Upon reading the arguments that Jesus fulfilled the Day of Atonement type of cleansing in the first century many have expressed questions regarding whether this fits the pattern of the earthly sanctuary. This article addresses some of those questions. In this article I explain my general view of the sanctuary typology and its interpretation, and then I examine briefly how this relates to my views on the Hebrews and the Day of Ateonement.

In describing the heavenly sanctuary, the author of Hebrews says that the earthly serves as a shadow and copy of the heavenly things.

Heb 8:5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain."

Heb 10:1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

The whole argument of Hebrews chapter 9 begins by outlining the earthly sanctuary, and the rest of the chapter shows how various aspects of the earthly were fulfilled in Christ. In addition to this general correspondence the author will at times argue directly from the earthly type to draw conclusions regarding the heavenly. An example is Hebrews 9:22-23, which has particular importance to Adventists:

Heb 9:22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Heb 9:23 Thus it is necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

The author argues for the necessity of the cleansing of the heavenly by referring to the services of the earthly.

From the above it is clear that the ministry of Christ is seen as a fulfillment of the earthly services, and we should be able to trace these services in the heavenly fulfillment.

Having said that Jesus' ministry not only fulfills the earthly but surpasses it. It is superior in many ways. In some instances this superior fulfillment leads to some things we might not expect just from reading the type.

Below I list some of these unexpected fulfillments in which Jesus' better ministry results in some surprises:

Jesus made a once-for-all sacrifice

The most familiar of these instances in which Jesus not only fulfilled but far surpassed the type is the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. By Jesus' death He fulfilled all the sacrifices for every feast, for the daily, for the various sin offerings, peace offerings, for the inauguration, for the ratification of the covenant, etc. He fulfilled all the deaths of all the sacrifices in the whole sanctuary system.

Heb 7:27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

Heb 10:11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
Heb 10:12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God

This is not what would be expected from the type, but it is far better! From the type we would expect many sacrifices, repeated over and over. Moreover, we would expect that the sacrifice for a specific rite would occur at the time that rite was conducted. In other words, the blood for the Day of Atonement was shed on the Day of Atonement in the type. But in Christ we have one death, fulfilled at a definite point in history, that covers all the rites.

Here are some other instances in which Jesus' superior ministry results in some surprises, as outlined by the author:

Jesus is not a priest after Levi but after the order of Melchizedek

Heb 7:14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
Heb 7:15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,
Heb 7:16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.
Heb 7:17 For it is witnessed of him, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."

Jesus does not have to offer for His own sin as He is sinless

Heb 7:26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
Heb 7:27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

The earthly priest died, but Jesus always lives to make intercession for us

Heb 7:22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
Heb 7:23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office,
Heb 7:24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.
Heb 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

The inauguration was done by Moses, but Jesus as High Priest and King fulfilled the inauguration

Jesus opened a new and living way for us. The word for opened is the word for inauguration.

Heb 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
Heb 10:20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh

Jesus made a once-for-all entry by means of blood.

Just as the death of Jesus as the sacrifice was once for all, Jesus' entry with His own blood is also stated to be once for all:

Heb 9:12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

From the earthly we would expect one entry for the inauguration, other entries with blood into the holy place for the sin offering of the whole camp, another entry for the Day of Atonement, etc. But Jesus made a once-for-all entry in the first century, fulfilling all the various entries. He entered once at one point in time into the sanctuary, by means of blood, and never exited after that.

So from the above it is obvious that while there is a relationship between the earthly sanctuary and the heavenly such that the heavenly corresponds to the earthly type, we see that there are some instances in which the heavenly far surpasses the earthly. In these instances we may see something different from what we would expect simply from reading the type. But they are nonetheless important fulfillments.

Richard Davidson, an Adventist scholar who has written on the typology of Hebrews, points out that the author is not just changing things with no warrant. He notes that the author makes careful arguments from the Old Testament scriptures to show that modifications to the type were anticipated by the Old Testament scriptures themselves.

For instance, in regard to Jesus being Priest after the order of Melchizedek rather than Levi, Davidson notes the author's explanation quotes from Psalm 110, where this new priesthood is anticipated:

Psa 110:4  The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
Davidson's views are spelled out in the book Issues in the Book of Hebrews in the article "Relationship Between Type and Antitype in Hebrews". 

It should be noted that Davidson sees the author appealing to the Old Testament in every instance of this sort in which Jesus' fulfillment results in something not completely anticipated by the type. I am not sure that I see the author explaining them in every case, but certainly many.

So with the above in mind, I see that the earthly type sheds light on the heavenly reality. However, when there is a clear statement by the New Testament interpreting Jesus' better fulfillment, I accept it. It may not fall into line with just what I would picture from reading the type, but it describes the fulfillment. The fulfillment of Jesus is the true, and it is better.

