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Sunday: The Cleansing of the Sanctuary — 22 Comments

  1. The 2300-day prophecy played a pivotal role in the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its doctrinal basis. And I am sure that most of us have seen the timeline diagrams and had them explained to us numerous times. These diagrams inevitably lead to 1844 and a consequent explanation of the "sanctuary" and the "Investigative Judgement".

    Like Daniel, many Seventh-day Adventists struggle with the arithmetic involved in these timelines, particularly because the exercise ends in an event that we cannot see or indeed experience in the present. Like Daniel, we try to interpret it with what we currently understand.

    Part of the problem is that we use this prophecy to justify our position in history. We are the right church because we cracked the code - and furthermore it points to us. That can be very dangerous.

    I have mentioned before that the book, "The Covenant" by James Michener gave me considerable pause in thinking about our special relationship God. In this book, Michener details the theology of the Dutch Reform Church in South Africa and how they used Scripture to justify their position on Apartheid. Both the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Dutch Reform Church use the Bible to support their views and doctrines and both thought they were following the leading of God and indeed had a special mission from Him. How then could one be so very wrong and the other so very right? My point is that our perception of certainty and rightness can in fact be skewed, particularly when we apply it to ourselves.

    Am I saying the Seventh-day Adventist Church is wrong? No. What I am saying is that often our arguments come across to other Christians as very egocentric. It is no secret that there is a fair bit of diversity in the Adventist church about our relationship to the 2300-day prophecy. I once had to explain the diversity to a member of the Uniting Church of Australia. After the explanation, he commented, "What a silly thing to argue over!" I responded by saying that the Adventist Church is family and that we grow through dialog. At least I hope and pray that is true.

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    • I understand the 2300 DAYS to be in context with the little horn of Daniel 8:9. The sanctuary was cleaned at the end of 2300 days ( around 6 1/2 years ). Daniel 8:26 the vision of the evening and morning is saying that this is a day prophecy, not a year for a day.

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    • Ossie, the simple answer is that Sabbath School Net is an independent ministry and not the Sabbath School Dept of the church. Essentially we have to work with what is available to us. That may mean that sometimes the pictures are different, depending on availability etc.

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    • Thank you, Ossie, for noticing! I can't believe that no one else noticed this discrepancy in 6 weeks or so!

      Yes, we are an independent supporting ministry to the GC Sabbath School Department, but we receive the Sabbath School manuscript directly from that department. However, we receive the art work directly from the artist, Lars Justinen. And most of the art you see on our daily blog is from his site, GoodSalt.com

      What seems to have happened is that the art from the second quarter of 2022 got uploaded by mistake. It will take me a little while to fix it.

      Again, thank you for contacting us!! We need more people with eagle eyes like yours to watch out for our blog. 😊

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    • Okay, I have uploaded the correct images. If you go to the lesson page and force re-load the page ([shift]+[reload], you should see the correct image.
      Thanks again for letting us know.

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  2. In response to the question posed at the end of today’s lesson, I would say that the link between the sanctuary cleansing and Jesus’s death provides another connection between the gospel and judgement. Last week we discussed the significance of the angels who had both a message of the gospel and one of judgement (Revelation 14:6,7). There is no need for the good news of the gospel without the sober truth that the law of sin and death results in judgement and the only way out of it is by Christ’s blood and righteousness.

    The cleansing of the sanctuary and Jesus’s death shows how the earthly sanctuary (patterned after the heavenly sanctuary) points to Jesus and the work He has done and is doing on our behalf in light of the judgement.

    (I’m still thinking through this connection and would appreciate anyone else’s response to this question! 😊)

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    • Hi, Sarah. I am absolutely in harmony with your thoughts on this. In response to Maurice' comment, I would question the assertion that we cannot presently experience the cleansing of the sanctuary, concerning which the Bible study of our pioneers concluded that it began in 1844. My understanding is that we can (even must) by faith enter the Most Holy Place with Jesus. In this way, it might be like the forgiveness of our sins. It happens when we take God at His word, though it would be hard to prove it to anyone else.

