Section 11... Cults
Seventh Day Adventists

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Seventh Day Adventist
Chapter II... Investigative Judgment Part 1

Ellen White taught that Investigative Judgment was the foundation of faith, and that it was as important as Jesus' death on the cross

Carol Brooks
Edited by Vicki Narlee

Index To All Chapters


Note: All emphasis in the quotes from Ellen G. White Writings (both the underlining and the occasional bolded text), has been added. Also, unless otherwise stated, Bible quotations are from the NASB with all emphasis added)

Investigative Judgment... A 'Spiritual' Fulfillment of Daniel's Prophecy?

Four Questions

1) Isn't God Omniscient, i.e. All-knowing?

2) Didn't Jesus Say He Already Knew His Sheep?

3) Where Did Christ Go Immediately After His Ascension?

4) Was the Old Testament Sanctuary an Exact Replica of the Heavenly Sanctuary?
What was Moses shown on the mountain.
The Greek words used in Hebrews 8:4-5
John's visions do not prove that there is a literal temple in heaven


Investigative Judgment... A 'Spiritual" Fulfillment of Daniel's Prophecy?

When October 22nd 1844 also came and went without nary a word from the Lord, many Millerites were bewildered and disillusioned. (Note: This is a continuation of chapter 1. See William Miller and the Second Advent of Christ) Quite a number had disposed of their possessions in expectation of Christ's return and had to cope not only with terrible disappointment, but considerable criticism and even violence from others. The end result was that several distinct movements (some rather bizarre) rose from the Millerism ruins.

However, those individuals who remained committed to the correctness of their calculations came to the conclusion that since their timeline was accurate, they must have been wrong as to the event that was supposed to take place. Since nothing in the Bible pointed to the earth as being the sanctuary, Daniel's prophecy about the sanctuary being cleansed had to refer to the sanctuary in heaven. The prophecy must have been fulfilled spiritually rather than literally.

By 1845 a connection was being made between Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16), Daniel 8:14 and Hebrews 9:23-24...

    Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that particular one who was speaking, "How long will the vision about the regular sacrifice apply, while the transgression causes horror, so as to allow both the holy place and the host to be trampled?" He said to me, "For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored." (Daniel 8:13-14 NASB)

    Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; (Hebrews 9:23-24 NASB)

In other words, although Jesus did not physically return to earth in 1844, He began a new phase of His ministry. In that year, He entered into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Sanctuary to begin "properly" restoring the sanctuary.

And how is the sanctuary cleansed and restored?

In this pre-Advent process called "Investigative Judgment" the heavenly records are examined and all believers judged - beginning with Adam and Eve and progressing chronologically through the ages. The last to be judged will be believers who are still living. The destiny of every person who has ever lived is once and for all decided during this period. God either removes the name of the believer from the Book of Life or blots out their sins, thus cleansing the sanctuary. This is the last thing Jesus does before He returns to earth.

Note: The only cases considered during the Investigative judgment are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked is, in Ellen White's words, "a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period".

As said by the Adventist Review 

    But those who clung to their faith and searched the Bible came to the understanding that Daniel's "cleansing of the sanctuary" was not a prophecy of Jesus' return, as Miller had believed, but the start of Jesus' final work of atonement. In 1844, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place in the Heavenly Sanctuary to begin judging who would be saved, His final action before His Second Coming... " [01]

    The investigative judgment 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. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom [02]

Note: Charles Taze Russell, 'founder' of the Jehovah's Witnesses was one of the people who embraced William Miller's teaching that Jesus would return to Earth in 1844. He was also among those whose Bible studies led to the conclusion that 1844 marked a spiritual event.

Supporting Visions
One has to strongly suspect that this belief would have died a natural death had it not been supported and strengthened by visions seen by two separate individuals, Hiram Edson and Ellen Harmon (later White). In fact, Ellen White's vision were largely responsible for widespread acceptance of the doctrine. As said by Joseph Rector of Sabbatismos Ministries that is not affiliated in any way with the Seventh-day Adventist Church or with the Ellen G. White Estate. (All Emphasis Added)

    In the winter of 1844, seventeen-year-old Ellen Harmon, who would later become Ellen White, began having visions that gradually confirmed Edson's spiritual interpretation of the Great Disappointment. She strongly supported Miller's prophetic calculations, making William Miller the father of Seventh-day Adventist theology in the sense that all SDA theology stems from the premise that the cleansing of the sanctuary began on October 22, 1844. As Ellen White stated, "The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith  [03]

Confessed and Unconfessed Sins
It seems very clear that, according to Adventist theology, both confessed and unconfessed sins are registered in Heaven, but during the process of Investigative Judgment confessed sins will be blotted out.

