One of the most controversial topics in terms of the Doctrine of Sanctuary among Adventist is its theological implications in Azazel. Seventh-Day Adventist believe that Azazel is Satan yet in regards of Ellen White’s statement that can be found in her Great Controversy book, gives an allusion that “Satan bear our sins”1 she also stated that "Christ is our only sin bearer."2
In the light of these issues the researcher will approach what is her basis of stating those facts since it gives an impact on the lay thinking of how Satan bore ours sins. Further by looking only at the issues we could not attain anything from it. Therefore the researcher suggests that we must dig deeper proving why, how, and where was her basis to it.
Statement of the Problem
1. How SDA do understands Azazel in biblical and in extra-biblical analysis?
2. SDA believes that Christ is the only sin-bearer yet EGW wrote that Satan bears our Sin. Does it mean that Satan also is a sin bearer? or are there any disharmony in her writings?
3. What are the theological implications of the above facts?
Seventh-Day Adventist understanding of Azazel
One of the charges against Adventist is making Satan as vicarious substitute and savior.3 This was based on the fact that Adventist believe Azazel (KJV translate it as scapegoat) as type of Satan.4 In order to counter these charges we must look what is and who was Azazel is.
The word Azazel has an ambiguous meaning. This was translated as scapegoat by some scholars and it can only be found in the book of Leviticus chapter 16.5 This took place during the Day of Atonement wherein two goats where presented before the congregation. The priest cast lots on the goats, one lot “for YHWH” and one lot “for Azazel,” then the priest will offer the goat of YHWH as a sin offering while the goat for Azazel would be exiled in the wilderness.6
So far there are four Major interpretations of how Azazel was viewed; (1) a specific locations, thus it is perceived as somewhere in the desert, (2) a person, itseither Satan or evil spirit, (3) an abstract noun that means “dismissal”, “complete removal”, or “place of origin”7 (4) the name of the goat itself.8
Most scholars perceived Azazel as a being opposed to YHWH because of the preposition "le" translated as "for",9 while for some it is a desert monster, a demon or Satan.10 The extra-biblical materials especially the book of Enoch and Apocalypsis foretold the background of who or what was Azazel is.11
It is also interesting to note that in the early Christian church and some known theologian like: Cyril of Alexandria who claimed that it is Christ who ascend loaded with sins; Justin Martyr who interpret it as a symbol of His second coming; Tertullian referred it as the human nature of Christ and His humiliation at the cross.12 All of them supported those views because they believe that the two goats are for YHWH due to the fact that the goats are for sin offering.13 They further implied that it is the phased of God’s ministration.14 However Origen was fully convinced that Azazel is Satan.15 Angel Rodriguez gives a cue that they only present it without a thorough exegesis thereby the idea is only a speculations.16
Adventist scholars construe that Azazel is Satan himself.17 This was based in the extra-biblical and scriptural analysis. I will assume the authors analysis of proving Azazel as Satan based on extra-biblical perspective.18 In the scriptural analysis:(1)The usage of “to bear sin” then followed in verse 22 that mentions of its destinations.19 Rodriguez thoroughly explained that when the sin was transferred on the victim it died in his or her behalf.20 Thus, the context alludes that the goat did not bear any sin but rather it carries only the sin and bring it back to Azazel. Hence, it implies that it does not give any substitution. (2) The goat for Azazel was “not” slain in the ritual and Heb 9:22 plainly tells “without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.”21 Therefore it does not offer any substitutionary act nor a sin offering. (3) The goat of Azazel was presented after the cleansing of the sanctuary (Lev 16:20). Thus, atonement was already made before it draws in the picture. (4) YHWH is a personal being thus we could allude that Azazel is also a personal being as well in contrast with God. Since the passage treats it as opposed to God and the term wilderness in which the goat will go to symbolizes “chaos and death”22 and it also represents a place wherein the unclean powers dwell.23 Aside from that the preposition “le” which translated “for” or “to” proves this notion.24(5) Lastly, there was no any record in the Pentateuch especially in Leviticus or in any sanctuary services that supports two animals for a single sin offering.25 Further it is right to infer that the goat for/to Azazel does not provide any atonement rather the goat is only carrying the sins of the remediated people back to Azazel. Ellen White on the other hand gives a series of comments in regards of Azazel. She referred it as a scapegoat yet she put it into an intriguing way in which the lay personalities were confused and some scholars gave criticism on her writings and they even question the church stand.26
White postulates that Satan bore our sins yet we need to know how, why or in what manner she presumes that idea. She wrote,
The rule of atonement is that only Jesus Christ himself could pay the price of our sins. That is plainly stated that “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24). And also the bible clearly stated that nobody could substitute your sins as what prophet Ezekiel said, The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him (Ezek 18:20).“It was seen, also, that while the sin offering pointed to Christ as a sacrifice, and the high priest represented Christ as a mediator, the scapegoat (Azazel) typified Satan, the author of sin, upon whom the sins of the truly penitent will finally be placed. … Christ will place all these sins upon Satan … so Satan … will at last suffer the full penalty of sin”27 parenthesis added.