      What is so dangerous about concluding that we are the right church, based on the relationship of our history to Bible prophecy? To my mind, it all depends on our attitude. We could congratulate ourselves on being so good or so smart as to have identified the right church and joined it. We could suppose that this will give us a free pass into heaven, regardless of whether or not we know Jesus and are being conformed to His likeness in love. On the other hand, we could be humbly grateful that the Holy Spirit has raised up a movement to declare God's final message to the world, and that we have been privileged to become a part of it. We could consider that, having been graciously granted a knowledge of so much Bible truth, we owe a debt to God and to our fellow man.

      In other words, going back and doubting God's leading in the Advent Movement leading up to the Great Disappointment, and denying the doctrinal understanding that solved the mystery for the disappointed ones who could not deny the work of the Holy Spirit in that movement, and that essentially founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church, strikes me as a slap in Jesus' face, and a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

      Have we been wrong, very wrong? Yes, we have, in our attitude of arrogance and complacency, not in the doctrine that was handed down to us by earnest Christians, the depth of whose sincerity and commitment we've come nowhere close to matching.

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    • When I taught 4th grade, I used to show students a graphic for story telling and story writing. A story plot is usually like a mountain, it rises toward the highest peak and then drops pretty quickly after the primary, climactic event. Sometimes there are smaller peaks (important events) as the main problem or challenge in the plot builds momentum towards a resolution.

      That is helpful to me, as I think of the gospel story, and where Jesus' death and the heavenly sanctuary cleansing are placed in the plot -- how they're connected. The whole Bible story could be summarized as the revelation of God's love for humans on planet Earth. The main problem and challenge is Satan, who has accused God of not loving His created beings, including humans. Satan's massive rebellion has spread to humans, so that they too, all, in their very DNA, became rebellious against God. So God is working to rescue each human from slavery to Satan and his rebellion. And through Jesus, God is continuously defending His character as we travel through the great sweep of human history.

      Just as God added to Daniel's knowledge and understanding over time, with each successive prophecy, each building upon the last, God builds our understanding of Himself through history. He keeps adding revelations of the goodness of Himself as we can take it in. Within the first chapters of the Bible, we see God showing up, the moment Adam and Eve decided to join Satan's rebellion, and offer a revelation of His divine, unselfish love through a promise of a Savior. The story builds with each righteous person's life pointing to our Savior, Jesus - Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, etc.

      We might place Jesus' death as the culminating highest peak. To say Calvary is a major event, in this salvation-from-Satan's-rebellion story, is of course an understatement! The veil in the Temple was symbolically torn at Jesus' death, revealing to us that the veil between the holy God and sin-soaked humans has been broken. There is no greater revelation of God's love than His taking on the weight and consequences of rebellion for us, and dying in our place. We who say "yes" to Jesus' sacrifice are forensically free of sin, and free of Satan's rulership over us! God accepts us as righteous on the ground of what Christ has done for us. We are new creatures in Him (2 Cor. 5:17). We, by faith in Jesus' sacrifice for us, now legally have the righteousness that God's holy justice demands (Rom. 4:5). All the sacrifices that the people of the OT times offered by faith, pointed forward to this moment in history. So is the Cross the highest point of the story?

      I'm going to say "no". Jesus Christ is still ministering for us. He is still revealing God's character to the universes and to those who are deciding whom to believe. We are still sinners. We still make rebellious choices. We still need the removal of everything of the old nature of sin from our hearts and minds. We are like hatched and hatching butterflies with parts of the old chrysalis around us. God in Jesus is now cleansing His earthly temple, the Church, us (1 Cor. 6:19-20) from the effects of sin. God will put in His sickle (Joel 3:13) and harvest us home when all the fruits of the Holy Spirit are fully mature in us...and all the fruits of sin are fully ripe in the world.

      In Judaism, Yom Kippur (the historic Day of Cleansing the Sanctuary of the sins from the whole past year) is still considered the holiest day of the Jewish year. It is considered a Sabbath day, a day to cease from work and recognize complete dependence on God. They wear white clothing (kittel) and devote themselves to praising God. Online I read, "Though it is the most solemn day of the year because it is the hour of God's judgment, it is also suffused with joy...maidens dressed in white sing and dance in the vineyards....showing joy of being immersed in the confidence that God will accept our repentance and seal our verdict for a year of life...and intimating the union between man and woman, God and His People." Powerful symbolism. It is also powerful symbolism that practicing Jews celebrate Yom Kippur as a day of national atonement. It is not about individuals, except that it is individuals that make up a nation.

