The papacy, during the Dark Ages, did away with the knowledge of Jesus’ ministry in the sanctuary in heaven, so no one understood or knew of the heavenly sanctuary services.
Christ, in the first angel’s message, announced that, “The hour of His judgment has come” (Revelation 14:7). This was in answer to the question asked by the martyrs during the time of the fifth seal. In Revelation 6:9, 10, we read: “When he [the Lamb] opened the fifth seal, I [John the Revelator] saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until You judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ ”
Although martyrs are dead people, in this text they are represented as being alive and asking the question, “How long before You will judge our persecutors?” To answer this question, the first angel announced that the hour of His judgment is come. The announcement of the time for the judgment to begin was also given in the vision of Daniel 8. Daniel was shown this in vision in 551 B.C., more than 2,000 years before the time of the judgment was to begin. We need to remember that this part of the book of Daniel was closed until the time of the end; therefore, no one could understand this text until the time of the end arrived. But at the right time, the meaning of this text was given. This verse is the third announcement that the angel (Christ), in Revelation 10:7, said had already been given concerning the finishing of the mystery of God.
In Daniel 8:14 of the King James Version (KJV), it says, “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” (In Hebrew, days means evenings and mornings; cleansed means justified.) The marginal reading says it can also be translated as being justified. Because, in the Hebrew, there is a broader meaning to this verse in addition to being cleansed, the following versions of the same verse are shared:
Daniel 8:14, New International Version (NIV):
“He said to me, ‘It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.’ ”
Daniel 8:14, Revised Standard Version (RSV):
“And he said to him, ‘For two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.’ ”
Daniel 8:14, New American Standard Bible (NASB):
“He said to me, ‘For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.’ ”
In The Great Controversy, 409, Ellen White wrote: “The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration: ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’ Daniel 8:14. These had been familiar words to all believers in the Lord’s soon coming. By the lips of thousands was this prophecy repeated as the watchword of their faith. All felt that upon the events therein foretold depended their brightest expectations and most cherished hopes.”
She then continued: “These prophetic days had been shown to terminate in the autumn of 1844. In common with the rest of the Christian world, Adventists then held that the earth, or some portion of it, was the sanctuary. They understood that the cleansing of the sanctuary was the purification of the earth by the fires of the last great day, and that this would take place at the second advent. Hence the conclusion that Christ would return to the earth in 1844.
“But the appointed time had passed, and the Lord had not appeared.” Ibid.
This is an amazing thing. Here there is a text about the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven that is the foundation and central pillar of their message, and yet the people knew nothing about it. How could such a thing happen? As strange as it may seem, this is actually what took place in the advent awakening in 1844. There is a prophecy about it recorded in symbolic language in Revelation 10:9, 10: “So I [John] went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, ‘Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’ I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.”
These advent believers, believing that the earth was the sanctuary to be cleansed, understood that Jesus would come on October 22, 1844, to cleanse the earth. This was a happy message, “sweet as honey” in their mouths, but when the day passed and Jesus did not return, this sweet message “turned sour” in their stomachs.
History shows that Satan was completely successful in destroying the sanctuary message in the church during the Dark Ages. By the end of the Dark Ages, no one on earth knew anything about the sanctuary in heaven.
There is a very clear explanation of Satan’s disruption of the sanctuary message during the supremacy of the papacy in the Dark Ages in Daniel 8:11, 12, 24: “It [the small horn, the papacy] set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. … He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people.”
At the opening of the second-advent movement, the church taught that the earth was the sanctuary to be cleansed. This is proof of the success Satan had during the Dark Ages in destroying the knowledge of the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary.
An angel (a holy one) asked an interesting question in Daniel 8:13: “Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, ‘How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?’ ”
The holy one is asking how long the rebellion against the ministry of Jesus in the sanctuary in heaven will continue, and the answer is given that after 2,300 evenings and mornings (years) the knowledge of the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven would be restored.
The records of history reveal that both events recorded in Daniel 8:10–14 have taken place as prophesied, i.e., (1) the loss of the knowledge of the sanctuary truth during the Dark Ages, and (2) the restoration of the knowledge of the sanctuary message in Daniel 8:14 following the Great Disappointment.
Now that we know what happened to the sanctuary message during the Dark Ages and what is taking place at the present time in the restoration of the sanctuary message, we can better understand the message of Daniel 8:14 when it is translated as follows:
- “cleansed” – KJV
- “justified” – KJV, margin
- “reconsecrated” – NIV
- “restored to its rightful state” – RSV
- “properly restored” – NASB
Daniel 8:14, as translated in the KJV, focuses on the cleansing and removal of sin from the new covenant sanctuary in heaven. This is a very important work in the ministry of Jesus for His people.
As translated in the NASB, RSV and NIV, the focus is on the restoration of the sanctuary message at the termination of the 2,300 years.
Both of these views are supported by the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy and are taking place at the present time. Actually, how can anyone explain the cleansing of the sanctuary unless the understanding of the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven first be restored?
Ellen White emphasized the importance of this text: “The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration: ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’ Daniel 8:14.” The Great Controversy, 409. We have looked at four translations of this verse, all of which contribute to our understanding of this verse and its application to the opening of the second-advent movement.
