The Hour of His Judgment
Revelation tells us of three last messages that are to go to the entire world. In these three messages is contained the last message of mercy to the perishing world. God, through these messages, is pleading to His people. These messages must not be overlooked, for if we overlook them, we are overlooking the loving God who is sending them to us. Our decision upon these messages will determine our eternal destiny. In the very first of these messages, the truth and importance of the judgment is forced home upon our minds. "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth--to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people--saying with a loud voice, 'Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.'" Revelation 14:6, 7. This angel [or messenger, the Greek word angelos means "messenger"] has a most startling message that goes to the entire earth. He is not commissioned to take this message to one privileged part of the world, but it is his work to take this message to every inhabitant. God attaches such importance to this message that, He decrees that it must go to every corner of the earth, and the central point of this message is that the hour of God's judgment has come. We are exhorted to worship the Creator specifically because His judgment has now come. Apparently, God's judgment begins while the hubbub of life is still going on! The judgment has to be going on while the earth is still inhabited with nations, tribes, etc. for it would be futile to send a message if there was no one to send it to. Could it possibly be, then, that the great judgment day is now going on? Is it possible that the hour of God's judgment has already begun?
"Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." Acts 17:31. Paul was a deep student of prophecy and he knew that God had appointed a day for the judgment to begin. We know that we will not know when the Second Coming will occur, for Jesus said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only." Matthew 24:36. We will not know the time for the Second Coming. We can rest assured that if anyone tries to tell us that they know when the Second Coming will be, they are a false prophet, for no one knows the day nor the hour of Jesus Second Coming. But we are told that there is a set day for the judgment to begin. God has furthermore promised, "Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants, the prophets." Amos 3:7. Since there is an appointed day for the judgment to begin, and the Lord will do nothing without telling us through the prophets, and since a message goes to all the world saying that the judgment has come, we can conclude that God has revealed, somewhere, in the prophetic writings of the Bible when His Great Judgment Day will begin. It is only left for us, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to dig deep and find out when and where it is.
Paul was very clear that there was going to be a time for the judgment, but at the same time he knew that it was not in his day. "Now, as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, 'Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.'" Acts 24:25. As Paul was giving his defense before Felix [which turned into an appeal for Felix to give his heart to the Lord], a powerful part of his argument was the judgment to come. In Paul's day, the judgment was still to come. This is repeated again and again throughout the Scriptures. "But the Lord shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness." "Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" Psalms 9:7, 8; Matthew 10:15. The Psalmist, Jesus, and Paul testify that the judgment was still in the future; but nearly two thousand years have transpired since then, is that still the case?
This is not the only information that we have about when the judgment will come. It is an unarguable fact, that the judgment had not occurred in David's, Jesus' or Paul's day, but it must occur before Jesus comes again. "He who is unjust; let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work." Revelation 22:11, 12. The final decree of the judgment is here recorded. The solemn declaration that it is too late to change. Those who have followed in the course of sin will stay that way, and those who have chosen to follow Jesus, no matter what, will be pronounced righteous and holy still. But then, directly after this closing decree of the judgment is given, Jesus says that He is coming quickly. Jesus' Second Coming occurs right after the judgment closes. Furthermore, Jesus says that His reward is with Him. If he is coming again and His reward is with Him, it must have already been decided in the judgment who was given the reward and what reward they were given. Without a doubt then, the judgment takes place BEFORE Jesus comes again. Thus not only was the judgment still future in the apostles day, but it must take place shortly before Jesus comes again. Could we be in this most solemn event right now?
The Judgment in Heaven
"I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; his garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The judgment was seated, and the books were opened." Daniel 7:9, 10, margin. In verses 3 to 8, the successive rise and fall of the great empires of Bible prophecy is pictured, along with the rise of the anti-christ power in verse 8; then the next major event that Daniel sees happening is the judgment of God. This judgment does not occur on this earth, for the Son of Man is said to come to the Ancient of Days [the Father]. "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him." Daniel 7:13. This is a judgment that occurs in heaven with Jesus [the Son of Man] and the Father [the Ancient of Days] and all of the myriads of angels assisting and watching with intense interest. It does not take place here on this earth, but rather takes place in heaven. (Subpoenaed to the Trial of Life is the first booklet on the judgment in this series and thoroughly discusses why the judgment, what goes on in the judgment, who the players are in the judgment, the results of the judgment, etc. It may be helpful to read that booklet first.)
John likewise saw the judgment beginning in heaven. "The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth. Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple." Revelation 11:18, 19. John saw when the time came for the dead to be judged, and notice that it is associated with the temple of God, which is in heaven. Once again, it is seen that this judgment takes place in heaven shortly before Jesus comes again the second time. (Revelation 22:11, 12.)