      So, in conclusion, I am seeing the cleansing of the Sanctuary as the highest (on the story plot) or culminating work of Jesus Christ on our behalf in the story of salvation. Jesus can judge/reveal the truth about Himself and us/save/cleanse us and throw away records of sin... because He died for us. The end of this period of Sanctuary Cleansing is the moment when God's People are 100% free of sin, so God and we can see each other face-to-face! (1 Cor. 13:12...the culminating verse of the Bible's "love chapter"). When Jesus is done cleansing us of sin, He is going to return! The story plot mountain will drop quickly! Events will happen fast. Rev. 22:20-21!

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      • Thank you so much, Esther, for this!

        Yes, I believe your reasoning is quite correct. Just as in the Jewish sanctuary year, the Day of Atonement was the "high point," so the anti-typical Day of Atonement, or "cleansing /setting right" of the sanctuary could be seen as the high point of the salvation story. Unless, of course, we see the Second Coming as the climax. That might actually be a better fit. (At the cross, Christ's victory is assured, but the victory is not yet clearly evident until the Second Coming.)
        After the Second Coming, everything else is just denouement, or tying the loose ends together:
        *The saints review the records of the lost and are satisfied that God is just.
        *Christ returns to this earth for the final cleansing - the destruction of the wicked and cleansing the earth by fire.
        *Then He re-creates this world.

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        • So true, the 2nd Coming is a better fit as a highest point for the face-to-face reunion! Thank you, Inge.

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  3. My Dad was an atheist and when I tried to share my faith with him he would say, “what makes you think that you are right and everyone else is wrong?” Through the years I have seen many people leave the church, not because of doctrine, but because of people. And when people became wrong for any reason they decided the church was wrong. If the rightness of our understanding is based on our interpretation then we are in trouble. The scripture says, “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation”. 2 Peter 1:20. So if our focus becomes our having it right instead of God having it right then our understanding is people centered instead of God centered. God is right even if all the people are wrong. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. Proverbs 3:5 Our pioneers had to wrestle with this truth after the great disappointment.

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  4. How do we "connect the dots" between Day of Atonement and judgment? I don't see judgment in Leviticus 16. Neither did I see it in O R L Crosier's paper.

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  5. I have gained much insight regarding 'Cleansing the Sanctuary' since after reading the article Jim Williams provided. It has deepened my understanding of what the ‘cleansing’ also includes. It benefitted me, and I others will benefit from this as well.
    Again, I strongly encourage all to click on the link he provided to find out more about what “The hour of God’s judgment is come” also refers to. https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1961/07/the-hour-of-gods-judgment-is-come

    Please allow me to share some of the beginning text of this article. The writer of the article asks:
    “The Adventist interpretation of the judgment of Revelation 14:7 has emphasized in particular that phase known as the ‘investigative judgement of the saints’. But does the hour of God’s judgement have yet a wider scope? Does the period beginning in 1844 have universal significance in terms of judgement? What does God mean by it? Exactly what is embraced in this judgement? Is it concerned only with the saints and nothing more?”

    The writer finds that it includes the vindication of God. He states:
    “It is important to notice that the central issue in all these scriptures concerned with the work of judgment is the justification and vindication of God, not of man. The great concern is that God is declared righteous. Only as this becomes true can the saints be proclaimed righteous. It is the vindication of God and His throne that alone guarantees the triumph and vindication of the believer.” I agree.

    With this fresh look, he highlights the meaning of Daniel 8:14 –
    “The Hebrew meaning and the Revised Standard Version translation of Daniel 8:14 takes on a wider meaning in the light of this picture. Actually, Daniel 8:14 is concerned with the justification of God and His sanctuary. In this chapter it is the little horn that has defiled the sanctuary, trodden down God's law, blasphemed His name and character, and persecuted God's people. So terrible has been its power that it appears that the advantage is with Satan and his system. But the prophecy declares that at the end of the 2300 days, beginning in 1844, the judgments of God will be manifest as seen in the book of Revelation. All opposition and counterfeits in this last great struggle will be overthrown. God and His people will be vindicated."