Looking at those texts it seems that she is against the teaching of the church by then what was her motive or basis of those statements? However there was an exemption of that rule. Let’s take a look at what Prophet Ezekiel says, “When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezek 33:8).Hence, when a messenger of God failed to tell the sinners of his or her sins then he is also guilty of those sins, thus we could infer that the prophet will pay for those sins.
Studying it thoroughly we could allude that Ezekiel got it from the Mosaic code, “thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, that thou ‘bear not sin for him’” (Lev 19:17).
However doing some marginal reading of the phrase “bear not sin for him” we could infer that all translations in the list both agreed that when you failed to rebuke you will also suffer the penalty of his or her actions.28 Though they could pay the price of the crime yet they are guilty in itself thus they could not make any expiation in behalf of the one who committed the crime.
Take heed that only a blameless, a guiltless, a spotless substitute could buy one's full pardon. Hence, as what White's wrote that "Satan bears our sin" in the future, still he (Satan) is the guiltiest of all since "he sinned from the start" (Gen 3:15) and could never be a savior nor a substitute because Christ is the "only sin-bearer." She said,
She even clarified it in this statement,
"In His intercession as our advocate, Christ need no man's virtue, no man's intercession. He is the 'only sin-bearer,' the only sin-offering"29 italics supplied.
Aside from that she even gives strong emphasis that it is only Christ and nothing else, she said,
"How hard poor mortals strive to be sin-bearers for themselves and for others! but the 'only sin-bearer' is Jesus Christ. He alone can be my substitute and sin-bear"30 italics supplied.
Therefore Ellen White did not believe that Satan is our savior or a part of the sin offering nor he could do an expiation of our sins. Though there are some occasions that you will pay the price of the sin but remember that you will not become a substitute of the sinner's behalf. You only share the sinner's guilt.
"Proclaim remission of sins through [who?] Christ, the [what?] 'only sin-bearer', the only sin-pardoner. Proclaim the [how?] remission of sins through repentance toward God and faith in Christ, and [why? because ...] God will ratify your testimony"31 italics and parenthesis supplied.
The term which consist in the scripture as well as in the writings of Ellen White that the goat of Azazel(Satan) well bear our sins is not in regards of atonement but rather in regards of judgment.32 The live goat was presented after the atonement was finished. Instead the term "bear" emphasizes more on carrying rather than bearing or substituting. This teaching is in harmony with the scripture as well and in harmony with the writings of Ellen White. Furthermore Ellen White statement strongly suggest that Satan will be bearing our sin in line with Mosaic Code context. She said;
"In the typical service the high priest, having made the atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the congregation. So Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear, "without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28), to bless His waiting people with eternal life. As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away "unto a land not inhabited" (Leviticus 16:22); so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God's people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked. Thus the great plan of redemption will reach its accomplishment in the final eradication of sin and the deliverance of all who have been willing to renounce evil"33 bold and italics added.
Seventh-day Adventist views on Azazel as Satan are based on extra-biblical and scriptural analysis and White's writings as well supported this claim. It is amplified that Satan bears our sin under Mosaic Code but not in the rituals of the Atonement. Yes! he is bearing the sins because he is guilty in the past, present and future.
1Great Controversy, 419
2Review and Herald, June 9, 1896
3Francis D. Nichol,Answers to Objections An Examination of the Major Objections Raised Against the Teachings of Seventh-Day Adventists, 3rd. Ed. (USA: Review and Herald, 1952), 410.
4Nichol, Answers to Objections, 715.
5Seventh Day Adventist Encyclopedia, Scapegoat, 2nd Ed. (USA: Review and Herald, 1995).
6See Leviticus 16.
7Angel Manuel Rodriguez, A Place of Reunion and Revelation.Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/theology-sanctuary/place-reunion-and-revelation.
8 Webber, Robert. The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship. 1st ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: Star Song Pub. Group, 1993).
9The Christadelphian (Birmingham: Christadelphian Magazine & Publishing Association, 2001).
10W. Volck, “Azazel,” The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. 1 (New York: Funk &Wagnalls Company, 1908), 389.
11Ben Zvi, Ehud, ed. The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures: Volume 7 (2007).
12Angel Manuel Rodriguez, Leviticus 16:22. Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/bible-ot-texts/leviticus-1622.