    Confessed Sins: In a letter written in 1890, Ellen White wrote, Confessed sins "will go beforehand to judgment" which Christ will cleanse. [04]

    Unconfessed Sins: But all these errors and unconfessed sins stand registered in heaven and will not be blotted out until he complies with the directions given in the word of God: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed" . [05]

On Page 483 of The Great Controversy, Ellen White wrote

    When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God's remembrance. [06]

Foundation of Faith?
Not only did Ellen White teach that Investigative Judgment was the foundation of faith, but she also taught that it was as important as Jesus' death on the cross.  (All Emphasis Added)

    The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ's work in behalf of men... It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects... The intercession of Christ in man's behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon a cross. By His death He began that work which after his resurrection He ascended to complete in Heaven" [07]

Shut Door Doctrine
For the next few years the group taught the "shut door" doctrine, based on the parable of the ten virgins. Just as the five foolish virgins were shut out of the marriage feast, anyone who had not accepted the Adventist message by the time Jesus entered the Holy of Holies in 1844 had no hope of eternal life.  However, this doctrine gradually underwent a significant change over a period of about ten years. See The Metamorphosis of The Shut Door Doctrine

Four Questions
Ellen White wrote that every single believer must undergo the investigative judgment ...

    As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. [08]

    This work of examination of character, of determining who are prepared for the kingdom of God, is that of the investigative judgment [09]

The Website of Seventh day Adventist church of UK and Ireland says...

    "... we have always had a healthy interest in Christ's Second Coming we have done some detailed studies of the events connected with His return. Revelation 22:12 suggests that the rewards have already been decided before the Second Advent, when Jesus comes as King. Even in the Old Testament Daniel 7:9-14 pictures a judgment scene which precedes the Advent. So obviously some kind of investigation and decision-making process takes place before Jesus actually returns. [10]

Of course rewards are decided before Christ's second advent. Revelation 22:12 says "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. However, it doesn't necessarily follow that there is a long period preceding Jesus' return during which the lives of the professed people of God are examined.

There are four questions that must be asked .. 1) Isn't God omniscient or all-knowing? 2) Didn't Jesus say He already knew his sheep? 3) Where did Christ go immediately after His ascension? and 4) Was the Old Testament Sanctuary an Exact Replica of the Heavenly Sanctuary?

1) Isn't God Omniscient, i.e. All-knowing?
Scripture tells us that God is omniscient, or all-knowing. He not only knows the things we do unbeknownst to others (Matthew 6:6), but has always known what will occur (Isaiah 46:9-10) including our thoughts, ways, and the words we haven't yet spoken (Psalms 139:2-4),

    Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; (Isaiah 46:9-10 NASB)

    You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. (Psalms 139:2-4 NASB)

(See God's Foreknowledge)

In other words, God is instantly and completely aware of every one of our words and deeds, past, present and future, which Ellen white acknowledged when she said "He knows every sin that is hidden from mortal eye" [11]

She used the present tense, i.e., God "knows". If the Father knows every hidden sin, then He also knows who is fit for His kingdom. Why would he need a long period of time in which to "investigate" people? 

As an aside, Ellen White and those who originally proposed this theory had absolutely no idea that the supposed judgment would continue so long. In 1888, Ellen White wrote "For more than forty years this work has been in progress. Soon - none know how soon - it will pass to the cases of the living "[12].

I have absolutely no idea what she meant by "soon", but more than 150 years have now passed. I have to ask - if God created this entire universe in six days, would it really take Him this many years to figure out who belongs in His kingdom?

2) Didn't Jesus Say He Already Knew His Sheep?
When Jesus was on earth, He demonstrated supernatural knowledge. He knew Nathanael was a man in whom there was no deceit before He ever met him (John 1:47-48). He was aware of what people were thinking (Eg. Matthew 9:4, 12:25, Luke 6:8), and knew that the woman at the well had been married five times and was living with a man that was not her husband (John 4:18). From a few miles away, Jesus knew Lazarus was dead, not just sick (John 11: 3-14). etc. etc. etc.

