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One of the key thoughts that gave hope to those Millerites who would eventually form the Seventh-day Adventist church, was that in 1844 something happened in fulfillment of Daniel 8:14. Initially they expected this to be the second coming of Jesus. Miller had thought that the sanctuary that was going to be cleansed in Daniel 8:14 was the earth, and that this referenced the cleansing of the earth with fire at the second advent. However, following the great disappointment, when Jesus did not come as they expected, their thoughts took a different turn. They still saw meaning in Daniel 8:14, but saw a different fulfillment.

This is illustrated in the well-known story of Hiram Edson. His "fondest hopes" had been dashed when Jesus failed to appear.  However, while he and a fellow Millerite had gone to talk to other believers, walking through fields to avoid scoffers so soon after their disappointment, he had an epiphany that would be the focus of the new Adventist sanctuary doctrine.

They walked along silently, with bowed heads and meditative hearts, more or less oblivious of each other. Suddenly Edson stopped, as if by a hand laid upon his shoulder. He stood, deep in meditation, his face upturned wistfully toward the mottled gray skies, praying for light. He pondered the Bible evidence on the ministering Priest, Christ Jesus, in God’s antitypical sanctuary in heaven, and how they had expected Him to emerge, on that antitypical Day of Atonement, to bless His waiting people. Edson was waiting for an answer to his perplexity. Suddenly there burst upon his mind the thought that there were two phases to Christ’s ministry in the heaven of heavens, just as in the earthly sanctuary of old. In his own words, an overwhelming conviction came over him-that instead of’ our High Priest coming out of the Most Holy of the heavenly sanctuary to come to this earth on the tenth day of the seventh month, at the end of the 2300 days, he for the first time entered on that day the second apartment of that sanctuary and that he had a work to perform in the Most Holy before coming to this earth.”  (Manuscript,  Life and Experience, 9, Quoted from The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Volume 1, 884, by LeRoy Edwin Froom.)


Ellen White likewise spoke of the tremendous significance of Jesus entering the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary in 1844.


Sabbath, March 24th, 1849, we had a sweet, and very interesting meeting with the Brethren at Topsham, Me. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us, and I was taken off in the Spirit to the City of the living God. There I was shown that the commandments of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, relating to the shut door, could not be separated, and that the time for the commandments of God to shine out, with all their importance, and for God's people to be tried on the Sabbath truth, was when the door was opened in the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary, where the Ark is, containing the ten commandments. This door was not opened, until the mediation of Jesus was finished in the Holy Place of the Sanctuary in 1844. Then, Jesus rose up, and shut the door in the Holy Place, and opened the door in the Most Holy, and passed within the second vail, where he now stands by the Ark; and where the faith of Israel now reaches. (Review and Herald, August 1, 1849 par. 2)

If taken literally this notion can seem somewhat absurd.  Was Jesus limited to a small compartment in the heavenly sanctuary for hundreds of years? However, most modern Adventist scholars do not see this having reference simply to Jesus' physical location in the heavenly sanctuary. Rather they see this as indicating that in 1844 Jesus began to perform Most Holy Place functions.

The purpose of this article is to point out that Jesus in fact began to do Most Holy Place work right at the time of His ascension, rather than in 1844. There are several evidences that Jesus' ministry in the first century extended to the heavenly equivalent of the second compartment in the earthly sanctuary.

Hebrews chapter 9 begins with a description of the earthly sanctuary service. As part of this description of the earthly sanctuary the author points out the limited access of the earthly high priest who could only go into God's presence once per year, on the day of atonement:

Heb 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
Heb 9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

This shows the limited nature of access to God in the old covenant sanctuary. Even the high priest had very limited access to God's presence. He alone could enter once per year into God's direct presence, and not without blood. He did not stay but withdrew again until the next year.

This description of the earthly sanctuary, including the day of atonement, sets the stage for the argument in the rest of the chapter. The author demonstrates that Jesus' sanctuary ministry surpasses the old covenant sanctuary service. The author's description of the day of atonement at the beginning of the chapter clues us in to where he is going. He is leading up to the argument that Jesus fulfilled this entry of the high priest once per year.

Beginning in verse 11 we see clear references to the day of atonement.

Heb 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)
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 these verses we learn:

1. Jesus entered as the High Priest. This is significant because one of the chief roles of the high priest, as opposed to other priests, is the entry on the Day of Atonement into God's presence.

2. Jesus entered by means of blood. Blood was not necessary to enter the first compartment. The priest would minister there without blood. But as we read in the opening description of the day of atonement, the high priest never entered without blood:

Heb 9:7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.

Jesus' entry into God's presence by means of blood is therefore a significant piece of evidence that Jesus' ministry extended to the equivalent of the Most Holy Place.

3. Jesus' entry is contrasted with that entry using blood of goats and calves. While blood of calves would at times go into the holy place, (the sin offering of the whole camp or the anointed priest) we do not see an entry with goats blood except into the most holy place. Entry by means of blood of goats is found in the inauguration and the day of atonement, both of which extend to the Most Holy Place.

4. Jesus' entry by blood secured eternal redemption, indicating the finality of offering. If there was more blood atonement to be provided, how could this be said in the first century?

