Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rotten Foundations

What’s Wrong with It?

So far we have looked at the history, the tenants, objections to and defense of the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment. In this chapter we will turn to the Bible in an attempt to clarify the differences between the Adventist sanctuary doctrine and the scriptures. This chapter will concentrate primarily on the fallacies incorporated into the original establishment of the sanctuary doctrine, as taught by the early SDA pioneers. The following chapter will address the theological snafus of the teaching. Now hang in there with me as we go through this. It is rather intricate and it’s easy to get lost in the details. If you will follow thru the reasoning and the historical support, it will unravel some of the confusion - and hopefully, lift some burdens from your shoulders.

1) The Year/Day fallacy
The first difficulty comes with the substitution of years for days. This was the invention of a Jewish scholar named Nahawendi, in the ninth century.12 His purpose was to stir up a little enthusiasm for biblical prophecy. It seems that his synagogue members had become apathetic because nothing in the Bible was directly applicable to them. Everything had happened centuries before or would happen centuries in the future, making it seem irrelevant to them. So, Nahawendi used a very sketchy notion that a day was symbolic of a year in biblical prophecy. The year-for-a-day scheme markedly sped up the prophetic periods and brought the looked-for events into their own time-span, making the scriptures much more exciting and contemporary.

Trying to contemporize the Bible is not a new concept after all. This practice spread and was used widely ,even by Catholic scholars, until protestants began to use the day/year principal to identify the Catholic Church as the antichrist. At that point, the Catholics no longer found it convenient, and dropped it summarily. Some protestant groups continued to use this device up until the 1950’s, at which point most Bible scholars abandoned it as insupportable by history or scripture. Adventists, of course, cannot discard the practice, because it would undermine the whole reason for their existence.

The only text in scripture that could be used is, “With the Lord a
day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” 2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) It doesn’t take much thought to realize that Peter is saying that God dwells outside time, so a day is the same thing as a thousand years (or a really long time) to Him, and something that seems interminably long to us is no more to God than what a day would seem to us. This meaning is made clearer in Psalm 90:4, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” Psalms 90:4 (NIV) These are the only two texts that make reference to a day being like a thousand years in scripture. By my reckoning, if one were to take those texts literally and one day = one thousand years, then 2300 days would equal 2,300,000 years - which would be no cause for celebration with respect to the second coming. But then, math has never been my forte.

2) Mornings and Evenings
The second problem with timing arose from the inaccuracies of interpretation in the King James Version of the Bible. If William Miller had had the New Revised Standard Version we would have never gotten into this mess. However, what he had was the KJV, in which Daniel 8:14 reads, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Dan 8:14 (KJV) If he had been reading from the NRSV (or nearly any modern translation) he would have read, "For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state." Dan 8:14 (NRSV). The KJV interpreted the Hebrew words erev and boquer as "days" when, in fact, they are “mornings" and "evenings.” Without exception in the Bible, those two words, used together, refer to the morning and evening sacrifices which, when used in the context of the sanctuary, refer to 2300 morning and evening sacrifices. So, 2300 evening and morning sacrifices would amount to 1150 literal days, or nearly three and a half years. In Daniel 8:13 the question is asked, "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled--the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?" The answer follows in Daniel 8:14 “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated."17 p 178-215

Going backward once again in Chapter 8 we find in verse 11, a power that “set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low.” All of this is a continuous narrative of a specific power identified in verse 8 as the “little horn.” Verses 21-23 identify this little horn as the final Greek power that emerges from the four horns, but without the same power. “The shaggy goat {with four heads} is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.” That can be none other than Antiochus Epiphanies who gained the throne of Syria by flattery, and overthrew the Jewish presence in Jerusalem. Putting it together, it goes like this: 1) In 176 BC, Antiochus Epiphanies peacefully became the ruling world power. He deposed the high priest (Onias III) and subsequently murdered him.14

Over the next few years he (Antiochus E) stripped the Jewish sanctuary of its treasures, and in 168 BC, he completed the desecration of the sanctuary by offering a pig on the altar as a dedication of the sanctuary to the god, Zeus Olympius. In I Mac. 1:54, 59 it says, “They set up the abomination of desolation upon the altar. They did sacrifice upon the idol altar, which was upon the altar of god.” 2) This gave rise to the Maccabean revolt led by Judas Maccabeus, which resulted in the retaking and reconsecration of the sanctuary, three and a half years later in 165 BC (Incidentally, the feast of lights is a celebration of that event, also called Hanukah. Did you know that Jesus celebrated Hanukah?). 3) Here we see the fulfillment of Daniel 8:14. "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings (2300 morning and evening sacrifices, 1150 days, nearly 3.5 years); then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated." Dan 8:14 (NIV) From the time Antiochus Epiphanies offered a pig on the altar of the temple, until the time the sanctuary of Israel was restored to its rightful place, was approximately three and a half years.14