13Moscicke, Hans M. "Jesus, Barabbas, and the Crowd as Figures in Matthew's Day of Atonement Typology (Matthew 27:15-26)." Journal of Biblical Literature 139, no. 1 (2020): 125+. Gale Academic OneFile Select (accessed August 8, 2020). https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A624972216/EAIM?u=phmvc&sid=EAIM&xid=dc06d297.
16Angel Manuel Rodriguez, Leviticus 16:22.
17Martin Pröbstle, Himmel auf Erden: Gott begegnet uns im Heiligtum (St. Peter, Austria: Seminar Schloss Bogenhofen, 2013), 120. Book note. Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/files/BRI%20newsltr%20%201-15%20%28%2349%29_0.pdf
18Frank B. Holbrook, The Atoning Priesthood of Jesus Christ (Berrien Spring, MI: Adventist Theological Society, 1996), 126-129.
19Angel Manuel Rodriguez, Leviticus 16:22.
21Frank B. Holbrook, Light in the Shadows (Silver Spring, MD: Biblical Research Institute, nd), 19. Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/files/pdf/lightintheshadows.pdf.
22Angel Manuel Rodriguez, Future Glorythe 8 greatest end-time prophecies in the Bible (USA: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2002),77. See also Job 6:18; Isa 34-11
23Angel Manuel Rodriguez, Genesis 1 and building of Isrealite sanctuary, 5. Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/files/pdf/Genesis%201%20and%20Building%20of%20Israelite%20Sanctuary_0.pdf.See also Isa 13:21; 34:14; Lev 17:7.
24Frank B. Holbrook, Light in the Shadows, 19.
25Frank B. Holbrook, the Atoning Priesthood of Jesus Christ (Berrien Spring, MI: Adventist Theological Society, 1996), 127.
26Francis D. Nichol,Answers to Objections, 410, 715.
27Great Controversy, 422, 485, 486.
28Leviticus 19:17. Retrieved from https://biblehub.com/leviticus/19-17.htm.
29Sign of the times, June 28, 1989
30Review and Herald, June 9, 1896
31The voice in Speech and Song, 340.
32Roy E. Gane, Christ at His Sanctuary, 4. Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/files/pdf/Gane%2C%20Christ%20at%20his%20sanctuary.pdf.
33Great Controversy, 485, 486.
Angel Manuel Rodriguez. A Place of Reunion and Revelation.Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/ theology-sanctuary/place-reunion-and-revelation.
_____. Leviticus 16:22. Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/bible- ot-texts/leviticus-1622.
_____. (2002). Future Glory the 8 greatest end-time prophecies in the Bible. USA: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
_____. Genesis 1 and building of Isrealite sanctuary, 5. Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/ files/pdf/Genesis%201%20and%20Building%20of%20Israe lite%20Sanctuary_0.pdf.
Francis D. Nichol. (1952). Answers to Objections An Examination of the Major Objections Raised Against the Teachings of Seventh-Day Adventists, 3rd. Ed. USA: Review and Herald Publishing House.
Seventh Day Adventist Encyclopedia. (1995). Scapegoat, 2nd Ed. USA: Review and Herald Publishing House.
Webber, Robert. (1993). The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship. 1st ed. Nashville, Tenn.: Star Song Pub. Group.
The Christadelphian (2011) Birmingham: Christadelphian Magazine & Publishing Association.
W. Volck. (1908). “Azazel,” The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. 1. New York: Funk &Wagnalls Company, 1908.
Ben Zvi, Ehud, ed. (2007). The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures: Volume 7.
Moscicke, Hans M. "Jesus, Barabbas, and the Crowd as Figures in Matthew's Day of Atonement Typology
Matthew 27:15-26)." Journal of Biblical Literature 139, no. 1 (2020): 125+. Gale Academic OneFile Select (accessed August 8, 2020). https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A624972216/EAIM?u=phmvc &sid=EAIM&xid=dc06d297.
Martin Pröbstle, Himmel auf Erden: Gott begegnet uns im Heiligtum (St. Peter, Austria: Seminar Schloss Bogenhofen, 2013). Book note. Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/ files/BRI%20newsltr%20%201-15%20%28%2349%29_0.pdf
Frank B. Holbrook. (1996). The Atoning Priesthood of Jesus Christ. Berrien Spring, MI: Adventist Theological Society.
_____. Light in the Shadows (Silver Spring, MD: Biblical Research Institute, nd), 19. Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/ files/pdf/lightintheshadows.pdf.
Roy E. Gane. Christ at His Sanctuary. Retrieved from https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/ files/pdf/Gane%2C%20Christ%20at%20his%20sanctuary.pdf.
Leviticus 19:17. Retrieved from https://biblehub.com/leviticus/19-17.htm.
Ellen G. White. Sign of the times, June 28, 1989
_____. Great Controversy.
_____. Review and Herald, June 9, 1896
_____. The voice in Speech and Song.