The book of Daniel is a progressive book; it is continually building upon the last vision. In Daniel 2, the rise and fall of the four successive empires is portrayed. Then in Daniel 7 the view is expanded to include the anti-christ and also the judgment. In Daniel 8 the scene becomes much fuller yet. Not only are the empires and the anti-christ foretold, but the climax of the vision zeroes in and pinpoints the judgment. "Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, 'How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?' And he said to me, 'For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.'" Daniel 8:13, 14. In verses 3, 4 a ram is pictured, which represented Medo-Persia. (verse 20) The Medo-Persian empire lasted from around 538-331 BC. After that, in verses 5-8 there is shown a male goat which is none other than Greece, (verse 21) and Alexander the Great, its first king. The Grecian empire ruled from approximately 331-168 BC. In verses 9-11 is shown a little horn arising from one of the four winds, which history reveals to be the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire continued to rule from about 168 BC to AD 476. (For a much fuller description and history see Steps to Life's booklet, Why Hitler Lost.) After that, by comparing II Thessalonians 2:3, 4; Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5-7 with verse 12 is seen the anti-christ power, or the papacy. The Papacy continued from AD 538-1798. (For a Scriptural documentation on the anti-christ power see Steps to Life's booklet, Surviving the Great Tribulation.) After Daniel was shown these earthly powers that had trampled upon God's people, who were persecuting those who were following God's Word all of the way, he was shown two holy beings in conversation regarding these desolating powers to come to God's people. The assurance was given that "For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed." Daniel 8:14. Thus, sometime after 1798 a process was going to begin that was the means of delivering God's people from the persecuting powers. What is this process? Daniel 7 the chapter that Daniel 8 was building upon, answers that question for us. "But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, [the anti-christ power that has worn out the saints, verse 25] to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." Daniel 7:26, 27. It is the JUDGMENT that sits and takes away the powers that have persecuted God's people, and gives the kingdom to God's true people.
Just as Paul preached, and as John saw in heaven, there is a prophecy that tells us when the judgment begins. It is perhaps the focal point of the book of Daniel. "And he said to me, 'For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed." Daniel 8:14. The time period here given is the longest prophetic time period given in the Bible. It covers a vast amount of time, for the angel Gabriel in explaining it says, "And the vision of the evening and morning which was told is true; therefore seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future." Daniel 8:26. The part of the vision of the two thousand three hundred days [literally "evenings and mornings"] is true, but it is for many days in the future. Two thousand three hundred days may not seem like such a long time to us. After all, it is only a little less than six and a half years, but there is something that we must always remember when studying Bible prophecy. The prophecies are given in symbols. Obviously, a ram and male goat do not make any sense to us unless we understand that they symbolically represent their respective nations. So, a day in Bible prophecy is a symbol that is used again and again. A day in Bible prophecy represents a year. "According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection." Numbers 14:34. "I have laid on you a day for each year." Ezekiel 4:6. The children of Israel were forced to wander in the wilderness for forty years. God did not just pick a number out of a hat. It was how long the spies were spying out Canaan, and because of their unbelief, they were required to wander for forty years. It was one day for a year. It was the same with Ezekiel. The Lord had him lay on his side a day for each year. Thus we see a principle that comes up again and again throughout Daniel and Revelation--a day in Bible prophecy equals a year. Then it isn't so hard for us to understand why Gabriel said that the prophecy was for many days in the future. It was not just six and a half years; it was for two thousand three hundred years. A long prophecy that extends many days into the future!
As we notice in Daniel 8, all of the vision is explained in the latter part of the chapter. Not just are the symbols given, but in some instances, the empires themselves are given by name. Gabriel was explaining this vision in very straightforward terms, but then something happened. Gabriel began to explain the part of the vision referring to the two thousand three hundred years (verse 26), but Daniel could bear it no longer. "And I, Daniel, fainted and was sick for days; afterward I arose and went about the king's business. I was astonished by the vision, but no one understood it." Daniel 8:27. Daniel's concern for this latter part of the vision was so great that when Gabriel began to explain it to him, he fainted. It then became useless for Gabriel to continue explaining the vision, since Daniel had fainted. You cannot explain something to someone who has fainted. The explanation of the twenty three hundred days/years was stopped. Then Daniel states that no one understood the vision. What part did they not understand? Did the ram confuse them? No, it was clearly explained to be Medo-Persia. Did the male goat astonish them? No, it was emphatically explained to be Greece. What part was causing the consternation? The only part of the vision that was not explained--the two thousand three hundred days/years.
As this was something that was terribly distressing to Daniel, he did what all Christians should do when they do not understand something. He studied God's Word and sought the Lord earnestly in prayer. In Daniel 9:4-19 is recorded the beautiful prayer of repentance and confession for the sins of Daniel's people. Then in answer to Daniel's prayer, Gabriel returned (verse 21) saying, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:" Daniel 9:22, 23. Daniel was in great perplexity regarding the vision of the two thousand three hundred days/years, and so had he pled with the Lord for forgiveness and understanding. In answer to Daniel's strong supplications, Gabriel returned with a message of comfort and hope that he was going to give him skill to understand the vision. Then he begins his explanation.
"Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;" Daniel 9:24, 25. Seventy weeks are "cut off" [the Hebrew word, chathak literally means "cut off"] for the Jewish people and for the earthly city of Jerusalem. How does seventy weeks being "cut off" explain the previous vision of the twenty-three hundred days/years? Gabriel is telling Daniel that the seventy weeks of prophetic time are cut out of the original twenty-three hundred days/years. Thus, if we can determine the starting date for the seventy prophetic weeks, we will also have the starting date for the twenty-three hundred days/years.
By looking at the seventy weeks, we see that there is indeed a clear starting point given. "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks" Daniel 9:25. It could not be stated clearer. When the decree is given to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, this is when the time period of the seventy weeks is to begin, and consequently that is when the two thousand three hundred days/years would begin as well. It was when the decree was given to both restore and rebuild Jerusalem that this great time period, extending to the judgment, was to begin. As we turn to the pages of Scripture again, we see that there was indeed a decree given for the restoration and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. At the time the vision was given, Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple was in ruins and the land of Israel was basically uninhabited. But within a few years that would begin to change. When this change occurred the prophetic time periods were to begin.
By turning to the book of Ezra we see the actual decree recorded for future generations. God made sure that these time periods were recorded in His Word, because He knew we would need these decrees in order to understand the seventy week prophecy and the prophecy that gives the starting date for the great judgment day. "So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia." Ezra 6:14. Ezra records for us that there were actually three decrees given commanding to rebuild the broken down city of Jerusalem. Which of the decrees marks the starting time for these time periods? While there were three decrees, there was actually only one that fits the two prerequisites in Daniel 9--"to restore and rebuild." The first two dealt with the rebuilding of the temple and the city, but there was only one that both restored and rebuilt Jerusalem. This is the last decree given by Artaxerxes. The entire decree is recorded in Ezra 7:12-26. In this decree is found encouragement for the Jews who desired to return to Jerusalem to do so (verse 13, 14.) There are provisions given for rebuilding of the temple (verse 19-22) and then there is the setting up of magistrates and judges to "judge all the people that are beyond the river" (verse 25, KJV) and the exemption of the workers at the temple from "tax, tribute, or custom." (verse 24.) This decree, then, not only commands and provides for the rebuilding of the temple and Jerusalem, but it also restores, to a certain extent, the liberty and the self-government of the Jewish people. Thus, it is the only decree that matches the requirements given in Daniel 9, and the date that we must use for the reckoning of the prophecies. When was this decree given? Once again, the Bible is not silent on this, either. "And Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes." Ezra 7:8. History bears out that the first year of Artaxerxes' reign was in 464 BC, thus the seventh year would be 457 BC (464 - 7 = 457.) It was in the fifth month of the seventh year, or around the fall of 457 BC that Ezra came to Jerusalem and the decree was able to go into effect. By the study of the Bible and history, then, we have been able to arrive at the date that was given for the beginning of the prophecies--457 BC.
The Messiah's Ministry and Death
It would be well for us to briefly review the seventy weeks of Daniel 9, before looking more in depth into the two thousand three hundred days/years. [A much fuller study to the seventy weeks is found in Steps to Life's booklet, The Rapture and Israel's Future]. The seventy weeks and the twenty three hundred days/years are inseparably connected. They both begin at the same starting date. They both deal with the sanctuary. (Daniel 8:14; 9:24.) One foretells the first phase of the plan of salvation, the other predicts the second and final phase. One prophesies of the Saviour's earthly ministry, the other tells of the Saviour's heavenly ministry. One happens on this earth and "seals up the vision and prophecy" (9:24) so we can be certain that the second, which happens in heaven, will occur.
In the explanation of the twenty three hundred days/years, Gabriel begins by telling Daniel that there are seventy weeks allotted to the Jewish people and to their city, Jerusalem. It was during these seventy weeks that they were to finish the end of sins, etc. Israel had been in rebellion against God from day one. The Lord had loved them and taken them as his own special people, but they were continuing to rebel against their loving God. Daniel was afraid that because of Israel's continued rebellion and backsliding, the Lord would cast them away altogether. Daniel had pled that the Lord would hear and forgive Israel's sins again. Gabriel, in answer to Daniel's consternation regarding the twenty-three hundred days and his concern that God was going to disown his people, said that God was still going to give Israel another seventy weeks to repent and turn to Him. Seventy weeks is not a very long time--only 490 days [70 weeks x 7 days in a week = 490 days] or less than a year and a half to be exact, but we must remember the prophetic day for a year principle. (Numbers 14:34; Ezra 4:6.) Not 490 literal days, but 490 prophetic years. Thus God was going to bear with His rebellious people for another 490 years (Matthew 18:21, 22.) During this time, He was going to work for them in a way that He had not done before--He was going to send His own Son to call them to repentance.