5. Jesus' 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.

The once for all nature of His entry has tremendous implications. To illustrate the point we can look at the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus' sacrifice was also once for all.

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.


The one Sacrifice fulfilled all of the many sacrifices of the various services, feasts, etc. Instead of offering Himself again and again He did it once, and it was enough. It fulfilled the sacrifice for the Passover, for the Day of Atonement, for the sin offering, and all the other offerings made in the earthly sanctuary type.

Not only was His sacrifice once-for-all, but His entry into the sanctuary was once-for-all. He entered by means of blood through the whole sanctuary. This fulfills all the entries with blood, just as His once-for-all sacrifice fulfilled all the various sacrifices. Jesus' entry fulfilled the entries involved in certain sin offerings, it fulfilled the entry during the inauguration, and it fulfilled the entry on the Day of Atonement. It was a once-for-all entry.

Now that we have reviewed the elements of these verses let's step back and notice the close parallel of this description of the entry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary with the description of the earthly high priest's day of atonement entry earlier in the chapter:

Heb 9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

Compare with:

Heb 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)

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.

The author clearly intended Hebrews 9:11-12 to describe the heavenly fulfillment of the earthly type.

Jesus entered once-for-all as the High Priest. He did not have to enter once every year. His ministry is better.

He entered with His own precious blood, not the blood of animals. His Sacrifice is better.

The author is showing how Jesus' ministry surpassed that of even the earthly high priest on the day of atonement, by His death and entry with His own blood.

Now, let's examine the timing. This entrance into the whole sanctuary is clearly seen to be past tense from the perspective of the author of Hebrews. Therefore it happened in the first century, long before 1844.

In Hebrews 9:23-25 we again see clear references to the Day of Atonement. This time we see a specific reference to the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.

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

After pointing out that it is necessary for the heavenly things to be cleansed, just as in the earthly sanctuary, the author explains how it happened PAST TENSE, from his own perspective.

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.


1. Jesus entered, past tense.
2. This entry was into the true heavenly sanctuary, not the earthly.
3. Jesus entered into God's presence on our behalf.

Verse 25 continues the description of Jesus' entry:

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

1. Jesus entry was not repeated yearly. It happened once.
2. He offered Himself, not blood of animals.
3. Jesus' entry is compared (favorably) to the entry yearly with blood by the high priest, which is the day of atonement.

So we see in verse 23-25 that the author states the necessity of the cleansing of the heavenly things, then goes on to describe Jesus' entry into God's presence as our High Priest. Jesus presented Himself instead of blood of animals. His entry is compared with the yearly entry of the earthly high priest. And all of this is described past tense by the author, writing in the first century.

This is a straight-forward fulfilling of the type of the Day of Atonement cleansing that happened in the sanctuary.

Another evidence that Jesus entered the equivalent of the Most Holy Place in the heavenly is seen in the fact that Jesus inaugurated the heavenly sanctuary.

Hebrews indicates Jesus inaugurated the sanctuary.  The inauguration included all the sanctuary and all its vessels. Speaking of that service in the earthly, in the context of Jesus' blood being better, the author of Hebrews says:
Heb 9:21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.
Jesus inaugurated or consecrated a new and living way to God at His ascension:
Heb 10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
So it is evident that Jesus' entry in first century completed not only Day of Atonement aspects, but also inauguration aspects. This inauguration included the whole sanctuary. And the whole sanctuary was involved in the Day of Atonement. So it is clear Jesus' ministry extended to the second compartment equivalent in the heavenly.

In fact, so great was the ministry of Jesus, and so superior to that of the earthly, that we now have access directly to the throne of grace as well!

Hebrews speaks of this radical difference in access to God in the new covenant. The limited access to God in the old covenant is completely changed with Christ. In the earthly only the high priest could come into God's presence, and then only once per year.

But Jesus sets that on its head. Jesus went into God's presence. However, He did not go in and then immediately go back out, as in the earthly. He stayed. In fact He sat down. The sitting of Christ is significant.

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

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,
Heb 10:13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.


The sitting of Christ at the right hand of God in Hebrews indicates His status as King.

But more than that Hebrews uses it to show contrasts with the old testament system. The priest never sat down in the sanctuary, because his work was not finished. He had to continually offer the same sacrifices, which never really removed sin. But Christ completed the one Sacrifice of Himself and the one entry and then sat down, having made purfication.

Notice how Hebrews contrasts the standing of the priest daily with Jesus' sitting down:

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,
Heb 10:13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.


Jesus completed all of the blood ministration for the purification of sins, then sat down in God's presence.

And not only does Jesus sit at God's right hand, now He has made it possible for us to go there too. We can go right into God's presence. We can come boldly to Him to find help in time of need:

Heb 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

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,
Heb 10:21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
Heb 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.


All of us can come into God's presence right to the throne which could never happen in the old covenant.

Truly Christ is better!

Jesus now intercedes from the Father's right hand. We come to Him to receive in real time the benefits of His completed sacrifice.

Jesus' role as High Priest is not over. But His provision is made. Now we either accept or reject the benefits that He offers through His one time provision.

But where does this leave the Adventist sanctuary doctrine? Clearly Jesus is seen doing Most Holy Place ministry right from the time of His ascension, long before 1844.



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