“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; ‘These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth.” Revelation 3:7.
The 2300 day-year prophecy of Daniel 8:14 was to end on October 22, 1844, with an event in the heavenly sanctuary. It was assumed that the event was the Second Coming of Christ. In order to prepare for the Second Advent, a call to repentance and soul searching was given. The Advent believers thought that probation would close on October 22 and no one could be saved after that time.
There was great agitation over the thought that probation would soon close, and it created much interest in the parable of the ten virgins, found in Matthew 25:1–12. Following October 22, 1844, many believed that the “door of Mercy” was shut and probation had closed for all mankind. This prompted many of the believers to study deeply.
“And while they [the five foolish virgins] went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut.” Matthew 25:10. This text may be divided into five natural divisions: 1. The buying of oil. 2. The coming of the Bridegroom. 3. The going in with Him. 4. The marriage. 5. The shut door.
- The buying of oil represents wasted effort on the part of the foolish virgins to obtain oil when it was too late. The virgins had some oil at the beginning, which produced light up till the coming of the bridegroom, but at midnight when the cry was made that “the bridegroom cometh,” the foolish virgins had run out of oil. But while they went to buy more oil, the rest of the group went in to the wedding and the door was shut.
- The definition of bridegroom is, one that either is married or is about to be married. In this parable the Bridegroom represents Christ, and all the scenes in the parable represent the giving of the bride to Christ. This brings to mind two questions: first what does the bride represent, and second where is the marriage to be solemnized?
“Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.” Revelation 21:9, 10. “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Galatians 4:26. These texts show that the holy city is the bride of Christ.
Second, where is the marriage to take place? “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he shall return from the wedding.” Luke 7:35, 36.
“He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.” Luke 19:12. “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him, And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom.” Daniel 7:13,14.
These texts indicate that the receiving of the kingdom is compared to a marriage. It takes place before the Ancient of days prior to the bridegroom’s return from a far country, in one parable, and from the wedding in the other parable. The coming of the bridegroom, mentioned in these texts, is not Christ’s coming to the earth, but rather takes place “near before” the Ancient of days. We may understand from this that the coming of the bridegroom and the Second Coming are two distinct and separate events.
- The “going in with Him” in the parable indicates a change not only in the position of the Bridegroom but also His relationship with the church and world. “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Hebrews 8:1, 2. To come to a correct understanding of Christ’s work in the heavenly sanctuary Paul, in Hebrews chapters 8 and 9, points us back to the Aaronic priesthood and all connected with the sanctuary and its services.
There is plenty of authority in the Old Testament for a clear picture of the ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.” Luke 24:44.
“He expounded and testified the kingdom of God persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” Acts 28:23.
“Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come.” Acts 26:22.
“Remember ye the Law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel.” Malachi 4:4. We are not only directed to the law of Moses but we are admonished strongly to remember it. Those ordinances are a positive representation of Christ’s priestly work in the sanctuary in heaven which is “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” It is clear from Hebrews 8 and 9 that Christ is officiating in a sanctuary that has two compartments with all the same furniture contained in the typical sanctuary of ancient Israel. (See Hebrews 9:2; Exodus 40:24–26; Hebrews 9:3–5; Exodus 26:33, 34.)
In the typical sanctuary, all the services that occurred in one year typified the services of Christ in the pattern in the heavens. Christ, the antitype, closed the antitypical daily administration in the first apartment and clothed Himself with the holy garments having on the breast-plate of judgment on which was inscribed the names of true Israel “they that were ready.” Then He passed into the Holiest of all before the Ancient of days on the mercy seat. They that were ready went in with Him to the marriage as He went to receive His bride, “and the door was shut.”
The cleansing of the sanctuary, blotting out Israel’s sins, and the sending away of the scapegoat in the type, were performed on the tenth day of the seventh month. They were shadows of the services Christ performed in the heavenly sanctuary after His ministration in the Holy Place closes.