"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times." Daniel 9:25. There was going to be sixty-nine weeks until the Messiah was to come. Sixty-nine weeks would be 483 prophetic years [69 weeks x 7 days in a week = 483 days or prophetic years]. Reckoning from the starting point of 457 BC and adding 483 years, it brings us down to AD 27. [483 - 457 BC = AD 26; but then you must add one year to account for the absence of a zero year in the BC/AD time-line, so 26 + 1 = AD 27.] Sure enough, we find that exactly at the appointed time Jesus was baptized and anointed to His mission as the Messiah. ["Messiah" is a Hebrew word meaning "anointed one," just as "Christ" is a Greek word meaning "anointed one."] At Jesus' baptism, He was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10: 37, 38.) His baptism occurred, as divinely predicted, in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar. (Luke 3:1-3, 21, 22.) The fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar was none other than AD 27. The Lord had revealed five hundred years earlier, to His prophet Daniel, the exact time of Jesus' baptism.
The prophecy did not end with Jesus' baptism, though. It predicted an even more important event. "And after sixty-two weeks [the seven weeks was how long it took to rebuild Jerusalem and after the rebuilding of Jerusalem, as brought to view in the last part of verse 25, it would only be another sixty-two weeks] Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;" Daniel 9:26. The Messiah was going to be cut off! Being cut off is a clear reference to His death. "He was cut off from the land of the living;" Isaiah 53:8. Sometime during the seventieth week the Messiah was to die for the sins of the people, but it zeroes in and gives us the exact time that He was to be "cut off." "Then He shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering." Daniel 9:27. In the middle of the week, a stop was put to sacrifice and offering. How did this happen? Jesus died on the cross as our spotless lamb of God and it is now futile to offer sacrifices, because He, the Great Sacrifice, has already been offered for us. "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure… then He said, 'Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.' He takes away the first that He may establish the second." Hebrews 10:5, 6, 9. When Jesus came and died on the cross for us, He took away the first covenant with all its animal sacrifices, and thus brought "an end to sacrifice and offering." This occurred exactly in the middle of the week just as the Lord had foretold. One half of a week is three and a half days, which in prophecy would equate to three and a half years. By adding three and a half years to the beginning of Jesus' ministry, we come to the spring of AD 31, the exact time when Jesus offered up Himself for our sins. [Adding three years to the fall of AD 27 brings us to the fall of AD 30; and adding another half year takes us over into the spring of AD 31]. Prophecy was fulfilled to the very day.
At Jesus' ascension into heaven, the "Most Holy," Jesus were anointed to the priestly and mediatorial work that began then. (Daniel 9:24; Hebrews 1:8, 9; 7:28 KJV.) Thus, Daniel 9 had predicted, not only the life and ministry of the Son of God, but also the beginning of His work in heaven. Jesus began His intercessory work for His people, but then at the end of the seventieth week, in AD 34, when Stephen was stoned, He stood in judgment upon His unrepentant people. (Acts 7:56; Ezekiel 44:24) Israel had refused to repent and now the fearful consequences had come. Instead of receiving and accepting God's own Son, they nailed Him to the cross. Instead of believing the messages of warning that the Lord sent through His apostles on the day of Pentecost and afterward, they stoned them. Probation had closed upon the nation of Israel and now the gospel began to go to the Gentiles. (Acts 8:4; 9:15; 10:28.) The seventy weeks had ended. The events that had been predicted five hundred years earlier happened to the very letter of what God had said. The "vision and the prophecy" was sealed up. (Daniel 9:24) The events that were to occur on this earth happened exactly as predicted, and it was certain that the previous vision of the two thousand three hundred days/years which was to occur in heaven would be fulfilled to the very letter as well.
When Does the Judgment Begin?
Having briefly investigated the seventy weeks, it is now important to go back to the two thousand three hundred days/years and see how the seventy weeks fit into the twenty-three hundred days/years. We have seen that the seventy weeks were "cut off" from the twenty-three hundred years, and consequently, the starting time for the seventy weeks would be the same starting time for the twenty-three hundred years. Having seen from history, and the Bible, that the starting date is 457 BC, all that we should need to do is calculate the time in order to discover when the judgment begins. Adding two thousand three hundred days to 457 BC brings us up to AD 1844. (2300 - 457 = 1843 + 1 year to account for the missing zero year = 1844) The same date is arrived at by adding the remaining 1810 years (2300 - 490 = 1810) to AD 34, the end of the seventy weeks that were cut off from the twenty-three hundred days. (1810 + 34 AD = 1844.) However you look at it, the only feasible date that the two thousand three hundred days/years could end is in 1844. There is no other starting date that can be found other than 457 BC. There is no other time period that the seventy weeks could have been "cut off" from, than the two thousand three hundred days/years. There is no other vision that Gabriel could have been explaining in Daniel 9, than the unexplained vision of Daniel 8, or the two thousand three hundred days/years. The two thousand three hundred days/years cannot be taken as literal days, for Daniel 9 is an explanation of Daniel 8. There is not even the remotest possibility of thinking that the seventy weeks are literal days. Would God give such an important prophecy as the twenty-three hundred days/years without giving a starting date? Would Gabriel say that the seventy weeks were "cut off" and then not have them be, in reality, cut off? Would the Lord send Gabriel to explain a vision that did not need to be explained? The repeated answer is a definitive NO! The only way that chapters eight and nine of Daniel make any sense is to understand that the two thousand three hundred days/years begin in 457 BC and end in 1844.
