NT writers describe Christ's atoning work for sinners in the terms of the OT types and symbols. Christ is "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). He is "the Apostle and High Priest of our profession" (Heb. 3:1). The tabernacle on earth was "a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary" (Heb. 8:5, RSV), "the true one" where "Christ has entered . . . to appear in the presence of God on our behalf" (Heb. 9:24, RSV). He enters into this holy place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus procuring eternal redemption for us (v. 12). Each sacrifice typified the infinite sacrifice of Christ upon Calvary, and the priest who offered it represented the priestly ministry of Christ in heaven above. In and of themselves, the sacrifices could not atone for sin (Heb. 10:11). Only as penitent sinners grasped by faith the reality of the atonement yet to be provided by the Messiah did they find release from their sins (Heb. 9:15).
The ancient sanctuary service consisted of two distinct phasesâ€”the regular services conducted day by day throughout the year, by which repentant sinners were released from the guilt of their sins (for which the sanctuary assumed responsibility), and the yearly service on the Day of Atonement, when atonement was made for the sanctuary because of the sins from which release had been granted during the year.
Seventh-day Adventists see in these daily and yearly ritual services a type of two phases of Christ's priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. They consider that the various services conducted day by day represent Christ's ministry for individual sinners, from the time of His ascension until the antitype of the Day of Atonementâ€”the ceremonies of which, they believe, point to a special work accomplished by Christ toward the close of the Christian Eraâ€”a work of judgement that results in the blotting out of confessed sins from the record books of heaven, and the blotting out from the book of life of the names of those who have renounced Christ. This final phase they believe has been going on in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary since 1844, a date derived from the prophetic period in Dan. 8:14 (see Twenty-three Hundred Days).
The Epistle to the Hebrews presents the ancient sanctuary service as a type of Christ's vicarious atonement on Calvary and His postascension mediatorial ministry. For this reason, Seventh-day Adventists consider a knowledge of the ancient service to be of importance and value to an understanding of the plan of redemption. In fact, a number of the distinctive Seventh-day Adventist teachings can be understood fully only in relationship to the sanctuary service and the ministry of Christ as the Christian's great High Priest as set forth in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
History of the Seventh-day Adventist Doctrine. Background in Millerite View of Sanctuary. Seventh-day Adventists arose out of the Millerite movement of the 1840s. William Miller, founder and leader of the movement, based his teaching that the Second Advent would occur "about A.D. 1843," primarily on the declaration of Dan. 8:14: "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Miller originally defined the sanctuary as the church (MS to Elder Andrus, 1831, p. 1; Evidences . . . on the Second Coming , pp. 36-38), later as the earth and the church (Cleansing of the Sanctuary , p. 8, cf. pp. 9-14). He concluded that its cleansing would be accomplished by the fires of the last day, in connection with the second coming of Christ. "In accordance with the opinions of all standard Protestant commentators," as he expressed it, he accepted the principle, based on Num. 14:34 and Eze. 4:4-6, that a day in symbolic prophecy stands for a year of literal time (Apology and Defence, p. 11). Accordingly, beginning the 2300 years in 457 B.C., he arrived at what he termed "about the year 1843," that is, 1843/1844, from spring to spring, as the time to expect the Second Advent.
Later an adjustment in Miller's chronology and time computation led to the expectation of the Second Advent in the autumn of 1844 on Oct. 22 (see Seventh-Month Movement).
With this seventh-month movement came an expanded understanding of the sanctuary types and symbols.
This broadened understanding is reflected in the following summary of the fulfilment of the types of the autumnal festivals at the Second Advent: "Thus the blowing of the great trumpet in the year of Jubilee, on the tenth day of the seventh monthâ€”a type of the trump of God, the last trump; the release of all captives, the cancelling of all debts, and restoration of every man to his possessions, on the same dayâ€”typical of the great release; and the atonement of the High Priest for the sins of all Israel, his intercession therefore in the Holy of Holies, and his coming out from thence to bless the waiting congregationâ€”typical of the completion of the intercession which Christ is now making, and of his coming out of heaven itself, to appear the second time unto those that looked for him without sin unto salvation, it was argued, fully demonstrated, that a day thus selected and set apart of God for the observance of so many ceremonials, typical of the greatest of all events, must be honoured in the completion of the plan of salvation by the event itself" ([S.] B[liss], in Advent Shield 1:269, January 1845).
On the basis of Lev. 9:23, which is part of the record of Aaron's inauguration to the high priesthood, the Millerites held that at the close of the Day of Atonement the high priest came out and blessed the waiting congregation. Similarly, they held, Christ would come out of the Holy of Holies at His second advent to bless His waiting people. In the subsequent emphasis (in the seventh-month movement) on Christ's coming out of the Holy of Holies, that is, heaven, no one explained how the Holy of Holiesâ€”a part of the sanctuaryâ€”could be heaven itself, and yet the sanctuary could be the earth, to be cleansed by fire at the Second Advent.
Litch had, immediately after the spring disappointment, raised a doubt concerning the earth as the sanctuary, but this was not followed up, and the earth-sanctuary concept persisted. As late as 1847 Crosier, in the Day-Dawn, felt it necessary to argue this point at length before stating his conclusion: "There is no Scripture authority for calling any thing else the Sanctuary under the Gospel dispensation, but the place of Christ's ministry in the heavens. . . . If there be, let it be produced" (Day-Dawn 2:3, Mar. 19, 1847).
