The First Angel Proclaims . . .
Time for Judgment
"...for the hour of His judgment is come." —Revelation 14:7
Sanctuary Secrets Revealed
"Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" —Daniel 8:14
These prophetic days terminated in the autumn of 1844 (see sidebar p. 8). At that time students of prophecy found in the Bible a full, clear explanation of the subject of the sanctuary, its nature, location, and services (see Hebrews 8 through 10 for extensive details about the ancient Hebrew sanctuary).
The sanctuary in heaven (Hebrews 8:1,2), in which Jesus ministers in our behalf is the great original, of which the sanctuary built by Moses was a copy (see Exodus 25-40). Important truths concerning the heavenly sanctuary and the great work there carried forward for man's redemption were taught by the earthly sanctuary and its services.
As used in the Bible, the term "sanctuary" refers, first, to the tabernacle built by Moses, as a pattern of heavenly things; and, secondly, to the "true tabernacle" in heaven, to which the earthly sanctuary pointed. At the death of Christ the typical service ended. The "true tabernacle" in heaven is the sanctuary of the new covenant. And as the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 is fulfilled in this dispensation, the sanctuary to which it refers is the sanctuary of the new covenant. At the termination of the 2300 days, in 1844, there had been no sanctuary on earth for many centuries. Thus the prophecy, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," unquestionably points to the sanctuary in heaven.
But the most important question remains to be answered: What is the cleansing of the sanctuary? Old Testament Scripture explains the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary. But could anything in heaven need to be cleansed? Hebrews 9 explains the cleansing of both the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary. "Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these [the blood of animals]; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these" (Hebrews 9:22, 23), even the precious blood of Christ.
Once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, the high priest of ancient Israel entered the most holy place for the cleansing of the sanctuary. What was done in type in the earthly sanctuary is done in reality in the ministration of the heavenly sanctuary.
After His ascension our Savior began His work as our high priest. "Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24). "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 9:12).
By faith the confessed sins of ancient Israel were through the blood of the sin offering transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary. In the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary. And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins there recorded. This requires an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation — a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works (see Revelation 22:12).
Heaven's Court Convenes
". . . for the hour of His judgment is come." —Revelation 14:7
God's judgment is a vital aspect of the gospel. "For the Father ... has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. ... The Father has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man" (John 5:22, 23, 29).
"I beheld," says the prophet Daniel, "till thrones were placed, and One that was Ancient of Days did sit ... thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened" (Daniel 7:9, 10).
This vision portrays the solemn day when the characters and the lives of men pass in review before the Judge of all the earth. The Ancient of Days — God the Father, the source of all being, and the Fountain of all law — presides in the judgment. Holy angels as ministers and witnesses attend this great tribunal.
"And, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away" (Daniel 7:13, 14).
In the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked takes place at a later period. "Judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel" (1 Peter 4:17)?
The books of record in heaven are to determine the decisions of the judgment. Says the prophet Daniel: "The judgment was set, and the books were opened." John the revelator adds: "Another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works" (Revelation 20:12; see also Luke 10:20; Philemon 4:3).
Daniel, looking down to "a time of trouble, such as never was," declares that God's people shall be delivered, "everyone that shall be found written in the book." Those only shall enter the city of God whose names "are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Daniel 12:1; Revelation 2 1:27).
God's law is the standard by which the characters and the lives of all will be tested in the judgment. Says the wise man: "Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment" (Revelation 12:13, 14). "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty" (James 2:12).
Those who in the judgment are "accounted worthy" will have a part in the resurrection of the just (see Luke 20:35,36; John 5:29). The righteous dead will not be raised until after this judgment. Hence they are not present in person at the tribunal when their records are examined and their cases decided (see 1 Timothy 5:24, 25).
Jesus, their advocate, pleads in their behalf before God. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 9:24; 7:25).
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. 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 (see Exodus 32:31-33).
All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven. As they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life. Said Jesus: "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels" (Revelation 3:5, cf. Isaiah 43:25; Matthew 10:32, 33).
Christ will clothe His faithful ones with His own righteousness. Their names stand enrolled in the book of life.
The investigative judgment and the blotting out of sins is to be accomplished before Christ's second advent. "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ" (Acts 3:19, 20).