The question that we now have to consider is what happened in 1844, and why is to so important? We have already seen that it is talking specifically about the Judgment Day of God, but why does it say, "then the sanctuary shall be cleansed"? Daniel 8:14. What sanctuary was to be cleansed? There was no sanctuary existing on earth in 1844. Then where does this grand judgment, or cleansing, take place?
When God led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, He directed that they make Him a sanctuary. "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." Exodus 25:8. This sanctuary was what the Israelites carried through the wilderness and then was set up in Shiloh. (Joshua 18:1) The sanctuary stayed here until David moved it to Jerusalem (II Samuel 6:17-18), but then Solomon built a permanent temple. (I Kings 6:1-14) Through the continued apostasy of the children of Israel that temple was finally destroyed by the Babylonians. (II Chronicles 36:18, 19) Then upon the return of the captives from their exile, they built another temple. (Ezra 6:14, 15.) But this temple too, as Jesus predicted, was destroyed, "Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Matthew 24:2. In AD 70, the Roman General, Titus, came and totally destroyed and burned the city of Jerusalem, along with the temple. (Luke 21:20.) Not one stone of that massive structure was left standing upon another. Were any of these sanctuaries existing in 1844? No. The last temple had been destroyed for over 1700 years by 1844. Was God aware that this would happen? Of course. God predicts and controls the future. He knew that there would not be an earthly sanctuary standing in 1844, at the time when the sanctuary was to be cleansed. What, then, could He have in mind? How is this amazing prophecy fulfilled?
After Jesus death upon the cross, as we have already noted, the sacrifices had no value, for Jesus had done away with them by the offering of His body. The rituals and services of the temple also passed away as insignificant at that time. No longer was there any need for the earthly sanctuary service, for Jesus had come and done away with the types of the old covenant. (Colossians 2:14-17.) The earthly sanctuary was no longer needed. Because of the abolition of the earthly sanctuary services at the cross, there is another sanctuary brought to view in the New Testament. This is not the shadowy types of the good things to come (Hebrews 10:1) or a part of the first covenant which was faulty, growing old and ready to vanish, (Hebrews 8:7, 13) but this sanctuary was one "established on better promises." (Hebrews 8:6.)
When the Lord commanded the children of Israel to build Him a sanctuary, He did not leave it up to them to decide what it looked like and how to design it. He gave them very specific instructions. "And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain." Exodus 25:40. The Lord gave Moses a specific pattern and commanded that it be made exactly like the plan that he was shown. Why was it so important that Moses follow the details of this pattern? It was because this pattern was to act as a picture of the real sanctuary in heaven. The book of Hebrews elaborates on this at great length. "Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord erected, and not man…who serve the copy and the shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, 'See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'" Hebrews 8:1, 2, 5. Paul quotes from this same verse in Exodus, and makes the point that the earthly sanctuary was just a "copy and shadow of heavenly things." The earthly sanctuary was a replica of what the real sanctuary in heaven looks like. This is the sanctuary that is established upon better promises. This is the "true tabernacle." This is the sanctuary that the Lord built, and not man. This is true of no other sanctuary. The Lord directed in the building of the other sanctuaries, but it was men working as God gave them skill that built the earthly sanctuaries. But there was no man who laid a hand upon the sanctuary that is in heaven--it was the Lord alone who built this sanctuary. It is this sanctuary in heaven that Gabriel was speaking about when he said, "to anoint the Most Holy." (Daniel 9:24). It is this sanctuary in heaven that Jesus ascended to and began His mediatorial work as our Great High Priest. (Hebrews 4:14-16; 6:20; 8:1) It is the heavenly sanctuary that all of the types and shadows of the earthly sanctuary were pointing forward to. "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but their His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place [the Greek word hagia literally means "holy places"] once for all, having obtained eternal redemption." Hebrews 9:11, 12. Clearly, Christ was anointed as our High Priest, not of this poor earthly sanctuary which was only a shadowy type, but he became a High Priest of the "greater and more perfect tabernacle," that is the heavenly tabernacle or sanctuary. This tabernacle is not of this creation for it is in heaven and was constructed in heaven. Not only did He enter that heavenly sanctuary, but He entered it with His own blood. He is not mediating with the faulty blood of bulls and goats, but is ministering with His own precious blood. From these passages there is no doubt that there is indeed a sanctuary in heaven, and it is at this sanctuary where Christ is now ministering for our salvation. If we deny that there is a heavenly sanctuary, we are denying that Christ is our High Priest, for if there were no sanctuary there would be no High Priest. No, the Bible is full of evidence of our Saviour's work as Great High Priest for our salvation. There is a sanctuary not made with hands in the heavens, and there is a High Priest ministering for us right now.
