Richard Rice and the Question of Eschatology– Part III

Then you simply don’t grasp what letters such as Galatians, Romans, etc., are saying.



the only thing that “changed” in the transition from the OC to the NC is that symbolism has given way to the reality of christ and the heavenly sanctuary…the gift of christ as our sacrifice and high priest was in operation well before calvary, and has operated ever since…

the gift of christ is the only basis of salvation, whether we’re talking ancient israel or now…the holiness and character of god, and his condemnation of sin, didn’t suddenly change at the cross…god is now what he has always been…he will always be what he has ever been…we have clear biblical statements that explain that god doesn’t change…no amount of eisegesis of the letters of paul can change the clarity of these statements, which exist in both the OT and the NT…

The original covenant was made on the basis of FAITH, not the sanctuary with its services. Paul makes that clear over and over again. The sacrifices in the sanctuary were “added because of transgressions” until the seed appeared - with whom the original covenant was made. Now, the law which was the schoolmaster, teaching us the need for redemption, has been placed in our hearts without the need to refer to that schoolmaster - the law. The law is in our hearts, not on table of stone.


the OC was made on the basis of faith in christ, the actual sacrifice, and the actual high priest of the actual sanctuary in heaven…this is true even if the average person living in OC times didn’t understand what he or she was involved in…the reality of the NC, or AC (actual covenant), was a progressive revelation…it wasn’t until NT times that even inspired individuals began to understand this…

exactly…the law hasn’t been destroyed…it is alive and well in our hearts…

to be fair, even during the table of stone days, people who really strove to obey the law had it written in their hearts…for instance, david meditated on it day and night…

You are confusing the interim system put in place by the schoolmaster (the law) with the OC. Jesus has nothing to do with the earthly sanctuary, (and by extension for SDA theology, the heavenly either). The Abrahamic covenant wasn’t made with Jews, but Abraham and his seed. Jesus wasn’t the high priest according to the Mosaic sanctuary law - the Aaronic priesthood (Heb. 5). He was high priest according to Melchizedek, who never served in the sanctuary service instituted by Moses later. Before Moses, the only covenant in place was the covenant of PROMISE - with Abraham and his SEED (singular - Christ) - not seeds (Gal. 3). Faith in that seed covenant is what Christians rely on. We are saved by faith in that covenant) and the NT calls that the New Covenant, as apposed to the Mosaic (Old Covenant).

(Hebrews 8 and Jeremiah 31)

Paul clarifies this in Romans 4, dividing our Abrahamic faith from the covenant based on the LAW. It is the Abrahamic covenant that saves: For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he will be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.



Listen to what Sirje is saying and go back and read Galatians, and all of Paul’s arguments in its historical context. You have an whole ahistorical idea of the covenants and law that is confused and convoluted.



What is so often done in these discussions about Old vs. New Covenant is to detach the concept from the historical and temporal nature of biblical covenants, in favor of an individual experiential framework. God doesn’t change is also trotted out, without taking into account that the way he dealt with people in time can and did.

The Sinai covenant was a contract made with one people, Israel. It says so right in the Torah. It was a benefactor/beneficiary, suzerain/vassal type of arrangement whose stipulations were the 10 words and by extension, all the commands of the Torah. It was through the observance of the Torah that Israel was to show her faithfulness as a people to YHWH, their benefactor. The entry sign into life under the covenant was circumcision. The outward sign of belonging to YHWH under this covenant also cited in the Hebrew scriptures was sabbath observance.

Over centuries, the outward signs of the covenant came to identify Israel’s status before the nations. Circumcision, sabbath, and food laws, were the boundary markers of covenant belonging to YHWH. Insiders followed and practiced these observances, visibly distinguishing them from outsiders. If non Hebrew males wanted to become insiders, reckoned righteous observers of the covenant, they too had to become circumcised, follow the clean/unclean food laws, and take up sabbath and calendar observances. Becoming a Torah observant Jew was the accepted practice. Full belonging could not happen apart from this.

These are the flashpoint issues, especially in Galatians, that Paul took up in his overall argument about the passage from the Old to New Covenant. Gentiles, who had come to faith in Jesus the messiah, and had received his powerful, transformative Spirit, were being told by certain teachers that they had to become circumcised, and take up Torah observance in order to fully belong to the Jesus movement, seen as a sect of Judaism, and to the people of God as a whole, Israel.

