The Great Advent
Christ’s ministry as High Priest was not to be perpetual throughout eternity. God has assured us that sin and death will be destroyed. Nahum 1:9. If the priesthood and intercession of the Saviour were to continue endlessly, it would indicate that sin must have perpetual existence. Sin is an intruder; it has no right for an existence. In Early Writings, pages 279-281, is found the following :
In the Levitical priesthood there was a succession of priests and high priests. This succession was necessary because of man’s limitation. Under that system of priesthood men died. The Levites, the assistants to the priesthood, ministered about the sanctuary from the age of thirty until fifty. Num. 4:3, 35 ; 8:19. The eldest son of the high priest usually succeeded his father. Ex. 29:29, 30; Num. 20:23-28.
But there was to be no succession of high priests in the priesthood of Christ. After He had offered Himself as the great sacrifice for man. He ascended to heaven and became man’s intercessor. This high priesthood of our Lord was not to be succeeded by another. Jesus was to minister for man at the right hand of God as long as man needed an intercessor. Rev. 3:21.
When the Saviour completed His work on earth as man’s example, living that sinless life which the law of God demanded, He said, in His prayer recorded in John 17, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." Verse 4. When the Saviour uttered His last words as He was dying on the cross, He said, "It is finished." John 19:30. By His death the Saviour made possible man’s reconciliation with God. Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18. When He shall have completed His intercession for the last sinner who can be saved, the word will go forth in the heavenly temple, "It is done."
The plan of God to save lost man will then be finished. There will be no further intercession for a lost race. The final call will have been made, the last prayer for the sinner will have been offered, the last appeal for a lost soul will have been given. No further probation will be extended.
The high priest finished the round of ministry in the earthly sanctuary on the tenth day of the seventh Bible month. This tenth day of the seventh Bible month is known among the Jewish people to this day as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Lev. 23:26, 27; Num. 29:7.
While the high priest conducted the ministry in the holiest place of the sanctuary on this most sacred of all days, the people were commanded to afflict their souls. Lev. 16:29-31; 23:27-29, 32; Num. 29:7. All lightness, trifling, every form of joviality which might be indulged in at other times of the year, were set aside during this sacred and solemn period. The Day of Atonement was a life-and-death issue to the people of Israel.
The Israelites were prepared for the Day of Atonement by the blowing of trumpets ten days prior to this occasion. In the days of Moses the people were commanded to make "two trumpets of silver, … that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly." Num. 10:1-8.
One purpose of these trumpets was that "in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God." Verse 10. By the blowing of the trumpets the people were solemnly and seriously impressed, in view of what was to follow. The Israelites understood that from the first day of the seventh month until the tenth day of this same month they were to seek the Lord for what was to take place on the Day of Atonement. To that people the blowing of the trumpets was a loud call to repentance. This seventh month was the closing month of the sanctuary service ministry; all sin must be searched out and put away. During the ten days prior to Yom Kippur, earnest and prayerful seasons were observed by the children of Abraham.
The people were taught that on the day of the blowing of trumpets, three sets of books were opened,—the book of life to examine the good deeds, the book of death to examine evil deeds, and an intermediary book to examine into the accounts of those whose cases were to be decided at the Day of Atonement. Not to be prepared for the day of judgment would be tragic. No greater calamity could overtake one than to come up to the Day of Atonement unprepared for an investigation of the records. The Lord offered Israel ten days prior to the Day of Atonement in which to make ready for the investigation to take place on Yom Kippur.
Nowhere in the annals of sacred history do we find that the Lord came to His people, at a time of crisis, without first giving them ample warning of what was to take place. The world was warned of the deluge; Sodom was notified of its impending destruction; Pharaoh was warned prior to Israel’s release from Egypt; the prophets warned the ten tribes before they were led into captivity. Judah was repeatedly entreated to turn from their evil ways in order to escape the Babylonian exile. The Jews were notified of the first advent of the Messiah, and they were commanded to prepare for His coming. (See Gen. 6:3, 12, 13, 17, l8; 18:17-32 ; 19:12-14; Ex. 5:1-4; 2 Kings 17:6-18; Jer. 25:2-14; Luke 1:17.)
It is unthinkable that God would permit the antitypical day of atonement, the day of investigative judgment, to come upon the church and upon the world, without notifying the inhabitants of earth of this unusual and outstanding event.
The Scriptures declare that the day of judgment will come, and that when that day of judgment comes, it will begin with the church. 1 Peter 4:17. Therefore God sent a judgment-hour message to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. This judgment-hour message was carried to the world by the church, and it was the gospel message for that time.
For at least ten years prior to the opening of the antitypical day of atonement, God’s professed people sounded to all parts of the earth the judgment message as it is declared in the Scriptures. From the book, "Rise and Progress of Seventh-day Adventists," by J. N. Loughborough, we quote the following: "The evidences that these symbols, found in Revelation 10, and 14, represent the advent proclamation, are set forth in a volume entitled, ‘Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation.’ …
When the time arrives for the Lord to do a certain work, God’s providences are set in motion to carry out His plan. The work of the Lord is conducted with precision. The Lord never delays. His work is carried forward on time. The sun, moon, and stars rise and set precisely on schedule time. Not one of the heavenly bodies is ever late. God’s word cannot return to Him void. There is no such word as failure with the Lord. No man or combination of men can hinder the fulfillment of the purpose of God.
When the hour arrived for the preaching of the judgment-hour message to the church and to the world, at the appointed time the Lord raised up men in all sections of the earth to declare this message. We have no record that men in various portions of the world delivered to its inhabitants simultaneously a message that the great judgment hour of God had come, until the great advent movement of 1834-44.