But, most importantly in relevance to the topic, Jesus knew who His sheep were.... "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; (John 10:27 NASB). If Jesus had to wait until the Investigative judgment determined who are prepared for the kingdom of God, He would have had to have said something like "I will know my sheep sometime after 1844".

There are several cases where the Bible clearly shows that the fate of some individuals were known hundreds of years before the Investigative Judgment was ever said to have begun.

    Jesus told His disciples "many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 8:11)

    He told the thief on the cross next to His that he (the thief) would be in heaven with Him on that very day. (Luke 23:43)

    Then Peter said to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?" And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:27-28 NASB) Also See Revelation 21:14.

 Paul certainly was confident that the Lord knows those who are His and that he would receive a crown of righteousness...

    Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." (2 Timothy 2:19 NASB)

    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NASB)

Scripture also tells us that those who hear and believe Christ are not judged, but have passed out of death into life.

    "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (John 5:24 NASB)

    "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  (John 3:18 NASB)

    He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:12-13 NASB)

Finally, Daniel was highly esteemed (Daniel 10:19) and a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22). The New Testament also says Abraham was called "the friend of God" (James 2:23), Noah was "an heir of the righteousness" (Hebrews 11), Abel was righteous, Enoch was pleasing to God etc.

Yet, we are to believe that the fate of these men was only determined many centuries after these words were spoken.

And as a by-the-way... Enoch was NOT taken up to where God is. Jesus unambiguously stating that NO man, but He Himself has ever ascended into Heaven.  (John 3:13). The misunderstanding comes from not understanding how the word "heaven" was used in Hebrew.

See Did Elijah and/or Enoch Ascend to Heaven?

Also See What And Where is "Heaven"?... Part I 

Note: Interestingly, I read the transcript of a sermon delivered on May 24, 1997 by Pastor Donald J Gettys of McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church in McDonald, Tennessee, in which he said he wanted to be at the feast that many from east and west will attend along with "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 8:11). [13] This statement contradicts traditional SDA belief because Pastor Gettys was obviously taking Jesus at his word that these three men would be in God's kingdom, which He said at least a century and a half prior to the beginning of the "Investigative Judgment".

3) Where Did Christ Go Immediately After His Ascension?

Ellen White wrote that, after His ascension, Christ first entered the holy place where He presented "the prayers and repentance and faith of His people" to the Father. He next entered the "Most Holy Place (in 1844), to make an atonement for the sins of the people, and cleanse the sanctuary." (All Emphasis Added)

    When Christ, the Mediator, burst the bands of the tomb, and ascended on high to minister for man, He first entered the holy place, where, by virtue of His own sacrifice, He made an offering for the sins of men. With intercession and pleadings He presented before God the prayers and repentance and faith of His people, purified by the incense of His own merits. He next entered the Most Holy Place, to make an atonement for the sins of the people, and cleanse the sanctuary. His work as high priest completes the divine plan of redemption by making the final atonement for sin. [14]

However, Ellen White contradicted herself when she wrote of Jesus...

    He had ascended to heaven in the form of humanity. They (the disciples) knew that he was before the throne of God, their friend and Saviour still; that his sympathies were unchanged; that he was still, and ever would be, identified with suffering humanity. [15]

If there were any such divisions in heaven, the throne of God would be in the Holy of Holies not in the first "apartment". Thus Jesus at the right hand of God, as the following verses say, would also be in the Holy of Holies.

    But from now on the Son of man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." (Luke 22:69 NASB)

    But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56 NASB)

    who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34 NASB)

Which Veil?

