misdeed could be deadly. Misbehavior at that moment when your name comes up will cause you to be lost. If on the other hand, you are doing good when heaven takes up your case, you will judged fit for eternity. So, the only safe course is to be doing only good. There is certainly no time for
growth in such an understanding of the investigative judgment. Sanctification is not the work of a life time. We must overcome TODAY if we expect to be saved in such a judgment. We must have instant perfection TODAY, or we have no assurance of eternal life. This makes it too hard to be saved.

While it is true that some have presented the investigative judgment this way, this is not the biblical doctrine of the judgment. Thus, this legalistic view has never been the official doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, and 11, you will find a far more accurate picture of the investigative judgment and of the Gospel. The investigative judgment is Christ engaged in a work of defending and delivering His beloved children. In The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment you will see that God has not made it too hard to be saved.

17. Jesus and the writers of the New Testament indicate that the Second Coming, and therefore the judgment, should have occurred in the First Century. Doesn't this mean that a judgment beginning in 1844 would be out of the question?
No. This is shown:
1. By the fact that Jesus anticipated such a delay (Matt 24:48; 25:5 (Gr., chronizo is used in both passages),
2. By Jesus', and other's instruction in the New Testament, that shows that during the whole Christian era believers
are investigated. See, The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment, Chapter 1, 2, and 6, and
3. By the history of Bible prophecy, which anticipates such timing for the judgment to begin. See, The Silencing of Satan: The Gospel of the Investigative Judgment, Chapter 11

18* Some have said that the investigative judgment happens in an instant just before the Second Coming. Can that be true?

No. Those who advocate this notion retain the idea of judgment, even some sort of investigative judgment, yet deny that this judgment is a time consuming process. Hence it cannot have been going on since 1844. But this understanding of divine judgment falls short. A more complete understanding of the biblical doctrine of salvation and judgment, as layed out in The Silencing of Satan, shows that God's judgment is a process involving the actions of the human subject, and not simply a unilateral decision on the part of God. For a more complete understanding of the place of judgment in the Gospel read The Silencing of Satan Chapters 1 - 3, and 6 and then note the following:

As seen in the following passages, trials, believer testing, and examination, produce, or accompany purification. This fact is relevant to the question of whether the investigative judgment happens in an instant just before the Second Coming:

Dan 11:35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try (6884) them, and to purge (1305), and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed. (Numbers in parehtansis in this and in the following passages are Strong's lexicon numbers)

Dan 12:1, 9, 10: And 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, every one that shall be found written in the book . . . . And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified (1305), and made white, and tried (6884); but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

---- The time of the last trial and testing that I have associated with the investigative judgment of the living in The Silencing of Satan, Chapter 6, is a time of purification. Purification of sinners implies the passing of a period of time. Jesus speaks of the last great tribulation in Matthew 24 and pictures this last great trial as a significant period of time. It is obvious that this time of tribulation is the same as the time of trouble discribed by Daniel:

Matt 24:For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not . . . . 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Notice:
(1) Matt 24:22 uses the term "days", indicating a period of time for the great tribulation.
(2) Matt 24:23 indicates a period of time for a counterfeit appearance of Christ.
(3) Matt 24:29 shows us that this tribulation is followed by period of time in which signs in the heavens appear.

Zech 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine (6884) them as silver is refined (6884), and will try (974, search or investigate) them as gold is tried (974, search or investigated for impurities): they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say,The LORD is my God.

---- The context of Zechariah 13:9 is usually associated with end-time events. Therefore this indicates that in the fiery trials of the last days is a purifying experience that searches and investigates human beings.

Mal 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 2But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's (6884) fire, and like fullers' soap: 3And he shall sit as a refiner (6884) and purifier (2891) of silver: and he shall purify (2891) the sons of Levi, and purge (2212 ) them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

----- By the time Jesus comes again the fate of the dead has already been decided in the pre-advent investigative judgment. It is written in Heb 9:27 that ". . . it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." The judgment happens for those who have died sometime after their demise. The Adventist understanding of this is that the judgment of the dead began, after their death, in 1844. And, since that time the judgment of each person occures following their time of death.

