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Relevant Passages: Daniel 7-9; Leviticus 16; Matthew 24:15; Revelations 11:19

From Earth to Heaven. While many of the services in the earthly sanctuary illustrated the death of Christ as a sacrifice for sin (e.g. Passover; daily sacrifices), some also pointed to a final judgment and final cleansing of God’s people (e.g. Day of Atonement). Christians generally have seen Jesus as the once-for-all true Passover lamb. But seldom has a comparable once-for-all use been made of the Great Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. For Adventists, the Great Disappointment of 1844 brought them to just that kind of application. It is an experience unique to Adventists, just as the Christian interpretation of Jesus as the passover lamb was unique to Christians. Jews do not recognize it. In both cases, it may be that God was more interested in using analogies from Scripture rather than direct exegesis to bring important new insights to God’s people. There are several key aspects which come together to focus on the heavenly sanctuary. Note the following:

1. Why did it take so long? Application, re-application, and reapplication until the real thing happens. Why was insight about the heavenly sanctuary so long in coming? One possibility could be that it apparently was more difficult to think in terms of a heavenly sanctuary as long a there was a functional sanctuary on earth. Note how the following sequence of “desolations” finally moves God’s people to the place where they can take the heavenly sanctuary seriously:

  1. Babylon and 586 BCE. When Daniel received the vision of the ram and the he-goat (Daniel 8), the verse speaking of the cleansing or restoring of the sanctuary led him to ponder the only sanctuary that was desolate at that time, namely the one which had been destroyed by Babylon in Jerusalem. Thus the first point of reference for Daniel 8:14 was the desolation which had occurred in 586.
  2. Antiochus Epiphanes and 168-165 BCE. Many years later the frustrated Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes invaded the temple precincts for 3 years; he set up an altar to Zeus over the altar of burnt offering and sacrificed pigs on the altar. When Jews read Daniel at that time they inevitably applied it to the sanctuary which Antiochus had polluted.
  3. Rome and 70 CE. In his temple discourse on the Mount of Olives, Jesus spoke of the “desolating sacrilege” spoken of by the prophet Daniel. It was still future at that point; scholars unanimously agree that Jesus was pointing to the final destruction of the earthly temple by Rome in 70 CE.
  4. God’s people and 1844. At the beginning of the 19th century, many devout Christians began studying the great time prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, concluding that God was about to do great things. The interpretation of dates and events differed, but one thing was clear in Scripture, the prophecy of Daniel 8 was a message for the “end of time” (Dan. 8:17; 19). After the Great Disappointment, God directed their attention to the heavenly sanctuary, the only one still “standing” at that time.

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