The book of Hebrews also states that Jesus had already taken His place at the right hand of the Father. In fact, chapter 6, verses 19-20,
specify that He entered into the veil (which is the Most Holy Place)

    This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20 NASB)

Millerite O. R. L. Crosier was one of those whose findings led to the Adventist understanding about the sanctuary in heaven, about which Ellen White said the Lord showed her in a vision that Crosier was correct

    "The Lord shew me in vision, more than one year ago, that Brother Crosier had the true light, on the cleansing of the Sanctuary, &c; and that it was his will, that Brother C. should write out the view which he gave us in the Day-Star Extra, February 7, 1846. I feel fully authorized to recommend that Extra to every saint." [16]

Anyway, this is part of what Crosier wrote

    Hebrews 6:19, 20, is supposed to prove that Christ entered the Holy of Holies at his ascension, because Paul said he had entered within the veil. But the veil which divides between the Holy and the Holy of Holies is "the second veil," Hebrews 9:3; hence there are two veils, and that in Hebrews 6, being the first of which he speaks, must be the first veil, which hung before the Holy, and in Exodus was called a curtain. [17]

Hebrews 9:3, referring to the Old Testament tabernacle, says "Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies".

The first veil described in Exodus 26:36-37 served as the door to the entire tabernacle. The author of Hebrews could not have been referring to this first or outer veil as Crosier claimed, simply because other verses in Hebrews are very clear that when Jesus ascended into Heaven, He took His seat at the right hand of the Father. The only place the Father appeared was in the Holy of Holies, which was separated from the Holy Place by the second veil described in Exodus 26:31-33. (See Exodus 25:22, Leviticus 16:2, Numbers 7:89)

    Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, (Hebrews 8:1 NASB)

    but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,  (Hebrews 10:12 NASB)

    fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Hebrews 12:2 NASB)

In other words, back when Hebrews was written Jesus was already seated at the right hand of the Father in the Holy of Holies if, as said before, there are any such divisions in heaven.

Which brings us to the question of whether there are really two separate apartments in heaven.

4) Was the Old Testament Sanctuary an Exact Replica of the Heavenly Sanctuary?
Ellen White taught that the Old Testament sanctuary was the exact replica of the heavenly sanctuary. (A belief that, by the way, seems to be shared by some other Christians).

    The sanctuary in Heaven, in which Jesus ministers in our behalf, is the great original, of which the sanctuary built by Moses was a copy.... The holy places of the sanctuary in Heaven are represented by the two apartments in the sanctuary on earth. [18]

In The Great Controversy, she also wrote that

    ... those who were studying the subject found indisputable proof of the existence of a sanctuary in heaven. Moses made the earthly sanctuary after a pattern which was shown him. Paul teaches that that pattern was the true sanctuary which is in heaven. And John testifies that he saw it in heaven... [19]

There is little question that God gave Moses the exact details for the building of all the various parts of the tabernacle. If you carefully read the relevant Old Testament verses, you will see that Moses was told to build the tabernacle according to what he was shown on the mountain

    According to all that I am going to show (Heb. r'h) you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it. (Exodus 25:9 NASB)

    See that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown (Heb. r'h) to you on the mountain.  (Exodus 25:40 NASB)

    Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to its plan which you have been shown (Heb. r'h) in the mountain. (Exodus 26:30 NASB)

However, the Bible does not say what Moses was shown. There is absolutely no evidence that "God presented before Moses in the mount a view of the heavenly sanctuary..." [20] as Ellen White writes. Moses could have been given a vision of what God wanted, or God could have brought his drawing pad down to the mountain and sketched the design.

Okay, so I am being facetious. My point is that the Bible doesn't say - we simply assume that Moses' tabernacle was a miniature replica of the heavenly sanctuary. 

But why would it be an exact copy?

The brazen altar, where the animal sacrifices took place was in the courtyard of the tabernacle. Why would there have been a sacrificial altar in heaven? The earthly tabernacle had a veil, the sole purpose of which was to ensure no one entered the Holy Of Holies. Why would there be any need of a veil in Heaven?

In short, there is absolutely nothing in Moses's writings that shows there were two 'apartments' in heaven.

Also note: When David gave Solomon the plans according to which he was to build the temple of the Lord, he told Solomon that all the details of this pattern were given him by revelation from the Lord. (1 Chronicles 28:19). However, there were considerable differences between Moses' tabernacle and Solomon's temple.

Very notably, the old tabernacle had one lamp stand and one table for the shewbread. Solomon's temple contained ten tables - five on the right side and five on the left. (2 Chronicles 4:8).