---- But there must also be some sort of judgment for those believers who never die--those living when Christ comes. This is where the idea of an instant judgment at the moment Jesus comes fails the test of the biblical evidence. Zechariah, Malachi and Daniel have a parallel theme of a time of tribulation, trial, and purification just before the Second Coming and the resurrection of believers. This shows that the investigative judgment is not an event that happens in a moment – just before the Second Coming. Those who think that the investigative judgment happens in an instant just before Jesus comes a second time obviously do not understand that the investingation is a testing of the beliver's faith and loyalty, nor do thy seem to appreciate the implications of this Biblical doctrine upon the fate of those who are alive when Jesus comes again. After one realizes that the investigation is a matter of testing and purifying sanctifying) trials, the connection to end time events is obvious: The investigative jugment of the living is accomplished in a Job-like judgment of character in the Great Time of Tribulation of the last days. Since, as most Bible students know, this time of trouble will not be an momentary affair, but a period of time that precedes the Second Advent, it is impossible for the investigative judgment of the living to be finished in an instant.

19. Does the investigative judgment involve an illogical time consuming consideration of the believer?

Some think that it is illogical because it would take too long to judge each person. Of course, this may be mistaken by some as a way to dismiss the investigative judgment doctrine. Kevin Ferris, while not dismissing the investigative judgment per se, writes in an online edition of Adventist Review:

"If each of the 6 billion inhabitants of today's world were granted the same privilege, the judgment would take more than a million years from start to finish! Proportionately speaking, over the years since 1844, you would have only one second or less! Count 'one . . .'--and it's over!

"Of course this is not a problem to God, who can bring any dimension to time He requires. But if we insist on applying human understandings to heavenly affairs, then we must follow our assumptions to their logical end."

Kevin misses the importance of his own point when he writes "Of course this is not a problem to God, who can bring any dimension to time He requires." Kevin, in that one sentence, undoes all he points out as being a problem for the investigative judgment doctrine as conceived by Adventist pioneers. God is, if he chooses to be, above and outside
of our understanding of time. To Him a thousand years may seem as a day and a day may seem as the passing of a thousand years. If God so desired, I suppose He could carry on our judgment while making time as we know it stand still. And, therefore, following our understanding of God's power to its logical ends, leads us to conclude that Kevin is partially correct and mostly wrong--wrong that time is a problem with the investigative judgment, right in solving his own problem. Let us agree with Kevin then, we should not "insist on applying human understandings to heavenly affairs." Let an understanding of Jesus and the study of the Word of God be our source of understanding.

20. Seventh-day Adventists have interpreted the day of atonement ritual concerning the goat for Azazel as being a representative of Satan. Our fellow Christians question how Azazel/scapegoat could be Satan. They say, "You are making Satan your savior."

And we say, Heaven forbid!

Jesus said in Jn 8:36" If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

The problem and Our challenge: *Rom 3:25 "God presented him [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement" & Lev 16:10,22 . . . the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement. . . . . The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land.

Our goal: To show how Satan fits the description of Azazel and how this fits into the everlasting Gospel. And, answer the question, "How can we say that the vile enemy of souls makes atonement!?"

Please read Lev 16:7-22:

Lev 16:7 "He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 8 "Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 "And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD'S lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. 10 "But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness. . . . . 20 "And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 21 "Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 "The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

Here are seven noteworthy matters in our quest to understand the meaning of the symbolism of the goat for Azazel.

1. The meaning of Azazel/scapegoat: Most take it to be goat of departure; the scapegoat. But others suggest something different. They say it means the goat god. Here is how they come to this translation: *"Azaz" is goat (see Strong's number 5810) and "el" is god (see Strong's number 410). It is not a new idea that the angel Lucifer would be referred to as a "god." For example the NT refers to Satan as the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4). And, in Ps 8:5 we find some translations render the word "elohim," "angels."

2. The sanctuary is not only an enactment of how Christ will save His children but it also tells us what happens to the wicked: In Ps 73 the psalmist poses a common delema in the minds of the righteous. Namely, Lord why are the wicked and the violent so prosperous and the innocent and the righteous oppressed?

*Ps 73:12 This is what the wicked are like-- always carefree, they increase in wealth. .. .14 . . . [but] I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. . . .16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. (NIV)

*Rev 14:6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim . . . 7 He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. . ." (NIV)

As we consider Azazel/scapegoat we need to realize that the gospel, and this includes the gospel taught in the sanctuary, includes the truth of the judgment–even a judgment day for the devil.

3. The fact that the focus of the Azazel/scapegoat ritual is on cleansing the sanctuary of the sins of Gods people indicates that this is not a symbol of Christ's death on the cross, because Jesus' death on the cross was for the sins of all humanity. Jn 3:16

4. Some have said that because the Azazel goat makes atonement this can only be a representation of Jesus taking our sins away. Here is the reason we can say with certainty that the atonement accomplished by the Azazel/scapegoat ritual does not mean Azazel/scapegoat could only be a representation of Christ: The Bible is clear that the death of the evil ones also makes atonement. Yes, vengeance is part of the atonement. (Deut 32:35a,39-40,41b,43 NIV)

*Deut 32:35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay. . . . 39 "See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. 40 I lift my hand to heaven and declare: As surely as I live forever, 41 . . . I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. . . .

