The Sanctuary, the Day/Year Principle & the Atonement

Continuing on with the series on the Investigative Judgment I want to address a couple of objections that are not sufficiently complex to require individual articles.

A Day for a Year

Some people have argued that the day/year principle that Adventists use to interpret time prophecies has been manufactured out of necessity rather than because of Biblical support. For people familiar with Bible prophecy, this objection should be seen as belonging to the same category as flat-earth arguments. Why? Because we have in Daniel 9 a time prophecy that tells us there are to be 70 weeks between the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem and the Messiah. Did the Messiah come 490 days or 490 years after the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem? The fact that we have an actual decree in Ezra that we can count from and which takes us exactly to the time of Jesus should settle this question for any reasonable person.

Did Jesus enter the Holy or the Most Holy Place at His Ascension

Some Bible translations say that Jesus went straight into the Most Holy place immediately after His ascension. How does this line up with the Adventist understanding?

Thousands of hours have been spent by scholars debating whether the Greek terms translated “Holy Place” in the King James should have been more accurately translated “Most Holy Place” or rather “Holy Places.”

However, why would we assume that the point of the Earthly Sanctuary was to teach us about heavenly geography? Was the ‘pattern’ given to Moses really intended as an exact architectural blueprint of heavenly real-estate?

Consider for a second what the sanctuary service would have looked like if every minor aspect was intended to be an exact representation of the real thing:

– there should have been just one sacrifice instead of many

– the ceremonies should have been conducted just once instead of year after year

– the altar should have been a cross

– and, since the high priest represented Christ, he should have offered himself instead of a lamb as the sacrifice, etc., etc.

It is never a good idea to take a model and expect it to reflect the real thing perfectly in every specific.

In the Old Testament, the priests were sinful human beings. As they ministered daily in the Holy Place, they needed a veil to shield them from the Shekinah Glory in the Most Holy place. Jesus, however, doesn’t have that problem; He is holy, undefiled, separate from sinners. As such, He could enter directly into God’s presence and even sit down at His right hand. None of this in any way detracts from the fact that there was a ‘daily’ ministry and a ‘yearly ministry’ (Day of Atonement) and that the anti-type of the yearly ministry more sensibly starts in the recent past rather than immediately at the ascension.

The Link between the Sanctuary and the Investigative Judgment

Critics have often denied that there is a connection between the old testament sanctuary service and the Adventist understanding of the Investigative Judgment. They have argued that the only reason we make this connection is because we need some way to tie the cleansing in Daniel 8 with the Judgment since, otherwise, we would have no way of escaping the embarrassment tied to the 1844 disappointment.

In reality, the link between the Investigative Judgment and the sanctuary is self evident once the Investigative Judgment is already established through Arminianism & Soul Sleep (see previous articles in this series). Our interpretation of the sanctuary festivals & rituals makes much more sense than anything our critics have been able to produce.

In the spring, the Israelites celebrated the Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread, the First Fruits and Pentecost. In the fall, they celebrated the feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. Our critics insist that the Day of Atonement was fulfilled at the cross. Does that mean that all the other feasts were also fulfilled at the cross? The Adventist perspective where the spring festivals represented Christ’s death, resurrection, and Pentecost while the fall festivals events at the end of the world (Pre-Advent Judgment, the second coming, etc.) is a far more sensible interpretation.

Moreover, our perspective clearly explains why Israelites could come to the sanctuary day after day, offer sacrifices, and then walk away forgiven, all the while the sanctuary itself is being defiled through their iniquities and needs cleansing once a year. The Adventist understanding of the pre-Advent Judgment successfully resolves this dilemma and makes for a perfect fit.

Was the Atonement completed at the Cross?

This is yet another foolish debate that has taken up valuable time and has erected unnecessary walls between brethren. The answer is Yes and No. It depends on how the word ‘Atonement’ is defined and therefore, this entire debate is one of semantics.

The question to ask is, how would any other Arminian who rejects OSAS answer that?

And, chances are they would have no problem answering in the affirmative because, in most cases, this is what is meant by ‘Atonement’:

1) Was Jesus’s sacrifice sufficient or does He need to die again and again to pay for our sins? (ex. Catholic mass)
2) Were the merits of His life and death sufficient or does God need my own merits to add to what Jesus did in order to save me? (i.e. salvation by grace + works)
3) Were the merits of His life and death sufficient or does God need someone else’s merits to add to Christ’s in order to save me? (ex. monks earning merits for other people)
4) Was Christ’s sacrifice sufficient or does God need to also add Satan’s death to make it complete? (only mentioning this because of some people’s mistaken views of the Scapegoat)

And, Adventists can affirm each one of these points.

If however an Adventist states that the Atonement was NOT completed at the cross, they are not saying this because they disagree with the points above but because they are defining the term in a broader sense. And, there is nothing wrong with this because the Bible itself uses the term in different ways.

One comment
  1. Mike, your post ends too soon. You write of Adventists “defining the term” [atonement] in a different sense, and it would have been helpful to briefly explain that “different sense.”

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