Moreover, the golden seven branched lamp stand in the tabernacle, described in Exodus 25:31-40 is called a menorah in Hebrew. It has, along with the star of David, become one of the most commonly used symbols of Judaism. The menorah was fashioned as a tree - the base and center shaft were the 'trunk' of the tree which had three 'branches' on each side.

However, there is no evidence that there was a menorah in Solomon's temple. While the building of the Temple itself is given in great detail (1 Kings 67) the only thing we are told about lamp stands is that there were ten of them made of pure gold.  Five on the right and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary (1 Kings 7:49 NASB). No mention is made of branches on any of them.

Either Solomon's temple was not a replica of the heavenly one, or the furnishings in the Heavenly tabernacle changed before Solomon got his instructions.

A Copy Or An Example?
Apparently the NASB tends (like most every other versions) to translate words according to pre-conceived ideas. (See how the NIV and possibly some other versions translate Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, and Ephesians 1:14 HERE) It says that the earthly tabernacle was a "copy" and a "shadow" of the heavenly one.

    Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy (Gk. hupodeigma) and shadow (Gk. skia) of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, "see," he says, "that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain." (Hebrews 8:4-5 NASB)

1) The first word (hupodeigma) is rendered "copy" in the NASB. However, other versions, including the KJV, the Concordant Literal Version and Young's literal translation, have translated this Greek word into the English "example". If you read how hupodeigma is used in other contexts, it becomes very apparent that "example" is a good rendering of this Greek word, and should never have been translated copy. What is interesting is when hupodeigma is used in contexts other than the tabernacle the NASB also renders it 'example'.

    If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. "For I gave you an example (Gk. hupodeigma) that you also should do as I did to you. (John 13:14-15 NASB)

    Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example (Gk. hupodeigma) of disobedience.  (Hebrews 4:11 NASB)

    As an example (Gk. hupodeigma), brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. (James 5:10 NASB)

    and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example (Gk. hupodeigma) to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;  (2 Peter 2:6 NASB)

An example is not necessarily an exact replica.

2) The second Greek word, skia, means shadow. There is a very interesting verse in Hebrews 10 which speaks of the law as being a "shadow" of things to come, not the very (exact) form or image of what is to come.

    For the Law, since it has only a shadow (Gk. skia) 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.  (Hebrews 10:1 NASB)

A shadow is not necessarily an exact replica.

Hebrews 9:24
We find exactly the same situation in Hebrews 9

    For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy (Gk. antitupon) of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;  (Hebrews 9:24 NASB)

The NASB again renders the Greek word antitupon as "copy". However, the KJV says the holy places made with hands, are the figures of the true. And the Concordant literal version says "Christ entered not into holy places made by hands, representations of the true,"

The same word antitupon is used in 1 Peter 3:21, in which the NASB, referring to the eight people saved through Noah's flood, says "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you.... "

Besides which, since the sanctuary in the highest Heaven is the Most Holy Place where God dwells, it is more closely akin to the Old Testament Holy of Holies, for which no atonement was ever made.  See What And Where is "Heaven"?... Part I

Where is God's throne again?
In Revelation 4, John had a vision of heaven, in which he saw God on His throne. There was a rainbow that looked like an emerald around the throne, and a sea of glass, like crystal, before it (Vs. 8). The throne was surrounded by twenty-four other thrones occupied by twenty-four elders clothed in white garments and crowns (Vs. 4). Also there were "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne" (Vs. 5)

About which Ellen White wrote

    The holy places of the sanctuary in Heaven are represented by the two apartments in the sanctuary on earth.

    As in vision the apostle John was granted a view of the temple of God in Heaven, he beheld there "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne." [Revelation 4:5.] He saw an angel "having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne." [Revelation 8:3.]   Here the prophet was permitted to behold the first apartment of the sanctuary in Heaven; [21]

In the Old Testament tabernacle the seven lamps and the golden altar of incense (along with the table of shewbread) were the only pieces of furniture in the Holy Place. However, in John's vision, he saw the golden altar and the seven lamps before the throne. However, the throne was not in the Holy Place, but behind the second veil - in the Holy of Holies.