*Deut 32:43 Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people. (NIV)

The day that God takes vengeance upon Satan it will be an atonement for Himself and for us. Before heaven and earth can be forevermore "at one" Satan and all other influences that keep sin alive must be eliminated

An example of this type of atonement is found in Num 25. In Num 25:10-18 we have the conclusion of the account of the attempt of the Midianite's to beguile the Israelites into immorality. The plan was to cause them to lose God's protection and blessing by causing them to fall into sexual promiscuity and idolatry. Many of the people fell as a result of this temptation. As a result, Moses orders the execution of the rebellious. However, before the sentence is carried out, an Isralite man named Zimri openly defies Moses by taking a Midianite woman into his tent and, once there, begins to have sexual relations with her. Filled with zeal for God one of the priestly family, Phinehas, enters Zimri's tent and with one blow kills both Zimri and the woman. Suddenly, God's wrath is turned away from Israel. Phinehas' actions are said to have accomplished this change (verse 11). In verse 18 the Lord includes Zimri as one who sought to beguile Israel into sin. He and the woman defiantly sought to rekindle the plan to tempt Israel to reject God's law. In verse 13 we learn that in killing those two tempters Phinehas "made an atonement for the children of Israel."

Our enemies are often our tempters. They not only want to ruin our temporal peace but also our eternal salvation. Jesus indicated that God holds accountable those who tempt others to sin and hints that such persons are to be judged harshly; for, He said, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it
would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matt 18:6, NKJ)

In the story of Phinehas and Zimri we see that the destruction of our tempter is another aspect of our atonement. Therefore it is biblically sound to suggest that the destruction of Satan is part of Christ's plan to make atonement for His children.

*Heb 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. 23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

Here in the Day of Atonement ritual there is one of the things not purified, or cleansed with Christ's blood. God's place or God's method of saving us is to be purged somehow in God's dealing with Satan.

So, this is why we can say that we do not make Satan our savior and say that the scapegoat is a symbol of Satan: Atonement is not only what Christ does to save us, it is also what God does to avenge and rid Himself, and us, of Satan's evil influence. The scapegoat is sent out from the presence of God and His people into the wilderness. This is a prophetic enactment a staged symbolic drama of what we read in Rev 20. Satan is separated from the saints and eventually from God in Rev 20.

This is also indicated in the next point we raise in offering a Biblical interpretation which identifies Satan with Azazel/scapegoat. The casting of lots imagery gives us the same message.

5. The casting of lots and its meaning may be applied to Satan: Consider now please what the Bible says about casting lots. Its use in Bible times gives us insight.

*Prov 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision [Hebrew: judgment] is from the LORD. (NAS)
*Isa 17:14 . . . the portion . . .and the lot of them (meaning the future of the enemies of God's people)
*Obad 1:11 cast lots for Jerusalem[‘s future]
*Josh 14:1-2 Israel inherited in the land of Canaan. . . . Their [the future] inheritance [of the people of God] was by lot
*Isa 34:17 And he hath cast the lot for them. . . possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.
*Prov 18:18 The lot puts an end to contentions, and decides between the mighty. (NAS)

Think of Jonah rebelling and running away from God. Remember how the sailors said,
*Jonah 1:7 let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.

Here is what this adds to an interpretation of the Azazel/scapegoat ceremony:
*The casting of Lots for Azazel/scapegoat is prophetic — For its every decision [Hebrew: judgment] is from the LORD (Prov 16:33) concerning the future of the enemies of God's people (Isa 17:14), for Jerusalem[‘s future](Obad 1:11), and for [the future] inheritance [of the people of God] (Josh 14:1-2) to see who will possess it for ever (Isa 34:17). But also means God puts an end to contentions (Prov 18:18) between Himself and Satan in a manner that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us (Jonah 1:7).

Who has caused this evil that is upon us? The Azazel/scapegoat ritual points out that the instigator bears blame of the sins of others he has inspired and is thus also guilty of their sins.