3) The Decree to Rebuild Jerusalem
After the revelations recounted in Daniel 8, Daniel fell ill. When he recovered, he began praying for the release from Babylon, prophesied in Jeremiah 29:1-14, and asked for increased understanding of what he had been shown (Daniel 8). It took a mighty battle in the heavenlies, but finally, Gabriel himself, broke thru the demonic opposition to bring more information. "Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city.” Dan 9:24 (RSV)

He goes on to say “Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator." Dan 9:25-27 (NRSV)

Adventist reasoning says that the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, spoken of in Daniel 9, came from Artaxerxes in 457 BC. They apply the year for day principle (even though the literal reading would require a day to equal a thousand years) to all parts of their interpretation. So, 2300 years after 457 BC is the year 1844, which became the foundational time period in Miller’s scheme.25 However, Daniel 9:1-2 pegs the year for the termination of the 70 year prophecy of Jeremiah as the “first year of Darius” which history confirms as 537/6 BC. “In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes--- in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” So the seventy years of captivity, prophesied by Jeremiah, ended in 537 BC. That was when Daniel began praying the prophecy into place, and was answered by Gabriel. According to Gabriel (and he had it on good authority!), that was also the beginning of the seventy weeks of years of Daniel 9:24. It was in that year that God Himself sent out the word to Jeremiah that the captivity of Israel would end. The actual start of rebuilding Jerusalem historically began around 538 during the first year of Cyrus’ reign, not in 457 (80 years later). The rebuilding of Jerusalem was completed about 23 years later in 515 BC. So the sanctuary had already been up and running for about 58 years by the time Artaxerxes is said to have given a decree to rebuild it.14

Ezra gives further insight into the word that went out to rebuild Jerusalem. “They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.” Ezra 6:14 (NIV) The command, or word, that went out to rebuild Jerusalem was initiated by God. It was Cyrus who obeyed by issuing the first decree. “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia (538 BC), in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you…let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem.'” Ezra 1:1-3 (NIV)

Part of the problem arises from the faulty translation of Daniel 9:24-27 in the KJV where it says, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks.” Dan 9:25 (KJV) Two specific misinterpretations caused serious misunderstandings. First, the KJV states the time period as “seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks” suggesting that it is one time period of 69 weeks of years (69 X 7) or 483 years. The NRSV, quoted earlier, interprets the Hebrew correctly when it says, “Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks.” Dan 9:25. Going on it also speaks of 62 weeks and of one week. These are three separate periods within the 70 weeks (70 weeks: 7 weeks, 62 weeks and 1 week) during which there would be troubled times. They are not necessarily contiguous and do not invite mathematical computation.14

The dating fallacies of the Investigative Judgment could be debunked on and on, but I don't feel that it is profitable to the purpose I hope to serve with this study. Suffice it to say, the dates used by the traditional Adventist doctrine of the sanctuary cannot be substantiated, either by the Bible, or by history. The date, October 22, 1844, has no biblical importance whatsoever. Louis Riel (, founder of the province of Manitoba, was born on that day, but that was the only claim to fame I could scare up. The logical conclusion would be that the divine appointment of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as the remnant church of Bible prophecy, on October 22, 1844, has no basis either.

1) The Sanctuary in Heaven
Since Christ did not return to Earth on October 22, 1844, The Adventists concluded that it could not have been the earth that was to be cleansed. So they decided it must be the sanctuary in Heaven. Ellen White says that God “presented before Moses a miniature model of the heavenly sanctuary.”41 v1 p 269 However, the Bible never says that Moses was shown a view of the heavenly sanctuary, only that he was shown a view of the earthly sanctuary that he was to construct. If we were to believe EGW that Heaven contains a literal sanctuary from which the physical plans of the earthly sanctuary were taken, then we would also have to believe that: there is an altar in Heaven on which to slay animals; a vat in which to catch their blood; tongs; a laver in which God washes his hands; and a priesthood that matches the exact specifications of what Moses was shown - complete with linen clothing. That is what Ellen White taught: “In the service of the earthly sanctuary, which, as we have seen, is a figure of the service in the heavenly, when the high priest on the Day of Atonement entered the most holy place, the ministration in the first apartment ceased.”37 p 248 This, of course, is preposterous, and is precluded by a number of statements in Hebrews. “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” Heb 10:1 (NASB). Only a shadow or sketchy representation of the realities.

