The Hour of His Judgment - Part three
Heaven’s Court Convenes in 1844
The chronological events of the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel show that the judgment must take place after 1798. In the eighth chapter, Daniel receives a vision, “I was by the river of Ulai.” Daniel 8:2. God again opens the events of the future but unlike chapters two and seven, which begin with the reign of Babylon and extend to the second coming of Christ; the vision in chapter eight begins with the reign of Medo-Persia and ends with the cleansing of the sanctuary at the end of two thousand and three hundred prophetic days.
Instead of using wild beasts, God uses clean animals. Both animals God used in the eighth chapter of Daniel were used in the sanctuary service. The ram was used during the daily service, “If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks,” Leviticus 5:15. The goat was used during the yearly service to make atonement for the congregation of Israel (Leviticus 16).
While chapters two and seven focus of the rise and conquest of different world empires, the eighth chapter focus on the sanctuary. God sought to bring to our view that both the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” And the first angel’s message, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come,” pointed to events that were connected: Christ’s ministry in the most holy place and the investigative judgment. The most important question to be answered is: What is the cleansing of the sanctuary? How is it connected with the work of investigative judgment?
To help us comprehend heavenly truths, God used a model, a type, to teach us about the work that is to be accomplished for our redemption before Christ can take His own to heaven and bring an end to sin and suffering. Through this model, His divine true character would be made known to us and to the rest of the universe. This process would forever settle the question regarding His divine authority, holy law, and show His justice in dealing with rebellion to His government which had its origin with Satan. By understanding the earthly sanctuary service we would be able to grasp the service in the heavenly; and thus the investigative judgment.
In His instruction to Moses He said, “And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount” (Exodus 25:8, 40). Moses made the tabernacle which was after the pattern of the true tabernacle “which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Hebrews 8:2. All that was connected to its services was to serve as a shadow of the True. Even as “the blood of bulls and of goats” typified the blood of Christ which was shed for the “remission of sin”; the priestly ministry on earth was a symbol of Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.
“We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;” (Hebrews 8:1) “after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever.” (Hebrew 10:12). But can there be anything in heaven to be cleansed? The cleansing of both the earthly and heavenly sanctuary is plainly taught in scripture. “Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” (Hebrews 9:22, 23).
Paul makes it plain that remission or putting away of sin can only be accomplished through shedding of blood. “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” (Leviticus 17:11). The law of God is a transcript of His character. When broken, it cannot be altered even as the law Giver is “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8). The Bibles says, “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). For God to be just, the penalty for transgressing His law must be paid.
Ellen G White, in her book The Great Controversy, captured the idea of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary and so we shall glean largely from her writings. The ministration in the earthly sanctuary consisted of two divisions; the priests ministered daily in the holy place, while once a year the high priest performed a special work of atonement in the most holy, for the cleansing of the sanctuary. Day by day the repentant sinner brought his offering to the door of the tabernacle (courtyard) and, placing his hands upon the victim’s head, he confessed his sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the innocent sacrifice.
The animal was then slain. The broken law demanded the life of the transgressor. The blood, representing the forfeited life of the sinner, whose guilt the victim bore, was carried by the priest into the holy place and sprinkled before the veil. Behind this veil was the ark containing the law which the sinner had broken. By this ceremony, the sin was through the blood transferred in figure to the sanctuary. In some cases, the flesh of the victim was to be eaten by the priest, as Moses directed the sons of Aaron saying, “God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation.” (Leviticus 10:17). Such was the work that went on, day by day, throughout the year.
The sins of Israel were thus transferred to the sanctuary, making it necessary for a special work to be done for their removal. God commanded that an atonement be made for each of the sacred apartments. “And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.” An atonement was also to be made for the altar, to “Cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.” Leviticus 16:16, 19. Once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the most holy place to cleanse the sanctuary.
This work completed the yearly round of ministration. On this day two kids of goats were brought to the door of the tabernacle. The priest had to cast lots upon them, “one lot for the Lord, and other lot for the scapegoat.” Leviticus 16:8. The goat upon which fell the Lord’s lot, was to be slain as a sin offering for the people. And the priest was to bring the blood within the veil and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat directly upon the law and before the mercy seat to make satisfaction for the claims of the law. The blood was also to be sprinkled upon the altar of incense that was before the veil. Through his role as a mediator, the priest was to bear the sins of the people upon himself from the sanctuary.