This unresolved paradox of the earth, or Palestine, as the sanctuary to be cleansed by the last-day fires, along with heaven as the Holy of Holies, needing no cleansing, still appears in 1853 in the editorials (presumably of Bliss) in the Advent Herald in controversy with J. N. Andrews in the Review and Herald (2:204, 205, May 12, 1853).
Edson's Idea and Crosier's Articles. The first step toward the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the sanctuary came the day after the Great Disappointment. On the morning of Oct. 23, 1844, Hiram Edson and a Millerite friend after earnest prayer decided to visit the other Adventists in the neighbourhood and encourage them. As they walked across Edson's cornfield, Edson dropped behind as his companion walked on. The conviction had suddenly come to 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, that 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" (Hiram Edson, MS, "Life and Experience," fol. 9 verso).
It now became clear to Edson that the sanctuary to be cleansed was not the earth or some portion of it, but the heavenly sanctuary; that Oct. 22 marked the beginning and not the ending of the antitypical Day of Atonement.
Edson, Owen R. L. Crosier, and Franklin B. Hahn spent several months studying the subject of the sanctuary. Crosier wrote out their findings, which he published, according to Edson, in 1845 in the Day-Dawn (Canandaigua, New York), then more fully in the Day-Star Extra (Cincinnati), Feb. 7, 1846; also in the Day-Dawn, 1847, as already quoted (see reprint in Review and Herald 1:78-80, May 5, 1851). The 1845 Day-Dawn is extant only as a part of the Mar. 26, 1845, Ontario Messenger, a Whig newspaper published in Canandaigua. These articles discuss various uses of the term sanctuary in several Old Testament books, concluding that it is properly applied to the tabernacle built by Moses and to the Temple built by Solomon. This was the typical sanctuary. They then discuss the New Testament sanctuary as revealed in the book of Hebrewsâ€”the true sanctuary being in heaven, of which the Mosaic tabernacle was only a copy. Since, as Crosier reasoned, the heavenly sanctuary was the only one in existence at the end of the 2300-day prophecy, it must be the sanctuary to be cleansed.
Concerning Crosier's article in the Day-Star Extra, Ellen G. White wrote (in a letter to Eli Curtis, Apr. 21, 1847, which was printed in A Word to the "Little Flock") that "Brother Crosier had the true light on the cleansing of the Sanctuary, &c.," and highly recommended the Day-Star Extra.
Seventh-day Adventist View Developed. Crosier's expansion of Edson's heavenly sanctuary idea thus became the basis of the standard position of early Seventh-day Adventists. In one of the earliest extended discussions of the subject of the sanctuary in early SDA publications David Arnold wrote: "But what shall we understand by the cleansing of the antitypical sanctuary?
"The Mosaic priesthood, sanctuary and services were all types or shadows, here on earth, of a heavenly priesthood, sanctuary and services; yet there is this difference between them. By reason of death the earthly had many priests, the heavenly but one: the earthly had many victims, the heavenly but one; the earthly sanctuary was cleansed at the end of every 364 days, the heavenly at the end of 2300 years. . . .
"In the earthly, sins were daily imputed, or laid upon the altar through the blood of the victims during the 364 days, and then the daily ministration ceased, and the cleansing commenced. In the heavenly sanctuary sins were daily imputed, or laid upon the altar through the blood of Christ, our victim, during the Gospel dispensation, or time of the Gentiles, which ended with the 2300 days, and then the cleansing commenced. In the earthly, when the daily ministration ceased, and the day of atonement came, the high priest prepared for the atonement, or cleansing, by shutting the door of the outer apartment [see Lev. xvi, 17,] and by putting on the holy garments, with the breast-plate of judgement, and opening the door into the inner apartment or most holy place, then proceeded to cleanse the sanctuary as recorded in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus. So in the heavenly; when the daily ministration for the world ceased, and the 2300 days, and time of the Gentiles ended, and the time to cleanse the heavenly sanctuary came, Christ our High Priest prepared for the atonement, or blotting out of sins of all Israel, and cleansing the sanctuary. . . .
"An objection is frequently raised that there can be nothing in heaven that needs cleansing. But let us hear Paul on this point. Speaking of the same sanctuary, he says, â€˜It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these: but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.' Heb. ix, 23. Here Paul gives us clearly to understand that it was necessary that the earthly sanctuary, made from patterns of the heavenly, should be cleansed with the blood of beasts; (for so the law required,) therefore it was also necessary that the heavenly sanctuary, from which the patterns were taken, should be cleansed with better sacrifices. Then there is a sanctuary in heaven to be cleansed â€˜with better sacrifices,' and the â€˜Wonderful Number' places the cleansing of this sanctuary at the end of the 2300 days" (Present Truth 1:60, 61, March 1850).
In August 1850 James White began the publication of a new periodical named the Advent Review, of which he issued five numbers. In numbers 3 and 4 he reprinted from the Day-Star almost the entire Crosier article on the sanctuary.
In November 1850 James White began the regular publication of the Review and Herald. This periodical became the recognised organ of the Adventists who accepted the seventh-day Sabbath and the heavenly-sanctuary explanation of the Millerite disappointment. In its pages a continuing debate was carried on with other Adventists who took opposing views. The first purpose of these articles was to prove that the earth is not the sanctuary intended in Dan. 8:14, but the sanctuary in heaven, the sanctuary of the new covenant.
Later the idea was developed that the cleansing of the sanctuary involved a work of judgement -- Seventh-day Adventist Dictionary.