In the book of Hebrews, not only does it validate the truth of a heavenly sanctuary for us, but it also tells us how this sanctuary looks. "Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden alter of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail." Hebrews 9:1-5. A splendid description of the earthly sanctuary is given, attempting to show the dazzling glory and beauty that surrounds it, making sure to note that it was a part of the first covenant and not the heavenly, but the earthly sanctuary. Then, later on in the chapter he refers to this earthly sanctuary by another name, giving us a faint idea of what the heavenly sanctuary looks like. "For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;" Hebrews 9:24. Jesus did not go into this earthly sanctuary of the first covenant, but into the sanctuary of the second covenant--the heavenly sanctuary. After giving a detailed description of the appearance of the earthly sanctuary, he gives the earthly sanctuary a most revealing name--"copies of the true." Which sanctuary then is the true? Undoubtedly, the sanctuary in heaven. What was the earthly sanctuary? It was a copy, or a picture, of the true one in heaven. Thus, by looking at the earthly sanctuary with all of its furniture and ceremonies, we can get a glimpse of what the heavenly sanctuary looks like and what work will go on there. That is why the Lord was so specific that the pattern of the earthly sanctuary was followed exactly. If they did not follow the pattern exactly it would not be the perfect copy, or picture, of the true heavenly sanctuary of the new covenant. But they did follow the pattern God had given, so that we can now study the apartments, furniture, and ceremonies of the earthly sanctuary to learn of the heavenly sanctuary.
Revelation also reveals that there is a sanctuary in heaven. The articles of the heavenly sanctuary keep appearing again and again throughout Revelation. In fact, it appears so much that we can derive that the book of Revelation was actually given from the heavenly sanctuary itself. "Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands," Revelation 1:12. In the very first chapter this theme is introduced. John sees Jesus standing in the middle of seven golden lampstands. Where were these lampstands from? They were an article of furniture in the first apartment of the sanctuary. "Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. And he was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne." Revelation 8:3. Now, John sees an angel ministering before the golden altar. Once again this golden altar was in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. A golden altar is again pictured in Revelation 9:13. "Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple." Revelation 11:19. This time there is a difference. It is still an article of furniture from the sanctuary, but this time it is from the second apartment, or the Most Holy Place. It is the most sacred piece of the entire temple. It is the Ark of the Covenant in which the Ten Commandments were kept. Continuing on through the book of Revelation, voices coming from the temple are heard (Revelation 16:1, 17,) angels are seen coming from the temple (Revelation 14:15, 17; 15:6) and the temple is opened and filled with smoke. (Revelation 15:5, 8.) Definitely the temple, or the sanctuary in heaven, plays a prominent part in the last prophetic messages for God's people. It can also be seen from Revelation that not only is there a sanctuary in heaven, but there is the furniture of the sanctuary, and there are the two apartments of the heavenly sanctuary just like there were the two apartments of the earthly sanctuary.
As we look in the New Testament and at the new covenant, the answer to our question about which sanctuary could be cleansed in 1844 is strikingly answered. There was no earthly sanctuary. They had all been destroyed for hundreds of years before 1844. But there was a heavenly sanctuary, and just as Daniel [in Daniel 7] had previously seen the judgment taking place in heaven, so in Daniel 8, he sees the judgment beginning in the sanctuary which is, undoubtedly, in heaven. We are coming close to being able to fit the puzzle pieces of the climatic twenty three hundred days/years prophecy together, but first, we need to look at one more thing. What was the cleansing of the sanctuary?
The Cleansing of the Sanctuary
The crux and the climax of the entire vision of Daniel 8 was the prophecy relating to the "cleansing of the sanctuary." The "cleansing of the sanctuary" was simply another term for the most solemn of the yearly sacred assemblies known as the Day of Atonement. Speaking of the Day of Atonement, Moses records, "For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father's place, shall make atonement, and put on linen clothes, the holy garments; then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the congregation." Leviticus 16:30-33. It can be seen that on the Day of Atonement was when the final atonement was made for the sanctuary and for the children of Israel. The people were finally cleansed from all of their sins and an atonement, or cleansing, was made for the sanctuary.