And in a most singular manner the two outstanding features of the message proclaimed by those godly men in connection with the advent movement during the middle of the nineteenth century, were, "Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," and, "The hour of His judgment is come." The gospel of our Lord, God’s power to save men, had never been proclaimed in this form at any previous time in the world’s history. While the Lord Jesus was held up before men as the only means of salvation, the cry was everywhere raised, "The hour of God’s judgment is come," the sanctuary will be cleansed. "Fear God, and give glory to Him," was sounded nigh and far off. Wherever the message was proclaimed, hundreds, yes, thousands, embraced the teaching.
In connection with the declarations found in Daniel 8:14 and Revelation 14:6, 7, those messengers and believers preached that the Lord would return at His second advent with power and great glory. In all places where the message was proclaimed, the advent believers taught that the cleansing of the sanctuary meant the destruction of the earth at His second coming. The earth then would be burned with fire, and the new heavens and the new earth would be ushered in. This burning of the earth by fire was understood to be the cleansing of the sanctuary.
Nowhere in the Scripture is the earth said to be the sanctuary. There is not to be found, between Genesis and Revelation, a single text which says that the earth is the sanctuary. The word "sanctuary" means a "holy place." Ever since sin entered this world, this earth has been anything but a holy place. Of particular places God has declared that His presence made them holy; but the earth as a planet is nowhere regarded in the Scripture as a sanctuary. Strong was the faith of those devout advocates of the judgment-hour message that the Lord would come at the end of the twenty-three hundred days, which terminated in the seventh Bible month, the month of October, 1844.
The symbolic prophecy of the great advent movement had forecast that while the message of the second coming of Christ, which is so clearly taught in the word of God, would be sweet to those who proclaimed it, after they had delivered the message, their disappointment at not seeing their Lord would be bitter. And what a bitter disappointment it must have been to those saints of God who faced a scoffing and frowning world, after they had given their time, money, and energy in the service of their Lord’s cause! Everywhere the believers declared their Lord would come at the end of the 2300 prophetic days. That time would be their hour of glory, of deliverance and joy. How they anticipated the arrival of that supreme moment when the Son of God would appear with all His holy angels for their salvation, for the destruction of the wicked, for the destruction of this evil world! But alas! The 2300 years ended, and the Saviour did not appear as those devoted believers expected. Bitter indeed was their disappointment. One writer says of that experience:
While the disappointment which came to those believers who expected the Lord to come at the close of the 2300 prophetic days, was bitter, the Lord was not responsible for their sorrow, neither were the Scriptures to blame for their mistake. The message of the judgment they proclaimed was correct; for this message was in perfect accord with the Sacred Writings. The proclamation of the 2300 days to end in the seventh Bible month in 1844, October 22, was in harmony with the Bible; for that prophetic period did terminate on that date. From that time to this, the dates of the beginning and ending of that long Bible prophetic period have been regarded as absolutely reliable, in complete harmony with the word of God.
But the idea that the cleansing of the sanctuary at the close of the 2300 days was the purifying of the earth by fire, and therefore that the Lord would come when that long time period ended, on October 22, 1844,—this view was not in agreement with the Scriptures. The mistake of the believers of that day was in supposing that the sanctuary was the earth. The believers in the advent message in 1844 did not at that time understand the subject of the sanctuary as it is taught in the word of God. Their burden was to make known the judgment-hour message, and the cleansing of the sanctuary, which was to take place the close of the 2300 days. God impressed those people to announce this judgment-hour message, for the church and the world must prepare for the anti-typical day of atonement.
Had they studied the advent message more closely, they might have discovered their mistake earlier. But the Lord comforted their hearts, and assured them that in spite of their mistake, He had not failed them. Their message was given at the proper time. They announced the correct time when the sanctuary should be cleansed. They voiced heaven’s message of the judgment to come. Their faith in God and in His word was severely tested, but many of the earnest and sincere believers held fast their confidence.
When the disciples of Christ proclaimed: "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest" (Luke 19:38), they were fulfilling the prophecy foretold by the prophet Zechariah more than five centuries before. The Saviour Himself said to those Pharisees who demanded that the people be restrained from making such a disturbance: "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." Luke 19:39, 40.
Yet a little later, when the disciples thought that Jesus was to be crowned as Israel’s King, but instead He was crucified and buried, they were bitterly disappointed. Hear the pathetic statement of those disappointed ones in their conversation with the Master, when Jesus overtook them on their way to Emmaus:
"We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel." Luke 24:21. Why should they have entertained such an idea? Jesus was not responsible for the belief to which they clung. Nor were the Scriptures accountable for their adhering to such an idea. The Saviour had admonished them months before:
"Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them." Luke 9:44.
Why was this important statement of the Saviour’s hid from them? Why did they not understand it? The Scripture tells us: "Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be the greatest." Verse 46. Their minds were centered upon another theme. They were thinking who of them would have the largest responsibility in that kingdom which they expected Jesus would set up. They did not let those sayings of the Saviour sink down into their ears. Eventually they were disappointed.
The Adventists in 1844 had so set their affections upon seeing the Lord return that their minds were not open to all the sayings of the Scripture. At the end of the 2300 days the sanctuary must be cleansed, the judgment must begin. These ardent believers expected that at the close of the prophetic time the Saviour would come and destroy the earth. The event they expected to take place at the seventh Bible month was not in accord with the teaching of Scripture. The expectation of the disciples that Jesus would set up His kingdom, instead of dying, was not in harmony with what the Lord had told them. The disciples of Christ proclaimed Christ as the coming King in fulfillment of prophecy; the advent believers proclaimed the message of the judgment and the cleansing of the sanctuary in perfect fulfillment of what Daniel the prophet had foretold would come to pass in the middle of the nineteenth century.
| Articles Index
| Gilbert Sanctuary Lessons
Bible Studies | Our Great High Priest