- Marriage in Scripture, referring to Christ, is found three times in the Bible. The parable of the king’s son in Matthew 22:2–14, the ten virgins Matthew 25:1–12 and Revelation 19:7–9.
The marriage ceremony used in connection with Christ represents his receiving of the kingdom. “Thy land shall be married”(Isaiah 62:4), means that the territory of the kingdom is to be brought into close connection with the King of kings and Lord of lords. When the New Jerusalem with the saints as guests go in with Christ to the marriage, He then receives the capitol of His promised kingdom.
When God shall have judged the “great whore . . .avenged the blood of His servants at her hand . . . the voice of a great multitude,” “as the voice of mighty thunderings,” shall proclaim . . . “Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready . . . And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Then the subjects of the Kingdom become the bride and with Christ possess the Kingdom. (See Revelation 19:1–9.)
- A door indicates a change from one apartment to another. In the parable, it represents a change in the position of the bridegroom (Christ), revealing a change in His relation to the world. On the Day of Atonement, there was a change in the services to be performed on that day. The high priest washed himself, put on the holy garments and entered into a new work. He blotted out Israel’s sins and removed them from the altar and passed into the Most Holy Place. He bears upon the breast-plate of judgment the names of all who have confessed their sins through the blood of the sin offerings. The high priest officiated on that day only for those that had asked for forgiveness of sins.
Just as surely as the Aaronic priesthood is a type of Christ, the sanctuary and all connected with it are a type of the true sanctuary in heaven and Christ’s ministration there. This explains that a time would come when Christ’s daily priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary would end. Then He would enter into the Most Holy with true Israel inscribed upon His breastplate of judgment. He would go in before the mercy seat with a golden censor, offering the prayers of all saints wise virgins) before the throne. This happened on October 22, 1844.
Now He officiates in the Most Holy Place as a merciful high priest cleansing the heavenly sanctuary of all the sins of true Israel, placing them upon the head of the scapegoat (Satan). Following this He will remove His priestly garments, put on garments of wrath, come to the earth to gather His elect from the four winds and destroy the wicked.
In the opening text of Revelation 3:7, 8, a door was opened and another was shut. This text refers to the Philadelphia church period that includes the events around 1844. As a door was shut in the parable, so a door was shut in 1844. When the door to the Holy Place was closed, Christ entered upon His work of cleansing the sanctuary in the Most Holy Place.
“By the king’s examination of the guests at the feast is represented a work of judgment. The guests at the gospel feast are those who profess to serve God, those whose names are written in the book of life. But not all who profess to be Christians are true disciples. Before the final reward is given, it must be decided who are fitted to share the inheritance of the righteous. This decision must be made prior to the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven . . . It is while men are still dwelling upon the earth that the work of investigative judgment takes place in the courts of heaven. The lives of all His professed followers pass in review before God. All are examined according to the record of the books of heaven, and according to his deeds the destiny of each is forever fixed.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 310.
“In the typical service only those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the blood of the sin offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service of the Day of Atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period. ‘Judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?’ 1 Peter 4:17.” The Great Controversy, 480.
“Every case had been decided for life or death. While Jesus had been ministering in the sanctuary, the judgment had been going on for the righteous dead, and then for the righteous living. Christ had received His kingdom, having made the atonement for His people and blotted out their sins. The subjects of the kingdom were made up. The marriage of the Lamb was consummated.” Early Writings, 280.
“The idea that the door of God’s mercy is closed, or ever was to be closed to those who do not reject the offers of mercy is not found in the Bible. No such door is mentioned in Scripture. But that there has been a point, beyond which men may go, where, according to the plan of salvation, the intercession of Christ could not benefit them, is evident. The Jewish church, having rejected and condemned Christ, could not be benefited by His mediation in the Holy. The nominal Gentile church, as a body, having rejected the Second Advent, cannot be benefited by his intercessions in the Most Holy.” The Parable, (Matthew 25:1–12), By James White.