By cleansing the sanctuary, the sins of the children of Israel were also cleansed. Throughout the year, when a man sinned he would bring a sacrifice to atone for his sin. He would slay the lamb with his own hand and the sacrifice was offered upon the altar. The priest then transferred the blood into the sanctuary. Day by day, the blood built up in the sanctuary, until the Day of Atonement. The blood was a record of all the sins that the children of Israel had committed, but it was on the Day of Atonement that the sanctuary was cleansed from the record of sin that had continually built up. Thus, not only did the Day of Atonement cleanse the record of sins from the sanctuary, but it also symbolically blotted out the people's sins. The people were forgiven when they brought their lamb to be sacrificed, but the record was not blotted out. It was on this most solemn of all days that the sins were actually blotted out. It was a solemn day of judgment when the sins were blotted out as it is graphically described in the Bible. "And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For any person who is not afflicted of soul on that same day, he shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people." Leviticus 23:28-30. There was no doubt in the ancient Israelites mind. This was the most solemn day of judgment, and if he did not unite in soul searching he was cut off from the people of God. It was the most solemn and serious day of the entire year for the Jews. It was the time when destinies were decided and lives were fixed--it was their last chance to be saved.
On this solemn day the High Priest went alone into the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary, and it was there the final atonement was made. "Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat." Leviticus 16:15. This was the only time that the High Priest entered into the second apartment of the sanctuary. Every day the priests ministered about the first apartment, trimming the lamps, burning incense and transferring the blood of the sin offering to the sanctuary, but only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, did the High Priest alone minister in the Holy of Holies. In this second apartment was the Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandment Law, and the mercy seat on top. The priest would then sprinkle the blood upon the mercy seat and by so doing make an atonement for, and cleanse the sanctuary.
The Heavenly Sanctuary Cleansed
Some have questioned if the heavenly sanctuary really needs to be cleansed, but as we have already seen, the Bible explicitly answers this for us. "Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in presence of God for us;" Hebrews 9:23, 24, margin. There is no room for doubt, the heavenly sanctuary does indeed need to be cleansed. Paul says that it was necessary for the earthly sanctuary (the pattern of the things in heaven) to be cleansed with "the blood of goats and calves," but the heavenly sanctuary will be cleansed with better sacrifices than that, even "with His own blood." Hebrews 9:12. What is it that needs to be cleansed from the sanctuary above? What could possibly be impure in that world of perfection? Sin and sinners written in the books. So the judgment solves the problem of impurity in the heavenly sanctuary. Those who "add iniquity to their iniquity,… Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous." Psalms 69:27, 28. During the judgment, sin and sinners are blotted from the book of records, and thus the heavenly sanctuary is cleansed from the impurity that has symbolically been heaped upon it for centuries.
As everything in the old covenant was a "shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things," Hebrews 10:1, so it is with the Day of Atonement. As the sinner brought his lamb and confessed his sins upon the head of the lamb, so we, under the new covenant, come to Christ accepting Him as our Lamb (John 1:29; I Peter 1:19) and confess our sins unto Him. (I John 1:9; Proverbs 28:13) He then forgives us on the merits of His sacrifice. (Romans 3:24-26.) But as in the earthly service, the record of the sins is still in heaven and it is not until the close of the judgment that the sins are completely blotted out. (Acts 3:19) The judgment determines whether the lives of God's people match their profession. (see Steps to Life's booklet, Subpoenaed to the Trial of Life.) Those who have loved their Lord enough to follow Him and keep His commandments will be retained in the book of life (John 14:15; I John 2:3, 4; Revelation 22:14) and their sins will be blotted out. Those who cling to their life of sin and lawlessness will have their names blotted from the book of life. (Exodus 32:32, 33; Revelation 3:5) Thus the sanctuary in heaven will be cleansed from sin--either the sin itself, or the sinners who cling to sin, will be blotted out.
By looking at the symbolic service of the old covenant, it is explicitly taught that the plan of salvation did not end at the sacrifice of the lamb. There was still a final atonement needing to be made, and so it is in the New Covenant as well. Jesus' sacrifice upon the cross was all sufficient and was a complete sacrifice. He said, "It is finished," and every word is true. God's justice was fully vindicate and the devil was soundly defeated, but there was still more to the plan of salvation than just that. "It shall be imputed to us who believed in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offense, and was raised because of our justification." Romans 4:24, 25. Jesus' sacrifice upon the cross was for our offenses, or for our sins, and it perfectly paid the price, but there was more. He was raised for our justification. If it was completely over on the cross, everything would have been complete and there would have been no need for anything more, but the inspired record states that he was "raised because of our justification." Our justification could not be accomplished without His resurrection. Something else needed to occur. That something else is His intercession at the right hand of God, and then the final cleansing of the sanctuary. (Romans 8:34, Acts 17:31) Because Jesus said, "It is finished," does not mean that everything was completed, for it is recorded in Revelation that He will say the same thing at least two other times. "Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, 'It is done!'" "And He said to me, 'It is done! I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End." Revelation 16:17; 21:6. The atonement upon the cross was, without a doubt, complete and all-sufficient, but as in the typical service, there was still more. That is why Jesus ascended to heaven, and that is why Gabriel told Daniel that the sanctuary was still to be cleansed.