    My answer to the question at the end of the lesson in light of the above – The battle is won, it is over, and God and His 'system of righteousness' has been vindicated in the eyes of the whole universe. God’s authority and sovereignty, His righteousness, has defeated the system of the enemy of life.

    His Son, our Lord and Savior, is in the process of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary of all that defiles it, making it ready for the time when the reigns to rule the new world will be transferred to Him.
    'The sins of the saints are being transferred to satan, the originator of all sin'. This reveals: “to heavenly intelligences ‘who among the dead are asleep in Christ’ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection.” From (What Adventists believe about Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary)

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  6. I appreciate the tolerance of diversity within this group. I don’t post often but read it faithfully.

    Bridgette, let me ask you and the group when or how the heavenly sanctuary became defiled?

    Might it be possible we are trying to make God’s sandbox illustration given for the slaves from Egypt and take it too literally? I believe God was trying to illustrate a concept and we make it concrete. A simple question makes this perhaps more relevant. What temple on earth is replicated in heaven? They all are slightly different so it at least raises the question as to how literally one can take the illustration.

    But back to my original question. I’d appreciate the groups’ thoughts as to defilement in heaven.

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    • Hello Doug, while I don’t have a complete answer to your question, I will begin with “what temple on earth is replicated in heaven?”.

      I would say that it is the other way around, that the earthly was constructed to be like the heavenly. God explicitly directed Moses that he should build the sanctuary “according to the pattern” that was given to him “on the mountain” (Exod. 25:40; 26:30) Hebrews 9:23,24 also talks about a heavenly sanctuary that Christ entered into.

      If you have time, this article does a deep dive into the earthly/heavenly sanctuary connection:
      https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/2016/08/The-Heavenly-Sanctuary

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    • Which temple on earth?

      The wilderness temple was a basic illustration, simple with all the necessary components. Solomon's temple also had all the basic components, but tried to capture more of the grandeur of the heavenly temple. The post-exile temple also had all the basic components, but lacked the grandeur of Solomon's temple (though Herod tried to bring that back in his building program). The real grandeur of this last temple was the literal presence of Christ, the Son of God, mingling with the people within its walls. He was the One to Whom everything pointed!

      So, basically, all three contained the components that illustrate what takes place in the heavenly sanctuary -- though the heavenly sanctuary is far grander than anything here on earth. Even Solomon's temple falls far short of showing the grandeur of the heavenly.

      Did sin enter the sanctuary?--

      The day of atonement says the sanctuary as well as the people had to be cleansed. Atonement was made for the sanctuary because of all the transgressions. Sin was carried out of the temple after the Priest had finished with the atonement, and transferred to the live goat...

      Leviticus 16:16-17,33 Leviticus 16:20-21

      Also, the Passover (representing the cross) at the beginning of the salvation year, is not the same as the Day of Atonement at the end of the salvation year. The day of Atonement represents the final elimination of sin, just before the feast of tabernacles (representing entry into the heavenly Canaan where sin will be no more). But all that is a study too long for this post.

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    • Could the defilement in heaven be the lies about God's character, that were, and still are, being spread by Satan? 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 tells us that we are that temple. As I contemplated the final question for today, I see the connection between Jesus' death, as described in Daniel, and the judgement as being God's character and Satan's character being forever revealed. At Christ's death, all unfallen beings saw exactly what Satan's kingdom would be like. They also watched as the Creator of all life was tortured and killed, rather than take away the choice of Satan and the evil men he controlled. At that point, they made a judgement about God's character and Satan's character. That is the connection I see. I see myself as that temple being cleansed. My obedience to God's law will show that cleansing taking place. It’s just a different perspective of the judgement, but that is where my mind went when I read that question.

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    • Doug – Sarah provided already a link regarding your question, and I will attempt to reply as best as I understand it. God always communicates Truth using ‘words’, though the Spirit within relates the spiritual Truth of His Word to our understanding, and our heart perceives its value.