“And afterward came also the other virgins, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But He answered and said, ‘Verily, I say unto you, I know you not.” Matthew 25:11,12. The wise virgins had entered and the door was shut, but the foolish virgins came knocking at the closed door, expecting to enter. “When once the Master of the house is risen up and hath shut the door, and ye begin to stand without and to knock at the door, Saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open unto us; and He shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.’ ” Luke 13:25.
The foolish virgins knocked at a literal door and this event Christ has shown to be a representation of Advent history. This experience of knocking, entreating and entrance is explained thus: “They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord; [a mediator for all the world, in the Holy Place] but they shall not find Him; He hath withdrawn himself [to the Most Holy] from them. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord, for they have begotten strange children; [apparent converts] now shall a month devour them with their portions.” Hosea 5:6, 7.
Those that expect to gain entrance to the shut door cannot enter because they refused to study the prophecy and learn where Christ had gone. Therefore they will not benefit from His atoning ministry in the Most Holy Place.
Some might say that those represented by the foolish virgins will not knock until Jesus comes. But as the foolish in the parable expected admission, so will those knock after the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door. At the Second Coming, the foolish will not seek entrance but will call for the mountains and rocks to fall upon them and hide them from His consuming glory. (See Revelation 6:16, 17.)
“For a time after the disappointment in 1844, I did hold in common with the Advent body, that the door of mercy was then forever closed to the world. This position was taken before my first vision was given me. It was the light given me of God that corrected our error, and enabled us to see the true position. I am still a believer in the shut door theory, but not in the sense in which we at first employed the term or in which it is employed by my opponents. There was a shut door in Noah’s day. There was at that time a withdrawal of the Spirit of God from the sinful race that perished in the waters of the flood. God Himself gave the shut door message to Noah: ‘My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.’ There was a shut door in the days of Abraham. Mercy ceased to plead with the inhabitants of Sodom, and all but Lot with his wife and two daughters, were consumed by the fire sent down from heaven.
“There was a shut door in Christ’s day. The Son of God declared to the unbelieving Jews of that generation, ‘Your house is left unto you desolate.’ Looking down the stream of time to the last days, the same infinite power proclaimed through John: ‘These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.’
“I was shown in vision, and I still believe, that there was a shut door in 1844. All who saw the light of the first and second angels’ messages and rejected that light, were left in darkness. And those who accepted it and received the Holy Spirit which attended the proclamation of the message from heaven, and who afterward renounced their faith and pronounced their experience a delusion, thereby rejected the Spirit of God, and it no longer pleaded with them.
“These might have a form of godliness, and profess to be followers of Christ, but having no living connection with God, they would be taken captive by the delusions of Satan. These two classes are brought to view in the vision—those who declared the light which they followed a delusion, and the wicked of the world who, having rejected the light, had been rejected of God. No reference is made to those who had not seen the light, and therefore were not guilty of its rejection.
“In order to prove that I believed and taught the shut door doctrine, Mr. C gives a quotation from the Review of June 11, 1861, signed by nine of our prominent members. The quotation reads as follows: ‘Our views of the work before us were then mostly vague and indefinite, some still retaining the idea adopted by the body of Advent believers in 1844 with William Miller at their head, that our work for the world was finished and that the message was confined to those of the original Advent faith. So firmly was this believed, that one of our number was nearly refused the message, the individual presenting it having doubts of the possibility of his salvation because he was not in the ’44 move.’ “To this I need only to add that in the same meeting in which it was urged that the message could not be given to this brother (J. H. Waggoner), a testimony was given me through vision to encourage him to hope in God and to give his heart to Jesus, which he did then and there.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 63, 64.
If God’s mercy was not still extended today to all who seek forgiveness and cleansing, there would be no need for this caution: “Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” Revelation 15:15. Christ’s invitation is just as valid today as when He gave it. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28–30.