Paul fights this with a resounding no! No one, including Jews by birth, is justified (in right covenant relationship and belonging), by the deeds of the law, the observances that visibly marked out Jews as Jews. It was now solely through faith/ belonging to Christ, and by the reception of his powerful, life giving Spirit. Torah observance, and the visible signs of it, circumcision, food laws, and sabbath observance, played no part in this. In fact, by trying to add Torah observance to this, Christ and his gospel would be made of no effect. Righteousness, full covenant belonging, would actually depend on the observance of the Torah, not on faith in Christ.

Paul goes on to show that not only are these outward deeds of law not to be imposed upon Gentiles, and that they are to be fully accepted as Gentiles based on faith in Jesus as Messiah, but that the whole covenant based on Torah (the Sinai covenant) has come to its end. Its shelf life is up!

The Torah was the paidagogos/child custodian whose job was over. The child heir has come to full inheritance, and is no longer under the authority of the custodian, coming of full age in the Messiah. The Torah was not to be seen as a competing means to the promise of belonging. The promise preceded the Law and has now met its fulfillment in Christ, with the law as a temporary arrangement in between, until the Messiah came. The Law is portrayed as giving birth to slaves, akin to the Jerusalem below, but the promise gives birth to free people, whose belonging is to the Jerusalem above. Those who base their life and identity in the former can never receive the inheritance with the latter.

This is a brief synopsis of Paul’s tour de force. Argument after argument is made by him to show that the old covenant was a temporary arrangement with one people that had foreshadowed, had met its fulfillment, and had been eclipsed by the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah and the giving of his Spirit is enough to produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, faithfulness, etc., amongst a diverse and united people, to which the Torah was always pointing. Where that is being practiced and lived, the written code is no longer needed. Why would people in step with the Spirit and bearing the fruit of self giving love need a written code to tell them not to murder or to steal?

To say this was only about ceremonial law is reading later interpretive ideas back into the text. Paul meant the Torah/law as covenant…in its entirety. Including the 10 commandments, the central stipulations. Faith in Christ that blossoms into individuals and communities living out the type of love he displayed are the vibrant reality of what the first covenant pointed to as a pale shadow. In fact, Paul goes as far as saying that the old covenant belongs to old creation, exacerbating the problem of sin, creating walls and divisions based on ethnic and religious boundary markers, and having no place in the new creation/humanity of God, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, no male nor female, but all are one in the Messiah Jesus.

Adventism ignores all of this, tries to pass off the covenants as being no different from each other outside of animal sacrifices and ritual law, and tries to detach the 10 commandments and Lev. 11, in order to establish Sabbath observance and food laws as marks of belonging to the remnant church. It creates its own walls, based upon a confused and ahistorical picture of the covenants, that ends up trying to pour new wine into old wineskins.

Paul would not be giving it high marks…to say the least.




i think this is where our understanding of the covenants takes a different turn in the fork of the road that generally attends this subject…i believe jesus has everything to do with the sanctuary, in both the OC prototype sanctuary, and as well as the NC actual sanctuary…

that is, i agree with the apostles peter and john, who teach that jesus is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, which isn’t merely a reference to the burnt offerings of the patriarchs under the adamic and abrahamic covenants, but also to every sacrifice offered under sanctuary law articulated under the mosaic covenant, all of which can be seen to be progressive iterations of what we call the OC…more particularly, i agree with the author of Hebrews, whom we have reason to believe was paul, who depicts christ as both sacrifice and high priest in the heavenly sanctuary under what we call the NC…the point is that this NC can be seen to be a much more progressive iteration of god’s covenant with saved humanity than anything seen in the OC…

you are misunderstanding both Hebrews 8 and Jeremiah 31…the NC is called new, not because it’s different, but because a new, progressive understanding attends it…the fact that it is likely that no-one living under any of the iterations of the OC understood that christ was the foundation of their worship service doesn’t mean that christ wasn’t that foundation (here the notion that the meaning of scripture must be limited to the understanding of a particular bible writer and audience is particularly ignorant and mindless)…christ certainly understood that he was the light of the world, the bread of life, and the living water, all of which are sanctuary references, even if no-one else did…

