Reading through the Bible together
God’s house also needed atonement to purify it (Lev 14:53) from sins and impurities once a year, which was to be done on the Day of Atonement (chap. 16). When the Israelites offered their atoning sacrifices, their evil was removed from them (Lev. 4) and were left at the sanctuary. Sin offerings also carried defilement that affected the sanctuary and its priests (see on chaps. 6, 10). This “defilement” represented the burden of responsibility that God carries when He frees people from bearing consequences that rightfully belong to them (compare 2 Sam 14:9). What right does He have to do this? He is merciful, and He is also just.
The Day of Atonement provided a second stage of atonement, beyond forgiveness. Through sacrifice, affirming that atonement had already been given, this stage purged the “defilement” of God’s house, which represented His holy administration. To receive the benefit, His people showed continuing loyalty to God by humbling themselves and abstaining from work (compare 23:26-32).
Now we understand Daniel 8:14, where God’s heavenly sanctuary must be “justified.” The end-time judgment (compare Dan 7) upholds God’s reputation by affirming that Christ’s blood has saved the right people, that is, those who show loyalty to Him (Rev 14:12). The judgment is not to determine who has sinned (for all have sinned, Rom. 3:23), but who keeps on accepting God’s grace. Thus God maintains full mercy and justice, the two sides of love (Ps 85:10).