Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, and earthquake, and great hail.”Revelation 11:19
The reading plan, part 4, continues our focus on Revelation and The Great Controversy. John the Revelator saw the temple of God in Heaven. When the early Advent believers discovered this passage, and other similar passages in Hebrews, etc., they were delighted to discover the meaning of Daniel 8:14’s prophecy about the cleansing of the sanctuary. The sanctuary it referred to must have been the sanctuary in Heaven.
Ellen White explains, “The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844. It opened to view a complete system of truth, connected and harmonious, showing that God’s hand had directed the great advent movement and revealing present duty as it brought to light the position and work of His people” (Great Controversy, pg. 424).
The sanctuary doctrine was in the Bible all along—but just like the disciples were blinded to Jesus’ true mission, the early Advent believers were blinded to what the true sanctuary in Daniel 8:14 referred to. Through much Bible study, our church pioneers discovered this biblical teaching which “opened to view a complete system of truth.” That’s a significant statement. In fact, the sanctuary doctrine is one of our church’s distinct doctrines—making us unique. We even have an official fundamental belief explaining it. It’s good for us to review our fundamental beliefs—to keep them fresh in our minds, which also makes them easier to share with others. So here it is:
There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle that the Lord set up and not humans. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. At His ascension, He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and, began His intercessory ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the holy place of the earthly sanctuary. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. 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. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent. (Lev. 16; Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6; Dan. 7:9-27; 8:13, 14; 9:24-27; Heb. 1:3; 2:16, 17; 4:14-16; 8:1-5; 9:11-28; 10:19-22; Rev. 8:3-5; 11:19; 14:6, 7; 20:12; 14:12; 22:11, 12.)”.Adventist Fundamental Beliefs
Please don’t miss that last line. When Jesus completes His ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary, human probation ends, and His second coming will soon follow. Then all of God’s people will finally dwell with Him—which is why God instructed Moses to have the sanctuary built in the first place: “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). The long separation will finally be over. The sanctuary reveals a complete system of truth, and at the center of it is the truth that our Savior loves us so much that He wants to dwell with us, and He was willing to sacrifice His life on the cross in order to make that possible.