My method of approaching the typological relationship then is this:

a. I assume that the earthly will show correlation with the heavenly.

b. In the absence of specific statements in the New Testament regarding the fulfillment, I can make some reasonable conjecture of the fulfillment based on the type, but in doing so I recognize the limitations of this method. My conjectures from the type are not without basis, but neither are they inspired counsel as are the New Testament texts.

c. In specific cases when the New Testament indicates a fulfillment of some aspect of the type, I believe it. I do not object to it based on my perception of the type. Jesus' fulfillment is superior, and at times it may occur in ways that surprise us from a simple reading of the text. But it is still fulfilling the type. And as Davidson notes the author will often argue from the OT itself to support this unexpected surpassing fulfillment.

The text itself then is the basis for interpretation. When the New Testament interprets we need look no further. When the New Testament does not explain, we can draw conclusions from the type. In doing so, we expect correlation. But being dogmatic in assertions drawn from the type is not advisable. We need to recognize that while Jesus does fulfill, He also surpasses. We need to leave room for that better ministry in our theories based on the type.

The earthly is a copy and shadow of the heavenly, but the heavenly is the true. The shadow will not always perfectly represent the heavenly, though there is a basic correlation.

So when I apply this typology to the texts in Hebrews regarding the Day of Atonement I try to accept what the New Testament texts are saying, even if they challenge what I would initially expect from the type.

There are elements of the Day of Atonement that I see as already fulfilled in the first century. And I contend that even Adventists, if they are to be honest, are compelled to agree. The once for all sacrifice of Christ in the first century is the only sacrifice in the new covenant fulfillment. It happened at one point of time, in the first century. It will not be repeated and therefore this essential aspect of the Day of Atonement type happened long before 1844. The death of the sacrifice is a necessary component of the Day of Atonement. You cannot have the Day of Atonement without the sacrifice. It is evident that even Adventists see this part of the Day of Atonement fulfilled in the first century, even though it does not match what would be expected from a reading of the type. Why do they accept it? Because the New Testament text says it is true!  

Not only was the death fulfilled then but so was the entry with blood. Jesus ascended into the heavenly sanctuary in the first century, described in the past tense by the author of Hebrews.

The entry was once for all:

Heb 9:12  he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

Adventists are compelled again to see that a portion of the fulfillment happened in the first century. The Day of Atonement entry was an entry through the whole sanctuary. And Adventists do not posit that Jesus after inaugurating at His ascension then left the whole sanctuary and re-entered some time around 1844. His entry was once for all.

If Adventists can accept that the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement was fulfilled in the first century based on plain statements by the New Testament text then why would Adventists think it strange if another element, the once-for-all entry also happened then? These are historical activities that will not be repeated.

And the author of Hebrews also points to a completed purification. 

Heb 1:3b  After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Heb 9:23  Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
Heb 9:24  For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Heb 9:25  Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own

To argue from the type to try to override plain statements of the New Testament text describing the fulfillment is to miss that the fulfillment is often far better and does not match what we would think from our reading of the type alone.  But the better ministry of Christ is a fulfillment. It goes beyond the earthly. Jesus did not need to repeat the sacrifices again and again, or the entry again and again, and He made purification for sins in the first century.

Part of the difficulty for an Adventist to accept these plain statements is that they have understood the Day of Atonement to be a day of judgment.  But the part that relates mostly clearly to judgment, those being cut off who did not afflict themselves, is yet to be fulfilled. And the parts that happened already, the death, entry and purification deal not with judgment but with cleansing. They are the provision for the sin of the whole world.

Nor does the cleansing in the sanctuary picture investigation. The blood is not examined. Rather, the blood cleanses. The portion that relates to judgment  is future. The judgment is based on what people do with the provision already made.  The future judgment hinges on whether people even now respond to the work that Christ has done for them. Now is the time to afflict ourselves. But if we do not do so now, coming to Jesus to receive help in time of need, then we will be cut off later. The judgment is ultimately played out when Jesus comes out of the sanctuary. So my view, based on the text, is that certain elements of the type were fulfilled in historical, non-repeated events. These fulfillments may not happen at the same time as other aspects of the type, just as the once-for-all sacrifice is seen by Adventists to occur outside the expected timing of the type.

In interpreting the type as outlined in Hebrews, I have tried to stick to what is described. If the type is interpreted in the New Testament, then I believe that settles the question. If not, then I can reason from the type but not be dogmatic.

I have come to believe that Jesus' once-for-all death, once-for-all entry with blood, and purification for sins are all described in the past tense by the author of Hebrews. Therefore I cannot apply them to 1844 or a later time.