      Yes, I also consider the physical ‘sanctuary’ to ultimately depict a concept. Though the source of its construction might be a question to be resolved, the purpose for the sanctuary is clear – it was and is established to reflect the Supreme God and HIs Authority to be taught to His people as they learn to build a personal relationship with Him.

      You ask: “When and how the heavenly sanctuary became defiled’? As I understand it, the heavenly Sanctuary becomes defiled as those who receive God’s ‘Precepts’ and ‘Truths’ trample them under foot, so defying His spiritual Authority. The earthly Sanctuary made of brick and mortar is already gone; though, what was symbolized through it remains.

      Ultimately, when the Sanctuary in heaven will have been cleansed, God’s Truth and Precepts will remain unopposed. Then, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be given the authority to maintain God's 'Precepts and 'Truths', to reign and establish unopposed over the new earth and new heaven.

      Since it is God, Whom we ought to worship in Spirit and Truth, that has put forth His directives, the believer is held accountable for his/her actions. The earthly sanctuary was cleaned on an annual basis, the heavenly sanctuary is being cleansed now as our Lord and Savior is working to mitigate God’s Justice by requesting His Mercy and grace on the believer’s behalf who are found to be hid in Him.

      The definition for ‘Precept’ – Latin – to teach:
      “Any commandment, instruction, or order intended as a rule of action or conduct; especially, a practical rule guiding behavior, technique, etc.” In the scriptures the word which is translated “Precept” is a general term for the responsibility God places upon His people.’” (Higher Ground Ministry)

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  7. Why is it significant that the death of Jesus, as revealed in Daniel 9:24-27, is directly linked to the judgment, in Daniel 8:14?

    "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7)

    Christ is the key figure in this universal drama. In order to rescue and redeem the lost, Christ, the Son of God, had to suffer the most violent death-- death by crucifixion. The magnitude of the sacrifice reveals the magnitude of the sin problem. It is not possible for God to dismiss sin, to forget it. An absolutely holy and righteous God must react to sin, or sin will destroy His rule of righteousness and love forever.

    People often want to consider the cross only from the viewpoint of God's love. They tend to forget that the moral demand for the cross, is also a revelation of God's justice. When we speak of the sacrifice of Christ as a revelation only of God's love, we have lost the reality of God's holy character which is absolutely just, as well as perfect love.

    Sin launched its deadly seeds of ruin into the universe, and God's eternal purpose is to restore perfect holiness, harmony and life in which sin will be abhorred by all for the terrible thing it really is. When all is done, sin will never again rise up. Not because the saved are now robots, but because they love God's law, they have absolutely no more desire for sin.

    Final victory will come only as a result of Christ's ministry, both of redemption and judgment. There are clearly two parties and aspects of this judgment. There is judgment against those who follow apostate leaders and give their support to those who are against God's laws. There is judgment for the redeemed saints of God.

    Now the reality is that all have sinned and deserve to die eternally. That's where the cross and Christ's sacrifice is absolutely crucial, and we realize the great love that provided it!!! Without it, none would be redeemed!

    But God already knows which people are in a saving relationship with Christ. Why have a judgment?

    There is far more at stake than just our redemption! The judgement is not just to vindicate us. There is a whole universe out there, and thousands upon multitudes of thousands of angels who were assaulted by Satan's doubts about God's love and justice.
    God's work of justice is done in the open, in public, that all may see there is no shiftiness, no arbitrary undercover, everything is right and just.

    In the judgment, Satan sends his report of all the sins he caused the person to commit, claiming God cannot be just in excluding some and not others.

    Jesus doesn't even argue, just points to the blood that covers those sins, and the love and devotion of a heart surrendered to Him. They are His!!!

    Sadly there is the other side, the ones who loved the things of the world, and trampled on the blood of the One Who died to save them.

    And yes, the judgment sets all the records straight, and everyone will declare, "Just and true are your ways, O Lord."

    Sin will be eliminated forever.

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  8. Why would God hide things from His children? There is nothing left for us, that can make no sense. A few things will still need to be understood, but all will be revealed! Daniel's visions were given many years before history told them all! Why? For us to be sure that God controls everything, and those who trust Him can feel safe!

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