Following the directions God gave through Moses, Aaron was to “lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.” Leviticus 16:22, 23.
The scapegoat came no more into the camp of Israel, the man who led him away was required to wash himself and his clothes with water before returning to the camp. By placing his hands upon the head of the scapegoat and confessing over him all the sins of Israel, the priest was in figure transferring them from himself to the goat. The goat then bore them away, and they were regarded as forever separated from the people.
God shows us in type the chronology of events. This prophecy of Daniel 8:14 is a time prophecy of events that will transpire leading up to the crucifixion of Christ culminating with the special work of atonement in the most holy place. Since this was the only part of the vision not understood by Daniel, God send the angel Gabriel to give him skill and understanding. “Therefore understand the matter and consider the vision” says Gabriel to Daniel, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city… Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself. ..And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease.” Daniel 9:23-27.
The rule of scripture teaches that a day in symbolic prophecy represents a year. [Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6]. So are to understand this time period of 2300 days to be referring to 2300 years. The starting point for this time period is when the decree goes forth to restore and to build. This decree is found in the seventh chapter of Ezra. [Ezra 17:12-26]. It was issued in its completest form by Artaxerxes king of Persia, B.C 457. But is Ezra 6:14 the house of the Lord at Jerusalem is said to have been built, “according to the commandment [margin decree] of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.”
These three kings, in originating, re-affirming, and completing the decree, brought it to the perfection required by the prophecy to mark the beginning of the 2300 years. Taking B.C. 457, the time when the decree was completed, as the date of the commandment, every specification of the prophecy concerning the seventy weeks was seen to have been fulfilled. And the Saviour Himself declared: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor." Luke 4:18. After His baptism He went into Galilee, "preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled." Mark 1:14, 15.
"And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week." The "week" here brought to view is the last one of the seventy; it is the last seven years of the period allotted especially to the Jews. During this time, extending from A.D. 27 to A.D. 34, Christ, at first in person and afterward by His disciples, extended the gospel invitation especially to the Jews. As the apostles went forth with the good tidings of the kingdom, the Saviour's direction was: "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Matthew 10:5, 6.
In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." In A.D. 31, three and a half years after His baptism, our Lord was crucified. With the great sacrifice offered upon Calvary, ended that system of offerings which for four thousand years had pointed forward to the Lamb of God. Type had met antitype, and all the sacrifices and oblations of the ceremonial system were there to cease.
The seventy weeks, or 490 years, especially allotted to the Jews, ended, as we have seen, in A.D. 34. At that time, through the action of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the nation sealed its rejection of the gospel by the martyrdom of Stephen and the persecution of the followers of Christ. Then the message of salvation, no longer restricted to the chosen people, was given to the world. The disciples, forced by persecution to flee from Jerusalem, "went everywhere preaching the word." "Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them." Peter, divinely guided, opened the gospel to the centurion of Caesarea, the God-fearing Cornelius; and the ardent Paul, won to the faith of Christ, was commissioned to carry the glad tidings "far hence unto the Gentiles." Acts 8:4, 5; 22:21.
Thus far every specification of the prophecies is strikingly fulfilled, and the beginning of the seventy weeks is fixed beyond question at 457 B.C., and their expiration in A.D. 34. From this data there is no difficulty in finding the termination of the 2300 days. The seventy weeks--490 days--having been cut off from the 2300, there were 1810 days remaining. After the end of 490 days, the 1810 days were still to be fulfilled. From A.D. 34, 1810 years extend to 1844. Consequently the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 terminate in 1844.
At the expiration of this great prophetic period, upon the testimony of the angel of God, "the sanctuary shall be cleansed." Thus the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary was definitely pointed out. In the autumn of 1844, October 22, began the closing work of Christ’s ministry for the redemption of man. It was to emphasize this important truth that the vision of Daniel in chapter 8 was given. What standard does God use to judge us and to determine whether or not be are worthy of pardon?