That is why we read:
*Lev 16:22 "The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land . . .
Illus. Debra Rose is accused of kidnaping her son. If it is true, then even though she did not herself beat up her ex-husband and kidnap her son, she is guilty of all that the others did. She was guilty from the time she began to discuss the plot with those who carried it out. She instigated it all and is clearly guilty of all she incited them to do for her. So also Satan who instigated sin in us. He is guilty of all our sins with us. Guilty of the sins of the saved. He sought to cause our ruin, but

*Ps 7:14 Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity; yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood. 15 He made a pit and dug it out, and has fallen into the ditch which he made. 16 His trouble shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown. (NKJ, Cf. Prov 26:27)

As we see how the lot was used, and the inspired wisdom concerning its use, we get a picture of how the casting of lots for the goat for Azazel/scapegoat symbolizes God dealing with Satan: According to Scripture, God controls the decision arrived at; hence, He is sovereign in the process. We might say that in this way He is the judge who determines the outcome of the contest–just as Christ is the ultimate judge and is in charge of the outcome of the judgment of all creation. In the end the New Jerusalem will be at the center of the battle for control of the earth and the place of final judgment. The lot is symbolic of the time when the final decision over who will inherit the Holy City and the whole earth and possess it forever. The lot is used to put an end to contentions. In this way the casting of the lot is prophetic of the day that the conflict between Christ and Satan is brought to and end. In harmony with this is the way the lot symbolizes the judgment of God revealing the one who is the cause of evil. There comes a day when Satan is unmasked as one who has run away from God and worthy of being "cast over the side." His ejection calms the storms of conflict completely.

*ATONEMENT AT-ONE-MENT AT ONE WITH GOD EVER AFTER THEN AND ONLY THEN WE ARE FREE INDEED.

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (KJV)

Illus The old miner raised a slave girl above the level of being considered no more than an animal, but she did not have the same potential for success in society as a contemporary white woman? It would be anther 100 years that our society faced the fact that African Americans had a right to the same place on the bus, the same voting rights. Oppression exists all over this earth today. In many lands Christians are not free of civil oppression. But even if every land were as free as we are in the USA, real freedom will not come until we are completely free of Satan's influences. We are not free of him until he is unable to afflict us, tempt us, distract us, etc. The Azazel/scapegoat ritual on the Day of Atonement is an enactment that prophecies that some day we will be 100% free at last from our enemy! Thank God Almighty we will be free at last.

6. Another indication, which is related to the previous point, that affirms that Azazel represents Satan not Christ is found in the book of Revelation.

Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Remember Azazel being sent out of the sanctuary and the camp as we explore one more reason that Satan fits live-goat enactments of the day of atonement. First the goat for Azazel was taken out of the sanctuary (a symbol of heaven). Next he was led through and then out of the camp to be forever cut of from it. This was the fate of apostates and lawless persons (Lev 10:1-5; Lev 23:30; Lev 18:29) the leper and the unclean (Lev 13:46; Lev 7:20-21) the one who desecrates what is holy (Lev 19:8), and "...anyone who sins defiantly" (Num 15:30, NIV). Each of these is a fitting representation of the enemy of souls in his relationship with God and humankind.

Now when the goat for Azazel was led out into the desert, do you think he stayed willingly? Mainly the food but also the company of the other goats and the treat of being killed by other beasts urged him to return. So, I cannot believe that the live goat for Azazel was just taken out and left there I imagine a few stones were needed to get it to get the idea it was no longer welcome. That goat was forced to leave and stay away. This fits the prophecy about Lucifer given in the book of Revelation. In fact, the ritual is carried out in the same order as the prophecies in Revelation. First Satan is sent out of heaven (symbolized by the earthly sanctuary) and made to stay out (Rev 12:9). Then, in fulfillment of the goat being led through and out of the camp, in Revelation 20 he is separated from the people (Rev 20:2,3) and in completion of the day of atonement's prophetic enactment it is outside the camp, on the final day of judgment, that he meets his eternal sentence of unending separation from God and His redeemed (Rev.20).

In six ways we have seen that identifying the goat for Azazel as a representative of Satan is perfectly biblical. Other proofs which lead to this conclusion are given in the writings of others.

7. So, as a seventh support for out contention that Azazel we would refer you to them. Adventists are hardly alone in their interpretation of the Azazel symbol. Others have conculded that identification of Azazel with Satan is a reasonable explanation based on contextual considerations. Sources which list non-SDA authorities that acknowledge the reasonableness of assigning to Azazel the meaning of a personal evil being such as Satan are: Questions On Doctrine, Review and Herald Publishing Association. c. 1957, pp. 391-395, and Francis D. Nichol, Answers to Objections, Review and Herald Publishing Association, c. 1952, pp. 720 - 727. For an excellent recent study of the history of this matter see also, Williams Shea, Azazel in the Pseudepigrapha, Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, vol. 13, number 1 (Spring 2002), pp. 1-9, for an explanation of four centuries of Jewish statements, spanning the second century B.C. through the first century A.D., concerning Azazel


Biblical answers to objections raised against the investigative judgment doctrine: