The Investigative Judgment
Millerite Adventists believed, from their study of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, that Jesus would return to Earth on the 22nd of October, 1844. The King James Version of Daniel 8:14 spoke of the cleansing of the Sanctuary. They understood the Sanctuary—which had been the Lord’s dwelling place until it was defiled by sin—was Planet Earth. They concluded that the cleansing of the Sanctuary would take place when Jesus returned to make Earth his dwelling place once more.
The Millerites were naturally shattered when Jesus did not come as they so confidently believed, and a number of them—who became the founding members of the SDA Church— sought to discover where they had gone wrong in their interpretation of Dan 8:14. They eventually concluded they had the right time (Oct. 22, 1844) but the wrong event (the second coming of Jesus).1
They now believed the Sanctuary which would be cleansed, was not Planet Earth, but the Sanctuary in heaven above. They also believed that this cleansing of the heavenly Sanctuary began on October 22, 1844. On that date, Jesus, the heavenly High Priest, moved from the Holy Place into the Most Holy Place to commence the work of the antitypical Day of Atonement—a work that would conclude with ‘the blotting out of sins.’ In time, this belief became a cornerstone teaching of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
They assumed Jesus’ work of ‘blotting out of sins’ would be preceded by an ‘investigative, (or pre-advent) judgement’ to determine who would and who would not have their sins blotted out and thus receive either the gift of eternal life or damnation at the coming of Jesus.2 They expected this work of investigation would be a short work. The fact it has now taken over one hundred and sixty years, would have been incomprehensible to those who formulated this doctrine.
1844 AND THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Jesus, our heavenly High Priest, entered the Most Holy Place of the heavenly Sanctuary on 22nd of October, 1844 to begin the antitypical ministry of the Day of Atonement. This work of judgement involved the disposition of sin, that is, the cleansing of the heavenly Sanctuary.
Now the Day of Atonement is the antitype of one of the six yearly festivals that are listed in Leviticus 23. Three of these festivals were to be observed at the beginning of the year and three in the seventh month.
The first three festivals were:
- Passover or Unleavened Bread
- Firstfruits or Wavesheaf
- Feast of Weeks or Pentecost
These three festivals were observed on the fourteenth, sixteenth and sixty-sixth days respectively. Each festival was a prophecy (as well as an historical commemoration).
- The Passover pointed to Jesus, our Passover Lamb, who was crucified for us (1 Cor. 5:7) on a Friday.
- The Firstfruits pointed to Jesus, who rose from the dead, ‘on the day after the Sabbath’ (Lev. 23:11) as the firstfruits of those who have died in the faith (1 Cor. 15:20-23).
- Pentecost pointed to the Spirit of Christ, who began ministry in the antitypical Sanctuary (Heb. 3:5-6) ‘fifty days’ later (Lev. 23:16; Acts 2:1-4).
Inasmuch as the festivals at the beginning of the year were fulfilled exactly as predicted by their types, it would be consistent to expect the festivals of the seventh month would also be fulfilled according to the Divine timetable.
- The Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23:23).
- The Day of Atonement, ten days after the Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23:26).
- The Feast of Tabernacles, five days after the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:34).
Now, if, as Seventh-day Adventists have claimed, October 22, 1844 was the date for the commencement of the antitypical Day of Atonement, what happened on October 12 (the Feast of Trumpets) and on October 27 (the Feast of Tabernacles)? As nothing of any great spiritual significance happened on either of these dates, the validity of the SDA application of the Day of Atonement to the period commencing October 22, 1844 becomes exceedingly difficult to justify.
- With hindsight it appears they had the right event, but the wrong time.
- See Ellen G. White’s book, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, p. 483.
For those who wish to read more on the history and theology of the Investigative (pre-advent) Judgement, we recommend Dr Desmond Ford’s 700 page book, Daniel 8:14; The Day of Atonement and the Investigative Judgment. This book contains the materials the Dr Ford marshalled for his defence at Glacier View.
As there are only a limited number of copies available for sale, it will be a case of first in, first served.