the advantage we have over any of the patriarchs and prophets, and even the apostles, most of whom likely didn’t fully understand why the jewish economy was being steadily dismantled, is that we are in a position to see the full plan of god for fallen humanity that in former ages was only partially revealed…the distinction, then, between any of the covenants mentioned in the bible isn’t one of kind…it’s one of amount of revealed information…that is, we are in a position to see that christ is the true foundation of all of god’s dealings with fallen man in a way that no-one living in bible times could have…we can see that none of god’s dealings with humans since the fall of adam and eve are untouched by his gift of his eternal son…christ was and is the promise of god, who cannot lie, that gave efficacy to the sacrifices under the OC that symbolized him…he is that same promise of god that now gives efficacy to our repentance and ongoing sanctification efforts as we direct our faith to the MHP of the heavenly sanctuary, where we have reason to believe christ’s work for us as our high priest is almost over…NC sanctuary reality teaches us that christ is completely why we are able to be saved, even though we are born sinners, and will ever be sinners this side of translation even after we stop knowingly sinning…

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Of course you would disagree with my post. That is your prerogative. I do know the story line you have, believe me; but there’s no use arguing it. The fact is, it doesn’t even matter in the long run. What matters, however, is where we place our trust and our faith. If it helps you to trust God by believing all that, then that is what you need to believe. I don’t read the Bible that way. I see a different story.


What is a covenant? Beginning there and clarifying terms may help. It’s possible to be using the same words but pouring different meaning into them.


The NT is talking to two groups of people - Jews and the Gentiles. Initially most followers of Jesus were, of course, Jews, still following some of the OT rituals and attitudes, so Paul is gently telling them it’s no longer necessary, but “let each make up his mind about it.” IOW, those things no longer are in place. This was precisely the argument Paul had with Peter, who couldn’t let go of ther Jewishness of his faith.

The book of Hebrews was meant for the Jews, specifically, showing them how Christ has taken over the function of all the Jewish points of faith, “the Law and the Prophets”. Specifically Christ speaks as the final prophet; the high priest (not Aaronic line of priests, but like Melchizedek; Christ is both priest and sacrifice (as within the OC system); Christ is our Sabbath rest; and Christ places the law in our hearts instead of “tablets of stones”.

The biggest issue in Hebrews is chapters 8 and 9. How we understand these two, that causes all the problems within Adventist theology - this, and Rev. 19.

In line with the recipients of the book of Hebrews (the Hebrew people) At the end of ch.7 they are told Christ, as their high priest, doesn’t need to offer up scarifies daily because He did that once on the cross. And if - He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law (Aaronic priesthood); who serve A COPY AND SHADOW OF THE HEAVENLY THINGS. So, the earthly Sanctuary was only a copy of the real. At this point, SDA theology will say the “real” is in heaven where Jesus ministers just like the high priest did before.

Hold on — Chapter 9: The OC had regulations of worship in the earthly sanctuary which had an OUTER TABERNACLE, with a lamp stand, the table and sacred bread; this its called the HOLY PLACE. Behind the second veil was the HOLY OF HOLIES, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant…a golden jar holding manna, and Aaron’s rod…and the TABLETS OF THE COVENANT.

Priests were continually ministering in the outer tabernacle BUT into the second (Holy of Holies), only the high priest went just once a year. Verse 9:8 states: *The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed WHILE THE OUTER TABERNACLE IS STILL STANDING, WHICH IS A SYMBOL FOR THE PRESENT TIME. ACCORDINGLY BOTH GIFTS AND SACRIFICES ARE OFFERED WHICH CANNOT MAKE THE WORSHIPPER PERFECT IN CONSCIENCE, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body IMPOSED FOR THE BODY UNTIL A TIME OF REFORMATION.. But, when Christ came (a more perfect sacrifice and priest) He became the mediator of a new covenant.

The first compartment in the (tabernacle) represented the OC requiring washings etc. representing the earthly Jewish system performed in the Sanctuary services. The second compartment (Holy of Holies) represented heaven itself. Jesus the high priest entered it, when He ascended to heaven. He no longer ministers in the first compartment (since the first compartment was on earth) - He did that on earth, sacrificing his life (a better sacrifice); and now has entered the Holy of Holies (heaven) and SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD (10:12).

At the end of it all, Christ in essence, says: *Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them (which are offered according to the Law). Behold, I have come to do Your will. He takes away the first in order to establish the second.

There is no first compartment in the heavenly sanctuary. That compartment was on earth where Jesus offered himself once as the perfect sacrifice , entering heaven (Holy of Holies) to be in the presence of God - signified by the temple curtain taring from the top to the bottom - indicating that the veil between God and man has been removed by Christ’s sacrifice in the first compartment. We can now have access directly to God through Christ’s sacrifice -NEW COVENANT.