The Holy of Holies housed one single piece of furniture, i.e. the ark of the Covenant that was a chest made of acacia wood overlaid in gold. It's solid gold lid was called the Mercy Seat. A cloud - the visible symbol of God's presence rested on the Mercy Seat, and was also where the blood was sprinkled on Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16:11-15). Ellen White herself equated the Mercy Seat with the 'throne of God. In Sermons and Talks, she wrote

    As John has a view of the people of God, he says "Here are they that keep the commandments of God."  "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament" [Revelation 11:19]. Everyone has his eye directed to the sanctuary where the commandments of God are. Right over the ark of His testament is the mercy seat. Written over the throne of God is His bow of promise ... [22]

John's visions do not prove that there is a literal temple in heaven complete with two "apartments"

The Physical Objects In The Old Testament Tabernacle Represented Spiritual Realities.
Yes, God "showed" Moses how exactly He wanted the tabernacle constructed, but the physical objects to be included were not the heavenly blueprint of objects in heaven, but representations of something spiritual. As Revelation 1:20 tells us, "the seven lamp stands are the seven churches". Similarly, the golden bowls full of incense that John saw in Revelation 5:8, are identified as "the prayers of the saints".

Hebrews 8:1 also tells us that Christ "has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens". God is a Spirit and spirits don't really need real furniture, be it a throne or anything else. A throne is a ceremonial chair used for a sovereign, so when the Bible speaks of 'God's throne,' it is simply using it as a symbol of His power and authority. It is no more literal than when the Bible speaks of God's eyes, His hand, or His mouth, which are all simply descriptions of the Father in human terms.

In the same vein, the New Testament speaks of crowns as symbols of rewards, (See for example 2 Timothy 4:8, 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, James 1:12 etc.) but it is unlikely that anyone will be walking around with a fancy headdress in the world to come.

Anyone who believes John literally saw the temple of God opening and the ark of His covenant appearing, are going to have to explain what a woman clothed with the sun, standing on the moon and wearing a crown of twelve stars was doing in heaven (Revelation 12:1). Note: There were no chapter or verse divisions in the original Hebrew or Greek, but were added later for convenience.

    And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm. A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;  (Revelation 11:19 - 12:1 NASB)

Literal language and pictures are the most effective way to express supernatural realities, which is why Jesus told parables.... short, simple, colorful, and easily remembered stories, used to communicate, teach, or emphasize spiritual lessons.

    NOTE: However, there was one thing that John saw that had no connection to the Old Testament temple. He described a sea of glass that resembled crystal in front of the throne (4:6). This is part of an absolutely fascinating study on John's words "there is no longer any sea", in Revelation 21:1. For Details See No More Sea

Continue to Part II of Investigative Judgment.

End Notes. Investigative Judgment Part I
[01] Andrew McChesney. Great Disappointment Remembered 170 Years On.
http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/great-disappointment-remembered-170-years-on. Posted October 22nd 2014.

[02] Seventh-day Adventist Church. Christ's ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary

[03] Joseph Rector. Sabbatismos Ministries. Is the Investigative Judgment Biblical? 

[04] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. Lt. 7, 1890.

[05] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, Page 241.

[06] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. Great Controversy p. 483.

[07] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. Great Controversy p. 488-489.

[08] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. The Great Controversy, Page 483.

[09] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. The Great Controversy, Page 428.

[10] What we believe Fundamentals More Answers - http://adventist.org.uk/who-we-are/what-we-believe/fundamentals/3

[11] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, Page 253.

[12] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. The Great Controversy 1888, Page 490.

[13] Pastor Donald J Gettys. McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church in McDonald, Tennessee. Burning the Midnight Oil. http://mcdonaldroad.org/sermons/97/970524.htm

[14] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen While. Manuscript 69, 1912, 13.

[15] Ellen G. White Writings. The Review and Herald. February 2, 1911.

[16] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. A Word to the Little Flock, Pg. 12. April 21, 1847.

[17] The Sanctuary. O. R. L. Crozier. Part Three of Four. http://www.sdadefend.com/Our%20Firm%20Foundation/Crosier-sanctuary.pdf

[18] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. The Great Controversy 1888, Page 413-414.

[19] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. The Great Controversy, Page 414-415.

[20] Ellen G. White Writings. Christ in His Sanctuary, Page 23. The Heavenly Sanctuary in Miniature.

[21] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. The Great Controversy, Page 414.

[22] Ellen G. White Writings. Ellen White. Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, Page 102.


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