We are familiar with the message of the cleansing of the sanctuary and purification of God’s people by the atoning blood of Jesus, but we are not as familiar with the message of the restoration of the sanctuary message to its rightful place in the great second-advent movement.
Let’s review briefly the history of the sanctuary message—at the time Jesus ascended and opened the Holy Place in A.D. 31 and what happened to this message during the Dark Ages—to help us understand why this message must be, and will be, fully restored during the second-advent movement.
When Jesus opened His ministry by cleansing the temple in A.D. 28, He pronounced this startling prophecy to the dignitaries: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” John 2:19. The Jews applied this prophecy to the temple building. They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” Verse 20. The disciple John said that Jesus was speaking of His body. “But the temple He had spoken of was His body.” Verse 21.
Actually, Jesus had both views in mind when He spoke this prophecy. In The Desire of Ages, 164, we read: “In these words His meaning was twofold. He referred not only to the destruction of the Jewish temple and worship, but to His own death—the destruction of the temple of His body.”
It is common knowledge that Jesus rose from the grave on the third day after the crucifixion to raise the temple of His body. It is not so well understood that He raised the temple building that same day, but that is exactly what happened.
When Mary desired to worship Jesus on the morning of the first day of the week, Jesus replied, “Detain Me not; ‘for I am not yet ascended to My Father’ [John 20:17]. …
“Jesus refused to receive the homage of His people until He had the assurance that His sacrifice was accepted by the Father. He ascended to the heavenly courts, and from God Himself heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, that through His blood all might gain eternal life. The Father ratified the covenant made with Christ, that He would receive repentant and obedient men, and would love them even as He loves His Son. Christ was to complete His work, and fulfill His pledge to ‘make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.’ Isaiah 13:12.” Ibid., 790.
In the case of both of these temples, the one on earth and the sanctuary in heaven, it was not the buildings that were destroyed or raised at this time. In either one, the buildings were not changed at this time, but the services were.
“When the Jews sealed their rejection of Christ by delivering Him to death, they rejected all that gave significance to the temple and its services. Its sacredness had departed. It was doomed to destruction. From that day sacrificial offerings and the service connected with them were meaningless. Like the offering of Cain, they did not express faith in the Saviour. In putting Christ to death, the Jews virtually destroyed their temple.” Ibid., 165.
In the sanctuary in heaven, Jesus opened the Holy Place to begin His ministry as our High Priest. On the Day of Pentecost [Acts 2:1], the Holy Spirit came down upon the 120 disciples and confirmed to them that Jesus had been inaugurated as High Priest and opened the Holy Place in the sanctuary in heaven.
At this time, everyone who desired to do so could go directly to Jesus through prayer and confess their sins to Him. No more sacrificing of a lamb was needed. Jesus would make the atonement for those confessed sins with His blood. The sinner was then given the promise of eternal life. The new covenant was now ratified in him by the blood of Christ.
The disciples were then instructed to share this wonderful gospel message of the ministry of Jesus in the sanctuary of heaven with the whole world. The news of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus to open the new covenant sanctuary electrified the world, so much so, that the comment was made that it was turning the world upside down. During the centuries that followed, millions of people placed their faith in this redemption message, even to the point of giving up their life because of their faith in it.
This message of the sanctuary in heaven was the foundation and central pillar of the apostolic church. The papacy’s interception of the ministry of Jesus in the new covenant sanctuary in heaven was a major, major attack on the foundation and central pillar of the church.
When the papacy, or Roman Catholic Church, came to power in A.D. 538, it made some major changes in the teachings of the church. To refresh our minds to these changes, the following statement is found in The Great Controversy, 55: “The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened. Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator and that none could approach God except through him; and, further, that he stood in the place of God to them and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed.”
Daniel 8 is a prophecy of this action of the papacy against the ministry of Jesus in the sanctuary of heaven. The prophecy says of the small horn, “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised [sic], and prospered.” Daniel 8:11, 12. KJV
The end result of the work against the ministry of Jesus in the sanctuary by the papacy during the Dark Ages was that no one in the church knew where the sanctuary was located during the advent awakening in the 1840s.
The restoration of this sanctuary message is very important to the fulfillment of Daniel 8:14, as translated in the RSV: “Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.” Only as the knowledge of the sanctuary in heaven is restored can the “cleansing” of the sanctuary be understood. This knowledge is critical to the success of the new covenant (the everlasting gospel), in the great second-advent movement. This is pointed out in the following quote:
“The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill.” The Great Controversy, 488.
“The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven.” Ibid., 489.
We have seen thus far that the opening of Christ’s ministry as our High Priest in the Holy Place of the sanctuary in heaven was the foundation of the disciple’s message to the world in the first advent. We have also seen how the papacy did away with the knowledge of Jesus’ ministry in the sanctuary in heaven by instructing the people to confess their sins to the priests in the church on earth. We have also found good news in Daniel 8:14 where prophecy says that the sanctuary message will be restored to its rightful place.
Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New International Version.
Maurice Hoppe is retired and volunteers at Steps to Life. His primary responsibility is working with the Training Program for Ministers and Church Leaders and the Training Program for Lay Workers. He also conducts a Bible Correspondence School from his home with emphasis on Bible prophecy. He may be contacted at: email@example.com.