By His death Christ began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, "whither the forerunner is for us entered" (Hebrews 6:20). There the light from the cross of Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight into the mysteries of redemption. Jesus has opened the way to the Father's throne, to give us access to all the blessings of the gospel, which includes not only pardon from sin, but release from the power of sin.
"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). Satan constantly labors to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome. But Jesus pleads in their behalf His wounded hands, His bruised body; and He declares to all who would follow Him: "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Corinthians 12:9). "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:29, 30). If we consent, God will give faith and grace to overcome our greatest weaknesses.
We are now living in the great day of atonement. We must deeply and faithfully search our hearts. Earnest warfare confronts all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (see Ephesians 5:25-27).
When the work of investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death. Shortly afterward, Christ appears in the clouds of heaven. Looking ahead to that time, He declares: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Revelation 22:11, 12).
2300-year chart (75K)
The Hour of His Judgment
The 2,300 days* began when the commandment of Artaxerxes to restore and build Jerusalem went into effect, in the autumn of 457 B.C. Taking this as the starting point, we find perfect harmony in the application of all the events foretold in the explanation of that period in Daniel 9:25-27. "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 ... And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off but not for himself... And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease" (Daniel 9:25-27). Sixty-nine weeks, the first 483 of the 2,300 years, were to reach to the Messiah, the Anointed One. Christ's baptism and anointing by the Holy Spirit, A.D. 27, exactly fulfilled the specification. In the midst of the seventieth week, Messiah was to be cut off. Christ was crucified in the spring of A.D. 31, three and a half years after His baptism. The seventy weeks, or 490 years, pertained especially to the Jews. At the close of this period the nation sealed its rejection of Christ by the persecution of His disciples, and the apostles turned to the Gentiles, A.D. 34. The first 490 years of the 2,300 thus ended, with 1810 years remaining. From A.D. 34, 1,810 years extend to 1844. "Then," said the angel, "shall the sanctuary be cleansed." All the preceding specifications of the prophecy had been unquestionably fulfilled at the time appointed.
*Note: in Bible prophecy a day stands for a year (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34).
Quick Facts on the Judgment:
• Jesus is our Judge, Advocate and Savior (see Acts 17:31; John 5:29; 1 John 2:1, 2).
• All will come into judgment (see 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:9-12; Ecclesiastes 3:17), in absentia if saved; in person if lost (see Matthew 10:32; 1 Timothy 5:24, 25; Revelation 20:11, 15).
• God's judgment begins with His people (Hebrews 10:30; 1 Peter 4:17).
• God's ten commandments are the standard by which He judges our lives (see Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; James 2:10-12; Romans 2:12-16).
• God judges us from His unerring record books in heaven (see Daniel 7:9, 10).
• His judgment probes into our acts, motives, words and secret intents (1 Peter 1:17; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Hebrews 4:13; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36, 37; 5:27-48).
• If we repent, our sins will be blotted out; if we fail to repent, our names will be blotted out of the book of life (see Acts 3:19; Revelation 3:5; Psalm 32:1, 2, 5; Proverbs 28:13; Deuteronomy 29:17-20).
• Truly converted Christians are vindicated in the judgment; for Christ has taken our place in bearing our sins, to replace our unrighteousness with His own perfect "righteousness, which is
unto all and upon all them that believe" (see Romans 3:22-26; 5:1,2; 8:1-4).
• We are justified by faith in Christ's saving sacrifice, but we are judged by our works, which reveal whether our faith is genuine (see Romans 3:20-28; 1 Peter 1:17).
• God Himself is vindicated in the judgment for His perfect mercy, fairness and justice toward all (see Romans 3:3, 4, 24-3 1; Revelation 15:3,4; 19:1,2; Psalm 19:9).
• God's investigative judgment takes place in heaven before Jesus' second coming (see Psalms 89:14; 97:2; Daniel 7:9-14; Matthew 22:1-13; Acts 17:31; Revelation 22:11-14).
• God's final message to the world includes the proclamation that the hour of His judgment is come, according to a prophetically set time (see Revelation 14:7; Psalm 75:2; Daniel 7:9-14; 8:13,14; 9:24-27; Hebrews 9:22-28). When this message is promulgated world-wide, Christ will come and reap the harvest of the righteous for His Kingdom (see Revelation 14:6-16; Matthew 13:37-43).
• "Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before Thy face" (Psalm 89:14, cf. Isaiah 16:5).