None of this means anything to a non-Jew. Gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to follow Christ. (Paul vs. Peter). Christ died “outside the gate” removing him from the Jewish holy places, giving his life for all mankind.


Yes, I simply take the NT imagery of the temple and its services in a general way as being summed up in Christ himself. His body is the temple, John 2, his body is also the curtain to the holy of holies, Hebrews 10, he is the high priest, he is the lamb, the purifying water, the light, etc. The church, the group of Jesus followers, becomes the visible temple post resurrection, the place where the presence of God dwells through his spirit, and where humanity and divinity meet in forgiveness, reconciliation, love, shalom, and true worship based on such.

The arguments in Galatians and even Romans concerning covenant though are not temple centric, being more concerned with Torah as covenant/contractual arrangement, and observance of the deeds of the Torah as the outward signs that people are in right covenant standing with God and belong to God’s people. This is what was being imposed on Gentiles members of the churches in Galatia, to which Paul strenuously objected. It bases justification, being a covenant insider, on Torah observance rather than on faith in/loyalty to Jesus as messiah, and the reception of his Spirit and the resulting visible fruit of love that the Spirit bears through them as the evidence of that belonging. The latter is how God’s people are recognized, and what covenant belonging looks like.

It also differentiates how God not only birthed and formed his new covenant people, but how he continues to empower and guide them. It is not by the Torah and its observance, it is by the Spirit. This is central to Galatians and to all of Paul’s theology.

Adventism gets it all twisted up on both counts: over literalizing the sanctuary in heaven, and adding its own cherry picked deeds of the law as conditional for belonging. It blunts the power of the gospel and the Spirit.

It’s a mess!




Yes it’s not that complicated. That’s why, when asked what is the most important commandment, Jesus didn’t launch into a big explanation but simply said, “love”- God and others.

My post was really meant for Jeremy but it was too late - too much time invested in my response.

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it’s this particular take on what Hebrews 9 is teaching that is causing your confusion…i’ve heard this take from many evangelicals, desperate in their quest to obliterate the binding character of the 10 commandments, especially the 4th commandment dealing with the 7th day sabbath…i believe i’ve also heard desmond ford make this same mistake…

what is generally missed in Hebrews 9 is that the word translated as tabernacle is used to mean the individual compartments of the sanctuary, but also the sanctuary as a whole…similarly, the term translated as holiest of all, or most holy, can refer to the MHP of either the earthly or heavenly sanctuary, in contradistinction to the HP of either sanctuary, but it can also refer to the heavenly sanctuary as a whole, in contradistinction to the earthly sanctuary as a whole…there’s no need to believe that the same word or term must always refer to the same thing in greek any more than it needs to in any other language…the point is that the larger context of Hebrews is that the OC has given way to the NC, and it is this context that must inform our understanding of the words and terms in the discussion in Hebrews 9…that the HP of the earthly sanctuary typifies christ’s life and death on earth, and the MHP of the earthly sanctuary typifies his invisible ministry in heaven, destroys this context…it is an unwarranted interpretation…

all Hebrews 9 is saying, after delineating the compartments of the earthly sanctuary, is that while the services of this earthly sanctuary were operational, the reality of the heavenly sanctuary had not yet activated…Hebrews 9 then explains that now that jesus has entered that heavenly sanctuary and activated that heavenly ministry, our faith must transfer from the priesthood in the earthly sanctuary to our high priest in the heavenly sanctuary, who is jesus (i agree that Hebrews is addressed to jewish christians and gentile proselytes who saw merit in the OC services)…Hebrews 9 isn’t making any analogy between the earthly sanctuary and jesus’ life and ministry…in fact it’s making an analogy between the earthly sanctuary and the heavenly sanctuary, and the earthly priesthood and jesus’ high priesthood…

Hebrews 8 prepares this conclusion in its explicit teaching that the earthly sanctuary and priesthood, in their entirety, foreshadow a reality in heaven, which has a real high priest named jesus, ministering in a real heavenly sanctuary…there is no split in this earthly model presented here that can justify a similar split in it’s meaning in Hebrews 9…moreover, post-ascension scripture, like Rev 1, depicts christ in the HP of that heavenly sanctuary, where we would expect him to be…Rev 4 depicts god the father also in the HP of the heavenly sanctuary, where we would also expect him to be if christ is standing at his right hand…

the simple truth that since the fall, god through christ has been reconciling the world to himself, is marvellously seen in the progressive iterations of the covenant he has made with saved humanity, which at this juncture we refer to as the NC…he has done this because christ has indeed been the propitiations for our sins and shortcomings since the world began, before the fall…this is the reality that the sacrifices of the patriarchs and the other iterations of the OC have taught, even though it is true that this teaching wasn’t understood on any level by rank and file believers…the wonder of Hebrews is that it opens to our understanding a level of divine involvement in our salvation that is far-reaching and all-encompassing, backwards in time and into the future…there is no need to contort this grand truth, arguably the greatest truth presented in all of inspiration, by reading into the clear progression of revelation presented extraneous material that cannot be sustained…