“For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” Heb 9:24 (NRSV) The sanctuary Christ entered was “heaven itself,” not a building of which the sanctuary on Earth was a replica. It is also clear from this text that Jesus entered directly into the presence of God the Father at His resurrection. John gives us a more definitive answer to the question when he says, “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Rev 21:22 (NASB) Jesus is the temple. Jesus is the sacrifice, the altar, the laver, the candlesticks, the showbread, and the covenant of peace. If that is true of the New Jerusalem, how much more is it true of Heaven.

Hebrews further affirms that Christ’s priesthood was not under the Old Covenant, nor was it under Levitical law. “Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?” Heb 7:11 (NASB) So the priesthood depicted to Moses could not have been an exact replica of a heavenly sanctuary, since Christ’s priesthood was not after the order of the Old Covenant. Christ would not serve in a sanctuary after the order of Aaron.

2) Within the Veil
Ellen White completely misconstrues the statements in Hebrews when she says:
“The ministration of the priest throughout the year in the first apartment of the sanctuary, ‘within the veil’ which formed the door and separated the holy place from the outer court, represents the work of ministration upon which Christ entered at His ascension.

“Thither the faith of Christ's disciples followed Him as He ascended from their sight. Here their hopes centered, ‘which hope we have,’ said Paul, ‘as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever.’ ‘Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.’ Hebrews 6:19, 20; 9:12.”37 pp 420-21

OK, I know. Who says “thither” and “entereth” anymore? But putting that aside (I know you can) let’s look at this assertion that Christ (when He returned to Heaven) entered the “first apartment of the sanctuary”. The scripture quoted above (Hebrews 9:24) is not a bad place to start. It says that Christ entered the presence of God, who is the Holy of holies. Now, going back to the earthly sanctuary, we see that within (inside) the veil refers to location of the ark of the testimony. "Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.” Lev 16:2 (NASB) The veil separated the Holy from the Most Holy Place. "You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring in the ark of the testimony there within the veil; and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies.” Ex 26:33 (NASB) "Outside the veil" refers to the location of: the table of showbread, the lampstand and the altar of incense. "You shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand opposite the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; and you shall put the table on the north side.” Ex 26:35 (NASB) "In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the Lord; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel. Ex 27:21 (NASB) Other references to "outside the veil" include mention of the golden altar (Ex. 40:26) and the sprinkling of blood (Lev. 4:17).

It is obvious, by context, that Hebrews 9 is referring to the Most Holy Place that is "within the veil," “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” Heb 9:11-12 (NIV) Nothing else makes sense. A correct understanding of this concept alone, completely discredits the Adventist sanctuary doctrine. It was on this error that A.F. Ballenger took his stand with Ellen White. She never was able to answer his correct assertions that “within the veil” refers to the Most Holy Place. Her interpretation isolates Jesus to the first room of a supposedly literal sanctuary for 1800 years. Preposterous!

Summary of Rotten Foundations

The doctrine of the Investigative Judgment was fraught with error from its inception. It was based on faulty interpretations and erroneous assertions that are easily discoverable with a simple reading of the Bible. Date-setting for the second coming should raise serious questions in the minds of Christians, in any age, when Jesus made it clear that not even He knew the day. "No
one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 (NIV) The method of arriving at the date of October 22, 1844 should have also make people scratch their heads in wonder. Even without hindsight, or a deep knowledge of history, one can easily see the inconsistencies in Miller’s proofs, and the distortions of scriptures used to arrive at his conclusions. While it’s true that the KJV uses the words Holy Place to mean the Holy of Holies, Exodus leaves no question as to what the writer of Hebrews was referring.

If one chooses to be particularly charitable to the early pioneers, and excuse their over-eager self-justification, surely, that same suspension of accountability cannot be acceptable in today’s leaders who have more than enough information to discredit and renounce this baseless doctrine. A call must be raised for a modern “cleansing of the sanctuary” of the heart in the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Come clean, and free your people of this burdensome belief. Allow them to take joy in the surety of their salvation. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 (NIV) Shout it out to your members, and let it heal and comfort your own wounded, weary souls.

The Next Chapter: Redesigning God
It would seem that the scriptures should easily answer the basic questions about God, our salvation and faith, but the Investigative Judgment has so redesigned those basics that they are unreconizable to other Christians.

1 comment:

Ramone said...


Wow, I hadn't realized what it meant that Jesus ketp Hanukah with the rest of Judea! It would clearly mean that He did not disagree with the "Antiochus" interpretation of Daniel at all.

The better reading of the "day for year" text (that is, 1000years for 1day!) is astounding. Thank You, God, for giving Cherry clear sight to see this! Grant more people Your sight of these things, of WHO this is all about, Jesus! In Jesus' name, amen.