Saturday evening brought a little celebration to Mary Ann’s to celebrate Robin’s birthday that day and Mary Ann’s on the 26th. Chuck and Pam brought delicious pizza from Fox’s Pizza and Sheri brought an ice-cream cake from Brake’s. Bobbie joined us, too. The celebration is over and not one of us took pictures. What is wrong with us??
Harold Wightman, who is a retired pastor, brought us a rousing sermon on Sabbath about signs of Jesus’ coming. His scripture was mostly from Matthew 24. Matthew 24:14 could actually be called the GLOBAL WARNING (note: war“n”ing, not war“m”ing). The entire chapter of Matthew 24 is almost entirely the answer to the apostles’ question in verse 3, “When shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?”
Number 24 of the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is:
CHRIST’S Ministry in the HEAVENLY SANCTUARY
In both the Old and New Testaments, the sanctuary is presented as the place where God dwells. Sometimes the earthly sanctuary is intended; other times it is the heavenly sanctuary. The psalmist wrote, “The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth” (Psalm 102:19). And Habakkuk said, “The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20).
The New Testament speaks repeatedly of a temple in heaven. The book of Hebrews refers to it as “the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man” (Hebrews 8:2) and as “the greater and more perfect tabernacle” (Hebrews 9:11). Jesus serves in the heavenly sanctuary as our High Priest (Hebrews 8:1, 2). In vision, John the beloved disciple saw an ark, a golden altar, and a censer in the heavenly temple (Revelation 11:19; 8:3-5). He also saw holy beings who serve God in the temple (Revelation 7:15), angels leaving the temple, and smoke filling the temple (Revelation 14:15; 15:5-8; 16:17). In a later scene he heard “a loud voice from the temple” (Revelation 16:1).
THE EARTHLY ILLUSTRATES THE HEAVENLY
In order to better understand all that is related to the heavenly sanctuary and Christ’s ministry there as our High Priest, it is helpful to understand the earthly sanctuary that Moses built according to the model that God showed him (Exodus 25:8, 9, 40). The heavenly sanctuary is, of course, superior in every way to the earthly. It is the “greater and more perfect tabernacle” (Hebrews 9:11). In the same way, Christ’s ministry is superior in every way to that of the earthly priests. The book of Hebrews stresses this repeatedly. However, it seems clear enough that the design of both sanctuaries is similar, and the services in the earthly sanctuary can reveal fundamental truths about the heavenly sanctuary.
In ancient times the priests carried out their daily work of intercession in the Holy Place throughout the year. Then, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered into the Most Holy Place to carry out the last of the annual rituals. In the same way, Jesus entered upon His intercessory ministry as our great High Priest at the time of His ascension. A careful study of Daniel 8 and 9 shows that in 1844 Christ began the final phase of His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, which corresponds to the earthly Day of Atonement. A celestial being said to Daniel in vision, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Daniel 8:14, KJV). Assuming that the 2,300 days began at the same time as the 70 weeks in Daniel 9 (the word decreed in verse 24 suggests that the 70 weeks were to be cut off from the longer period), the beginning point would be “the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:25). The date for this decree, which was issued by King Artaxerxes, took place in 457 B.C. Using the year-day principle to interpret the prophecy, the 2,300 days extended to A.D. 1844.
WHAT HAPPENED IN 1844?
The Bible doesn’t provide a detailed explanation of the work that was to begin in heaven in 1844, but from an examination of the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary on the Day of Atonement, we know that the purpose of the day was to restore that sanctuary to its original state of cleanliness (compare with Daniel 8:14). In other words, the Day of Atonement was to remove the record of sins that had accumulated during the years the priest sprinkled the blood of animal sacrifices on the veil. In its original state the sanctuary was clean and free from sin, and on the Day of Atonement, it was cleansed by removing the record of sins. Using this symbolism of the Day of Atonement, the author of Hebrews declared that just as it was necessary “for the copies of the heavenly things” (that is, the earthly sanctuary) to be cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, so “the heavenly things themselves” must be cleansed “with better sacrifices than these” (Hebrews 9:23).
The earthly Day of Atonement was the most solemn day in the earthly sanctuary, because the Jews considered it to be a day of judgment. During this day the people were to abstain from ordinary labor and afflict their souls. Those who refused to do this were cut off from the congregation of Israel (Leviticus 23:27-32).
In view of the fact that the work of the earthly priests was a “copy and shadow of what is in heaven” (Hebrews 8:5), it’s reasonable to conclude that before Jesus, the true High Priest completes His work in heaven on behalf of repentant sinners and comes the second time, He will “cleanse” the heavenly sanctuary, removing the record of His people’s sins from the books in heaven. This work, which implies a separation of His true followers from those who make a mere profession of religion, is sometimes called the “investigative judgment.” The term investigative judgment is not found in the Bible, but all of the elements of such a judgment are in the Bible: the names of the accused, the books of record, the Judge, the Angel assistants, a sentence, etc. (See Exodus 32:32; Daniel 7:9, 10; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 20L12, 15; 22:19, 11, 12). This work of judgment must be completed prior to Christ’s return to earth, since when He comes, He will give out rewards (revelation 22:12; compare with Romans 2:5-11).
THE FIRST ANGEL’S MESSAGE
Given the fact that the “cleansing” of the heavenly sanctuary suggests a work of judgment, and because according to Daniel 8:14 this judgment will begin at the conclusion of the 2,300 days (or years), the message of the first angel of Revelation 14 has special significance for us today. This angelic message states in part, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come” (verse 7). It is impossible to exaggerate the seriousness of this time of judgment since, when the heavenly tribunal completes its work, Jesus will return and take to heaven those who “obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).
When properly understood, the doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary is a cornerstone of the Christian faith. It exalts the living Christ as our great Attorney and High Priest. It declares that God’s Ten Commandment law is the standard for judging human character. It reveals that our own period of history is most singular and solemn. It shows that God is both merciful and just in the way He treats His created beings and solves the problem of sin. As a result of the work of judgment carried on in the heavenly sanctuary, every question, doubt, or reservation about God and the way He has treated Satan will be answered, and the redeemed will join in a grand and glorious song; “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty, Just and true are your ways, King of the ages” (Revelation 15:3).
For further study: Numbers 14:34; Daniel 7:9-27; Malachi 3-1; Hebrews 1:3, 4:14-16; 9:11-28