I have no idea what the evangelicals believe on that score. That is what I understood while studying on my own. It only works out your way if you need the cleansing of t he temple to be in heaven, a la cornfield revelation. Without a previous agenda, the whole thing comes out looking different. But, this isn’t the ultimate final exam we have to pass.

I have never understood the need to know the exact time of the end- like we don’t know when we will breathe our last breath, we don’t know when this will end. The end will come when it comes. But to keep dragging out the symbolism of the OT rituals into the NT, is only helpful for the Jews.

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it’s a question of highlighting what the NT itself claims, which is that jesus is now our high priest, ministering for us in the heavenly sanctuary, of which the OT sanctuary was a replica…maintaining that the cleansing of the temple is in heaven isn’t an agenda item…it’s acknowledging what the book of Hebrews teaches, which is that the actual temple, of which the OT sanctuary was a replica, is in heaven…

if it’s any comfort to you, the new jerusalem will have no temple in it…this is because the sanctuary in heaven is how god has been dealing with sin, and by the time the new jerusalem rolls out, sin will have been vanquished and eliminated, which will have the added advantage of giving us direct and open communication with our creator without that sin-filtering temple…

Frank…I think you’ve nailed it…I totally agree!


Sorry, I don’t believe any of that. And by the way, sin has already been vanquished - at the cross, when Jesus declared, “It is finished.”

Sirje, all the apostles teach us to not sin, which is a bit rich if they knew all sin was vanquished at the cross. In the OC prototype, sin was only vanquished at the conclusion of the Day of Atonement, at the end of the sanctuary cycle. This is how things are unfolding in heaven now. The books of record are in the process of being cleansed. The book of life is being drawn up.

What was finished at the cross was any possibility for the plan of salvation to be disrupted by satanic efforts.

As a musician, I’m sure you know it’s not enough to merely play the correct notes and rests to create music; and it’s impossible to create music by avoiding wrong notes - creating in the negative. The same goes for being a Christian. Christianity is not about playing the correct notes, nor is it living in the negative - by the “thou shalt nots…”.

The BIG mistake Adventism makes is making the OT primary, trying to fit Christianity into the OC system (new wine into old bottles). Christianity is a new relationship with God. The “day of Atonement” happened a long time ago at the cross - and only for the Jews, as they tried to understand what Christ did. While the Jews were celabrating their various festivals, the rest of the world was just living their lives with no knowledge of those festivals or the laws.

Jesus said, regarding the scriptures, “Ye search the scriptures for in them you THINK you find eternal life; BUT they testify of ME.” The OT is symbolic of redemption through the REDEEMER. The lambs and doves didn’t pay for Isrel’s sins. They were symbolic of the one who did. WHY SHOULD WE GO BACK and celebrate the symbols when the object of it all is with us? Adventist theology is still waiting for the “Day of Atonement” in accordance with OT systems and timeline of religious events.

Is the book of Galatians too Greek for Adventists - too spirit oriented - too free of regulatory religion? Jesus came to free us of regulations. Yes, I know, - the Sabbath… Look, you can still keep the Sabbath as a “free man” - that feels amazing, I’m here to tell you. Do away with the sun-set calendars, and the chaos of a Friday afternoon, and enjoy the quiet time - without HAVING TO to earn salvation.

The big TEN were meant for the newly freed Jewish slaves. I’m afraid to tell those slaves, there’s actually more to the TEN than what’s written in those tablets of stone - a lot more. When Jesus gave the two “great"commandments” he stated the spirit of the law (Greek concept). The TEN are part of that law, but, by no means, the “whole enchilada”. I guess that’s why there’s so much spousal and child abuse among the extreme religious cults. Unless specific sins are mentioned, they’re not really sins…?

Christianity is exciting when you can learn and grow freely; it’s slavery when we are shackled by strict laws of behaviour. The notes are only a part of the music.