What Happened in 1844?
We have seen that the "sanctuary" was to be "cleansed," and when we do the arithmetic, the only possible date that we can come up with is 1844. There was no earthly sanctuary at this time, but there was indeed a heavenly sanctuary to which Jesus ascended after His resurrection. What then occurred in 1844?
Because the "holy places" of the earthly sanctuary were merely "copies of the true," (Hebrews 9:24) and there were two apartments, we can have no doubt that in the heavenly sanctuary there are, likewise, two apartments. Not only do we know that the heavenly sanctuary looks like the earthly one, but also the services of the earthly sanctuary represented what the services of the heavenly sanctuary would be like as well. "For if He [speaking of Jesus, the minister of the sanctuary of the new covenant] were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things," Hebrews 9:3, 4. The priests of the old covenant ministered according to the "copy and shadow of heavenly things." Their ministration was a representation of what would occur under the new covenant. As on the yearly Passover, the innocent lamb was slain, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was crucified for our sins on Calvary. The feast of weeks represented the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. Likewise the Day of Atonement pointed forward to the day of judgment that was to take place. In the earthly Day of Atonement, the High Priest went into the second apartment only once a year, and from this we can conclude that Jesus also will enter once into the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. As the Day of Atonement was when the sanctuary was cleansed in the typical service, once again, we can understand that when Jesus enters the second apartment in heaven it will be for the cleansing of the sanctuary. As the Day of Atonement was the day of judgment in the earthly service, we can be certain that when Jesus enters the second apartment to cleanse the sanctuary, it will be the day of judgment. What then happened in 1844? In fulfillment of the well verified prophecy of Daniel 8:14, Jesus entered into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to do the final work of atonement and to cleanse the sanctuary from the stain of sin that has, year by year, decade by decade built up. In fact, it was October 22, 1844 (the Day of Atonement was on October 22 in 1844), that the great judgment day began. It is the only legitimate understanding of the prophecies of both Daniel and Revelation.
There is even further evidence from Revelation that this is exactly what happened. John does not write of the exact time, but he certainly tells us about the time when Jesus will enter the most holy place. "Then the seventh angel sounded:… Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple." Revelation 11:15, 19. At the sounding of the seventh angel, John writes that the temple in heaven was opened and he saw the Ark of the Covenant. The veil into the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary was lifted and John peered into the most holy place where the work of judgment began. The Ark of the Covenant was only kept in the second apartment and this is the only thing that John could have seen. As the second apartment was only entered on the Day of Atonement, or the cleansing of the sanctuary, this was the cleansing of the sanctuary that John saw beginning in 1844. As we compare scripture with scripture, there can be do doubt about it--Jesus entered into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary in 1844 to cleanse the sanctuary and conclude the plan of salvation.
It is Done!
The judgment began in 1844 and has been going on ever since. We are living in the most grand and solemn time of this earth's history. Right now is the time when the judgment is going on in the courts above. As the Day of Atonement was a time of soul searching and self-examination, so today we must always bear in mind that the great judgment day of God is going on right now. We may not be able to see it. We may not personally be called before God's judgment bar, but it is going on none-the-less, and the results will be no less final. It is the last chance for the inhabitants of this world to be saved! Very soon the command will be issued, "It is done!" Revelation 16:17; 21:6. It will then be too late. If we are not following the Lord all the way at that time, we will be left outside the holy city. The final decree will be pronounced and we will be on the wrong side. "He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still." Revelation 22:11. All will one day be on one side or the other. We may be able to ride the fence now, but then we will be all for the Lord or all against Him. Indeed it is a fearful and solemn time to be alive, for it is our last chance to be saved, but for those who are following Jesus wherever He leads and doing whatever He asks, it is not fearful, it is not scary. It is the most joyous time for it means that very soon we will be with our Savior for the ceaseless ages of eternity. "Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain." Isaiah 26:20, 21.
All emphasis the authors unless otherwise stated.
All texts from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 1911
God Predicts Your Future, John J. Grosboll, Steps to Life, 1994
Messiah in His Sanctuary, F.C. Gilbert, reprinted by Leaves of Autumn, 1991
Daniel and the Revelation, Uriah Smith, Southern Publishing Association, 1944
Subpoenaed to the Trial of Life, Cody Francis, Steps to Life, 1999
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Your Last Night on Earth
Your Last Chance to Be Saved
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